Cool Stuff

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dear Reader

My Dear Reader(s),

Are you sick of the fluff posts coming at you from all directions here on The SHOCK? No angst, anger, lying or resentment repentance. Just weather and food (hot dogs for breakfast?!) and other assorted dribble. I mean I haven't even posted about the tornado that hit around here yesterday...thank goodness it just took the roof off of one house, one business and knocked a bunch of trees down, no one was hurt.

Well it's funny but I do like it when I can post about the more routine aspects of life instead of the hardcore business end of staying in recovery , dealing with PTSD and the aftermath of rape. But I have some things going that will certainly generate more of those types of posts.

As i have mentioned, I have sort of an identity crisis always going on here at Shell Shock Serenade because I post on such a wide variety of things and several of thing are quite hard hitting and not really general information type topics for the average blog reader looking for a wise-ass take on being a waiter or an unemployed writer. I love that stuff too...I'm just not them...this is what I have to offer so i stick with it.

So instead of starting different blogs for the different topics (say a sports blog) I often will mention it here and it throws folks off.
But i am representing a person in recovery's day to day life and I (and other addicts/alcoholics) happen to love baseball, it is what it is....

I'll post more later but hey, I am still (now desperately) looking for the child of an alcoholic/addict to do a guest post here. It can be anonymous or not but I feel it is really important to establish and represent THAT side of addiction so please consider emailing me and we can chat:

Don't Wanna Talk About The weather Anymore...

Too hot to least that's the way it feels. It really has been a strange Spring to Summer transition. There really hasn't been a gradual warming up, no it's cold, wet, windy with severe weather and then the next few days it's humid and near 90. My body has not had a chance to get used to the heat and I suffer for it. A pretty good indication that the weather has been unusual is how many times I've mentioned it in blog posts. Almost everyday and that is unusual because I typically don't mention the weather in every day life, I just accept it unless something is really unusual. Well it has been that and more...

The lake water level is quite high so that wreaks havoc (love the word havoc!) on the shoreline and for us it's even worse because the ice flow during winter re-configured our shoreline and beach enough that we had to have someone come in and fix it...

I have an early business meeting for a recovery group thing this afternoon so I'm going to try and catch up on some sleep. I typically don't feel like eating OR sleeping when it's this hot. We don't usually turn the air conditioner on either until we get 4 or 5 days in a row of super hot and/or humid weather...this is day 2.

So cold milk with some cereal and some shut eye, thats the plan...see you on the other side!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learn Leisure?

I do get tired of hurting all the time....I try not to think about it. Try to keep it to myself but sometimes it's doing the little things that bother me the most.

Walking for example, can be a complicated process by the nerve damage in my legs and feet. Believe it or not, sneezing can be one profoundly painful experience on a bad day, it feels like I'm breaking in half at the waist. The back will feel like shattered glass for awhile afterward. It is frustrating because very little of this is visible to other people so even though I can feel it, I start to doubt whether i may be in fact over-reacting a bit.

Sitting is difficult so there are days where i'll rarely sir...unless I have to drive some where or sit on the toilet. Yep, sitting on the John can be the worst part...I've had it where I couldn't get up on my own and i wasn't in a handi-cap toilet with the big handle on the wall for just such a purpose. ever wander what that big railing is for in the stall? Now you know, feel enlightened! I bet you do...

One of my bigger difficulties when dealing with my physical issues is taking time off...for example today I forced myself to stay home when I really wanted to go into town. I was so whipped, sore and tired that i finally just laid down and let myself rest. I'm really bed because deep down it seems like I feel compelled to keep busy even when it isn't necessary.

I don't know if this is just a personality quirk or an attention deficit, anal retentive type thing but if there are say ten little things I need to do in the next 10 days I will start doing them right now and not stop until they are finished. It is like i can't relax until they are scratched off my list. I feel an incredible internal pressure to finishn and I was also like this (even worse I think) back when I was drinking & drugging.

I have chilled out some but to this day, I still feel that compulsion deep inside me to keep doing whatever it is i'm doing, until every task is complete.Today I just said nope and took a little later on I did a bunch of stuff but it was different though. I was rested and I felt like it but I do not know what the origin of that compulsion (and I have NO doubt it is a compulsive desire to go, go, go) is but I think I have always had it, at least since I was a teenager.

So trying to teach myself to RELAX has been somewhat comical at times but I don't think I'll have feel truly balanced in my life until I am settled down a bit more and understand that some things can indeed wait until later. It's like I have an irrational fear pf procrastination...

Well now that I've caught my breath a bit, I think I'm headed out for a walk, then a shower, grill burgers and close the outdoor activity portion of my day with a boat ride (unless I golf a bit more). The it's Gettysburg at 9p on the History Channel!

Getting To Work... Relaxing.

It is 8:48am and it already has been a full and productive day. Chores are done, the cat fed/watered and litter box taken care of...oh yea played golf at 6am. I just love playing early and watching the sun rise over the 4th fairway.

I have to really take it easy out there because I can't afford a setback in my recovery from stomach surgery and I will admit that it has been a bit "touchy" lately. I just haven't felt very good and it can bee discouraging...I have to watch it anyway when I golf because of my back, hips, knee and feet. But typically that is just me having to deal with pain and just take it easy. I'll never be able to play a full on, hard hitting game but I do well enough, it's good exercise and I have fun.

Plus socially it got me outside here on the island and I met a lot of really great folks. It just freaks me out some because I was always such a loner and now i know everyone here. And what is funnier yet is everybody seems to actually enjoy my company! Ha, I never would have guessed and it's a pretty nice change.

It also shows how I've changed, how things really have come together and that humbles me. I am so grateful for my sobriety and the kind of spiritual life I never EVER thought I would have. It's really freakin' cool...

I think I may head into town to hook up with a few buddies in recovery but other then that, I don't think I'm planning on doing much today. Nap, walk and re-charge my batteries...that is my agenda..oh, perhaps have a bit of a swim. The lake is freaking freezing but it's refreshing....

So I'm going to get on with my relaxing so see 'ya around, my dear blog reading com-padres!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gettysburg on Memorial Day

I'm really looking forward to the new documentary on The History channel being premiered on Memorial Day at 9pm. It is being released as part of the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War. It is being directed and produced by Ridley and Tony Scott who have some huge Hollywood Block Buster's like Gladiator, Top Gun and Black Hawk Down to their name. The reenactments are supposed to be incredibly realistic...if the pictures from the film shown here are any indication I would say that it's an accurate assesment.

So I'm pretty stoked. I have really enjoyed learning about history all my life. Especially reading then being able to visit the battlefields of the Civil War. It is really exciting that with technology as advanced as it is today, they can now do awesome recreations of these battle scenes. A decade ago, their was the feature length movie Gettysburg followed by Gods and Generals. They were both quite good but even those could not match the WWII movies that have recently come out like Saving Private Ryan, Band Of Brothers and The Pacific for realism, action and realistic accounts of what those men went through during that horrific War.

So yea, I'm like a little kid when this kind of stuff is on but in reality i love history. It's really important to understand the past. It allows us the ability to anticipate the future some what. Plus I believe that Memorial Day and honoring our fallen troops is important. We have a country unlike any in the entire world and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to those men and women who served our country and paid the ultimate price for our freedom today. God Bless 'em all and their families as well...I for one, truly appreciate what they have done for me (and all of us!)....

Torrential Rain And Good Feelings...

I keep thinking it's Saturday...for the third day in a row. It felt like it Friday, then it actually WAS Saturday night last night and again it feels like a Saturday today. Hey, I love holiday weekends it's just that as I get older I have trouble figuring out what day of the week it is. I'm really confused and couldn't buy a dang clue if I could afford one. But hey, I may in an ignorant stage right now but I'm happy so ignorance may indeed be bliss, at least for a little while!

More torrential rain late this afternoon after a decent, partly sunny morning, etc. I had a fun time over at the nursing home this afternoon and I already feel like I'm going to benefit way more by volunteering there then the residents of the home I'm visiting will. They are just wonderful folks and my heart just breaks when I think of them all cooped up inside, some without family or friends to visit. One gal just lost her husband of more then 60 years a month ago. That really has to hurt...

I am going to help with one family to start out with on Thursday...the fellow has Dementia after having a serious stroke 6 months ago and his wife who lives here to can't get away to garden or shop. She was afraid I wouldn't want to do it but I'm thrilled. He is a Marine veteran of WWII having been wounded on Guam in late 1944.

So after I got home around 2:30p I headed outside to spread mulch, work the compost piles and really just get a lot of little stuff fixed. It was one of those days I really like. So I should really be tired but I feel pretty good.

The rain has stopped so I'm thinking a walk might be in order...any way, see you tomorrow!

Hot Dogs For Beakfast

Nothing satisfy's like a hot dog...whether at home for lunch off the grill, at the ball park or perhaps just snagging a Nathan's street dog from a cart in Manhattan. And I'm not picky really about my dogs is good, I like kosher dog's yet for me they aren't a requirement. And though I don't mind different kinds, I tend to shy away from the fancy "all beef' or turkey franks. Naw, just give me a plain old dog.
I do prefer that they sort of fit the bun but even that isn't a show stopper. I'll eat 'em plain with nothing on them. Or loaded w/ketchup, mustard, onion, relish and everything in between. Sometimes I just want mustard on a dog, other times just sweet get the drift.

I'm convinced they serve Coney or Chili Dogs in Heaven...they are just on a cart and you load 'em up any way you like 'em at any time of day. Even at breakfast...

This having hot dogs any time of day started for me when I worked 3rd shift several years ago. I'd get out at 7a, get home do some chores grab a few beers and when I'd eat i'd typically eat dinner style food because I would be going to bed shortly afterward.

So I am conditioned now to eat whatever sounds good whenever it sounds good. Pancakes for dinner and hot dogs for breakfast..strange, I realize but I kind of like it.

Any way i just got back from church and before that i was up at the clubhouse for awhile where Marty was guessed it, Hot Dogs. He just started selling those JUMBO dogs for $2 pop and on a whim he sold nearly 20 of those, ah...BIG beauties yesterday. So by 7a the whole freaking place smelled like I was at a ballgame...Hmmm, what a great smell.

I know some folks are grossed out by the good ole American Hot Dog, to me it's gourmet fare all the way....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday Night Poem-Sassoon


At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glow'ring sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope: and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roar and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While Time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!

By Siegfried Sassoon

Civil War Days

It's early evening on the Saturday of memorial day Weekend. Unfortunately for most of the folks around here who are Summer Residents, the weather didn't turn out as decent as it was supposed to today. It was rather cool and damp for the majority of the day but now even that has given away once again to rain. Tomorrow (Now I'm starting to sound like I've got the lead in the Musical Annie: Tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar it's tomorrow!) is supposed to be hot and sunny. I'll believe it when I see it...
One of the quirky little things the community of Coldwater has been doing for Memorial Weekend since I've lived here full time is celebrate this holiday with Civil War Days. They have visits and speeches from Abe Lincoln and his wife who ride in to town for the weekend on an authentic steam train. They also have Civil War who demonstrate marching and battle tactics plus other interesting stuff.

I'll admit when I first heard about it and attended a battle reenactment a few years ago, I was rather snobbish about it. They were reenacting the Battle of Shiloh. In the real battle there were over 80,000 troops involved between the Northern Army of Ulysses S Grant and Albert Sydney Johnson's Army of Southerners.

In the Coldwater Battle they had 50 Union (Northern) Soldiers against 7 Rebels (Southern)...yep, you read that correctly...7! Those Rebs were some fighters because they nearly whooped 'em on the first day of the fight! But the more I thought about it i realized it was pretty cool.

They had an Army Camp set up for the weekend, traders selling goods and people demonstrating various things like period medicine, shoeing the horses and there were woman dressed up in the clothes of that era as well.

I have been unable to get involved this year with stuff happening yesterday and other thing going on today. I have a busy day until about 3:30p tomorrow so i suppose I won't get over there this year which basically blows....I know, I know! I actually have a real life now with hobbies, activities, church, etc and I don't know how to handle it, haha!

But as I wrap up this quirky little Civil war days Post it is a good time for me to mention and reflect on what so many people who sacrificed their lives so that we could not only be free,but live in a country like the United States. Thank You All so very, very much. May we never forget what you courageous folks did for me and mine on so many battlefields all over the world and yes, here in our Country as well...

Morning and ZOE Stuff!

We are jumping to it first thing this morning. I'm heading over in a few minutes to help a buddy with some stuff this morning before the funeral in town late morning. Should be a busy morning but the afternoon has some potential to be a bit more mellow and enjoyable....

I haven't really mentioned this too much here in the blog but ZOE, my KAT is quite old, at least 17 years. I can't recall when my X found her because I am terrible at remembering such things and I never wrote it down so I'm unsure..she could be another year, even possibly 2 years older but I doubt 2. She's either 17 or 18 years old and though she is still very spunky, can still jump up on counters and my tall dresser, is really alert, seems to have her hearing & eyesight still, I worry about her a bit because she is so incredibly skinny though she gets a can a day plus unlimited access to dry food. But there she is, everyday like clockwork...

OK...well this is a short post, especially for me but great things await today so up, off and away!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Lakeside LIVE, Smiles Inside!

Today was a good one as far as days go. It just felt the right way all day long, it "wore well" like a favorite old jean jacket that you still really like to wear...and surprisingly still fits!

It was quite busy and began with the flooring guys here right at 6:30a to get going on new wood floors for the main lower level hallways and the kitchen/dinning area. Naturally, I was up (I had been since before 4am) so I let 'em in and helped them to get acclimated, organized and off and running. My folks and I had spent several hours yesterday getting things packed/ put away...we had to move every piece of furniture off the floor and empty out the Herman Miller Eames CSS Unit Fixed Wall Storage Components so they could jack it up to get the wood under the posts. That was a real job because those shelves were full of china and wine glasses, Champagne Flutes, and assorted crystal pieces. There was no way we could leave it in there.

But it's been worth it...the floor looks amazing. They got the main hallways and kitchen done but the transition pieces were in so they couldn't have finished anyway. But they got those rooms all but complete so we could bring the furniture back in which is nice for the long holiday weekend.

I have a buddy's Mom's funeral tomorrow, visitation at 9a and the funeral to follow at 11a. Plus I'm helping a friend do a few thing first thing in the am (6 to be exact!) at his golf course so it's going to be a fast paced morning. The afternoon mellows out some but we have plans with some friends visiting.

The weather is going to be low 70's tomorrow, with no real chance of rain and then Sunday through Tuesday the highs will be around 90 degrees! That will be nice....

I had a cool visit today at the Nursing Home with the director of volunteers. They basically have 3 regular volunteers for that whole place! And none of them are men in a facility that is over 50% men...needless to say there is a NEED, a big one and I'm going to start this Sunday with a 1:15p church service which is run local churches and rotates each week to a different church. This week happens to be Lockwood CC, which happens to be mine so it's kind of nice that works out.

It looks like I am going to help out with some current activities to start then as I get to know folks possibly branch into some one to one time. I love reading out loud and that is something I've enjoyed doing in the past so perhaps that will catch on here as well.

There is a men's community breakfast held at Coldwater's Senior Center but there hasn't been a guy to take the men over there. Kelli, the volunteer director has gone with them a couple of times but she says the older gentlemen feel weird going there with the only woman in the crowd. I think by default I may get to be involved with that next month.

It was fun today, i got to meet a lot of really neat people so i'm sure you'll get more stories about this as time goes on...

So basically with all that going on today, it was one of those times I could feel my belly smiling, it radiates right through me as if I was smiling inside, which I most certainly was!

So though this is a rather busy holiday weekend and we don't have family coming (which is somewhat unusual but more typical now that my kids and my sis's kids are grown up) so it will be a working weekend kind of thing.

This is your friendly, lakeside reporter with the late Friday afternoon, slap-happy update live from Iyopawa Island, Coldwater Lake...Michigan now signing off, until we meet again, hold on tight my friends, hold on tight....

Think About IT...

I promise, no more food or diet related least not today.

I have a really interesting thing happening in my life today but it is a volunteer thing so I kind of feel that if I blog about it, I'm tooting my own horn. And I'm not really allowed to "Horn Toot" anymore because it feeds my insatiable EGO and I then start to run amok. (I love that word: amok, not sure why but perhaps because it feels like it sounds...?).

I will write about this thing today because in all honesty it is something I feel strongly about and perhaps if I post on it others might share my interest and concern....

I am going with my pastor and friend Shayne to a local nursing home. He is going to introduce me to the staff there and vouch for me I guess as a volunteer. Some time ago my dad was recovering from a critical illness in another local nursing home and when I visited him I couldn't help but notice that quite a few residents NEVER got visitors. So I went back to the town where I lived (Holland, MI) and volunteered to meet w/residents who got no visitors. I basically ended up reading to several who could no longer see well enough to read. It was a wonderful experience. I'm basically trying to start the same thing here.

I naturally enjoy senior citizens..I don't know if part of that has to do with my interest in history, appreciating the past or just BECAUSE...probably a little of both.

But we have tried for about 2 months to get this started and the timing wasn't working but since I'm meeting with them in just 3 hrs or so, I think it may actually go down as planned this time without getting cancelled!

I suppose I am a little nervous but more excited then anything else...a good friend of mine just lost his mother early Wednesday morning and I had visited them a few hours before in another nursing home so I found that fact rather ironic but prophetic as well. There is a real need in nursing homes in this country for volunteers and visitors. The residents there are lonely and need so love and attention...

I'm not a big fan of the notion of putting our elders in nursing homes in the first place. If there are serious medical reasons and full time care is required then I can see it but often in our society we just dump our old relatives off there and forget about them. I think that borders on being criminal from an ethical and moral perspective.

I know, you think I'm throwing stones and don't understand what it takes to care for the aged....I actually do know. I've been living here and caring for and helping my parents for nearly 4 years now. And it is one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done in my entire life and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity. I do understand that it isn't practical for most people to do this. My children are grown, I'm divorced so I had the flexibility to make this work but still, I think we can ALWAYS do a better job at it then we are. We need to keep trying to care for them ourselves as much as possible. If a nursing home IS the only practical solution, find the time to visit, regularly.

I would at least like to get folks thinking about it today...if nothing else maybe we can accomplish that. Create some awareness and communicate the need. If you doubt there is a need, then you haven't been inside a nursing home (if ever) recently. So that's what I'm asking today. Think about our elderly citizens, not just our grand parents and parents but anyone. can we do something different? I bet we can if we try....

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm killing my momentum, my energy maybe even myself with my lousy diet and lack of concern for my health as it relates to my eating habits. Did I get that message across with all the pics on my last post?!

I know, it was overkill..I was playing the emotion card but I truly am at a loss and I'm not happy that this is an aspect of my life that I don't seem to apply the recovery principles that I talk about so much here on the blog to change my eating habits. Is it just HABIT? Or am I lazy and don't want to take the time to cook?No I don't think I'm lazy...I'm not buying that one because I really don't mind chopping veggies or making good meals. Plus, I am not the main cook in this household so I can't really claim laziness when I don't have to cook...
Oh well, it does go to show how inter-twined all aspects of my life are...they really tend to impact one another and my body is lacking energy, because of that I don't feel well. When I do not feel well, my spiritual, emotional and psychological well being starts to diminish and it becomes a vicious circle feeding of itself...I can't afford to go there today.

So it is a struggle but I will say that I do see it as an advantage that I am aware of issues such as this today. Often I will recognize such issues and at least be aware that they are impacting me and work through them before I get hurt to badly. Unfortunately this issue is really a troubling one already but it was good to discuss it on the SHOCK and even though I had NO intention I'm discussing again right now.

I feel bloated, the doctors thought that was a side affect of the stuff going on with my stomach but I think it's Ice Cream BLOAT myself! I feel like sticking my gut with a pin and letting all the blubber and air out....Eeewww, I know but I'm feeling pissy because I haven't had any success with this problem so I guess I'm trying to SHAME myself into action...It isn't working because I'm craving I.C. right now...

I Really Need Help!

Whew, it has been a rather exhausting day yet I haven't done too much physical exercise so that can't be the reason I'm so beat. Is it just me or does thinking use more energy once you get older? I am inclined after a day like today to think maybe it does! I don't know it could be that I'm just feeling fatigue as a result of inadequate sleep, a lot of eating sugar based food/drinks...a little here a little there and I'm always on the go so I'm slamming coffee for fuel to the tune of 6-8 cups per hour....kidding! 6-8 cups a day....

I try to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle but fall short and I suffer for it. I don't always feel truly sick but I'm just not feeling up to par either: tired, sluggish, nauseous. I really feel a bit frustrated that I cannot seem to find a happy median physically. I strongly suspect that my diet is really affecting me negatively and I don't know what to do.

I am on a decent physical regimen, at least two daily walks of 2-4 miles each, an active day of errands and usually i'll play a bit of golf. The golf doesn't count too much as exercise because I ride in a cart and as I've stated, I play a rather "Light Hitting" version because I'm limited by my disability but I do stretch out my upper body with my swinging so it does help some. I do not ride the X (exercise bike) in the Spring, Summer and Fall because I would rather be outside. I have a bike but I cannot really ride because of my back injury and the lack of feeling in both of my legs and feet (neuropothy).

I can't help but feel that in the end, it is the my daily diet that is holding me back and frankly almost making me sick. When I have tried to eat a lighter, more fruit and vegetable oriented diet with fish or chicken it causes me to get shaky and light headed. I believe that is a reaction related to certain medications I take so I over eat to compensate then feel sluggish, full and nauseous. I can't seem to figure it out.

In this area we have the Creative Heath Institute which focuses on Livings Foods which rely heavily on a Wheat Grass based diet. I would really like to give their 10 day program a try to completely change my whole perception of food, health and it's relation to me spiritually. But that program is expensive and their is no way I can really afford it.

When I have tried similar things on my own, getting products and vitamins from the health food store I can't seem to do it consistently, properly and comprehensively so I usually get sick. A residential "immersion" seems likely to be the best scenario but again, it isn't going to happen so I might as well just stick with my slim fast and ice cream diet, haha! One issue I forgot to mention is, post stomach surgery I can really only comfortably eat ice cream, some soggy cereal, drink Coca-Cola and liquid drinks like Slim fast so I'm not really kidding. That is my diet right now and I believe it is making me ill (and probably diabetic as well).

So any suggestions? I feel like I am trapped in this unhealthy situation with out the proper knowledge, tools and discipline to make the kind of change in my life that I need to make. I guess that is another way of saying I feel a little lost, a bit adrift without direction. So what do I do when I lack direction? I resort to my old ways and the vicious circle of un-healthy eating and feeling like crap continues.

OK what do I do?

People Hurt...

People hurt...that is the title that just popped into my head a minute or so ago but as written I could mean it in a couple of different ways. People may hurt one another, emotionally, physically or do the same thing TO themselves...

Today though I am reffering to people FEELING hurt inside of themselves. It could be a long seated, deep hurt from the past or life at present that is troubling them. But I am thinking about people I know this morning and how they are hurting in their lives...right now.

For some it's family that is causing them pain. A friend is concerned about her brother who is recently diagnosed with Leukemia yet that might not be the most troubling thing: He is also an active METH addict. He is so caught up in his active addiction that he is now making poor choice about his Cancer Treatment or just not showing up for them at all...It is so sad and really quite a tragic situation.

I have written before that being in recovery has made me more sensitive to the struggles of others. This was only enhanced when I became a Christian and spiritual things became even more important to me then they already were....It is hard to know so many people as I do today who are really struggling with LIFE.

Fighting off their DEMONS one day at a time or even a second at a time...holding off the Hell Hounds as the old blues tune (I would call it Blues-Spiritual) used to go. I know the feeling well, so well in fact when someone starts to relate their feelings of such an experience it is all I can do not too break down myself. I remember it like it was yesterday.

That is the main dilemma of trying to help others in the area of addiction or sexual abuse...there is PAIN involved in the process and there is absolutely no way to avoid that very simple fact. There is pain for all is impossible to sit and listen to someone relate their feelings about their hurt, their loneliness, their heartache and not feel that yourself. You'd have to be inhuman not to be affected by that...

By the rewards are great...for me I get my life. I live for this now and it isn't a burden, is isn't a big BUMMER, a DOWNER all the time. I can't explain why but their is a joy in sharing the heartache and sorrow of a friend and being there when they are in need.

I cannot picture life in any other way today but that was not always the case. I avoided such contact in the past. I had enough problems of my own....little did I know....

I want my friends to know that I care enough to share their hurt with them today. Often that is all i have to give them: myself, my attention, my willingness to hold them close while they suffer and represent the fact that this too shall pass. Life can get better..Today I find that my life is all I truly have to offer. The question is do I actually follow through and offer it? Good question....

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Oprah's last show is on right now and I'm missing it!! Good...I never really cared for her or it. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what she has done, I just don't really care much for main stream TV shows, sitcoms, talk shows, news shows...about the only regular TV show I watch fairly regularly is 60 Minutes and I wouldn't call myself a fan of that show either.

We are getting some pretty serious t-Storms right now which normally I would be excited about. This years storms and tornadoes have taken the fun and excitement out of a good thunder-boomer for me right now. We live on an island and on the low end of the island as well...translation: No Basements! So with both my parents living here I'm concerned about not having adequate shelter if we did have a tornado strike nearby.
Above: Tornado debris dumped in Coldwater lake Cove in the NW corner

Back on Palm Sunday April 11, 1965 a tornado wiped out everything on the other side of the lake. It was a major tornado and that event has left it's scars on the memories of long time residents, including my mother/father. 44 people were killed, 612 injured and damage estimated at 32 million dollars in 1965 dollars! My Parents were not here when the tornado hit, none of my family was because back then Summer people didn't really come until Memorial Day. But my dad rode up here from Lafayette Indiana with his father the next day. The island was blocked off by the National guard but they were able to prove residency and get on the island.

Lots of trees down, debris, broken windows and such but no major damage on the island. Less then a quarter mile northwest of the island on the other side of the lake every cottage was gone. We had a boat on our beach from a cottage a half mile away!

So you can see that the T-Word is not a popular one around here and in this household specifically. So the next day or so we have warnings out for severe weather, Thunder Storms and a Tornado Watch is on right now.

I suppose I am getting to be a bit of a worry wart in my advancing age. I am going to be in town tonight and it is remote out here on the island. There is only a thin. mile long peninsula/road out to it and though the lake is 12 miles from where I'll be it's hard to get too quickly. Oh well, life must go on...the storms have settled down a bit the last hour or so, perhaps we'll get a breather for a few hours...

I just hope they are not anything like what the central U.S. has been getting the last few days. Well I need to get my show on the road, so see ya!

Bad Anger, Good Anger...

Is anger bad? I mean is being angry in itself a bad thing or is it how one deals with their anger that matters. I am not an, well perhaps an expert at being angry but not in relation to what it all means and if it is a positive or negative experience.

Photograph: Vincent O'Byrne /Alamy

I think our society in general believes that anger is a bad thing. I'm not so sure...I tend to fall into the group that believes it is what a person does when they are angry that matters. I don't think I have any control over whether I get or am angry or not. A person runs into my car in a parking lot, I feel anger, it is a natural response. I see what is happening in say... Darfur, how the Criminal so-called government there were killing off their own people...that makes me angry, just as poverty, racism, hate crime, rape...I could go on and on. Is OK to be angry about poverty but not when someone backs into your brand new car? Come on, emotions are reactionary as well, I do believe it is how we respond to them that truly matters.

My answer then is no, Anger is not bad but it is a tricky slope to negotiate. I would be concerned about my emotional state of well being and my spiritual welfare today, if I was feeling angry all of the time. There I go talking about a form of balance again but balance IS critical to my overall spiritual, psychological and emotional welfare, it just is.

I guess the longer I am living a life in recovery, regularly checking my behavior, striving to operate my life according to a spiritual and loving blueprint for living, the more I recognize the important of balance. Not just the spiritual, emotional and psychological...the physical is just as important. I neglected that aspect of my life and I still have work to do in that area.

I am more prone to over-react in anger if I am hungry or tired...that is a simple fact. If I do not feel well physically it has a counter-effect on the other aspects that make me, ME. So diet, exercise and sleep have become of more interest to me recently and it has changed my mood and therefore my behavior when I eat well, get decent sleep and exercise...I really notice it. I am calmer overall and as silly as it sounds I seem more rational, more considerate, less cranky when I have those things in balance with my spiritual, emotional and psychological sides of my being.

I'm curious if readers think anger and other such emotions are natural and it's how a person deals with them that is important or is it bad to feel anger or sadness? If it is bad then what do you do when you feel anger, suppress it? I find it an interesting question...

I personally have felt reasonably satisfied how I have recently been coping with my feelings like anger. It's not perfect but I feel pretty good when I express my feelings in a calm and measured way...holding them inside (and I'm not talking about for a few minutes, I mean permanently) will eat me up. I've experienced it, it just makes the inevitable EXPLOSION that much worse. I have also found that if I am angry at another person, confronting them isn't always the answer either. At times I will communicate anger by writing, even writing a post here on the SHOCK. The important lesson I've learned is to get the anger out of me, express it and do so in a measured and responsible way.

I have learned that for me, the "dealing with anger part" has to be a self-contained action and cannot depend on somebody else. Why? Several reasons, the first being is sometimes I am alone when I'm pissed off, duh?! But it's true. Secondly, you cannot really count on another person to act accordingly, they may NOT want to control their temper...typically is someone else loses it emotionally, my tendency is to follow suit. But I am really working at avoiding that scenario these days...

I would imagine that I will visit this subject some more because it is a front burner issue in my life today and with one guy in particular I work with in recovery. I have learned a great deal as he negotiates his way through these treacherous waters of anger, resentment and hostility. So readers, let's hear it, I'm curious...what do you think about anger?

(PIZZA) Pie In The Sky @ 6am

Pizza...Sausage pizza w/xtra cheese and I'm talking regular pork sausage, not spicy Italian sausage. Typically I like most topping combinations but the fall-back for me is always sausage, as long as it's the regular stuff. If that isn't available and honestly most pizza places are going the ITALIAN Sausage route... then the fall-back is pepperoni.

Please don't ask why I am writing about pizza at 6a, It's just what I DO and who I AM. Messed up, sure but let me suggest if this is my worst VICE right now, Pizza Obsession at 6am...then I'd say that is progress my dear friends!

You may wonder why I am including a blurry pic of a pizza on when I typically use or try to use high quality photographs on this blog. The reason is this was simply one of the biggest regular menu item pizzas I've ever seen (or eaten)! That is a regular size paper plate, not one of those small single slice jobs. This PIE was freaking HUGE and delicious I might add. I don't recall the name of the pizza place (bummer for them, they could have had some free advertising!) but I do remember we were visiting my daughter and grandkids in Greenville, SC last winter. To the left of the super pie is an XL Pan Pizza in square for...Pan Pies are not my favorite but hey, it's each his own.

I think the reason I am thinking about pizza at this moment is that I am not really able to eat it right now as a result of my stomach surgery a month or so ago. Another issue is that we do not really have, in my opinion any good pizza in this area at all. I'm not knocking the Chain Store Pizza Like Hungry Howie's or Pizza Hut, It's OK but not really what i am used to or come to expect. Even little Holland MI had 3 absolutely awesome and unique pizza places in the area Skiles Tavern, Vitale's in Zeeland and Fricano's Too.

Of the 3 Fricano's and Skiles are my two favorites and both pizza's are unique and very different. Vitale's is good but the original shop, Tony's that was there in the early 1980's was better but Vitale's which is a Grand Rapids MI family business took over in the 1990's and they are a really good pie as well. Just not super premo like the other two. But Vitale's BLOWS AWAY anything we have in this area.

I think I'm going to have to end this post because all this thought about good pizza I can't have is starting to make me cry!

What do our readers think about pizza? Pan, thin crust? Specialty pies like Mexican(GAG!)Pizza?. Americans are passionate about certain things: Pizza is definately one of them What is the best pizza place in the world? Joe Knows (Joey's) on Carrier Circle in Syracuse NY (an awesome place we hit every time we headed out to the E Coast)...I don't know, I have my fav' about YOU?!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What Now?!

What Now? It's something that I have been thinking a great deal about lately. I have a great friend, C out in S California who has always encouraged me to write. If it wasn't for her encouragement and support, I seriously doubt that Shell Shock Serenade and some 600 plus posts in the last 18 months or so would even exist today.

Any one who has read this blog now knows that part of the recovery and healing process for me included learning and accepting that I was actually worthwhile. I wasn't a bad person, I had some positive qualities, etc. Over time that has continued and I have gotten some of my swagger back....I got my groove on again so to speak. Translation: I now have confidence that I can do things like...write for example.

As I look back on the time when I started posting here on the Shock, I can't imagine what I was thinking...I really had no real idea I could write and sustain a blog and initially that proved accurate. My posts were quite scattered and often weeks even months went by between them. But at some point I remember realizing that the blog was really a perfect tool for expressing myself, sharing and also keeping myself honest. If I publicly was making a commitment here on the Internet to share then the posts themselves and the readers as well would be part of the accountability package for this aspect of my life and recovery (which today I really don't distinguish, they are One). Accountability is critical for sustained recovery...

I then had to really realize what I was actually planning on doing... That doing this would mean sharing my deepest personal thoughts/feelings plus my everyday life for the entire world to access if they so chose. And then I had to accept that fact and make the commitment to proceed...In all honesty it wasn't as difficult or traumatic as I thought it was going to be. It felt somewhat natural. Today I truly believe that it was meant to be, that this was what I really had to do to take the next step in my life to prosper, recover, heal and grow. In other words: To Live...
That brings me to the place I am today...what's next or what's now?! And I don't really know the answer to that question. I have no intention of stopping the blog, I just don't know where else I will go in my life today. Recently I have made an even stronger commitment to Shell Shock serenade in opening up more about the sexual abuse aspect of my life and other areas as well.

I have made some initial inquiries to people I know who are children of alcoholic/addicts to guest post and that is something I really want to pursue. I've pretty much struck out at this point though I do have one tentative commitment for a post sometime in the future but I would really like to get that point of view represented here as soon as possible. Why? Because I have really represented the addicts point of view (mine) and though I freely admit to the emotional chaos, wreckage and emotional damage I brought on to friends and especially family, It's not truly represented until those folks share their stories. I believe it will provide an essential balance to the the blog to also include that aspect of addiction. Those folks often truly are the ones who suffer and more often then not, they do it in silence...

I understand the reluctance on their part to "go there", to re-live that awful part of their lives. So many people feel once their addict cleans up that "the nightmare is over" and they want to push it into the past and forget that it ever happened. I get that, it sucked, it hurt and why would someone want to intentionality dredge that sh*t back up again? Some members of my family want to protect me from "their" truth, being concerned that if they really told the truth I would get hurt and upset. It's admirable but as I mentioned to one of those folks the other day, if they have read the blog (and they have) they should know I'm much harder on myself then they'll ever be. Which they acknowledged was true.

I think it will happen but it needs to happen in it's own time. I know that pushing anyone to talk about this subject is has to come on it's own to truly be worthwhile, in my opinion.

I will say that I am open to accepting any guest post from children, spouses, family members or friends of addict/alcoholics...if you would like to submit a potential post, you can email me at www.

Other then continuing the blog and branching out to be more inclusive I have once again given some thought to writing. Do I try and put a memoir together? Would there even be interest since this blog is not really heavily read? Do I try my hand at writing fiction though it is a genre that I typically don't even care for myself!? I don't know, I really don't.

Away from writing and the Internet I have become increasingly involved in working with various groups in recovery, spiritual study and a planned volunteer program at a local nursing home to read to residents who can no longer do so themselves. This is probably the thing that excites me the most because I love interacting with my elders...I just always have. That program is kicking off this Friday...

So perhaps I already have enough going on and don't really need to e thinking about something more to do...I'll have to play it by hear I suppose. So that is sort of where I am and where I'm thinking of going right now. It could change this afternoon but i'll keep an open mind and an open heart and I'll see where that might lead me.

OK, bring on Tuesday...

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Important To Me!

Today I have really covered the entire spectrum of emotions related to the various topics I typically post on here. Some of them were here on Shell Shock in today's posts but I also read and comment on several other blogs as well. I often feel like I am not able to give adequate time and attention to all of the subjects that pop up or the countless other great blogs I subscribe to here on Blogger, etc.

I really try to comment on every post that moves me enough to write but once and awhile the words just won't seem to come...then I feel like I'm short changing the author. Ach, I have to realize that there are times that I have to realize that I cannot do it all, I am human. I am just really passionate about blogging and when I feel moved by the author I like to be able to give something back. It shows my interest and my appreciation for their effort. Blogging isn't easy for most of us. I tend to read a lot of blogs that share similarities with Shell Shock Serenade in that they are personal and emotional, typically intense as well. I also read a wide variety of other types as well the similarities being intelligent commentary and really good writing. I have been a reader all my life so I have come to just expect good writing.

So what is the point to tonights post? Just that I often feel, sort of like I do now that I can run thin on time and don't always get a chance to really show how much I appreciate the blogs and posts I read. They matter to me and I can't always do them justice. I suppose there is a bit of guilt there but I realize it's totally unrealistic to expect that i respond to every blog post I read so i'm showing my appreciation right now with this very post!

So thats about it. I guess that whole thing was weighing a bit more on my mind then I realized! So I love the writers whose work i read regularly here on Blogger. You're the best and if I can't always get it together enough to share it with you when you post it please know i do think highly of the work....


I like thunder storms...not really sure why I just always have. I grew up in the mid-west, tornado alley basically so we got some doozies over the years. When I was a wee lad, I liked to pretend the booming thunder and flashing lightening at night were artillery fire on a battlefield...did I mention that I had a rather vivid imagination?

It was really cool when we were here at the lake during the summer. before my parents built their retirement home here, a cottage stood here for nearly 60 years that my grandfather built with his fishing buddies in the late 1930's. That cottage was a cool place to be during a major thunderstorm because it literally shook when the thunder cracked. I loved watching the storms come in over the lake....

So today has been kind of neat because we have had a series of 20 minute thunderstorms pass through, like 8 different times this afternoon. In the interval, the sun has been shining, a very unusual and rather odd kind of weather pattern.

I do feel a little funny enjoying this stormy weather like a little kid when this same weather pattern has wrought so much death and destruction in Missouri and other places west of here. And it was only a few weeks ago that Alabama suffered the same fate: Killer tornadoes and vicious weather...

I have total respect for the power of Mother Nature. When I was in Boy Scouts in Worthington Ohio as a 12 year old we were taken over to Xenia, Ohio a couple of weeks after the major tornado there. The damage 2 weeks after the fact was still absolutely incredible and those images have really stayed with me all these years. I feel for those people tonight in Joplin, MO...

I know everyone always says stuff like this when we have a bunch of severe weather but it really does seem like we are getting more then is typical. The tornadoes and catastrophic flooding this Spring in particular has really seemed to be almost biblical in it's severity. I realize that may be exaggerating it some but I can't recall a string of tornadoes like this since 1974 and that Superoutbreak in April of that year WAS described by many AS biblical in proportion!

So it just seems weird to me...but here I've been thinking how cool it was to be out on the golf course today in the sunshine and watch the storm come in 20 minutes later and just blow up into a huge storm. Then a half hour later it's sunny again...

I guess I'm just a freak when it comes to this thunder thing. People have often asked me if I was into Thor because thormoo my online handle for years has the word thor as the root. Unfortunately that came from the leader of a seminar I attended while I still worked for Herman Miller. he kept misreading my name card in front of my seat that read "Thom" as Thor. Of course my com-padres from work wouldn't let me here the end of it and gave me crap about it for years. But the nickname THOR never stuck.

The Moo part of the story I'll save for another time. You know me, I like to keep folks guessing...

Symphony of Rain

I'm all dressed up with no place to go! I was ready to go out and Chip & Putt some more since I can't REALLY play golf but just as I was pouring my coffee in my to-go cup, old man thunder kicked in and we got a storm...a series of them actually that have been moving through for the last hour or so.

Perhaps I missed the boat here, eh?! This was a MAJOR nap time opportunity and I frittered it away online. I think just maybe I ought to catch a few ZZZ's while the rain is still coming down. My bed is next to a window and there is a concrete patio out there so the sound is really cool of rain hitting the concrete.

So I'm going to stretch and check out a little more of God's Rain Symphony #1 in Thunder-Clap E Major!


No sense in fittle-farting around, I figure we might as well start Monday off with bang, eh?! The title of this mornings post represents my feelings about a couple of things.

First it truly was the way I've felt about myself as long as I can remember. That I was somehow so different, so undesirable that I had become "Untouchable" in the eye's of society...I suppose I was born with this feeling. It was not a learned emotion, I was showered with love and affection as a child by my parents. I got plenty of attention and guidance growing up...

Secondly two of the subjects that are most often posted about on this blog, Addiction and Rape could both fit the description as Undesirable as well:

As for addiction/alcoholism, it is certainly more accepted today as a legitimate disease and subject that is treatable through continued and sustained abstinence. It does not have the terrible stigma that it carried with it for years and years but it is still misunderstood in our society today. Therefore people would rather not talk about it...

Rape, sexual assault, sexual child abuse...again there have been some change in society's willingness to discuss and educate itself on these subjects but mostly the subject of sexual abuse in all it's forms is still taboo. Especially when you are the victim of it in one of those forms just described...

People really don't want to hear about it and it's not because they are not compassionate or they don't care. I believe our society here in America does care but the details behind these words are just too horrific and unpleasant for most people to cope with them. Hey they were just as devastating to me as I learned about it at first. So it's awkward and usually the end result of the subject coming up is silence. Folks just don't know what to say...

That made it quite difficult for someone like me. As a result of major time in therapy and a lot of work at coming to grips with what happened to me, I desperately needed to talk about what happened and yet outside of therapy no one wanted to hear it. I have even been (nicely) chastised for bringing up the subject at inappropriate times or to someone who did not want to hear it. The problem with that is, there never is an appropriate time to talk about THAT subject and people generally don't want to hear it anyway.

And in my specific case, every time this type of situation has come up, I was with friends and family and either in my OWN home or in a quiet private conversation. It's not like we were with a group of strangers at a wedding reception or at the grocery store with people all around and I blurted it out without thinking....Nope I was home with people I had assumed cared about me and were interested in my well being. It was embarrassing to be confronted about it later, I didn't have a clue it had upset anyone..

Situations like that are traumatic, they hurt and it's impossible for those type of reactions to not contribute to that "untouchable" feeling most victims are experiencing already. It is isolating and I have stated many times here on THE SHOCK that isolation is a wicked enemy of my well being.

Don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing those folks for their reaction. This is a nasty, unpleasant subject and folks would rather ignore it and hope that it would go away. Unfortunately, for me and others who have experienced it, it never ever does. I'm sure it's a natural reaction to want to ignore it and I don't want people to pretend they are interested when they are not. But it's the way these situations are handled. Like it is something I just said that was inappropriate like a cuss word. "Can you please refrain from using that language, your upsetting me?!". Like it's really a choice...For me anyway, it is denying who I really am.

I don't want to make this sound like I'm just whining. I was silent on this subject for DECADES, holding those thoughts and feelings about that experience in all those years damaged me a great deal. I know this is my cross to bear, I don't assume or expect others to help me carry me through, they couldn't if they wanted too. I also realize that I've made mistakes as I have tried to negotiate my way through the peaks and valley's of healing. But I am sensitive and respect the needs of others. I just don't always see that sensitivity and respect reciprocated, I guess that is what I'm saying here...

Ultimately I suppose I'm posting this today simply to communicate what happens at times. maybe some people will realize they can't always know what the right thing to do is.And that's OK, we are all in this big boat called life together. I try to become more accepting, understanding and helpful towards others each and every day. It isn't easy but it's a worthy endeavor so I keep plugging away.

What are you, my dear reader doing to be more understanding to your "neighbor" today?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

That Dang Black Dog

The majority of the posts on this blog are related in one way or another to addiction and the fact I was sexually assaulted at age 12. Naturally there were a slew or emotional and psychological issues as a result of this events taking place in my life.

One of the then psychological and emotional issues that I have dealt with as long as I can remember is Depression. I borrowed a phrase that Winston Churchill used to describe his bouts of Depression: My Black Dog. I have referred to my "downer" moods in general as "My Black Dog" for years now and it's a fitting nickname.

I'll freely admit I have not done much study or research on Clinical Depression. I just know what I was told while I was in the Hospital after my suicide attempt and what I have just picked up over the years. I know to this day I struggle w/Depression. And I can sense that Black Dog almost all the time, it just effects me differently each day.

It's not always a powerful, negative feeling of sadness like I thought Depression is supposed to be. Other times, it most certainly is. I can be having a typical day, getting things accomplished, feeling really good physically and just having a darn good day...and the bottom drops out. I feel instantly like all the dogs that I have loved and owned in the past all died at's a very powerful negative feeling.

I really believed when I got sober and more comfortable with my sobriety, living a different kind of lifestyle that I would not feel depressed anymore. I was woefully a lot of ways those feelings associated w/Depression got worse, much more intense and harder for me to understand and deal with. Being sober took my method of coping away: Drinking/drugging to oblivion!

Today I do not treat my Depression with medication. Don't get me wrong, I have taken anti-depressants, anti-anxiety and other psychiatric medications while I was in recovery and there is nothing wrong with doing so as long as you take them as prescribed. I made a choice at about 9 months sober to get off the Meds and try to live a spiritual based life and see how that impacted the Black Dog. That has proven to be the appropriate and correct choice for me....

Awareness, meditation and my spiritual beliefs, FOR ME (and me alone, this is my personal CHOICE) have provided me with a level of consciousness and awareness that I am able to live with my Depression but it takes a lot of hard work to keep things on an even keel....

This blog is part of that process actually because sharing how I am is critical to my well being. If I begin to isolate from others, I am in big trouble. That is just a well proven fact for me and I now know it. As long as I'm am interacting and sharing with others and working my recovery program of service plus living a spiritual life, I do pretty well.

I have low times, no doubt about it but I have learned that I cannot wallow in those seriously negative feelings. I also avoid the spikes in my emotional condition where I am too UP, too happy, too cheerful and not realistic with whats going on in life. Again experience has been a hard teacher: whenever I get too HIGH emotionally, reality will often insert itself into my consciousness and I will CRASH, hard. And that is dangerous for a recovering addict/ me I see people with years sober go out one night and drink/drug themselves into a very negative situation. They use and sometimes before they find their way back to sobriety they DIE. It's happened to several people I was close to just in the last 3 years.

That is what failure to stay in recovery can bring an addict: DEATH. So I have to always be on my toes and be aware...Awareness is critically important to this lifestyle as is honesty, openness and willingness to change of course.

I freely admit that discussing this subject and some others makes me nervous because I fear that someone will read it and think to themselves: "thormoo stopped taking his Meds, I'm going to as well"...and then they go and hurt themselves or others.

What I write here applies to me and me alone. Perhaps an idea may work for someone else and they try it and it works, that's great. But I am in no way saying that my way is the only way. It is NOT, it works for me. When I went off my Meds, I did so with input from my therapist, my doctor and the Psychiatrists who prescribed the medications to me in the first place and diagnosed me in the hospital. We were all in agreement that I needed to try and treat the addiction first with complete abstinence and then we would react from there is meds might be needed to help with anxiety or depression, etc. We never saw the need for them...

I had all those people helping me find the right way to pursue my goal...and the transition was a bitch, let me tell you. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was so fidgety and full of energy, I couldn't sit still, I couldn't sleep and I seriously contemplated taking drugs and drinking on a couple of occasions but I managed to make it through those tough times....and remember I was still in active therapy twice a week at the time.

So today it's OK but I do have my moments. For me at this point in my life, what happened to me today is typical. I'm feeling fine, going about my business and all of a sudden as I'm taking a walk around the island, I am completely overwhelmed with sadness. I didn't think I was going to be able to walk home...I meditate/prayed as I walk, asking my Creator to guide me in whatever way he sees fit and I just try to think positive thoughts and let feelings i was having just flow through me and it slowly diminished until I felt OK again.

That was a fairly minor situation for me but enough to get my attention and it would have been dangerous enough for me in the past to really screw me up. Today, openness an honesty usually prevail and it worked out that way today as well...

I really am going to try and encourage readers to please feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feeling, suggestions and ideas, etc here in the comments section. If any one would like to guest post I would be open to posting it here on the blog if it fits in to the general vibe of this blog. It's a pretty wide spectrum of acceptance so don't worry...