Archive for the Ramblings… Category

There is Hope, There is Love…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... on June 4, 2017 by henryconley

In recent years I’ve heard people ponder whether or not they wanted to bring a child into the world with all the hate that exists, or at least voice great concern for what the next generation will face.  I understand the fear, I’m not blind to the current state of the world and can see what a scary place it is.  In fact, this very week as my son and daughter-in-law brought my beautiful grandson, Elias, into this world there were many reminders.  The Manchester attack, last night’s attack in London and oh so many other negative things in the press that one could easily be paralyzed with fear.

A painful reminder of how very real evil is in this world was less than a quarter-mile from the hospital Eli was born in.  As we pulled up last Sunday, I saw a sign that caught my eye, it read Pulse.  Yes, that Pulse, the nightclub were so many beautiful, innocent people were murdered less than a year ago.  I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like for the parents who went from the happiest day of their lives to being on lock-down in a building surrounded by police and rescue vehicles.  The rest of their stay had to be tainted by the events taking place a little more than a few football fields away.

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I must admit that while waiting for little Eli to be born, it haunted my thoughts.  I just couldn’t let it go.  What kind of a world was he coming into?

Then Eli came into this world and my thoughts turned to my beautiful grandson.  He took my breath away and I felt a sense of hope.  Then while exchanging texts about my him with a friend, he said something when referring to Eli that really set me straight, “Maybe his generation will get it right…”

Hmm… What a nice way to look at it; “Maybe his generation will get it right”.  Since we have another grandson, Connor, arriving in September, I am inspired to take on this view. After all, I’ve always been a believer in setting up the next generation to be better than the prior.  We need to smother this next generation with hope, love and the knowledge that they can turn things around.

Eli was brought into an extremely loving environment, as will my other grandson, Connor.  In Eli’s case, not only were both parents there every step of the way, but so were both sets of grandparents, and two aunts (one by Facetime several times a day) the other, in-person.  Both families are very close-knit and we’ve come together to form one larger family, the Meyer-Conley clan.  The bond is strong and the love this newborn received and will continue to receive is immeasurable.

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So there is Hope, there is Love, this makes me feel better about our future.  If we do our best to instill good values and let this generation know just how loved they are, perhaps they will be the generation to get it right.  In the meantime, I will do my part to love the stuffing out of Eli and count down the days till Connor arrives.

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We cannot let hate win.

Thank you Bobby for the wise words…

 

 

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Beware of Vultures… Secondary Evils Following the Marathon Tragedy

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , on April 16, 2013 by henryconley

Here we are again… Another American tragedy and as we try to grieve as a nation, certain factions feel they have the right to spew hate and/or ludicrous accusations against our own government.  Whereas it may be their “right” to do so, it doesn’t make it any less disgusting.  In particular, I am referring to two particular situations; the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and a conspiracy theorist that interrupted one of yesterday’s news conferences.

The WBC is nothing more than a hate group and needs to be recognized as just that.  They can claim to be a church, but by most legal definitions they are a hate group.  Why they haven’t been officially recognized as one is beyond me.  Their use of social media yesterday was once again pure evil.  I’m not going to rehash how I feel about them as I’ve written about them several times, but I will say that if they follow through on their threat to picket the funerals, I will do my best to join any peaceful demonstration/human shield efforts that take place.  I call on everyone in the area to do the same if this occurs.  Hopefully they will be stopped before they even arrive as they were by many groups in December, when they planned on invading Newton.

Conspiracy theorists… Let me start off by saying that I firmly believe that conspiracy theories can serve a purpose and have a place in our society.  Challenging the “official” version of major events can sometime bring about healthy dialogue and lead to a better understanding of what occurred.  However, with that said, everything is not a conspiracy and no matter what the circumstances, there is a place and time for this kind of rhetoric.  During a press conference to help bring the scarred city of Boston (and the world) up-to-date on a still unraveling tragedy is not that time and not that place.

During one of last night’s news conferences a very misguided, self-centered, self-serving and selfish person asked an extremely inappropriate question: “Is this another false flag staged attack to take our civil liberties and promote homeland security while sticking their hands down our pants on the streets?”  Really???  I heard this live and was mortified and enraged.  For those that are not aware, a false flag attack is when a nation either infiltrates or allows an attack on its own people and shifts the blame to another country or group to help them further their own agenda.  So, in essence this person was asking if the government had just bombed their own innocent citizens.  He insinuated that our government had just murdered and maimed to help take our civil liberties.  Again, I must ask… really???  First, no matter what twisted thoughts you may have regarding a tragic event, to interrupt a vital source of information for all the concerned families and citizens is simply not right.  How can you claim to be “fighting for the truth and for the citizens of this country” as this person insinuates and go and throw this kind of hurtful speech (in the form of a question) when we are all hurting so badly?  If you ever had any credibility (which is questionable to begin with), you’ve lost it.  He had no time to gather any evidence or reasons valid enough to justify the interruption.  He made claims about drills occurring for just such a situation in Boston as if this helps prove his point.  When in reality conducting such an exercise or drill would be only responsible and prudent.

Cities and towns around this great nation conduct drills based on scenarios that could occur within their jurisdiction.  Ever since Oklahoma City in 1995 (if not before that with the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993), bombings have entered into part of disaster preparedness plans.  You’d be hard pressed to find an adult that hasn’t considered the possibility of an attack at a major sporting event.  That’s why there is often an extra security presence and it is a comfort to the average person.  I have feared for events like the Boston Marathon because of the size of the area the event takes place.  This person made statements insinuating that the presence of police and bomb sniffing dogs would have caught this and prevented it if this wasn’t an inside job.  What a naïve thing to state.  The kind of devices used were small, portable and easily hidden.  I’m sure the evidence will show that they were placed there shortly before they exploded and with a crowd that large, it’s not surprising that someone was able to sneak them in.

I was very shocked and saddened to learn that this individual was a local person who at one point wrestled on the local independent circuit.  To see that I shared many Facebook friends with him upset me.  I don’t want to walk in the same circles as a person like this.  I can only hope that people will separate themselves from him or at least, challenge his behavior.  It was inappropriate and disgusting.

For the many conspiracy theorists out there; I don’t want you to stop questioning things when they don’t seem right.  That’s a freedom we enjoy in this country and as I said before, this challenging can lead to healthy dialogue at times.  What I do ask is that you use prudence in the selection of your “quests for the truth” and show respect in the timing of your challenges.  Making baseless, hurtful accusations via “questions” at a press conference when a crisis is still underway is simply wrong.  This person has hurt your cause.  Everything that goes wrong is not a conspiracy and he is not a hero as some on his Facebook have claimed.  It was not gutsy or brave.  It was a cowardly, selfish act.  To use that forum to throw out a half-baked theory just hurts the victims, their families and every citizen of this nation.  This is why I haven’t used the individual’s name.  I will not help him stroke his ego and promote his misguided cause.

In closing, my prayers and thoughts continue to go out to everyone affected by this horrible act.  I hope and pray justice will be served.  I’m proud of all the people who ran into the smoke (instead of away from it) to help the fallen.  That’s what we do hear in New England and across this nation.  We pull together and do what we can to help in time of crisis.

God bless and Peace…

Be careful what you wish for…lol

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , on April 1, 2013 by henryconley

“Be careful what you wish for you might just get it…” Pearls of wisdom I guess.  I recently posted about dreams and letting go of them.  One of the things I mentioned was regretting that my children have no memory of the only time they had come to one of my concerts.  I not so secretly longed to experience that one last time in front of the kids.  I wanted to be like either one of the successful rock musicians I have the pleasure of knowing or heck, one I don’t know.  That’s been bouncing around in my head a lot since I posted about it.

This Friday, I’ll be taking my lovely wife to see Brett Michaels.  Thoughts of “So why can’t I be more like him?” playfully danced around in my head even though I know my “Rock Star Card” expired a long time ago (I think it was a counterfeit card to start with…lol).  What a ballsy thing for me to think, but oops… I wished to be more like him.  Stupid move on my part, I should have been more specific.  When I walk into the show Friday night I will now have more in common with him.  As of this morning’s diagnosis, I am officially a diabetic just like Brett.  Hey God, that’s not what I meant…  Now all of this was written very tongue in cheek.  Thankfully, my situation is not as severe as his, but it did make for a really ironic twist on how things have been going lately.

I’ll deal with this and do all I can to sway things in my favor.  Just another challenge to face and that’s just what I’ll do.  I do have to wonder why my family has to constantly be tested though.  It was just be nice to enjoy so peace of mind for at least a little while.

Well, it’s time to go do my homework.  Lots of reading to do on this disease.  The more you know about your enemy, the better you can fight it.  Heck, this new adventure may make for some interesting entries to this blog.  Who knows…

Peace.

Truly inspiring…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , on March 24, 2013 by henryconley

Last night I was sitting in my office (at home, not work) and looking some inspiration.  As you can tell from my last post, I am again at a crossroad and trying to figure out what I should do next towards achieving at least one of my dreams.  Cutting a few loose was an effort to refocus my goals and make them more achievable.  Oh, and yes it was part pity-party.  Sorry, but sometimes I need to throw my emotions out there.  I tend to wear them on my sleeve, which of course isn’t always the best, but it’s just who I am.

So, back to last night… While I sat and thought about it I skimmed through my Facebook news feed.  I noticed a video was there for about the sixth time this week.  Another “inspirational” clip that everyone “MUST” watch.  I don’t always watch clips like this because they are often a bit cheesy, but then again at times I’m the king of cheesy things.  So I watched it.  I watched it in complete awe.  I watched as this man stood onstage and told a story I could relate to.  It took a while for me to realize it was spoken-word poetry.  The ease he recited every line told me they were part of him, not just something he memorized.  I was blown away.

The piece was essentially an anti-bullying message, but it went much deeper and even helped me understand some of the reasons I felt a need to cut loose some of my dreams.  He stated that people even called his dreams names, like “stupid”.  Now I am paraphrasing, but the concept of dropping dreams because what other people say about them hit home.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have people telling me my dreams are stupid to my face anymore, but the scars of a younger version of me do come to the surface.  The current version of me has put all of my dreams and aspirations out for viewing, criticizing and even the laughter they may bring some people when they read them.  I thought I didn’t care how people would react and in general I don’t, but there is a part of that younger me who still fears what people will think or say about those dreams.  I think many of my stalled projects may have come to a halt out of the fear that I’d be laughed at if I failed.

After watching that video last night, I feel a bit more inspired.  I don’t know what I will put my energies towards, but I will attempt to relaunch one of my many projects.  I owe a lot to Shane Koyczan.  His poetry and performance deeply touched me.  I hope you’ll take the time to look him up and watch a few of his pieces.  I’ve included the clip I watched last night below, but he has many others on YouTube that are equally as inspiring…

Dreams are for sleep…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , on March 22, 2013 by henryconley

When do you stop chasing a dream? Conventional wisdom would most likely tell us “when it becomes impractical”, or something along those lines. I’ve always felt that since it’s a dream, conventional wisdom and practicality don’t need to play into your chasing a dream. Yes, as adults we need to know when a dream should be sidelined while reality is dealt with and then pulled out again at a later date, but does a dream need to die? Until recently, I always answered “NO!!!”, with extreme and guttural intensity. I had shelved many dreams over the years and came back to them when reality didn’t get in the way. I honestly believed that in some form or fashion I would achieve at least some of them. Now I’m starting to think they need to die and set me free…

Anyone that knows me or has simply read my blog, knows that I feel I’ve achieved my most important dream of having a wonderful family. With a beautiful wife and two wonderful children, I am certainly a blessed man and now I’m starting to realize that to expect anything else would be greedy. I’m learning that not all dreams come true and we need to just accept that.

Again, if you know me or have read my blog you know I’ve suffered with a desire to be in the limelight my whole life. Why? Well, I really can’t answer that as I have no clue, but it’s been there as long as I can remember. It’s not something I can explain. Why do I crave the satisfaction of having an audience for my thoughts and actions? Couldn’t tell you if I wanted to. I can however, tell you it’s not because I think I deserve or that I am better than anyone else. In fact, I usually rate myself only a notch or two above a garden slug. Relax, that’s a joke. I don’t think that poorly of myself, but rest assured I don’t consider better than most humans. Definitely above those who willingly bring harm to others, but not above your average good-willed person. Do I have low self-esteem and need that boost? After the last couple of sentences one might think so, but I don’t think that’s the case. If I didn’t have a healthy self-esteem I could not do the job I do at home or at work.

To play onstage in front of a sold-out audience night after night, make that movie, documentary or TV show that moved people; to have written that play that made someone stop and think or perhaps write that novel that was a real page-turner. All dreams I’ve had for as long as I can remember. I have so many stories in my head I’d love to share. Stand in front of a crowd and perform a one man show, telling stories the way it use to be done. That’s another.

My imagination and ability to remember almost my entire life (yes I even have memories from the crib) is a blessing and a curse. I can keep myself entertained for hours on end just day-dreaming. The movies in my head are better to me than any in the theaters. The memories, a great documentary of my life. However, that imagination made me believe I could bring these stories to life and those memories won’t let me forget how good it felt to bask in even a sliver of the limelight I’ve craved. Why is this a curse? Well, because I just can’t make those dreams a reality. The good Lord knows I’ve tried. A few years ago, I honestly thought I was going to make at least some of them happen. I felt a re-birth of sorts around my 45th birthday and began to work towards making some of them come true. Then reality struck again… and again… and again… You get the point and I will spare you the details, but I will say that my life was and still is consumed with simply staying above water. Dreams are for sleep right now.

So what does all this mean? It means it is time to start letting go. I’ve gone through life with a big bouquet of balloons tied around my wrist. A balloon for every dream. Now I need to start cutting some of them away and deal with my reality. The odds of me taking the stage behind my drums before a sold-out crowd has diminished with every birthday. My children only saw me onstage with one of my bands once. It was a great outdoor Earth Day concert in front of a crowd of thousands as we shared the bill with the Goo Goo Dolls, Four Non-Blondes and many others (it was the early nineties if you couldn’t tell). Unfortunately, neither of my children remember it because they were very young (apparently I did not pass on the blessing and curse of remembering almost every minute of your life). Now I accept (not happily) that they will never see that side of me. Yeah kids, there was a time when I could at least fake the whole ‘rock star’ thing well enough to play to some pretty big crowds. One less balloon to carry…

Most of the other balloons are being set free as well. They feel more like a weight these days. Yes, I wish they would have come true (Oh God, I wish they had), but now they just haunt me like ghosts from my past. Failures that no one would know happened if I didn’t spill my guts in this blog from time to time, but I am always aware of them. So I’ll let some of those float away as well.

You could accuse me of feeling a bit sorry for myself and you would be right, but I’m entitled to at least that much. If you don’t like my public memorial for my lost dreams you can close your browser or go to another website. Doing this in my beloved blog is my way of letting go. It’s symbolic for me as this blog was born out of that rebirth a few years ago, but as you can see I don’t even get to write here that often anymore. I’m not going to cut that balloon loose just yet though. Writing doesn’t seem to have an expiration date like some of my other dreams, but for now there is no great novel or memoir in the works. Not enough hours in the day and not enough strength in my tired soul.

I won’t let go of all my dreams. I’d be completely lost without at least a few, but I’m tired and worn down right now and need to focus on reality. Not so sure how good of a job I’m doing at real life these days, so I can’t justify chasing my dreams for the time being. So the remaining dreams will be safely tucked away for now.

In closing, there’s a song by Jason Walker that kind of sums up this pity-party/memorial service for lost dreams. The song is called, Down, and I’ve included a video with the lyrics to it. Now, it’s not all a feel-bad thing either. There’s a couple of lines that sum up why I’ll always circle back to those dreams; rock star, author, movie-maker, storyteller…

“Not ready to let go
‘Cause then I’ll never know
What could be missing”

So now I think I’ll listen to the song one more time, sip a root beer (or perhaps a Shirley Temple) and say goodbye to a few old friends and goodnight to a few others. I guess dreams are for sleep after all. Well, at least for now…

My Dark Passenger…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... with tags , , , , , on March 13, 2013 by henryconley

On the Showtime series Dexter, the main character (Dexter Morgan) is a serial killer that refers to the part of him which makes him kill as his ‘dark passenger’.   In one episode, he makes the following comment about the topic:

My dark passenger is like a trapped coal miner, always tapping; always letting me know it’s in there, still alive.”

This quote hits home as  yes, I too have a dark passenger.  Wait!!! Before you go calling the authorities, let me explain.  My dark passenger does not make me want to kill or even bring harm to anyone.  Not at all.  My dark passenger is a different kind of monster.  One that eats away at me and can make the world around me a terrifying place.  It’s name is Anxiety and it too is always there like a trapped miner, tapping and letting me know it’s in there alive.

When you suffer from a chemical imbalance which triggers irrational anxiety (as many, many people do), your world becomes unnecessarily complex and scary.  I’ve written about this topic before, but feel the need to again.

For someone who does not suffer this fate, I think it is almost impossible to understand its grasp and impact on one’s life.  You see, this monster, dark passenger or whatever you want to call it, goes against logic.  I am a logical person.  In fact, my career has called for logical, sound thinking and risk analysis for over two decades.  I can apply logic and risk assessment skills to complex problems without breaking a sweat.  However, my dark passenger doesn’t believe in logic.  It fights against it.

I’m going to bring back an analogy that I’ve used before to help explain.  If something happens which triggers a normal, healthy fear/concern reaction like a broken sump pump in your basement which threatens to flood your cellar, a ‘faucet’ is turned on which releases certain chemicals in the brain that tell us there is a threat and we react accordingly.  Once the crisis has passed and the threat has been taken care of (in this case, the pump is replaced and a backup is installed and even the ground is cleared of all valuable items.), the average person’s brain would turn off the faucet.  Appropriate measures have been taken and there is no longer an imminent threat.  As the chemical flow stops, you are able to move on to other things and your thoughts are no longer consistently based on the welfare of your sump pump.  For someone suffering from an anxiety disorder, the ‘faucet’ stays on.  The logical side of the person’s brain assures them that all the proper measures have been taken and all is well, but because of that ‘stuck faucet’, a residual sense of anxiety remains.  It is unrelenting and can result in obsessive behavior like checking the pump over and over again.  This cycle can go on for weeks and months if not treated.

When a person without an anxiety disorder hears the above example, they either think it’s silly or crazy.  Granted, on the surface it does appear so, but the person suffering from this is responding to the same chemical reaction that has evolved in us and is crucial to our survival.  That chemical reaction keeps us alive and well when it is working properly.  If when facing situations that threaten our well-being or the well-being of our family and possessions, that chemical reaction makes sure we know we need to respond.  Since those same chemicals and part of our brains are at work in the mind of the person with the anxiety disorder, their reaction and need to address their worries is just as real as when the real crisis still existed.

I’ve lived through the above example and it ultimately let me to get help with my anxiety disorder.  With the help of the right medications, things have been brought back into check… most of the time.  Like that miner in the quote, it’s always their threatening to take over my mind.  Most days I can quiet my dark passenger and move on.  However, if I’ve been going through a stressful time and things have built up, it can break out, disrupt my thoughts and sense of well-being.

During an episode I will feel a sense of doom and gloom despite my logical brain telling me all is okay.  It’s hard to explain and most people would never know I’m going through an episode.  I can still function at work and home without showing too many outward signs.  After all, we must keep our dark passengers secret and tucked away, right?  Why?  Because our society is cruel and judgmental.  We fear that if we expose our disorder to the light of day it won’t go away, but instead expose us to people judging and labeling us as crazy.  I can tell you, I am quite sane.  My mother had me tested (a little Big Bang Theory humor there).  I am at times deliberately immature, silly and even odd, but that is by choice.  If you are too normal, life is boring.  Like a recent meme I saw so perfectly stated; “Normal is just a setting on the washing machine“.   So, yes I may be a bit odd or eccentric, but rest assured, I am quite sane.

Why do I share this and expose myself to potential ridicule, or risk having someone think this makes me weak?  I share this (again) because people need to understand that this is a real condition and it is treatable.  Those that experience what I have, should seek help.  Like I said, it doesn’t mean you are crazy or weak.  I think I am a very strong person.  I could (but won’t) share stories of the very real threats my family has faced in recent years and how I was perfectly capable of taking the lead against something that could have done great damage to us.  My disorder (when an episode occurs, which is rare now that I have gotten help) is a very private one.  I suffer and in many cases do not even tell my wife.  Not because she would not support me, it’s just that hard habits die-hard and since this dark passenger has been with me as long as I can remember (even as young as four or five years old), I spent too many years keeping my pain on the inside.  No one should do that.

For those of you who live with or are friends with someone suffering from an anxiety disorder; do not tell them they worry too much or that they are being silly.  Do not play the logic card either.  We are painfully aware that our worries and anxieties are going against logic.  Well, let me step back… you can try to logic things out with us or tell us everything is going to be alright, everyone needs to hear that, but understand that we can’t turn the anxiety off.  Just like a diabetic can’t just tell themselves to stop producing too much sugar, we can’t just simply stop the anxiety.  So be patient and understanding.  Be there for us without judging the validity of our concerns, we’re already doing that over and over again.

In closing, if you are suffering like I have in the past, please get help.  You’ll thank yourself for doing so, trust me.  For those around us, love us and be patient.  Remember, we are not crazy, silly or worry-warts.  We have a condition and it is not our fault.  My hope is that if more people speak out about their experiences with an anxiety condition and its good friend the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), we can bring this out of the shadows.  I’d love to make my dark passenger less of a dark passenger and more of just an over protective friend.

I hope my sharing this has been helpful.  Peace my friends!

Footnote:  The incident that made me decide to write about this topic again is quite ironic.  I’ve used the faucet analogy for well over a decade now and yesterday a pipe connected to one of our faucets burst and began flooding the house.  Thankfully, my daughter’s boyfriend had come by to take out her puppy.  He heard it burst and shut off the water without any real damage.  This started an episode for me, but not as intense as if I was not being treated for anxiety.  With the help of my lovely wife, I am taming my dark passenger and despite problems getting a plumber I am turning that internal faucet off as well.

2012 Birthday Reflections…

Posted in Ramblings..., The present... on December 5, 2012 by henryconley

It’s that time again.  Three short years ago I started a blog in honor of my 45th birthday.  I made a promise to make an entry for every day of my 45th year on this planet and I succeeded in doing just that.  My entries ranged from stories of adventures I’ve been on in my life to simple pleasures I remember from my youth.  Then there were the painful entries related to the most challenging crisis my family has faced.  Those entries are vague at best as one of the rules for my blog was that I would tell my stories and not others (unless they agreed to my sharing their story as well).  To this day, I still haven’t shared the details in this public forum and I don’t think I ever will.

With all that said, the entries from that year tell a story beyond what is written on the screen before you.  I can recall what was occurring as I read each veiled reference and see the change in mood to a very desperate man seeking peace.  It may not be obvious to the casual reader, but it’s also not very hidden.

I turn 48 tomorrow… Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been three years since I started this blog, yet I also can’t believe it’s only been three years.  Time and our perception of it can be quite strange.  When I concluded the one-year portion of this blog two years ago, I was caught up in a whirlwind of crisis management, lawyers, doctors, police and a ton of prayer.  As I look back at that year through this blog, I see a man being slowly drained of his newly reborn dreams (that was an early theme in my writings) and just fighting to stay above water.  It’s difficult for me to read, but I’m so glad I wrote it.  There is so many happy entries, a tribute to a wonderful life I’ve been blessed with.

Where am I today three years later?  Well, let me start off by saying I’m a very blessed man.  I have a wonderful wife and two incredible adult children that I couldn’t be more proud of.  I am also blessed with a wonderful set of parents and three siblings that I love dearly.  Are there challenges?  Hell yeah, but that’s what happens with families.  You just need to plow through the challenges and remember you are family above all else.

Since many of my entries dealt with my wife and children, let me give you an update on them before I return to where I’m at…

Let me start off by saying none of us are the same people we were three years ago or even two years ago.  Our struggles through tough times or simply changing times have allowed us to grow.  We may have some rough edges we are still working on but I think we are all in a better place.

My daughter Brittany is a generally happy woman who is in a healthy relationship with a very nice man who gets our full approval.  She’s had many more health challenges this year, but I think things are headed in the right direction.  She’s graduated culinary school and makes the best gluten-free desserts I’ve ever tasted.  I cherish the time I’ve had to get to know her as an adult since she moved back home.  It’s been a blessing in disguise.

My son Ian is continuing to move his way through the ranks at Disney.  He’s currently part of the leadership team at the Magic Kingdom and has a view of Main Street USA from his office.  It’s hard having him live so far away, but he’s where he belongs.  He recently proposed to his girlfriend of two years and we are thrilled to have Jennifer joining our family.  I miss him every day, but as I said he is where he belongs.

My lovely wife Deb is working in the same building as me as an Anti Money Laundering Analyst and she is very happy with this change (as am I).  We get to carpool and I love it.  We still have a great time going on our crazy adventures and our new Jeep is the perfect vehicle for Pop Culture Adventure seeking.  Deb is still not just my wife, but best friend and partner in crime.  We will celebrate 25 years of marriage this coming April and I am so blessed to be able to say that.  In this day and age, divorce almost seems to be the norm, one that I’m happy to say is not in the cards for this couple.

How am I doing?  Despite losing well over three months of this year to health issues (between arm surgery in July and this current crisis), I am still feeling very blessed.  I’m still not sure what caused my health to crash in the first week of October, but I am finally starting to feel better.  I have more tests ahead of me, but doubt they will find a definitive answer as to what went wrong.  I can’t wait to get back to 100% health again.  Not just because it sucks to be sick (which it does), but because something special started waken in me this year that died a few years ago.  I’m starting to dream again!  Not the nocturnal type, but the kind we have when we are awake.  Three years ago I was full of dreams and wanted to act on them.  It was reflected in my early writings and was supposed to play a large role in my 45th year.  When things went sideways, upside-down and every which way, I stopped dreaming and only concentrated on taking care of my family.  Instead of dreaming of a brighter future, my thoughts were usually grounded in how to make it through the next 24 hours.  Now the dreams have returned and as soon as my health straightens out I’m planning a chasing them with a renewed vengeance.

As I stare down the barrel of my 48th year, I’m optimistic and ready to hit new milestones on my list of dreams.  We are still not completely back to where we were three years ago, but I think we are coming out better for it.  As a very wise and beloved friend always says “Everything happens for a reason”.  She’s been through incredible hardships and I have found great inspiration in her attitude towards life.  In fact, Deb and I will spend our New Year’s Eve celebrating her marriage to a wonderful man.  She’s had a banner year and we will be honored to be there to share in a fitting ending to 2012.

I’m coming into my 48th year a changed man due to some tough times.  To that I say; “Good”.  Not that I welcome the tough times especially because the primary crisis caused my beautiful daughter immense pain (something a parent cannot stand to see), but “Good” because of how we are changing.  If you go through trials and do not come out changed in some positive way, you’ve lost an opportunity to grow.  Most of my changes are deep inside.  I feel more compassionate, spiritual and understanding than I was going into this.  I’m still learning though…  I’m working on forgiveness.  That’s a hard one, but I’m making progress.  I must add the caveat that forgiveness in no way means forgetting or excusing the behaviors that inflicted such pain on my family.  No, not at all.  To forgive is to let go of the unnecessary hatred that has gummed-up my heart and soul for the past few years.  It’s time to move on, dream again and let that hatred fade away.  I will never be able to speak to certain people again or view them the same way, but I will not harbor hatred in my heart and soul any longer.  Not for their sake, but mine.

So that’s it for this year’s birthday entry.  I’m going into this next year ready to put my dreams back on track and live life to the fullest.  Maybe I’ll share some stories of a few cool adventures I went on this past year with my partner in crime.  I haven’t written about an adventure in a long time… Hmm… Maybe I’ll share our adventure travelling to a little town in New Hampshire to see what their annual ‘UFO Festival’ was all about.  Or maybe the time we received a call requesting us to run a special mission for a well-know rock musician to pick up an extremely rare piece of equipment in the mountains of New York.  We’ll see…

I am blessed…  I am loved… I have dreams…  Life is good!!!