Distractions, Choices and Perfectionism

As is far too often the case, I’ve been a bit remiss in writing in my blog. This will be only my 8th post for the entire year. Despite all my best intentions, what can I say? It happens! Just know, like any good friend, I haven’t forgotten you.

There are always the, what in my life are, “normal” distractions. Here are just a few, listed in no particular order:

My genealogy research.

My genealogy website.

Visits from family and friends when I’m “home” in Las Vegas (Although it doesn’t occur nearly enough)!

Reading. I’ll never get “caught up”, the list seems endless. I’ve been fascinated lately with the classic novel Little Women and its author (a distant cousin). I know… I’m a guy… crazy huh?

Watching television shows (mostly political, documentaries, real life in nature). Netflix movies… then there are all those YouTube videos that run the gamut.

Traveling… to far away and exotic, worldly places like Mahaffey, New Hudson and Pahrump, NV.

Going to the movies (again, mostly real life in nature), but I haven’t done much of that lately.

I’m a procrastinator.

I’m a perfectionist!

I’m old, I get tired.

Television personality Geraldo Rivera once said, “Life is a series of random choices, and what we make of life is what you make of those random choices.” So true and I’ve come to understand as well, with those choices come consequence. With them we sacrifice one thing for another. Distractions come at a cost to this blog.

I don’t think, especially at this stage of my life, I could write for a living. I admire those who do. I’ve had friends who do. One of my cousins has written several books and publishes a weekly column. He’s done it for years! In another life I used to write on a daily basis. Then I’d read it out-loud. I actually got paid to do that.

What an absolute chore that would be now! For me, the deadlines and pressure to produce would just be too much. Guess that comes with old age (although my cousin is older). I give him credit, where it’s due. My last self-imposed burden was in September of 2011. It was a thirty-day challenge to write a blog every-single-day. I did it, but I doubt I’ll ever do it again. It was painful. Now I write because I want to, not because I have to. Or do I?

For most anyone, writing is a laborious and time-consuming process. I think it’s worse for me. I have a friend, and former News Director to thank in-part for this. He’d often ask his co-workers about their writings, “Is it compelling?” Is it? I’ve never forgotten that and I likely miss the mark frequently.

I’m never bored with life, there is always something to do, something to occupy my mind. Lucky me, I always have ways to wile away the hours. I’m never at a loss of “what to do now?” There are a lot of hours these days to wile away.

Life is such lately I’ve been known to say, “A lot of times I don’t know what day of the week it is, and I often don’t care.” Some people envy me, they tell me so but, there’s so much more I could be doing. I miss my volunteer work with the USO and I’d like to contribute some time at the local Veteran’s hospital. I think about it anyway …

It seems I’m always writing. If I’m not adding notes to my Evernotes app, making lists,* making plans or writing in my journal, I’m working on editing and perfecting a future blog. Being a perfectionist, like Kermit’s Bein Green, isn’t easy but it’s a cross I must bear. It can be burdensome to a writer, that wants to be read. You might be surprised how many blog drafts I have, just waiting for me to finish. There are currently more than 40 on a variety of subjects. The number of times I’ve rewritten and edited what I write seems almost to be an affliction, a debilitating habit at the least.

Often I’ll be writing on my genealogy website or working on family biographies. The biographies of two uncles in particular had been in the works for several years. After dozens, possibly a hundred or more rewrites, I finally finished one of them several months ago. The other may soon be worthy of sharing. I know, to some, my interest in genealogy and family history is considered odd. I’ve been criticized for it but… it is what it is.

Occasionally I’ll turn to my own personal history and work on that (again odd to some, I know). I often think I should be devoting more time to that cause, as one never knows how much of it we have left. There are just far too many stories that need told while time is a finite, priceless commodity.

I recently came across another persons blog writing about the Liebster Award. I’d never heard of it. Apparently it’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It’s website says:

Bloggers are a funny bunch. We read a lot, write a ton, scour the web for new content to consume, and even give ourselves awards for this stuff.

That’s me! All except for the awards part… but there’s always next year.

 

*Related Posts: Lists – Evidence of a Troubled Past?

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 Decisions

I watched a movie a few nights ago about the writer Ernest Hemingway, probably the most influential writer of his time. Many of his works are considered classics of American literature. In 1964 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But despite all his success and fame he was a troubled man. He made some awful decisions. His final one was to end his life with a shotgun.

In poker, decisions really matter. A big part of the game is inducing your opponents to make mistakes. Good and bad decisions can make the difference between sudden death or sitting behind a commanding stack of chips. It’s said, poker is a microcosim of life itself. It’s true and part of the reason I love the game so much. Still to be determined though, is whether my investment in it has been a good… or a bad decision.

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Uncharted Territory and the Road Ahead

Whatever challenges you may face, whatever circumstances are weighing you down you can choose your response…. How you live your life is totally up to you.  It’s not dependent on your circumstances, it’s dependent on your choices. ~~ Joel Osteen

I have a young, teenaged friend “CJ” who over the last eight months I’ve come to know. He was far from his home, family and friends and looking for a new life. I like him. He’s tall, 6’4″ personable and outgoing. An all-American kidCJ002a  from a small town in south-central Texas (population 857). He’s been referred to as an “18-year old man.” The reality is he’s just a kid and, like a lot of 18-year olds, restless, self-assured, a little cocky, but naïve nevertheless. CJ has no lack of confidence. The last few times I’ve seen him (most recently earlier this week), as we said goodbye, I would routinely say to him — somewhat tongue-in-cheek — “Stay out of trouble CJ!” He’d reply with something like “All is good” and be on his way. Little did we realize how much trouble he would soon find himself in. Life has a way of changing dramatically with the passage of a few brief moments and seemingly unrelated, foolish choices.

Yesterday my young friend was charged with Murder in the First Degree accused with a 20-year old companion, whom he’d just met, in the brutal bludgeoning death of a man in a nearby community. This is new, uncharted territory for me, something I was unprepared for. I find myself uncertain how to react and even a bit lost for the right words. How I wish I could have seen the road ahead! I feel bad that I didn’t do more. I should have contacted CJ’s parents as I watched his downward spiral. No… things aren’t always as they appear. But instead I chose to think, “He’s a good kid, he’ll grow up. It’s a stage. He can take care of himself.”

CJ and I sat together and talked a lot, many times while I worked on previous blogs. I enjoyed his company. It was an education to learn from him the distractions, challenges and temptations he and his peers live with. I already knew about most of them but, with CJ we talked specifics.

While I honestly worried about his welfare, I had faith in his abilities to conquer his youthful impulses and to find for himself the right path. From his narrow perspective and among his crowd, he was “normal … things are cool.” I understood his thinking but I knew it wasn’t true and I told him so. In CJ I saw potential — rays of hope — and a better life ahead, but ultimately I knew he was in control, as he liked it, as he wanted it. Besides, is it really any of my business? I have my own problems, my own children and who am I? Especially when CJ and I really have so little in common? But then again, No Man is an Island and CJ will remain my friend.

One thing in all of this is certain… no one should forget the victim, Rich Bergeson, whose life was brutally and so needlessly taken and to whom the video at the link below pays tribute. The reality is, there are many other victims as well. Along with all the affected families and friends whose lives would intersect in such a tragic meeting, I am but one of them, and together we cry, knowing our lives will never again be the same.

Another day of work, another paycheck. The future is looking bright.
Christopher John “CJ” Shade, 20 August 2014

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Choose How To Start Your Day

I loved this story from the time I first found it several years ago.  It’s author is unknown.  I hope you enjoy it!

Michael is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”  He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, Michael was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Michael and asked him, “I don’t get it! You can’t be a positive person all of the time.  How do you do it?”  Michael replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, Mike, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood or you can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood.”

“Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me  complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.” Continue reading