The Grateful Eight, Just a Little Late

As I chill out on writing this blog every day, there are still certain things I want to do and based on feedback, it seemed like people were liking the Grateful Eight feature I introduced a few months back where I mention eight things I’m grateful for on the eighth of the month, except I didn’t do it this month. Despite January 8 still not being a national holiday in celebration of Elvis Presley’s birthday (he would have been 85), or at least Great Musicians’ Day (it was also David Bowie’s birthday), I totally forgot to write an entry.

Anyway, here are the 8 things I’m grateful for this month:

  1. Everybody Who Said They’d Buy My Book on Kindle. Guess what, folks – it’s here! Several of you told me that you’d pick it up if it came to Kindle. Kindle HypeYou either need a new excuse of be true to your word. Here’s the LINK
  2. My Lack of Guilt Over Keeping This Page Updated. I guess I just need some more time to slack than I thought. I have a feeling there will be times of great output and times of almost no output. I’ve actually been trying to write this post for several days but other things have come up and I haven’t killed myself to get to it. This guilt-free feeling wouldn’t have happened in my previous life.
  3. Reddit’s RoastMe page. I know it’s not right to make fun of people, but I’ve always been one of those people who laughed his butt off when people made fun of me. I figure if you’re going to dish it, you should be able to take it. This is a community of people who love to take teasing and it’s a great outlet for creative writing. Yeah, some of the people go for the easy sex or race jokes, but there is some genuinely funny stuff there. If people want to be made fun of, they are my kind of people.
  4. The last Star Wars movie. The first movie I can really recall seeing at the theater, I think, is the Empire Strikes Back. I think that this most recent trilogy was for fans of the first trilogy, who grew up on it. I’ve read a lot of criticism of the film, and it’s certainly not one of those you should pick apart too much (I still wonder how they can have landing bay doors open in the vacuum of space) but if you loved the first trilogy and thought this last one has been OK, it’s worth watching.
  5. When Stuff is So Status Quo, You Don’t Notice. You know how when you’re at your sickest you tell yourself, “I’m never going to take being well for granted. I’m going to recognize it as awesome when it’s happening”? In the past month, 3 of my 3 cars have died, my daughter’s laptop has died, my dishwasher has died and my washing machine has died. There will be a day when everything is working again and I will take it for granted. I hope that day comes soon.
  6. My Son Being Naturally Smart. He just got his report card and in seven classes, not one was below 80. But the kid is lazy and procrastinates so much more than I ever did. I can’t quite break him of it and if he didn’t absorb everything he heard, we’d be in more trouble. I know he’s going to be fine in this world. He’ll probably do quite well, but jeez, he sometimes makes sloths look hyperactive.Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 12.07.58 PM
  7. The Christmas Present My Daughter Gave Me. I’ve included a picture. It’s a map of the United States that’s covered in that weird stuff that you find on scratch-off lottery tickets. The idea is you scratch off where you’ve been in the country. I could have scratched the full states, but I wanted to scratch where I’d actually been or it would have been hugely uncovered except for three states. Until I visit Yellowstone, I can’t honestly say I’ve done that part of the country. And if you think that dust from the lottery tickets is annoying, imagine it in gold and 500x the amount on your kitchen table.
  8. Alex Trebek. I don’t watch Jeopardy faithfully anymore, but I did watch that Greatest of All-Time tournament a couple weeks ago. With Stage 4 cancer, he’s more likely not going to make it and it was touching to see the amount to tributes people gave him. It was also nice he got to show his stuff in prime time. While I obviously didn’t see the 1960s version, Trebek’s has been on since 1984, when I was 8 years old. There are few things that have remained as consistent as that show and the host through the changes of my life and knowing it’s probably coming to an end soon is minor in the grand scheme of things, but worth a pause.

 

The Grateful Eight, December 2019

Generally, I don’t like these entries that mimic what other bloggers do. I have no problem with anybody else doing them, but I’m not into awards or challenges or any of that stuff. However, since I am a hypocrite at heart, I’m going to continue with an idea I found on another site and began last month.

The Grateful Eight is a chance on the eighth of every month to pause and mention eight things you are grateful for. They can be serious, funny, whatever. I enjoyed writing last month’s entry and I think since being grateful is such an important part of recovery, I need to display it openly a little bit more on this award-winning blog.

In no particular order, this month’s Grateful Eight:

BooksInHand1) My Book Finally Coming Out – I’m sure the regulars are already way sick of hearing about it, but apparently in its first week it has surpassed the publisher’s expectations and we are now moving up the Kindle release to much earlier in 2020 than first planned, and we’re having a conversation about producing a hardcover version for libraries. Even with all of my ghostwriting, I’ve never had a hardcover book before.

2) Podcasts – For the last several weeks, I’ve been a guest on 3-5 podcasts per week and I continue to get requests to book spots, now into February. If not for them, the only way I’d be able to spread my story is the occasional radio interview and this blog. Yes, I tell a lot of the same stories over and over, but to someone out there, they are always new. In my post-recovery world, it’s also connected me with some terrific people I’m still talking with to this day who aren’t into judgment. I still need that. I probably always will.

E5380CCF-602F-4F33-9069-5BC0CD70324D3) The movie Midsommer – I saw it at the movie theater twice this summer and while I know it’s not going to be 80% of people’s cup of tea, I was so moved that I got a tattoo based on the film when on my trip this past summer. Then I didn’t see the movie again for nearly six months. I watched it the other day now that it’s on demand and any fear I had of regretting that tattoo is gone. Again, I warn you that it’s a pretty intense movie. Nobody who is easily triggered by anything should watch it, ever.

4) My Son Being a Fool Like Me – On the way to school in the morning on Friday, I had the satellite radio on the Christmas classics channel. Elvis Presley’s Blue Christmas came on. At the exact same moment that I launched into my over-the-top hack Elvis impression, he started an over-the-top hack version of the back-up melody. It was just like the end of the evening at a bad office Christmas party that employees were forced to go to that only had karaoke for entertainment. I couldn’t have been prouder.

5) The Me Who Once Was Up for Anything – When we’re young, we don’t think of consequences and are willing to take more risks based on blind optimism and the kind of naïve understanding of what could go wrong that only comes with youth. Toss two heaping cups of mania on top of that and I really had some amazing adventures when I was younger. Sure, there was plenty of recklessness and bad decision making, but I saw the world, met amazing people, pursued whatever my dreams were at the moment and didn’t let anything stand in my way. My life was the Laverne and Shirley theme song. I’ve been told more than once I’ve lived enough for three lifetimes already and while I’m very different now, I can appreciate who I was back in the day, despite any other issues I may have had.

6) The Moment I Grew Up – Yes, I can point to the moment that any thoughts of bungee jumping, becoming a race car driver, randomly moving to Jamaica and a whole lot of other stupid shit was erased from my bucket list. It was the day I volunteered to be tasered by the police department where I was a newspaper editor. I thought it would make a funny story for a column I wrote. It did, but it was a miscalculation of how far to go for a story on my part. Basically, it turned out to be the electroshock treatment I needed to cross the threshold into adult…at around 32. And yes, it’s all on film. Enjoy:

7) Frank Sinatra’s Music – Sure, he dealt with some questionable people as the Chairman of the Board and stories of not being the best father or husband exist (not to Bing Crosby-level genocide, however) but man, that cat could swing.

8) This Decade Coming to a Close – If you told me on January 1, 2010 — just as my magazine was starting to really gain local attention — what was going to happen to me this decade, I would have said you were crazy. Actually, that downplays it. The first five years and the last five years are the most Jekyll and Hyde span of my life, or just about anybody I know. Oh well, I’ve always been into extremes. Here’s to a less dramatic Roaring ’20s.

So, what are you grateful for? None of that typical family or health stuff…I want the trivia.

Random Thoughts, November 2019: The Person I Can’t Forgive, A Book Push Coming, Gratitude Proven Healthy

It’s another one of those days when I’m ready to start writing but my mind is so full of multiple things that I don’t know where to go with it, so a random thoughts entry seems best. Strap in and we’ll see what comes out of my fingertips.

For those of you who check in here almost every day, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your continual support. You have been a piece of my ongoing recovery that has been like a rock I can always count on and I thank you.

That said, I’m going to warn you in the next month or two, there’s going to be a lot of messaging about my new book appearing on the site and it might get old or boring if you’re here every day. I apologize in advance.

First and foremost, this site is a great tool for marketing. Based on the search terms and how many people come here from search engines, I know there are a lot of new visitors here daily. They may only visit once in their lives and I have to let them know the book exists. Also, if anybody hears me on a podcast or radio show (of which a lot are coming – I’m recording 3-4 a week right now) and they visit the site, they need to easily figure out how to get the book.

I would really like this book to make some money and I’m going to try and do my best to make sure it gets into as many hands as possible. I know that I’m doing a good thing by producing the information in the book, but if I want to write more books, the publisher needs to make money and if I want to justify the time it takes to write the books, there has to be a few dollars in it for me. So anyway, thank you very much in advance for understanding I’ll be a little bit more in sales mode when the book goes on Amazon pre-order next week.

And of course, feel free to buy many copies. They make wonderfully awkward stocking stuffers.

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I’ve let go of so much resentment in my life and given internal apologies to so many people who did me wrong in my life as part of my recovery. It’s been a crucial part of getting better. Letting go of bad feelings has freed up plenty of space in my head and my energy can be used for more productive things.

There’s one person who I’m still having the hardest time of forgiving and it’s my fourth grade teacher. I know that sounds strange and I keep running through incidents in my head that more than prove she was a cold, narcissistic phony with little regard to children or their mental health. It doesn’t make sense why of all people, she’s the one I’m holding a grudge against. Why could I forgive the others and not her?

I could share a lot of stories that would make you dislike her, too. She wasn’t a good person. But even if I easily convinced you of that, why does this stick with me?

I remember once she said something to the effect of, “I’ll have you children know that you may think I’m not fair now or I give you too much work, but I can’t tell you how many of my former students come back and say, ‘Thank you Ms. G. You were the best teacher I ever had.’” I think she couldn’t tell us because it hadn’t happened yet.

I recall the moment she said that I thought to myself, “I’m going to come back and tell her how terrible she was and I hope I hurt her feelings.”

My position hasn’t changed in nearly 35 years, and I don’t know why.

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Speaking of productive things, for those of you who read this entry from a few weeks ago, you’ll be pleased to know I cleaned the garage enough to get a car in their during winter storms. Or, rather, I threw about 10 trash bags of junk away, made around 20 trips to the basement moving stuff I wanted to keep, then was exhausted, moved everything into a big pile on the right side, and called it good. I’ll either finish the job in the spring or die before that. I’m not sure which is worse 🙂

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Finally, I finished reading a study about gratitude yesterday and while I’m not going to write a full entry about it, in the last few years, science has made amazing strides toward connecting those who regularly, consciously practice gratitude vs. those who don’t.

From quicker recovery time from major ailments and procedures, to a better overall performance at work, some of the statistics blew me away. Part of me still wonders if there is some other common thread that researchers are missing, but it’s hard to deny that aside from just making you anecdotally feel good, practicing gratitude will make you a healthier, more productive person.

So, I guess this means we should stop throwing up in our mouths a little when every perfect family shares on Facebook how much they are blessed. Apparently, it’s healthy.

Science is cool.

The Grateful Eight

OK, so if you’re reading this in the far-future, today is Friday, November 8, 2019. I’ve spent much of my week proofreading my (please, God, please) final galley of my book coming out next month. I’m so proud of the book and think it’s going to help a lot of people, but it’s been a lot of work. I need to remind myself that I’m grateful for having the opportunity to write it and see it published.

As I was reminding myself I need to be grateful, I came across another blog that I follow that said today was the Grateful Eight. Apparently, on the eighth of each month, this nice lady likes to list 8 things she’s grateful for. Despite the fact I’ve been cranky for a few weeks, I am actually someone who has included gratitude as part of my everyday recovery.

I had so much to be grateful for, even in the depths of my worst alcoholism and porn addiction, but couldn’t recognize it. I now understand how much work it is to create and operate a magazine, so I’d never do it again, but I think I still possess the dumb optimism that allows me to embark on grand adventures. And I’m very grateful for it now.

Anyway, along with that, and in the spirit of embracing other people’s blogging games, here are my Grateful Eight…

  1. My wife – I know it’s a sucking-up move, but she doesn’t read this blog, so it really isn’t. Despite our differences, we make a very good team and if it was not for her support, not only over the last 6 years, but also the 10 years we were married before that, I think I’d be a shell of who I am today.
  2. My mind – Despite the fact there are facets of it that seem broken, there are other facets that work far better than most people’s. From my ability to read people and size them up quickly to the photographic-like way I can remember trivia, I know that I was given extremes in how my mind operates. I’ll take extremes over average.
  3. My parents – If you can find two parents who have been dragged through more emotional highs and lows by their kid, well, I don’t want to have dinner with those people. Within the space of a year, my parents went from hearing from everybody, “You must be so proud of your son on the city council” and “His magazine is so terrific, you must be so proud” to having to deal with, “So, he didn’t really do it, did he?” Their support for me has never wavered, and at times, that has included far too much financial support. I hope I’m half the parent they’ve been to me.
  4. Vaccinations – Both because they may have saved my life multiple times and I’m sure there’s someone reading this who will get irritated and claim that I don’t know what I’m talking about because they once heard of someone’s kid getting Flying Squirrel Syndrome or whatever other disease from a polio vaccine. Realize this, though. Our grandparents could die from stuff that we don’t even think about. That’s science at work, not superstition.
  5. My kids – While I admittedly wasn’t the best father for many years of their childhood, thankfully they only have one father, so they don’t know the difference. Just kidding. I find as they get older they offer me far more wisdom than I offer them these days. Taking the cross-country trip with my daughter (it was just her and I the first 10 days, then other parts of the family joined up for a week, then just my dad and I the last 10 days) this past summer was one of the best experiences of my life with her and I can see my son and I developing a best friends relationship that will run deep into his adult life.
  6. The open road – The thing I missed the most while on bail, in jail, and on probation was my inability to move freely outside the state of Maine. If I had been in California, that’s plenty of space to roam around and experience different places and climates. Not so much here. While that August road trip sent me into the red, it was the soul cleansing 9,000-mile journey I needed to put the legal ordeal behind me.
  7. Chefs – Thank God there are people in this world who know how to take food and make better food from it. I have literally never made anything from scratch except for fried rice and pasta salad, and neither are very good. I don’t think they get enough credit for being true artists. My life would be far less joyful without them.
  8. The benefit of the doubt – I need this a lot in life now and I’ve learned there are many people who will never give it, nor give it back, to me. It’s an act of faith and means a lot.

As a bonus one, I’m grateful for all of you who will spend a few seconds looking at pictures from my awesome road trip. I keep meaning to put these up. I guess two months late is better than never, right? I guess if you click on the photo or hover over it you get a caption.

 

I don’t need your full eight, but I’d love to hear about a few non-obvious things that you are grateful for in this life, and you can’t say my photos. I already know you loved those.