The Grateful Eight…on the Right Date!

I haven’t managed to get one of these posted on the eighth for a couple of months, but dang it, I’m going to get it right this month. It’s time for the Grateful Eight…eight things I’m grateful for in my everyday life. They can be super important – like being grateful for oxygen or your family – or they can be rather mundane and silly. Feel free to contribute your own thoughts in the comments or steal the entire concept.

Balance – While I am clumsy and will roll an ankle with no warning, I’ve noticed I’m continually getting better managing the balance of professional and personal life and devoting the proper amount of time and energy to each. I feel like I’m learning when to pull back if I’m tired and need a break, but almost as importantly, not feeling guilty for it. I spent decades not being able to do this, so I know it’ll always be a work in progress, but I feel good about my ability to balance things better than in the past and I think it’s important to recognize when we’re getting better at a skill that has alluded us.

The EZ Pass – I know it’s called other things in different parts of the country, but the ability to just glide by those other drivers who don’t have the electronic toll payer is priceless. On my recent roadtrip, I probably saved 20 minutes at the George Washington Bridge not having to stop and pay whatever the ridiculous toll is for the pleasure (?) of going from New York to New Jersey and vice versa. I bet on the entire trip, I saved 45 minutes not having to stop to pay tolls.

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Pre-Cut Cheese – Maybe I’m just too young to understand the concept of something being “the greatest thing since sliced bread” but I’ve noticed in the last few years they now sell pre-cut blocks of cheese, the perfect size for putting on a Ritz cracker. While it pains me to write this entry without a single “cutting the cheese” joke, those of us who love cheese and have wasted too much of our life cutting slices too thin, too thick, or at a weird angle were given a gift when the fine people at Cracker Barrel started packaging it pre-cut.

Cheers – I’ve decided to binge watch my first streaming TV show. I literally haven’t used Netflix in years, and it just happened to be on the TV when I took over the living room the other night. Now I watch about 3-4 episodes of this NBC classic from the 80s and early 90s most nights. This was such a great show. It’s one of those I never see in reruns which is a shame because I think there would still be a huge audience for it.

Coronavirus – Because weren’t we all getting tired of the Australian Wildfires and ready for something else to worry about we can’t control? Remember to wash your hands. And when the scare is over, for God’s sake, keep washing your hands. We use Clorox wipes in our house, even pre-plague, but I had to go to four places to get them yesterday. In one sense I’m glad…people are finally not being disgusting, but I have a sense they won’t be tough to find in a few weeks.

People Still Buying My Book – The softcover version has been out 10 weeks as of today. It’s still regularly in the top 1% of all titles on Amazon and it’s now in the phase where libraries are buying it and they’re snapping it up much more than my first book. It won’t ever get to the point where I can even claim to make close to minimum wage for writing and promoting the book, but I’m not doing it for money at this point. I just feel validated people are interested. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s still like 20% off cover price on Amazon as I write this.

My immune system – Not only do I not have the Coronavirus, I don’t have the nasty sinus infection my wife has nor whatever my son seems to be fighting off. I’ve probably had two colds in five years and (knock on wood) don’t think I’ve been sick in about two years. As an aside about washing your hands and keeping your area clean…I was in jail for six months back in 2016. We kept that pod sparkling clean, mopping, washing tables, the bathroom, doorknobs, faucet handles, etc. every day. I didn’t see a single person come through their in my time and end up getting sick. There is something to battling germs, even if it’s just spraying Lysol a couple of times a day. I work from home and am not often around big groups. I should get sick more often, but because I maintain a clean environment, I generally don’t get sick very often.

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Time Healing Wounds/Making Things Seem Less Important – I’ve slowed down my interviews for the current book as I work on other things, and in not giving 5 a week, I’m noticing in those I do give far less attention being paid to my personal story, and the parts of it that I got in trouble for. As I approach the six-year anniversary of being arrested, I’m grateful that we reach a point where people’s pasts aren’t forgotten, but don’t need to be dredged up every moment. I did some horrible, stupid shit in 2013, was called on it in 2014, and finally paid the price in 2016. But I also turned everything around, became a porn addiction expert and am now doing good in the present. It’s reassuring that while I should never forget, nor should others, what happened, it’s possible to move past it and focus on what I’m doing today.

Like I ask every month, I’d love to hear some of the things you’re grateful for. Just take a minute and reflect on today or the last few days. What has made you stop and say, “I like this…This is convenient…This is important…I am grateful”? As I said, it’s important things and not-so-important things, but it’s a great exercise to be thankful for things.

The Grateful Eight, Only One Day Late!

I know that I’ve been providing less entries lately, but one that I enjoy writing and I think is a healthy exercise for me has been the Grateful Eight, even if it isn’t always coming out on the Eighth. So, here’s another example and I hope you’ll let me know of some things that you’re grateful for in the comments.

To refresh the concept, on the eighth day of the month, you’re supposed to write eight things that you’re grateful for and make several of the non-traditional. We’re all grateful for health, family, etc., and it’s important to acknowledge that, but it’s just as important to acknowledge the mundane and trivial that help to flesh out the quieter, less memorable moments.

Anyway, here are my Grateful Eight for February.

  1. Tiramisu – My 44th birthday was yesterday, and I frankly just can’t take the frosting on any cake these days larger than a cupcake. Over the last 10 years I’ve been introduced to and fell in love with this dessert and for a guy whose sweet tooth is rapidly fading, it’s the perfect piece of birthday cake.
  2. Unexpected Plans – When you get married, have children, work from home and have to abide by a few rules because of something colossally stupid you’ve done, spontaneity isn’t a great presence in your life, which makes when it happens all the more special. I sat down at my computer on Friday around noon and by 2 p.m., the opportunity to road-trip with my daughter to North Carolina at the end of this month and fly to Los Angeles with my son in April presented themselves. No, I don’t get to scratch any new ground covered off my map, but in two hours, two experiences I know I’ll remember forever materialized. Funny the way things work.
  3. The Sun – When I was struggling with the Higher Power concept in my first few days of AA at my first rehab, one of the people suggested I just make the sun my Higher Power since it was literally high in the air and provided all the power for life on earth. I’ve never forgot this idea. All life on Earth, would essentially be dead with 90 minutes if the sun flamed out. Most of us would be dead with 20. Glad it’s there, aren’t you?
  4. Bell Telephone systems – Yeah, it’s a rant about being an old person, but remember when you’d get pissed off when your phone bill was over $50 because somebody spent too many minutes on long distance? We’re now paying nearly $400 for a family of four on our cell phones per month and after shopping around, can maybe save only $50 with another carrier. We survived before Smart Phones – we just had to look stuff up in the encyclopedia and telephone book.
  5. Not Being a Hoarder – My parents aren’t hoarders and with the spate of people in my family who have died over the last 5 years, they’ve been serving as executors on a lot of estates and all of these people had giant houses and wouldn’t be called hoarders technically, but that’s only because of the space they had. I like the fact I live in a very small house. It forces me to prioritize stuff. I just got a bunch of clothes from my uncle’s estate and instead of just adding them to my closet, I made sure to try and donate or throw away one old piece for every new piece I added. My parents aren’t hoarders either, which when I’m forced to clean out their home…hopefully not for another 20+ years…I won’t be faced with what they’re dealing with.
  6. Sugar-filled Kool-Aid – Going hand-in-hand with my rant about phones, I tried Kool-Aid for the first time in 35 years the other day. They don’t make it with real sugar anymore like when I was kid. It tasted like nothing. That stuff back in the day? That was the shit.
  7. Glasses – I’m not nearly as visually impaired as most people who wear glasses. It’s mostly because I’m in front a computer screen 12-15 hours per day and have been since I was 17, which was a pre-Internet, Smart phone world, so my eyes get tired quickly now. I’m thankful though because I think of those people who helped settle the West, or the Europeans in the 1500s and 1600s who led the world, or all of the people in poor, developing countries these days. How much must it suck to have blurry vision all the time? Really glad I have my glasses. Also glad I could find a picture of the Kool-Aid man in glasses to combine two things on this list for visual representation.
  8. Dog Shit – I’m just kidding. That’s not on my list. My ability to not take things like this too seriously and think outside the box is something I’m grateful for. Yeah, I don’t always know the right time and place and it often leaves people confused, but it always amuses me. There are people who didn’t think writing Dog Shit was funny. That’s OK. We can’t all be as hilarious as me. Be thankful I didn’t try and find a picture of this.

 

Like I mentioned at the top, I’d love to know what some of the random things you’re grateful for in your life are that aren’t obvious. Practicing gratitude has been one of the best ways to keep perspective on things in my post-recovery world, even the mundane things. It is with them that I often realized how truly lucky I am to lead the life I do.

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.