5.83 New Year’s Goals

I woke up yesterday, January first 2015 with a belly full of hope and a brain full of ideas of what I was going to accomplish in this upcoming year. I, like many other human beings when given a calendar with a new year number and a bunch of empty squares are immediately filled with the desire to create an assortment of tasks and goals for which to fill those squares.  Tasks which become the benchmark on how successful our year was.

So I set about the annual tradition of creating my goal list for 2015.  A list that in the past that has included items such as eating more donuts and learning all the words to the Nicene Creed.  Two goals by the way that I failed to accomplish.  Surprisingly enough eating a donut a day is much tougher than it sounds, although this was probably my most delicious goal I’ve ever set.

Goal #1
Start a Procrastinator’s Club

Mundane or Memroy

This one has been a desire of mine for the past 8.5 years.  Ever since July of 2007 I’ve wanted to start a club devoted to procrastinators.  I’m not saying that I’m a procrastinator, I just saw a need in the market for a club dedicated to the art of procrastination.  This is something that I want to get started in 2015 and yesterday I was supposed to write the bylaws.  Something that after opening up the computer to begin the process of creating bylaws and other procedural documents I put off in leu of riding my bike trainer.  I mean I’ll get this club started in 2015, I’ll just start working on it tomorrow.

Goal #2
Don’t Forget My Pillow

If you have ever traveled with me, and if you have consider yourself lucky as I make an excellent travel companion full of wit and handsome to boot, you will often times notice that I forget my pillow.  I don’t know why I always forget my pillow, I just do.  There have been many a trip where my pillow has remained at home and I end up using a sweatshirt or a pair of jeans to rest my head.  Now it’s not that I don’t mind sleeping on a pile of crumbled up dirty denim, I find it lovely at times expect when your head rolls over the rivets.  No it’s that I need to get a little better at remembering the small details in my life.  I sometimes get lost in the big picture of where I’m going and forget the small, yet important details, like a pillow, and I need to get better at looking at all the small details while keeping an eye on the big picture.

Goal #3
Upgrade my phone to OS8

OS8 scares me and I’ve resisted the upgrade to the new operating system, but not in 2015. No sir I’m upgrading to OS8 this year.

Goal #4
Race my bike

Pack Fodder Practice

This year I want to get up early on a Saturday morning with butterflies swarming in my stomach, get myself dressed in a kit that doesn’t quite match, and head to some dot on a map to race bikes with a bunch of other middle aged men who have something to prove.  Bike racing scares me and intrigues me at the same time, but I know if I don’t race at some point in my life I will deeply regret it when I’m 80 years old and sipping milkshakes on my front porch.  I’d rather be able to regale my grandchildren with epic stories about how their grandfather was pack fodder at small time Cat 5 races, then tell them tales of how I spent every Saturday going to Home Depot to look for deck boards and new kitchen faucets, speaking of which I do need some new deck boards.

Goal #5
Give stuff away

I have too much stuff and I need to give my stuff away.  I don’t know how I got so much stuff, but I have too much of it.  I think 10 plus years of Saturday morning trips to town have added up and I now have too much stuff and I need to get rid of it.  If you are in need of some stuff let me know and I’ll be happy to give it to you.  My stuff is pretty nice, it’s not all beat up.  I do have one caveat attached to this, I do not have too much bike stuff.  I’ve researched this and a scientist once told me that the science has decided that it is impossible to have too much bike stuff and hey who am I to argue with science.

Goal #5.75
Be more awesome

IMG_1124Going to take my awesomeness to the next level in 2015. Which in case your wondering is level 11 on a scale on 1-10. Yeah I’m that awesome.

Goal # 5.83
Grow in my faith

This is something that I all to often put off to tomorrow, where at night I often find I’ve forgot this important detail of my life.  I’m scared to upgrade and grow in my faith, convincing myself that time spent at Home Depot is more important than time spent racing around the inner workings of my brain wrestling with why I believe.  In the end when I do grow in my faith, I am more willing to give it to others, which in the end is pretty awesome.

Crucifix

God Bless and have a happy new year

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Have a tall glass of Kryptonite

I don’t like milk, in fact it is my kryptonite.  My wife knows this and when she wants to gross me out, she’ll leave a cup of milk on the table a bit too long and as the milk reaches room temperature my skin begins to crawl.

My hatred of milk started many moons ago when I was forced to dump out gallons of rotten milk down a slop drain at the grocery store I used to work at.  I used to plug my nose as chunks of curdled and sour milk glugged out of the jug and headed down the drain. Needless to say this wasn’t my favorite job assignment.

One day I was pouring two gallons of sour whole milk down the drain when I noticed the drain not fully draining anymore.  The curdled milk was starting to spread out across the floor.  Hmmm I thought to myself must be something wrong with the drain and when a sour milk drain stops draining, the only thing to do is to continue pouring milk down in hopes that it will eventually start to work.

I poured the remaining milk down the drain and hoped it would unclog. Alas it did not and now I had a pool of sour milk spreading across the floor.  Whoops better grab a mop.  I headed over to grab a mop and in the process caught my manager’s eye.

“Hey Undem, something spill?” my manager said.

“Nope, just need to mop up some sour milk that won’t go down the drain,” I grabbed the mop bucket and made my way back to the drain.

“That thing stop working again eh?  Well you best figure out how to get it cleaned out.” he said returning to his inventory report.

Oh crap, I need to clean out the milk drain.  The thought of the milk drain made me throw up a little in my mouth.  It was the probably the one job at the store I feared the most.  I’d rather clean toilets or pick up cigarette butts with my bare hands than clean out the milk drain.  That thing was absolutely disgusting, but there was work to do.  I rolled up the sleeves on my white dress shirt and hung my tie up in the break room.

Thankfully, I don’t remember much about cleaning out the drain.  My brain has blocked most of the images out of my head in an attempt at self preservation.  All i do remember is that it was probably the most disgusting thing I have ever done in my life and it has since soured me on my desire to drink milk.

CL1_2517Recently I thought I would make an attempt at drinking milk again.  So one evening I poured myself a nice talk glass of Kryptonite and took a small sip, and by small I mean a very small sip.  The milk made its way across my taste buds, who in turn lit up like a Christmas tree alerting my brain that milk had breached the system defenses and evasive actions where needed.  That one small sip was all I needed to confirm to myself that I still hated milk.

The next day i decided to try milk again, this time I would try while on my lunch break at work.  I figured since I was no longer at home and in a new environment that maybe, just maybe milk would taste better.  One tiny sip later and it was confirmed that I hated milk while at work too.  It doesn’t matter where I am I don’t like milk.

As I ponder my recent milk experiment and it’s bearing on my life I can’t help but call to mind part of the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  We all struggle at one time or another in our lives with God’s will.  We fail to do what He asks of us or simply don’t like what He wants for us to do.  Truth of the matter is if we don’t like God’s will here on earth, we aren’t going to like it heaven, just like if I found out if I don’ t like milk at home I’m not going to like it at work

If we truly desire heaven we must first learn how to do God’s will here on earth.  I just hope God doesn’t desire me to like milk that may be kind of hard for me to swallow.

God Bless.

Happy Feast of Saint Francis de Sales

Today is the feast day of Saint Francis de Sales, patron saint of Catholic publishers and writers.  Since he is one of my favorite saint’s I’d like to share a brief bit of his writing.  I’ll admit his writing are a little easier to read than some of mine.

Check back next week for the next installments of “Forgive me Father”  I should have a bunch of chapter ready to go, been a tab bit busy as of late.  God Bless

From the Introduction to the Devout Life by Saint Francis de Sales, bishop
Devotion must be practiced in different ways

When God the Creator made all things, he commanded the plants to bring forth fruit each according to its own kind; he has likewise commanded Christians, who are the living plants of his Church, to bring forth the fruits of devotion, each one in accord with his character, his station and his calling.

 

I say that devotion must be practiced in different ways by the nobleman and by the working man, by the servant and by the prince, by the widow, by the unmarried girl and by the married woman. But even this distinction is not sufficient; for the practice of devotion must be adapted to the strength, to the occupation and to the duties of each one in particular.

 

Tell me, please, my Philothea, whether it is proper for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian; or for married people to be no more concerned than a Capuchin about increasing their income; or for a working man to spend his whole day in church like a religious; or on the other hand for a religious to be constantly exposed like a bishop to all the events and circumstances that bear on the needs of our neighbor. Is not this sort of devotion ridiculous, unorganized and intolerable? Yet this absurd error occurs very frequently, but in no way does true devotion, my Philothea, destroy anything at all. On the contrary, it perfects and fulfills all things. In fact if it ever works against, or is inimical to, anyone’s legitimate station and calling, then it is very definitely false devotion.

The bee collects honey from flowers in such a way as to do the least damage or destruction to them, and he leaves them whole, undamaged and fresh, just as he found them. True devotion does still better. Not only does it not injure any sort of calling or occupation, it even embellishes and enhances it.

 

Moreover, just as every sort of gem, cast in honey, becomes brighter and more sparkling, each according to its color, so each person becomes more acceptable and fitting in his own vocation when he sets his vocation in the context of devotion. Through devotion your family cares become more peaceful, mutual love between husband and wife becomes more sincere, the service we owe to the prince becomes more faithful, and our work, no matter what it is, becomes more pleasant and agreeable.

 

It is therefore an error and even a heresy to wish to exclude the exercise of devotion from military divisions, from the artisans’ shops, from the courts of princes, from family households. I acknowledge, my dear Philothea, that the type of devotion which is purely contemplative, monastic and religious can certainly not be exercised in these sorts of stations and occupations, but besides this threefold type of devotion, there are many others fit for perfecting those who live in a secular state.

 

Therefore, in whatever situations we happen to be, we can and we must aspire to the life of perfection.

 

God Bless

Life’s little annoyances

My car has developed a personality as of late, despite the fact that popular science has shown that inanimate objects are incapable of developing personalities, my car has developed one.  I blame it one the fact that it’s been hanging around with a bunch of other cars in local parking lots after dark.  Nothing good ever comes of hanging out in parking lots after dark.

Parking Lot, Clarendon and Stuart Streets

It used to be such a sweet car.  It always listened to what I told it to do.  It accelerated when I hit the gas and slowed down when I hit the brakes.  When I was cold, it provided heat, when I was hot it filled the passenger compartment with icy cold air.  Even when I left it alone in parking lots and locked it to keep it safe, I was greeted with friendly honk of the horn.  It was as it the car was saying “So long Danny, see you in a bit. I’m just going to rest here for a while.”

Oh I’m still greeted with a honk of the horn when I lock it, but the horn has changed tones.  It sounds more defiant.  Now, instead of the “So long Danny” sound, I hear a “get out of here, leave me alone to hang out with my friends” attitude filled beep.  This has been going on for weeks now and I’m not sure I like the change in my car’s tone.

There is another part of my cars attitude shift that has developed, the car has randomly started flashing the brake lights and emitting a warning tone so loud it would end up on the decibel scale somewhere between a running washing machine running filled with rocks and a jet air plane taking off.  The first time this light and sound show happened I nearly spit coffee all over the windshield.  I was driving down a dark country road early one morning and to see a flashing brake light and a jet engine toned beeping that early was a little concerning.  I gently applied the brakes to ensure they were working and then the light went off.

False alarm I thought to myself, no need to panic just keep driving.  Then 10 minutes later another beep loud enough to wake the dead and the flashing brake light.  The brakes were once again verified and as I applied them I swore I heard the engine laugh a bit.  Was my car simply playing around with me?

Well this has now been happening for weeks now and each time it happens my blood pressure rises and I get madder and madder at this phantom problem. In other words, my car is winning.  If it’s goal is to annoy me, it is doing a fantastic job of it.

The beeping is driving me nuts!!

The beeping is driving me nuts!!

I’ve been complaining of this to my wife pretty incessantly since it started, yet she has never heard it.  That is until yesterday.  We were out running a few errands, when my car messed up, it forgot that I wasn’t the only one in the car when it launched into it’s screaming light show.  The first beep caused my blood pressure to rise, the second nearly blew out my ear drum and the third forced me to emit a loud blast of frustration.  To which my lovely bride turned to me and said “Is that the noise that’s been causing you such problems?  That’s nothing.”

“Nothing,” I muttered back “Did you hear how loud that thing is and it does it all the time.”

“Simple fix,” she said. “Next time you hear it say Father Son and Holy Spirit and then offer a quick prayer for someone.”

“Wait, what?” I said in protest. “You did hear that right?  That loud, annoying, random beeping. I’m not just hearing things am I?”

“Just pray the next time you hear it.”

The simplicity of her statement struck me. Take this horribly annoying thing my car was doing to drive me batty and turn it into a positive.  My wife’s idea was put to the test moments later.  Beep Beep Beep…prayer.  Five minutes later beep…beep…beep…prayer.

For the rest of the journey I took my wife’s advice and every time that silly brake light came on, I said a simple prayer. By the end of the day’s journey I was no longer annoyed by the noise, but rather enjoyed hearing the ear piercing scream fill the car.  I had become like Pavlov’s dogs only I prayed rather than salivated when I heard a beep.  Take that car, bested by a human.  Who says German engineering is superior to American ingenuity?

In fact I’m going to start looking for other little annoyances in my life as opportunities to pray.  Stub my toe, say a prayer, dog won’t come home when called, pray. Stuck in traffic, pray.  Take all those little moments in life where there exists an opportunity to move further away from God and turn it around and use them as moments to grow in your faith.

Thanks to my wife, I’m no longer angry at my car for developing a personality. Instead I’m rather thankful, although I’m still banning it from hanging out with other cars after dark.  Nothing good happens in parking lots after dark after all and we’re still going to have a talk about the tone of it’s horn.

IMG_1246

Always keep praying.

Slip Sliding Away

Dawn

Let it be known that I do not sleep with my laptop or any other electronics with me.  As a writer, I am fully aware that I am running the risk of losing the next great blog piece or some other novel idea by not keeping my tools of the trade at the ready. In fact, had I had a computer next to me this morning, you would be reading a completely different piece than the drivel I am currently writing.

This morning I had the perfect blog piece, it made so much sense, was full of so much wit it would have no doubt been one of my best ever.  I lay there writing the intro, the body and the conclusion in my head and yes I will even admit I did emit an audible laugh in my sleep, my friend the piece was that good.

The sun was still well below the horizon when my feet hit the floor.  I set about the day, making a note that when I have a moment I should write down this most excellent blog post. Well, I have to admit the day, like my dreamy blog post, got away from me.

I didn’t intend for this to happen.  I meant to write the post on my lunch break, but instead spent it catching up on social media and the latest news.  I meant to write when I got home from work, but it was time for supper, time to watch my dog aimlessly lick some random spot in the carpet.  Then it was time to help my daughter with her homework, nighttime snack, make sure her teeth get brushed and the  other various chores and routines that make life worth living.

I now sit in front of a nearly blank computer display trying desperately to remember what the genius of a blog post was all about.  I think it had something to do with railroad tracks and Saint Joseph, nope that isn’t it maybe it was….nope that’s not it.  Oh forget it too be honest I’m now more intrigued why my dog is fixated on that spot in the carpet than I am on remembering my blog post.

It’s not only blog posts that get away from us as we go about our daily lives.  I often find all to often it too easy to forgo prayer. I mean I intend to spend time with God, I’ll do it just as soon as I finish this report, or once teeth are brushed or once this episode of “insert show title here” is over with.  How easy it is to keep sliding communion with God down our to do list, but don’t let it slip too far down on your list.

Prioritize your time to include time in prayer.  God desires a relationship with you, isn’t it time you desired the same?

Spinning My Wheels

I hate to admit it but my outdoor cycling season is quickly coming to a end.  I’m going to hold out as long as I can, but the reality that unless I become a giant fan of riding in the dark part of my next six months of my cycling life are going to be spent spinning indoors.

In preparation to make this transition a little easier on myself, I’ve been doing a few rides on my rollers recently.  Truth be told I’m really trying to psyche myself up for the indoor trainer season by trying to trick my brain in to thinking that indoor training really isn’t all that bad.

Rollers

Rollers (Photo credit: rutt)

So the other night I headed to the garage, pumped up the bike tires, dusted off the rollers and climbed aboard.  My dog, who had eagerly followed me into the garage, was spending her time hunting mice.

Under the cold fluorescent lights of my dingy garage I was trying desperately to stay on the rollers and not go flying off the side.  If you’ve never ridden rollers before consider yourself lucky they are very similar to riding your bike on an ice rink.  One swift move and bam on the floor you go.  Trust me on this one, they take a while to get use too and I’m not too sure I’ve mastered them yet.

While I was struggling with my balance, my lovely dog spent the time contently hunting mice in the corner of the garage and when she tired of that she came and laid next to rollers.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind, but we had given her table scraps recently which gave her as some would say “the gas”.  Every so often, while trying to maintain focus, the smell of my lovely dogs digestion system would fill my nostrils and cause me to become distracted.  This in turn forced me to nearly crash off the rollers.

This went on for what seemed to be an eternity, which in reality was about 15 minutes, and as the seconds ticked by I began to question my own sanity and motivations.  Why on earth would I leave the comfort of my favorite easy chair to spend time in the saddle balancing precariously on rollers while my dog does her best skunk impersonation.  I may need to have my head examined.

the little stinker.

the little stinker.

I guess I do it because I trust that it will make me a better rider in the future.  That the time spent spinning my wheels indoors will prepare me to climb a hill faster, ride further, or will simply help me look cooler on the bike (yeah right, hard to look cool while wearing spandex, but yet I manage).

 

My time spinning my wheels makes me think of all those times in my spiritual life where I have felt like I am simply spinning my wheels and not really growing in my faith.  You know those moments where prayer feels a little flat, like your simply going through the motions.  It is during these spiritual doldrums that it is all too easy to lose focus and slip off the track you are supposed to be on.  I have learned that these doldrums serve a purpose.  These prayers,  just like riding the rollers, prepare you for the next phase of your journey.  There is no such thing as a wasted prayer.  We need to trust in God’s plan for us and continue to do what He places before us, even if it does feel like we are simply spinning our wheels.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my dog just ate a large bowl of leftover chili and I have another roller session planned.  This could prove interesting.