Summertime in Texas - 2021
Last August we did the M22 drive and waterfall tour in Northern Michigan, which I wrote about concerning the end of my Softball Journey. My first official summer trip of 2021 was to Holland, Michigan, a day trip to Ottawa Beach. It was 89 degrees in downtown Holland, but the cool Lake Michigan waters and 15mph winds made the beach temperature drop to just 72 degrees. There was a Red Flag warning and no swimming was permitted, but the icy temperature of the water would have required a heavy wet suit to tolerate anyway.
We spent about 3 hours on the beach, long enough to setup our new beach tent for the first time – Easthills Outdoor Instant Shader Enhanced Beach Tent. The gusts of wind began to exceed 25mph, so we packed up and went downtown to the local shops and eateries. We learned that the tent ought to be able to withstand pretty strong winds and that we’d be able to manage setting it up in such conditions. The next time we’d use the tent would be in Texas.
The Casino Trip
Viva Battle Creek
My 83-year old father hasn’t been able to drive for a few years now. His sight has declined to the point he could not renew his license. Imagine losing this freedom after six plus decades of driving. His wife, my mother, passed away in 2004. So, he relies on others to drive him when need be. Other than his sight and poor hearing, I’m grateful that he’s been pretty healthy.
We don’t know when our time will end, but we do know that it will; Memento Mori. I think about my eventual death for a moment each day. I suppose the older we get, the more we do so. It’s humbling and reconfirms my values. It makes me think of all the people and things in my life that I am thankful for. It also helps curb some of my desires, those of excess, by reminding me that I already have all that I need.
Victory Over Self
Self-Control & Self-Discipline
“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.” Aristotle
Bravery: the quality or state of having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty.
Self-control: restraint exercised over one's own impulses, emotions, or desires.
Desire: conscious impulse toward something that promises enjoyment or satisfaction in its attainment; something longed or hoped for.
About the Rosary
The Rosary is an important aspect of the Catholic faith. The following is from the Daily Bread website:
"The Rosary inspires us to meditate on the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and Mary. Meditation is an important part of our lives as Catholics. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, meditation “engages thought, imagination, emotion and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart and strengthen our will to follow Christ.”
There's much more information on their website about the Rosary. To date, I've only listened to audio of the Rosary prayer. However, I'm now learning to pray to the Rosary, not only memorization, but most importantly how to meditate upon it. Through prayer and meditation of the Rosary and through Mary the Mother of God, I'm becoming closer to her son, Jesus Christ.
I hate the word diet, because people have been conditioned to think of it primarily in terms of weight loss. And why wouldn’t they? Throughout my life there have been many diets come and go. What will be the next big diet, which will be promoted by the health industry, medical associations, and government? It doesn’t matter to me anymore, because I’ve found something that works for me – Ketogenic (a.k.a. Keto).
I’ve been eating Keto for several years now. Keto is a low carb, high fat (good fats), medium protein diet. Foods I eat include: bacon, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, salmon, tuna, ham, virgin olive oil, real butter, bacon grease, real mayo, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, cream cheese, green beans, dark leafy greens, avocados, tomatoes, celery, onions, cheese, etc. The carbs are natural with higher amounts of fiber. The fats are natural, not the fake bad fats, and I don’t cut the fat off my steaks or chops. The fat is very satiating, which makes it easy to feel full for longer periods of time. It also helps to reduce hunger pangs and to eat smaller portions. See this for good vs bad fats.
I favor simple recipes with shorter prep times, so if you’re interested, check back periodically for new posts.
Leisure and Death
I’m reading Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. She quotes her father, “This is the great tragedy of California…for a life oriented to leisure is in the end a life oriented to death – the greatest leisure of all.” Immediately I thought of other quotes on leisure such as, “Leisure without study is death – a tomb for the living,” by Seneca, “But how could you live and have no story to tell?” by Fyodor Doestoevsky, and “Endless pleasure becomes its own form of punishment,” by Ryan Holiday.
I validated these quotes three times during the Dystopian Year of the Covid. I was off work for three months, March through June. When I returned, I only worked every other business day and eventually a five-day schedule. I was also off work for six weeks, September through November, while I was recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Then, I was off work for three weeks due to a nonsensical Covid policy at work, December through January.
A friend suggested all of that idle time was a preview of retirement.
Word of the Day - Circumlocution
Merriam-Webster - Noun - sər-kəm-lō-ˈkyü-shən
1) the use of an unnecessarily large number of words to express an idea
2) evasion in speech
Example - I'm trying to avoid circumlocutions in my writing.
Recent actual example - "But the national crisis in policing and the response to it isn’t a matter of arid elite debate or familiar political circumlocution and compromise anymore." — David Roth, The New Republic, "Twilight of the Cop Consensus," 11 June 2020
While I could have bloviated about my experiences in softball, I decided to "keep it pithy."
Stoic View of Adversity
"A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials." - Seneca
Stoics see adversity as a chance to prove oneself, to learn, or to build anew. The value of any of these responses could be greater than the cost of the adversity. Few people can look at their lives without recalling their adversities. We all have had them to varying degrees. Two major adversities I’ve overcome were the death of my mother and my divorce.
I was a career obsessed workaholic, traveling the country, and chasing the dollar. From her deathbed, my mother showed me that there were more important things in life than my career and money. She pointed out the fact that I was missing my daughters growing up. She was right and her advice changed my perspective and life forever. Divorce after 25 years of marriage was rough too. It took me by surprise and left me searching for answers; for help. It took several years to get my head right, in part thanks to discovering Stoicism.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is the gist of it.
Self-publishing Lessons Learned (Part 1)
Amazon & KDP
I released my first book on Amazon yesterday, Softball Journey. I talked about writing the book for 10 years, kept my word, and am satisfied with how it turned out. The book provides help to parents with daughters who dream of playing college softball. I sent out a handful of advanced reader copies (ARC) for review. I had a volunteer help me with editing, which proved to be invaluable. This post is a follow-up to Self-publishing for the First Time and describes some important lessons learned.
It was much easier and less time consuming to get the Kindle version ready.
Timing of the Book
In 2013 I created a blog, SoftballJourney.com, and wrote several posts annually for 4 years. There was a Facebook page where I shared every post. The readership grew and the website had a lot of traffic. Note: I have a side-hustle building and maintaining websites – cewss.com. In 2017, I quit publishing content on the blog with the exception of a couple brief posts. The traffic dwindled during those 3 years, before I committed to finishing and publishing the book. This pause resulted in the loss of many regular readers. That was a big mistake. Had I published the book in 2017, I would have had a far greater base of readers to support it. Although during the 3-year hiatus, I was still coaching travel softball and those experiences found their way into the book. It made for a better book, but at the cost of initial sales. This will be an easy mistake to avoid in the future.
My Journey of Faith
I began taking RCIA classes - The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults - 6 months ago. RCIA is a four stage process through which adults become Catholic or join in full communion with the Catholic Church. I just completed the third stage - Purification and Enlightenment - with Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil of the Holy Week. Next, I'll complete the final stage - Mystagogia - in 6 more weeks.
I was not raised in the church. Religion was left up to me to contemplate. My first real experience with Christianity was Vacation Bible School with my neighborhood friends. I was young and it bored me. I do recall the Bible movies, such as The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston, and enjoyed those. Years later my former marriage was in a Lutheran church. I attended for a few years, but due to a few bad experiences, left the church never to return. I was only in my late 20’s at the time.
It’s funny how the tables have turned on me; no longer the giver, but the receiver.
Attitude of Gratitude
Are You Grateful?
"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive: to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love."
- Marcus Aurelius
- Marcus Aurelius
I’ve been journaling in the mornings for many years now. I like to begin with a brief statement of gratitude. It tends to set the tone for my day. Thinking about all the things in your life, or even just in the moment, that you appreciate and are thankful for, is a great way to start your days. Here are some examples of mine:
- “While I was feeling ill last night, today I am grateful for feeling better.”
- “My back is really aching this morning, but I’m thankful it’s not as bad as the last time this happened.”
- “I will be forever grateful for my loving parents.”
- “I may be in for a tough week, but am grateful that my friend’s health is improving!”
- “Today I’m grateful for the beautiful sunrise, warm weather, and the chirping birds. I’m grateful for my good health, good paying job, loving family, great friends, comfortable home, reliable car, and the tasty and healthy food I eat. I’m thankful for all the love in my life including my wonderful girlfriend Maria. I appreciate all God has bestowed upon me, the love he has for me, and the opportunities he has given me.”
Why I Quit The News
What Exactly is the News?
According to Merriam-Webster, News is defined as, the report of recent events; previously unknown information; something having a specified influence or effect.
At the bottom of this post are several screen shots from popular news websites and social media feeds that I captured this morning. The date or time matters not, because every moment of every day they contain the same kind of headlines, pictures, videos, and articles – almost entirely negative, biased, and misleading. Whether national or local, many use the same headlines and articles. Writers from local sites and stations – web, TV, and radio – simply regurgitate the messages and points of views of the national sites and stations – verbally for TV and radio. It’s an echo chamber, no matter where you get the news. Politics, Social Media, and the News are synonymous.
You may or may not agree with the narrative, but it’s naïve to deny it exists.
My father often says, “They all do it,” when referring to news of wrong doing or questionable acts of politicians, corporations, the rich and elite. I recall hearing him say this when I was a child over 40 years ago, but he’s still saying it today. In my life I’ve considered myself a Democrat, then a Republican. Today, I see through the smoke and mirrors and am not beholden to either party. If you’re looking for the bashing of a specific party, you won’t find it here. The same goes for the ideologies of conservatism or liberalism. I don’t like the classifying, grouping, and labeling of people.
Northern Michigan - M22, Great Lakes, and Waterfalls
Summer Vacation 2020
In July of 2020 I coached my final softball game. For the previous 22 years, I had spent most of my summer weekends at softball complexes across the country. I have traveled many times to watch my youngest daughter's college softball games or to visit my daughters in Texas. This was the first leisurely sight-seeing vacation I've taken in quite a while. In August we traveled to Northern Michigan – the M22 Drive, Mackinaw Bridge, Tahquamenon Falls – and many places in between. The pictures and videos are from that trip.
I grew up in the middle of Michigan, spent my childhood weekends camping up north, riding bikes on the old sandy dirt roads, exploring through the forest, swimming in the inbound lakes, and looking at the stars while sitting near the campfire. Fond memories indeed. My girlfriend Maria and her daughter Lorena had never seen these natural and man-made wonders of Northern Michigan. So, off we went, along with our dog Polo.
Book Review - iGen... by Jean M. Twenge
iGen: Why Today's Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy--and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood--and What That Means for the Rest of Us
I found this book to be very informative, especially from my recent years as a softball coach of teen-aged girls. Add to this the fact that since March of 2020, the issues facing this generation have certainly increased given the Covid lockdowns, restrictions, and cancellation of numerous social events. Virtual school has become the norm for grade schools and colleges. Athletic seasons have been cancelled. Proms, graduations, and in-person classes have been cancelled. And this is just what the kids and young adults are dealing with.