Hello.

This is my personal blog. This is where I explore the various pitfalls and triumphs in my life. It's a cheap form of therapy, I know...but I don't hold things back here. I don't expect you to agree with what I have to say, but everything I write here is the truth from my perspective...and I won't apologize for it. If what I say offends you, angers you, or effects you negatively in any way, my apologies. Feel free to not come back...I won't mind.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Sick and tired...

As I was powering through my daily walk this evening my mind kept returning to why I was out there, with a safety vest and flashlight in hand, pushing my short, thick legs to move myself forward.

All the cliché reasons came to mind. You've heard them before...to get in shape, to have more energy, to live longer, to look good...and they all apply to me. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to realize that those reasons aren't at the root of this lifestyle change but the desired results I and so many wish to achieve.

No, the root reason is I'm angry...at life, at what life has done to me, at where life has brought me, and at myself and the decisions I've made that have brought me to this point. I am so angry and right now all I can do is make changes and hope/pray that they're the right changes.

The one thing that makes me angrier than anything else is helplessness. I've never felt more helpless with less control over my life than I have the last three months or so. In love, in work, I've felt like everything has been swirling out of control and the only tiller I've been able to hold on to in this storm has been myself. And in the end, isn't that the only thing we can control?

Why exercise more and eat better? Why attempt to change and/or eliminate 3+ decades of bad habits and replace them with good ones?

Simple...because I'm sick and tired...

...of being fat.

...of having no energy.

...of only being attractive to women who are also suffering from obesity*.

...of women whom I find attractive looking at me like a squished bug on the sidewalk...or even worse, if they've bothered to get to know me at all, seeing me as nothing more than friend material.

...of looking at myself in the mirror and wishing I was seeing someone else looking back at me.

(* That's not to say that these women aren't wonderful people, but I want, I need, to be around people, particularly a "romantic friend", who helps encourage my efforts.)

What you see to the left is me, tonight...in most of my glory, so to speak.

I show this to you, without shame, so that you can see what I'm working against.

Last March (2012), I weighed 67 pounds more than I do now. By October of this year, I hope to be about 85 pounds less...then the real work begins...the toning and getting the last of the excess off.

Mainly I let you see this because I need your help to keep myself accountable. Yes, I realize that ultimately only I can keep myself accountable, but any support from all of you will be gratefully accepted...and appreciated.

Every month, on the 28th, I'll post a new pic in the same location wearing the same shorts and we'll see my progress together. I'm actually pretty excited by the prospect...complete transparency.

I started this journey with the diet and within the last month added serious daily exercise.

I've started using two apps to help track my exercise progress as well as keep track of the nutritional totals of the food I'm eating. I highly recommend them...Run Keeper and My Fitness Pal. Here's what the websites look like...





And it's not stopping there...

Next month I plan on getting a bike...not only for exercise, but also for running errands. Healthy, environmental, and economical!

I will continue exercising daily and eating healthily.

At some point this summer I'm going to find a 5K and do it. I may not run it (or at least all of it), but I'm going to finish it.

I'm going to join the Temple Rec Center so I can use the pool and exercise equipment without having to pay the outrageous fees at the private gyms.

My biggest regret in life is that I started smoking. By March 31st, that will no longer be a problem.

Mostly, I'm not giving up...because, dammit, I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Motivation...

It's been almost two weeks since I've written anything other than a few commercial scripts at work...not here, not on my screenplay, not in my journal. I feel like I have creative constipation and, like any bout, sometimes you just have to push through it. I'm not promising award-winning prose here.

Last week was pretty bad for me. I'm not going to get into the details here but suffice it to say that if I had related the quasi-paranoid rage-fueled emotions with which I was dealing, I wouldn't have been so much "keeping it real" as "being a complete asshole". There's a difference, at least in my mind. This week has been significantly better, but the blockage is still there. So instead of writing some self-examination piece where I analyze my past actions and try to discover a path by which I won't make the same mistakes I keep making in life, I figure I'll kind of explain what a walk-about is and what I'm planning to do, with more detail than before, on mine.

If you type the term" walk-about" (or "walk about" or "walkabout") into Google you'll come up with about two dozen sources all explaining in varying detail how Australian aboriginal males "go walkabout" in their adolescence as a right of passage into adulthood. The walkabout is a journey into the bush by oneself with minimal supplies during which time, from several weeks up to six months, you survive and commune with the spirits of your ancestors...and when you emerge from the bush and rejoin your community, you're seen as a man and worthy of owning property, marrying, and having children.

Other cultures have similar rites of passage. Native American males, at least historically, took vision quests...or at least smoked peyote and sat in a sweat lodge. Nepalese males scale mountains. Many countries still have compulsory military service. American males have...nothing. I wish I'd had such an experience. Something significant to clearly define the demarcation between being a child and being an adult.

Now, I'm not saying that that is the only reason I want to go on my own version of a walkabout; but even if it was the only reason, it would be a good one. Some days I feel like a grownup and other days I look back and I can't figure out when everything switched from kid to not-kid. I've been married and divorced twice, owned vehicles, gone to college, started a business, and changed careers twice and despite all that, most days I wish I could just sit in the floor eating cereal and watching cartoons (I still kind of do that on Saturday mornings, but I sit in a chair and usually eat oatmeal...and watch cartoons).

More than anything, I want an adventure. I want to do something few are brave enough to attempt and even fewer actually follow through. Like the Australian aboriginal males, I want to commune with my ancestral spirits (or exorcise some personal demons) and discover the man I'm supposed to be. Maybe I'm already that man and just don't realize it yet, but I don't think so.

Then there's the romanticism of the road. Ever since I was old enough to be able to comprehend things like subtext in literature, I have loved and, in some ways, idolized the authors that did something and then wrote about it. I've written their names before...Kerouac, Hemingway, Thompson...but it's even more than that.

My favorite book is Stephen King's "The Stand". It's been my favorite since the first time I read in when I was 13 and I read it once a year. Ignoring all the main points made in the novel about the nature of faith and good vs. evil, it's essentially a book about living on the road. Every character, big and small, starts in one place and ends up, over much of the story, somewhere else. And even then, at the end of the book, the main characters who aren't dead end up moving on, back into a dead world...every one of them choosing to abandon the comfort of mass society and instead choosing to find greater meaning somewhere "out there".

So I want a life-defining experience and an opportunity to experience the romance of the road, but there's even more to it than that.

We moved around a lot when I was a kid as my dad was in the Air Force. Then, fast forward many years, I start working in TV...a career that lends itself easily to those that don't mind living in one place a year or two then moving on to some other location. What does this say about me? Why do my soles start itching after I've been in one place for too long? Was it ingrained in me as a kid when we were moving between various places with their different houses and schools and cultures?

Part of me, a small quiet part of me that lives in the dark back corner of my mind, is hoping that once I get back from my walk-about, I'll have discovered that I'm meant to just settle down and be happy with whatever. The rest of me wants something more than that...a life of adventure.

Along the way, I plan on taking a ton of photos. I plan on keeping a journal. I plan on taking a digital voice recorder and just letting it run as I talk to people. When it's all said and done, I'd love to write a book about the experience. That leads to the last question...where do I go after the adventure ends and I'm ready to write my memoir? My home town, Snyder, where my parents live? Maybe back to central Texas? Or what about Oklahoma? I really liked living in OKC and I have some great friends there. There's always Abilene...or Wyoming...or maybe someplace else completely different...so many questions...

So when I'm asked why I want to go walkabout, you can see how complicated the answer usually stands...and even then it's wholly unsatisfying.

The truth is that all the reasons in the world are nothing more than excuses. I'm unhappy overall in my life and I'm looking for something...whatever that may be...that will make me happy. The reasons/excuses are all true, all valid, all fascinating motivations...and all worth less than nothing if I come back without a significant change in perspective.

 

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Putting some effort into it...

I posted something on Facebook last night that I had hoped would get a bit more traction than it did. I shouldn't be surprised though, since very few people go back through their news feeds to see what other people have posted and even fewer would have stopped long enough to read it (since I didn't include a picture of a cute kitty)...AND EVEN FEWER would have said anything about it because what I wrote probably hits too close to home. Here's what I wrote (with corrections that slipped past me last night)...
My nugget of wisdom for the evening...

It's said that the best things in life are free. Things like love, friendship, and happiness. It's also true from a financial point of view.

But if you consider the price of those wonderful "free" things in terms of time, effort, openness, generosity, and honesty then they are actually quite costly.

True love, true friendship, true happiness, and so many other things take effort and hard work...to think otherwise is naive and will only lead to heartbreak and loneliness.

 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Rewriting the Narrative

We humans have an absolutely amazing capacity for self-delusion. We are the only animal capable of lying to ourselves...and doing it so convincingly that we start believing the lie and adding it to own personal narrative.

The personal narrative...the mental picture of ourselves and our place in this world that serves to shape the decisions we make and how we interact with the people around us. What's funny about this is that in our individual "life novels" we almost always cast ourselves as the protagonist and rationalize our faults and imperfections, the slights and pains we suffer, and actions of others all in an effort to paint ourselves, the heroes of our stories, in the best possible light.

It's these internal rationalizations that form the basis of our self-delusion. They are the little lies we tell to ourselves over and over and over again until we believe them so fully that we forget they weren't true to begin with and the lies become the rock-solid basis for future decisions.

The lies...my lies...stop now.

As I said in this post, my biggest downfalls have always been career and love. Those aspects have been my downfalls because they have been what I have allowed to define my life...and my narrative. Let's break it down...

Career

I have always taken pride in what I do for a living. I'm good at what I do, I work hard at what I do, and most (but not always ALL) of the people for whom I've worked or with whom I've worked have appreciated having me on their team. My current career allows me to indulge my creativity and feeds my social desires by giving me a chance to meet and work with interesting people.

All this is good, right? So many people are forced by the myriad circumstances of life to work J-O-Bs instead of pursuing careers because of lack of options, having to provide for family, etc. I'm blessed that this is not the case for me. I'm cursed because I've let my ego tie itself to my job. When my ego inflates, I start thinking I'm way more valuable an employee than I actually am (which is what happened at KSBI and previous to that at KRBC). The dichotomy and balance of pride and humility has always been a struggle and it's always when those two are at they're least balanced, with pride tipping the scale, that I end up with the hard lesson...valued, yes, but not invaluable.

So I set myself up as the protagonist career-wise, the guy too "needed" by my team or company to be tossed away.

Obviously this isn't true...a self-delusion...a lie I've woven into my narrative and accepted as truth.

Love (this is the hard one)

As I said last time...
In matters of love, I am a kind and patient man. I am supportive of my partners, never abusive, and always faithful. I’m a provider, a skilled lover, and a fierce protector.

...and while all this is true, it's also not the whole story.

I lost the love of my life to complacence. It was more than complacence, it was an almost deliberate blindness on my part to everything that was going on. My narrative paints me as I said above, but the reality is that I didn't do everything I could.

(Peighton, if you're reading this, than you will probably find what I'm about to write difficult...even painful. While I feel sorry for this, it will not stop me. I can't end the lies without telling the truth as I see it.)

My ex-wife...and I'm sure this as true now as it ever was...only sees affection as a physical thing. It's not just sex, even though sex is a big part of it, but the whole of physicality. She has a need to be the center of attention whenever she's in the presence of her "partner".

I suppose that there's nothing wrong with this, but for someone like me, who sometimes lives in head, who can become distracted by trivial things, it was not something I was prepared to handle...and I never handled it well. Yes, I paid more attention to my computer than her. Yes, I often stayed up far later than she did letting her sleep alone. Yes, I chose to sit alone on the other side of the room rather than cuddling on the couch.

She did say something...a few times...and I didn't listen. I'm a prideful and selfish person, rationalizing my behavior instead of listening and making significant personal changes.

And when she chose to go back to school and I made the decision to find a job in another state in order to support us, I should have known that she would have found it easier to feed her need for affection in the arms of another man rather than be plain and honest with me. It's not like I really gave her any indication that I would have been accepting of what she wanted and needed. I regret this...I regret it more than anything.

It's always easier to be affectionate and romantic early in a relationship. As a relationship matures, the same level of romance takes work. I knew this on an intellectual level, but did very little about it. I was wrong...I did wrong by her.

So now I'm alone and she's with her old high school friend...and apparently happy. Yes, this pisses me off, but there's no one to blame but myself.

--- --- --- --- ---

After all this about lies, now it's time for truth...good, bad, and indifferent...about myself...

  • I am not as selfless as I want others to see me.

  • I am sometimes more shallow than I appear.

  • I am can be arrogant.

  • I can be mean.

  • I am not as physically affectionate as I should be.

  • I live in my head way too much.

  • I still love my ex-wife very much, more than any other person in the world...and I hate her more than any other person in the world...often at the same time.

  • I live in fear of rejection, or being alone, and of failure.

  • My depression manifests mostly as anger.

  • I smoke...and it makes me ashamed.


I'm sure there's more, but stating all this is exhausting...so I'll leave you with this...

It's easy to lie ourselves into the role of protagonist in our lives. It's hard to face the truth and see, more often than not, that we are the antagonist...the villain...in our own narrative. For me, the lies are stopping and I'm rewriting my narrative. Now I can start fixing my shortcomings.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's kind of funny...

...how life changes on you suddenly. One second you are one way, looking at life from one perspective with one set of plans for the future, then *poof!* it all changes and suddenly it's a new perspective with new plans...or even worse, no plans.

My life's biggest changes have come as the result of two huge motivating factors in life...love and career. I'm not going to get into the details of those changes now, those are subjects for another time, but the idea of change has been on my mind a lot recently. Every change in my life hasn't been by choice, but the result of often short-sighted or selfish choices made by others. I try not to begrudge those people their choices because in the end you have to look out for number one. I really try to take that higher road. Now though, as I examine what has brought me to this point...this "Network" classic "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" point...I see that for all the control I've tried to exert on my life, I've had very little control at all.

And I am mad...so very very angry...

Once upon a time I was married, then she cheated on me and we divorced. Change. I needed a job and started working in TV...then I lost that job and had to search for another. Change. This led me to Oklahoma for a new job and I met a woman. We fell in love and married. Change. Then I lost the job I had in Oklahoma. Change. Then I got another job, my wife fell out of love with me and divorced me. Change.

Love and career...my personal downfalls.

What pisses me off is that to date I've had very little say in how these changes have played out. What pisses me off is how none of it is fair. What pisses me off is that I don't deserve this...this life.

In matters of love, I am a kind and patient man. I am supportive of my partners, never abusive, and always faithful. I'm a provider, a skilled lover, and a fierce protector.

In matters of career, I am an experienced and creative craftsman with just enough political-savvy to navigate the trenches. I have just enough ambition to be useful, but not so much that I can't work within a team...a servant-leader.

All of these are true. I'm not bragging because I make a conscious effort to be these things. But...if all of these things are true, then why am I twice-divorced and have never voluntarily left a job within my career field? More importantly, why do I keep waiting for these changes to happen to me instead of proactively making changes on my own?

My ex-wives piss me off...my ex-jobs piss me off. Do you want to know what really pisses me off? It's me. I'm to blame as much as they are because I just let shit happen to me. I'm to blame as much as they are because it's taken me 14 years of real adult life to come to the realization that I...am...to...blame.

No longer...I am no longer going to be afraid and passive. I am going to do what I want, say what I want, and damn anyone who stands in my way.

My REAL New Year's Resolution...

It all starts with an idea, the beginnings of a plan, and a  note on Facebook...
Since we all managed to survive the Mayan apocalypse, I just thought I should let you all, the dearest of my dear friends and family, know what I’m planning for the next year and starting in January 2014.

I’ve come to a conclusion in regards to my life. It is this...THIS is not the life I want. For too long I have lived in fear of loss and rejection. For too long I have denied the natural tendencies of my soul. For too long I have desperately clung to the idea that I had to pursue the normality that so many seek...the cliche American Dream. I don’t want to be that person anymore. He tires me...he bores me...and he has done nothing for me but make me fat and lazy and miserable and heart-broken.

So this is that life’s suicide note...neither the first step nor the final step, but the biggest step towards killing that life and starting a new one. A grand gesture to karma and the universe that I’m ready.

In January 2014 I will embark on a road trip in the vein of the greats like Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, and Ernest Hemingway (minus the LSD and alcoholism). I expect it to last no less than two months, more likely two to three times that length.On this trip I plan on seeing America as it was meant to be seen, from the ground. I’m going to meet new people and listen to their stories....learn from them, cry with them, and laugh with them. I’m going live simply and frugally on nothing more than my wits, my skills, and the generosity of spirit that still permeates the heart of Americans.

Aboriginal cultures call this a walk-about and it’s a spiritual journey of self-discovery. That is what I’m looking for...the part of me, maybe the whole of me, which should have been but never came to be. I may come out the other side with nothing more than a collection of interesting stories, and I accept that, but I feel, deep down in the well-spring of my soul, that I’ll actually return with something so much better...me.

So over the next year I’m going to redouble my efforts to get in shape, to hone my survival and frugality skills, and to practice my creativity. When the calendar page turns from December 2013 to January 2014, the physical journey will begin, but every moment between now and that day will be in preparation.

Most importantly, I’m going make every effort to strengthen the bonds of love and friendship that I share with all of you. Having each of you in my life has been the best thing about the last 32 years and nothing is more important to me than you. I’ll need your strength and love and generosity as much if not more than my own strength if I’m to make this a success. You’ll hear me say this to you many times over the next 18 months or so, but let me start now...thank you. This won’t be possible without you.

This next year will be hard, I have no illusions. Hopefully, when it’s done and I make it back, you’ll love the new me as much as I know I will.

I plan on using this blog to help work out some of the stuff that I need to work out before starting my journey. It's also a place for me to practice my long-form and journalistic writing, to keep everyone informed as to my progress, and a forum by which to rant and rage. You know, a typical blog...

Please, I want this to be an interactive place as well. Please feel free to comment and question anything I say...it may be inflammatory or blunt or even awful...call me on it. This idea, this plan, it's crazy...I know.

Anyway, keep coming back. As the next year passes as the time of parting approaches, it's bound to get more exciting.