Week 22 and There is a Solution

On Saturday it occurred to me that most people think I showed up to A.A., quit drinking, worked the 12 Steps and here I am 24 years later. But that’s not how it happened and I was reminded of that when I saw Conrad D. at the Cochrane Roundup this past Saturday. I always love to see Conrad and have the opportunity to catch up with him. Conrad was the greatest influence on me to get into the 12 Steps of recovery.

I had quit drinking January 7th 1993 and haven’t had a drink since. However I never went to a 12 Step meeting for my recovery. Why would I? I had quit drinking hadn’t I? As the days and weeks passed my life started to suck. Months passed and it got worse. My anxiety was through the roof. My temper was out of control. My patience was nil. I was angry at the world, 24/7.I had quit drinking so didn’t the world owe me something? This wasn’t how it was supposed to be.No wonder I was angry.

I would run into Conrad on the streets of downtown Calgary a couple of times a week during this stage of my sobriety. He was in the drilling industry and so was I.I looked up to Conrad. He was genuine, funny, and he was successful and had been sober quite a number of years at this time. I wanted to be a lot more like Conrad. When I ran into him on the streets I would have an opportunity to complain to him about how horrible my life had become since I quit drinking. He would listen to me for a few minutes, sometimes he would mention A.A. and always he would walk away when I still had more to say. I was slowly becoming delusional and paranoid. I was messed up in my head. In September of 1993 I ran into Conrad as usual but as I was approaching him he put his hand up in that halt, or stop sign motion. So I stopped and before I could say anything Conrad said the words that I will never forget. “You may have not had a drink in a few months but you’re a bigger ass_________   than you were when you were drinking”. I was stunned. I was frozen in place and time seemed to have stopped. I think I stood there for about 30 seconds before I shook myself only to see Conrad had already walked ¼ of a block away. I was very hurt by those words.

I was so hurt that I went to an A.A. meeting that night. I called central office and there was a meeting that night at St. Michael’s Church on Bow Trail and 45st.I went to that meeting with the intent to join A.A. and change my life. There had to be more to life than the existence I was living. In my eyes Conrad was living proof that those 12 Steps worked. I showed up to The Bow Trail Group that Wednesday night and for the first time in longer than I can remember I had some Faith. Faith that A.A. worked.When they asked if there were any newcomers I stuck my hand up and when they asked if I wanted a newcomer’s package ,I said yes. I bought a Big Book that night and although the first man I asked to be my sponsor said no, the second one I asked said that he would. Something felt different that night and that feeling was hope. For so long my life had been hopeless but on this Wednesday night I had some hope that maybe I could make a life worth living. That I could find happiness and contentment.

Prior to that meeting I had become what is known as a dry drunk. Unbeknownst to me I had untreated alcoholism. Alcohol was only a symptom of my alcoholism. Alcohol was my solution to life and without it I had to find something different as a solution to my problems. I have since found my solution and it is far more than I had ever dreamed of.In A.A. I didn’t learn how to stop drinking. I learned how to live peacefully.

I have this, thanks to my good friend, Conrad D., who cared for me enough to tell me the truth, at the expense of, and despite my feelings. I have no idea where I would have ended up had I not gone through those doors of St Mike’s that night. It scares me to think about it.

I hope that each and everyone one of you has someone in your life that will help you find your truth when you’re too blinded at the moment, to see it yourself.

 

Was there any doubt that the song this week would be from Gregg Allman? If you know me then you saw this one coming. I was hurt when I got the news Saturday that Gregg Allman had passed on. Some of you might recall that Lori and I flew to Vegas last October to see him. He was on the venue with ZZ Top but he had to withdraw due to illness. Recently I did a search to see where he was going to play in 2017 only to find out he had cancelled all his gigs to build up his strength. He was able to keep me guessing and hoping to the end. He died on May 27 from complications due to liver cancer.I spent my teenage years listening to Southern Rock and The Allman Brothers were the pioneers of the genre. I’ve read today that fans have been asked to line the funeral procession route but the family will have a private ceremony. He’ll be buried next to his brother Duane, who was killed in 1971 in a motorcycle accident. This weeks song seems most fitting for the circumstances.

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This is Soulshine , released in 1994.

 

 

The quote this week is from the same man, Gregg Allman

 

I would like to be remembered as a – somebody who could rock your soul or make you cry with a song. And somebody who’s kind, who loved to laugh, and loved his God.

RIP

 

Thanks for checking out the blog and I hope you’ll drop by again next week………………….

But for the Grace of God-week 38

I can’t believe a year has passed since I started this blog and even more unbelievable to me is the fact I have posted a blog every week except for some vacation time. I’ve gone and fooled myself with this blog. I’m glad I was challenged by a friend to start a blog and super glad that I rose to the challenge. I have enjoyed writing blog much more than I had thought I would. Thanks to everyone who has been reading and following Disappearing From View.

Today I am going to re-blog my first post, from September 25,2015. It was within a few days of the anniversary of my nephew’s passing. I can’t get past this week without thinking of Iain, and other family members who have passed on. I think that this subject matter is important. Mostly it’s important to me. You see my nephew Iain was handicapped since birth but was one of the most significant family members in my life.

Iain Cullen Ramsay was born September 26,1987 and he passed, in his sleep, September 21, 2012.

 

From September 25 ,2015, week 1

Despite his handicap Iain could never fail to make me smile or laugh.  Iain blessed our lives for the time he was here with his simplicity and humility. He taught me how to be humbler, more appreciative of what I have and to be a kinder person. So I was a little saddened Monday by the memory but also very grateful to spend the day thinking of Iain, appreciate my emotions and reflect on some situations I am in today. It’s important to acknowledge our feelings and emotions. Take the time.

The phrase “There but for the Grace of God go I “no longer has a place in my vocabulary because of Iain. I hear this phrase used in regards to people who have perceived imperfections. Yet in my world it was God who created Iain. It was God’s Grace that allowed Iain to be such a centre of our family for 25 years. The phrase, to me if I use it, would mean that I was Graced by God but Iain wasn’t. How can that be? With the knowledge I have of my Creator it cannot be. Think very hard next time you go to use this phrase and ask yourself “does it pertain? Does it belong? Is it harmful? Am I being superior?”

 

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The song this week is from Lydia Loveless. Most of my friends know I am not a huge country music fan but I do love some of it. The more traditional or long hair it is the more likely I am to listen to it. This song is called Back on the Bottle. I hope you’ll enjoy the selection

 

 

 

The quote this week is from Criss Jami.

“The reality of loving God is loving him like he’s a Superhero who actually saved you from stuff rather than a Santa Claus who merely gave you some stuff”

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope I’ll see you next week………………….

Week 36

The Labour Day weekend has come and gone and for me that signifies the un-official end of summer. It’s been a great summer which included Mount Whitney in June and the West Coast Trail in July. This summer also included a trip to two of my favorite cities as Lori and I ended up in Vancouver and Victoria.

Lori is out of the CBE office this year and back in school as the principal in one of Calgary’s brand new and first-class elementary schools and she’s excited. I toured the school on the weekend and it’s fantastic and an awesome addition to the neighbourhood it’s in.

It’s been a quiet week this past few days for me and I’ve been a bit under the weather so I am keeping it short this week.

 

The NFL is back tonight with a repeat match-up from the Super Bowl with Carolina visiting Denver! I love following the NFL and I’m stoked the new season is here. For all the Seahawks fans and for all the Pete Carroll haters here’s a great article written by Richard Sherman, for the Players Tribune.

Richard Sherman #25

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How We Play Football in Seattle

Also on TV tonight, the preliminary rounds of the World Cup of Hockey begins.It’s been said that in Canada hockey is more than a religion ; it’s also a sport.

A very cool addition this year are two new teams. Team North America is made up of the best players under 23 years of age who did not make the cut on Team USA or Team Canada.Team Europe is comprised with a roster of European players who were born outside of competing nations. So players are from Slovenia, Switzerland, Slovakia and other countries without enough players to fill a competing roster. Don’t be surprised if Team North America takes this tournament. The actual tournament begins on September 18

The song this week is American Tune by Allen Toussaint from his most recent album, released in June, eight months after he passed away.

Allen Toussaint

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The quote this week is from Albert Einstein.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

Thanks again for dropping by. I hope you have a great 7 days in front of you and I hope you’ll drop by next week….

Week 34

Last Sunday Lori and I went on a drive, north on Cowboy Trail (Highway #22). Our intent was to go to Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park with Hoover the Dog just for a Sunday morning walk. A change from the area dog park we always go to. Then the sign for Big Hills Spring Provincial Park appeared and plans changed.

We spent about 1 ½ hours at this park, hiked a trail that covered the perimeter and found some water for Hoover to swim and play in.

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We left the park and as we got back to the road where ,in my mind ,I was planning to turn right and go into Airdrie for some lunch. Instead I turned left and asked Lori if she was up for a drive to Sundre, Alberta! Of course she was and I knew she would be. We headed down a couple of secondary’s and we would bounce back out onto Cowboy Trail. On our way we make a quick drive into and through Carstairs and I assure you it hasn’t changed much. A small ,rural farming community. Truthfully I was on the hunt for some ice cream and got tricked by a sign that portrayed ice cream but it was actually packaged ice cream bars.Back on the road we went heading to Sundre. When we got to Sundre we drove around, checked out the campsites to see if there were any we would want to stay at, we checked out the shops and found a little café that sold ice cream. We sauntered (we were in cowboy country so instead of walking, we sauntered) into the café and bought ourselves an ice cream cone each. We sat out front on their bench eating our ice cream and enjoying the nice, hot and sunny day. After enjoying the cones we left Sundre and drove east towards highway # 2. We stopped in Olds for a sandwich and a coffee from Tim Horton’s and took in the sights. Olds has changed so much in recent years. A lot of development and big box stores now line the streets and I imagine Olds has become the go to town for area farmers and ranchers. I’m sure some of this is driven also by Olds College and the student population. We finished our sandwiches and we made it to the highway and drove south for home on highway #2. It was a nice casual day and drive through the countryside. I would like to drive south for a Sunday drive soon, catching High River, Nanton, Longview, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. For me, driving through the country, with no agenda, can be very relaxing. A great way to spend a Sunday.

I want to share this video with you from Deshun Wang, an 80-year-old model who is proof that there is no age limit on pushing yourself. I think this man is amazing and inspiring. The video is less than 2 minutes.

Deshun Wang Video

 

My cousin, my cousin in law, my cousins son in law—heck let’s just say Padraig and his business partner have their new app., covered in the Irish Times.This app. seems to be a podcast manager and  I’m a big user of podcasts, listening to ~ 2 per day. I have subscribed to recovery speaker podcasts, recovery, business and sports so I am excited about giving his new app a try.The app is called Castro and is available from iTunes store.

 

The song this week is from Richmond Fontaine, a band from Portland, Oregon.The song is from their latest album titled You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back To. I hope you enjoy A Night In The City

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And the quote this week:

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.

Oscar Wilde

 

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll drop by next week……….

Week 32

Three of us men from my 12 step group were having coffee Tuesday evening and the topic quickly got around to “lack of sleep”. One of them hadn’t been sleeping well and this had been going on for about 2 weeks. We’re all under a lot of stress in Calgary at this time. The Energy industry, which drives this city, is in dire straights and the unemployment rate in Calgary is at a high level, never before seen here. Many friends are out of work and many of those who aren’t wonder when they will be. So there’s a lot of negative energy in this city right now and I don’t like to be one to add more. And I won’t. I refuse to do it. So our friend hasn’t been sleeping well because of all the over thinking of negative issues. I reminded my younger friend that we choose what we think about. He smirked and smiled immediately as he knew where this conversation was going to go. It’s gratitude that creates my positive thoughts. It’s my lack of gratitude that creates my negative thoughts. So as I was saying, I reminded my friend that we choose what we think. He smirked because he knew he was going to hear me say something he had heard me say many times before. “You might not be responsible for the first thought that enters your head but you are responsible for every thought that follows!”. Our conversation continued down this path and we talked about thought, choices, perception and gratitude for about 20 minutes longer before breaking up and heading home. I don’t know if he immediately changed his thinking but we certainly gave him something to think about – hahaha.

I alone, determine what thoughts I will feed and what thoughts I will not. This is my choice. This is your choice. You might not be responsible for the first thought that enters your head but you are responsible for every thought that follows. I will readily admit that I have negative thoughts and that I have them every day. But I refuse to feed them or entertain them. I am able to recognize them, banish them and move on. I spent too many years beating myself up and I refuse to be the subject of self annihilation today. Thoughts come in waves, but I choose which wave to surf. Take care and mind what you think about. You’re worth far more than you think you are.

Hey how about those Toronto Blue Jays? Looking good and actually holding top spot in the AL East today. The Jays have been looking good every game with a few miscues every now and then. Even in recent losses they have played well. A couple of key injuries might affect them in the next week, so here’s hoping Pillar and Bautista get back into the line-up soon. I wished the Mariners were doing better too but they are still in a Wild Card hunt! People ask me why the Mariners? Many people forget that the Calgary Cannons, now defunct, were AAA baseball and an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Over 400 major leaguers wore a Cannons jersey including Alex Rodriguez, Edgar Martinez and Danny Tartabull. The Cannons are why I’m a Mariners fan.

 

The song this week is from Father John Misty who is a staple of the folk scene today and if touring is work then Father John Misty works hard. He was with the Fleet Foxes from 2008-2012 but thrives when he is solo. This song is titled “Son of a Ladiesman” and I hope you enjoy Father John Misty, as much as I have and do.

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The quote this week is from Barbara de Angelis

 

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. “
Barbara de Angelis

 

Thanks for dropping by …I hope you’ll check it out again next week

 

 

 

Week 31

The past weekend was a long weekend for us and we kept it pretty quiet. After all Lori and I had just come off the West Coast Trail on July 19th and then followed that with 5 days traversing our way through Vancouver and in our style, all on foot. We put on 10km a day while in Vancouver. So last weekend my feet and my legs were thanking me for a casual and low key long weekend.

 

A very dear friend contacted me this morning. I’m in my office by 6 and she contacted me around 630 am. I have known her since 1978 and she’s a close friend as I mentioned and a close friend of the family also. She was diagnosed, yesterday, with ALS. I was quite devastated and it’s been a sad day although I have tried not to show it at work. I know she is shattered by the news she was given. She is also a single mother and I cannot imagine how difficult the conversation with her son(adult) must have been. I’m honored that I am in her small, confined group of people that she has made aware of her diagnosis but it’s an honor I could do without and would have wished that she didn’t have this news to tell at all, to anyone.

We all have a finite time on earth. Life is a one day at a time deal. I need to be grateful every day I awake and I am healthy. Life can be so simple yet I go out of my way to complicate it with wants and desires. So I constantly take my personal inventory in an attempt to keep myself on track. Am I happy? Do I worry too much? Am I setting goals? How is my family? The list goes on. Last week I wrote how on the West Coast Trail we had met a man named Harvey, who was not only hiking the trail alone, he was also celebrating his 75th birthday. What I didn’t mention was that he told Lori and I that God wants him to challenge himself and to test himself. I too think that we all have a duty, of sorts, to live our lives in a way that honors this gift. We all have very different ways of doing that. For me, I need to set goals and go after them. Sometimes if I don’t accomplish the goal I need to ask myself if I gave my best effort and if the answer is yes, then I’m confident I am honoring the gift, of life. As long as I give to people more than I take from people I believe I am on track. As long as I challenge myself physically and mentally and spiritually, then I believe I am on the right track. Life is way shorter and passes way faster than I know any of us wished it did. I have a button, stuck on the visor of my old truck and it reads “don’t die wondering”. So I try my best, to do my best and to do the things I want so I don’t die wondering.

What track are you on and are you satisfied you are honoring your gift?

 

Switching gears, I read an article last night in Avenue Magazine titled 50 great things in 50 great neighbourhoods. So if you’re in Calgary and looking for some things to check out this list is a great start.

 

 

The song this week id from EELS album Hombre Lobo and its titled Beginners Luck

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This week the quote comes to me from my buddy, Raf

Through lack of disciplined attention and sometimes through lack of the right kind of faith, many of us keep ourselves year after year in a rather easy spiritual kindergarten “

Bill Wilson, co founder of AA

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope to see you next week…..

 

 

 

Week 27

Last Sunday a few of us guys were sitting around the coffee shop shooting the breeze like we often do. We’re a few friends who are in a recovery program together. It’s not unusual to find me in Second Cup in McKenzie Towne on the weekends and the occasional weeknight also. We get together because we are like minded men and most often our recovery talk is sandwiched between conversations of sports, work or politics. I like the coffee shop discussions because unlike a structured meeting where we take turns talking, if we talk at all , the coffee shop is much more loose and free flowing and interruptions are common. We are shooting the breeze , not having a meeting. We just say what’s on our mind and we don’t worry about whose turn it is. So as I was saying ,we were sitting around shooting the breeze when the topic of forgiveness came up. Forgiveness is a great topic, right? Most people I know, regardless of whether they are in recovery or not, have sought or are seeking forgiveness. I know many people who seek forgiveness because of guilt. So they are seeking forgiveness from a feeling more so than an action. Maybe they think they weren’t a good enough child for their parents or a good enough parent to their children. Sadly some of my friends are looking for forgiveness from the guilt they feel over the death of a parent, a sibling or a child. Most often it’s as simple as we tell ourselves we could have visited more, been stricter, or been freer. We could have said I love you more or called someone we loved, more often. And often we seek forgiveness for actions we made that actually do need forgiveness. What really got my attention during our discussion at the coffee shop last Sunday was when one of the guys who is about 18 months sober said he still couldn’t forgive himself for something he had done in his drinking life. It wasn’t a horrific thing but certainly something none of my “normal” friends would have done. I wanted to say something to him but one of the other guys called him on this and this is how the conversation went.

Gent 1: So did you include this on your step 4 and 5 and talk about it?

Gent 2: Of course I did.

Gent 1: Do you think God has forgiven you for this?

Gent 2: For sure He has but I can’t forgive myself.

Gent 1: That’s quite an ego you’ve got.

Gent 2: Pardon?

Gent 1: (smiling) well if God has forgiven you but you can’t forgive yourself I can only assume you think you are greater than God.

Gent 2 started to laugh lightly and it was short. We all smiled knowing our friend would go home and have to re-think his position on the issue. I am a believer, as many of my friends are and surely most of my recovery friends. I believe in God, or a Higher Power and I presume this power to be omnipotent. When the time comes to seek forgiveness and be forgiven it is then that I must step back and out of the way and allow God to do His/Her job. When I began my journey in recovery 23 ½ years ago an old-timer shared with me a fact. He said “Mike, there is a God and it ain’t you”. So seek your forgiveness and accept it. It is God given. Quit beating yourself up. If you’re anything like me you have done enough of that already. Let Go and Let God.

 

Here’s a great add from Basketball Canada in celebration of 125 years since basketball was invented and as we all know,invented in Canada.

125 years since basketball was invented and we can’t help but apologize for our growing success at Canada Basketball. Cory Joseph, Kia Nurse, Kelly Olynyk and Jamal Murray headline a star-studded cast of athletes who are turning a Canadian stereotype on its head, showing the world that we’re not nearly as polite when national pride is on the line.

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The song (s) this week are a couple of wonderful tunes sung by Baroness Sacher-Masoch otherwise known as Marianne Faithful

I have always been a big fan of her’s mostly for her great music but also her ability to overcome addictions, self induced hardships and still be making great music today at age 69. Her album , Broken English, was released in 1979 and from then on I was a fan, a big fan. Her latest album,  Give My Love To London, was released in September of 2014, to critical acclaim, not that we rely on the critics for their assessments but it speaks to her longevity and relevance to rock and roll.

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As Tears Go By was her first hit song in England and then America and she was considered part of the British Invasion. She’s a rock and roll survivor. The second song is from her latest album and the title song, Give My Love to London

 

The quote this week is from Anthony De Mello. His book , One Minute Wisdom,was the first non 12 Step book my first sponsor bought for me 23 1/2 years ago.Anthony De Mello was  an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist.

“When you are guilty, it is not your sins you hate but yourself.”

I will not be posting for 2 weeks. Lori and I are leaving for the west coast next week and we are hiking the West Coast Trail . I’ll be back on the 28th with a post.

 

Thanks for dropping by…..I hope your summer is a great one

 

 

Week 26

Tomorrow, July 1, is Canada Day. Canada will be 149 years old! It’s an excellent day to head to the inner core, or smaller towns close by , and take in activities. In our case, we will take in multiple activities at a few venues. In the morning we will get over to the East Village first. The city closes the street to foot traffic only and opens the west side of Fort Calgary so we can saunter down 8th ave. and right into Fort Calgary and enjoy two separate venues in one sweep. When we’ve decided to move on we will get to Eau Claire Market and once again we can get two venues that are so close together. The other venue is Prince’s Island Park where there will be an Aboriginal showcase and powwow and the Canadian Military showcase. If we still have energy and the dogs can keep going we can check out Riverfront Avenue. There is no shortage of things to do in and around Calgary. For anyone who wants to go to Banff or the Bar U Ranch, admission to all National Parks is free on Canada Day. Be aware there are no dogs allowed at the Bar U because it is a working ranch and there is a lot of livestock wandering around so they’ve had to make a blanket rule. Have fun and be safe. I have posted a link to the events in and around the city.

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Canada Day Events. 

 

I did say dog(S) above as we have our daughter Olivia’s dog, Nelson the Boston terrier, for a week while she is in Toronto for Canada Day. Hoover might warm up to the very young Nelson by the end of the week. Or she might not. I do think she’s a bit jealous right now.

I was reading an article about CO2 this week and stumbled upon this website that I would like to share in case you don’t know about it. What a great site!

Big Think

The song this week is from a wonderful and well known Canadian, Leonard Cohen. I don’t think I have ever said “too much Cohen”. The song Suzanne was voted, in Rolling Stone magazine, by a readers poll, as Leonard Cohen’s second favorite song. If you’re a fan of Leonard Cohen I’m sure you  know what was number one.

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Suzanne 

The quote this week is from another Canadian, Vincent Massey.

“Canada is not a melting-pot. Canada is an association of peoples who have, and cherish, great differences but who work together because they can respect themselves and each other.”

Happy Canada Day, and Happy July 4th to my American friends

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll check in again next week ……..

Week 25

Sunday was Father’s Day and my family made it a great day for me and it was a perfect way to get ready for the upcoming work week. The kids had tickets for the Okotoks Dawgs baseball game Sunday afternoon and for me, it’s pretty hard to beat a sunny afternoon baseball game! And add the kids and it’s perfect.

I’m easy to please with a bottle of root beer and a bag of peanuts compliments of the kids and I sat back and got my sunburn on. We also had one of Olivia’s friends with us and my niece too.

After the game we all went back to the house and Lori had burgers on the BBQ and ice cream sandwiches. I even got a card and a gift from the kids! The card was handmade which was cool because I probably haven’t had a handmade card since the kids were in grade school. And check this gift out from The locked Room .  This looks like a lot of fun and we will do this in August! It’s quite an interesting concept that I will be sure to get back to you about after we’ve done it and experienced it.

Hoover the Dog had major surgery on Friday to remove a malignant tumor from her side. It’s a huge ass incision and something along the lines of a Frankenstein scar. The Vet is confident that they took a large enough marker and they got it all. They would send her to a specialist if we wanted to but at this time we don’t want her on any drugs if she doesn’t need them. She’s full of life, acting like a pup half the time and I think she has already for gotten about the trauma that happened at the “bad place”. The place that has all those people who wear white coats who always stick needles in her. It’s going to be impossible to coax her into that office next time. She’s good now though, acting like a pup and running around. She was even smart enough to put her pills in her mouth, lick off the peanut butter and spit them back out. So now Lori is putting the pills in cheese. Hopefully Hoover the Dog is around for many more years.

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Call me schmaltzy but I like this speech from Rocky Balboa. I really like it!

Rocky Balboa, is having a heart-to-heart with his son. The advice he gives him: Don’t let your failures or the adversity you face slow you down. Keep. Moving. Forward.

    Rocky Balboa (2006) 

 

“You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

 

We have tickets to see Joe Jackson on the 27th so the song this week is a Joe Jackson tune called

Is She Really Going Out With Him

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The quote this week is from Ralph Waldo Emerson

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Thanks for dropping by and I hope I’ll see you next week…………………..

Weeks 24 & 23

These past two weeks have been a busy period for me. I had traveled to Lone Pine, California last week to climb Mount Whitney and I wasn’t able to post to my blog but have rolled 2 weeks into one!

I went with a great friend of mine who I’ve known for 36 years. Neil and I traveled to Lone Pine where we would meet up with our 2 guides and 4 other climbers. We flew to Las Vegas on Wednesday the 8th and drove 3 ½ hours, across Death Valley, to Lone Pine. Death Valley was impressive in it’s vast barrenness. It’s not a drive I would want to do often but it was exciting to be in Death Valley for my first time, to be able to say I had been there and to see how desolate this place actually is. We watched the temperature climb on the dashboard outside thermometer until we hit a high of 122° F or 50° C! We stopped the car so we could get out to experience this heat as neither of us had ever been in temperatures this high. It felt like what I imagine standing inside a blast furnace might feel like, but without the death. We also experienced minus 202 feet from sea level. This was approximately 90 miles from Mount Whitney which is the highest point in the contiguous States with an elevation of 14,505 feet. Quite a drastic change in elevation in 90 miles. We were certainly going to hit extremes for highs and lows in elevation and temperature in the next 3 days. We arrived in Lone Pine on that afternoon and checked into our hotel with a very uneventful evening. We were scheduled to start climbing on the 10th so we had Thursday the 9th to ourselves to check out the area. We drove up the highway and inspected a few of the towns. Most of this area of California was settled around 1870 and many of the old original buildings still stand in towns like Bishop, Independence and Lone Pine. We also drove up to Whitney Portal which is the beginning of the trail-head, to get an idea of where we were going the next day. On Friday we met our group at the guides office at 7 AM. Everyone introduced themselves and we split up the gear, tents and food. Theses were items that were supplied by the guides and saved us the trouble and hassle of bringing from Canada. Our group consisted of a couple from Bend, a man from Washington DC, another from Bakersfield and our 2 guides, Tyler and Neil. It turned out to be a terrific group and the guides were awesome.

Our high camp was to be at approximately 12,000 feet and the hike and climb up was nothing short of a grunt! It was exhausting and I didn’t do as well as I wanted. The 2 months prior to the climb I spent 6 days a week in the gym for an hour each time on the treadmill. Now it seemed as though I hadn’t trained at all! This hike/scramble/climb was far more demanding than I had trained for. I was disappointed in my conditioning but got a lesson that I can use for my future training. There was another big lesson in this climb and that is setting expectations. The level of difficulty for this was far greater than I had expected, the climb far more severe and there was more exposure than I thought there would be. I should have studied the route better prior to arriving instead of just depending on the guides.

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We never got past high camp as the weather had held us back and for some time, confined to our tents while it stormed. We would not summit this weekend or on this trip to Whitney. Saturday night and into Sunday morning we experienced some of the wildest and closest lightning ever. We had high winds, rain, sleet and eventually snow and I swear we had lightning above us and below us at the same time. It’s a little intimidating at 2 in the morning in a 2-person tent, pitched on a slab of granite on the side of a mountain and lightning is so close by. Sunday morning at 6 AM we awoke to a few inches of snow that was not there 12 hours earlier.  We waited on Sunday for a couple of additional hours before descending. Our guides wanted to allow the sun sometime to melt the snow and make it just a little bit safer for all of us. Right now I’m not to sure I want to try again but I will see how I feel about this in a couple of weeks’ time and discuss it with my friend Neil. Heck at this time my quads are still sore and I am still tired.

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We made some good friends and I will acknowledge I had a great time. I met my friend Neil in 1980 when we were 20. He’s now a grand father. I’ve known him a long time and for us to get away for the weekend, having a goal, lots of conversation and some great laughs makes it all worth while. We drove back to Vegas on Monday and the first thing we did was get a Cheese Burger!! After some rest we went out that night for supper and then gambled a little before catching our plane home on Tuesday. I had a great time and through all the sore muscles, exhaustion and storms I wouldn’t give back a moment of it. This was definitely a highlight of 2016.

 

The song this week is one that has been stuck in my head since we were on Mount Whitney. It’s an old favorite of mine and it always reminds me that I have limited time and to use the time wisely and make it count! The song is It’ll Shine When It Shines by The Ozark Mountain Daredevils . This was one of my favorite bands when I was in junior and senior high and they’re still a big favorite today

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The quote this week is from Michelangelo 

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.

Thanks and I hope to see you next week……………