I haven’t checked in to this blog in quite a while. It hasn’t been for lack of activity — life has been quite brisk. I seem to average a post about every 2 months or so — which is hardly ever going to keep much of a reader base. However, In the words of the great Mister Ed: “Mister Ed never speaks unless he has something to say.” (Google Mister Ed, kiddies… My age is showing…)
And speaking of age…
On Monday February 27, 2012, I will celebrate my LAST birthday in my “forties.” My last year to be “Forty-sumthin.”
In this great United States of America, our president gives an annual address called the The State of the Union address. This is an annual address presented to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda (for which he needs the cooperation of Congress) and his national priorities.
So — I got to thinking that perhaps since I am in the transitional stage from being in my last year of my forth decade crossing over next birthday to my fifth decade, I should take a look at the “State of the Man.”
Really — every person should have the opportunity to take a look at one’s life and address the “state of the being.” Honestly — Isn’t this the question we are asked every day? “How you doin?” “Fine…”
So let’s take a look, shall we?
In February 2003 I turned 40. We celebrated by going to visit New Orleans in the first part of March. We made a stop in Memphis, Tennessee — and I was honored to have my picture taken next to the gates of Graceland. (I’ve always been a great fan of Elvis Presley.) Irene was pregnant with our first child, Russell Jr. Irene discovered her morning sickness while walking on Bourbon Street in NOLA.
I can honestly say that the time of Irene’s pregnancy with Russell was one of the most anticipatory, thrilling, and yet terrifying times of my life. It ushered me from “Manhood” to prepare the way for “Fatherhood.”
October 2003 brought Russell James Anderson, Jr. into the world. I can remember this day like it was yesterday — mostly the moment of birth.
In the surgical birthing room lay my wife on one table, and my new son being cleaned up on the other side of the room. This was probably my first decision I had to make as a new Dad — Who do I attend to? Should I not be right there holding the hand of my wife? Should I not go to my new son? Irene made the decision for me and told me to go make sure our son was fine. He was crying, he was cold and shaking — and as I reached out my finger, he grabbed it! Something happened, and I think we made a bond at that moment that I cannot describe.
What is interesting is how the birth of my daughter Allison came at such an extremely different time of my life. Here’s what I remember about those circumstances: It was late 2006 and I was off of work with a back injury waiting patiently for disability with $0 savings, a house-payment due, and no idea how to even get food. Irene announced that she was pregnant. Don’t get me wrong — I was “joyous” — but I was “freaked out of my mind” as well.
And just like that I was going to be a Dad again. With Russell, we had baby showers. We had color 3D ultrasounds, we set up the baby’s room. I assembled the crib. I installed infrared night time cameras and readied the baby monitor. He had his own web page.
This is hard to admit, but the entire pregnancy with Allison was a blur. I can vaguely remember being in the delivery room that July 10, 2007. I can remember taking a few pictures, but she did not have her own web page, 3D ultrasounds or anything fancy compared to the pomp of the arrival of her brother. What stands out the most to me was that I was the Dad of a precious baby girl. How much different was this going to be compared to being the father of a son?
In retrospect — the two different tales of fatherhood are as different as the circumstances of their arrival. My objective remains the same for both children: Fatherhood is my highest calling. It is my purpose to be the Spiritual catalyst in my household, to love and provide for my wife and children.
How has all of this changed the relationship between Irene and myself?
When Irene and I first met and spent that first year together, Irene once told me a story that her mother once told her — A simple definition of love: “Love is like eating a bag of cookies together. When reaching the last cookie, one looks at the other and offers it to the other. The would be recipient refuses, knowing that the other really wants the cookie — but they instead take that cookie and divide it in two, each sharing the cookie.” I remember the day she shared this story with me.
With the addition of children, I can best sum up our relationship by changing the story: “You got cookies?” “Yeah.” We both take the bag and find the children and offer the cookies to them. After making sure they are satisfied and have had enough cookies, we then share the crumbs.
It took eight years to arrive at that change of heart. Sacrifices have been made. Things that were crucial, must do, must have items/events and choices that have faded into the backdrop of life.
Do you want to know what’s really important? Seeing the 100% on the paper my son got back from school because he learned how to subtract. The look on his face when describing to me the relationship of the Star Wars characters. (Like I wasn’t in High School when Star Wars first came out…) It’s watching my daughter dance around the living room like a whirling dervish and giggle like little girls giggle. It’s picking her up and dancing with my princess — and she IS my princess, because I am the king. Monetarily, we haven’t much — certainly a very meager king, but the blessings we share are blessings beyond description.
By now I am sure you see what my last nine years of my life have really been about. I entered the decade in 2003 on the tale end of a fantastic time of feeling healthy. I had lost over 100 lbs, I was rollerblading and walking with my treadmill being a daily regimen.
Circumstances and changes have a way of effecting your daily habits, and it is with shame that I admit to losing that priority of health. One pound led into another with 2005 finding me at 444 lbs. Yeah, I know — That was my heaviest. In September of 2005 I found myself having Roux en Y gastric bypass surgery because of the alarming state of my health with complications of my Type II diabetes. I lost almost 150 lbs and stopped. I’m sure my surgeon considered me one of his greatest “failures” because I didn’t get down to 150 lbs like some of his other successes. Honestly, I WOULDN’T WANT to be 150 lbs… It’s just not me.
The last four or five years have just been a train wreck of bad health choices, PAIN, runaway diabetes, PAIN, making less than perfect food choices and PAIN. Did I mention PAIN? Oh — AND STRESS. PAIN and STRESS.
Look — here’s the deal: My first priorities of life (God and Family) cannot be met if I can’t hardly get out of bed. It’s time to make some changes.
This “State of the Man” view can realistically realize that the prognosis is grim without changes in the projected trajectory. In more specific words: Change or Death.
God in His infinite guidance has again orchestrated a series of events that has led to my awakening.
The movie Courageous.
The amount of time we are here on this Earth is limited. Every moment is a gift. Even at perfect health, my children are growing up — and FAST. I need to be on my game to offer them my best, and I don’t want to miss a minute of the time I have with them. Nobody has ever said they wished they spent more time at work. My son needs his Dad to be there to help guide him into the man that God intends him to be. If there is anything I have learned in the past 8.5 years, the relationship a man has with his father is characteristic of the relationship that the father has with God.
As in the movie, the relationship I have with my daughter is PARAMOUNT to how she will look at men in general. I am to respect her, love her and make sure that she demands that respect and love from her suitors.
Bottom line: I take my job as Dad seriously. This movie re-instilled and reiterated my duties as a Dad.
The Power Juicer
This was one of those things that Irene mentioned that she wanted, and circumstances made it available. Didn’t think much of it, really until I saw the movie…
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Here was a guy who quite literally drank nothing but vegetable juice for 60 days. In the process, he went from being FAT, SICK and NEARLY DEAD to having all of his numbers fall into place.
So… I tried it. Well — I’m diabetic, so going from massive caloric amounts to 1000 calories of just vegetable juice is just not a good plan of attack. I did however substitute my breakfast for fresh juice, and I have one for an afternoon snack. I found the recipes for these at…
Reboot Your Life
My favorites are the movie inspired “Mean Green” juice (Calories: 310, Protein: 10 gm, Fiber: 2 gm, Total Fat: 1.5 gm, Carbs: 57 gm) and the “Gazpacho Juice.” (Calories: 215 kcal, Protein: 11 g, Fiber: 0 gm, Total Fat: 2 gm, Carbs: 31 gm)
Yeah — I know what all those number represent, too. I learned it the first time I undertook this endeavor back in 1999. Back then I calculated out EVERY LITTLE CALORIE, CARB and FAT gram. I quit my logging when somebody messed around with the website. (Remember how I said circumstances can change and next thing you know you get away from things…)
Through another orchestration of God — I was presented with the opportunity to become a member of…
This website reminds me of the website I was a part of way back in 1999. Here is a place to plug in all those nutritional numbers and get a decent idea of what your really eating. Actually, I THRIVE on scientific things and get some kind of a weird boost out of figuring and calculating out that if I consume XXXX numbers of calories taking into consideration my present body weight, the caloric burn my body already burns just being alive, and taking into account for additional exercise will create a loss of say 1.5 lbs. a week. (I know, techy-guy — but it works for me…) Life is all about cause and effect. If you eat fat, greasy food — you become a fat greasy person.
I just logged my 18th day, and overall I have lost 8 lbs so far. More importantly, I FEEL amazing, much less PAIN, increased ENERGY and have that feeling of accomplishment that my science experiment was a success. It’s all about the DATA. And speaking of DATA…
MyFitnesspal has partnered with this little company that makes the FITBIT. Basically, it’s a sensor. It clips on your belt or pocket and happily monitors your progress. It tracks how many STEPS, your CALORIES, How many MILES you’ve walked, how many FLOORS you have climbed… And then you fit the thing into a little cuff and the device tracks your SLEEP PATTERNS. Really! This thing is amazing, and for a DATA junkie like myself, it’s an awesome way to motivate yourself into submission.
Take yesterday for instance. I watched every calorie I consumed, logged in on MyFitnessPal and logged my dinner. I was OVER by 200 calories. You lose your little motivational badges, your friends can see you went over your limit — I mean, your not grounded or anything — but you want to do your best. Irene suggested we go for a walk as a family, and instead of my usual groaning I think I shocked her: “Let’s go…” We went almost 2 miles, and guess what? Fitbit took the activity and subtracted the caloric burn from MyFitnessPal. I was now UNDER my goal, burning 220 calories for that little walk.
I realize that perhaps this is not for everybody — but there are little games we play everyday to motivate ourselves into doing all kind of things, and this one works for me.
C. Body, Mind and Spirit
Well — Yes, as I mentioned above, you are what you eat. That not only includes what you actually EAT but what you consume via your MEDIA OPTIONS. I’ve been an advocate for folks to pay attention to what your watching on TV and the music your listening to for years.
As a good brother used to say: “Somebody is messing with your head!” If you consume media (movies, music, TV, video games) that is contrary to your belief system, then don’t be surprised when you get caught off guard by your actions and reactions to it!
I am a Christian. It’s not a system of “rules” as some would have you believe — but a real life relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m not perfect in my conduct, but I try to do my best to honor that relationship. My rule of thumb is this: If Jesus was sitting right next to me, would I watch it/listen to it? Jesus is, of course sitting right next to me because He is God and He sees everything.
Ephesians 5:19-20 says: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord,
always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I found an awesome way to do this…
Fortunately I’m around Internet sources enough that I can pull this “mostly Internet” radio station in on the computer, on my iPod iTouch and on my Android smartphone. (Although my friends in Wadsworth/Medina can pull it in on 91.7 FM and the folks in the Youngstown/Warren area can hear it on 107.1 FM.) This station has been a real inspiration to me. It’s billed as “Positive and Encouraging” — and that it is. You owe it to yourself to check it out!
So that’s it. Long post, I know — But you only turn 49 once. Next year everyone will be too preoccupied with getting me black balloons, gifts of Geritol and cans of prunes to take me serious. If I can stay consistent to my plans and stay the course, God willing I will still be around to celebrate with you — Stronger, more focused, healthier and hopefully a little thinner