Some Things Just Aren’t Permanent

It has been a week since I had the replacement of my replaced knee done. After a year of PT, it was decided to go back in and find out why I wasn’t improving. It turns out the upper prosthesis had come loose and shifted. I am happy to say that the rehab I still remember so well, is going much better and much faster than that original session. For all of this I need to thank Deb, my excellent nurse. She encourages me when I have to push through the pain and she keeps me safe when I might be just a little too quick to show my independence. She cooks meals for me and really anything I am the least bit hungry for. This will give me the strength to do my exercises. But even more than that, she strengthens my spirit and my will to stay on track and make all of this worth the effort. I actually have dreams of running, something pretty far from reality just yet. So this is a shout out to all who will help with my healing but especially to Deb Shepherdwundrow. Thank you for being here when I need you the most and thank you for your patience with whimpering and groans.

PS: For those of you who will be getting a knee replacement, take heart. My situation is not the norm. As you go through this, find others to share your experience. Please remember that each person’s journey is unique. Keep track of the up days as they won’t all be up days. Finally, do not get discouraged and allow your self some recuperation time following those hard PT days.

It Is a Wonderful Life

The film, “It’s A Wonderful Life” came out in 1946.  The war had ended and this film hoped to capture the hearts of all who saw it that Christmas.  Though it wasn’t a hit and actually got panned, it has become a staple of Christmas movies one needs to see each Christmas.  Though not initially liked, it has become an icon.

It’s the premise that I wanted to write about.  The movie presents a desperate man, George, who through his sacrifice had saved his community, and yet he still felt that he was a failure.  And because of this, George was about to end his life.  In steps his guardian angel  who shows him what the world would be like without him.

Now you can figure out that he would not go through with it and in fact found his riches were measured, not by money but rather by the number of friends he was surrounded by.  The film’s message is that we are all like George or at least hope to be.  The Christmas season is the perfect time for us to be reminded that we can be who we want to be.  We just need see the forest for the trees.

It is too easy for us to measure success by the wrong set of parameters.  In that evaluation, we are either feeling successful because we are well off or we deem ourselves a failure because we lack monetary wealth.  The movie reminds us that we should be measuring our success by the number of people we have touched or maybe even influenced for change.

Christmas letters and cards are a tactile way of seeing the number of people who care about us enough to send us the letter or card in the first place.  At this time of year, take time to count the number of people who bless your life.  And then, let them know.

At Christmas we can be who we want to be, but don’t let the rest of the year undo that feeling.  Live in the present and give to the future.  Christmas reminds us that no person who has friends is ever a failure.

On My Way Home

So here I am on American Airlines, bound for home.  My morning started at 3:30 am when I awoke, got ready and caught the hotel shuttle for the airport and my way too early flight.  After a two hour layover in Dallas Airport, we just left the tarmac and in a few hours I will be home.  This marks the end of my annual teaching schedule.  Please don’t ask what I am out there teaching unless you are short on both sleep and sleep aids.  My circuit begins in Wisconsin where we zig zag across the state but ends with a week travelling across the State of Mississippi, finishing just in time to still get home for Christmas.

I guess what I wanted to write about was the amazing experience of not just visiting another state, but working and interacting with the locals as well.  My experience is one of meeting incredibly gracious people with a very easy and much more laid back view of life.  I will say that the term “fast food” is kind of lost when you are down here in the South and believe me, when you are crisscrossing the state and driving between your hotel sites, you get a lot of opportunity for fast food.  Down South, they just aren’t in that same frenetic hurry that we seem to be in up here in the North.  Never the less, I do look forward each year to my “Journey’s Across Mississippi”.  I will shamelessly add that I can take extra heaping helpings of the “can I get’cha anything honey” or “how’s it go’en sweetie” any day and miss it every time I return home.

One of the fringe benefits I look forward to each year, is leaving the cold of Wisconsin weather in December for the subtle warm weather of that same time in Mississippi.  I would pack for sixty and seventy degree weather looking forward to even donning shorts on my day off.  So what went wrong this year?   It seems the cold weather somehow purchased an airline ticket along with mine and showed up to accompany me across Mississippi.  Though we did get one day of fifty degrees, I feared for snow on the rest.  What was humorous, was their reaction to this weather.  The term “oh my God, Hell is freezing over” seemed to be the general reaction.  That and blaming my wife and I for bringing it with us.  Newscasters warned the fearful citizens to bring in all animals, wrap your pipes and head to the grocery store for a week’s worth of provisions before the shelves were bare.  We saw all forms of warm weather gear as they prepared for this onslaught of “death by cold”.  Now in fairness, we in Wisconsin, given this same degree of cold, would at least have put away our shorts and flip flops.  We may have even donned a sweater.  But gloves, ski masks and parkas?  By the way, I still packed for seventy degrees.  Rather wore out that one sweater I had somehow packed, or was that the one I wore to the airport the day we flew down?

But I am on my way home now and I apologize to the Deep South for bringing that taste of winter with me.  I am told a good old snow storm waits for me to land so that it can blanket us with a beautiful layer of white.  The more I think about it, the more I look forward to it.  Poor Mississippi, suffering through the cold without the one beautiful benefit of winter, snow.  After all, what would winter and especially Christmas be without it?

So I will sign the end of my trip, gently dozing off on the plane while dreaming of a white Christmas and glad to be home once more.


Politically Correct

I am taking a chance but I feel I must.  I will remind people that to believe in and fight for the Constitution, then one must respect all of the amendments.  This would include, first and foremost, the First Amendment.  Those who know me, know that I am a careful person who tends to avoid confrontation in favor of considering all of the perspectives of a situation.  With that as my backdrop, I am exercising my First Amendment right and I am about to talk about the Time Magazine release of this week.

It did not go unnoticed that Time magazine, in their effort to be politically correct, has changed Man of the Year to Person of the Year.  This fact needs to be considered.  I am pleased that they realized that the culture of today needs to respect that the nominee cannot be only a man.  That said, it amazed me that in the process of being politically correct they could nominate someone so politically incorrect.

Before I go farther, I best give you my view of politically correct.  Many people bristle at the term in that it says they have to be so cautious about what they say.  I will be the first to admit that I am not always so careful about what I say, but I am still politically correct in my beliefs.  All people matter.  Equality is not a privilege reserved for the wealthy.  And respect belongs to all humans.

As the father of two daughters and I hope a champion for fair and equal treatment of all human beings, I could not bring myself to vote for a person who so poorly represented both ideals.  The language, the gestures, the support of misinformation, the policies and the lack of civility, left me no choice but to vote for anyone else.  I have always viewed the presidency as our representation as a culture.  I have a difficult time seeing us represented in this light.

None the less, I understand the choice.  Time’s criteria is a person who has influenced and become a national figure.  They neither endorse that person’s beliefs or judge them.  They search for a person who has become that person of interest.  Donald Trump certainly fits that criteria.

No matter how I feel about Mr. Trump as our president elect or for that matter how any of my readers feel, the die has been cast.  He is in fact been elected to the position.  I can only say what I would have said if my candidate now stood in that position, like it or not, it is what it is.  I ask only this, no matter who you voted for, the winner or the loser, own your vote.  If you voted for him, you must now accept his policies.  If you voted against him, you must still respect the office, for that is what our country, our democracy and our belief system is about.  That said, I am not advising that you give up your ideals and certainly not that you lose your ethics.  Continue to fight for your beliefs and those ideals.  We are after all a democracy and nothing we do is decided by a lone individual but rather by the collective will of the populace.  We elect a Senate and a House of Representatives, we entrust them with the decision to put respected jurists on our Supreme Court and we ask them to remember that they represent all citizens not just those who pay to get them elected.  Exercise your First Amendment right to voice your opinion, to demonstrate peacefully your views and to vote your conscience.

I voted my conscience.  I will respect the will of the electorate and the office he was elected to, but I will continue to follow my ethics.  He earned the influential person of the year consideration, but not my vote for politically correct.