The story of Rose…..

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m 87 years old. Can I give you a hug?” I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.

She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, have a couple of children, and then retire and travel.”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends.

Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk non-stop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went.

She loved to dress up and she reveled inthe attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium.

As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her 3×5 cards on the floor. Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began: “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day.”

“You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!”

“There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are 19 years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn 20 years old. If I am 87 years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn 88. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding the opportunity in change.”

“Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”

She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose”. She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives.

At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Relish…..

Today I am off of work enjoying the time with the family. I just awoke from a quick 20 minute nap on the couch in the family room. I was reading a new book and my wife curled up next to me. It was a nice Hallmark moment — the mist outside, the smoker outside cooking tonight’s chicken, Tchaikovsky piano music in the kitchen, my wife sleeping next to me and a good book. I laid the book down and took it all in realizing that true enjoyment moments like this just happen — they aren’t planned or scheduled. What you have to do and what I am slowly realizing is that you need to position your life so that there are more opportunities for them to occur. That, coupled with opening your eyes so that you can identify the moments when they happen, will lead to true enjoyment moments. The book I started (no book report yet since I have only finished the “Foreword” and am in Chapter 1) talks about “permanent things — values, family, relationships, communicating”. These are what I have been focusing on and intend to keep focusing on as we continue on this journey of leading a slower paced life.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Church, bowlin’ and NASCAR…..

Today was a little bit of a challenge because two of the kids were kinda sick. Not enough to really stay at home in bed but enough to be wary of the kind of bad day we could have since they weren’t feeling 100%. And rain was the order of the day. So late church was in order but I had to take my oldest to Sunday school. She is prepping for communion and can’t miss a class. So wave 1 of the family went early for the 9:30a Sunday school with the rest of the family reinforcing the group for 10:45a church.

That all seemed to go well given how two of the kids felt so we grabbed some lunch at the local Sonic and headed over to where the church bowling event was happening. Now, none of my kids had ever been bowling before. There were about 8 families from the church so we got to meet a few more people. And, man, was it fun. It was so funny to see the kids struggle with the 8 pound ball, manuever it into position, coax it down the lane with their body language and explode with happiness when they knocked over more than one pin. There was even one series where my little boy got a spare, both my girls got strikes, my wife got a spare and I knocked down…..seven. It was pretty funny and we all had a great time. We will definitely have to do that again as a family. NOTE: bumpers are the best thing in bowling since they drilled those three holes in the ball for your fingers.

After church and bowling, I had to race home so I could catch the rest of the NASCAR Daytona 500 (get it?…..”race” home…..hahahaha — I know, that was pretty bad.) I’m a pretty big NASCAR Cup fan and, while I don’t particularly like the Daytona 500, it was a race that had many firsts for me. It was the first race of the season, it was my first NASCAR race here in Kentucky and it was my first race I got to watch in HDTV. And all I can say is “WOW!!!!!”. I got the attic antenna dialed in and tuned it on the 42″ Sony wide screen at around lap 60 (of 200). I was in heaven and my wife just couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cars and picture looked spectacular with all the detail. Now I just have to get the cable run so I can remove the “temporary” cable running across the hallway from the attic down the stairs to the TV. If you haven’t seen an HDTV picture yet, especially a sporting event, do yourself a favor and check it out. It is the new wave of TV. Oh, and by the way, my driver won the race so I was thrilled! What a great start for the season. I can’t wait until next week’s race at Fontana, California. This was a race I had been going to since it’s inaugural race in 1997 with my dad and brother-in-law. It was a great tradition but me moving to Kentucky and my bro-in-law moving to Washington state kinda made it difficult to continue it. To all my friends attending next weekend, I will miss you, the BBQ, the comraderie and the fun. Enjoy it for me — I’ll be watching you on TV.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Change…..

One of the intentions of this blog/journal is to not only share my experiences, observations and challenges, but to also encourage the reader to make positive changes to their lives — or at least give it a shot. Your changes might not be as drastic as moving a family across the country. It could be spending more time with your family, trying a new sport or hobby, or taking on a challenging project. But all these are new things that sometimes are easier to talk about instead of actually putting into practice. And sometimes change involves loss or the possibility of failure. I believe it is those two components that tend to paralize us into resisting change. Throw in fear of the unknown and you have a recipe for keeping things the same…..even if they suck. I find it ironic that change (and death and taxes) are the only sure things in life but we, as humans, are so resistant to something we know is always going to happen. And we have to be careful not to make change just to make change (unless it is redecorating a room in your house). True positive change is something that you have assessed, made a decision on and acted upon, integreting into your life until the change is the new norm. You will then reap the benefits of that positive change. The key is to be flexible to changes that are unexpected and you cannot control in addition to keeping your eye open for opportunities and areas where you can take control and make positive change. You are separating stimulus from response. Things are always going to happen. It is your response to those changes that you can control. People not in tune with this concept just react. People in control of their lives, emotions and actions respond, rather than react, with appropriate actions that will benefit them or at least minimize repercussions.

What you can do is determine what is important to you in your life, assess the positive changes you can make and implement them. Kinda like finding the secret formula that works for you. I brushed the topic a few months ago in this post — Values and Finances — and again I encourage you to go out, find the formula that works for you and put it into action. If you keep putting it off til tomorrow, you will continue to lose the benefits you could gain today.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Wow! What a day!…..

So we woke up this morning waterless, but with hope. The plumber was expected at 9:30a and water shortly after that. My son had a play date after school with the only other boy in his pre-school class. And I had an off site seminar.

The plumber was on time and extremely helpful. Turns out the water source pipe I thought I hit was some kind of drain pipe from the roof/attic. (The kicker — we actually could have had water all night long!) The translation from the plumber to my wife lost quite a bit when it got to me but bottom line was that if we didn’t drain it (which is what we, er, I did when I drilled into it) it would’ve eventually filled and the water would’ve gone to not so nice places. Supposedly it would have gotten taken care of and correctly routed when the basement gets finished but that has not happened yet. So in a way, this was a good thing we found out about it because it was something we needed to know about but didn’t. Silver lining in the cloud type thing. Now at least we can periodically drain it until we finished the basement off and properly route it to a regular drain.

My wife also had time to chat with the plumber who was from around here and knowledgable. More local info is always good. And the neighbor saw my son and his friend playing out in the front pasture so she brought over her son who my son loves. They all played together while my wife was able to spend her first conversation with the neighbor mom. We are slowly building our network back up. It is nowhere near where our CA support system is/was but it is a start and progress is being made.

And the weather today was absolutely gorgeous. The truck temp indicator read 72F on the way home from my seminar. I drove with the windows open all the way home. The downtown Louisville traffic with a few accidents was like a Sunday LA traffic drive — definitely nothing to complain about. From downtown in traffic to our quiet countryside home it only took 40 minutes. And that was driving at slow Kentucky speeds.

All of this will change tomorrow. We’re expecting colder temps and possible wet stuff. It’s supposed to snow this weekend. But at least I enjoyed it while the opportunity presented itself. I even got out on the patio and grilled some burgers and broke in my new smoker with some charcoal, water and hickory chips.

The TV didn’t come on tonight and instead I reviewed homework, chatted with the wife and played a few games with the kids.

The seminar I went to had a great positive impact and solidifies the direction we have been headed and brings it into tighter focus. I was doing quite a few of the things but more from a happenstance viewpoint and as individual habits. The seminar helped me add tools to the foundation we had already built and tied it all together for a greater purpose. For the first time here in Kentucky, I have a true peace and comfort with where we are, the direction we are headed and the pace we are taking. I would equate it to day 3 or 4 of a nice two week vacation. The planning and stress of all the changes and newness of the vacation are worn off and you can ease into the enjoyment and relaxation of the journey — enjoyment of the immediate present while optomistically looking forward to the future.

Now I know we still have quite a few challenges left. I haven’t talked about the disappointing school situation yet and there are a few other cards that have to still be played. And there will be valleys and challenges ahead. But all in all I have an extreme peace and inside satisfaction. I always hoped we would get to this point but at times I had extreme doubts. I am glad I hung in there. Nothing worth anything is easy.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Nature’s Top Gun…..

I was on my relaxing drive home this evening — the rain had given way to an almost cloudless sky with the Kentucky sun dipping into the tree line. Almost home, I noticed two ducks, one out front and one flying the part of the wingman. But they weren’t flapping their wings. Turns out they were slowly gliding down for a water approach onto a pasture pond. From my driving vantage point it looked like they were flying straight but in reality they were on final descent. Finally, I saw the lead bird bank right with his wingman following. It looked just like “Top Gun” as they rolled right, flared and hit the #3 wire — carrier speak for a perfect landing.

Oh yeah…..and this evening while trying to run some RG-6 cable for an attic antenna, I drilled into a water pipe. I ran the stud finder in the area with no results but it didn’t pick up the PVC pipe. The shower I got right then and there will be my last until tomorrow morning when the repair plumber gets here. The house water is turned off and we’re all gonna have to make do tomorrow morning as we adjust our routine. Pretty funny when you think of it. Kinda like a sitcom.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

90 days…..

It was 90 days ago that we left California for our house hunting trip. It seems so far ago, so much in the past. We were still California residents, didn’t own real jackets, hadn’t gone through or expected the roller coaster of emotions, etc. While we still have a ways to go, we have covered a lot of ground in about 3 months. It’ll be interesting to see what the next 3 bring.

All I can say is — time moves quick. Like this quote from Ferris Bueller — “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Why don’t we all make that our goal this weekend. Drop me a note and let me know how you did.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

A Valentine’s Day gift…..

A Valentines Day gift…..

Last night, Thursday, was a special night for me. I had a date with my daughter. She received a special award for completing all her reading for the month of January. Part of that award was a coupon for a free personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut — her favorite pizza place. After that, her 1st grade class was having a craft event where dad’s can go with their kids to make a V-day gift for Mom.

So Pizza Hut it was and then on to the school. We painted a small terra cotta flower pot with her classmate and her dad. Turns out they live 2 miles from us. Play dates will need to be set up. I was also able to meet another of my neighbors who owns the 90 acres across the street from us. All in all it was a nice evening and it helped contribute to the feeling that we are slowly adjusting, meeting people, building our network and making this town, place and community home.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Family memories…..

Tonight was family game night and family movie night. Uno was the game of choice with the females dominating over the males. My son became disinterested after the first game and I only won the last. All the others were swept by the ladies.

After that, it was a DVD with my son since he didn’t get into the Uno games. After that we sat as a family and watched family pictures on the ReplayTV. I was a little melancholy but also realised that while we were watching old family memories, we were making new ones right then and there.

When I took the dogs out one last time to do their business before going to bed, I looked up at the gobs and gobs of stars available to me. I look forward to the warm summer evenings where I can take a quilt out there and set up the telescope to show the kids the vastness of God’s creation.

Here’s to the weekend and hoping you enjoy it as much as we do.

…..Dan at aslowerpace

More song lyrics…..

This is us!

Tim McGraw – Where The Green Grass Grows

Six lanes, tail lights
Red ants marchin’ into the night
They disappear to the left and right again
Another supper from a sack
A 99 cent heart attach
I got a poundin’ head and an achin’ back
And the camels standin’ in a big straw stack

I’m gonna live where the green grass grows
Watch my corn pop up in rows
Every night be tucked in close to you
Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed
Point our rockin’ chairs towards the west
And plant our dreams where the peaceful river cools
Where the green grass grows

Well I’m from a map dot
A stop sign on a blacktop
I caught the first bus that I could hop from there
But all this glitter is gettin’ dark
There’s concrete glowin’ in the city park
I don’t know who my neighbors are
And there’s bars on the corner and bars on my heart

I’m gonna live where the green grass grows
Watch my corn pop up in rows
Every night be tucked in close to you
Raise our kids where the good Lord’s blessed
Point our rockin’ chairs towards the west
And plant our dreams where the peaceful river cools
Where the green grass grows