Sunday, June 16, 2013

June 16, 2013: Minnesota Bound... Again!


Well, the pre-packing has begun!  We fly out of Orange County at 6:45am Tuesday, so we will go stay at grandma and grandpa's house tomorrow, and grandpa will lovingly give us a ride to the airport at early thirty am on Tuesday morning.  So, that means we really leave tomorrow evening, and Ang and I both work tomorrow!  Funny how this stuff just creeps up on ya.  Ang was on the road Wed, Thu, and Fri this past week, and due to late planes, missed her connection Friday night and literally didn't get in until 2:30 am Sat. morning.

One of these years, we'll figure out that we need a day off before the travel day, and a day off after.  Still haven't gotten that one figured out yet!  LOL.

Plans for the race are going GREAT.  Hats off to our Relationship Coordinator, Christie Zink, for an all-around bang up job this year.  We have over 100 team members on Team PUCK this year!  We're currently at 108, and expect a few famous last-minute-entries by Saturday.  We have 3 tents this year for Team PUCK complete with new race t-shirts, food, beverages, fun kid activities, chair massages, prizes for our top fundraisers, and on-site supervision so parents can run their races and leave their kids at the tent in safe hands... and this is all in addition to what our parent organization, Children's Cancer Research Fund (CCRF) has in store for everyone!  In addition, I think we are going to break our fundraising total from last year!  We set a giant, audacious goal this year, and while we're probably only going to do a little more than half of that, we're still going to top last year, which means we'll probably end up in the $28,000 range.  Still, we are incredibly happy!  Remember, we're just a few parents pulling this off in our spare time.  All our donor money goes straight to EB research, and we cover what little costs we incur through sponsorships.  Above all, nobody takes a salary.  Big thanks also goes out to Ryan Durry, the IT Ninja at (CCRF)!  He has continued to help us with our websites and done a great job.  Thanks, Ryan!  Thank you also to Emily Siebold at CCRF for working with our team to coordinate tent locations, schedule times, race packs, the whole shebang!

I was looking forward to really competing this year in the 5k as I turned 40 and am now the youngest guy in my age bracket (40-49) instead of the oldest last year (39 and 10 months).  I think I came in 5th for my age group last year, so I was really thinking I might have a shot at winning my age bracket, but I'll tell ya... in the past year, I have added so many bumps, bruises, strains, and even sprains, I lost count.  I found that I couldn't run hard without a full 72 hours of recovery time this spring.  Then, 9 days ago, I really pushed my run and pulled/tore something in my right hip.  Feels like my ilio-tibial band, and it's been a hot mess since.  Haven't been able to run at all, and put in two sessions on the recumbent bike in my gym to try to keep a little endurance in my lungs.  SO... I gave up any hope of glory, hahaha.  I'll run hard, and however I do this year is however I do.  If my hip lights up on fire during the run, I'll stop.  I've let go of being attached to any winning outcome... which is NOT easy for me.   In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm incredibly competitive... but mostly with myself.  I really wanted to better my time from last year to tell myself I really am getting better with age!  Think there's a little complex in there about crossing the 40 threshold?  LOL.

Have you seen the amazing new research that our own Dr. Tolar from U of M has been involved with for EB???  3 years ago, we sat down at a lunch with him to discuss the future of EB research at the U of M and what he needed financially to make it happen.  Well, I'm proud to say that a little over 3 years later, we delivered on our end, in conjunction with the support of the other EB charities, DebRA, EBMRF, and JGSF, and this latest research has really shown that Dr. Tolar is delivering on his end as well.  If you'd like to read an article about what he is up to, CLICK HERE.

In other home news, Ali began summer vacation on Friday.  She had a great report card, and did a great job in first grade.  She's going to go into 2nd grade at her school where they will test the everliving sh#t out of her and teach her how to pass tests.  We've been hearing from other parents whose kids are/were in 2nd grade at her school just how much testing they do, and I was hoping to put her in a creative arts based curriculum private school this fall, but they are full, so hopefully only one more year in test test test mode.  I invested in a creative arts based summer camp for her this summer that will really allow her creative and critical thinking muscles to build.  It's called Steve and Kate's Camp.  I got this amazing brochure in the mail over the winter, and it blew my mind.  Check out their website HERE.  The booklet that came in the mail was basically a paper version of the site... the design alone tells you it's something different.  The artist Ali will be able to flourish in this setting, and she gets total creative control over which medium of expression she wants to learn and practice with.  Whether it's painting, sewing, cooking, engineering, music, animation... it's all there for her.  I can't wait to see what happens!

Thanks for the support from the last post.  I have officially stopped running my business and personal life on credit, and built an initial plan that accounts for upcoming business trips and expenses, all without having to float it all on credit.  It's really scary for me, because I have considered credit like a safety blanket, and I as a result, I've had a rather casual relationship with it.  It would be one thing if I only used it when I need it, AND if I paid it off, but I have NEVER been able to maintain that kind of discipline, despite promises to myself and others.  SO, a new path of financial recovery has begun, and I am grateful to be reminded that every day I'm still here, I can make new and exciting choices with this precious gift of life.

God night!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 9, 2013: Bridging the gap... again.

Look who just "bridged" Daisy to Brownie today?


Sorry I don't write as often.  Life is good here.  I am watching Julian RUN from room to room singing and screaching with joy.  Ali is laying next to me watching last week's elimination round of The Voice.    While I am still devastated at the early exit of Judith Hill, I am still all in for Sasha Brown.  The two of them were my faves.  There some real talent on that show, man.  I mean, I've watched entire seasons of Idol where the where ALL 5 of the finalists in the Voice had a better voice than the winner of Idol (in my humble opinion, of course).

But I don't blog on here to talk about TV shows.

What I would really like to talk about is my latest area of life where I have been really struggling, because I am willing to bet I'm not the only one who struggles with it.

I'm blessed that I've never struggled with my weight.  I know that's a tough one for literally millions of people.

I'm blessed that I've never really lost my faith.  I lost any clue how to talk to God, but I never lost my belief in God.  I know that is an area that many people struggle with.

But I'll tell you what.  I have never - I mean since I was 16 - had a comfortable relationship with...

... money.

Two weeks ago, I noticed my credit card balance had JUMPED (again), and I literally jumped in my chair, and said out loud, "How did THAT happen?"

Have you ever had an experience like that?  I understand if you haven't.  I know for a great many people, money is clear to them... how it works, etc.

But when I stared at my account screen, it felt like someone else was "at the wheel," not me.  But that's not the case.  When I looked at my account history, I quickly saw that I had purchased the whole of Ali's summer camp in one charge on my card... but thing was, I had NO MEMORY of that transaction, or any real relationship to what my balance would be when I made that transaction.  It's like I erased it from my consciousness as soon as it happened.

In that moment, I heard all the past "me's" who had stared at either a credit card statement in the mail or logged online and looked with apprehension, like it was going to be a big surprise.  Again, as if someone else was at the wheel.  As if I didn't use the card myself.

When I had my first savings account in Fairfield, CT in 1988, I would walk up to the counter, and the gal, Ved, (I still remember her name, because I made her the enemy) would give me my account balance, and I would literally gasp out loud in the line as if SHE took the money from me.  Looking back, I can see and feel the awkward response of other employees and customers who were within earshot.  Poor Ved.  She had to put up with me that whole summer.

Back in my office, I literally feel to my knees.  I had run up my credit card yet again. Something that I knew was happening but had been keeping a blind eye to since my main hospital contract ended.  I knew I wasn't making enough to get by, and sensed I was financing the difference on my card, but I was really hiding from the stark reality of what was so.

Have you ever PROMISED to do something (over and over), or NOT do something (over and over) and found that you just couldn't manage your promise?

I sat in the full heat of that realization on my knees in my office.  I felt panic overcome my body.

It was time.  Something had to change.  I realized I am forty years old, and this is IT.  I don't get a second chance, and I am lucky to be alive.  I've buried friends, children, patients, all younger than me.  I'm LUCKY I get the rest of today to manifest whatever I want.  Could there BE a greater gift than LIFE?    One thing I've learned through my work in the hospital and my personal life is that tomorrow does NOT follow today for thousands of people... every day.  If I get a tomorrow, what shall I do with it?  For it is GENUINELY A PRESENT given to me by God.

Within this game of life, there are some areas that are kind of 'lynchpins' that affect many others.  Money is one of them, and whether anyone wants to believe otherwise is their choice, but my car doesn't run on love, the bank doesn't want love at the beginning of the month, and neither does Julian's daycare.  They all run on money.  For better or for worse, it's kind of a lynchpin in our society.  Yet, I've been confused about it my whole life.

No more running.  I can't take it anymore.

And so it began.   Time to get some help.  I'm not as strong in math as other subjects, so you know what I did to get through in college?  I got a tudor.  How did I get through music theory?  Tudor.  Algebra?  Tudor.  Stats?  Tudor.  Did I feel "less than" or "weak" in those moments?  Nope, not really, because I was committed to an outcome (graduating with a 3.0 or higher GPA) and was willing to do WHATEVER IT TOOK to create that outcome.


New outcomes:

Solvent business.

Debt free graduate.

Well prepared for retirement.

"Up close and intimate" with money.

Not because I'm obsessed with it, but because until now, I've been afraid of it.

I've joined a support group that works on helping each other break the cycle of debting (I didn't know that was a verb!) and have gotten A LOT of relief sharing my story.  The laughter of recognition in the room from those who have begun this road before me is refreshing.  To hear levity in the midst of something that heretofore has been so frightening...

... gives me hope.

I love this game of life.  Today, I get to re-write my story.  If I'm lucky enough to wake up tomorrow, I get to do it again.  Same for Tuesday.

So many chances for success.

What a gift.

God night.