It Was a Very Good Year

As we are fully aware of, this time of year always brings out “Best of” and “Top Ten” lists, so in the spirit of the season, I have compiled a list of my Top Ten Firsts of 2012:

10. Red Robin – While not an earth-shattering first, it still deserves mention, because I got to share the experience with my best friend, Rob. The food and service were phenomenal and have been every time I have gone since. Now if only Rob could say the same…
Continue reading It Was a Very Good Year

Freaky Friday!

Today has been a surreal day, and it’s only just begun. I was driving down I-4 this morning, making good time, when suddenly traffic came to a complete stop. There was a woman in an SUV who had obviously entered the exit ramp, because her car was facing traffic. Everyone waited while she pulled a u-turn and exited the ramp. Thankfully, no one was hurt, because that could have been a lot worse for her.

I should have known it was going to be an interesting day, considering how it started. I didn’t get to sleep until after 1AM, so I was pretty sure I would be in no shape to work out this morning, and sure enough, when my alarm went off at 5:30, I was certain I would not be going. With one eye open, I went through my ritual of checking email on my phone and discovered that someone had left a comment on one of my songs on SingSnap. It was a song by MercyMe called Move.

As you can imagine, I was starting to feel a little convicted, especially since I’d called that song “My theme song for 2012.” But not convicted enough to get out of bed. Then, the final boot to the rear came from, of all places, my Sims game on my iPad. I had closed my eyes again, torn between getting up and going back to sleep, when a small flash of light caught my attention. I opened my eyes and saw there was an alert on my iPad from the Sims game letting me know one of my Sims had woken up and “It’s time to get moving!” I’m not a believer in coincidence, or as the saying goes, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” So, I got up, and I went to work out. I’d like to say that something unexpected happened during my workout which warranted the two promptings this morning, but, while that would be what happens in the movies, in real life I just got a really good workout.

Can’t wait to see what the rest of today holds!

Health, Wealth, and Happiness

This week has been off to a good start for out-of-the-box living. I have three new experiences, and the week isn’t even half-done!

Health

On Monday, I got myself a personal trainer. This is something else I’ve never done before. I’ve joined gyms before, and I’ve tried Weight Watchers, but the problem I have is a difficulty with internal motivation. I know I have to lose weight and get fit, but DOING anything about it is a whole different thing. This trainer teaches kickboxing and the classes are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6AM. To my surprise, I got up at 5:30 on Monday with minimum complaint (which is also very out of my comfort zone!) and got quite a workout. Today, I went in and managed to twist my ankle five minutes in while I was warming up. Now, if this had happened while I was working out alone, that would have been it for me. I would have called it quits, sat on my couch, and continued to gain weight. My PT, instead, managed to help me with the ankle, and I still got a killer upper body workout. I know this, if I stick with it, will definitely pay off.

Wealth

I am now a stockholder in several companies. I’ve never before imagined myself in the stock market, yet here I am. Now the question remains whether I’ll be any good at it. But this is an experience I felt I needed to take. I’ve never really tried putting my money to work for me, and it’s a nerve-wracking decision, definitely not in my comfort zone. Whether it pays off remains to be seen.

Happiness

The third out-of-the-box experience of the week will take place today. I am applying for a passport. It seems that once I made the decision to travel, doors have opened that I would never have expected that have made the possibility of international travel a reality. As of now, I’m shooting for an early March trip to Europe. I’ve been out of the country before, but as a child, and then only to Canada and the Dominican Republic. The idea of seeing a whole other continent is mind-blowing!

So, there it is. We’re off to a great start, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this “season” holds!

Back from Hiatus

A little less than six months ago, an idea was born. I was about to celebrate my 43rd birthday, and I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone, to step out of my box, and to embrace new experiences. During the first six months, I got quite a few experiences. I tried out for several shows, and actually was on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” I got to spend a week in New York as a tourist. I got to see myself on national television. I tried new food, although that one did not go so well. I took a painting class. In short, I would say the first six months of JOOTB were quite successful, and if my life were a TV show, we would just now be done with the winter hiatus and moving into the second half of the season. Now that I have a little “funding”, the experiences should be more frequent and hopefully more ratings-worthy. Some of the things I’m hoping to accomplish include: traveling to a foreign country, learning to swim, and taking cooking, dancing, and photography classes. (not all at the same time-although that would make for quite an interesting class…) Between moving, working, and studying, I haven’t given myself any time for new experiences lately. That will soon change. By the end of this month, I will have finished packing and moving (yet again!) and will be comfortably settled for the foreseeable future. And in just five weeks, I will be graduating with a Bachelors degree, which will free up a huge chunk of my time. But I’m not waiting. The out-of-the-box experiences will begin anew as of tomorrow.
Starting tomorrow, I will be taking kickboxing classes, three times a week, at six in the morning. For those who know me and know how much I LOVE my sleep, this is extremely out of the box. I found a personal trainer who will hopefully be able to get me on the right track as far as getting fit and losing weight goes. Some of the things I would like to experience require a smaller me. For instance, skydiving and horseback riding. I’ve let myself go for too long, and it’s time to reclaim myself, body, mind and soul.
Speaking of soul, one piece of unfinished business from the first half of the “season” is my thoughts on the fruits of the Spirit. I left off with my old blog on goodness, and I have not been able to get back to that. I will finish those soon, as well.
So, to recap, JOOTB is back, with – More Action! More Adventure! More Alliteration! So, step out of that box and join me, won’t you?

Nine in the Afternoon

Nine is an interesting number. We say we’re on cloud nine and we dress to the nines. A stitch in time saves nine. (Not sure what that one means.) A cat has nine lives. Our solar system has nine planets – I don’t care what the scientists say, I say Pluto still counts. There are nine Muses in mythology. And I just learned about the Nine Worthies, which is a subject I’ll be coming back to in my blogs at some point.

So, why is the number nine on my mind? It seems I’ve had a few events occurring at the same time revolving around nine. I have recently rediscovered my blog series on the fruits of the Spirit, of which nine are listed in Galatians 5:22-23. They are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Having done those blogs five years ago, I decided to revisit the series and see what has changed and what hasn’t. The last time I did this, I found I was challenged on every one of the fruits as I was studying it. I expect it will be no different this time. I will be posting the original blogs as well.

The other major nine that popped up recently was in an exercise regime which I just began. It is a nine week program, divided into three phases of three weeks each. It’s not going to be easy. As a matter of fact, I only made it halfway through the routine yesterday. But I know that, if I stick with it, it will help me lose weight. This morning, I weighed in at an even 300.

With both of these things coming in the form of nine, I figured, why not combine the two and work on my spiritual and physical health at the same time? To top it all off – all this just happens to fall during the ninth month of the year. Coincidence? Yeah, probably, but I’m willing to go along with it. Join me, if you will, for what will hopefully be an enlightening, and lighten-ing, nine weeks.

Goal fruit for the week – Love

Goal weight for the week – 295

 

Picking Fruit (originally written 7/14/06)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.”(Gal. 5:22-23 KJV)

For some time now, I’ve been wanting to do an in-depth study of the fruit of the Spirit. The proof of a Christian life is in the fruit, just like the proof of a good tree is the good fruit it bears. If the Christian life doesn’t show good fruit, then one would be left to wonder if it truly is a Christian life.
The Bible says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” (Gal. 5:22-23 KJV) So that is the fruit by which the Christian life is measured. It’s my intention to talk about each of the nine aspects of the fruit of the Spirit, but before I do that, I want to spend some time on the verses right before those, which are not quoted as often. Galatians 5:19-21 tell the other side of the story – “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these: Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” That is a long list of bad fruit, fruit of the flesh versus fruit of the Spirit. And it covers a large range of issues, and most are covered by the Ten Commandments. Sex, both adulterous and premarital, Hatred, wrath and murder, which, according to Jesus, are the same. Bearing false witness, covered by sedition and heresy. Covetousness with the envying, and so on.
They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But, aren’t we all guilty of doing these things even after we give our lives to Christ? Does that mean none of us will inherit the kingdom of God? Are we all doomed to hell?
The answer is in the Greek. The word “do” could better be translated as practice, perpetrate, exercise. All words which show a long-term disobedience to God. And that is the difference. I’ve heard a metaphor which paints a good picture. Imagine a pig and a sheep falling into a puddle of mud. The pig continues to wallow in the mud, while the sheep gets up and tries to clean itself off. That’s the difference. Those who practice, commit, exercise the fruit of the flesh are content to wallow in the mud. Those who try to live by the fruit of the Spirit will try to clean themselves off. Sure, there are times we Christians stumble. We are by no means perfect. It’s because we realize this that we have come to the One who is perfect.
So…ask yourself this question today – do you lay with the pigs or hang with the sheep?

 

I Am…Not The Biggest Loser

By midweek I was wondering if an opportunity for out of the box living would present itself. I’ve already gotten an idea of what I want to do for next week. I will have the week off from classes, so I figured next Saturday I will try to spend 24 hours away from my technological distractions – my phone, my computers, my iPad, even my nook. I don’t know yet if I’ll go through with it, but that’s my tentative plan.

Thursday, my opportunity for this week presented itself. Auditions were being held for the Biggest Loser on Saturday. Although most people don’t believe it, I weigh over 300 pounds and could use the help. Although this is the third audition in a month, I don’t intend out-the-box living to be only about auditions. I think it’s just these auditions helped me solidify the idea of out-of-the-box living.

So, I got up early this morning, ready for my shot. The casting call started at 10, so I figured if I got there by 8 or 8:30, I should be in good shape, line-wise. This was taking place at the Groove at Citiwalk, which meant I would be parking at Universal again.

I got to Universal by 8:30 and the first major difference between this audition and the Voice presented itself – I had to pay for parking. I got to the casting line and was number 161. “Excellent,” I thought to myself, “Shouldn’t take that long at all.” Famous last words.

Although casting was supposed to start at ten, the doors didn’t open till 10:30. Then it seemed the line moved like molasses, which surprised me. There were more than 160 people just waiting outside when I went to the Voice and we were inside sitting within the hour. Not so here.

I found out later that there was a VIP line on the side, so number 161 was probably closer to 322. At around 4, my group was finally able to go in.

Similar to the Voice, the ten of us auditioned simultaneously. We had a about a minute each to tell why we thought we should be on the show. After we were done, we were told that callbacks would be done by eight. I didn’t get a callback. But, again, the experience was worthwhile.

Biggest Loser casting line in front of Fat Tuesday? Really?

And….Action!

It’s been a while since I’ve put virtual pen to paper,  (or real pen to paper, for that matter), but I’m back, baby! New name, new design and, hopefully, new things to say.

Things have changed quite a bit since the last time I posted, ( can’t believe it’s almost been a year!) mostly for the good. I’ve just completed a year at Lebhar-Friedman. Our department was slashed from five people to two and a half. My manager, myself, and one other, who’s working part-time. Not only that, but, because of the recession, I also received a pay cut. But, hey, at least I have a job, and I did get an extra ten vacation days as well. So, it’s not all bad.

I’m also coming up on my two year wedding anniversary in a little less than three months! My lovely wife Heather and I met almost three years ago (on MySpace, if you can believe that!) and we’re still going strong. It’s been a rough couple of years for us;  Heather got pancreatitis in February of ’08, then her dad died this January, followed in February by one of her aunts. But we both know one thing – no matter how big our problems are, we know our God is bigger. “Blessed [be] God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

I’m also back in school, going for a business degree to match the graphic design degree I already have. This is my third month at Keiser University, and right now I’m suffering through Accounting class. But, hey, we do what we have to do to get where we want to go.

Speaking of doing what we have to do, Heather and I joined Weight Watchers a month ago. I had tried everything beforehand, but I lacked motivation. Well, with WW, I definitely have found motivation! I’ve lost a total of 12.2 pounds in 4 weeks, and I’m still going strong! The program is also working for Heather! I would highly recommend them to anyone else who’s tried everything else. I eat well, probably better than I did before, because now I eat well with food that’s good for me. I’m really excited about seeing the weight drop off, and I’m feeling much better too! And, as the saying goes, nothing tastes as good as it feels to be healthy.

I’m also in the process of redesigning my website. I’m stuck right now for a name for my design business, though. I’ve got a few ideas rattling around, but nothing that’s caught fire yet. I’m hoping to have the redesign done by the end of July.

So, once again, welcome to my new and improved blog . Please feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.

My own version of “300”

Yes, that’s right. I’ve got my own version of “300”. Only it does not involve 300 half-naked, sweaty men fighting a battle they can’t win, it involves one fully clothed, sometimes sweaty guy who’s fighting a battle of the bulge.
Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen. I stepped on the scale Monday morning, only to see that dreaded 300. That makes two milestones in less than a month – my big 4-0, and my supersized 3-0-0. I guess it could be worse. I could be 30 and 400 pounds.
Anyway, this was a wake-up call like no other. I’ve constantly told myself I’ll start exercising, I’ll start eating better, all the while sitting on my gluteus maximus and scarfing down seconds. Well, no more. This is where I make my stand. This is where I draw the line in the sand. It will be an uphill battle, and I know that I need to lose this weight the same way I gained it – one pound at a time.
I walked yesterday, and I walked today, and it is my intention to continue to move around, exercise, every day. I also drank my last regular cola today. Only diet sodas for me now, and I know that that alone will help me lose some weight. So…we shall see what we shall see….