There was an article last week about how the word ‘blessed’ has begun to lose much of its meaning in the Facebook generation, as we now will regularly see people who were ‘blessed’ as they chose the line at the market that moved faster, or that can of garbanzo beans they were getting anyway was $0.10 off!
At the same time there was an article about the connotations of Christianity in ‘blessed’, and also someone who was suing because the only ‘blessing’ given at an official state event recognizing first-responders was entirely Christian. For me these are two things – I am all about ‘separation of church and state’, and very much oppose any notion of our country adopting Christian norms (yes, I AM Catholic). But at the same time, I am all about personal freedom, so if you want to proclaim that Jesus himself guided you to the correct check-out line, well power to the people right on.
ANYWAY … can you tell this was one of those ‘thoughts on a run’ things? Yeah, Saturday on my long run (a glorious 12.5 miles) I was thinking about all of this, and really thinking more that blessed has just become a surrogate word for ‘fortunate’. The first article had the connotation that ‘blessed’ implied a lack of work involved, which I reject – I think that anything worth having in life is a combination of good fortune and hard work.
At the same time, one of the best things I read this week was Megan talking about being grateful for your worst day, meaning that you should live in the reality of the situation and your feelings, but never forget to appreciate the great things you DO have in your life.
So what are the ‘blessings’ I am thankful that I have in my life, and work hard every day to maintain?
1. My Wife
I have to just say upfront that I am saddened and dismayed by the number of kids in their 20s who have already married and divorced. I am not passing judgment of any sort, because I know often it for the best for any number of reasons. I was thinking about this as I was reading a post from Angie on Cowgirl Runs last week, talking about nearly 2 years of post-divorce learning.
Anyone who says marriage is easy is an idiot; I have a very happy marriage, still wake up every morning thrilled to be with Lisa; love spending time and connecting every day; and so on. We always have fun – yesterday we were bringing some outgrown clothes to the donation site and the handle on one of my bags broke, she gave me crap, I said ‘bite me’ … and she did! It was a load of laughs.
But I would be lying if I said there weren’t days, weeks and even a few months where things were less than awesome. Having plenty of bills, two kids, pets, houses, cars, jobs, and so on means dealing with conflict – people get cranky, tired, annoyed, disagree, and more. I’ve said it before – at some time in the last 25 years chances are Lisa and I have had something between a minor annoyance and full-out fight over pretty much any topic you can imagine.
But the one thing never in question was our love and desire to be together. Even at this point in our lives we have people make comments on us when we’re together, calling us ‘cute’ or whatever … and we soak it all up. Our marriage has been hard work – but one thing is clear, that whenever difficult times struck, we united and emerged stronger than before. Lisa makes me and my life better every day, and that is pretty awesome.
2. My Boys
Sometimes my kids REALLY tick me off. And unfortunately very often those times occur when they are doing something I have genetically passed down to them!
But more often than that I am so proud of them, or so enjoy just hanging out sharing things with them, and look forward to seeing them transition to adults.
Kids are ALWAYS a struggle, make no mistake. Especially when they get to the age of making independant choices – because you will occasionally run into a conflict between wanting them to be happy and wanting them to be the best version of themselves. Those moments are exhausting and stressful and emotionally draining.
But then there are the times when you are working together, painting or doing dishes or folding laundry, listening to and talking about music, discussing movies and TV and friends and school and technology and clothes and life in general. And suddenly you get to see the insightful, smart, funny individuals they have become.
I don’t know where my kids will be in a few years, what they will study, where their careers will land them … but that is all part of the adventure. They are awesome boys and I am really enjoying this phase of their lives.
3. My Job/Career
I have said it before, but after getting laid off in late 2007, I was already interviewing for a job that I used as a ‘stop-over’ that allowed me to keep interviewing for one that met all of my needs. I was so lucky as the economy collapsed to end up with FOUR offers, in the Boston area, Charlotte NC, Seattle WA and Corning. Corning was the most stable company and seemed to offer the best long-term viability, but also is a one-company town – so if I wasn’t happy we’d be moving again!
Six years later, and two of the companies who gave me offers no longer exist, and the division I interviewed for in the other company was axed. Even Corning had a big layoff in 2009 in the recession, but I survived and now the company is stronger than ever.
I have been fortunate to work on a wide variety of projects in most of the divisions (I work in corporate engineering), had great technical challenged and made a real impact, and have made some great friends through the years. Corning really values its people, the focus on innovation and technology development, and as a result even after 6 years I am a relative ‘newbie’ as most people my age have been here 20+ years.
4. My Health
On the peoject that had me traveling to Kentucky regularly, I had one long shift of travel followed by immediately going into the plant to work without break for a long time. People were complaining and then someone mentioned how good I looked, and the project manager said ‘well, with how much he runs and how he eats, what do you expect?’
As someone who still looks at himself as a ‘reformed obese person’, this view of me as healthy always catches me off-guard.
I guess I assumed that since I did myself no favors during my first 23 years, that I would pay for it forever. But aside from some loose skin (TMI, sorry), I have no residual effects. My heart and lungs and joints and bones overall health remain excellent. If I can inspire in any way, THAT would be it – it is never too late to be in the best shape and health of your life.
5. 25 Years a Non-Injured Runner
I feel like I am tracking the injury status on a couple dozen blog-friends and real-life friends at any given time, either active or recovering. And I always sympathize, because I know that I never want to have something that takes my running away from me.
Last week Harold listed his injuries … and my jaw dropped. I don’t even know what I would do in that situation – because I have never had to deal with it.
My biggest thing? This past winter when someone edged me off the road and I ended up stepping into what looked like just a snowbank but was actually a culvert so my left shoe dropped down a couple of feet unexpectedly. I had already planned the next day as rest, but then took a second day off, and then got back to running.
For me, running is a pretty huge part of my life – and as a result I am very protective of my ability to go out every day. Running daily means more than speed or races or pretty much any sort of improvement. If I never BQ but am still running 5 miles a day 20 years from now I will be more than happy.
6. My Friends
I am really lucky to have a great set of friends from childhood, high school, college, my jobs in MA and NY, online writing sites and computer gaming forums, and now through blogging. I have met amazing people and I thoroughly enjoy hearing from them and communicating.
It is a great thing to get a message that says ‘though of you when I saw this’ … because I have always been a ‘thought is what counts’ person, so someone making a connection and passing it along really touches me.
Because we have teen boys and live in the ‘internet age’, having discussions about ‘online friends’ is only natural. It is something I have had since the late 80s, and something Lisa has really never had … so that makes for two very different perspectives. As adults we can still be misled, but we have a better context to frame these interactions, and hopefully we make good choices.
That is a long way of saying that I have been truly and immensely touched by the interactions I have had through blogging, even before I started my own blog last fall. You guys are just the best, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
My Running Summary
The weather was all over the place this past week – from cool to hot and windy and torrential rain (my clothes from Friday morning were still wet at mid-day on Saturday!). But I had a pretty solid week:
Sunday: Mother’s Day – no run, 3mi walk with Lisa
Monday: 9.5 miles
Tuesday: 8.25 miles, 2 mile walk with Lisa
Wednesday: 5.25 miles (at night)
Thursday: 9.25 miles, plus another 4mi walk with Lisa
Friday: 9.25 miles
Saturday 12.5 miles
Not a bad overall week – 53.75 miles! What I have started to notice is it is easier for me getting out the door, my pace is better, and I am pushing my home-time a bit later to squeeze in more miles.
So what ‘blessing’ do YOU treasure?