What a year!

DSC_0024 At the beginning of every year it seems most people make all of these grand plans for what they want to do, or be, in the upcoming year. I was never really one to make “resolutions” or plan much. Plans made that way are usually fleeting, and difficult to see through.  I’ve always preferred to just live life. Make a few plans that with persistence can be achieved. In my adult years anyway I’ve never really tried to look too far into the future figuring it would mostly take care of itself. Also, to a large degree, I don’t spend much time looking backwards either, choosing the occasional “look backwards” rather than “live backwards”. This is my moment to “look backwards” into 2014 and share all of the incredible, and certainly life changing moments, that I experienced.

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Ringing, or rather sleeping, in the new year of 2014 saw me starting a road of recovery from my seventh surgery. That new year’s moment left me little indication at how long that road would be. Choosing to have my four smaller toes straightened and relaxed proved to be a far more difficult recovery than I had anticipated, especially considering how relatively easy my recovery for my big toe had been nine years ago. I thought,  ” yes it’s more toes…but not near the amount of work needed as my big toe”…ya not so much. It was difficult enough that a month later I sat in a hotel room scratching my head thinking “why did I put myself through this again?” It would take a full twelve months to have that question answered. As is common in life we make decisions that we won’t see the full benefits for some time after.

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Having spent the last few years sort of floating music wise and rarely reaching out beyond my favorite band, I thought it was time to maybe expand and “discover” some “new” stuff. Using the downtime that Rush had entered into presented a prime opportunity to do just that. Enter iHeart Radio. Sitting at my desk at work affords me much time to just listen to music as it helps me concentrate. That is, when I’m not dancing. So I build this channel for Dashboard Confessional, a group I was introduced to late in their career. That’s me, always late to the party when it comes to music. Every twenty minutes or so I would hear this song that made me stop what I was doing and go see who it was. After noticing myself doing that several times over a few days, I noticed a pattern forming. Or, at least, a common theme. Great melodies and similar voice even though the artists’ names weren’t always the same. The groups: Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin. The artist, the voice: Andrew McMahon. Research told me all I needed to know. They were essentially one in the same.Andrew McMahon

I kept finding song after song with melodies I couldn’t stop singing along to. Lyrically deep, sonically sound. Digging into the history yielded a story that hooked me further. Diagnosed with Leukemia at a young age, and then with the help of a stem cell transplant from his sister, he was able to kick its ass. No artist would feature as prominently on my Google Play list as Andrew in 2014. When the opportunity came to see him in Dallas in November I counted down the days like I would a Rush show.  A bonus show a few weeks later in Tulsa left me wanting still more. His music has managed to do something few artists have done in the last ten years – inspire me to pick up an instrument again. I will not yet “give up the music in my fingertips”. No doubt I will keep following him in 2015 to see what he produces next. I highly recommend anyone who loves a great melody with top notch piano playing, check him out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I’ve spent the last few years looking for a new creative outlet. 2014 would see me discover two. I had been kicking around the idea of writing a book since attempting to have my poetry published a few years back. I never could really settle on a firm idea for a subject. Then one day while passing some time between work and soccer practice it appeared. I would write a story about a boy who grows up with Cerebral Palsy and all the challenges he faced to just try to be considered normal. Since I was that boy it seemed like a natural idea.

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The ideas came furiously at first as I dove in and it seemed the first six chapters wrote themselves. As the story progressed the ideas slowed a bit, and sorting through memories proved challenging. I was also not prepared at all for the emotional roller coaster sharing my story would produce. Certainly turbulent at times, but then so was my childhood, which is why I chose to share the story in the first place. My hope is that one child somewhere in the world with CP will read it, and realize that though he or she is facing these immense challenges, that just being accepted at times it feels hopeless, it most certainly is not. You can not only fit in, but excel and succeed. You can have talents, develop them, and share them to those willing to listen, or read. You can love, be loved. You can create and achieve brilliance. Equally, you can also choose negativity and fill your life with it. Choose wisely. I like to think I have. Mostly.

Speaking of loving and being loved, I celebrated my first wedding anniversary. I guarantee you the subject of my book never thought that he’d ever experience that when he was growing up.  Yet, I did, and looking forward to many more. To my exquisite wife Paula, Thank you for another year of love and excitement. It took a lifetime to find you, but a journey I would gladly travel again if I had to as long as you were waiting for me at the end. Heart you baby!DSC_0152

I was fortunate enough to be able to expand my world borders further this year with trips to the northeastern part of the United States with an emphasis on Cape Cod, as well as south Florida and Cozumel again. Cape Cod was simply an amazing trip! Spending time in the small coastal towns were some of the best moments of my year. We chose a fantastic resort, and I fully intend to return at some point in the near future. As someone who embraces diversity, I was engulfed in it up there. Loved it all! I could feel my world expand by the minute.Palm Trees

What can I say about Ft. Lauderdale in December? Having my toes in the sand and looking out into the Atlantic Ocean on Christmas Day instead of being somewhere where the air hurts my face….yes please! Until I can make that permanent I have to live and write this where the air is most definitely hurting my face. Speaking of toes in the sand, remember I mentioned the payoff from my toe surgery?? Ya this is it….I was able to run in the sand barefooted without any issues at all. That’s a first in my nearly forty-two years. Thank you Dr. Kammerlocher!

I discovered another creative outlet in October. Taking up photography has given me a new way to capture the world around me. While I clearly have much to learn, I am embracing this new adventure and am working on new ideas for things I want to shoot in the coming year. Some of the first shots I’ve taken are scattered throughout this post along with some other random ones.

Unfortunately the year wasn’t all good times. We said goodbye to Paula’s Shyanne at the end of August. Our times were well documented in Saying Goodbye….AKA You Win Shyanne,  and three months passing hasn’t dulled the amount we miss her. It was a double dose of losing fur babies this year as we also said goodbye to Princess, our furry pinball. She spent the last few years blind from her diabetes, but never seemed happier until the end. She left behind what may become a very lonely Zeus. The house is far emptier without those two.

I’ll close this out by mentioning that it was a highly productive year career wise as well. I closed out several major projects that expanded my abilities and knowledge. Things that a few short years ago I could scarcely dream that I could have accomplished. I’m sure there will be more in the upcoming year.

I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that 2015 surely holds as long as we continue to create them. In the words of Andrew McMahon, “Grab your things. This is a storm we’re meant to ride!”

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