30 Years of Days

30 years. Over 10950 days. Almost 263000 hours.

Even knowing that’s how much time has passed, I somehow feel caught in a time warp.

As I sit eating my Quarter Pounder at the campus McDonald’s, I can’t take my eyes off the TV screen perched on the wall.

Just as if nothing has changed at all—over the last 10,950 days—Patch and Kayla argue, arms and hands flailing in the air.

Then Hope appears on screen, hardly worse for the wear after three decades.

Can it be? Is that Abe Carver, former Salem police chief, talking in his customary calm voice? Yes, it is. He may be sporting some gray hair, but he still looks pretty good.

Is this real life? Am I really sitting here watching the same “Days of Our Lives” characters on the TV screen as I had exactly 30 years ago—back when I was prepping to move to this town and begin my freshman year of college?


I’m so ready to be out of this class. Just want to get back to my dorm room, relax, and watch my show.

Thirty years ago, after moving into the dorm, I had the VCR in my room set to tape “Days” every day. If my 1:00 class let out a couple of minutes early, I would usually walk into my dorm room just as the end credits rolled.

I’d let the videotape rewind as I settled in, pulling up my desk chair and plopping down in front of my roommate Bill’s TV. I needed that 45 minutes or so of solitude (I’d fast forward through commercials) to take in my show and unwind after a day of classes.

How are those same characters still on this show—one I once loved and wouldn’t miss for the world?

What if we ask nearly the same question except in terms of 18-year-old me: How weird is it that I’ve fast forwarded the days of my life ahead 30 years, only to find myself gazing at a TV screen with the same characters on it? Where in the world did 30 years go? This can’t be real life…

Later that afternoon, after returning to work from lunch, I’d get resolution to the questions bouncing around in my head—a gentle reminder that I am indeed getting older.

I received a Facebook message from one of the girls heading up my 30 year high school reunion, wanting to know if I was planning on attending. She said RSVP’s had been slow coming in, so she’d decided to reach out to class members.

Did I really just call a 47-year-old woman a girl?

So, it’s true. Time has marched on, day by day, just as I had suspected.

Here I sit in this McDonald’s, eating my lunch, and gazing out the window at the campus I—so green and naive—arrived at so long ago.

Much has changed for sure. But much is still the same—like this particular McDonald’s, which had already been built when I came to town. Not much about it has changed—especially the blandness of the Quarter Pounder.

But I’ve definitely changed, some for the better and some for the worse. Now I just need to figure out which is which.

I’ll try to do that over the next 30 years, while Patch and Kayla continue to sort out their stormy relationship.

Who knows, maybe Victor Kiriakis will have made a reappearance by then—after recovering from decades-long amnesia.


“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

It’s Simple, Really

Much of life is actually very simple.

Building a business, getting a college degree, and walking across the country are all simple processes. Just keep doing the work day after day. Eventually, you’ll see results.

Cooking a gourmet meal is simple. Just follow the recipe and you’ll end up with a delectable dinner the whole family will enjoy.

But none of these things is easy.

It’s not easy walking to class when it’s snowing outside, then sitting through a boring lecture, only to trudge back through the snow after class is over. You end up with wet feet and a sour mood.

It’s not easy putting in long hours to be your own boss. You slave in the evenings and on weekends when everyone else you know is at home with their family, or out having a good time.
When we’re in these type of situations, we often wonder if it’s worth it to keep on. Will I gain anything in the end? Would I be better off just quitting now while I’m ahead?

No doubt these are valid questions, and we should probably take time to answer them.

But we should always remember there was a reason we began our pursuit in the first place. We had some kind of dream that grabbed hold of us and never let go. Something that got stuck in our head and wouldn’t let us forget about it.

Some kind of vision that called out and enabled us to see something better for our lives. A more fulfilling career, a business of our own, or just hanging a diploma on the wall and calling ourselves a college graduate.

Whatever it is, if it was important enough to begin it, then it’s probably important enough to finish it.

Notice I said probably. Priorities change. Life happens. Sometimes we have to stop and reorganize things. That’s OK.

That may mean we have to alter our goals to reflect our current life situation.

Sometimes that means we need to double down and work even harder to make the original dream happen.

When life smacks you in the face, it’s up to you to decide what to do.

Keep going. Or quit.

Which choice will you regret more in one year?

Now choose the other one.

I Don’t Eat Worms, Especially on Vacation


The first day back at work after over a week’s vacation went pretty much as I thought it would – hectic in the morning, yet calmer and saner in the afternoon.

Certainly I didn’t want to come back to work. Why would I ever want to get up at 6:30 in the morning and drive through traffic in subfreezing temperatures, just so I can hang out at work for 10+ hours?

Admittedly, given our lack of discretionary spending money, I was tired of sitting around the house with little to do. If my wife and I were getting along better these days, then it might not have been so bad.

A couple of days ago, however, she had been cleaning, and ended up moving all my toiletry items around in the bathroom. That was totally unacceptable. A fight ensued, and I got very little out of her in the way of civilities for the rest of the day. Not fun.

Given strife at home, coupled with no money to leave home with to spend on something, it was time to go back to work. Albeit, I wish work would start a little later in the morning.

The earliest I awoke on any day of my vacation was about 9:30. Yes, it felt good to get a relatively early start that day, but I was just as content as when I remained nestled in my bed until 11:00 or 12:00 on other days.

One particular day when my wife and I had been arguing earlier that morning, I stayed in bed until 2:00. I wasn’t sleeping the whole time; I did, however, just want time to myself to hide from the world and regroup.

My son and I were discussing sleep habits recently. I told him that ideally I would go to bed between 3:00 and 4:00 am, and get up about 9:00 or 10:00. I am very much a night owl – always have been. I enjoy the quiet solitude of a late night by myself. I don’t know that my brain is necessarily more alive at that time (as opposed to earlier in the evening), but it just feels better.

Recently I read a particularly interesting portion of Anais Nin’s diary in which she describes Henry and June Miller’s nocturnal habits. As much of a night owl as I am, those two had me beat. Of Henry, Nin says, “At dawn he likes to sit and watch the tired prostitutes walking home.” Of June she writes, “She hates daylight.” She is “a woman whom daylight cannot touch”.

I like to stay up late, however I prefer to fall asleep well before the sun comes up. It messes with my head otherwise – the whole circadian rhythm and all.

Interestingly, I went through a period in college when I voluntarily got up every day about 7:30 or 8:00, even on weekends. I’m not sure why I did this. Looking back on this time, I have to say it was pleasant; I felt like I was getting a good jump on the day.

Ah, how young and foolish I was back then, neglecting my beloved sleep for a few extra rays of sunshine.

I don’t believe I’ll ever truly be an early bird. No ragrets there.night owl

The One Where I Realize I Really Can Change

My wife made a very interesting statement last night. When referring to an individual we know, she said that regarding his life and his future he has an “employee mentality”, rather than an “ownership mentality”.

When pressed to elaborate, she explained that he does best when he has someone telling him what the next step is. OK, the next thing you need to do is X. And after that you’re going to go to Y.  If he doesn’t have a clear cut path to follow, he tends to wander, go nowhere, and do nothing.

THAT IS SO ME! I didn’t tell my wife this, but I figured the same thing out about myself several years ago.

I did well in school. I made good grades from kindergarten all through high school and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. I did well in college also. I never cut class, I did my assignments, and I graduated (almost) on time.

However, my life since college has been a different story.

In the years just after graduation, I held a number of different jobs in several different careers. One year I had five different jobs, having been fired from three of them (sales positions), and abruptly choosing to leave the other two (also sales positions). I guess it’s obvious what line of work I don’t need to pursue.

I finally found a decent career and have had the same position for a number of years. It’s comfortable and doesn’t stress me out most of the time, but it’s definitely not my dream job.

I’ve always felt like I’ve had a settle-for kind of life as an adult, at least as far as my career path goes – not too bad, but not great either.

I believe this is because I’ve never been proactive about my career. I’ve always expected that things would just fall into place. They always did throughout my school years. Surely, I could expect more of the same as an adult. Right?

Ahhh, but that’s not the way life works. After college, the path is wide open – at least for me it seemed it was. It was as if I’d reached the end of a narrow path through a dense forest, and suddenly before me lay a vast open stretch of virgin land. Untrodden, untouched. My choices were only limited by my desires and creativity.

Alas, I floundered. Having no clear direction laid out before me with step-by-step directions, I retreated as it were. Too many choices equaled no choice at all for me.

What is the lesson I’ve learned from all this?

Even though I “wasted” a good number of years in jobs I didn’t really want to do, I did pick up valuable career skills and a ton of experience in my specific industry.

At this point in my life I can parlay my skills and experience into a career I really want. I believe that the world once again offers me great opportunities. I need simply to transition my strongest skill – writing – into a marketable product. Perhaps easier said than done.

At any rate, this has become the focus of my mid-life career adjustment, and how I will at last embrace an “ownership mentality” of my life.

See you when I get there.

Flying the Coop

ImageMy wife and I have spent a good deal of time recently preparing our son to leave the nest; for the first time he’s moving out from under our roof.

As I was explaining to my wife earlier, I see it as the end of an era. Our firstborn has lived with us for just over 20 years now. In August of 1993 he was just a tiny baby, only a few weeks into his life. I remember those days vividly. The Friday afternoon I brought my wife and him home from the hospital we were so exhausted that the three of us fell asleep on our bed. Our new little family was all together in our home for the first time. Yes, I know that’s a big no-no. Parents should never let their baby sleep in the bed with them, as the child could end up getting crushed and/or suffocated. I’m very thankful that after a much-needed nap, my wife and I woke up to find our little guy safe and sound.

Long nights of limited sleep followed his arrival, but those were times I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. It was mostly I who got up with him in the night. My wife was still recovering from an emergency Caesarean section, so to help her out I slept lightly and got up when I heard our son’s cries over the baby monitor.

Our son had been three weeks past due — we always kid him about his not wanting to come out. He replies that he was content to stay where he was. My wife’s doctor finally decided it would be best to induce labor, so after we checked into the hospital bright and early on that sunny Tuesday morning, her nurse gave her Pitocin to begin the induction process.

After a long day of waiting, around 7:00 that evening our son’s heart rate dropped for the second time to an alarmingly low 40 beats per minute. The doctor promptly rushed her into the operating room before there were any further complications. He said that most likely our son had come down the birth canal so fast that his head and neck were turned at such an angle to cause his pulse rate to drop so dramatically.

In the operating room I stood just behind my wife’s head and, as she drifted off from the anesthesia, I prayed for a safe delivery. The C-section went off without a hitch and we welcomed our healthy baby boy into the world a few minutes later. Well, I did anyway — it would be several hours before his mother would be alert enough to hold him.

Pitocin, it seems, may not be a wise choice when it comes to a baby’s health. I recently read of a number of studies making a connection between autism and mothers having been given Pitocin during the delivery process. While many healthcare providers maintain that Pitocin in no way harms the baby, results of various studies would seem to indicate differently.

Pitocin, derived from the pituitary glands of cows, is a synthetic form of the natural hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin plays a crucial role in delivery by stimulating uterine contractions, as well as in facilitating social and emotional bonding. Before and during labor, Pitocin is often given to moms-to-be to make the contractions stronger, longer, and more frequent.

Because a significant number of autistic children have abnormally low levels of oxytocin, one theory put forth is that flooding the fetus with a synthetic form of the hormone may damage or reduce the number of oxytocin receptors in the brain. Several years ago Dr. Eric Hollander of New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported that 60% of the autistic children he was treating in his clinic had been exposed to Pitocin in the womb.

Pitocin’s possible connection with autism aside, the contractions it produces may put undue stress on the unborn baby as he moves through the birth canal. Stephanie Marohn, author of The Natural Medicine Guide to Autism, likens the intensified contractions to “using the child’s head as a battering ram to force the pelvis to reshape to accommodate it.”

ImageOver the following weeks and months, I continued as primary caregiver during the night shift. I remember this time fondly, and feel sorry for those dads who are not able to have this wonderful experience. I was able to bond with my baby boy in a way that I never would have if my wife had been the one heeding his nocturnal calls. She, of course, was with him all day while I was at work. At night, however, it was my turn. Countless times I got out bed and stumbled into his room half asleep.

First I would check his diaper — it would almost always be wet (or worse!). I knew if I changed him first, as he fell back asleep I could gently return him to his crib and head back to bed myself. After a fresh diaper, I would prepare a bottle of formula for him and settle in on our sectional couch, cradling my pride and joy in my left arm, while holding the bottle in my right hand. It was pure joy to watch him take it in his tiny mouth and receive instant gratification; his needs were so simple then. His crying would stop almost immediately and his little face would begin to relax. Soon, his eyes would be barely open, as he would continue gently sucking on the bottle. When it was empty, or when he was asleep, I’d remove it, slipping a pacifier into its place. Most of the time he would sleep contentedly at this point. He really was a good baby.

I feel so blessed having the opportunity to spend that time with him. Yes, it was a little hard on me, having to get up for work the next morning. I’m grateful, though, that the job I had at that time allowed me the luxury of waiting until 9:00 to arrive.  I have many, many wonderful memories of those days. It was truly a golden time in our lives.  Image

Now our baby has become a man and is moving out into the world on his own. Naturally, he’s excited about the experience, but with seven guys in a five bedroom house, I’m not sure I would if I were him. He’s very responsible and mature, and my wife and I have few concerns about his leaving. He’s serious about college, plus he and the other guys are all active at the Christian fellowship on campus. For the second year in a row, he will be one of the leaders for their weekly get-togethers for food and worship. We are truly very proud of the godly man he’s become.

His new home (I hesitantly use that term, because his home will always be with us) is only across the railroad tracks and a few blocks over from my first apartment away from my parents’ home. After living in the dorm my freshman year at the same college our son attends, a friend and I moved into a third floor apartment beginning my sophomore year.

In the last 20 years, much has changed in the area around the apartment building. What was once a large grass field next to our building has been turned into a looming parking structure for the university. Old houses have been torn down, replaced by gleaming new research and office buildings. Across the tracks and nearer to my son’s house, a strip mall and a few restaurants were added several years ago, replacing a barn and another field.

I’ve taken both our kids to that old apartment building, just to show them where their mother and I lived as newlyweds. After living with my friend for two years, I moved into a one bedroom apartment on the first floor of the same building, where I lived alone for a year until we got married.

The best part of it all is that about a year later this 400 square foot apartment is where our son was conceived. Whenever we happen to drive by the old building, I always jokingly remind him of that. “Right over there is where it all began for you.” Even though he’s a little grossed out thinking about that, I think he probably gets some satisfaction in knowing some of the details of his heritage.

Today we were out looking for ideas and materials to use in customizing his new bedroom. We grabbed lunch at a little hole in the wall restaurant not far off campus. Afterward, when we were driving near our tiny old apartment, I said to him, “How does it feel…” I paused for effect, then continued, “coming full circle back to your roots?” I was referring, of course, to the fact that the old apartment and his new place are geographically quite close. He just rolled his eyes at me and kept driving.

Everyday I try to be thankful for what God has blessed us with — two vibrant kids who are healthy, happy, and well-adjusted. Even though our son’s entrance into the world was dramatic and a little frightening, he is a thriving man of God today. His younger sister is equally as amazing in her own right, making my wife and me two very proud parents. We fully expect them both to be world-changers.