Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Bounty

Tonight I'm sitting in a hotel near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.  It is the end of an amazing week.  I'll share some highlights.

I escaped the single-digit cold for the comforts of South Carolina on Christmas eve.  I was up at 3am to catch my 6am flight.  Everything flowed like clockwork and I was home by dinnertime.  I had Christmas Eve dinner with some wonderful friends there....

Christmas Eve, Chicago skyline in the distance, zero degrees....
When I arrive I had no pre-conceived notion of structure for my time home.  There were a number of things I wanted to achieve, but I find planning things out too much block opportunities for spontaneous circumstance.

I wanted to use my last two barre class sessions while I was here.  Barre is my favorite overall workout.  They don't have a class for it anywhere in Nebraska.  Or Iowa, for that matter.  The closest to me when I'm in Omaha is in Kansas City...3+ hours away.  The best explanation of Barre is that it's a cross between ballet and pilates that focuses on targeted, little movements on specific muscles and groups.  It's incredibly effective and by the time an hour is up I'm typically shaking from the exertion.

Going to barre is a significant test of self-confidence.  Only women seem to attend these classes...typically women who are long, lean, limber, lithe, and graceful.  Needless to say - I am none of these things.  That's why I go.  It's very much about proper form - head and shoulder alignment, pointed toes, graceful hands - and the instructors are wonderfully patient when correcting bad form.  The ultimate compliment is to hear, "very pretty, ladies".  You can see in the mirrors that circle the room that everyone is moving in unison.  It's wonderful.  Regardless of how difficult it becomes or how much it hurts hearing that re-energizes.

Anyway - I hope I've shared just how much I enjoy Barre.  And - I did use both my sessions.  I'll get more next year....

I wanted to spend Christmas morning walking through downtown taking photographs.  I've learned over the past few years that nobody - and I do mean nobody - comes out until at least 11am.  Downtown is like a ghost town.  Places that are typically full of people are empty.  Scenery that you often can't see becomes obvious.  The city dresses up to celebrate Christmas, and it's never more accessible than on Christmas morning.

I spent 3 hours walking around downtown - admiring the scenery, taking pictures, soaking up the energy.  It was a magical way to spend Christmas.

The weather was wonderful, so I went for a good long run along my usual route.  I loved that, too.

The rest of the day was spent sharing Christmas with a certain someone and her family.  It was wonderful, too, as our opportunities to re-connect have been all too few over the last few weeks.

I visited some dear friends in Asheville, NC.  I got my hair done with my usual stylist.  I took care of a number of things that have needed closure.  I mentally prepared to close the book on 2013, and open the book on 2014 - new beginnings, new opportunities, new pathways.

I realize that none of this is special to anyone but me but that's fine.  I share it here to provide a glimpse in to the things that keep me going, that make me happy.  There are all elements of my soul food, and it's times like these that demonstrate to me that I exist ok when in Omaha, but I live fully when here.

That said, I've alluded to the fact that some changes are coming and that I expect to be back home soon.  To be more specific, I expect to be back by the end of January.  There are a number of significant things that need to happen between now and then but the groundwork has already been laid and an offer has already been made.  At this point it's a matter of details and logistics.

If things play out as they seem to be leaving will be somewhat bittersweet.  As I've shared before, I really do enjoy what I'm doing.  The guys in our group have become close.  There are some very exciting things happening.  But, as I've explained, my life there is more about existing than living and I'm ready to embrace what comes next.

There is a back-story here that has unfolded over the past few days that was truly unexpected, but is very welcome.  Details will go untold because it's still developing and personal beyond the point I'm willing to share.

So - it is in the shadow of all of that that I sit here and relax - preparing to leave where I'm supposed to be to go to where I need to be right now.  Temperatures back in Omaha are in the single digits.  I've got my alarm set for 3:15am and a reservation on the 4:30am bus from the hotel to catch my 5:45am flight.  It's going to be a loooonnnngg day.  But I'm buoyed by some of the significant things that have happened in my world over the past few days.  My Christmas bounty has been more than I could have imagined.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Temperatures soared into the 50's here this week, a far cry from the previous week where our average temperature was 9 (not our average low....our average temperature).  We're in the lower teens today, heading down to zero this weekend.  I've gotten pretty good at saying warm so far.  I'm coping fine.  But I expect this to be my last "cold" winter so I can do this.

I was thinking a little about Christmas today.  I can't believe it's coming next week.  It really doesn't have any impact on my world anymore.  For a long time it was about my son.  On Christmas in 1998 I had no way of knowing that my dad would pass less than a week later, and it would be my last Christmas with my wife and son.  When I lived in Scottsdale when I needed minor surgery I'd typically do it over Christmas - I called the week between Christmas and New Year's the "Lost Week" because I'd often be on pain killers, recuperating.  Now - it's just a day....I don't like it, I don't hate's just a day.

I'll be headed to Charleston on Tuesday, and I'll be there for almost a week.  Charleston is beautiful over Christmas (link here) and I expect to spend part of the day with dear friends, part of the day biking, and part of the day just walking around downtown taking photos and soaking it all in.  I haven't been back in quite a few weeks so I'm overdue for the psychic rejuvenation that my visits provide.

I'm going to share a little about my world at the moment.  I'm here in Nebraska working at a secure military facility housed at an Air Force base nearby.  It's an extraordinary thing - I can't do it anywhere else and I'm very much enjoying it.  A highlight of my day is typically driving through the guard gate and chatting with the sentries in the morning.  I like the job, I like the people I work with, I'm doing some really fascinating things in a one-of-a-kind environment, and I have no regrets whatsoever coming here.

I work in a big room with 50 or so engineers of various flavors.  Most of them have some things in common.  Most are retired from the military as it's one of the easier ways to get the security clearance required to even set foot in the room.  Another similarity is that most are men - there is only one other woman and myself.  We're outnumbered, but we hold our own.  These guys are a great group, even when they're burping or making other disgusting noises.  Some of us have grown close.  That's what will make leaving the most difficult.

I originally signed on for 6 months.  That date passed at the end of November.  I can't believe it has been that long already - still not sure where the time goes.  It would be easy to ask, if I'm enjoying it so much why leave?  Well, this isn't home.  This is someplace I came to do a job but it's almost time to go home.  Lately I've started to thing - what next?  Well....I have a feeling that I'll be able to answer that here very soon.

My son had his 28th birthday this week.  I'll be driving the 8 hours from here to Denver tomorrow morning to spend a little time and have dinner with him before doing it all in reverse on Sunday.  Lots of driving, but I'm looking forward to seeing my man.

Speaking of "my man"....recent experience has validated for me that I'm really not into guys.  I think part of me would like that, but the reality is that it's just awkward and forced for me.  I'm not into it.  I did meet one guy a couple of years ago that I felt differently about but that lasted as long as it took for me to share my unique history.  That was the last time we talked....

So - as we head into the home stretch for 2013 I'm getting ready to watch another chapter of life end while another begins.  I've watched a number of these things over the years and part of it is knowing that it's coming.  I can feel it.  It's not like it's a surprise as I've made all this happen.  But knowing that and seeing the reality of it are two different things.  Kind of like coming out.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle again

Hello again.  Long time no chat!

I'm sorry for my extended absence from my blog.  We've become pretty "close" over the years so being away for a little while was a little odd.  There was no compelling reason for my recent inactivity other than life events.  I'm well and have no major complaints other than the cold.

I had written a fairly long entry several days ago that I was planning to post but it somehow disappeared into the ether.  I was frustrated and gave myself a couple of days to recoup.  All better now.

I do want to take a moment and share my deepest appreciation for those who wrote to express concern for my well-being based on the gap between my posts.  I truly appreciate the fact that we all look out for one another, and that includes for yours truly.  I'm used to thinking of myself as a Weeble - it never falls down.  I know it's not true and that one day this Weeble will, indeed, fall.  But I don't think that day will be today.

I do have more to share but I'll need to postpone that until my next opportunity.  I'm between obligations at the moment and just wanted to drop a quick note to say "hi", "I'm fine", and "Thank you."    :)