How do athletes become top-notch? Is it just natural ability and coordination? Is it luck? Is it the ability to concentrate? Certainly it must be a bit of all three. I am not a qualified resource as to how athletes become adroit at their sport, but I do have some ideas about the sacrifice it can take to get to the top. Many kids in high school dream of making it into the NFL or the NBA. It is their dream and incentive to excel. When someone does achieve the pros, it is definitely reason to cheer and applaud. Some would say that all one needs to excel is drive. I would strongly disagree with that opinion as not all who have the drive to succeed actually make it to the pros. What prevents their making it? First of all, it depends on breaks and being at the right place at the right time. Secondly, it means staying healthy and free from injuries that can derail a career. Finally, there’s one reason that needs mentioning because it is frequently misleading. The culprit is the idea that “practice makes perfect.” That advice sounds good, but there is a flaw that can cause failure. Practice doesn’t make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. If you practice without adjusting and raising the bar, you can be doomed to failure or mediocrity. I will confess that I taught myself to play the organ, and I taught myself using incorrect methods. I am grateful that I can play the organ and make it sound rather good. However, no amount of practice using the methods I use will ever allow me to become a concert organist.
[Forgive me for not blogging again until October 5. I am going to see my son in a concert with Peter Cetera in Nashville, TN, and to visit with my two grandchildren who live there.]
I have done my best to stay away from the politics of this presidential campaign. I think all of my readers know that I am a registered Democrat and am supporting Hillary Clinton. I make no apology for that. One of Hillary’s latest criticism comes from her statement that half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.” A Republican friend of mine informed me that Hillary Clinton had just labeled him as a deplorable. My response was to have my friend check his belief system to determine whether he is a racist, a sexist, is homophobic, is xenophobic, or is Islamophobic which is how Mrs. Clinton defined those in that “basket.” If he does not fit into any of those labels, then he was not included in Hillary Clinton’s remark. She has apologized for the “half” designation in the remark. I am not ready to applaud her “basket of deplorables” statement, but I strongly believe that the Republican party has become largely the party of white people.
As I have confessed before, I go to the gym not for enjoyment but because I feel it is necessary to stay healthy. My trips to the gym are completely regimented. I leave the house at approximately 7:56 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning so that I can listen to the national news at 8:01 on National Public Radio. My biggest health concern is my heart so I ride the in-place bikes. When I get on my bike, I adjust the dials so that they indicate distance, time, and calories. I put the stress level at 9. While pedaling, I read in a paperback book. When I hit 40 minutes, I kick on the cool-down which allows me to pedal for two additional minutes. Every time I exercise on these machines, I travel 10.24 miles and burn off 219 calories. I then clean my machine, get a drink of water from the water fountain, and then head for the car in time to catch the national news at 9:01 while driving home. Although I can’t positively say that my heart is definitely benefitting from the exercise, I feel good that I send myself to the gym three days each week and follow this regimen.
I have been blessed with three wonderful grandchildren, all of whom I don’t see often enough. Two live in the Nashville, TN area, and one lives in Naples, FL. This month, I will see all three, and I’m thrilled. I recently made a trip to Naples and saw Gracey singing the national anthem with her 5th grade class. Gracey, at 11 years old, is not only my singing granddaughter, she is also taking ukulele lessons and is becoming quite good. Luke, my only grandson who is also 11, is, I’m told, quite the Ninja warrior. I hope to see him demonstrate his skills when I’m in Tennessee later this month. Carli, the “baby” of the group at 10 years old, is my figure skater. I’ve seen pictures of her skating but have never seen her actually on the ice. All three are my pride and joy. I have given each a diary hoping they will record their lives the same way I’ve done. They are my treasures, and I love them all. God bless Gracey, Luke, and Carli and their families . Here they are in a photo taken several years ago.
I’m sure all of you have heard of the seven dwarves. They were fiction, but “Laughing Man,” “Hand holder,” and “Smiley” are all for-real people. My very talented and creative daughter Robin goes to nursing homes and retirement centers and works with patients–sometimes just talking with them, other times singing to them, or just being there as a friend. After returning to the same group many times, she learned that she had one lady who was forever smiling, thus the name “Smiley.” Smiling was obviously this lady’s gift to the group. Another lady, if you sat down next to her, she would grab your hand, so Robin delegated her the “Hand Holder.” Her third designated gift-giver was a man who laughed, even when something was not funny making everyone laugh with him. Eventually, Robin took her daughter, my granddaughter, with her and introduced her to all of the wonderful characters she encountered in these places. Gracey then had the joy of meeting her mother’s friends and, along with her mother, received their “gifts.”
I have kept a diary/journal for 62 of my 78 years. I have not written every day but frequently. I have mostly covered my life and thoughts, but I have also included many news items and things to remember. I would say that my journal is amateurish, poignant, romantic, sexy, scandalous, insightful and everything that a personal journal would be. It deals with raising three children, serving four years in the U. S. Navy, confronting my gay self, getting a divorce, being outed by my daughter, years of counseling. I have no idea what to do with this journal as I am not the one to justify its worth or non-worth. I have no idea how many people keep a journal today, but I would imagine it is somewhat unique as most start a journal and then lose interest over the years. I have memories of my life from 1954 to now. What started as writing my journals by hand is now typing up my journal and pasting each new day into my computer’s hard drive every morning. Let me know if you have any ideas. I would appreciate it.
I attend a unique church, a Christian church that is radically diverse in its worship and membership. It is sometimes referred to as the “gay church.” The denomination, Metropolitan Community Churches, was founded in California years ago and is now serving LGBTQ communities all over the globe. The pastor of my church is a woman who has a woman partner. The services are exciting, upbeat with an emphasis on Christ’s admonition to go into the world and tell the “good news.” I’m sure some wonder what in the world a church like this one can accomplish other than making gay people feel better. That’s not the main goal at all. This church is as alive as any other church and more alive than many in the world of Protestant and Catholic churches. I love my church as I had nearly given up on membership in a worshiping community. I was raised Southern Baptist and was taught that, as a gay man, I was an abomination. I was leery of King of Peace when I first started attending and feared someone would see me enter its doors. Not now. I love the people, the pastor, the worship services, and the awesome music. Recently, a group in the church sang “In The Sweet By and By.” The group consisted of a harmonica player, a banjo player, an accordion player, and a vocalist. The banjo player was a man with a blond wig, wearing a skirt. When the group finished their presentation, the congregation applauded. As I said, we are radically diverse and radically inclusive. Praise God! Check out my church by going to http://www.churchstpetersburg.org/.
This patriotic video was shown on 9/11/16: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MdK8hBkR3s