Memory Box Monday: Fingerpaint Fun

This wonderful piece of art was bestowed upon me by the one I would lovingly one day call my adopted little sister.  No, my parents didn’t adopt her, but Callie adopted me.

Callie was a little girl I met at church who wasn’t much taller than my waist and if you would have seen me at sixteen, that wasn’t very tall.  We had seen each other only a couple of times when she greeted me with this masterpiece.  It was an act of pure kindness.  I praised her for her artistic skill and in the weeks to follow found that I was to be the owner of an entire gallery of similar works.  For several years after that and until I permanently left for college, I was constantly loved by this little girl and her incredible parents, Mike and Natalie.

Out of all the  photos and art that have been hung on the walls of my dorm or set on the top of a desk, this one always seems to make the collection.

Callie, wherever you are, thank you for your selflessness.  Thank you for the unfiltered love you showed a skinny, nerdy teenager who was still trying to figure himself out.  I wish you happiness and a fulfilling life, and may you continue to bring sunshine to the soul of everyone you meet.

Could You Save Your Own Life?

It’s time to do something crazy, again!  Are you in?

Ever since college I’ve been an endurance nerd. It all started because of some health issues I had in my sophomore year.  When high school ended, so did the physical activity in my life but after constant colds, a battle with pneumonia, and the onset of seasonal allergies requiring an inhaler, it was time for a change.

My college minister, Stewart Moody, was always inviting people to run with him at 5:30 am, but as you can imagine, there were not too many college students longing to get out of bed before the sun rose.  So one day I took him up on the offer and running become a lifestyle for me.  All my health issues melted away.

Numerous races and two marathons later though, I’m starting to see that running, while healthy, is incomplete.  Which brings me to this article:

Every Man Should Be Able to Save His Own Life: 5 Fitness Benchmarks a Man Must Master

Could I save my own life? Sure, I could run till my feet bled, but ask me to pull my own weight more than 10 times. HA! Swim half a mile? No way! To be honest, the last time I attempted a set of dips, I thought my chest was going to rip in two.

It’s time to do something about my weeny arms and bird chest.  It’s time to do something drastic.  I’m setting goals on the internet for all to see.  In three months time, I intend to accomplish the following:

Goal #1: Swim half a mile. (Luckily my gym has a pool.)

Goal #2: Jump over obstacles higher than my waist. 

Goal #3: Do 20 chin ups.

Goal #4: <Fear and Dread> Do 25 dips. </Fear>

Goal #5: Run two hundred yards at top speed. (already in the bag)

On January 19th at 8:00am I will attempt each of these within a 2 hour period.  So who’s with me, because at dawn we ride!

Memory Box Monday: The Extraordinary Uses of Polish Vodka

“What’s she screaming about this time?” This was a common thought I had every time I heard my sister’s voice bounce around our domicile at the Grady Johnson Trailer Park (and Luxury Resort) in Statesboro, Ga.

“What is it?” I responded.

“I cut myself shaving,” she responded.

I got up and walked halfway to her room where she met me in the kitchen.  She had gashed herself enough that a small stream of blood was running down her leg.  We quickly thought through our selection of first aid supplies.

“Do we have any peroxide?” she asked.

“Nope.” I said.

“What about cotton balls?”


This exchange continued for band-aids, gauze, tape, and rubbing alcohol.  “Alcohol?” I thought to myself.

“Wait, I’ve got something that might…,” I broke off mid-sentence and ran back to my room.

In college I did some overseas traveling.  On the first of those adventures I went to Poland and made some wonderful friends that I’ll never forget.  I kept in contact writing letters all through college and sent over stuff from the US from time to time.  One of my friends, Natalia, had returned the favor on several occasions and once sent over a small bottle of 40% Polish vodka.

“I know it’s not the real stuff, but I think it might work.”  How could it not.  I surmised rubbing alcohol had far more of the real thing in it anyway, so what could a mere 40% distilled do.

I doused a paper towel, bent over, stretched out my hand and …..

[Insert High-Pitched Scream Here]

Thanks for vodka Natalia (it was definitely worth every penny), and thanks for the memory Sis.

What I Was Supposed to Be

I had a touchy, feely assignment from a class I really didn’t need in the first place.  My freshman orientation class at Georgia Southern University was requiring that I take a test to tell me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I could conceive of no other greater waste of time.

Assessment tests of this nature were for people who didn’t know what they wanted to do.  In my mind making me take this test was about as ridiculous as making me take a test to tell me what type of learner I was (That happened to be the next week).  I was already set on computer engineering and thought if that didn’t work out, there would always be another computer related major to try.  I regarded these tests as a torture that should be reserved for party-going clowns who skate through college for 3  years labelled as undeclared.

I was working like a dog to keep up in Calculus and my Chemistry professor at the time was notorious for burying students with his ruthless tests.  Dr. Hurst had achieved an alternate designation, Dr. Hurse.

In the midst of all my class induced anxiety, I marched down to Student Services to complete my task.  In order to get credit for my class, I had to bring in the official print out produced at the end of the test.  A hired student sat me down in front of an old computer terminal. Its greenish cursor blinked at me as the student assistant typed in some commands to get me started.

I truly did try my best to answer each question.  Some questions seemed to repeat themselves.  All the questions were along the lines of, “If you were a flower,” or “In your spare time,” or “How do you feel.”  I pushed through it and finally after 30 minutes of continuous questions the dot matrix printer on the other side of the room was humming.

The student assistant handed me the paper and I was out the door.  As I hastily crossed campus, I read the block letters below:

I laughed on and off for several days but now I see that these tendencies have crept into my life over the years.  Although I still design and prototype stuff using my engineering background, my main career is in adult education.  I design classes and entertain students.  I married an actress/liberal arts person.  I play several musical instruments. I run a blog just to give me a creative outlet.  My hippie tendencies, ideas, and ideals are many.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I would have heeded the list above 12 years ago.  I picture a world where I’m on Broadway performing or drawing a barn for a children’s book.  I imagine my skinny frame in a leotard skipping across stage choreographing the latest pop-idol video.  Then at the thought of this last possibility, I throw up in my mouth a little and get back to work.

Memory Box Monday: Dryer Sheet to Soften the Heart

I’ve got a box full of wonderful memories.  Over the years people have written me emails of encouragement, leaflets of love, and, in this case, dryer sheets of sunshine.

In my first year of college, I had trouble reaching out and making friends but people from home sent me stacks of letters and pick-me-ups.  If the correspondence came in an email, it was immediately printed. I posted those articles all over the walls of my dorm room.  I literally surrounded myself with encouragement, and kept every last scrap of paper.

Even after that first year of school, I continued to hold on to any note people gave me.  From time to time I add to the bundle myself.  Tickets to a play from an anniversary, my wife’s engagement ring receipt, and scraps of clothing from an old uniform have all found their way into that box.

Most of the pieces in this box bring a smile to my face.  A few are more serious in nature but remind me of great lessons.

I don’t dive into that box enough, so I’ve decided to institute Memory Box Monday.  I will randomly choose a piece from my box and display it.

This first piece was given to me by my wife, before we started dating, and her friend. I do not remember what the circumstance was but I can tell you without a doubt that it was the first note I ever received on a dryer sheet.  In case you were wondering, yes, it still has a slight scent after about 10 years.

If any Memory Box Monday post happens to involve a note that you sent me, please leave a comment to fill in the context of my fading memory.  If you have a note or memory you would like to share, send it to me and I’ll make it apart of the segment.