Saying Good-bye To An Old Friend – RIP My Favorite Pants

Sometimes we develop emotional attachments to people or things.  These things provide a certain level of emotional and physical comfort.  It was a sad night for me tonight.

My favorite pants are gone and now it’s time to move on.

Saying Good-bye To An Old Friend – RIP My Favorite Pants.

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Saying Good-bye To An Old Friend – RIP My Favorite Pants

I had to say good-bye to an old friend today.  My friend was worn out.  My friend had been part of my life for over 5 years.  We got together once or twice a week during those five years.  My friend went with me to work, to church, to meetings, and on a couple of dates with my wife.  My friend was loyal and provided me with a certain level of comfort that no other friend really had before.

Tonight, I finally had to throw away my favorite pair of pants.  I bought them four years ago at a Jos A. Bank’s store in Concordville, PA – I think.  They were a pair of Tobacco colored Wrinkle Resistant Cotton Twill Pleated Front Pants, size 38 x 32.  They had cuffs at the bottom and a seam in them that allowed them to be folded perfectly after every wash.  No dry cleaner ever had the pleasure of touching these pants.

Wrinkle-Resistant Cotton Twill Plain Front Pants

I wore them every week at least once a week.  They weren’t very attractive pants.  Baggy, pleated pants with cuffs went out of style a long time ago, but I still wore them.  They were the anti-skinny pants/jeans.  They looked good with a nice plaid shirt or a sweater.  I probably sported a blazer and a nice tie with them once or twice.  I even wore them to work in the yard a few times.

But tonight I had to throw them in the trash.  They were starting to tear around the back pockets.  My boxer shorts were apparently starting to show.  The cuffs were frayed and torn in some places.  There were holes in the legs along the seams at the bottom.  One of the pockets had a hole in it.  These weren’t a pair of pants that I could donate.  They wouldn’t have made it past the clothes sorter at Goodwill.  They would have ended up in a recycle pile or in the trash.  I had to bite the bullet and throw them out once and for all.  I didn’t need someone else to do my dirty work for me.

I’ve tried through the years to acquire another pair that fit the way these pants did.  I have a closet full of various Jos. A. Bank pants that I’ve either purchased at the store here in Spartanburg or online.  You know – the Buy 1, Get 2 Free deals.  I’ve tried other brands too.

Banana Republic – too tight.

Polo – needed to be dry-cleaned; too fancy for an old-fashioned washing machine and dryer.

Chaps – to wrinkly and didn’t fold well after washing.

Izod – wrong shade.

LL Bean – too scratchy.

It’s been a struggle to say the least.  I wear the same size pants today as I did four years ago, and yet I haven’t been able to find a pair of pants that wore like these.

I think all men and women understand where I’m coming from.  We all have that favorite pair of pants or jeans.  We all have that favorite shirt or baseball hat that we just can’t seem to get rid of.  My wife still wears my very old Wofford College t-shirts to sleep in.  I think they’re close to 17 years old.  But they’re her favorite.

Some items hold a special place in our memory.  I still have my first Montreal Canadiens hockey team hat that my granddad gave me when I was a teenager.  I wore that hat to work almost everyday during the summers.  It has faded from its original red to a kind of orange color now. The logo is frayed and the plastic clasp could break at any moment.  It’s dirty and smells horrible, but it still fits me like it did when I was a teenager.  I can’t wash it.  It would probably fall apart.  It’s hard to let go of things like that.

Life is full of interesting twists and turns.  We all enjoy living comfortably.  We all want stability in our home life and our work life.  We all want to feel like what we do is fulfilling on a number of levels – intellectually, spiritually, emotionally.  There are times though when the status quo becomes boring and unfulfilling.  It’s during those times when making a change might be the best way to go.

Sometimes you just have to throw out that old pair of pants and start wearing another pair.

Doing that takes a certain level of courage and resolve.  It also takes support and understanding from friends and loved ones.  Finally, it takes finding the right situation or fit.

As I stood over the trash compactor and threw away my pants tonight, I thought to myself that I could wash them and wear them a few more times.  But as I looked at them again, I realized that it was time to make that change.  They didn’t fit anymore.  It was time to move on.

RIP my favorite pants.  It was a fun ride while it lasted.

When the Going Gets Tough…The Tough Stop and Eat Ice Cream

How do you handle stressful situations?  With so much going on in my life and in the lives of those around me, I thought I would share my current method of escape.  Some people exercise.  Some people read.  I’m eating ice cream – and lots of it!

When the Going Gets Tough…The Tough Stop and Eat Ice Cream.

When the Going Gets Tough…The Tough Stop and Eat Ice Cream

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”    ― Theodore Roosevelt

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been in a bad mood and everyone has noticed.  I have had a tough time maintaining a good poker face – both at work and at home.

On the work front, things have been quite stressful as I try to balance the needs of the people at my plant with the expectations laid out by senior management.

On the home front, things haven’t been quite as stressful, but living in a home with three young daughters who think they are teenagers presents its own set of challenges – especially as the start of the school year gets closer and closer.

As I write this post, I am not asking for anyone to feel sorry for me or to be overly concerned about my emotional well-being.  Most of my stress is self-imposed, and I am managing it just fine.  There are many people in my life both near and far that are dealing with far more adversity than myself.

Over the past few weeks, I have had many friends and co-workers deal with things like serious injury of a love one, a family member with a severe illness , or even the death of a loved one.  I have had three friends who have recently lost their fathers to various illnesses.  Another friend’s mother is seriously ill, and the doctors aren’t 100 percent sure of her diagnosis or prognosis, and on top of that, she was notified she would no longer be employed once she is well again.

I also have a co-worker whose mother-in-law may have had a stroke today.  I have another friend whose elderly mother had surgery to repair a broken leg after a fall.  And finally, I have three friends and co-workers who are dealing with the loss of a wife, a mother, and a mother-in-law.  All of these people are dealing with more pain, stress, and sadness than myself.  That’s for sure.

On the family front, my brother-in-law and his family are dealing with a much more emotionally draining and stressful issue – the return of their adopted son who doesn’t want to be part of the family.  It’s a long story, but it’s one that involves mental illness caused by neglect at a very young age – long before the family adopted him and his older sister.  Fortunately, she has adapted well, but she still has a ways to go.

So, there are lots of things going on and lots of stuff to think about.  And that’s one of my problems.

I can’t stop thinking!

My mind is constantly churning – trying to figure out the right thing to do at work, trying to think of the right things to say to my friends, family, and co-workers or what I can do for them in their time of need.

On the work front, I have what author Jim Collins calls in his book Great by Choice – “productive paranoia.”  When things are going fairly well, I’m never happy with the status quo.  I live in fear of missing something – not anticipating the next challenge.  I’m always planning for that next step.  I don’t like surprises.  I also worry a great deal about the well-being of my people.  According to people who study leadership, this is what I’m supposed to do.

419oM1kcjBL.jpg

On the home front, I think about other things.  With school approaching and Carrie returning to work, I think about how we will manage all of our activities while still having some time for each other.  Family time is very important, but the way things are shaping up, it looks like we’ll have something going on every night of the week.  I am going to try to play softball again (Carrie says I’m too old), and the girls have soccer and dance and band and and and….

Again, there are people with bigger problems than me, and I admire them for how they handle their respective situations.  I also try to learn from them.  Is it their faith that helps them get through it?  Is it their friends or their family that help them?  Are they just so mentally and emotionally strong that they deal with it on their own and in their own way?

For me, I stop and eat ice cream!

I know.  It sounds crazy, but almost every night, I immerse myself in a bowl of ice cream.  Some nights it’s Ben & Jerry’s Cake Batter or Americone Dream.  Other nights it’s Breyers or Mayfield Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  Some nights it’s just plain old Vanilla Bean ice cream with butterscotch sauce.

Gigi-Reviews: Ben & Jerry's Cake Batter Ice Cream    Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Cake | Haight | FunCheapSFMayfield Dairy Select Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream

It’s my way to escape.  It’s my way to focus on something that’s good and sweet and tastes great.  It’s kind of like a reward for myself for a hard day’s work, and it’s great stress relief.

When people are stressed, they sometimes eat pizza or chocolate cake or if you’re like my wife, Carrie, anything chocolate will do.  Others read books or write blogs.  Others like to cry.  Others listen to music.  Others call their friends to vent.  Many people use exercise as a way to relieve stress.

Right now, I eat ice cream.  And yes, I just ate a bowl before I started writing this post.

Now, I don’t recommend my ice cream habit to everyone.  It hasn’t been particularly good for my waistline.  I’ve recently had to loosen my belt a little, and I’ve noticed my shirts feel a little tighter (I think that’s because Carrie leaves them in the dryer too long, but I won’t dwell on that too long…).  But now that I’m going to play softball again, I hope it will start to disappear.

It should disappear, right?

Either way, if you look at what Mr. Roosevelt said in his quote above, life isn’t always going to be easy, and those who deal with adversity well are often times some of the most admired.  How a person handles a stressful situation can have a huge impact on those around him/her.  There have been many leaders through the years that come to mind.  Abraham Lincoln.  Moses.  Herb Kelleher (CEO of Southwest Airlines).  All have handled adversity in different ways and succeeded – even in the face of imminent disaster.

So, when things get tough, turn your mind off for a few minutes and escape to a happier place.  If it’s reading your Bible – read your Bible.  If it’s playing video games, play video games for a little while.

For now, I’m going to keep eating ice cream.  I just bought a new flavor to try – Mayfield Snickerdoodle.  Cinnamon cookie flavored ice cream with cinnamon cookie pieces.

The Ice Cream Informant: REVIEW: Mayfield Snickerdoodle

 

Sounds awesome to me.  How about you?

Mark Sanford Is An Idiot…But He’s a Good Politician

I am not one to discuss politics, but as a South Carolinian, I have enjoyed following the race for the House seat in the First Congressional District.  South Carolina has a rich history of controversial politicians from Strom Thurmond to Mark Sanford.  Let me know what you think.

Mark Sanford Is An Idiot…But He’s a Good Politician.

Mark Sanford Is An Idiot…But He’s a Good Politician

MarkSanford.jpg    ECB_one_web

I very rarely delve into discussions about politics at home, with friends, or in the workplace.  I  believe one’s political views are personal, and I very rarely feel the need or desire to share these views with others.  I’ve lived in South Carolina for all but 4 of the 38 years of my life, and I have seen the political machine at work for many years.  From Strom Thurmond to Fritz Hollings in the US Senate to Carroll Campbell, Mark Sanford, and most recently Nikki Haley in the Governor’s office, South Carolinians have traditionally elected people who have worked to make our state a better place for all of us to live…for the most part.  All of these leaders worked to carry out the wishes and desires of all South Carolinians even if that meant making unpopular decisions at times…like making video poker illegal.  Thanks Jim Hodges!

Strom Thurmond.jpg     FritzHollings.jpg

Over the years, we have had the pleasure of allowing a number of misguided politicians fill leadership roles as well.  A couple come to mind, but most recent award winners include former Lieutenant Governors Andre Bauer and Ken Ard.  Bauer liked to drive fast, and Ard was charged with misappropriation of campaign funds.  Some would say that Thurmond would fall into this group as well.  Thurmond was a classic flip-flopper politician who once ran for President as a “Dixiecrat”, and was a Democrat and then a Republican starting in 1964.  Talk about a politician who knew how to play to his constituency.  Thurmond managed to stay in office until 2003 and was even accused by author Dave Barry in one of his columns of coloring his hair with Tang…you know the bright orange stuff.

All of us would say that Mark Sanford would fall into this group as well.  Sanford, a real estate developer and a fiscal conservative, was originally known as the Congressman who slept in his office while in Washington because he didn’t want to waste taxpayer money.  Sanford was elected to his first term as governor in 2003 and was on the fast track to becoming a possible Republican nominee for President in 2012 until he went “to hike the Appalachian Trail” which is code for going to Argentina to visit your mistress (Maria Chapur).  To the citizens of South Carolina, Sanford appeared to be a happily married man to his wife Jenny, and the father of 4 children, but apparently, he was not.

Sanford claimed to “follow his heart” in order to find his “soulmate.”  For all intents and purposes, his political career was over at that point.  He completed his second term as governor, got divorced, went into seclusion, and eventually got engaged to Chapur.  In late 2012, Senator Jim DeMint decided to hang it up and leave the dysfunctional world of the US Senate to run the Heritage Foundation, a highly conservative organization in its own right.  This left an open Senate seat that needed to be filled.  A couple of weeks later, Governor Haley selected Representative Tim Scott to fill the position.  Scott would become the first African American member of the US Senate from South Carolina, however he left vacant a seat in the House in a notorious Republican district in SC (I know they are all Republican).  Sanford, after talking with his ex-wife, decided to come out of hiding and throw his name in the mix.  At first I thought his was strange, but then I thought at least he had the common courtesy to check to see if she was running first.

Tim Scott, official 113th Congress photo portrait.jpg      Nikki Haley by Gage Skidmore.jpg

The Republican primary, which was held a month ago, was filled with a number of political novices who had very little name recognition and very little experience with the political machine.  After a runoff, Sanford won the Republican nomination and advanced to meet the infamous Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the election that will be held on May 7 for the seat in the First Congressional District.

South Carolinians are a forgiving lot.  We keep re-electing Lindsey Graham even though he continues to hangout with John McCain, and we will probably give Arthur Ravenel’s son, Thomas, another chance at political office at some point even though he was convicted of federal cocaine distribution .  Almost all of us believe that “Shoeless” Joe Jackson should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame even though he was part of the infamous Black Sox scandal in the early 20th century.  We appreciate people with humility.  That is a key characteristic displayed by Sanford.  His ability to come across as just a normal guy who “followed his heart” resonates with the citizens of SC.  That was the case until Mark Sanford decided to be a Dad on Super Bowl Sunday.

Apparently spending quality time with his son on Super Bowl Sunday was not part of his divorce settlement – especially when it’s spent at his ex-wife’s home.  I guess the lawyers forgot to negotiate that clause.  Once the National Republican Congressional Committee caught wind of this indiscretion, they stopped backing poor Mark, but that hasn’t stopped him.  He continues to travel throughout the Lowcountry visiting restaurants, shaking hands, posing for pictures, and trying to connect with voters.  He even posted a campaign ad that contained his cell phone number.  I hope he has another phone for personal calls.

His personal life is a mess, but his political ideals still match-up with most South Carolinians.  He has received a number of endorsements from many of his friends and colleagues, including the aforementioned Lindsey Graham and most recently Larry Flynt…that should really help, right?

Sanford still believes he has a chance to win, and I think he does too.  Also, South Carolinians tend to pull for the underdog, and right now he is definitely a big underdog!

Would I vote for him?  Probably.

Personal life aside, I agree with many of his views, but I still can’t discount the past even though he has always been one to take responsibility for his actions.  He is a fiscal conservative, who has shown a willingness at times to work across party lines on more moderate social issues.  That is typically where I fall in the grand scheme of things.

Tomorrow is a big day for my friends that reside in the Lowcountry.  Do they vote for the lady whose brother appears nightly on Comedy Central and is a relative political novice, or do you vote for the underdog, the guy who many people have said deserves a second chance?

It will be interesting to see how it turns out.

I’ll be watching.  Will you?