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.

Advertisements

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?

Music Truly Soothes the Soul

Delta Spirit

Everyone has a vice or a habit.  I have a number of them – Diet Coke, reading, potato chips, red meat, cooking, driving too fast, and music.  All of these vices help me cope with the daily stresses in some way or another.  Some work better than others.

Today my wife, Carrie, said you’ve been awfully grumpy lately.  I guess I’ve been too busy to notice, but when she makes an observation like that, I usually listen.  She has a good way of keeping me in check.  She doesn’t yell or scream or make condescending remarks.  She doesn’t make a big deal about it.  The conversations normally go something like this:

“Hey.  What’s wrong with you?  You’re grumpy.  Snap out of it.  The kids don’t like it when you’re grumpy.”

My reply today was short.  I said something like “really”, and I kept cooking breakfast.  But I knew she was right.  I knew that I needed to snap out of it.  The question is what did I need to do to get my head straight before the start of another week.  I thought about it most of the day and realized that I hadn’t spent much time listening to music lately.  Too much sports talk radio and NPR newscasts.

Well, I had listened to some music – mostly stuff off of the pop/rock station that the kids like to listen to.  You know the one that plays the same songs every two hours.  The kids love it because they can listen to the latest Taylor Swift song whenever they want because the station plays it every 15 minutes.

Nope.  I needed to listen to some “daddy music” as my oldest daughter calls it.  I grew-up listening to music of all kinds.  I remember listening to Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins, and Jim Croce riding in the car with my mom when I was a kid.  I eventually moved on to ’80s metal music and then took a brief detour into the rap scene during the early high school years.  I developed a love for De La Soul, Public Enemy, and Eric B. & Rakim.  I even had a Garth Brooks moment, but I don’t like to admit that.  I also started to listen to lots of classic rock and alternative music.  I wore out my first Led Zeppelin IV tape in about 6 months.  U2 was and still is one of my favorite bands.  The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby are probably two of the greatest albums ever recorded.  I started listening to bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, and The Screaming Trees.  I went to a concert my senior year in high school with three of my best friends where Public Enemy actually opened up for U2 in Columbia, SC.  It was a memorable show, and we all made it to school the next day.  Our moms were so proud!

My tastes changed through the college years.  The Black Crowes.  Grateful Dead.  Phish.  Neil Young.  Widespread Panic.  Radiohead.  Live.  All staples through my college years.  Summer concerts were my favorite times.  The Allman Brothers.  Lynrd Skynrd.  Drivin’ n Cryin’ to name a few.  The weekend I graduated from college, my future wife, my brothers, my best friend from high school and I all went to see U2 and Rage Against the Machine in Clemson, SC.

Listening to music is truly an escape for me.  My tastes continue to evolve.  I enjoy finding new bands on NPR and my brother, Graham, passes on new bands to me from time to time.  I still enjoy going to concerts.  A few years ago when The Smashing Pumpkins reunited, I took in a number of shows in Asheville, NC where they played for a couple of weeks at a small venue as Billy Corgan worked to integrate two new members into the band.  The sound was raw at times, but it was great to hear the songs I listened to through college and the new ones up close and personal.

This past summer my wife and I went to a My Morning Jacket concert in Charlotte, NC.  Band of Horses opened for them.  It was great to get away for a night – no worries.  Just listening to the music.  For some reason, I thought I smelled a skunk at the show, but I could never find it.  Before Christmas I went to see the Silversun Pickups at the Fillmore in Charlotte with a co-worker who has a deep appreciation for music like I do.  I was worried I would be the oldest person at that show, but that wasn’t the case at all.  There was a skunk there too.  Go figure.

I love music.  I look forward to finding out what band is playing on Austin City Limits on PBS each week.  I check Amazon and Rolling Stone to see what new music will be out in the coming months on a weekly basis.  I have hundreds, if not thousands of CDs and MP3 downloads.  Some I’ve had for years.  Others I bought a couple of weeks ago.

Some nights I sit in my chair listening to concerts.  I caught Wilco a couple of months ago, and I enjoy listening to all of the concerts NPR gives us access to.  This is how I escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.  It really does soothe the soul.  Tonight I’ve been listening to a band that I heard on Austin City Limits last night.  A band called Delta Spirit.  Their song “California” is impressive.  I read about them a number of months ago, but I was in more of a Sigur Ros mood at the time so I missed out on them then.  They have a good sound.  Good lyrics too.  I found a few concerts on NPR that I’ve listened to this evening.

I think my grumpiness is almost gone.

Music therapy seems to have worked.  My wife and kids will be happy.

Hope everyone has a good week.