Marking another milestone #Life #Mentalhealth

So here we are, another year gone. There are plenty of reasons to tell 2016 to get the hell out of here and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Far too many disappointments and sadness for most years. On the other hand, I had some real positive things happen over the past year that I prefer to think of. And on the gripping hand, a year is just a year, a metaphorical placeholder to mark the passage of time in our lives.

I lost some people in my life. A friend of mine whose life was lost far too early in a tragic death. A loved family member. In both cases, I think of those left behind. In one case, family members who will have to live life without that person around. In the other case, it is the young children who will have to face life and continue growing up with only one parent.

I lost a job I had held for quite a while. Forcing me out into the cold of job hunting and starting over. In the big picture, though, that was as much of a blessing as it was difficult. I was able to have some time off to do a lot of things. Enjoy time with friends. Be there for those who needed my assistance. And make some necessary personality adjustments. At this point, I prefer to think of that unplanned change as more of a positive than a negative.

I reunited with many old friends. Strengthening bonds that already existed in some cases. Made some new friends (or turned acquaintances into friendships.) In the end, I think that the year was definitely a net gain in this department.

Politics was dreadful. So very many disappointments. One of the true positives of my new job is the lack of daily internet access, which is slowing down the firehouse of doom and gloom. None of it has changed the facts of what happened or what might happen. But at least I am not as deeply immersed in it all.

Sports was different. I accomplished my goal of not letting my obsessions with sports control my emotional and mental well being. I was happy when my teams did something positive, winning games. But I took it in stride when they did not. That was a continued journey.

Now I can face the next milestone with good cheer. I am doing all that I can to make my life better. I am also happy to be doing things to make others lives better. From welcoming new kids to my games to organizing grateful farewells. I even get the feeling that my job has the chance to help other people in a way that my old one did not. I am embracing the hope that the future will be better, rather than focusing on all the tragedy and frustration of the previous year. And I am doing all I can to ensure that brighter tomorrow happens, instead of letting myself just drift with the prevailing winds.


Returning to normal, a bit shocking

This was a ‘normal’ weekend. Which was a bit shocking to my system. Saturday was a fully relaxed day. Sunday was full, but fun. And musing on an epiphany I had about sports.

Saturday was a quiet day at home. Kim took Jimmy to his tournament, as it was in a smaller gym, and therefore would have been hard to keep the little ones entertained. But I did not have anything planned for the day otherwise. No big house projects, or really any projects. I ended up spending much of the day reading. It was a refreshing change of pace for me.

Jimmy did not have a good tournament. He is running into an odd predicament, he is tall for his weight. And so most of the the top wrestlers at his weight are shorter. So what he really needs to do is work on building up his weight. But he has such good eating habits that it will actually be hard for him to do that (certainly not an issue I have ever had.) I did some research and have given him some tips, some dietary habits for him to follow that are not bad for him in the long run. We will see how that goes.

Sunday was full, but it was normal stuff.  Grocery shopping for the week. D&D with the boys. Followed by the Broncos game. And then a relatively quiet evening, or at least as quiet as it can be with 3 extra teenage boys spending the night as Jimmy had a sleepover. Since today is a day off for the kids for MLK day. And it gives Jimmy a chance to kind of catch up and spend some time with his buddies that he doesn’t see during the week any more.

The Broncos game was a mixed bag. Way too close to really enjoy during the game itself. And more than a little frustrating as there were more than a few miscues and self inflicted wounds.  But the Broncos won, which was a good thing. Although I have to admit even that is a bit of a mixed bag. Because the Super Bowl is the same day as our next Denver game. And if the Broncos are in the Super Bowl I imagine we will end up hosting a party, which means that the Denver game is postponed for 2 weeks. So there is a part of me that kind of hopes that the Broncos lose so I am not forced with having to make that choice. But only a part of me feels that, for the most part I want the Broncos to win.

Which leads into my next thought, an epiphany I had about sports. My Dad came over  on Saturday to watch some of one of the playoff games. He asked me if I had watched the College Championship game. And I was able to put together a coherent reason why I did not watch. I enjoy watching football for the most part, although that enjoyment has waned over the years. And if there is a team I like playing I will definitely try to watch. But, if there is a team playing that I do not like, and the other team is one I don’t much care about, then I can very easily skip watching it. Because in that case all I care about is one team losing, not so much the other team winning. And that just isn’t much fun, watching a game solely in the hopes of a negative result. Which gives me a good rule of thumb for any sport moving forward. Before devoting time to watching the event ask myself: is there a team that I really like? If not, is there a team I don’t like? If not, is it a sport I enjoy watching just to watch? If not, change the channel, turn it off, do something different.

So, the weekend was a mixed bag. A return to those weekends when I could truly relax and enjoy myself. And plenty of things to actually enjoy. But it was such a change that it felt odd to get that time to relax.


It really is just about joy #Mentalhealth

I wrote a post last night, mainly focused on Star Wars. But I want to dig a little deeper into the key point I made. That is that we need to find things that we enjoy in this life, and celebrate them. And not spend useless time criticizing those things that give people joy.

(Now of course I am not referring to those individuals who find joy in hurting others. Or those who are only able to find joy in things that are physically harmful to themselves. I am not condoning or recommending those actions.) 

People ask me what FreeRangeGeek means. And my simple answer is that I have a lot of things that I geek out on, and there is a wide variety of those things, not just zeroed in on one area. And I recommend that approach to life. But if you focus on just one thing that gives you joy and geek out on it that is okay too.

I geek out on sports, mainly american football and basketball. I am not as focused on those as I once was. But as I sit here at my desk I see multiple objects celebrating sports teams that I follow and cheer for. And while I do not watch as much as I once did, I still make it a point every day to read up on the news in the sports world. I find those things interesting, and watching a good game or watching my team win, gives me joy. Are there elements of sports that are negative, that subtract from that joy? Yes, but I choose not to focus on them. I am aware of them, and that is one of the reasons my focus on sports has lessened over the years. But I do not think less of a person who loves sports and makes following a team or teams a big part of their lives (unless you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan 😉 .)

I geek out on my games, role playing games and table top games. Lately that focus has been on role playing games. But that doesn’t mean I think less of the other games. It just means that my attention is currently held by the RPG’s. And I currently wave this geek flag high, I no longer try to hide this part of my life, I tell people that I am going to play D&D, and I arrange my schedule around those games.

I geek out on my TV shows and movies. I talked about Star Wars yesterday, but that same feeling can be turned to my comic book hero movies and TV shows. From the gritty violence of Daredevil to the over the top camp of the Marvel Avenger movies. I love them all. And I make it a point to watch them and enjoy them. And I love that Kim and the kids have begun to share this love with me. We now all look forward to the next Marvel movie, make sure we do not miss our shows.  Are TV and movies on some level passive entertainment? Sure, but it is still entertainment. And more importantly it is fun to talk over it all and understand how all these things interconnect.

I geek out on books, mostly fantasy, some sci fi, and the occasional non-fiction. I am looking at replacing my iPad, and one of the biggest factors is how good do books look. If you catch me at lunch on a work day I am most likely reading. I got the bug at an early stage, from two parents who loved to read, and it has never gone away. One of my most prized possessions is my library card.

And I geek out on music. I love my music. My eclectic musical collection that I have amassed over the years. I am not the type who has to have a high end music device. I just want to be able to listen to something. I probably have music playing in the background for at least a third of my day every day.

That is a very general list of what I love and geek out on. There are other things I love: being a parent (most of the time), eating, hiking (or at least getting out and enjoying nature.) And one of the things that turned me around from where I was a few years ago was turning my focus from the things I could not control and thought I should like to those things I did enjoy and love.

Most importantly, I care less about what other people geek out on than before. If your thing is sports, that’s cool. If your thing is church, then that’s cool too. If your thing is helping others, then by all means do it. So long as what you love to do does not harm you or others than do it. And don’t listen to those who criticize what you do. Oh, there is one other thing I don’t accept, spending your time criticizing those things that people enjoy. I don’t want to listen to someone sit and complain or criticize. I want to sit and listen to someone speak passionately about something they honestly enjoy. That is what being a freerangegeek is to me: passionately enjoying something (or many things) and be willing to share it, and do not criticize others passions.

Reading, and trying my best to help

Thoughts on reading, weekend plans, and trying to help. Glad that it Friday, and the bitter cold is no longer quite as bitter (even if it still cold and snowy out there.) And 1 week until I get an extended vacation.

I am a reader, coming from a long line of readers. But when asked what good books I have read lately I am sometimes stumped. But a thought occurred to me the other day. I do read books, I have my various escapist fiction series and writers I favor. But the reality is that I literally read all day long. I read articles on the internet, updates, jokes, news articles etc. all day long. And the content can vary, from hard news or science, to sports, to just updates. So, if people ask me what I am reading these days, my answer really is: everything!

Saturday is devoted to wrestling. Jimmy is wrestling in the District Classics, the Middle school wrestling tournament. He finished up the season last night, and ended up with the third seed in his weight class. It’s funny, I can watch wrestling, it is actually gotten more interesting to me. And when I watch his matches I try to come up with ideas and tips for him, which is hard, since I never wrestled. I had a couple of bright ideas that I tried to share with him, it did not go well. I could tell by the look in his eyes that he either had no clue what I was trying to say, or that I was totally off base. Oh well, I can still encourage him, and during the holidays I can hopefully get him to take some time to watch his videos with his cousin and uncles to get some ideas from them.

Sunday is the every 4 years event that I always look forward to: the NFL game where I cannot lose. The Broncos play the Rams. As a sports bigamist I happily cheer for both teams. And once every 4 years I get to watch them play each other in the regular season. This year I want the Broncos to win, just because they need wins to get home field advantage in the playoffs. Plus this year is pretty much another lost year for the Rams anyway. But if the Rams pull off the miracle win I at least won’t be disappointed.

I’m gonna miss #WorldCup2014, but something else is coming

Well that Germany – Brazil game was just amazing. I felt bad for Brazil, as a Broncos fan I certainly know what it feels like to see your team just fall apart for a variety of reasons on the biggest stage. But aside from that game, and the U.S. eventually falling in the Elimination round this has been a truly enjoyable couple of weeks. It has really captured my attention.

I have learned far more watching these games than I knew about the game before. And my general appreciation of the game has increased greatly, even over my renewed fervor from last years Rapids games.

And the games helped occupy my attention on 2 days when I would otherwise have been stuck with nothing to do waiting for events to take place.

So thank you World Cup and soccer in general. But most importantly it filled up the biggest whole in the year for sports. The gap between basketball and Football is always a tough one. Even more so as basketball has become less interesting to me. But this year at least I had something else to occupy the part of my mind that is diverted by the best ‘reality shows’ available: sports. And the Cup will wind up just before the opening of Training Camps for the NFL, and the first Preseason games are now less than a month away!

A part of me is interested to see if my new found appreciation of soccer degrades my love of football. I guess only time will tell, and fortunately this year that time is much shorter than it might normally be.

Taking advantage of the feelings of well being

For a weekend that did not start out very promisingly it all ended up great. From a rather odd disappointing Scout event to ending up with a feeling of well being and a good scratch dinner and some binge Netflix series watching. In between there was a fun family gathering, I finally got to play a game, and I got started on some much needed yard work.

Lesson learned on the Scouting event. In the future there needs to be far more interaction with a group before signing up kids to volunteer so the kids (and families) know what they will be doing, when they will be needed and what it is all about. I had to get the kids up early after a late night swim party for the Girl Scouts and drive an hour or so up into the mountains to a reservoir to volunteer for the Fishing Has No Boundaries event. Which is a great idea, and seemed like a worthy Scout activity. However, we found that we were not really needed until 12, and had nothing to do, and no great way to entertain the kids for 2 hours. So we did the little that we could and came home. Which was disappointing, but beyond our control.

I was afraid that would set the theme for the rest of the weekend but I was wrong. I got home in time to watch the extra time and shoot out in the Brazil Chile game. And then the first half of the Colombia – Uruguay game. And then it was off to a family birthday party. Which I handled pretty well and overall had a good time. I was able to keep relaxed and just have fun with it.

Sunday started off well with a decent nights sleep. And then I was able to go play some Blood Bowl, for the first time in 2 months. I had some great luck, my opponent had some bad luck and I was able to pull off a close 1-0 game. I was really glad to be playing again, with the start of a new season. I stuck with the Lizards from last season, I enjoyed playing the Dark Elves & Dwarves, but the Lizards really are my best team.

Got home and just felt really good. Lots of energy so I was able to get out and tackle a lot of much needed weed eating. I got the entire front and back yards done, with time in between to watch the second half, extra time and shoot out between Greece & Costa Rica (Go CONCACAF!)

It was really nice to have energy and just feel good about things for a change. I have been in such a depressive rut for a while that it has been a struggle to get things done around the house. For once I wanted to do some work and felt good doing it instead of just doing what I had to do. Damn cycles, really hope that starting therapy and other things will help break that.


My new favorite thing, a return of sorts #Worldcup

Mikes happy spot

Mikes happy spot

Last year I lucked into tickets to the Colorado Rapids game, my first taste of a higher level of soccer than Jimmy’s Y level in many years. And I was struck by how much fun it was to watch the game played at a decent or high level. Which led me to paying closer attention to the world teams and the build up to this years World Cup.  I was a little sad in fact when I realized that our vacation coincided with the beginning of the World Cup.

But what should I find on my first day but this spot outside the ESPN Zone restaurant just a few steps from our hotel. Which meant that I could keep up on match results on something other than my trusty iPhone. And yes I was able to get the kids off the TV a few times so I could watch the games (including the second half of US-Ghana.) So I did not miss out on anything really, despite being on vacation and spending a lot of time in the park.

Now here I am, with the WatchESPN App streaming the games live at work while I work. And very close to being called an addict of the sport.

Which is interesting, I grew up in what would be called for America a soccer family. We all played it at various levels. My Dad still plays pick up games. But, being in the west, in an interior state, we were not in a soccer rich area, and the era we couldn’t become serious fans. Which is what makes my new found love/addition so interesting to me.

But really, what is not to like about the sport? Certainly at this level (League & World Cup) it truly is an amazing sport to watch. Not nearly as stop and start as American Football. Easier to grasp in intricacies than hockey or rugby. Not nearly as star driven as basketball. And we will just leave the snooze fest that is baseball out of it.  And the beauty of the ebb and flow and dramatic switches and back and forth are really unrivaled among the top sports. I won’t say it replaces American Football for me, but I would say it has easily replaced the NBA in my book.