The Cleanse

30-day-doterra-cleanse-foods

I’m not really sure how it came about.  We went to the beach for Labor Day, and on the way home, I was suddenly told our family was doing the 30 Day Cleanse.  Like we stopped at Bojangles for lunch – a chicken biscuit, fries and a Coke, consumption for a normal human, and as we talked among the group at the table, Stephanie, Michelle, their two friends and Julie, my girlfriend, a decision was made that we were going to starve ourselves for a month.  How does that happen?  Bojangles to beets.  Good lord!

Michelle and her friend Kimmey were driving this train.  Kimmey used to be a vegetarian so the idea of colon restoration was taking her back to her 7th grade roots.

I don’t know much about cleansing.  What I do know is that several people I work with have gone through the process, and it can be ugly.  Dark rings around the eyes, grumbling stomachs at the staff meeting, and the temporary personality of Cinderella’s stepmother.  Very lovely people, turned evil.

“Hey Bob.  You wanna grab a beer after work?”

“I CAN’T you JERK!  Remember…  I’M ON A CLEANSE!  You trying to KILL me?”

“Geeze.  I forgot.  I forgot.”

I was told that sugars, grains, dairy and legumes could be having a negative impact on my health and fitness without me even realizing it.  And in fact, if legumes are having a negative impact on me, I do not know it.  Primarily because I don’t know what a legume is.  I was then assured that if I cut out carbs, peanuts, dairy, fried foods, beans, sugar, alcohol and everything else except meat, vegetables and fruit, that I would feel better, my skin would glow, my colon would work more efficiently, my pancreas would feel lighter, I’d have no acne, my joints would repair, and I’d develop the strength of a gorilla.  As Julie read more from the satanic magazine article that offered this self-help option, she reiterated that I could have all the vinegar I desired.

“Well.  That changes everything.”

This 30 day cleanse was guaranteed to change my emotional relationship with food.  I realize I have an emotional relationship with my mom.  I did not know that the green bean and I were that close.

I wasn’t necessarily opposed to eating more healthy, but this technique seemed extreme. I suggested that we actually spread the thirty days out – not do them all at once.  My thought was since Chic Fil A is closed on Sundays we should cleanse on the day of rest for thirty weeks.

I was voted down by the girls.  For some reason, the purge must be consecutive.

So we tried.

Monday was our last day of normalcy.  I ate all of the cookie dough in the fridge and finished a bottle of wine.  We went to the grocery store and strategically avoided the snack and cereal isles.  The cashier giggled as he rang us up.  He’s seen me before.  This was not normal.  I’m sure he was amused by the eggplant, brussel sprouts and and lack of legumes.

I hate it when I purchase produce at the store that is so odd the salesperson has to ask me what it is.  I feel so snobbish.  I’m sure he’s thinking, “Why can’t he just each Iceberg lettuce like a normal guy.”

On Wednesday we decided to introduce beans and dairy back into our diet.  I feel certain our diet didn’t even notice it had been missing.

On Thursday, Stephanie texted me, “I’m starving.  I’m done.” Bring on the Cheez-Its!

On Friday, Michelle admitted she had eaten crackers for lunch.  I admitted I had done the same the night before.  I had no choice.  It was a work event, and I was so hungry my colon was about to eat my light pancreas.  The only food at the reception was crackers and cheese.  What’s a guy to do?  The cracker guilt was killing me.

Pizza this weekend shot the cleanse to hell.  After 4 1/2 days of mildly expurgating my innards, my skin looks the same, my colon is unchanged and my pancreas feels as heavy as ever.  But I’m happy – I’m just really happy.

Good news:  we are all committed to eating more fruits and vegetables and limiting our milkshake intake.  Perhaps our cleanse worked after all.

 

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Words, A Generous Gift

bathroom pic

Lisa did a good thing right before she died.  She wrote a very simple card to me telling me she loved me and that I had done all that I could for her.  She essentially said, “No guilt Danny.  No guilt.”  She told me to move forward in my life – to remarry.  Her exact words were, “You’re not good by yourself.”  Yeah.  She knew.

What a generous things for her to do.  Selfless.  Not surprising.

I have no guilt.  I have no angst about moving forward with my girlfriend, Julie.  I don’t know if I would have without the final check off, mybe so.  But it surely is nice not to question.

In a way, those who know they are going to die have an advantage.  If they choose, they can get their affairs straight.  They can share how much they love their friends and family.  They can help alleviate any feelings of guilt.  They can plan with their loved ones.

One would think that someone like me would fully be prepared to die.  I’m not scared to die, sometimes it is actually more scary to live in this world than to ponder death.  But I don’t think I’ve done a great job of planning for what could come.

Do my kids know that I absolutely adore them?  And not in a general sort of I love you way.  Do they know why I love them, individually?  Do they know what I think is most wonderful about each of them?

At some point over the past year or two, my parents wrote a letter to me just to let me know they are proud of me.  It’s framed in my bathroom (my favorite room in the house).

Do those I work with understand their importance in my life?  How they’ve stretched me and made me grow?

Am I vocal enough with Julie about my feelings for her?  Danny Tanner is not always easy to love.  I come with a lot.  I am thankful she’s in for the long haul.

Have I thoughtfully thanked all those who stood by me in my darkest times?  The ones who tossed my up on their shoulders and carried me when I couldn’t walk myself.

Oh, they’ll get their reward in heaven, but wouldn’t it be nice if I took the time now to let them know that I haven’t forgotten – that I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.

I hope I don’t die tomorrow.  I am not prepared.

 

No Purex for Them

They came home today.  The two oldest, DJ and Stephanie, returned from ten weeks away working at summer camp.

Not only did they come home, their clothes came home.  14 loads thus far – and counting.

I’m used to the laundry.  I kinda like it.  It signals the end of summer and a return to normalcy.

And yet, I am perplexed.

There was a laundry facility at camp for staff.  I know for sure that my girls used the washer and dryer provided for two reasons:

Frist, they told me.

Second, I unpacked Tide from both of their laundry bags.

Yes.  TIDE!  As in Tide’s in, dirt’s out.

How is it that my kids are using Tide and I am washing with Purex?  Not that there’s anything wrong with Purex, but man, would I like to smell like Tide when I walk down the halls at work.  But no, my ongoing cost savings strategy requires that I settle for the least expensive suds on the shelf.  And yet, my kids don’t!  And the worst part of it is, they charge THEIR Tide to MY credit card!!

I’m smelling like 13 cents a wash, and they’re walking around with a $.78 cent aroma.

It does not make sense.  The dad should be the one splurging.  They are not even 21 years old.  They don’t have steady employment.  I fill up their cars with gas.  I use generic toilet paper so I can afford their school tuition (and sometimes it hurts).  But they are ordering sodas with their dinners (while I drink water), Ubering (while I walk), and washing their clothes with Top-Shelf detergent.

I bet the college dorm room has Charmin!

Geeze.  I wish I was my child.  I’d live a more lucrative life!

 

The NC Coast

Aniver and Annie

I did manage to bury two teenagers last week!

We went to the beach last week.  I wasn’t able to stay for the entire time – I had to commute to work a day or two.  Those drives gave me ample time to reflect on trips of years gone by.

When I was a kid, a member of my dad’s church allowed us to use their beach house in North Litchfield, SC, for a week each summer.  Man – were those some great trips.

I remember my parent’s had a sedan, not nearly enough room for them, my brother, me, and two friends.  For years we took the Mozena boys on our annual vacation.  Greg was Chad’s age and Steven was mine.  We traded cars with their parents.  Sid and Jerry drove a massive blue station wagon.  Jerry had built a huge wooden blue box that sat on the top of the car strapped onto the roof rack.  There was a seat in the back that faced the opposite direction.  My brother and I fought over who got to sit there.  I don’t remember who won – if I know my mom, she determined the exact mileage for the trip and made a stop precisely at mid-point to switch riders.  The woman is FAIR.

One year we took several other families with us for the week.  This house had a massive picnic table in the kitchen with two long, wooden benches on either side.  The group convened for a card game called Spoons which required you to sometimes dive for the utensil once someone put together a winning hand.  For some reason, my young teenage self showed up for the game in a bathrobe.  Just a bathrobe.  When I dove across the table to grab my spoon for the win, the robe flew up, and I presented my entire lower being to not only my family but also to Mr. and Mrs. Benner and their teenage daughter.  Thankfully I was successful at nabbing the spoon else my exhibitionism would have been in vain.

I have long passed the days of required sandcastle building and burying children in the sand.  I watched my brother and sister-in-laws work their asses off this week entertaining on the strand.  I drank beer and read having the occasional grown up conversation with Michelle and her friend.  I sort of miss the digging.  For years, my carved out living rooms with dug out sofas were quite the place to chill on Topsail Island.

One of my favorite memories is the night my entire family went on an evening walk to catch sand crabs.  We used buckets and nets as well as frisbees to capture the critters.  As we walked down the dark beach, I picked up wet sticks and made it a point to sneak up behind my mom and tickle her ankles.  She would jump a mile EVERY SINGLE TIME I touched her.

It just never gets old to scare grandma!

This year was quiet.  Only Michelle was able to come for the full week.  DJ dropped in for about 24 hours and Stephanie couldn’t leave her job at Camp Seafarer.

I hope that one day we can all reconvene to begin to form new traditions and memories.  I wouldn’t trade anything for that time with the family.

The Kid Sabbatical

They left me.  Yep.  All three of my girls trekked down to Camp Seafarer for a full five weeks.  Today I pick up Michelle, and I am so, so happy.

When Lisa died seven years ago, in addition to drowning in grief, I developed a fear of being alone.  The thought of staying in our house without other human beings consumed me.  I worked to stagger kid sleepovers so that all wouldn’t be gone at once.  I did the same with overnight camp, picking one up before sending the next.  I was paralyzed by the mere thought of quiet.

When I turned 50, I assumed I was complete.  I am happy, understand my strengths and limitations and am comfortable with who I have become.  What I didn’t expect was more self-growth.  I thought my insides were pretty set – sort of like the gray hair – there was no reversing what had developed; it is what it is.

What I have discovered over the past month is that, even as an aging dude, I’m ever changing, ever growing, ever maturing.  Yeah, I have REALLY missed my kids over the past 36 days (not that I was counting) but this time apart has allotted me time to rejuvenate and to focus on areas of my life that I’ve somewhat neglected.

This past month I’ve been able to focus on my relationship with my girlfriend, Julie.  she doesn’t live in Raleigh so the ability to head to Charlotte or on vacation together has given us the chance to pull back the curtain a bit.  I’ve discovered she’s cooler than I had imagined.  And best of all, after getting to know me even more, she’s still taking my calls!

I’ve exercised, slept hard, read and watched my backlog of DVR’d CBS Sunday Morning shows (man am I old).  I’ve eaten dinner with a number of my buddies, visited my parents twice, and I even got a massage.

I’ve surprised myself this year.  Even at AARP age, there’s still hope to tweak my many imperfections and to face down my fears.  It isn’t over!

I have a long way to go, but it’s nice to know it’s not too late for improvement.

Packing Up

Full of shoes… FULL!

In May, I drove to Washington to pick up my eldest daughter from college.  DJ lives in a sorority house.  Go Alpha Delta Pi.  I’ve been trying to figure out their secret handshake, ‘cause I’m sure they have one, but she is mums on the sorority rituals.  I think they sacrifice chickens at night in their basement – but I’m not exactly sure.  Anyway, as I entered her room, I was simply amazed at how she packs, or doesn’t.

Well, she sort of does.  Like stuff is shoved in various toting devices, but when I arrived, there seemed to be very little rhyme or reason to the organization of her belongings.

A laundry bag might contain some laundry (perhaps clean, perhaps dirty – only a sniff could tell), a can of beans, shampoo, a desk lamp and a broom.  Her comforter ripped off her unkempt bed and carried by hand.  She did put her shoes in a 3’ x 3’ x 4’ plastic container.  There were thirty five pair, and it weighed 700 pounds.

I pulled my back out trying to get her suitcase upstairs when we returned to Raleigh.  It was crammed to the brim.

I am amazed at the amount of stuff that two girls can fit into a 10’ x 10’ room.  I’ll have to say they utilized their space very, very well.  Under the bed, check.  Over the closet, check.  Hanging from the rafters, check.  And amazingly, DJ knew where each item lived.

If on display, you could fill a Walmart Superstore with items from their shared space.  It took two medium sized SUVs to get my child’s possessions back to North Carolina.  It actually expanded over an eight month period of time because when we dropped off in August, it took but one vehicle.

I remember my mom and dad coming to pack me up after one particularly rancid set of roommates.  We were living in an apartment, and they drew the short stick with the other parents.

My dad spent the day in the bathtub trying to Clorox the black ring my roommate and I had created over an eight month period of time.  It’s amazing what comes off your body.  It’s amazing what happens when you don’t clean something for two-thirds of the year.

My mother found a Tupperware container as she worked on cleaning our fridge.  She recognized it – it was red with a white lid.  However, the contents were unrecognizable due to the thick layer of green mold encasing the months old tuna salad she’d sent back with me at Christmastime.  Close to penicillin.  YUCK.  What were my roommates and I thinking?  And yet, I turned out alright in the areas of cleanliness and tidiness.  In fact, I’m quite a stickler when it comes to my house.

Perhaps there is hope too for my daughters.  I think that there is a household organizational gene that does not quite fully develop until after graduation from college.  At least that is my hope.

So Long St. Tim’s

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June 15, 2017

 

Dear St. Timothy’s School,

Our relationship started in the fall of 1995.  My wife took a job with you, her second “real” job.

It was 2002 when our first, DJ, walked through your doors as a timid kindergartener.  Although her mother worked at the school, that did not stop DJ from holding onto her skirt and shedding a massive amount of tears at drop off for a significant portion of the year.

Fifteen years later, as our youngest finishes the eighth grade and we end our time with you, I reflect.

You have produced three honor roll students, two Mary’s in the Christmas pageant, one head cheerleader, at least one Student Body President (my memory fails me), a soloist at graduation, several runners (sort of) and a couple of Headmaster Award winners.  Each kid with varying personalities and talents were challenged.  Each left feeling as if she was capable of tackling the world.

When we were at our lowest, you surrounded our family – wrapping us in your safety.  You hired the teacher who bought our youngest new tennis shoes in the middle of the school day because I was so buried in grief I hadn’t noticed the sole was falling off.  You employed the art teacher who still meets my sophomore in college for lunch when she returns to town and the literature teacher who confessed that Stephanie was one of her all-time favorite kids.  There was the teacher who confessed to my child who wet her pants that she sometimes did the same; the one who brought To Kill A Mockingbird to life and the one who texted me with excitement when my kid cut 40 seconds off her mile in track.  Oh, and the one who didn’t get mad when our family went to school early to cover his car in post-it notes.

You allowed us to heal in an unconventional way – singing Christmas Carols in your hallways to an accepting audience; inviting Uncle Jesse and me to referee the staff/student annual basketball game; taking pictures when two alumni and a father arrived at the first day of school last fall dressed in old school uniforms.  You let us be us – supporting, giving space when appropriate, holding kids’ and father’s hands when needed.

I’m not sure, but I can’t imagine there are many schools that so readily allow kids to feel so safe, so comfortable that they can truly be themselves.  You have done just that for my girls.

I am forever indebted.

Thank you to all:  teachers, staff, administrators, parents and students for what you have done to build a most solid foundation in my kids and for helping to rebuild my family.

Danny Tanner

Late. Again.

bus

I was literally looking down the snout of my long nose at the poor parents who would not have their acts together this year.  I mean, I generally run late, but I have NEVER held up a bus for a school trip.

Last year it was a friend of Michelle’s.  I can’t remember where they were going.  Maybe to spend the night on the battleship in Wilmington.  The charter bus was packed and no Kimmy Gibbler.  All the kids were on, waiting.  I texted her mom.  Are you guys awake.  You know the bus leaves at 6:30.  It was 6:34.

She sent back and expletive – not for me, for herself.  I let them know she was running a bit late.

I had compassion, but I’ll have to say that on occasion when I get it right, I am so very proud.  I sort of relished in her misery.  I was actually THE parent with HER phone number who got to text and tell her they were late… because I, in fact, was on time!!  I seldom get to do that.  It was quite a treat.

I despise the parents who always get it right.  Their kids are on time.  They don’t forget things.  Their registration form is already in and they had their doctor sign the medical form.  More than once Nurse Huber has scolded me in the halls of St. Timothy’s for my lack of compliance.  I deserved it.  There are just so many rules.  I do not like rules.

Anyway, we were driving up Six Forks Road listening to my new favorite song, Sunday Candy by Chance the Rapper, headed to school for the eighth grade trip to Washington, DC.  I do like to drive up to school blasting new tunes.  Michelle, Stephanie and DJ keep me up to speed on musical trends.

I felt good.  It was 6:25.  The parking lot was less than 2 minutes away.  We could park, grab her bags and walk up the steps to the drop off spot and still be on time.  Score!

As I was waiting to turn off the four lane road into the shopping center parking lot, my phone rang.  It was an unfamiliar number.  It took a second to register.

Son-of-a-&*%#$.

I didn’t answer, but I knew.  I screwed up.

We parked quickly, grab the bags and scurried up the steps.  And there they were – every stinkin’ eighth grader on the bus, and worst of all, many of the parents, standing there wondering why the kids had not yet driven away.

As Michelle and I took the walk of shame, they got their answer.

I couldn’t think of another reason that those parents would stand around outside of the bus except to harass the last person.  The bags were packed, their kids were aboard.  The windows on the bus were tinted so they weren’t gonna wave goodbye.  No, they stood there to find out who the sorry last parent was going to be.  And it was me.

I kissed my kid on the forehead, tossed her bag toward the open luggage chamber at the bottom of the mammoth vehicle, and quickly walked toward my car.  I did not make eye contact with the other, more timely, adults.

The thing I’m most embarrassed about is that I, on my way that morning, seriously thought to myself: I wonder which family is going to hold up the bus this year.  I sort of chuckled to myself as I considered the others who are as disorganized as me.  It won’t be you buddy.  You’re actually early.  You’re such a good dad.

I was congratulating myself on Ridge Road and then got the phone call one street over.  Two exits down the beltline can make all the difference in the world.

 

Looking Up!

Bruce Julie Tux

It was a bit over a year ago when I told a close friend I was headed to Charlotte, NC, for a work meeting.  This friend suggested I contact a sorority sister of hers, “Danny, I think you’d really hit it off.”

I wasn’t resistant.  I’ve been out on a number of dates over the past five or so years and although I hadn’t found Miss Right, I’ve met some interesting women and had enjoyable conversations.  People are fascinating and mostly nice.

I wasn’t overly optimistic, but I certainly didn’t dread the date.  I could always use a new friend.  Besides, she lived two hours away.  This relationship could easily dissolve simply by staying close to the Wake County line.

What I didn’t expect was to be totally captivated by this incredible woman.  What I couldn’t imagine was that I would start a relationship with someone who would emotionally fill me up in a way I hadn’t been filled in a very long time.

My mom has prayed for this for seven years.  I guess I haven’t because I had my plate full with other pressing issues.  It seemed insurmountable to heal enough from my loss to ever be open to a relationship again.

But BAM – it hit me.  It hit me hard.

The past seven years have been tough.  Don’t get me wrong, my girls and I have had really, really good times together.  But there are roles that they can’t and should not have to fill in our family.  It’s simply not their responsibility to ensure my happiness.  I have to figure that out on my own.

I think I’ve done OK, but man, to share the emotional load, to open up, to laugh and cry with someone again – someone who really cares about me in a different way than my parents or my kids – it sort of rounds things out.

I had forgotten.  I had filled my huge void with busy – running myself ragged so I didn’t have to sit still long enough to in fact realize how lonely I had become.  My kids were moving forward.  My friends were moving on.  I was not.  I was simply running in place.  Stuck in the middle.

Now, I breathe again.  Not just short gasps.  No, because of Julie, I’m taking deep, thoughtful, life-filling breaths.  She is a beautiful, optimistic, capable, happy, ball of fire!  We fit.

Movement forward isn’t always easy nor steady, and I bring a lot of baggage to the table.  But I think, instead of pushing it aside, she’s going to help me carry it.  She seems to see things in me that I don’t even see in myself.

In my darkest days, I never imagined happy like this.  I can’t believable that I found it.

Bruce and Julie

 

Not from around here…

I was in San Diego last week for a conference.  It’s a really cool place – with really cool people.

I thought I was kinda cool.  After going there, I discovered I am not.  I am so, so not.

I also thought I was fairly open-minded, accepting of others and new ideas.  But maybe not so much either.

On Friday night, I went out in the Gaslamp neighborhood.  This borough sort of reminded me of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.  There was lots to see and do.  Skimpy clothes.  Lots of body art.  Piercings galore.  I’m good with all that.  I actually find it interesting to observe different kinds of people.

What I didn’t expect was a female bathroom attendant in the men’s john!

I walked into a fairly small area, a couple of guys in line before me, and there she was – tending the sink.  I don’t remember what she looked like or what she was wearing.  I tried hard to look the other way.  I did recognize that she was doing a great job of attending.  She’d pump the soap right into your hand and have a drying towel ready when you finished rinsing.  Her counter was full of essentials: hair gel, lotions, cologne.  She even offered a plethora of tobacco products for your liking.

When I approached the urinal, a young dude on my right and she on my left, I thought to myself you ain’t in Raleigh anymore.  Her phone rang, she answered.  The line of full bladders was growing outside the door.

I tried to concentrate for I really needed to go.  But I couldn’t.  There was simply too much for this simpleton.  I walked out as full as I’d entered.

I don’t want to be the person who gets stuck, who can’t accept the progressions of the world.  I could end up having a daughter who decides to build a career in the bathroom service industry.  I don’t want to thwart anyone’s potential.  And I hate this was bothersome to me.  But indeed it was!

My father accepted women Deacons in our church, and he was not raised with that mentality.  Perhaps I too will warm up to this idea.