Expectant Joy

I went to a guitar playing church in Charlotte last Sunday.  My church here in Raleigh is more pipe than string.  It’s fun to have a little worship diversity every now and then although a bit uncomfortable for a bow-tie, suit wearing stuff like me.

It is interesting that often just the right message or quote or phone call comes when you most need it.  I got it in the sermon last weekend.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s coming – lots of fun fall weekends at various kid’s parents’ weekends.  A getaway with Julie in November.  An impending wedding.  A new house.  I’m not 100% sure what lies ahead, and yet, it is exciting!  All good stuff to look forward to.

But therein is my problem.  I spend way too much time looking forward – not basking in the goodness of today.

The pastor at this church called it “expectant joy.”  We expect it to come at some point in the future.  But what about today?  Is joyful stuff here, and we can’t see it because we are so focused on what might come?  Will we ever really see joy?  Will we ever really enjoy it?  Or will we continue to hope for more?  Will we look forward to tomorrow until tomorrow doesn’t come?

He told the story of a single mom he knows who has four kids.  If you looked at her life from the outside, you’d see a lot of tough.  Finances are tight.  Hard relationships from the past.  Loss.  Illness.  But she exudes happiness.  It seeps from her inner self.  She has discovered that recognizing what you have today and being thankful for your blessings is the way to live.

Maybe that is part of the struggles in our society – spending too much time expecting and not enough time enjoying.

Advertisements

Cat. Cow.

(That is actually not a picture of me.)

I started participating in hot yoga classes back in February after I pulled my back out.  I’ve done it a couple of times a week since.  And yet, there are parts of it I still don’t get.

The instructor implores us to breathe.  But I do that almost all the time, even when I’m not in class.  But it is a major focus for her.  She not only wants us to breathe, but she wants us to breathe loudly.

“Take a deep breath in, totally fill your lungs, all the way through to your pelvis (how do you even do that?).  Now blow it out!  Let your neighbor hear you.”

I don’t like other people’s breathe.  It should be personal.  It’s been all inside you.  Yuck.  Keep it to yourself I say!

One guy came into class late last week and was breathing so loud I thought he was on a ventilator.  Rude.

And some of the positions she puts us in.

Happy Baby pose: Lie on your back.  Pull your legs to your chest and grab your feet.  There is nothing happy about that pose to me.  It is actually Sad Baby pose when I do it.

Down Dog:  Make a “V” with your body.  Feet behind, hands on the ground in front of you.  Stay there for an endless amount of time while the instructor stands tall and watches you suffer.

Gorilla:  Bend over at the waist.  Stand on your hands.  Like literally, put your hands, palm up, on the ground in front of you and then put the soles of your feet on your hands.  The worst part of gorilla is that now your hands smell like your feet for the duration of the class.  For those of us who wear loafers without socks in the summer, it is not a pleasant smell.  Not at all.

We do butterfly, pigeon, dragonfly, frog, and sphinx.  Oh, and don’t forget cat and cow which are actually fairly simple.  The only problem I have with those are that I want to make sounds to accompany the pose.  Meow.  Moooo.  Meow.  Mooo.  She WOULD NOT like that.  So I suffer in silence, listening to my neighbor’s breath.

They also use language that for a non-yogi, is difficult to understand.

After class I ask Julie, “What is Thin Casa Mow?”

“Ah, that’s Vinyasa flow.”

“Well I was close…”

Apparently Vinyasa is a kind of yoga or something.  Flow is a series of yoga moves.

My favorite is when we stand tall, Tree, holding our arms in the air.  That one I excel at.

You’d think I’d like corpse, that’s at the end of class, on the floor.  You lie on your back with your arms out by your sides.  Palms up.  Eyes usually closed.  But it reminds me of being at the doctor’s office.  I’m afraid someone is going to run in and try to take my blood out of my arm veins.  So I keep one eye open – just in case.  I hate it when they take my blood.  I feel so vulnerable.

So I started hot yoga in February because I pulled my back out.  Last week in hot yoga, I pulled my back out.  What the heck?  I can’t win.

I now have a college graduate. DJ is pondering her future. She will land well.  She always does.

Her ponderance of job possibilities made me think back on my work history.  She has definitive ideas about what she does not want to do.  You gotta start somewhere, but I don’t blame her for being excited about sitting in a cubical all day.  That might drive me mad.

Perhaps the best job I had was collecting quarters from Pop-A-Shot basketball arcade machines.  I’d hit bars midday, fix any issues with the game, collect the quarters and go home and count the loot.  I’d bag the dough, keep 10% off the top – tax free, and haul the rest in a locked bag to the owner.  Some days I’d pull $400 leaving me a whopping $40 for about an hour’s worth of work.  That was a truck load of money back in 1986!  Like two weeks’ dinners at the K & W back then.

The job I hated most was working in the men’s department at Thalhimer’s Department Store at Cross Creek Mall in my hometown, Fayetteville, NC.  Yeah, I got a discount, purchased my first double breasted sports coat, it was white, but it wasn’t worth it.

Thalhimer’s sold about 50,000,000 sweaters over the Christmas holiday.  I folded each one three times a day in December.  What the heck?  Some folks would come in and unfold 15, 16 sweaters at a pop and then walk out the store empty handed, not buying a single one.  Rude.  That’s probably why I hate doing laundry today.

One time we had a hand written note on the cash register from management.  It described a woman who would come in the store and return used Members Only jackets.  They’d be obviously worn, but apparently employees would just blindly give her cash back.

Not on my watch.  Homegirl came in with a gray jacket that had Clorox stains on the sleeves.  I excused myself and called security.  She was escorted out at gunpoint.  The next day, Weezie, that’s what we called the head of HR, brought me a single rose in a vase for my bravery.  It was a nice gesture, but I would have preferred a couple of hour reprieve from the folding.

I didn’t much enjoy retail.  People were not grateful for my service, they were pigs in the dressing rooms, and there was always someone stealing.  I won’t suggest DJ go to work at the mall.  But, I might suggest Amazon.  The don’t have any dressing rooms.

You Said What?

I was trying to find a couple of presents for Julie for Christmas. She is way more thoughtful than I.  I knew she’d creatively celebrate me.  She’s just so good at that.  We gave each other a weekend away as our primary gift, but I wanted her to have a few things under the tree to open on the big day.

One of my very stylish daughters asked for a pair of leggings she found online.  I ordered two, one for DJ and one for Julie.  I wrapped Julie’s and put it in her stack of gifts on Christmas morning.  When she opened the present, the name brand of the stretchy wear was prominently printed on the box:  SPANX.

“Oh honey.  I can’t wait to tell my friends that you got me Spanx for Christmas!”

We laughed.  She paused.  “Is there a hidden message here?”

“They’re leggings!!  Just leggings!  Because you’re so fit and do yoga all the time, you fit female you!”

The more I spoke the deeper I dug.

She really wasn’t offended; we all had a great laugh.  Since then, Julie and I have recounted the story and have started a list of things not to say or do when you’re trying to find your mate.  We plan to share these suggestions with our future sons and daughter-in-law.

Number 1:  Don’t give your girlfriend Spanx as a gift.  Ever.

I also learned it is not great when I complain about my weight loss: “Baby, I accidentally lost 4 pounds today.”  Sometimes it happens – well for me.  Apparently not for her, or the other four females in our home, and they really don’t want to hear about my sudden shedding of self.

Number 2:  Don’t tell your girlfriends when you accidentally lose 4 pounds.

I was thinking about what girls shouldn’t say to guys and remembered being at a bar in my early twenties with a buddy of mine.  We were sitting by two attractive women and Andy struck up a conversation with the cute blonde.  She asked if we played any sports.  He said he played football in high school.  Her response?  “But you’re such little men.”

Seriously?  I’m over six feet tall and have been since my sophomore year in high school.  I’m not overweight, but I’m certainly NOT little.  I still take offense at that comment.

Number 3:  Don’t tell a guy he is little – or that any part of him is little for that matter (unless you’re talking about his stomach).

These are lessons we will pass on.  Maybe our kids will have easier communication if we share our past mistakes.

She Did It!

She did it! DJ, my oldest, graduated from The George Washington University with a degree in Media and Public Affairs. If you have a hunkering to hire someone with a degree in Media and Public Affairs, please let me know! After her summer commitments, she will be aggressively seeking full time employment.

We had a great time on graduation weekend in DC. Good dinners, met her favorite professor, spent time getting to know her closest friends and their parents and then… we went to the graduation ceremony.

This event was held on DC’s National Mall, right in front of the Washington Monument.

The idea of it was so exciting! I remember at freshman orientation receiving the pitch, “If your child comes to GW, they will graduation on the National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background and the White House behind you.” So stinkin’ cool, I thought.

It wasn’t cool.  It was in fact, hot. VERY HOT. Like 120 degrees HOT!

We arrived more than an hour in advance to score decent seats. I had planned to wear a suit but thankfully settled on a dress shirt, no jacket. This was concerning to me because I like to dress the part. When I go to the theater, I wear a sports coat. I am sort of appalled at those who walk in with cargo shorts and Reeboks. I know, folks are looking for comfort. But do we all have to be comfortable all the time?

We sat, with the sun on our backs, roasting while we waited for the graduates to arrive. My father wasn’t feeling great that day. He quickly took his program and tucked it in the collar of his shirt to protect his neck from the rays. The woman in front of us had an umbrella. The ushers made her take it down.

Thirty minutes in my dad was leaned over with his head propped on his cane.

“Mom, is dad ok?”

“Oh he’s fine. He just didn’t get enough sleep last night. He’s resting.”

“Or maybe he is having a heat stroke!”

It only took the 2,000 graduates 40 minutes to process through the crowds and up to their seats. I could not find my child. She sat with her best friends, apparently on the other side of the event. One of them, well perhaps all of them, had a bit too much to drink the night before. He wore a t-shirt, dress shirt, sports coat and his polyester robe. As I understand it, by the end he looked as if he had been submerged into Lincoln’s reflecting pool.

We started the ceremony with a row full of Tanners. Mom and dad.  Julie, Stephanie, Michelle and me. An aunt, uncle and their two young children. Julie finally took my parents and the girls back to a small shady area closer to the White House. I though she might knock on the door and ask Melania if they could observe from their covered porch. The aunt and her daughter joined them in the shade. About an hour in we decided it was best to send the grandparents back to the hotel. Michelle and Stephanie eagerly agreed to help Julie with those logistics. The rest of the family was close behind.

I, however, was committed. If the event lasted ten hours, I was determined I would stay. I needed closure.

As I sat in this long aisle of now empty seats, important people spewing advice from the stage, I pondered.

I’d had a tremendous amount of help raising this child. For twelve years we were a normal family. After Lisa died, grandparents, other family and friends jumped in to support. And yet, perhaps I felt the greatest level of responsibility for this little life. With some good things I did through the year, and many times, not so good, this kid had won. She had grown up to be an independent, confident and capable adult. And for that, I am proud!

The Colonoscopy Chronicle

Just waiting for the cranberry to kick in…

Tuesday, May 21, 4:45 PM

Colonoscopy scheduled for 8:45 AM tomorrow.  Let the games begin!

I just drank a bottle of Clenpiq.  It is supposed to clean out my colon.  Actually mine stays fairly clean – if you know what I mean.  The box says it is cranberry flavored.  Is that what that was?  Maybe cranberries that were eaten and thrown back up.  Mixed with rotten cabbage.  And raw beets.  Dis-gusting.

At work today, they served make-your-own deli sandwiches at our Board meeting.  I drank water.  In fact, I haven’t had solid food since last night.  I fear that out of desperation, my stomach will eat my spleen.

I am sucking a lemon cough drop to rid myself of the “cranberry” taste.  It is embedded in the crevasses of my mouth.

7:11 PM

Ooops.  Forgot to take the laxative at noon.  Well, forget is the wrong word.  I choose not to take it because I work.  Someone told me I should have taken Tuesday off for the prep.  What would I tell HR?  I need the day off to poop?  I’ll take it now.  Better late than never.  I guess.

7:42 PM

The laxative is working.  Thank goodness for Spider solitaire.  I wish I had a TV in my bathroom.

9:22 PM

I am now peeing out of all orifices.  This is unreal.  It is as clear as Evian.

10:56 PM

This must end.

Wednesday, May 22, 2:00 AM

Henson and Fuerst Law Firm.  Who advertises on local TV at 2 AM??  Who is watching this except people prepping for their colonoscopy who also didn’t take the laxative until 7:11 PM?  I think those attorneys need a new marketing director.

6:00 AM

It continues but how?  I think the fluid from my brain is coming out.

8:45 AM

I am nude save a cotton gown with a slit up the back.

Me:  “Can I get the IV in my hand?  I don’t like you digging in my arm veins with that teeny little needle.”

Nurse:  “You can if you have good veins in your hand.”

Me:  “I have the best hand veins your eyes have ever seen.”

9:12 AM

“We’re gonna give you some medicine that will make you drowsy.”

10:01 AM

“Mr. Tanner, it’s time to wake up.”

Honestly, I have no idea what happened in that 49 minutes of my life.  They could have shot me out of a cannon at the circus.  Who knows what they did to me?  I feel so clean.

Doctor:  “You have a beautiful colon.”

Me:  “I KNEW it!”

I also had an endoscopy.  They stretched my esophagus so I could eat larger amounts of food more quickly.

10:50 AM

Chicken salad bagel, salt and vinegar chips, coffee.

Free and clear.  Ten more years til the next.

 

My wife died nine years ago at age 39 from colon cancer.  We take colonosopying very seriously at my house.  My daughters will start theirs at age 29 due to family history.  If you are 50, don’t delay, make your appointment today.  If you are any age and are having significant issues with your digestive system, please go get checked.  If you have a family history, you already know what to do.  Many forms of this disease are treatable if caught early.

One Down, two to go

At age 17, in late August of 1983, I drove my blue and white, two door Chevy Chevette to Wingate College in Monroe, NC, where I started my secondary education. My mom was in the car with me. My father followed with the majority of my stuff in tow.

Still 17, in mid-September, 1983, I surprisingly fit all of my belongings back into my Chevette and drove myself back home. I can’t really explain what happened. I didn’t have a traumatic experience or anything. I just didn’t want to go there anymore.

As I recall, my father got all or most of his money back, which lightened the blow a bit. But still, if I couldn’t be successful at a college that was only two hours from my house, that was about the same size as my high school, with two of my best friends in in a dorm nearby, it certainly appeared I might likely stay with my parents forever.

To all of our surprise, even mine, I headed to NC State the following fall, a gigantic university in the capital city, and never looked back.

This weekend, DJ graduates from The George Washington University in DC. I’m not sure why they call it THE George Washington University, but they are very specific about the THE. Perhaps there are other GW wanna be’s and the THE brands this one as the real one.

I recall the drop off at her dorm. I had to don sunglasses inside to hide my welled up eyes. She was OK, but not great either. DJ had four roommates and two of them had arrived early and scored the primo corners of the very small room. She was stuck with the girl from Vermont with the smaller closet and bunk beds. I tried ever so hard to make lemonade.

“Maybe the top bunk will be warmer in the winter.  Heat rises ya’ know.”  I had a lump in my throat for a full 24 hours anticipating the final goodbye.

We hid her plastic “Pink Baby” in her pillow case. She’d slept with her since she was two. I cried like a blubbering idiot the first fifty miles headed home. But I adjusted, and she did too.

A lot has changed in four years for both of us.

I have since dropped a second child off and only cried for twenty miles when I left.

DJ lives in a brownstone near campus and spent a semester sailing around Australia.

I redecorated her bedroom at home and finally stopped trying to plan spring break trips for the family – which she was not interested in attending.

She interned at Politico and worked at the Correspondent’s Dinner a couple of weeks ago. She did not meet Robin Roberts or David Muir. But cool nonetheless.

I exercise and stretch more since she left and have dabbled in hot yoga. I’m spending a bit more time on me.

She jogged to find the Chic-Fil-A food truck simply to get a taste of home.

We’ve both come a long way.  And I’m sure we both have a long way to go.

But dang, I’m so stinkin’ proud of her accomplishments!

The Bully

Who could bully this cute kid??  DJ, about age 4.

 

I am currently reading a book by J.D. Vance called Hillbilly Elegy. It is a memoir that chronicles his life growing up in Appalachia.  It is an interesting look at a life of poverty.  One tenant of Vance’s family was loyalty.

Vance recounts a bully picking on a kid in his grade school.  Apparently this was sort of an ongoing issue for a number of kids at the school and the teachers and school administrators were aware of the problem.  One day, this bully, walked over to another boy and asked, “Are you gonna cry again today like you did yesterday?”

This pissed Vance off, and, as his grandmother, yes grandmother, had taught him, Vance approached, stood sideways (to be a smaller target) and punched the bully in the stomach using his hips for additional force.  The bad guy went down.  I guess the message was don’t mess with my people.

I remember DJ returning home from 3-year-old preschool one day and sharing that Belva, apparently the mean girl in Mrs. Wishon’s class, had made fun of her shoes AND wouldn’t let her play in the classroom’s miniature kitchen. Needless to say, I was angry.  I was tempted to head over to St. Michael’s preschool the next day and punch Belva in the stomach as Vance did his school bully.  After considering her age, I decided against my initial plan.

It’s one thing to stand up for your child.  I think there’s sort of an innate parental protection gene that makes us want to attack those who emotionally or physically hurt our kids.  What was startling to me about Vance was that the guy he defended was not related to him. In fact, he wasn’t even a great friend.  It was just a kid in his class who was being treated poorly.

After reading his story, I began to wonder if I had ever stood up for the little guy.  The one who struggled to find his voice.

Perhaps I have – or perhaps I too often do nothing for the underdog.  There isn’t much coming to mind – no list of heroic acts I can refer to as examples of my bravery in the face of worldly unfairness.

As I hear derogatory remarks about someone, as I consider inequities around me, as I run into individuals with no voice, I wish I’d do more.  It’s easy to ignore.  It’s easy to walk by.  It’s easy to just be thankful you’re not the one suffering at the moment.

I’m gonna work on that.

A Manner-less Father

revolving2

Being a single dad with three young daughters was scary.  Early on, there were things that caused me a great deal of anxiety.  One was my ability to raise girls who weren’t totally oblivious to typical societal norms.   I really wanted them to be poised – to have good manners.  So, I sent them to Cotillion.

I’m from Fayetteville.  We don’t do Cotillion there.  Although my mother is lovely and has very good manners, she raised a house of boys.  A win for her was no passing gas during Sunday lunch.  Learning to use a bread knife was low on her priority list.

The first year of Cotillion was focused on learning the basics.  A few dance moves, everyone loves a good Fox Trot, boys getting potato chips for the girls and dressing for success.  We learned a great deal through this process.  Gloves are a great way to mitigate gross, sweaty hands.  Wing tips hurt when they clomp on sandaled toes.  Boys are often shorter than girls in 5th grade.

On evening after class, my youngest daughter came home in a huff.  “Dad, you’re not going to believe this one!  During the slow dance tonight, the boy I was dancing with held on to my underwear the entire song!  Like gripped them on either side!”  I was amused but unalarmed.  “I’m sure he didn’t know – he probably wasn’t wearing any himself.”  Sounds like something my older brother would do.

Years two and three were more focused on manners.  One of my kids shared with me that if you go into a building with a revolving door, there is etiquette on how to proceed through.  Apparently if the door is not moving, the guy should go first to get the door started.  If it is already moving, the woman should go through the door first.

I’m assuming this was designed so that the “weaker” sex wouldn’t have to strain to get the revolving door revolving.  That is not the case in my house.  My fiancé could pummel most guys.  She’s strong.  Hot yoga’s her thing.  She can hold a plank for a solid afternoon.  And, she has impeccable manners.  I’ll not be starting the revolving door for her.  She’s more capable than I.

This dad raising three daughters alone left a number of gaps.  Belches aren’t all that uncommon.  Mouths are often full when talking.  Gum might be chewed at church.  Forks, spoons and butter knives are interchangeable.  And I’ve taught them to smell their clothing to determine whether it really needs to be washed.  I didn’t realize that was questionable until very recently.

But somehow, perhaps through out of my house osmosis, they’ve come out alright.  Strong, attractive, polite and well-mannered young women.  Or maybe it was Cotillion.

 

 

The First Stone

When I was a young teenager, I distinctly remember walking into the Darryl’s restaurant in Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, NC, and seeing several adults who worked with my youth group at a table with what appeared to be alcoholic beverages.  Being raised Baptist, I was appalled and saddened that they would be going to hell.

My grandfather was an alcoholic so my parents chose not to drink.  I don’t mean not to drink a lot.  I mean teetotalers.  Alcohol has not pursed the lips of my father’s mouth.  And he is pushing 82.  He told me if I had lived with what he lived with as a child, I too would not partake.

I’m not sure when it hit me that you could be a Christian and also drink beer.  Or smoke.  Or even cuss.  And I guess that there are a lot of Christians doing a lot of other stuff that I would have questioned when I was 13.  In fact, I am.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is hard.  I also realize that people, none of them, not even my dad, are not perfect.

I recently gave a panhandler $5.  I’m not sure what moved me to do so.  It was cold outside, and I had cash which is unusual for me.

For a split second I wondered what he might do with the cash.  Maybe buy a six pack of PBR I thought to myself.  And then, I realized, if I was going to have to sleep outside that night, I’d likely do the same.

What makes it OK for me to assume he’s going to do something bad with MY money, which I gave to him, and not OK for him to spend it for his needs?  Is it worse for me to judge what he might do or for him to buy the beer?  I didn’t even know his situation.  Nor do I know what I’d do with $5 bucks if I was in his shoes.

I become exhausted with myself condemning others while I, on my very, very high horse, disappoint God and others on a quite frequent basis.  I become exhausted with others for that too.

The older I get the more I find myself wanting to love, and the more agitated I get when I hear racial bias or prejudice against gays or a lack of love for an addict.  Maybe it is because I clearly see all the junk I do wrong.  I believe in the bible it says something like let him who is without sin cast the first stone.

I’m going to try to hold on to my rocks.

  • Tanner Tweets

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 11,972 other followers

  • Past Posts

  • Contact Us

  • Advertisements