I know when I am whipped. I know when I’ve run out of road. I’m trapped in my own body. I lose days. Several at a time some weeks. I’m kicking my legs and trying to keep my face in the sun while drowning repeatedly.
Giving up, even in the face of a mountain, isn’t my style. Hitting the problem with all the strength I have left inside of me square in the jaw, that’s more of the kind of guy I am.
This is the best thing I’ve ever done, outside of creating my family, why would I give up now?
You remember moments that didn’t seem Earth shattering when they happened, but now they kind of knock you on your backside. I had one of those memories in the midst of all this health nonsense. The words were from Jim Middleton, my best friend Dave’s Dad. Greeting us as we wandered in from a fun filled summer night. Bags under our eyes that you’d have to check for a flight and no acknowledgement of the world going on around us, Jim wanted to have a chat.
Jim was a big fella. 6’3” maybe even 6’4”. Part of the security team at a major university. Intimidating dude. The fear of serious, intimidating big dudes had left me shortly after I got sent to foster care. Big scary looking guys had been a fixture in my life. My stepfather was a big ole dude. And a cop to boot! Then came my foster dad. I’ve written about Richard Black several times in these notes. Think Kenny Rogers’ face on King Kong Bundy’s body. So, someone being a big ole scary dude didn’t phase me in the slightest. If I’m being honest, it’s because all three of these guys were teddy bears. You learn to stop judging people when you have positive experiences with people you didn’t expect to have anything positive to offer you.
Where was I? I didn’t have to write this part, but I thought it might be an example of what these pills can do to a person’s attention span. Big dudes and advice, got it.
Jim saw that we were a raggedy lot. Action needed to be taken. But here’s thing about most big guys; they don’t talk that much. Way back in the 1900’s we had people we labeled as the strong, silent types. These days you are expected to converse with people and let them know everything short of your Facebook password, that there is to know about you. Wasn’t like that way back in the 90’s. If Jim was talking, we were listening.
“You’re burning the candle at both ends”, he said as he got up end trudged to his bedroom after a full day of work and leaving me a puzzle to solve.
“What wrong with burning a candle at both ends?”, I asked Dave naively. “It’s wax and wick, right? Yeah, you can burn a candle at both ends.” I said it confidently. Never, in my life, have I said something with confidence that didn’t bite me in the rear. This wouldn’t be the exception.
“Can’t burn a candle at both ends because it won’t last the night. He’s saying we’re doing too much and we’re gonna burn out.” Man, Dave was so smart for a high school senior.
I didn’t listen to Jim. Because I’m a jackass. When Dave told me what the phrase meant, I’m sure I said something like “I’m a golden God! I can never die!”.
Turns out, I’m not a golden God. Not eve a bronze one. I burned my candle at both ends pretty much everyday I’ve been alive. I wasn’t taught another way. 200 miles per hour at all times. Guard up at all times. A little too empathetic, if you ask me. And that dual flamed candle of mine feels like someone is trying to blow it out.
I can’t quit, but I can slow down. I can blow out one end of the candle and hope for the best. Right? I hope so, because that’s my course of action right now. I’ll need help.
So, I’m rallying the troops. I’ve thrown up the bat signal. Reinforcements are… you get it, I’m bringing in help.
It’s a fool who lets his pride get in the way. I was taught; if you need help, ask for it. For 10 years I’ve gone it alone. Maybe it was pride. And maybe I got so caught up in it all that I didn’t notice what was happening to me. One day you’re a skinny guy trying to start a magazine and the next you’re far too heavy for your legs to support. The scoliosis you’ve lived with relatively pain free your whole life suddenly gives you pain that would stifle your ability to walk or do much of anything else. Your told that on top of all this, you’ve got a bad heart. Hereditary thing, nothing you could have done about it. Add 3 teenage kids, a wife and a national magazine and you’ve got what I’m working with. I need help.
For 2021, I will be utilizing the editing help of several folks who have offered it over the years. Fan favorite, Dr. John DeGarmo will be filling in for me here in the Editor’s Notes column. That should free me up to do final edits, layout and distribution, along with the day-to-day business here at Foster Focus. I know it still sounds like a lot; I assure you it isn’t. I can handle it and it does open up some time for me to address my health in a more proactive manner. I got find that motivation that made me create a magazine and use it to get back in shape.
A lot of you have recommended self-care. I’ll give it a shot.
In the meantime, the Doc will take good care of you.
Stick around. It’s starting to get interesting.