Portrait of a Year

I love art. It allows people to speak a language we can all understand, even if we don’t understand the language that comes out of one’s mouth. The language of beauty, and imagination, the art of using one’s hand to make something pleasing for another’s eye. The self expression that allows a person to put out into the world what they cannot express any other way, with hopes of being understood in return, in hopes of possibly being loved in return.

My house is full of art, some made at my own doing, and some made of Jack’s. He is not great by all means, but he is working on it The reason we love our children’s artwork, and hang it proudly on the wall, is that we see the beauty of the world, as they see it. We see the stick man, that is us, or the sun or the lopsided tree. Kids have a wonderful way of seeing things, and a more wonderful way of drawing them. We may have to guess what it is we are looking at, but once we know, we know, and we see the greatness that is a house, that looks like a duck. 

Some of the paintings in my house are great, not museum quality great, but they are great to me, and they are great to Jack. Some of the other pieces are okay, but I have a wonderful memory attached to them. Photos taken from trips that have been enlarged, to a hand drawn picture of face I may never see again. All of them are pieces of my memory of a time, and all of them connect to a place that existed, at one time or another.

Last year was rough for some. It was relentless and it was crazy, but it did provide opportunity for growth, if you chose to grow. Below are a list of the things that I did last year, to put things in the past and to reflect on them. I wrote a lot, so feel free and re-read some of the posts. I can’t say that I have a favorite, but I know which ones I cherish more than others, I would love to hear which ones you loved.

Books:

Ready Player One (for like the 8th time in preparation for the next good Ready Player Two, which I have and haven’t started).

Ishmael by Danial Quinn, a suggestion by one of smartest people I know and their personal favorite. I loved this book, I swallowed it whole and it made me whole. I am a better person because of this book, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday, I am a person that loves the Stoics and I love Holidays other works. This book was one of his better ones and probably the most appropriate book I read during this pandemic about stillness and centering one’s life.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, I came for the title and stayed for the writing, not too shabby, was well worth it.

Becoming by Michelle Obama, I don’t care what side of the political fence you are one, a good memoir is a good memoir, and this suggestion was a good read.

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey, because sometimes you just need something light when things get heavy

Yes Please by Amy Poehler, because when you finish a funny book during bad days, you need the light feeling to continue, and who else than Tina Fey’s Friend Amy.

Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Yes it is a women’s book, Yes, I know who Glennon Doyle is. But I heard her on a podcast and loved her, thought I would check the book out. Go get it ladies.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe, Yes I know who Rob Lowe is. I heard him too on a podcast and he was a great story teller. The book was actually better than I thought because he talked about movies and people I grew up with, was nice to hear some behind the scenes stories.

LEAD…for God’s Sake by Todd G Gongwer. If you like basketball and God, this is a terrific book, and one I suggest anyone of faith that coaches should read.

Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines. I used to live in Waco, I still love Waco, and I love what Chip and his wife have done there. Was a fun and light read.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. I HIGHLY recommend this book for anyone in counseling or healthcare profession. I cannot express how informative this book is about how the body reacts to trauma and how this can continue for years. A must read

Daring Greatly by Brené Brown. She is wonderful and I would love to meet her one day. All of her books are great and she does so much work on shame. A handbook for the human soul.

Greenlights by Mathew McConaughey. Alright, Alright, Alright, pretty great book, funny stories, and if I can make a suggestion, get the audio version, nothing better than hearing the stories from the man himself.

Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins. Will be honest, didn’t think I would like the book because of some interviews I have heard with Mr. Googins, but you cannot deny what the man has done. Very inspirational.

Also is a long list of articles that I have read over the past year, but I will spare you the list, but I can say that if you don’t know who Tom Junod is, you should. Is by far my favorite journalist. Check him out.

Music:

I have listened to a ton of different stuff this year, but here is a small list of possible new (and old) that have caught my ear.

Ben Harper. Yes, he is old, but is also the last live concert I went to. Plus, well, I can tell you that later.

Lake Street Drive. Was a suggestion. Was a good suggestion. 

John Mayer. Because it’s John Mayer and I don’t need to explain myself to you..ha

Leon Bridges. There is no denying my love for soulful music, and he is the head of the new class of soulful dudes.

Gary Clark Jr. Yep, add him to the list of cool soulful dudes that have been around a bit, but not many know him

BTS. Yes I know they are K-Pop, but my kid loves them…and I don’t mind it either.

Amos Lee:. Yep, another old dude that I found my way back around to. But I still love him

Life:

Oh so much to say and so little space to write. But wait, I have a blog spot you can read, that will have plenty of stories to read about. Yes, next year will have a new list of stories, but a guy has to save something for his friends over dinner. Tell you what, you want to hear some good stories, hit me up and we can share some sometime.

Some people go to rehab for 40 days, and come out changed for the good, with tools and lessons to guide them the rest of their days. Just think what someone can do with 365 days, and some great books, and some wonderful music and amazing friends. I would like to think I am much different than I was a year ago, and I am excited about the chance to get even better next year. I am a work in progress, a piece of art that is not quite done, but is getting there. I have more books I want to read, have new experiences already planned, and a soundtrack waiting to accompany all of it. I did my best this year, and I will do my best to do better next year. The canvas is ready and the paint poured. I have a few spots left in this old house of mine for some art, and I am just the guy to make it happen. 

I have so much I can tell you about this past year, but that is my promise about next year, to tell you more about it. Part of the reason of this blog was to practice being brave and to practice writing. Another thing that I didn’t think about until the other day was legacy. A lady asked my about the blog I was writing. She was someone I was working on for a surgery that she had had. We talked about all kinds of things in life, and I just happened to mention to her about the writing I was doing. She lit up and said “oh how wonderful, and just think how fun it will be for your son to read one day”. And that made me think, yes, how fun will it be for Jack to read one day. How many of us wish we had something of our parents to read. So maybe my final thought of this year to you is this. Paint your life, you are the only artist that can. And if you don’t think there is anyone that is interested in what you have to say or do, just think if you had something of your grandmothers or grandmothers to let you know more about them. Or even your friends, especially the ones you don’t see anymore. We are all on this rock together and only for a short time. Life is always better when you have people you can share stories with. Get to writing yours. I can’t wait to hear from you.