Hey – THANKS

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do anything for today or not in terms of posting anything…but it has been two weeks since I posted an entry for the Anchors Aweigh so, here we go.


Found along the Kuliouou trail. It speaks to me on so many levels.
Found along the Kuliouou trail. It speaks to me on so many levels.

My earliest happier memories of Thanksgiving are from when my family and another close to ours would rent a beach house on Emerald Isle, NC every(ish) year and spend a week or so down there. Sometimes extended family would join us and amplify the fun.

And then in 2010 I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home, as I moved to Ohio that summer. It was kind of depressing as through some unfortunate miscommunication I wound up spending it all alone.

Thanksgiving 2011 was radically different. Dinner was spent mostly in silence as I was surrounded by my Navy recruit family at boot camp. It was a vast improvement over the previous year.

2012 saw my first Thanksgiving overseas. I was on my first mission with JPAC in Laos. Staff from the Lao detachment brought over some traditional dishes and volunteers spent most of the day cooking. That was pretty cool; definitely an improvement over 2011’s dinner, but I still felt like I hardly knew anyone. I think as soon as I was done eating I retreated to my tent for some Doctor Who and Sword & Sworcery.

One of the best video games ever.
One of the best video games ever.

2013 was a step up, once again, as I was on mission again, but this time to the Solomon Islands. I’m pretty sure we worked that day, though I’m not 100% on that; regardless, for dinner I had room service deliver a cheese pizza and beer. I spent the rest of the evening watching movies and contemplating my future.

2014 was an evolutionary leap compared to the four previous years. It was over a month since I had proposed to Jenn and so I went with her to her family’s gathering. First time since 2010 I was with family, though still surrounded by mostly strangers I was at least with my dear lover.

Last year Jenn was pregnant with Stormy.

This year littlebig Stormy is with us and I don’t think I could be much happier. He’s teething, so that makes for a lot of ungodly-hour early mornings including today, but after Jenn took over at 2:00, I took over at 6:00 and after feeding we just played, and it was wonderful. Jenn rejoined about 10 or so and we watched the Macy’s Parade while I made egg nog French toast and coffee.

Now Stormy is napping, it’s going on 11, and we’re just taking it easy. I mean, we’re doing stuff around the house, but it’s such a relaxing day by comparison (at least for me; I think for Jenn, too).

Being thankful, being grateful, is, I’m learning more and more, one of the foundational principles of happiness. It’s really to think of all that I don’t have and be woeful of that.

But thinking about what I do have: a loving wife and child, income, a roof over our heads, a family support system, working vehicles, plans and dreams for our family’s future….

Looking back six years and then where I am now, I am one lucky/blessed son of a gun.

However your Thanksgiving is going – or life in general – I hope you are able to find your happiness, too.

Connecting With the Past

We shouldn’t live in the past, but by all means we should be connected with it.

Tuesday morning I went into the gym for my daily Fit By First workout. It involved jumping jacks, situps/crunches, planks, and other things.

I took my place in front of the mirror.

I jiggled.

I wiggled.

I shook and shimmied involuntarily as I put my body through the paces.

And I watched.

Never have I seen me in such a state.

I’ve weighed this amount before, but I’ve never put myself in front of a full-body mirror and tried doing full-body exercises.

A few years ago that would have been mortifying. Now it’s…well, while I’m not satisfied with my metabolic status quo I realize it’s not going to change overnight and I’m not going to lose anything of value while I’m in it.

According to the Navy, for my height I’m about 30 pounds out of regulations. I think it’s fair to say it’s not all muscle; it’s not even 50% muscle, I think. I’d say it’s probably more significant than I think, but nowhere near what I’d want it to be. Well, maybe near; I’m not obese, but I am rambling, so to the point:

A lot of change has been going on in my life.

IMG_2295

I became a father this year. I went back to school. I’m getting out of the Navy after five years of service. Jenn and I moved and she went back to work. I have to drive Stormy to his grandparents at 0530 every morning (If we leave on time) and be back at Manoa in time for my 0730 class on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I’m writing a book and getting coached in how to publicize it and sell pre-orders to get it published by Inkshares. I’m working on a prospective project for my side business. I get 4-6 hours of sleep most nights.

And while I don’t want to stay 30 lbs out of regs – even after I separate – I’m not super-ashamed because look at my life.

Crazy? Frenetic? Hectic? Abso-toot-ly.

But then tonight, after Jenn finished feeding Stormy – his last before bed – I was carrying him, gently burping him, and he had his head on my shoulder, facing toward me, but eyes shut tight, breathing deep, falling deeper into sleep.

Skinny Cliff would kill for such moments.

I thought back to when Jenn first told me her pee test popped positive; when we got our first ultrasound of him; the first time we saw his little body developing and he had limbs and as soon as the camera was on him he stretched out all the way, all of a sudden – a real live critter, just starting out; strong heartbeat, good vitals, our future son.

And that connection, that memory of the not too distant past (though it feels like a world away) flooded me with appreciation and emotion for this moment tonight.

I thanked God for this life, portly though I may currently be, and I’m just…happy. I’m content. I prefer the abilities of skinny Cliff and am working to get back to that, but to keep my spirit. Same body, a little leaner; same spirit, always growing.

Living the dream, baby.

 

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The Guardian of Manoa

(Lic. from Adobe Stock)
(Lic. from Adobe Stock)

Most days when I’m driving in and out of Manoa Valley, I see this guy walking, sometimes jogging alongside the road. He looks like a local guy, flattop haircut, smart moustache, always wearing the same outfit: black shorts, black shirt and a long-sleeved white-shirt under the black; white socks, black shoes. Most of the time he’s stretching his arms out, like he’s keeping them prepped, warm, ready for action.

And he always has this stern look on his face; and he seems very alert, conscious of everything that’s going on. He seems like the kind of guy you wouldn’t mess with.

I first started running again on July 4th. I wondered if I would run into this guy and what I would do…

Turns out he and I did cross paths; we nodded somberly at each other and instantly I felt this connection, this sense of well-being.

This is the guardian of Manoa.

Now, I’m sure he’s just a man trying to make his way from day-to-day like everyone else. But just seeing him out most days, on patrol, eyes always looking around, I can’t help but imagine that if any danger or threat were to come to this valley, he’d be there.

In Hawaiian mythology, there are guardian spirits – Aumakua – that appear in forms of animal, nature, or man. Whoever the walking man is, I believe he is Manoa’s Aumakua.

Four Years

Four years ago to the day my life was about to change in ways I never imagined.

I boarded the plane in Baltimore, had a six hour delay in Chicago, and at 11ish PM Friday, July 13, 2012, I set foot in Honolulu for the first time in 23 years.

When I was eight years old my family spent our summer vacation here for just shy of two weeks, I think. We landed in Honolulu, spent the night here, then flew to Maui the next day for a few days, then to the Big Island for a few days, then back to Oahu for the last few days before heading back East.

I have a handful of solid memories but mostly just impressions from that trip:

Marveling at the lava flow on Big Island.
Running around a golf course at midnight on Maui and helping bullfrogs learn to fly.
Sparrows flying into the rooftop restaurant on Oahu.
Being afraid that the roof of any of the inter-island Aloha airline planes we rode would come off like it did a few months before.
Chewing sugarcane for the first time.
Watching my first Indiana Jones movie – The Last Crusade – at a drive-in movie theater.
Marveling at the hula ladies…

Even then I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was something magical about this place.

Twenty-seven years later, after four years of living here I still can’t.

The Aloha Spirit.

Ohana.

The verdant landscape.

First scenic shot. Taken on my birthday, July 29, 2012.
First scenic shot. Taken on my birthday, July 29, 2012.

The very earth itself brimming with life and vitality.

There’s just something magical, mystical; old yet fresh about this place.

While I’m not a fan of the population density on Oahu, I always feel like I’m back home whenever I return from a trip somewhere else (with the exception of The Big Island – I always feel like I’m going back home whenever I visit there).

Four years ago today, I had no idea what I was getting myself into; what with my assignment at a joint command, my first duty station usually reserved for no lower than E-5s, maybe an E-4 soon to be promoted, yet there I was, an E-3.

2013 shot - doing background work for an episode of Hawaii Five-0
2013 shot – doing background work for an episode of Hawaii Five-0

And little did I know how much of the world I was about to see.

I thought boot camp and “A” School busted open my worldview…

Cumulatively six months in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.

A month and some change in Europe and then a couple months on a couple glaciers.

I feel as though I’ve certainly aged, but I also feel as though I’ve gotten a little younger somehow…

Started making real-life grown-up decisions on my own, being as far away as one can be from friends and family before you start going back around.

In 2014 I met, dated, and married this gem of a lady. Best initiative I ever took.
In 2014 I met, dated, and married this gem of a lady. Best initiative I ever took.

Knowing what I know now there are some things I wouldn’t have done, but I don’t really regret anything. It all goes into that worldview I was talking about before.

I’ve learned not to grasp things too tightly for too long, so I’ve learned to cherish the present moments even more.

Entering the service and giving up many freedoms have helped me appreciate and value freedom even more; I feel more a free man than I ever have.

Nov. 2015 - Barking Sands Beach, Kauai. Living life and learning to live with Jenn. Loving almost every second of it.
Nov. 2015 – Barking Sands Beach, Kauai. Living life and learning to live with Jenn. Loving almost every second of it.

I met my wife and my kid was born here.

Where will I be in four more years? No clue.

Probably still around. Maybe about to head elsewhere; who knows?

Until then I just keep doing what I do everyday: take it one day at a time.

There is A LOT going on this year, but the arrival of this little guy is by the far the most epic.
There is A LOT going on this year, but the arrival of this little guy is by the far the most epic.

Baileys Do the Big Island

In the summer of 2015 (almost a year ago!), my wife and I took a trip to one of our favorite places: THE BIG ISLAND. Everyday we went on an adventure, exploring that wonderful place, but we didn’t use any GPS while en route. We planned beforehand and then used MAPS – how ’bout dat? Please enjoy this little production of our fun times!