Category: Comeback story

Running to win

In a classic midlife (bordering on senior) moment, I forgot my WordPress password, the digital equivalent to misplacing the keys to the hoopty that is this humble blog.

I forgot the password not because of my rapidly approaching dotage, I forgot it because I haven’t updated this site since January.

Have any of you had one of those times in your life – and I’m sure many of you have – when you say, “I gotta get around to (FILL IN THE BLANK)?

Such was the case with yours truly. Even as recently as last week when I ran into a former fellow donut maker who, in the course of our catching up, asked, “Are you still blogging?”

Of course I answered no, but qualified it by deploying the standard, “I’ve been so busy..” excuse many of us fall back on when we have to defer those things we enjoy doing.

But it wasn’t totally an excuse. The donuts at the 9:5 have been flying out of the oven, and I’ve been swinging my big pen like Harry Reems circa ‘72 with – among other things – a video script here (and here), an annual report there, and a love note to the feds just for good measure. (Oh how I’ve missed the cathartic freedom of pulling random unrelated references – like donuts and Harry Reems – together in the same sentence!)

We’ve had this conversation before, and our not having it again is a work in progress. 

My absence from these pages calls to mind a chance interaction I enjoyed with a total stranger prior to our participation in the Disney Cruise Castaway Cay 5K (Yeah, we went on a Disney cruise a few months ago, and had I not been so derelict in my blogging responsibilities, I probably would have told you sooner).Mickey!

In the moments leading up to Mickey starting the race, my fellow runner — a husky midlifer much like yours truly — was worried about finishing the race, and he outlined a detailed list of reasons why (too much cruise food, no running in several weeks, etc.).

And then in a moment of uncharacteristic lucidity, I went all Tony Robbins and broke down the reasons why he would and could finish the race (a cool Caribbean breeze at our back, a pleasantly flat course and — this is a biggie — it’s a fun race – chill out and don’t take it seriously).

We both finished in a decent time – which was a given when you put a mere five kilometers between two big guys and breakfast!

My point?

In darkest day, in brightest night, no blogging shall escape my sight!

In darkest day, in brightest night, no blogging shall escape my sight!

I guess I need to practice what I preach, and instead of weighing myself down under reasons why I can’t get something done, I should channel my will power – like Green Lantern through his power ring – and focus on the reasons why I should do those things I enjoy.

What do you think, maybe you should too?



Breaking a bad habit

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been rereading a great book by Charles Duhigg. You may have seen it. It’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

Part of Duhigg’s argument is that once we can accept that habits – good and bad – can be changed, it’s easier for us to take responsibility to change the good and improve upon the bad.

As that’s where I am today – a belly full of Thanksgiving and a guilty conscious as a result of falling short of maintaining a good habit and instead taking on a bad one.

I’m talking about what was once a pretty frequent 4 to 6 day a week workout schedule that has sadly slipped to zero to 1 time a week.

We’re all friends here and since we’re all about full disclosure at the Chronicles, I don’t mind turning over a stone or two and letting the creepy crawlies run out.

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

Not lacing up as much as I used to!

I have been woefully slacking when it comes to dragging my carcass out of bed for my daily workouts.

It would be too easy to fall back on any variety of excuses. Let’s see, there’s work, a recent (short lived) spat of cold weather, a scratchy throat, sore feet, a gassy stomach, the moon in Aquarius  – stop me when you’ve heard enough.

The part that sucks about not working out is how hard it is to get back in the proverbial swing of things – that good habit I spoke of earlier.

Being in the middle ages, on a good day, it takes this 50-year old body an extra minute or two to get warm and loosened up for the task at hand, but when I’ve been inactively perched on the shelf for more than a week having fallen prey to the excuse trap, it becomes even more of challenge to get the blood flowing and the muscles moving.

I like to run, and when I’m consistent, I can run well. When I stop for a few days, nay weeks, I find that I have to start all over again. Those 3 to 4 mile runs divert back to achy 1 mile walks – which ain’t bad, except when I’m consistent, I know I can do better.

As I guy who prefers to focus on solutions rather than harping on problems, I am committed to remedying this tedious situation.

No longer will the joy of sleeping in an extra 90 minutes outweigh the benefits of getting my arse out of bed and in the gym or on the road, because if I don’t I will begin to seriously outweigh my wardrobe.

I don’t like to beat myself up – physically or mentally – after all, I’m the only me I have. But I have to admit, I’ve gone soft on holding myself accountable – nearly as soft as my squishy cream-filled middle.

Thank you for allowing me to vent, and I’ll see you bright and early in the tranquil predawn hours  grasping for that last rep in my swank basement gym or huffing and puffing my way in a less than attractive trot through the bucolic streets that surround Casa de McCullough.

That’s it. No deep philosophical take aways or clever quips as we wrap up this post.

It’s simply man in the mirror time, and that man is a little chunky.

Welcome to the second half

A week or so back, a colleague asked if I had a special blog post prepared to commemorate turning 50. Up until that point, I hadn’t thought about it. Milestone birthday though this may be, it is still just another birthday. Don’t get me wrong, making it to the half century mark is certainly worthy of celebration. It’s just that I didn’t have any plans to go screaming it from the rooftops.

I’m reminded of a story I overheard 15 or so years ago. A friend, who was turning 50, was on the receiving end of some wisdom from a mutual friend who was on the verge of retirement.  Our more seasoned friend said that hitting 50 was like entering the third quarter of the Super Bowl. The halftime show is over and the second half has begun. He went on to say that if you’re winning, you’ve got to hold on to your lead. If you’re behind, now is the time to put some points on the board.

So here I am. The halftime show is over. Bruno has left the stage, and the third quarter has begun.

Can I get a break on movie tickets when I see Capt. America next week?

Can I get a break on movie tickets when I see Capt. America next week?

I won’t go into great detail and bore you with any Madden-esque analysis on how the McCullough vs. Life scoreboard looks at this point in this epic match up. Let’s just leave it with me saying that I’m blessed to still be in the game, and I’m looking forward to the second half (and the outstanding benefits that come with AARP membership)!

Retirement Envy

“Envy is the ulcer of the soul.”

I have a friend who shared with me the story of a recent weekend trip (Yes, it’s really a friend. I’m not doing that ‘say it’s a friend to hide that I’m referring to myself gimmick’).  She traveled to New York to hang with some buddies she’s known since high school.

Several of these folks are retired.

Upon her return, she says, she felt a sense of envy because a couple of her closest friends get to see plays, travel and otherwise have fun whenever they want because they have made the choice to retire, while she’s still working for the man five days a week.

When I caught up with my friend after her weekend jaunt, she told me that she returned home with a bad case of “retirement envy.”

Don't fall prey!

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Since me and my high school buddies are a couple of decades (At the very least!) away from punching that time clock for the last time, I regret that it is hard for me to feel any empathy over my friend’s situation. Although I do understand how easy it is to feel a sense of envy when you perceive that someone is in a better situation than you.

O.K. pass the acetaminophen (No brand names, please, because I’m all about the generics!). I’m about to do some deep philosophical thinking which always gives me a headache!

For me, envy is a motivator. Rather than getting upset, depressed or jealous over someone who you think is doing better than you, why not turn that negative energy (Look at me getting ‘new age’ in my ‘middle age’!) into active energy. Notice I didn’t say positive. Don’t just be ‘positive’, get ‘active’ and do something!

Taking action is not always easy, but it certainly beats sitting in a corner pissed off.

My friend is taking action (and I’m excited to be helping). Me? I feel pretty motivated as I enter decade number six.


Shaking off the rust

One of Webster’s definitions of rust is to deteriorate or spoil, as through disuse.

Over the past couple of years, my questionable public speaking skills have gone through a bit of a rusty period. Not to mire too much in the details, let’s just say I’m in a much better position to flex my once dormant public speaking muscles.

Earlier this month and this afternoon Stella got her oratory grove back.

Not exactly standing room, but a good time just the same!

Not exactly standing room, but a good time just the same!

No, I’m not exactly delivering a 21st century version of the Gettysburg address; it’s your basic industry-focused and community engagement stuff. If memory serves, we talked about this before.

The funny thing is that prior to this pair of presentations, I wasn’t exactly nervous, but more concerned that I’d simply lock up and forgot everything I’ve learned over the years about standing in front of audience and chatting up a topic.

I suppose that’s where the rust comes in.

You name the skill, practice or habit, if you walk away (or it’s taken away) for a period of time, it becomes necessary to jump-start the old muscle memory.

So, dear friends out there, any old skills, hobbies or pastimes that you’ve stored on the proverbial get around to it later shelf? If so, there’s no time like the present to start shaking off the rust.

My Pam Ewing moment

During the coverage of the recent death of Dallas star Larry Hagman, the scenes of ‘who shot J.R.?’ were shown frequently. Since then,  I’ve been thinking about another iconic image from that classic T.V. hit.


It was just a dream!

Remember the scene with Victoria (one of this writer’s post-pubescent, early 80s crushes) Principal’s “Pam Ewing” opening the shower door to see her dead husband Bobby in the shower?

As the story goes, “Bobby” – Patrick Duffy – was killed off in a previous season, but for reasons that escape me (maybe that Man from Atlantis movie deal fell through), he was brought back to the show. The premise of the shower scene was it was morning and Pam had just awakened, heard the shower running, opened the door and there’s Bobby—who tells her that his death – and ostensibly the entire preceding season – was a dream.

Of course this was fiction, but imagine if we could one day wake up and find that a preceding period of time – say 22 months – didn’t really occur and was a nightmare, uh, I mean a dream.

Imagine if you could, oh, I don’t know, wake up after a couple of years from a bad, oh I don’t know, hasty, impulsive decision – maybe a, oh I don’t know, career decision, and, oh I don’t know, find yourself happily back and again thriving in a position at an establishment you really respect and enjoy.

Despite this ultimately being a happy story of a happy, professional reset, I must abide by my long-standing editorial policy that prohibits me from discussing too specifically matters of the 9 to 5 nature.

For now, call me Pam and let’s just say sometimes life does imitate art!

My hometown

The McCullough ladies often accuse me of being a hoarder. So what that I still have all of my 45 singles and a crate of old (25 cents a pop) comic books.

Among the other memories in my basement are several relics related to my hometown – a town that’s sadly been in the news for all the wrong reasons this past week – the world’s famous playground: Atlantic City.

I pray for my friends and family in Atlantic City and up and down the Jersey Shore (in towns like Belmar and Asbury Park where I punched a clock or two early in my career). North Jersey and New York metro as the clean up and rebuilding continues.

But my heart is especially heavy for my beloved home town.

I don’t know what drove me earlier this week to go through one (of the many) boxes of collectables (some might say junk) from my youth. Maybe I just needed a break from seeing Ali Velshi standing in flood water in the middle of downtown Atlantic City.

I came across an old photo from Easter Sunday, circa 1974. It’s a picture of my big sister, my neighbor Marvin and a rather husky young man with really nice hair.

I don’t remember at whom I was waving!

For me, as a kid, Easter Sunday meant hearing Reverend Neil preach and then heading to the Boardwalk for a stroll to show off my new Easter threads (after that came the famous McCullough family Sweet Potato Puff, but we’ll save that foodie memory for another post).

In this shot – if you can see past my Afro – you can see folks enjoying some of the rides.

I wish I had more Easter Sunday Boardwalk photos.

Unfortunately, back in those days, I was more interested in throwing back Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy than taking pictures – even though I often carried the latest in high-tech: my Kodak Instamatic.

Sandy left wounds that will not quickly heal, but I know – in time – the impacted region, Jersey in particular, will slowly recover, rebuild and come back stronger than ever.

The Afro may not make the trip, but I’m looking forward to throwing on a new suit and traveling back home and once again taking an Easter Sunday stroll down the AC Boardwalk.