After reading The Daily Post this morning, I saw that it asked an interesting question today regarding faith and when you realized you first had it or didn’t have it, whatever the case may be. This time of year always brings up questions of faith for me personally. Five years ago this week, my father passed away after a bout with cancer. Even though I was raised Roman Catholic and went to parochial school until I was 12, I never really considered myself religious at all and I don’t think I had a lot of faith at that point. Actually, my thoughts at the time were more along the lines of why would a man with a wife and six kids and grand-kids not take care of himself well enough to let himself die at a young age and what kind of God would allow that to happen? I had always felt like religion was kind of forced upon me up to that point and had some resentment towards the church and God because of that. If anything, my father’s death made me feel like I had even less faith than ever before.

It was shortly after that I stumbled across William Paul Young’s book “The Shack” when I was walking through a bookstore. I had never heard of the book at that point but for some reason I picked it up and read what it was about. The story line sounded interesting to me and it felt like something that I not only wanted to read, but I had to read. I could identify with the main character of the story. I felt the resentment, hurt and loss and a complete lack of faith and I think I needed something to get me back on the right direction and this book just happen to come along at just the right time for me. I read the book, read it again, and then bought copies for each of my siblings, for friends or anyone else who might show an interest. I can’t say the book turned me into a Born Again Christian and I didn’t start going to church regularly and I certainly was not a religious zealot of any kind, but the book did help to restore some faith for me.

Flash ahead to a year later in June 2009 and I was lying in a hospital bed in a coma dying from something no one could figure out. While I was in my own little world of the coma, people were praying for me all around the country. Family and friends had started prayer chains, my name was remembered at masses in churches, people prayed at my bedside. Michelle even prayed at the hospital with some people who were Orthodox Jews who were also praying and thought they should join her. You know what? I think it made a big difference. It may have taken several months in the hospital for things to start to resolve themselves and I didn’t come out of the coma until late August of that year, but I survived and I think prayer and faith had a lot to do with it. And while I was in my  coma world, my father did visit me several times and I always told me I was being looked after and watched. That’s one of the things I actually remember clearly from the whole experience.

When I was finally moved to Helen Hayes Hospital for my rehabilitation, I was visited every few days by a deacon who was at the hospital. In the past, I don’t think I would have given much credence to his visits and he probably would not have stopped by after the first time. However, something inside me wanted him there every time he came. He would offer me the Eucharist, which I had not taken in many years, and I always accepted. Then we would say a brief prayer, chat, and he would be on his way. And each time it happened, it made me feel better, as if someone was helping me along on my journey to recovery.

I may not have returned to church and I still may not be a very religious person, but I have  come to realize that having faith and being religious do not necessarily have to go hand in hand. I can still believe in God and all his work without walking through church doors or anything like that. Do I pray every day? No, I don’t, but I do it a lot more often than I ever had in the past because I do believe in its power and I believe that it is a way that we all can communicate with God. I know it’s not for everyone and far be it from me to force my ideas on anyone else – I don’t like it when it’s done to me and wouldn’t do that to anyone – but I truly believe that having a little faith can really help see you through rough times.

So here’s the question if you feel like answering:

Describe a memory or encounter in which you considered your faith, religion, spirituality — or lack of — for the first time.

You can leave an answer here in the comments section or catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter. I am curious to see if anyone else has had an experience that has helped them along the way.

I do have some other ideas and questions to come along in the next few days, so stop on back and see what comes along. I promise I’ll be here – have a little faith.


I was watching TV last night when I heard this question asked during an interview of a baseball player and I thought it would be an interesting and fun question to pose to everybody on here. In this age of digital music and smart phones, we all carry our music around with this everywhere that we go. It gives us a sense of being in our own little world for that time when we are listening with our headphones on. While we all have our own tastes in music, there is one thing that is true about all of us when we are listening, which leads into this question:

What is the most embarrassing song you have on your iPod?

Now this is a completely subjective question. Just because you find one song embarrassing doesn’t mean that somebody else will agree with you. Everyone loves what they are listening to at any given time to matter what the song is. There’s a reason you have it on your iPod in the first place; it’s obviously something that you like even if you don’t want to admit it to anyone else. I have about 3400 songs on my iPhone right now so finding just one song that might be considered embarrassing is not a problem for me. As a matter of fact, I could easily give you a top 10 list of the most embarrassing songs on my iPod:

1. Toxic by Britney Spears – there’s just something about this song that seems infectious. And actually, as far as her music goes, it’s the one song I find that I can actually listen to.
2. Barbie Girl by Aqua – there actually is a reason this particular song is on my iPod. It was a running joke for a long time between Michelle and an old boss of hers and they would sing this song together. The song itself I think makes most people cringe but it’s on my iPod, so it counts.
3. Cuban Pete by Desi Arnaz – come on, who doesn’t love Desi Arnaz? It’s a pretty silly song but it makes me smile.
4. Waterloo by ABBA – I’m willing to bet everyone has at least one ABBA song on their iPod whether they want to admit it or not. This one is just kind of catchy.
5. Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car by Billy Ocean – this is another one of those songs that is on my iPod for a reason. When Michelle and I were just dating this is one of the songs that she and my brother would dance to all the time at one of the bars we went to. In retrospect, it’s not a really great song but it still makes us laugh when we hear it.
6. Jungle Love by Morris Day & The Time – you probably remember these guys from the movie “Purple Rain” by Prince and that they were the “other” band in this movie. They kind of had their 5 minutes of fame in this movie and there’s something about this song as well that just kind of sticks in your head.
7. Obsession by Animotion – this is one of those songs that I used to hear on the radio all the time when I was growing up and a teenager in the early eighties and I think that’s the only reason it has stuck with me so long. I’m sure we all remember the video that MTV used play of this song and the lead singers of group.
8. Puttin’ On the Ritz by Taco – anyone who grew up in the eighties remembers this song too. To be honest I’m not really sure why this one is on my iPod but it’s there so I’ll confess up to it.
9. Rainy Days and Mondays by The Carpenters – if you ask Michelle, she knows every word to every Carpenters song and what seems like every song that came out in the late seventies or early seventies for that matter. I think that’s the main reason this one is still on my iPod too.
10. Mickey by Toni Basil – as it is with a number of these embarrassing songs, they just happen to be a product of my childhood and then the eighties when everyone seemed to be listening to these songs are watching the videos.

Okay, so there you have it. Now it’s your turn. You don’t have to come up with 10; just give me the one that you find to be the most embarrassing even though you might really really love it. You can answer on here in the comments section or catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll ask a few people on Twitter as well and see how they respond. I’m looking forward to see what everyone comes up with and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them have turned up on my iPod already.

Back to work in the rest of the day. It’s poster rain pretty heavily here in New York all day long and into tomorrow so it’s not going to be the most pleasant day outdoors so try to make the most of it indoors. Turn up some of that embarrassing music and dance around the room if you like. See you later.


So I was good for a while and posted regularly on here and then last week I seem to get away from it again. Sometimes it just seems like there are too many things going on all at once and I just don’t have the time to do everything that I want to do anymore. Anyway, enough complaining about that. Let’s get down to some writing today. I have a few different topics I want to cover in the next few days, things I’ve written down recently that I’ve come across in different places, but this one in particular seemed like a good topic for today and good question to ask.

Name one thing that kids do to make you smile.

There are few ways you can go with this. First of all, if you don’t have any kids of your own you can just think about children in general and what it is that they do that makes you smile. It also doesn’t have to be something that is happening to you right now; it could be something that your children used to do when they were younger that would always put a smile on your face. I’m sure if you think about it, there are quite a few things that kids do each and every day that can make you smile. In general they just seem to have a lot more fun than we adults do anyway. I watch my nephew Liam one day a week and just within that one day he is sure to do at least 5 things that can make me smile. One of the things that we do on a regular basis when he lays down to take a snap is that he will tell me a knock-knock joke. Now sometimes the joke is an actual joke and sometimes it’s just something that he thinks it’s funny, which very often turns out to be even funnier than the actual jokes. His favorite one:

 

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?

Cow.

Cow who?

It’s an animal Uncle Mike.

It’s hard to imagine a 2-year-old not being able to do something that can bring a smile to your face.

By the same token, Sean not only used to do many things when he was little that would make me smile, but he still does things today even as a 12-year-old that will make me smile every day. There are many times where I’ll be sitting out here working on the computer or getting dinner ready or reading or doing something else and I can hear him in his room singing at the top of his lungs to one song or another. Just listening to him enjoying music and having a good time is enough to make me smile. Michelle and I always smile when we hear him burst out laughing at something that he may be watching on TV or watching on the computer in his room. He has this particular laugh that he gets when he is really enjoying himself for having a good time that you just can’t help but smile when you hear it.

So what is it that you see that children do that can bring a smile to your face? Think about what you’ve seen today or just seen recently or as I said, even when your own children were younger than what is it that they would do where say that would always make you smile. You can leave an answer on here in the comments section or you can catch up with me on Facebook or on Twitter and leave an answer there. I’ll ask a couple of people on Twitter as well and see if they come back with anything that I can share with everyone.

I guess that’s it for now. I need to get back to doing some real work. As I said, I do have a couple of other things that I plan to write about over the next few days or so, so check back and see what comes along. I hope you’re all having a beautiful spring day like we’re having here are in my neck of the woods in New York. Have a wonderful day and hopefully someone will bring a smile to your face.


When the Daily Post put up their topic today regarding talking about a journey you may have taken, I immediately turned to one that for me is physical, emotional and in a way, spiritual. It takes me back to my illness in 2009, that affected me greatly then and still has an effect on me now. There are many things that helped me get through the entire ordeal, not the least of which is the support I received from my family and friends both in person and through prayer. I am convinced that if it weren’t for all of them, I would not be here to write about all of this today.

But today I want to write specifically about one of the final legs of that journey for me. I have written about what happened to me many times in the past several years, and if you want to read more about it, you can check this post here. I am sure some people are tired of the whole story, so I won’t bore you with it again, but once I came out of the coma and was well enough to be moved from Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, they moved me to Helen Hayes Hospital. Helen Hayes is a rehabilitation hospital in Nyack, NY, which is much closer to my home here so it would be a lot easier for Michelle and others to come and visit me. I can distinctly remember being loaded into the ambulance for the ride north to Helen Hayes. I could barely lift my hands at this point, let alone do anything else, and it was going to be their job to help get me moving.

It was weird being at Helen Hayes at first. I was placed in a room by myself because they really had no idea what had made me so sick and didn’t want to expose me to anyone else who might have illness or have me pass something on to someone else, so I was basically in isolation for the first couple of weeks. The only people who came in were the nurses to give me medication, my visitors, the therapists who worked with me in the room for the first few days and then someone sat with me in the room all night long because I was still on oxygen and had a speaking valve, which they took out at night so I couldn’t talk. It would be eerie to wake up at 2 AM and see a shadow sitting in a chair in the center of the room watching me (or not watching as they did seem to fall asleep sometimes). It reminded me of the nightmares I used to have in Columbia Presbyterian at night (a whole other story).

Anyway, things at Helen Hayes move quickly at first. They want to try to get you moving right away and my goal was to try to get out of there as soon as I could. In order for that to happen, you have to progress. There were people who had been there much longer than I ended up staying there. They would help me into a wheelchair every day to bring me to one of the therapy rooms for physical therapy twice a day. When I first got there, occupational therapy came to my room twice a day as well. I also had speech therapy as I had to re-learn how to talk and  I had breathing therapy as well. you wouldn’t think you would have to learn how to breathe correctly, but there is a lot more work to it than you realize when you have spent months on a ventilator breathing for you. It was a lot of work, 8 hours a day, five days a week.

Which brings me to how Charles Osgood helped save my life. As the weeks went on I worked harder and got stronger. There was no therapy on the weekends so you had that time to yourself. When I first got there and for many weeks after, I was not allowed to try to get out of bed on my own, so I would be stuck in bed until someone would come to help me into a chair or a wheelchair. Visiting hours started a little later on weekends so I would have time to myself. When your immobile, time to yourself is not fun. You can’t really do anything, so I was at the mercy of my television. I had just started to get use of my hands back so I could do things like change the channel on the remote now. Sunday mornings I would have my breakfast (and the food at Helen Hayes was a thousand times better than Columbia Presbyterian) and watch TV, which is when I discovered CBS Sunday Morning. Now the show has been on for many years, but I never watched it before. For all the weeks I was at Helen Hayes though, Charles Osgood and crew and the stories they covered were my link to the outside world and what was going on. I could watch about all kinds of stories and Charles’ approach to all of the stories was informative, relaxed and while often serious, he always seemed to have a friendly tone. More than once I think he helped me through some pretty lonely moments and mornings when no one was around. In a way, he inspired me to do more on my journey to try to work harder to get home.

After 2 months in Helen Hayes, I was allowed to go home on Halloween 2009. It was a Saturday. Everyone was glad to have me home, though I still had a lot of work to do. I was still on oxygen, could only walk with a walker and still had many months of physical therapy to go through. Just getting in bed that first night was tough. I would wake up in the night and hear my oxygen machine humming, but I was glad to have Michelle by my side instead of being alone. Then, the next morning, there was my good friend Charles, almost as if he was welcoming me home and making me comfortable. I was able to watch him from my own bed and feel even better about myself and my situation.

Now here I am, almost 4 years later, no oxygen, walking only with a cane, typing away here at my keyboard. Sunday morning has just passed into Sunday afternoon, but I still enjoy my mornings with Charles and gang. They continue to help me on my journey, giving me things to think about, laugh about or even get emotional about. My journey still continues on; it will always be there as some part of me, almost as my legacy, but my experience has vastly changed my approach to life overall and, as hard as it may be to believe, that show has played a role in it. Thank you Charles.

Osgood


It’s a rainy, dreary, cold day here in my part of New York today, not at all the ideal day you want to have to kick off the first unofficial weekend of summer or a three-day weekend, but hey, we work with the cards we are dealt and move on.Since we’re trapped inside today, Michelle is napping, Sean is in his room on his computer and even the dog is asleep, it leaves me with some time to do some blogging and writing. I was looking through my book of ideas for today and this one seems like a pretty good question to broach for a day like today:

What fictional character would you be afraid to meet in real life?

If you are a fan of horror movies, scary books or horror fiction, then you probably have come across several characters who might fit the bill for you. There have been some great characters created in books and on film that I know I would not like to meet at all. Actually, you probably wouldn’t really want to meet any of them in real life, since most of them seem to have a pretty psychotic bend to them and could do anything at any moment. For me personally, I think one of the scariest characters I have ever read about and seen on the screen is Hannibal Lecter. In my opinion, the books are much better than what the movies have to offer. While Anthony Hopkins does a great job with the character, the character in the books is much more frightening. Whether it is because they alter details because some of what happens is not really suitable for the screen I do not know, but the images that Thomas Harris creates for you in his books give a person who is brilliant, refined and insightful but so depraved and indifferent to those who he sees as beneath him is pretty frightening. If you have never read “Hannibal,” which comes after the “Silence of the Lambs,” the book is ten times more disturbing than the movie is. Even though the book makes Lecter somewhat more heroic in certain aspects, the scariness of his character still shines through. I think meeting him in person would have you feeling on edge at any moment, unsure of whether he was going to engage you in conversation, slash your throat or eat your brain for dinner. He would be my choice.

So what character would you choose? There are a great many that you can choose from, so think about who scares you the most and who you would not want to meet. You can leave a comment here or write me on Facebook or Twitter. I’ll ask some people on Twitter too and see who answers. Thanks to everyone who answered yesterday’s question about who you would want to be stuck on an elevator with. There were lots of great answers from people on Facebook and a special thanks to the actor Harry Shearer for answering me on Twitter.

I am working on a few other things and ideas, so keep checking back to see what comes up next. Stay dry and have fun today.

hannibal-lecter


I like the idea that the Daily Post has for their daily prompt of the day today but I think I’m going to alter a little bit just for the particulars of this post. I do think I am going to take up the mantle and tried to fulfill what they are talking about in a subsequent post but I want to change their idea around a little bit and make it fit into my daily question a little better. Their initial idea is to write a fictional piece based on this notion:

You are trapped in an elevator with an intriguing stranger. Write the scene that occurs.

I do like the idea of that and I think a good story can come from it. However, I also think it makes for an intriguing question to pose to you. So here is my take on this idea:

You are stuck on an elevator with someone for several hours. Knowing you’ll get out without any difficulty, who would you like to be stuck on the elevator with?

No one likes the idea of getting stuck on an elevator in the first place. It’s unpleasant, claustrophobic, there is no air circulating, it gets hot and nasty, and most of the time you’re stuck on there either by yourself or with other people who you barely know or interact with. Overall, it makes for an unhappy and stressful event. However, in my scenario you know that you’re going to get out and that you get the opportunity to spend time with anybody that you want to. Now I could put all kinds of restrictions on who you get stuck with, whether it is someone you would know or not, whether it is someone who is alive or dead, the list could go on. But I’m not going to do that. For the sake of good interaction, let’s assume that it could be anyone from any time in any place. They just happen to be on the elevator at the same time you are. So who do you think would provide you with the most interesting conversation? And who do you think would be the best person for you to be with under those circumstances?

For me personally, I’ve given this question some thought trying to come up with who I would like to be stuck with. I’m not a particularly social person in the first place, so the idea of being stuck in an elevator with a complete stranger would be uncomfortable to say the least. However, if it was someone I knew or if it was someone who I had always wanted to strike up a conversation with, I think it would be pretty interesting to see what would happen. After giving it some thought, I decided that I didn’t want it to be somebody who I was already comfortable with and knew well. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, I just think it would be more interesting to be stuck with someone who could not only be a good conversationalist but who maybe could give me some insight. So I was able to narrow it down to two people, but in the end I think I know who my choice would be, and it may seem like an odd choice to some people. I think I would like to be stuck with Benjamin Franklin. Now Franklin experienced an awful lot in his lifetime, was a very bright man, was inventive, a great writer and had amazing insight into a lot of things. I think he is someone you could easily get comfortable with and strike up a conversation. Not only do I think that he would have some witty things to say, but I think he could give some great insight into what went into the actual establishment of the government of this country, his approach on society in general and what he would think about the way things are today. Maybe he could even come up with a way to get out of the elevator faster. I know it might seem like kind of a lame choice, but I think it would be a good one. My other choice would be to get stuck with Mark Twain, who I also think would provide some great stories and excellent insight not only into what it’s like to be a writer but what he thinks of the world today, although he seems like he could get rather surly and if we were stuck for a while, he might become a problem.

Okay, so now it’s your turn. Who would you like to get stuck within the elevator? You can leave an answer here in the comments section or you can catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter and leave an answer there. I will also ask a few people on Twitter and see if anyone responds. Thanks to everyone took the time to answer yesterday’s question about hugs and kisses, and a special thanks to actress Tracie Thoms, who answered me on Twitter.

I’ll see what I can come up with for next time, and I hope to get to the fictional writing for the Daily Post later on this afternoon so you can check back for that as well. Until next time, watch out before you step onto that elevator today.


It was a pretty busy day yesterday and our anniversary went very well. Thank you to everyone who gave us well wishes and we are both looking forward to another 20 years and more of great happiness. In a way, the anniversary kind of leads me into today’s subject. I was looking through my book next to my desk and came across something I had jotted down a while back, and it seems like a good time to post this particular question:

Hugs or kisses? Which do you prefer and why?

Now it seems like a silly question, and I guess it really is when you think about it. I mean, who doesn’t like getting either one really when you think about it? But I think there is a big difference between the two. While you can get either a hug or a kiss from anyone, the meaning can be quite different depending on who the person is. This seems particularly true to me when you’re thinking about kissing. Sure you get a kiss from your mother, father, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins or sometimes just someone who is little overly friendly that you barely even know. When you get a kiss from someone you are not romantically involved with it has a completely different meaning to you. Sometimes a kiss like this is more uncomfortable and embarrassing than anything else. Surely you have been in the situation where you’re not sure whether you’re supposed to give someone a kiss on the cheek or not when you greet them or say goodbye. For this reason I think kissing can be kind of awkward in a lot of cases.

On the other hand, when you’re kissing someone who you are involved with in some way, it has a completely different context to you. You feel this incredible connection with that person and it is in intimate moment that you get to share with one another. When you have a situation like this, kissing is a wonderful experience that most people relish with all of their hearts, especially when you are first starting out in a relationship (or on the Kiss Cam at you local sporting arena).

That being said, in my opinion I think that’s why hugging is even better. Granted, hugging can be an awkward experience too, particularly when you have to hug someone may be that you barely know and you’re not quite sure how you should react to it. Outside of that, I think hugging is great. It’s an incredible sign of affection that you can give to anyone and anyone who gets a hug it seems to immediately give them comfort and lift their spirits. It can make you feel better no matter what the situation is. Of course it’s even better if it’s a loved one or someone your involved with, but even just a good friend or relative can give you a great hug and make your day. I know for me, it’s wonderful that both Michelle and Sean age give me hugs or I give them a hug at least once a day. I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything else. So I guess in the end, I would have to choose hugs over kisses in general.

Okay, even if you think it’s an odd question to ask,  let’s see how you respond to it. You can leave a comment here or catch up with me on Facebook or Twitter and leave a comment there and let me know how you feel. Also ask a few people on Twitter and see if they have any response.

We are getting quite a bit of rain at the moment here in New York, although we could certainly use it and it’s breaking the horrible humidity we have had for the last couple of days so I am kind of grateful for it even though it looks little dreary outside. I hope that wherever you are you are enjoying the rest of your day. Check back tomorrow and see what the topic of the day will be. And give someone a hug today; it will make you both feel better!



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