The Life Highway

How to improve your life and other stuff I know nothing about

Things To Be Thankful For #3 – Religious Freedom

Crazy Driver, · Categories: Uncategorized

1463550_10201958970828117_1536570666_nPretend Road Trip Update: My very slow road trip continues.  Today I have reached La Jolla.  La Jolla is 12 miles north of San Diego.  Its about 7 miles long and some of it has some really nice views of the ocean as well as San Diego.  La Jolla is where UCSD (University of California San Diego) is located.  It is also famous for the cross you see in the photo here.  This is the Mt. Soledad Veterans War Memorial.  It is one of the highest points of San Diego.  According to Wikipedia, it is technically part of San Diego.  It has a separate zip code however, and so the addresses are allowed to say “La Jolla”.  It is cloudy right now.  It has been raining all day here in Southern California (that is not pretend).  We were hit by a pretty decent sized storm today that is currently blowing out.

Well, today I was going to talk about how thankful I am for the rain, but since my pretend road trip has taken me to La Jolla and since the photo I’m posting is an actual photo I took in La Jolla and since there is not a cloud to be seen in the photo, it didn’t seem appropriate to talk about rain today.  So, I will save the rain for another day.  El Niño will surely provide me other opportunities to combine a rain post with an actual rainy day.

Since my photo is of a cross, I thought it would be fitting to make this week’s “thankful for” post to be about religious freedom.  This morning I attended church.  I attend church every Sunday.  It’s something I’ve done my whole life.  Not a big deal.  However, it is a very big deal in other parts of the world.  In certain countries, you could be put to death for doing something like that.  Tonight I will be meeting in a restaurant with my discipleship group to discuss…well, religious stuff.  If I wasn’t leading that group tonight, I would have the option of attending a church potluck.  That is something that I doubt I would be able to do in countries like Iran.

In some countries, you have to practice your religion underground – by meeting secretly in houses and making sure you do not let it be known what your true faith is for fear of government persecution and/or death.  Here in the United States, we have no such concerns and are able to practice our faith publicly.  How sad and how difficult it would be for something that is an important part of who you are – your faith – to have to be hidden.

Now, do I feel thankful?  I have to confess that even though I’m writing about this, I still don’t feel the emotion of graditude for it.  I think that is because I have no idea of what it would really be like to not have that freedom.  I am however, deeply appreciative of freedom in general.  I do have a very strong emotional response to that.  And that includes religious freedom.  So I guess that I am just thankful for freedom, period.

The United States is still the freest country on earth and I am overwhelmingly thankful for that.

Things To Be Thankful For #2 – San Diego

Crazy Driver, · Categories: Uncategorized

 

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Well, I have finally reached San Diego on my pretend road trip across the United States.  That is not much of a feat considering that I started at the Mexican border.  But, alas I am here.  Once again, I need to remind my reader(s) that I am not actually on a road trip.  I am basically tagging every post to a city name.  So, every post will be represented by a city along a predetermined route across the United States of America.  So, by the time I have a blog post represented by New York City, I will have posted a ton of articles and who knows what my life will look like then and what those hundreds of blog posts will lead to.

Anyway, it is 60 degrees and cloudy here in San Diego.  It is going to be in the low 60’s for at least the next 10 days.  And I should be in the area during that whole time. Even though my next blog post will be “from” the next city north of here, I will still be within a very, very short distance of San Diego.

Each week, I am (or trying to) post an article on something I am thankful for.  This week I was going to write about how much I am thankful for our recent much-needed rain.  However, rain and San Diego didn’t seem to fit together on the same post.  So, I’ll save the rain for another time.  If the weather forecasters are correct, there will be plenty of it here in Southern California during the next few months.

The subject header seems to imply that I am writing about how much I am thankful for San Diego.  However, there should be quotes around the city name.  By extension, I am referring to other similar places as well – the “San Diegos” of the world.  I live in one of those places myself (at least in terms of climate).

San Diego is pleasant.  The weather here in San Diego is about as perfect as you can get and it is that way year-round.  Where I live, you’ll have about two weeks of unbearable heat in the summer and about two weeks of very cold temperatures in the winter and that is about it.  This kind of consistent weather makes it very easy to establish a routine.  You can pretty much maintain the same lifestyle all year round.  You can participate in the same activities every month of the year.  We are rarely stuck inside.  In about 15 minutes, I plan to go out and ride my bike for awhile.  It is a Sunday afternoon in the middle of January.  I take it for granted that I have this option.  So, I am thankful that God has placed me in a mild Mediterranean climate.  At least in terms of weather, this is as close as we get to heaven on this earth.

Another characteristic of San Diego (and I’m now talking about the real San Diego here) is that it is a fun city.  We need fun places to visit, and I dare say, we need fun places to live.  San Diego has tons of activities and events here –  amusement parks, sports teams, museums, restaurants and other interesting places to visit.  San Diego, like most places in Southern California, allows you the unique opportunity to ski and surf in the same afternoon if you were so inclined.

There also seems to be a community aspect to San Diego.  There are many events throughout the county that bring people together (Rock and Roll Marathon, San Diego Fair, etc.).  It might be due to the somewhat isolated nature of the San Diego area, being separated from Orange County by Camp Pendelton and other geographical barriers.  San Diego is not unique in this regard.  You can find this sort of atmosphere in other areas of the country as well, but it’s very cool that a city that already has climate in its favor has this going for it as well.

In my parents’ neighborhood, there are streets that go crazy with Christmas decorations and there are hundreds of people there every night walking up and down the streets.  My kids get so much joy out of seeing all of the Christmas light displays.  And I was thinking, the people who live in these houses could very easily decide not to decorate and there would be nothing wrong with that.  But, if that were to happen, it would definitely change the tone of our holiday season and it would definitely feel like a big piece of it was missing.  There are many good things that people voluntarily create or do that bless our lives and make it fuller and richer, and we often take those things for granted.  So, when I visit fun places like San Diego, I am reminded of this.  We don’t need amusement parks, museums and other special events to live our lives.  We enjoy these things because people thought up the ideas and chose to act on them.

Anyway, I am going to put on my Old Town Mexican Café t-shirt and go out for a Sunday afternoon winter bike ride.  By the way, I got the t-shirt for free because one of the waitors or busboys at the restaurant accidentally spilled salsa on my white t-shirt while I was eating there.

 

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Happy New Year! Time For Resolutions!!

Crazy Driver, · Categories: Uncategorized

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Road Trip Update:  I am currently in National City, CA on my pretend road trip across the country.  By assigning a city to each blog post, I am motivating myself to blog on a regular basis.  If I “make it across the country and back”, that means I will have a lot of blog posts under my belt and who knows what that will mean in terms of what I am writing about, the number of people reading this blog, fame, fortune, etc.  By the way, the photo above was not taken in National City.  It was taken in Simi Valley, CA on a hike I took with my family on New Year’s Day.  So, I am in “National City” today.  The temperature is 62 degrees and they are preparing for five consecutive days of rain here.  Southern California needs this rain very badly.

When I was a kid, my parents bought my brother and I a trivia game called American Trivia Challenge as a Christmas gift.  It was a board game similar to Trivial Pursuit, but the questions were geared more toward history-related subjects.  There was one thing we noticed, however.  Many of the questions in this game were about a city we had never heard of called National City.  So, by playing this game, we not only learned valuable information about the United States but we also learned that National City was founded by the Kimball Brothers and that it had a long stretch of car dealerships called the Mile of Cars.  I also seem to recall that they had street names after Presidents or something.  Our guess was that the game was created by people who lived in this city.  So, National City has always been a city that I’ve known a little more about than the average American.

Well, this blog post is the first in a series of posts that will cover a series of resolutions that I will be making over the course of the year.  One by one, these resolutions will be designed to help me achieve balance in my life, to manage all the busyness and to introduce structure and discipline to a life that often feels crazy and out of control.

My first resolution is very simple: get my kids to bed on time.  By doing this, I will be able to spend time with my wife at an hour where I am not falling asleep, go to bed earlier, get up earlier, get to work earlier, get off work earlier, get home earlier and spend enough time with my kids so that I don’t keep them awake playing with them because I feel guilty for getting home late and thereby continuing the vicious cycle.  So, my first goal is to basically shift my schedule back an hour.  I believe that one resolution alone will make a huge change in my life.

So, how am I doing this?  Every night, I am assigning myself a score between 0 and 7 based on what time I put them to bed.  For example, our children’s bedtime is 8:30.  On the weekends, we usually let them stay up longer.  So, I have designated their school night bedtime to be 8:30 and their weekend/holiday bedtime to be 9:30.  If I get the kids to bed by 8:30 on a weeknight or by 9:30 on a weekend/holiday/vacation night, I score myself a 7.  If I get the kids to bed after that time, but before 8:45 (9:45 on weekends), I score myself a 6.  If I get them to bed after 8:45/9:45 but before 9:00/10:00, I give myself a 5 and so on.  So, on New Year’s night, I got them to bed at a little after 9:30, but before 9:45.  Therefore, I gave myself a 6.

Now, I am following the 80/20 rule.  I will consider myself to be in fulfillment of the resolution if I am 80% successful for the year to date.  As long as I am at 80% or better, I will add another resolution.  And as long as I am at 80% or better for Resolution #2, then I add #3 and so on.  Because I scored a 6 on Friday night, my Year-To-Date percentage was at 85.7%, therefore qualifying me to start Resolution #2, which I did.  My score for Resolution #2 was also 6 on Saturday, qualifying me to add Resolution #3 today.

But…

Weeknights are where the rubber meets the road.  It is very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very hard for me to get my kids to bed on weeknights.  There is a HUGE difference between 8:30 and 9:30 and so I am not going to pretend to have met my getting-the-kids-to-bed resolution until after at least a few successful weeknights.  So, while I am technically going to be adding Resolution #4 tomorrow, I am not going to blog about those resolutions until I have confirmed whether or not my Resolution #1 fulfillment is real or not.

So, stay tuned…

Things To Be Thankful For #1 – Thanksgiving Day

Crazy Driver, · Categories: Uncategorized

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Road Trip Update:  I have just arrived in Chula Vista.  The temperature is currently 48 degrees and we are getting ready for five consecutive days of rain here starting on Monday.  Has El Nino arrived?  We shall see.  Chula Vista is a place that I have been to once before.  And when I leave here for my next stop, I still will only have been in Chula Vista one time.  That is because I am not actually there.  This is a pretend road trip.  By attaching each blog post to a city name, I will have a better visual idea of how far this blog has come and it will motivate me to continue posting.  So, that said, I am in “Chula Vista”.  I was here in reality one other time and that was for a Rush concert.  I attended the concert with my brother.  Great show.  Has there ever been a bad Rush show?  I’m sure if you were to ask one of the band members, they would say yes because a lot of musicians tend to be perfectionists.  But I doubt there are many accounts out there of horrible Rush concerts.  Anyway, one of my memories of this concert is the first song and where I heard it.  One thing that you learn about the band Rush when you attend one of their shows is that they start on time.  And I mean right on time.  The time listed on your ticket is when the show will start.  So, at 8:00 p.m., while we were in line waiting to get in, we hear the opening notes of one of their biggest hits, Tom Sawyer.  Within a matter of seconds, the mood of the people waiting in line changed from happy to highly irritated.  The poor old lady scanning tickets at the front of the line was hearing things like, “Hurry up, lady!” among other things.  We ended up reaching our seats in time to catch at least half the song and then we enjoyed a fantastic concert.  It was one of the best concerts I’ve seen and it was amazing to hear that much sound coming from three musicians.

Anyway, so this blog post is basically kicking off a series of blog posts that will cover something I’m thankful for.  The first thing that I am thankful for is that I live in a country, the United States of America, that deems it important to have a holiday that is specifically devoted to the idea of graditude.  We have set aside a day each year where we are encouraged to give thanks for the blessings that we have been given.  During the holiday season, I was going through a study of the five offerings required by the Israelites in the biblical book of Leviticus.  Actually, only two were required – the Sin and Trespass Offerings.  The other three – the Burnt Offering, the Grain Offering and the Peace Offering – were optional.  The Grain Offering was an offering of thanksgiving for God’s provision.  So, I decided that one way I could follow the spirit of that sacrifice was to meditate on, think about and write about the things in my life that I am thankful for.  And that is one of the things that I intend to do on this blog throughout the year.

By the way, this blog post was started a couple months ago but I just now finished it.  I’m hoping to post a lot more frequently throughout 2016.