Friday, December 2, 2011

Writing a "How To" book

The subject of collaborating on a "How To" book concerning staying healthy has been presented to me. That sounds rather interesting doesn't it? The co author, should this project ever get off the ground is a solid contender for Mr. Universe body building competition. I, for my part am right in there with comparison shopping as a genuine pear. It ought to be interesting. Why me? Because I show a definite need to adjust my living habits towards better health. Well, I'm already healthy! Yeah, I may be healthy but I don't particularly display it with my doughnut shape do I? This Jack La lane Mr. Universe type guy, on the other hand looks to be the picture of physical fitness. Lots of guys in middle age would love to look like that. Nobody would ever kick sand in their face if they looked like that. (A reference to fitness ads in magazines back in the 50's and 60's) How is this all going to come together? The outline looks something like this:

Here we have two guys with different lifestyles, motivations and results. I have built a successful business. He has built a successful body. The affects of what we have accomplished are as different as our goals. The book is projected to be a conversation with the end being how an average guy can regain his health and improve his appearance. Here's where it gets a little complicated and the discussion would become heated, to say it mildly. Conflict, real guys stuff!

Throughout life I have faced a few health issues but by and large, through a combination of professional health care and learned life choices those issues changed from life threatening to manageable. Heart, lungs, circulatory and skeletal functions are all in line. My exercise regimen consists of hard work, stretching, some weight lifting and bicycling. When I wake in the morning, after prayers my first thoughts are of business and paying the bills. Humility is a necessary mainstay of my world.

The guy with the million dollar physic has also faced some health issues, some of which remain and must be tended to not because they are natural but rather because of choices made to maintain the perfect body. Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are elevated and require medicine. Upon waking every day the first thought after showering is how to build a better body. Vanity is a necessary mainstay of his world.

The goal here is to argue points and habits and lifestyles so as to reach a compromise on how the average guy can firm up the abs, tighten the arm flab, find his waist again and be proud to wear a swimming suit while at the same time living a full, healthy, happy life style. There is a lot to be learned here. For guys anyway. It is up to the two of us to make it interesting enough to read and follow. That's what writing is all about, keeping the reader interested.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A little old ladies book review

Just when I think I'm starting to get a handle on this writing business my ego takes another hit. This time from a little old lady that fancies herself as a hoity toity book reviewer. She's actually a friend of a friend that I sort of took a liking to while visiting my friend in his retirement complex. She's well educated, informed and loves to read. She joined our conversation and the topic of children's stories came up. She adores reading stories written with the innocence of children in mind. My friend mentioned to her that I have written several children's stories for my grand kids and hope to publish them sometime in the near future. "Oh, I'd love to read them!" she laughingly declared, grinning from ear to ear at the mere thought of some new literary discoveries. She literally begged me for copies. Although I guard my stories carefully, after many futile attempts at weaseling my way out of it, I found it impossible to refuse her. So, the next time I visited I carried with me copies of a few of my stories, placing them in her thin and wrinkled hands only after she swore not to share them with anyone under any circumstances. Off she went, back to her room to enjoy her new found treasure with a promise to return them when I came back the following week. I lost a couple hands of cribbage, finished my visit and left.

On Thanksgiving morning, as is my tradition I came by the retirement home and once again played a few rounds of cribbage plus some penny ante poker to boot. I always lose! It's a tradition you know. Just before I left the little old lady came into the common area with my manuscripts tucked carefully under her arm. As she wheeled up she looked into my eyes, frowning and said I needed some coaching on children's stories. They were just too innocent! She snapped, I should put in some blood and guts, some scary stuff and more reason to make kids cry. I am hiding them from the cruelty of the real world. She put the stories into my outstretched hands, turned and wheeled away without further comment. Leaving my friend and I, considering her initial enthusiasm sitting there in complete, dumbfounded confusion. The nurse standing nearby, seeing our dismay gently reminded us that the little old lady is in a stage of Alzheimer's where she has occasional signs of normalcy, other times of complete mental reverse and all behaviors in between. We indeed had forgotten that fact. A half hour later she gave me a quick smile and stated how much she enjoyed the stories as she wheeled off to the dining area. Life deals us certain situations every day, I think just to keep us humble and on our toes. I am reminded not to take anything for granted. Just to make sure I am re-reading my children's stories.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tradition and Christmas

I guess "Traditional" is a more personal word than I had thought, in this case especially when it comes to Christmas. People have told me about their Christmas traditions ranging from placing a pickle on the tree, decorating a log for the fireplace, eating fish on Christmas Eve, to putting up thousands of outdoor Christmas lights, attending all the movie premiers, spending every waking hour hunting and even an annual trip to Disney world. I have my traditions and you have your traditions and sometimes we have the same traditions. And then along comes someone to spur my imagination and admiration by doing something rather unique, at least in this modern age.

Berl, a fellow I've known for almost all of my adult life, and his family live in Northern Michigan. They are a self sustaining family, much like a family featured in the Grand Rapids Press a week or two ago. The only electricity is provided by a generator and then only in emergencies, unless you count the solar panels with battery backup for little things. His car runs on methane gas he makes from organic waste, table scraps and dung and their hand built home is heated by wood. They raise chickens and sheep and cows and rabbits and grow a huge garden plowed by their team of horses. They are not Amish although they know, work and socialize with them. That alone is unique enough but when they tell me stories about how they spend Christmas I really feel they are special. It is their Christmas tradition to make food baskets for the needy and deliver them secretly by horse drawn wagon. Christmas presents, in their opinion consists of something made with their own hands for each other. I suspect there is little or no pressure for greater material gifts without television. Beginning with Christmas morning after church they put up the tree and have a special meal every day symbolizing something in the Christmas story until Epiphany when they celebrate with a goose for dinner and take down the tree to burn in the fireplace. The parents and each one of the kids also do something special for each other every day. Not a big thing mind you but rather a simple action to show love and caring.

I don't know if I could adhere to such stringent ideals and traditions but they are one happy bunch so I guess it doesn't matter what I think does it? The news reported a story of a guy here in town who is celebrating the new heart he had transplanted in his chest a year ago that saved his life. I'd say that's the beginning of a fantastic tradition don't you?
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