Archive for May, 2011

Gliding Down the River

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Today dragged on and on and on. After the long weekend it seemed as if the day would never end. Over the course of the previous three days I got kind of used to being alone. I’ve always enjoyed spending time by myself, so the weekend was a perfect time to catch up on lost time in that area.

Every once in a while I find myself on a road to nowhere. Any road will take me to where I want to go because the destination is unknown. When I’m on that road it’s easy to realize that the future is unwritten. Although we can make predictions and wish upon falling stars, it’s hard to imagine where we might be a month from now, let alone a year from now. Most of us have a general idea of where we want to go, but few of us will find the path needed to get us there. Instead, we get lost in the familiarity of our day to day lives. We find comfort there, so we rebel against change. Most change is good. Change usually brings us a new way to look at things. It might present us with better opportunities or challenge us with things we didn’t know we were capable of doing.

Change can be scary. It can make us hide in fear. It can fill our bodies with adrenalin. It can do anything that we allow it to do. However, if we stand up, welcome the opportunities that arise and leave the old behind, we can grow from the experience. When we become stagnant we tend to lose focus on what we really want in life. I’ve made a habit of putting one foot in front of the other and slowly moving forward, even it it is at a snail’s pace. I will get to to where I want to go.

As I launched my kayak into the river on Sunday morning it felt good to be back in the water. The bottom of my boat never touched water last summer. I was involved with so many other things that I simply didn’t have time to enjoy the peace and quiet that being on the water always brings to me.

Within seconds of pushing off from the shore my boat gently glided into the current and began it’s journey downstream. The cold water trickled down my paddle and across my fingers. It was cooler than I anticipated, but refreshing at the same time.

As I floated down the river I noticed the aftermath of the fury that nature had unleashed over the last month. There were broken branches, flooded fields and bird houses that barely stuck out above the water. I’m sure many other things were swept away.

It was a good thing that I wasn’t overly energetic because the current kept me from working very hard. Before I knew it a few hours had passed and I was headed home. It felt good to be outside for a while.

When I returned home I grabbed some lunch, rested for a little while and decided to entertain myself by hitting golf balls. It’s amazing how something so simple can become so difficult if you don’t practice. At first I was shanking shots all over the place. Eventually I got everything under control and started hitting perfect shots with my 7-iron. I’ve done a lot of things in my life, but there are very few things that can compare to hitting a perfect golf shot. Since I didn’t have to rely on anyone else I stopped as soon as I hit a perfect shot. That’s the beauty of being alone. I could go as I came because I was ready and it was time. It was time to find something else to do with myself.  Some days you seem so lost, but you’re at home with your surroundings. I’m sure that most of you can understand what I’m getting at.

When the sun set on the day I stared at the ceiling and began to wonder what’s next. One thought to the next crossed through my mind. I acknowledged all of them and spent significant time on a few of them. I felt like I was in the kayak again. I was floating down the river. I was quietly hoping that the current would do its part and take me to where I belong. As long as I realize that there’s no need to interfere by moving my paddle, I’m sure that I’ll slowly drift into a safe harbor on the side of the river. I’m not sure what or who will be there to greet me when I arrive, but I do know that I won’t be alone. Until then, I’ll enjoy my own company as I always do.

June 4-5 Woods n’ Water Expo Inlet, NY

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

I’ll be at the Woods n’ Water Expo in Inlet, NY the weekend of June 4-5.  Stop in to have your old book signed or pick up a new copy while you’re there. I look forward to seeing you there.

Todd A. Mead

The Lucky One

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

What makes a person lucky? The answer could be almost anything. The thing that we fail to realize is that we’re all lucky. At one time we beat out millions of other sperm in order to fertilize the egg. If we had lost that race we wouldn’t be here today. It sounds kind of corny, but it’s true. Our luck started before we were even alive.

A while back I met a person who told me that they were lucky. They went on to tell me that they have always been blessed with good luck. I quietly listened and took it all in. I complained to the person about my bad luck. Although I’ve never truly thought that I’m an unlucky person I find that I tell people that because it sometimes feels good when someone shows you some sympathy.

At first the conversation was just in passing, but over time I was made more aware of the many good fortunes that this person has been a part of. Just like anyone, she has had her share of bad luck, but she doesn’t usually acknowledge it. That might be good and it might be bad. Sometimes we have to realize that we’ve been dealt a bad hand. When things don’t go quite right it’s ok to admit it. That’s when you have to find something positive that comes from the bad luck, which ultimately turns into good luck.

I’ve always been a firm believer that we make our own luck. I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive. I can still remember a Little League All Star game that I played in when I was 12 years old. It was in a tournament in Greenwich, NY. We went undefeated in the tournament. In one of the games I hit a ball to deep right-center field. It clunked a sign that said “Hit Me: Win a Free Ice Cream from Stewarts.” I was pretty lucky that day. Although I didn’t eat much ice cream due to my diabetes, I still enjoyed hitting the sign.

My good luck started even before that. When I was six years old I went for a motorcycle ride on my parents anniversary with my father. We were going to ride around the block before my parents went out to dinner. We never returned home that night. A half mile from home a dog ran out from under a car and got lodged between the wheels of the motorcycle. When we crashed my skull was cracked, along with the helmet. My father got tossed off the bike and his bones were sticking out of his skin from rubbing across the pavement. For weeks after the accident I wasn’t able to do anything. There were questions as to whether or not my face would ever return to normal. In the end the only thing that stuck was a white scar that appears under my hair-line when I sweat. I never knew how lucky I would continue to be from that day forward.

I had many more lucky moments over the next decade, but one of them stands out from my college years. I was never a person who could do well without studying. One year when my final exams rolled around I had to cram to get in as much studying as possible.

One evening as I was studying I took my insulin injection and decided to go eat a little while later. After I returned from eating I took another injection  because I had forgotten about doing it the first time around. The next morning my roommate found me unconscious in my bed. I fell asleep without realizing that I took two injections. I never woke up.

The next thing I can remember is floating above a bed. I could see my body lying lifeless on a table below. There were nurses and doctors all around the table. I saw them shock me to bring me back to life. Then, I could hear a doctor yelling, “Get him again, you’re losing him, get him again.” I saw my body jolt upward when they put the paddles to my chest again. At that point everything seemed very bright. The next thing I can remember is waking up in a hospital room and my parents were there. I knew that it would have taken them at least three hours to get there. Although I didn’t know what was going on, I knew that something was wrong. A short time later I was filled in on the events that had taken place.

I never said a word to anyone about my experience because I figured people would think that I was crazy. Until that day I never believed in out of body experiences, but now I have no doubt that it happens. The odd part is that it wasn’t all that scary when I was watching it from above. With all of the chaos below me I was peacefully watching the events unfold. I was in a good place. Many people say that they don’t fear death after something like that happens to them, but I can honestly say that I still have the fear. At the same time though, I believe the end will be very similar to what I went through that day. I’ll never know until I get there.

I’m pretty sure that I can say that I was blessed with a little bit of good luck that day. I also know that my time wasn’t up. Whatever I was put on this planet to do had not been done at that point. I’m not sure if I’ve accomplished my tasks yet, but I feel that I haven’t, otherwise I would be gone.  So, if I’ve been a positive influence in your life you can assume that I was meant to be there. Something brought me to you to serve a purpose. Some of us take longer than others to figure out why things happen, but they all happen for a reason.

We’re not human if we don’t experience a few relationship problems in our lives. While I’ve experienced some wonderful times, I’ve also hit a few bumps in the road. I feel blessed that things happened as they did. At the time that a few of the relationships ended I was devastated. I felt empty, hopeless and lost. I felt like I had failed myself and others around me. A few times I knew that I would be better off, but the pain was still very deep. It’s at these times that we sometimes don’t allow ourselves to see the forest through the trees. We’re all guilty of it. We try to convince ourselves that things are better than what they actually are. We tend to get lost and before we know it we become creatures of habit. The few people who brake the trend are the ones who truly succeed and go on to live successful lives.

Now, I feel extremely lucky for the events that have transpired in my life. This website and blog came into existence because of a great loss, but a loss that I now look at as a stroke of good luck. It forced me to reinvent myself and chase dreams that I had put aside for far too long. It allowed me to become friends with people who have taught me many things about life and about myself. It allowed me to reach out to people who needed some guidance or a helping hand. Most people might consider a time period like that to be bad luck, but I don’t. I’m thankful for the good luck that I was so blessed to find after I moved forward.

As one day has led into the next I  have gained a better insight for what I want and need out of life. It’s very hard to make any significant changes if we don’t know what we truly want or need. Somehow, some way I was fortunate enough to meet a person who I know refer to as “The Lucky One.” A few simple words here and there and a couple of deep conversations made me realize that good luck does follow this person around. Although it’s very evident, it’s not that way for many other people. Some of us have to realize that bad things sometimes happen to us to bring us good luck at a later time.

I play the part like everyone else. I pretend that I have bad luck because I want people to feel sorry for me. In all reality I know how lucky I am. I have a wonderful life. Although I sometimes find myself wallowing around in sadness or self-pity, I’m always able to see the light. I’m lucky to have the greatest parents in the world. They have helped me to become the person that I am. I have many faults, but the good parts that I have all come from them. I always try to be kind, considerate and understanding of others. I’m willing to lend an ear when someone needs me to listen and a shoulder if someone needs to lean on me.

I don’t have a good way to end this tonight. Monday night was a horrible night. A few unexpected things came up and my moodiness got the best of me. Before I knew it I was in a place that I didn’t want to be. I couldn’t turn the clock back, so I climbed in bed and stared at the ceiling. I wanted The Lucky One to float above me and sprinkle some of the magic dust onto my body. I peered into the darkness and wished upon an empty sky. Nothing came…… I could hear the tree frogs across the street, but that was it. The silence was deafening and I could hear my voice inside my head.  I could hear the Lucky One’s voice telling me that good luck would come my way if I waited long enough without pursuing it. Before long I was fast asleep……..waiting and praying, praying and waiting. Maybe I’ll be the Lucky One some day, if I’m not already. You be the judge….

A Glimpse Back in Time

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

I finished the writing of my second book last night. The tough and time consuming part will now begin. I hope to have it finished by the new year. As long as I keep my goals in order I’m pretty sure I’ll get to where I want to go. For some unknown reason I felt a sense of accomplishment when I typed the last few words. I never had that feeling with the first book.

Late yesterday afternoon I decided that I should probably shoot a few arrows since I’ve only shot outside twice this year. I wanted to be sighted in for the IBO Qualifier that I was going to attend on Sunday.

For twenty minutes I felt a calm, soothing sense of relaxation as I launched arrow after arrow into the target. The last five years I haven’t shot many arrows at all. What used to be a driving force in my life has become something more like a past-time for me now. I haven’t really found anything that has taken its place, but I also don’t feel like I have to shoot.  I do miss traveling to the tournaments all over the country. I met a lot of great people and I still keep in touch with many of them. I feel very fortunate that I shot so well when I was in the presence of so many people that I didn’t know.

A few weeks ago when I was talking to one of my friends she asked me a question that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. We were talking about different things that we liked to do and she asked me if I ever thought about getting seriously involved in archery again. Without thinking, I told her that I wasn’t interested in it and that I didn’t have the motivation to spend enough time to get back to the same level that I used to enjoy.

Since that day I’ve thought about it a lot. I wondered if it might be something that I should look at in order to find that quiet mind that I used to have. When I was deeply involved with the archery tournaments it was easy to center my mind and eliminate most of the distracting thoughts that entered it.

I have noticed that my mind has a tendency to run rampant now, as compared to then. The other night when I shot the arrows, my mind was quiet at the center. There was no monkey chatter in the background. I focused, pulled, felt the tension build in my back and watched the arrow strike the target.

The same thing happened today at the tournament. Although I hadn’t shot a 3D target since last summer I held my own. I will actually be quite surprised if I didn’t win my class. I made a few sloppy shots, but for the most part my execution was flawless, just as it used to be. I hit a few targets low, but it was due to being a little short on my yardage estimation.

On my way home I realized that I could probably do quite well if I wanted to put the same amount of time into it that I used to. Since those days I’ve went through a lot of life-changing experiences. I’ve learned a few lessons the hard way and I’ve also realized that certain things happen for a reason. Sometimes we need a little change to lead us in another direction. I’ve always kept my mind open to change.

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing I never put a lot into it after I graduated from college. Then, archery came along which kept me away from it for too long. Finally, through a few trying times, everything seemed to come full circle.  I was able to write my first book, a nationally syndicated column and now my second book. Without change, none of that would have happened.

About five years ago I wrote down a quote that a friend gave me. She told me to read it, absorb it and try to realize that one day it might have meaning to me. The quote read, “Sometimes the most amazing and unimaginable blessings come out of the worst events of our lives.”

Now, I’m finally able to fully understand what is behind the quote.  I’m not sure that I’m there yet, but I feel that I’m on a good path right now. I’m content as I march along in pursuit of happiness. I’m enjoying every day and whatever it brings into my life.

When I was a child I watched “The Wizard of Oz” every spring. It was an annual tradition in my home. I can actually see a little of myself in all of the main characters. The most vivid picture I can see is that off the yellow brick road. I’m pretty sure that I’m on it. I’m learning more about myself and my place in life every single day. I’ll be forever thankful for that. Enjoy your journey wherever it might take you. I’m surely enjoying mine.

Chasing Rainbows

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine asked if I would be interested in reading my short story “The Smallest Marcher” to his class. After reading the story he said we could discuss it and then talk about what it’s like to be an author.

I didn’t hesitate to answer “yes” when he asked me if I would be interested. The last time I spoke in front of a class was about a year ago. I spoke to a class of 11th graders at Hoosick Falls Central School. This time I would be speaking to a bunch of elementary kids at St. Johnsville Central School.

When I woke up Friday morning my blood glucose level was a little on the high side. It bounced around most of the morning until I had to leave for my presentation.

I left around 11 o’clock and welcomed the drive. It was very relaxing. My eyes were heavy and my mind was active. As the miles disappeared behind me, I found myself glancing into the fields on the side of the road. I saw a few birds gliding through the sky and (for a moment) I wished I was next to them.

Eventually I arrived at the school. I checked my blood sugar before heading to the principal’s office. Once there, I signed in and made my way upstairs. When I walked into the classroom my buddy introduced me to all of his students. At the time I felt completely normal. Ten minutes later that feeling changed.

As kids started piling into the cafeteria I felt somewhat unprepared. I had planned on talking to no more than 30 kids. When the cafeteria was almost full I realized that I had a chance to make an impression. The impression might be made on one child or on a number of them. You can never tell until you’re done and even then you may never know what effect you had on them.

After a brief  introduction I began reading my short story about bullying. Every once in a while the microphone squawked, but besides that there weren’t any problems. I’ve never minded reading in front of people, so I felt at home as I plowed through the words on the paper.

When I finished I asked for any comments or feedback. The kids seemed a little quiet so the principal took charge and spoke of the bullying  issues that she confronts on a daily basis. After a short discussion we moved to the topic of being an author and publishing my own book.

The kids seemed more interested in that than they did the story. I could understand that because as I was reading the story I was thinking in my head how awful it sounded. Maybe I’m my own worst critic. I’ll never know for sure.

When I finally finished talking it was time for the kids to move on to their other classes. Before they left I got some pictures with a few different classes. Then, some of the teachers and the principal thanked me for coming.

If I could go back in time I would like to stay there for as long as possible. At that moment I really felt like I made a difference. I might not have done anything at all, but I felt special for a few minutes. It was an exhilarating feeling and it stayed with me for my entire ride home. It made me want to go to another school in front of another group of kids just to do it again.

Sometimes it’s these little victories that give our lives so much meaning. I guess I’ll hope that one of those children goes on to do something positive with the information that I supplied them with. We can never choose another individual’s path, but we can give them guidance and help them pick the one that provides them with the most opportunity.

I’ve wandered around on many different paths over the course of my 40 plus years on this planet. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a few things that I’m very good at and I’ve learned lessons from the things that I’m not so good at. One thing that I’ve accomplished is to never give up. I try to keep pushing forward no matter how dim the outlook might appear. We learn the most about ourselves when we hit the low points. That’s when we have to pull everything together in order to find a better way to make ourselves happy.

This week has been filled with some ups and downs. I feel a little blue today as I know that some things happen that we will never truly understand. The harder we search for answers the more elusive they sometimes become. My new goal is to let the answers come to me. I hope that my journey through life continues along the bright path that I’ve followed up to this point. Rainbows usually start appearing around this time of year. I’m ready to slide down the arc and into the pot of gold. Heck, we all chase rainbows, but how many of us can say that the gold at the end of them illuminates us from the inside out?