Thursday, March 27, 2008

Carrying The Weight

I've been single for 5 years now. I've gone on a lot of dates, met some terrific people, made some great friends, and have even fallen in love once. These experiences have been enlightening, and have taught me not only what I want, but more importantly, what I don’t want out of love, life and a long-term relationship should I ever decide to share my life with someone again.

During this time, there are 2 words I’ve heard people use interchangeably: Baggage and Issues. I’ve heard the warnings: “Stay away from that one…too much baggage”. “Look out…he’s got more issues than Newsweek” as if the two were the same. They are not.

Most people would describe baggage as an ex, kids, extended family, caregiving issues with aging parents, maybe even some health issues. No doubt there can be challenges dating someone with these things in their lives. However, if someone has relationship-related baggage that comes in the form of friends, children, extended family and co-workers, I'll pay the price.

Some people, on the outside, seem like they have all together. But on the inside their victim mentality, self-focus, critical nature and challenging personality leave them with plenty of issues but very little baggage in the form of strong family ties, lasting relationships or long-time friends.

I’d much rather be with someone who’s baggage involves spending time nuturing a relationship with their kids; putting them first. Someone who takes care of a sick parent, or who makes their extended family—even if somewhat dysfunctional, a priority. Someone who has friendships that might compete for their time. Baggage that leaves someone comfortable enough in their own skin they don’t “need” another to be complete is a good thing.

You can't live 40-some years and not have some baggage. Each of us has at least a back pack or carry-on; plus one or two we’re allowed to check as long as they don’t exceed the weight limit. And then there are those of us who have to pay extra for bags that are over the limit of what is seemingly acceptable.

I'd rather travel the world with someone with a few bags than someone with a light load. People with light baggage often have heavy issues.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Resolution

Although New Year’s Day is the first holiday of the year, because it follows Christmas and is in the dead of winter, to me it never really felt like the new beginning it was suppose to. I was never much of a new year’s resolution person anyway, so to me it was the day to clean up after the old year!

Easter Sunday, however, represents New Beginnings to me. To Christian Believers, Easter Sunday is the most celebrated of all Christian holdiays, because the concept of Easter is the foundation of our faith.

That Jesus Christ was born, lived for 30 some years and died can be documented through the writings of his followers. There are many who may not believe that this man was the son of God but concede that there was an historical Jesus who walked the earth and did great things: as a healer, teacher/rabbi, and philosopher. They concede that He was seen to be a threat to those in charge, so they arrested him as though he were a common criminal on a Thursday, tortured him through the next several hours; crucified him on Friday and laid him in a tomb, hoping that would be the end of it.

If the story ended there, however, we wouldn’t still be talking about it some 2000 years later. If he really was "just a great man" who like so many others, lived and died in a tumultuous time under the oppressive Roman rule of that day, why did His story capture the hearts and minds of so many that even to this day they put their lives at risk for their faith in Him?

The story didn’t end on that Friday because Easter Sunday happened. Easter Sunday is the foundation of the Christian faith, because the basis of Christianity is not just that this man Jesus Christ lived and died, but that he overcame death when He rose on Easter Sunday.

Today, to me represents New Beginnings, and although the weather is not cooperating, it feels like the beginning of Spring and the beginning of a new year. So, I am going to take this opportunity to make and work to keep a few resolutions that I didn’t make on New Year’s Day; to improve my life and the lives of those around me that I can affect. To work hard to make the world a better place, with something as simple as a smile or a random act of kindness, or something larger that I may not know is coming until God puts it in front of me.

Want to join me in this resolution?

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Road Trip During The Storm of ’08

We all have a "how I survived the snowstorm of '08 story". Yours may involve a stranger lending a hand…or a shovel. Or, maybe you were one of the many stranded at an airport, or on the road.

My story began as a business trip last Tuesday. WQMX morning show co-host Shannon Alexander and I were set to leave for Nashville for the Country Radio Seminar (CRS); a 4 day convention. CRS was to kick off Wednesday morning with a breakfast session with Garth Brooks, but we wanted to get in Tuesday night for a party Warner Brothers was hosting that included an intimate performance by Randy Travis.

It may be hard to recall, but that Tuesday (before the Friday snow began) we had another weather event. Rain was turning to ice and snow and we had winter weather advisory in effect. That morning we learned our flight was cancelled. Our staff meteorologist Tony Jackson from the weather channel tracked the storm for us, however, and he assured us once we're south of Akron, the driving for our route was good, so Shannon and I decided to make it a girls' road trip. Our co-workers thought we were crazy to drive, but we looked smart when we got there by Tuesday night and made it to the party…while flights out of Cleveland were cancelled or delayed for the next 2 days. Our boss Nick Anthony didn't get in until Wednesday night.

We had an amazing 4 days of music, fun and, believe it or not, learning how to improve our craft via educational sessions and seminars along with the wonderful experience and hanging with some of country music finest (but that's for another blog). The survival story came when it was time to go home.

The storm that was about to hit was making national news. Interestingly, its projected path from the south was pretty much our exact path—from Nashville to Akron. In Nashville, warnings started Thursday nigh when the local news told viewers to get to the store and stock up to prepare for 3-5 inches of snow, the most they'd seen in years. Being from Northeast Ohio…we scoffed. 5 inches? Ha! But they have no snow removal equipment, no salt, so 5 inches was a big deal in Nashville. Heck, they cancel school at the mere prediction of a snowflake! The real story, however, was what was brewing from Columbus to Cleveland.

By Friday night the predictions were bleak. Some left early to catch a flight, and that may have been smart. By Saturday the snow began and all flights to Cleveland were cancelled. In fact, they were cancelling Sunday's flight as well, and Cleveland's airport was closed. Most travelers to Cleveland didn't make it home until Monday night.

Shannon and I figured we made it down safely so darn it—we'd make it back. Besides, we had driven my trusty RAV 4 SUV there, so we had no choice but to drive it home. Nick decided to join us because 1) his flight was cancelled and 2) I think he was worried about us and felt there was safety in numbers. So off we went.

The first 5 hours were fairly smooth. The roads were dry and he skies clear. Sunshine accompanied us all the way until, not surprisingly, we crossed into Ohio. We hit the bad weather like a wall during that long flat expanse of nothing on I-71 between Cinci and Columbus. We began to look for motels, and everything was booked.

The highway began to look like a junk yard, with spun out cars, pick-ups and semis strewn everywhere in positions we had to contort our heads to figure how that happened. We couldn't go a mile…often less with out seeing another vehicle in the median, or on its side past the berm. The semis were the scariest sight…because it was clear once they lost control on ice there was no regaining it…and they took anything in their path along for the ride. It looked like the road hadn't seen a plow, but I think they just couldn't keep up.

We finally got lucky and got the very last room at a dump about 30 miles south of Columbus. They called our room a "suite" but it was actually a meeting room with a grungy couch and one of those pull down Murphy beds coming out of the wall. Shannon almost screamed as she pulled back the bedspread to expose the yucky stains. Nick ordered a roll away bed…which had a metal bar strategically placed down the middle of his back! Once we were settled in, we decided we'd like to kick back and have a beer before we turned in, but as luck would have it—we were in a dry county! Instead we copped a sugar buzz when we loaded up on chips, twizzlers, hostess cupcakes and pop.

Sunday morning we hoped the plows had time to clear I-71, but there was only one snowy lane, and we crawled. We hadn't gone a mile before we saw a semi overturned, still smoldering…the snow black from the charred remains of the fire. 10 minutes later we watched a Jeep Wrangler hit ice and spin out—somehow gaining control in the path of a semi…who never hit the brake. It was one close call after another on the longest 4 hour drive of my life.

My hands still feel numb and like they will be in that curled position for days. I had to pry them off the wheel when I finally turned into my driveway, where I immediately got stuck. 500 miles in the snow in the worst weather imaginable and I got stuck in my unplowed driveway once home.

But I was home.

Safely. Thank God.