The idea behind this blog was to challenge my mind. I lost my mother in 1998 after a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. An uncle on my mother’s side of the family also succumbed to the same memory-robbing disease.
Doctors still have no real hope for a cure, though efforts can be made to fight off its onset. I’m using them all. I’m physically active, eat pretty well and remain very social. This blog keeps me thinking, which just might be the most important effort I can make.
At some point on Thursday, September 2 this little blog reached 10,000 hits. When I made my first post exactly 13 months ago, I fully expected that only Laura, my daughters and a few friends would look. Honestly, I wasn’t even sure they’d last long. Any blog does seem to be an ego-driven pursuit. I question why others would care at all what I think. Still, 10,000 hits is a big number. I have to admit I am proud. Here are a few thoughts on some people and some things I have learned in the process.
Bob Hentzen is a Good Role Model – My mind certainly has been challenged by the efforts it takes to come up with ideas and put them into words. I worked with many great columnists in my newspaper days. One will always stand out in my mind. Bob Hentzen was an amazing writer, and a wonderful man. I marveled at how the late Capital-Journal sports columnist could week after week come up with four or five columns. They were well-written as you’d expect. They were wide-ranging and they were always positive. Little did I know at the time, but he is the model for the kind of writer I’d like to be.
I have tried to write positively about the people, events, travels and heartaches in my life. I dug into Lance Armstrong once, but otherwise have had nothing but fun in the 124 posts. I didn’t think it would be that way at all. Though I love telling stories, I thought I’d climb into a bully pulpit more and rant and rave. It would be very easy to do, but I keep thinking about Bob Hentzen. I have learned that an angry writer isn’t necessarily a good writer.
Diversity is a Good Thing – My daughter Kelly does a lot of social media work in three different political jobs. She is very much on top of what is written on many blogs. She told me that 10,000 hits is pretty good for a blog that is not focused on one subject. She laughed when she told me that my blog is far from being focused.
Ah, but it does reflect my life. Laura always says it would be hard for anyone to squeeze more into 24 hours than the two of us. Diversity is a big part of our life. Beginning in 1990, a lot of events in my life for good or bad seemed to shrink my world. Part of that came from the wonderful task of having to spend a good portion of my time helping raise two young daughters. However, I let other negative factors play too big a role in shaping my life.
Then I fell in love with Laura. She brought an energy to my life that allowed me to break free again. Travels took off, pursuits grew and many things once thought so important now seem so foolish. It would be impossible to simply write about one subject when my life is now so rich, full and blessed by the Lord.
“You Ought to be a Travel Writer” – Many people have told me how much they enjoy reading my travel pieces. I am deeply flattered when they tell me to pursue that as a new career. No doubt I’d love to travel more and would be happy to write and take photographs of those travels. Finding someone to pay for that just isn’t easy.
However, a seed of thought has been planted. Laura and I have had many recent discussions about what we hope to do with our lives in the coming years after Kelly finishes college and my commitment to help both my daughters get through college ceases. There might well be some big surprises that leave family and friends shaking their heads.
The Shocking Statistics – One of the most satisfying subjects I wrote about in the past year involved going to Eugene, Oregon, for the NCAA Track & Field Championships. That was a dream trip for a long-time T&F fan. After I posted my Track Town USA story, I checked back later in the day to see if anyone had read it. Shockingly, the little lines that chart daily reads had taken off like a Saturn rocket launching an Apollo mission into space. By the end of the day 526 people had read that story.
I owe that to the web editors of the Portland Oregonian, Track & Field News, The National T&F Coaches Association, Running Times and other outlets for picking up that story. Shockingly, over the course of three days more than 1,000 people read the story. As proud as I am that it was well-liked, I am humbled by those crazy statistics.
Getting Ripped is Fun – It took a long time, but last weekend someone finally got around to ripping me good over my final post on Lance Armstrong. I was thrilled. I think Laura thought me crazy to be so happy. I never hesitated to approve the comment and to thank the writer for the thoughts.
Opinions are what make life wonderful. If we all agreed on everything, life would be very, very dull. Only those who live their lives in fear feel the need to try to force all thoughts to their line of thinking. I welcome differing thoughts and debate is never something to fear.
Sadly, the fact that the ripper didn’t have the courage to use his name or a proper e-mail address is an example of the gutless hit-and-run reaction one gets whenever a differing opinion is expressed in our world of today.
Jim Keith is the Man – The story about Laura’s relationship with her dear high school coach Jim Keith continues to be one of the most revealing posts. When I travel to Oklahoma it amazes me to realize just how deeply connected people from very diverse backgrounds remain because of their ties to Oklahoma high school sports. Heck, it always seems everyone in Oklahoma knows everyone else, and they aren’t afraid to call someone a neighbor even if they live miles and miles apart.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise then that 462 hits have been made on that story. I know that I just wrote about 526 hits on my blog in one day, but the Keith story is amazing because it is so steady. Virtually every day there is a reference to the site from an internet search for Jim Keith. The number of reads run as straight and steady as the miles on Route 66 through Oklahoma with no end in sight.
I threaten to add the name Jim Keith to everything I write. It would guarantee every story would get read more than it probably deserves.
Saying Thank You is Always a Good Thing – I have long believed this and want to say it again here. Thank you. I’ll never know why, but far more people than I’d ever imagined keep coming back to “Here I Stand.” I feel the pressure that comes with that fact much like Bob Hentzen must have felt week after week as he worked to come up with his great columns.
I hope to keep writing for my good. It is fun. I hope to remain grounded and say thank you to my Savior every day for His many blessings to someone that really deserves none. I say thank you to my wife and my daughters for their love and patience with their often half-crazed husband and father. Much has been learned in this process, and it all has been for my good. Truly, I say thank you for that.