It has been a while since I have written anything down here but I think it’s about time. Today would have been my brother Bob’s 50th birthday and he has been on my mind all day. He was born two days before I had my first birthday. Being so close in age we shared many things. We shared a room, we shared a birthday party and we even got in trouble together many times. To be honest he was better than me at just about everything that little boys found important. He was faster, he could climb trees like a monkey and he was fearless. I can remember than mom put us in swimming lessons when we were in 1st or 2nd grade and Bob was the youngest one to go off of the high diving board. He was also extremely talented. He could draw anything. Back in those days in the back of the magazines there was an ad for an art school with a cartoon character. It promised that if you drew the picture and sent it in they would send you information about the school. Every time he free-handed it flawlessly. He put model cars together with skill and they looked just like the picture on the box. He could have been an artist. Maybe that is why he was so complex. He was gifted and brilliant and yet he was always seeking approval. He did things that were difficult to explain or understand, both positive and negative. He was generous almost to a fault and would spend long hours helping people who needed it. In high school and college I really had no clue what I wanted to do with my life but not Bob. He figured out early that he wanted to be a mechanic and he did whatever it took to make that happen including becoming the first person in our family to graduate from college. And I may be biased but I believe he was the best mechanic I ever knew. Although there are others that probably knew him better toward the end of his life I knew him in a unique way. I am glad to say that I saw him when he was at his best but I also saw him at some of his worst moments.
He loved his family although I don’t think he always knew how to show it. I know he struggled with some things and I felt as though there was nothing I could do to help. If he was still here today I would simply tell him I was proud of him and everything he accomplished. There is an old saying that sometimes you don’t realize what you have until it is gone. We take so much for granted. People and the time you have with them is so precious, don’t ever take it for granted.
I miss you brother.
Well it’s August 1st which means in 8 days I turn 50. Some people cringe at getting older but my attitude is that I am going to appreciate it and wear it like a badge of honor. I’ve explained in an earlier post about why I feel that it is special. I wrote an earlier blog about ideas to make my year special and I received many good ideas. I appreciate everyone that contributed. Unfortunately I can’t do everything that was suggested. In same cases I just don’t have the time and in others I just don’t have the money but some of them are now on my bucket list. So today I’m going to tell you about what I plan to do in my 50th year and what I have learned as I thought about it.
As I said in my earlier blog post I want my 50th year celebration to be a tribute to my brothers and I want to honor their lives. There is a quote from Henry David Thoreau that I have always loved. He says:
As I thought about what I was going to do this year I did learn a great deal about myself and life. I could fill the year with many grand travel plans and exciting adventures that everyone would be envious of. But if I focused on that it would take away from the little things that happen in my life every day that make it worth living. So yes I will do a few big things along the way but more importantly I am going to pay more attention to the things that happen that make life real and not take them for granted. So here is a partial list of the things I plan to do for my 50th year.
1) Spend more time outdoors. Me and my brothers grew up on a farm. We rode horses, worked cattle, went hunting, worked in the garden and did general farm work. We worked outside and played outside. For the first 18 years of my life being out in nature was part of who I was. I’ve gotten away from that. This year I plan to reclaim that part of my past. I’m going to spend the morning of my birthday watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico while I listen to the waves crash on the shore. I can’t think of too many things that could be better than this.
2) Take a picture of something every day that is meaningful. Some days that will be something with huge significance but most days it will be something small or even mundane. But if we don’t find these small things meaningful we will never enjoy life or understand it.
3) Do something nice for an individual every day and give handwritten notes of encouragement to people every day. After all, it is the people in our lives that really make it worth living.
4) Visit as many places as time and money will allow. That may be Washington D.C. or the Grand Canyon or the Stockyards in Ft. Worth. We never traveled much when we were kids so it is always a huge thing to see something “big” or go some place just to say we have been there. I’ll always remember seeing Bob at the beach and listening to Johnny talk about all the places he got to go with his job. For us the simple experience means a great deal.
5) Rediscover family. Now that I have lost so much of my family it has become more important to me. There is a wedding in October and I am going to go. There is a date set aside every year to visit the old communities in Ft. Hood where my dad and all of his family lived and grew up. I’m going to go. I want to look at every picture and talk to everyone I can about who our family was because I don’t want to lose it. It’s also a part of who I am.
I think that this is a good list. A list that reminds me of what life is and what is important in it. Thank you again for all of the suggestions and thank you for the continued support on my blog.
I guess all the talk about turning 50 and the fact that it is Father’s day has made me look back and think about where I came from. I grew up on a farm and my dad was a true cowboy. If he could have made a living working full time on a ranch somewhere you can bet he would have done it. I don’t remember too many things my dad said to me or my brothers because he wasn’t much of a talker but I do remember him saying to never forget where you came from. I loved my life growing up. If truth was known we were probably poor as dirt but me and my brothers never knew it. We didn’t have all the luxuries that were available but we were happy and content. We never missed meals although sometimes those meals consisted of nothing more than beans and cornbread or white bread and gravy. We didn’t care. I loved my life growing up. We had an old black and white TV that only got two channels but we watched the Cowboys on it every Sunday after church. They were good back then. Our life was filled with playing outside, working in the garden, tending to the horses, cows, chickens and any other animals that we might have at the time. I loved the freedom. Looking back, I miss he simplicity of it. When I was a kid there were two things that I thought everybody did. Those were to go to church and go to rodeos. I thought that because almost everybody I knew did. We went to church every Sunday without fail. We also went to every rodeo, horse show and riding club meeting they ever had. I remember on more than one occasion driving home well after midnight in the old Chevrolet pickup because daddy was working as a pickup man at a rodeo. In our spare time we would go swimming down at the creek. I can remember one time my dad surprised us and took us to the swimming pool in town. It was awesome to swim in water you could actually see through.
Just like most kids I thought my dad was the best and that he knew everything and could do everything. He was larger than life itself. However as we all do we grow up and realize our dad’s aren’t perfect. We see them for who they really are. We see that they are imperfect people in a world that is tough. As I got older I saw his imperfections and his insecurities and even some failures. But what I never saw was a quitter or one who would give up. He struggles but he kept moving forward and he never lost sight of his responsibility to his family. He always did what he thought was right. He taught me to be who I am today because he never told me how to think but he let me find my own way. I am proud to say that J. W. Shults was my dad and I will never forget where I came from. Oh and Mom, next time I’m home, let’s have cornbread and beans and maybe some gravy.
I am going to take a day off before beginning the Turning 50 theme because I want to take a moment to recognize people that I truly love; my fellow school teachers. As most of you know I have been a teacher since 1988 and of course I have met lots of teachers during that time. In the past week or two here in Texas, all of my teacher friends have been celebrating the last day of school. If you heard a loud cheer in your neighborhood it could very well have been all the teachers letting you know that the school year was OVER! I love teachers but I will be the first to say that there are some teachers out there that don’t do their job well and and some that have stayed too long and need to hang it up because they have forgotten why they are there. But for the most part, the teachers I have had the privilege to work with are awesome and I love to be around them. I am going to dedicate this entry to all those teachers I know that do their job and do it well. Most teachers I know are dedicated, full of passion and love the students they teach. Most of them do what they do without alot of recognition or support and many times in the midst of criticism but they do their jobs because they they are true professionals. Teachers have to take on many roles during their workday. We are disciplinarians, counselors, food distributors, custodians, entertainers and referees. We have to know how to work all kinds of audiovisual equipment as well as be an expert on all computer programs and software. I really think teachers are well prepared for jut about any job and any stressful situation. They learn to be problem solvers and many time have to be MacGyver when they are forced to “make do” with minimal supplies and budgets. Teachers have a habit of becoming hoarders and scavengers because you never know when you might need something for the classroom. All in all I love to be around teachers because they are sincere and loving people. So here I take my hat off to all of you teachers. May you continue to inspire and teach young people ll of your life!
In a little over two months I am going to turn fifty years old. The BIG 50. This is a big milestone and I have been thinking for a while now about how I should celebrate. I’ve come to the conclusion that one celebration is not enough so I have decided that the celebration will take place all year. From August 9, 2014 until August 9, 2015 I am going to celebrate everything. A year long celebration which will no doubt be filled with family, friends, festivities and fiestas. But the real reason I am writing today is to talk about why turning 50 is so important. The simple fact is that boys in my family seem to die young and making it to 50 is not just a celebration for me but it is also a celebration for my two brothers that never made it. For those of you who don’t know me I had three younger brothers Bobby, Johnny and Jerry. In 1998 Bob was killed in a car accident at the age of 32 and in 2011 Johnny died of a heart attack at the age of 42. I recently found website that will tell you all kinds of interesting things about the day you were born. One of the interesting tidbits of information is an estimation of how many people are still alive that were born on that day. According to the site approximately 100,000 people were born on the same day as Bob and John respectively and about 93%of those are still alive. They defied the odds in the very morose way. So I am going to celebrate my 50th year in a big way and I am going to dedicate the celebration to them. They never had a chance so I am doing it for them. In my next few blog posts I am going to dedicate time to them. They deserve to be remembered and celebrated and I plan to do exactly that.
For several years now I have contemplated starting my own blog because I really like to write and some people have encouraged me to do so. Some of my blog posts will be about my educational experience but most will just be about life in general. We all live and have different perspectives on things. One thing I have been trying to do for the past few years is to see different sides and why there are differing opinions. I’ve come to the conclusion that listening to someone’s opinion doesn’t mean we have to change our opinions or our beliefs. Sometimes it is about loving people enough to listen and at least respect what they believe. So that is what this is all about. Just a place where I can share my thoughts and ideas and you can do the same.