Don’t fall, jump.

Heard a quote similar to that in a book I’d just read for the second time – Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey. It genuinely struck me when I read it, one of those “aha!” moments which seems to explain something that I’d been chewing on in the back of my ever-caffeinated 40 year old mind. Don’t fall, jump.

Nature is all about falling, after all the very force of gravity that is exerted on us is something completely beyond our control. When we fall, all we can do is ready ourselves for the eventual impact with the ground below and ideally avoid a recurrence of the actions and/or behavior which led to the inevitable fall.

Now jumping… Jumping is a decision. Jumping is not nature beyond the flesh, muscle and bones that God gave us which allow us to jump. Jumping always includes falling, however there’s an asterisk to that action we have just taken – we are taking a chance to embrace our own destiny, to embrace the will that God has woven through every breath we take.

Some folks would rather fall than jump. Can’t blame me, it’s nature that I fell. I can’t control gravity. I am blameless here, faultless, powers greater than myself were in control and threw me down to a predictable and to some people – acceptable – conclusion. Whether I take a risk or not, I still fall, so why bother taking the chance? Why risk falling further by jumping?

For most of my life I was a fall instead of jump sort of guy. I’d rather predictably fall flat on my face again and again and pull that warm blanket of misery up to my chin as I curl up safe, sound, and secure in the knowledge that while I have gained nothing, I have lost nothing, and the status quo of my life was maintained. Anhedonia. What a joy that was to deal with.

Eventually I got tired of falling. The status quo was beneath me. The status quo left me broken and alone. Warm and safe? Sure. But there was an entire world spinning around me and it had absolutely no clue or care who I was. So I started jumping. I jumped to a new job. I leapt towards faith in God. I flew on down to Georgia where I knew no-one and nothing.

When we yield control of our lives to nature, nature takes control. When we yield control of our lives to Christ, Christ takes control. The difference? God gave us the ability to jump. He gave us the free will to take chances, to grow, to climb, to throw off that warm blanket of misery and jump into the unknown, secured by our faith in the promise of Christ.

So here I am, faithful, joyful, and happy. I still fall, but when I do it’s because I’ve jumped.

Up, up, and away my friends. God bless!

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Three years ago tomorrow…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:19-20

3 years ago today, had you told me that tomorrow I would be born again, well, I’d probably have believed you. I wasn’t sure that morning that I’d be rising from the water with a new heart made of flesh, but the spirit compelled me. I went in with reasons not to be baptized, and left with redemption.

Now had you told me that day, I’d be blogging next to a lake in Georgia… Then I’d probably have let out a hearty laugh. God only knows our path, He saw mine regardless of how lost I was. I’m still not sure why I’m here, but I don’t think I could have picked a better destination if I wanted to. I can’t wait to see what is next!

I think I’ve even found a new church.

Thank you, Jesus. God bless!

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Breathe.

Last week I picked up a new bike, same model I had previously. Got back on the horse so to speak. My shoulder is much better than it was, a little stiff if anything. All in all I’d say I’m physically recovered. Mentally though?

The ride home from the dealer went well, no real issues, maybe a little hesitation on left hand curves. Tonight though… Decided to make the most of the nice afternoon and go for a quick ride.

So I’m coming back as the sun is setting whole approaching a left hand curve. I start to freeze up. I tap my brakes and it intensifies. I’m locking in to the shoulder instead of the road. Then I push through it. I focus on where I want to go.

I then feel what can only be described as a steel claw ripping into my chest as every muscle contracts with anxiety. I breathe. I made it through. I went through several more left hand curves and talked myself through each, praying to God to carry me through.

Right hand curves, zero issue. I can bomb through a right hander without any hesitation. Left handers like when I wrecked? I’ll have to keep pushing through the fear and overcome it a little more every ride.

I haven’t had a panic attack in a decade, tonight was the closest I’ve come. I refuse to let that fear control me. God bless.

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Close Call – Part III

As I went thorough in my previous posts – I had a motorcycle accident this week that I managed to walk away from. The insurance adjuster checked out my bike today and sadly had to total it out. I’ve never had to total a vehicle before. I’ve had other close calls (in cars) but never on a bike. That said, the story’s not over yet.

My policy has a full replacement clause, so technically (minus deductible) within the next couple of weeks I will have another Indian FTR in my garage. There’s a local dealership which has the same exact bike in stock. Mind you – I’m in absolutely no rush to hop back on two wheels just yet. My shoulder is still stiff, but has been getting better every day.

I’m also not sure if I’m ready mentally to do it. I still see flashes in my head of what happened. The front brake locking and sliding, the green blur as I hit the grass and the bike went down, the sounds and sensations of sliding/rolling to a stop a 100 feet past where I started. Heck, I haven’t even gotten back in my car yet, injury aside. I’ll take my time, this time.

Hopefully avoid a next time.

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Close Call – Part II

I believe what happened yesterday was meant to happen. On the way there, and later headed out in the wrecker, I passed curves with drop-offs of hundreds of feet down. The driver explained how many of those curves have cars down at the bottom which will never be recovered I overestimated my skills and underestimated the risk.

I found the accident site this morning on Google Maps.

That curve is mild. Earlier in the day I’d gone through harpins, or along roads with sheer drops at the side that legitimately engaged my fear of heights. The speed limit is 45mph there. I wasn’t going over 40, I think thats how fast I was doing when I hit the shoulder and lost control. I measured the distance via Google Maps – both I and my bike slid 100 feet.

101 feet? I’m down a steep hill into a ravine. No cell service. Nobody would have seen me.

God needed to humble me, to teach me a lesson, and He picked the best possible location for it to happen. Soft grass. Gentle curve. Every single detail written down in advance for maximum education and discipline. Am I upset about the accident? Yes. Am I upset about smashing up my brand new bike? Of course. More than upset though, I am grateful.

Got off the phone with my insurance about an hour ago, gave all the details, went through 20 questions… Should have a verdict on the repair before the end of the week hopefully. Moving forward, I will be staying out of those mountains on my bike, unless I am with others. I’m also dumping Verizon, the signal down here is absolutely awful.

In other news, it looks like the sale of my house in Goshen will close on Thursday. I’m going to continue taking easy. My shoulder is a little better and I’m pretty sure the bruise under my foot is from the peg being driven up into it. My right thumb is also a little tender. All things considered, I am grateful to be alive, and thank God I am still here to talk about this.

God bless.

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Close Call.

So last week I traded in my old Kawasaki Vulcan for a new Indian FTR. Fantastic bike, handles and rides like a dream. Plenty of power (still getting used to that). Today I had no work, so I decided to take the bike out into the hills again north of Dahlonega, GA. I got a new app on the phone where folks can share nice rides, so I grabbed a nice 100 mile loop.

Absolutely beautiful ride. I’d been taking my time, but then I started running very low on fuel. I stopped to chat with another rider to see if there were any stations up ahead, and thankfully I came upon a small store in Blairsville that had a few small pumps out front. Score! I stopped in to pay and also picked up some “Georgia Peach Jalapeno Preserves” amongst a few other treats.

So I took a break, drank a Monster, took in the fresh air and views, then hopped back on the bike. I think I made it about 10 miles from the store when it happened. I came around a sweeping curve doing maybe 30-35 mph, nothing crazy. If I had been speeding, what happened next would have killed me.

I approached the curve, but got a little too close to the shoulder. I hit some loose gravel and lost the bike. Within moments, the bike was horizontal, sliding across the grassy shoulder, as was I. After roughly 150 feet, I slid to a stop. I heard my bike stall out roughly 15 feet away from me. Shaking off the cobwebs I tried to figure out what the heck just happened.

Then I looked at where I was. I was at the precipice of a steep dropoff, and so was my bike. We’d come to a stop within inches of a 150+ foot drop into a ravine with a stream. I immediately began to pray and thank Jesus for saving my life. Had I been speeding, we both would have cleared that edge and who knows what would have happened.

From the shoulder where I went off and laid the bike down to roughly where it ended up.

So there I was, walking around, staring at my bike, looking at the ravine, completely in shock. A couple approached on a bike, slowed when they saw me, and then I dropped down flat on my back. They stopped and I slowly got up. No signal on any of our phones. Much of what happened over this period is a blur now, but the man rode off and left his wife with me while he went to make a call.

Several other cars stopped to ask, apparently most of them also called for help when they got signal. The ambulance came first and gave me a quick once over, my shoulder hurt as did my foot, but I had full range of motion so I declined going to the hospital (for now). The sherrif’s deputy showed up next, took down my info and I explained what I thought happened.

TBH, the entire accident seemed almost surreal, slow motion. I saw the curve, I felt the bike was going too close to the shoulder, and then I was sliding, out of control, who knows where my bike was. The bike still ran despite the damage, and I needed to get to an area where I could call for roadside assistance. The radiator was damaged and the bike began to overheat.

Windscreen shattered, radiator bent, fork bent, cooling fan damaged, shift pedal bent, mirror snapped off…

I had to stop a couple times to let it cool before going again. Eventually I found myself at a visitor center, where another family from Mississippi had stopped for a brief respite. They asked if I was ok (covered in dirt, obviously exhausted, bike was a mess), thanked God that I was ok and prayed for me. I eventually got through to my insurance co and did the needful.

Another rider on a very large sport touring bike also stopped to see if I was ok, he and his daughter had been riding all morning by that point. We had a great conversation, and discovered that he owns one of the restaurants in the corporate park where I work. I’ve got a feeling should I ever build the nerve to tackle those roads again I’ll have a few folks to join.

So I stood outside for roughly an hour waiting for the flatbed to arrive, the driver quickly loaded the bike on the back, and we had some good conversation as we headed out of the mountains. Eventually we got near my home and I had him drop me off at a Waffle House so I could call an Uber. (Uber rules BTW). The driver who picked me up was from Brooklyn!

He’d ridden a motorcycle once, when he was 10. He fell off, never looked back. Almost can’t blame him right now as I sit here in quite a bit of pain. I’m grateful right now though. It could have been worse but I know that God was with me through it all. It was a bad accident – but I’m alive. People could have ignored me, but they all stopped to check. Total strangers.

Even well after the accident, as I stood by my crippled ride at a visitor center, total strangers stopped to ask if I was ok. Some offered food, drink, Aleve (shoulda taken that). Others conversation and future opportunities to ride. The friendliness and generosity in this state I’ve move to continue to blow my mind, every single day. Whether on the checkout line, or getting back on my feet. The people of Georgia are wonderful neighbors.

So are the folks of the Philippines. I had to call AT&T so I could get the porting of my old Verizon line over to AT&T sorted out. I wound up talking to a very nice woman based out of their call center in the Philippines, who asked me how my day was… I gave her the cliffs notes, but again – wound up having a fantastic conversation (along with getting my phone sorted)…

She prayed for me, and thanked God that I was OK.

What a day. What a close call. Thank you GOD for keeping me safe.

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…two weeks later!

All my life, for as long as I can remember, with exception to my baptism as an infant (which I actually remember), I have looked backwards. I have always sought the past, reminisced on the good times, wished I could be there again, have it again, longed for the comforts of yesterday. In Genesis 19:26, we learned the price of looking back.

In the biblical tale, the angels ordered Lot’s family to leave and not look back. The story goes, his wife looked back and upon the sight of God, she turned to a pillar of salt. I mean, it was a simple commandment – run for your life, don’t stop running until you reach (what would become) Zoar, and don’t look back. She did, and poof. Instant Mortons.

There’s another perspective to that tale for me, and one I hold to personally because of my penchant for looking to the past. I’d have a new car, but miss something from the last. I’d have a new girlfriend, or be alone, and long for the one who broke my heart. I’d find difficulty in a new job, and look back at the old while ignoring that I’d stood still for years at that job.

Looking back is easy. Our lives, our very beings are constructed by our past experiences and our memories. The catch is though, that memories of joy can hold us back just greatly as memories of grief. Either can turn us into an immobile pillar of salt. Over the past decade, I’ve had plenty of moments where I looked back and stopped looking forward. The more we look in the mirror, the greater the chance we miss the road ahead… the opportunities that the Lord provides to each and every one of us.

I have had this idea for over a decade now, to move south. No idea how I’d do it. No idea when I’d do it. No clue where I’d even go. Sure I focused on North Carolina, because up until that point in my life it was my only experience with what someone would refer to as “the south” – pit-stops on a family drive to Florida notwithstanding.

My takeaways were a laid back lifestyle, everything cost less, and with very minimal exception – everyone was friendly. Here I sit 10 years later, and any expectations I had back then were absolutely met. Looking back now – it’s not a matter of longing. It’s a matter of looking at who I was then, where I was – and comparing who and where I am today to that guy.

I am looking forward.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

Philippians 3:12-14

I know me, not as well as God does, but I do know myself. I know I am fickle. I know that when I get a head of steam in me to accomplish something, it can be fleeting. When I look back to where I was in 2012, and all that transpired since, to see that I held on to the idea of moving south all that time, that was not me – that was God all the way.

He lead me here. He wove together the life experiences which I needed to endure so I would be ready. He granted me the ability to do what I needed to do – to focus on what lies ahead. I am blessed because He has blessed me, there is no other reason than that. So here I am, two weeks in to my Georgia residency… what’s going on?

I’m mostly settled into my new home, I still need to unpack things (I have been unpacking as the need arrives) as well as discard the old packing material. There are a few things that need to get resolved at the house, the central air blows hot and there is some exposed cabling in the yard (looks like fiber optic and cable). I’m also likely hiring a landscaper to care for the yard.

There are a pair of wild chickens who frequent my property and poop a lot, I’ve named them Coco and Bailey (in honor of my old neighbor’s two dogs who frequented my property… and pooped a lot!). I’ve got ant-hills the size of Toyotas (which will be addressed next week by a pest control company)… and I’m still waiting to get my name on the trash removal bill.

Switching over to a GA driver’s license took all of 15 minutes, while getting the new GA tags for my car was a little more involved. They weren’t able to pull up the VIN number for my car in their system, so I had to call the local PD to verify the VIN and confirm the car was not stolen, along with filling out a specific form. That all took maybe a half hour.

I traded in my 10 year old Kawasaki for a brand new Indian, and the trade-in value was the same as what I’d asked back when I was trying to sell the bike before the move. The new bike took some getting used to as I’ve gone from a cruiser to a sport bike with a 1200cc V-Twin, but it did not take long before I began to thoroughly enjoy it. It also matches my car. 🙂

Everybody speeds down here, and not a little. I’ve seen many traffic stops but I’m not sure (that I want to find out) why these folks were stopped. On most roads with exception to active school zones, everyone drives at least 10mph over. The Interstates can be hot garbage. Time it right, I can set the cruise control and relax. Time it wrong (83% of the time), stop and go.

There are a few places I can get to without the use of GPS (supermarket, gas station, etc…) and probably more, but I have learned I am not quite ready to NOT rely on it. On Wednesday, after it had rained most of the day, I decided to try and go pick up my new bike. I eyeballed the map, remembered the road names and exits, and proceeded to spend 2 hours on a 45 minute ride.

Whoops. I wound up purchasing a “Quad Lock” handlebar mount to hold the phone (I still need to incorporate charging), but having the GPS in my field of view definitely removes some stress from the equation. I also got a new helmet (previous was maybe 7 years old) with built in bluetooth, so I can hear the voice prompts or listen to some music. It’s a game changer.

As far as food goes, there are 2 restaurants I’ve been frequenting. Fish Tales in Flowery Branch which is a lake-front Caribbean themed restaurant. The mahi mahi tacos are fantastic, as is the service. The other is Branch House Tavern (also in Flowery Branch), when I arrived a few weeks ago to look at a house, it was the only place open late while everywhere else closed down.

Again – excellent bbq and smoked food, good beer selection, and overall a very comfy place to kick back for a few. I do need to expand my options, of which there are many. I’m sure once I spend more time on the bike exploring, I’ll be taking notes!

Besides a few instances where I was tailgated, everyone is exceptionally friendly and open to conversation down here. For all the stereotypes my northern peers have expounded in regard to the south over the years, I’m happy to report they’re completely wrong. Even the transplants I interact with when I’m out and about have adopted that laid back style.

It is refreshing, and peaceful. So that’s it for now. I need to get back to work unpacking what’s in the garage and decide what I’m going to do for dinner tonight. OH! I will say the prices down here are amazing for any sort of meat. Literally half or lower compared to what I’d be paying back in NY. I need to get my smoker going!

God bless!

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Day 2

Second day as a resident of Gainesville, GA. Movers came and went yesterday, so now I need to unpack and re-organize all my stuff. Should have my Internet sorted today so I can stop having to rely on my cellphone’s hotspot. Trash collection is apparently still being paid for by either a previous tenant or the actual owner of the property, waiting to hear back from the management folks on that. Also waiting to hear back on when my mailbox will be repaired.

Between when I first checked this place out a few weeks ago, and when I moved in, someone/something knocked the mailbox out of the ground. Right now I’ve got it jury-rigged. I’m half tempted just to make another run to home depot and buy another as well as the numbers, IDK. I’ll see if I can get an idea of when it’ll get sorted. I also have a massive stack of mail for previous tenants that was in the box when I arrived.

So far everyone I’ve met has been pretty friendly, especially the ones who discover I’m a new transplant. Heck, last night I almost missed a turn and the pickup behind me flicked the lights to let me over… Once I slap some GA plates on the Honda, I’ll no longer be an easily identifiable clueless New Yorker in the south, I’ll be incognito and hiding my cluelessness behind a license plate with a peach on it. Speaking of plates, I only need one down here, and I also don’t need a massive inspection/registration sticker in the windshield. I’ll be able to admire my front fender now. 🙂

I’ve been to the supermarket a few times, Kroger, it’s huge, and while I recall the prices in NY being pretty inflated, the ones down here are quite reasonable. I had to resist the urge to pick up the 17lb brisket I found for $60. In NY that’d likely have cost me $170. Coffee selection is pretty good too, several different roasts of my favorite brand (Peets) and again the prices are lower than NY.

Ordered a washer and dryer for the place yesterday as it had none and after 11 years of having my own, there’s no way I want to switch back to using a laundromat. Nothing against them, but there’s something about doing my laundry in my pajamas without a bunch of strangers gawking at this prime example of the male form (if that form was an O at least). I need to run out today, get some more supplies as well as a microwave… May make another run over to Kennesaw for some Pinball as well. I spent an hour last night between Godzilla and Legacy of The Beast and it was fantastic.

Anyhoo, enough blogging for now… Time to ~groan~ get some stuff done. God bless!

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5 Days

This is the rough part of the day for me. I’m tired, but I won’t sleep. Folks keep asking if I’m excited, or I’m nervous about the move. I think right now I’m on autopilot. I can’t really quantify exactly how I feel because like white light is a combination of all colors… What I’m feeling is blinding.

I’ve played it safe my entire life. I’ve rarely taken real risks. Everything I do is over thought, over calculated, with an almost guaranteed end result. The few times I’ve taken risks it’s literally blown up in my face. This move is the biggest step I’ve taken in my life to date.

I’ve done the math. Calculated the steps. Leapt. Hesitated. I look back over the past decade from the first moment I knew my future was not where I am. Here I am, the next chapter getting ever closer with every tick offl the clock… It is all process now. Cross the t’s and dot the i’s, do the work…

…And walk into my new home.

I took care of getting the utilities ready today. Tomorrow I’ll make some calls and get the Internet setup, as well as trash removal. Over the past month I have torn through my current home and discarded decades of accumulated stuff. As a result, I’ve got even less going with me to Georgia than I brought here.

Friends and family have wished me well, I’ve had a few small going away events, and 5 days from now is the next step. I’m hoping once I settle, I will sleep. Upside, I’m taking two weeks off around the move so I can relax, explore, and find my footing again. God has been with me through this, I am running on faith.

So all I’ll say is I had to take a lot of chances to get here. I had to grow. I had to let go. I had to lose to find the fire within me to win. If there’s one piece of advice I can give anyone today, it is to take chances. Face your fears. God didn’t want me to stand still, and every piece of this puzzle has had a lesson for me on it.

Take chances. Live. Life’s too short, don’t waste it. God bless.

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Hear, Listen, Wait, and Obey

God, if any part of this process is your will, please grant me the wisdom and focus I need to stay the path. If it is not your will, please make this impossible. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

29. That’s the number of homes I was shown by a pair of Realtors in Georgia since December. Throughout the process, I said the prayer above. As each home failed to suit my needs, I kept praying.

As I made bids which were not accepted, I said that prayer. When I made bids that were accepted, and traveled hundreds of miles only to back out of the deal because the home or the area just wasn’t right, I prayed.

When the Realtors who worked with me and showed those 29 homes to me hesitated or were less than honest about something I had interest in… I prayed that prayer.

Here I am, one week away from leaving for my new home, and it finally clicked. I backed out of that last home, decided that I was going to rent, and within a day a new realtor showed me several rentals… And I believe that’s what God intended all along.

I believe that God answers every prayer we make. Even when the response is silence, He is answering our prayers. Should we have the humility to hear Him, listen to Him, wait for Him, and obey Him… We might just save ourselves months of grief and get where we belong sooner than we expect…

But then again, the wisdom He has given me here through this process has made everything worth it. All in His time, not ours. His will be done, not ours. More of Him, less of us.

But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.

Micah 7:7
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