Who am I? Many things you never thought or imagined

Grandma(This one is a long one, so please take the time to read all the way through.  Get you a cup of coffee, or whatever you drink, and enjoy. Thanks to all that have supported me thus far by reading my blogs. Now, maybe you will find out a little about the other part of me you never knew.)

The other day my mind drifted back to memories of what seems like a life long ago, but in reality it was a relatively short period of time during what I call my serial dating years.

I believe all of us go through that period at some point and time, but to varying extents. Mine wasn’t really that bad compared to some people I have known, so yes, (raising my hand) I am guilty of it also.

GranddaddyA friend and co-worker of mine, Laura, and I were standing out in the parking lot at a former newspaper one day and as I glanced out across the parking lot this gorgeous woman got out of her car and walked toward the restaurant across the street — a restaurant I visited often and the establishment where I met Laura before she came to work at the newspaper.

As the woman walked out of sight, I told Laura, “let’s get over to the restaurant quick, I have to get a closer look.”

I was smitten the moment I saw the woman get out of her car, but always the shy type, I needed backup. Laura was too quick to be my backup … she and I had shared relationship woes and stories in the past … I had her back and she mine.

Sarah_Bush_Johnston_LincolnWhat I expected to see in the restaurant was not what I found.

I entered the restaurant and there she was, sitting at a table-for-two against the left wall. I took a second look, yes, it was her … but I no longer saw the beauty in her.

Her body language with the man she was sitting with screamed a lot of things, but beauty wasn’t one of them. Not that she was being mean, for but for lack of better words, her aura was less than desirable — her beauty gone.

But in reminiscing about that day, it got me to thinking about how I may have judged someone on a chance encounter without even speaking to them and made a conclusion — all without having the information necessary to make an intelligent conclusion.

Grilled SalmonYou see, we are all human and make mistakes. Although it would be easy to put it down to me being disappointed about the woman getting out of the car not being the woman I saw in the restaurant, that would be letting myself get off easy. I made a snap judgement off of two viewings.

To the woman who got out of the car … the same woman in the restaurant some 10-plus years ago, I apologize … whoever you were and wherever you are.

Reliving that memory caused me to pause, take notice and wonder who people think I am … anyone that knows me knows at times I can be all over the place — but, people are seldom who we think they are and are more complex than simple.Dad

As it is said, people are like onions. You never know who someone really is until you peel back the onion — one layer at a time.

I have written many times that everything you experience in life manifests itself in your decisions and is a piece of who you are. But, if you trace back to your ancestors you can also find little slivers of them in the you of today.

People often ask, “just who are you? You can’t possibly be all these things! You can even cook?”IMG_4161

Yes, I cook, just take a look at my jambalaya in the main photo — made it from scratch. I can’t tell you all the questions I get from the doubters I run across questioning  my versatility.

I have many layers, just like an onion.

By now, you are probably wondering about all the photos included in this blog. More than usual? Yes, but it is part of who I am, not to be confused with what I do, or have done.Me and Edwin

The measure of a man, or woman is not what they have done or accomplished, but who they have become by being exposed to the things they have done and accomplished, sprinkled with a dash of their heritage, experiences, upbringing, relationships, setbacks and victories.

Me and Willie HortonAs for me, I have become the person I am today because of my parents, relatives and ancestors, people I’ve met and interacted with through relationships and from chance meetings with those I barely knew.

I come from a line of Creek and Cherokee Native Americans on my mother’s side and Germanic on my father’s side that ultimately helped settle Kentucky. I am the eighth generation grandson of one of the earliest settlers of Hardin County Kentucky, a seventh generation nephew of the woman who raised the 16th President of the United States since the age of 8, the grandson of a cotton farmer during the Great Depression, the son of a wonderful father who gave his life for his county in Vietnam and whose name is enshrined in the National Infantry Museum with an elite group of 324 others as three-time Combat Infantry Badge awardees and I am a Gulf War Veteran.

ShuttleAt times, I have run across many who aren’t really what others think they are, and I am probably not what others believe they see in me.

I’ve sat with and spoken to a world heavyweight boxing champion while he watched his kids compete in track and field championships; conversed, emailed and spent time with a Pro-Bowl offensive lineman who went to four consecutive Super Bowls, watched him enshrined in his high school Hall of Fame and listened to him give his insight into my commentaries (whether we agreed or not); sat with a Pro-Bowl defensive end as he watched his daughter win high school basketball games and go on to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association; volunteered as a football and baseball coach 12 years and was the first coach of a young man who would become a world champion in the Major League Baseball World Series as a pitcher and traded good-natured barbs with a Pro-Bowl, and now, National Football League Hall of Fame defensive end and have a scribed personal note on an autographed football by a renowned NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, and have sat and shot the breeze with a former Detroit Tiger superstar, whose number is retired and has a statue in his honor at Detroit’s Comerica Park , as he autographed baseballs for young children and I’ve stood in the exclusion area directly in front of the first Space Shuttle the day prior to launch.Football from Fran

After spending 20 years (and some months and days) in the military, upon retirement at age 38, I went on to learn and work in the field of journalism, spent years as a one-man sports team, was a three-time guest on a local television sports show (their first, their first remote, and their first live show), won numerous awards in journalism and photography and went on to be a general manager and managing editor of four newspapers.

me and robinI’ve shaken the hands and spoken to the real retired Lt. Gen. Harold “Hal” G. Moore and Command Sgt. Maj. Basil Plumley, now deceased, of “We Were Soldiers,” along with actor Sam Elliott, who played Plumley in the movie. I’ve stood and asked questions of then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, but have also traded innocuous playful jests with an Army chaplain in front of Headline News anchor Robin Meade about who was her biggest fan – I have the t-shirt to prove it – and I’ve hung out with Headline News Money Expert Clark Howard as he did physical training with an Army basic training unit.

Me_USOI’ve farmed and had five horses, mended fences in lightning and pouring rain using headlights on my truck, can cook, am a good interior decorator (I think), a sharp dresser, I iron, clean house, raise kids/grandkids (have and do), wash and dry, tell ghost stories so well you think they’re real, make you laugh when you need it – even if you don’t – and a vast array of other things. I have loved and lost, leapt tall buildings in a single bound and have wallowed in self-pity, have died twice in one day, yet found the strength to get back up and move forward. I’ve left those I loved and been left by those who I thought loved me. I have had the highest highs and the lowest lows – just like everyone else – and I’m not even 60.Me_J

Today, I write blogs and poetry, working on a romance novel and a piece of nonfiction, and if you’ve read my blog, attempted the words for one song (the jury is still out).

Sometimes, I feel like the poor man’s Forrest Gump, and yes, I’ve even shaken the hand and spoken to Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan Taylor (Lt. Dan) in the movie, “Forrest Gump.”

Me_FuryI don’t know whether the term metrosexual is good or bad and have been called that at times, but there’s no doubt I’m a man’s man – just one that’s full of life experiences.

And no, this is not a personal ad. My point is not to be braggadocios, nor does it encompass my entire life. I went to the extreme to make a point.

My point? People are like onions and we normally only see the first few layers, so don’t “judge a book by its cover,” take the time to read the entire book and not just the synopsis or forward.Bengals

Too many times we form opinions from one or two meetings. Sometimes we think we know someone after a few years, just to find out how much we didn’t know and why they are the way they are – good and bad. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to figure out who we are, let alone someone else figure it out in less time.

All of the representations I mention, are true. Part of who I am is mostly because of my upbringing and proud heritage and enhanced with my interactions with each of the people I mention, and the memories I have carried of them.

IMG_3041 (2)My travel on the path of life hasn’t always been smooth, yet here I am writing about mostly romance and relationships.

While everything hasn’t always been rosy, I still try and shine a light for those looking to be right where I am at … so, where is that? I am at a point where I can look at life objectively and remember that in every bad situation there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  I am at the point where I know that just because one door closes, another one will open … eventually, or the door that closes will reopen.

John W. PeelerI’m at a point where I know good will always trump the bad, eventually. And, if we are good to our fellow man and spread that good feeling, our lives will be better … if only on the inside, because that is where it counts.

We all can have a profound impact on at least one person in our lives and I hope the light of my words will impact just one of you and inspire you to become the light in the darkness of others.

When you can’t see the light … find a way to shine.