Is my book what you came for?  Then link to my free book: A Gift from the Heart

Introduction:

With AOL Hometown being discontinued (sad day) I am forced to find a new “web home” and WordPress seems to offer the resources and flexibility that my fit my style and thus, here I am!  So, with intent to both Blog and host web pages here, we are off and running.

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Jim & Pam, and life is very good!

Check out my background in the Pages to the right, beginning with ABOUT and continuing with a little background in the pages below that.

Also, check out the link to my free book, A Gift from the Heart, offered in memory of my heart donor, Roberto Cuebas, who back in October of 1994, lost his life in Brooklyn, NY, but in doing so, saved mine when his heart was donated and transplanted to replace my failing heart over in Philadelphia.  But wait, that’s what the book is all about, so go there to read the full story of the many years he and I have shared since that gift of life was donated.

Jim Gleason
e-mail: GleasonJim@aol.com

So I do get a fly shot every year about now, but hadn’t given it a thought just yet. Today shopping in our local Acme food store, passing their pharmacy area, there was this store-wide announcement about their giving flu shots with no cost as most insurance companies and Medicare cover it completely. Well, why not! I stopped my cart and asked to have a flu shot. No cost and so easy being right there anyway.

Imagine my surprise when after that shot she gives me a coupon good for 10% off today’s shopping as a flu shot bonus! I saved $11.75 on that order, so in a very real way, I was PAID TO GET MY FLU SHOT! Life is so good.

Be sure you get yours… even if they don’t pay YOU for it.

Just came across this short piece and wanted to both affirm it from my personal life experience and share it by way of inspiration to you:

Growing Older, Getting Happier

Older people tend to be happier than younger people, and their happiness increases with age, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reports.

Researchers contacted 1,546 people ages 21 to 99 via random telephone calls and found that older age was, not surprisingly, tied to declines in physical and cognitive function. But it was also associated with higher levels of overall satisfaction, happiness and well-being, and lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress. The older the person, the study found, the better his or her mental health tended to be.

The researchers used well-validated scales to assess mental health, although the study relied on self-reports and was a snapshot in time that did not follow an individual through a lifetime. Other studies have found similar results linking advancing age and higher levels of happiness.

The reasons for the effect remain unclear, but the senior author, Dr. Dilip V. Jeste, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, had some suggestions.

“Brain studies show that the amygdala in older people responds less to stressful or negative images than in a younger person,” he said. “We become wise. Peer pressure loses its sting. Better decision-making, more control of emotions, doing things that are not just for yourself, knowing oneself better, being more studious and yet more decisive.

“This is good news for young people, too,” he added. “You have something to look forward to.”
life in shadows

So, what sayest YOU?

A version of this article appears in print on 08/30/2016, on page D4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Growing Older, and Happier.

Attending the UNOS board meeting this week in Richmond VA, I found myself sitting at the reception chatting with a young lady and new board member with her name tag proclaiming “Trine…” In excitingly sharing a recent experience of participating in a liver transplant for her first time, even describing that excitement with her bantering with the transplant team there, “Let’s do more of these!” – you can only imagine!

As we chatted, suddenly I realized I knew her! While I had never met her before in person, in fact I have used her amazing story in my slide deck for speaking about organ donation, titled “Why We Do This” hundreds of times as an example of the success of transplantation, especially when a pediatric organ transplant can be the foundation of a life story that can be captured into their adult lives. Trine was the first child liver recipient in Florida back in the 1980’s, still the very pioneering days of liver transplants.

Trina at age 2, a sickly child, later transplanted with a liver at age 8

Trine at age 2, a sickly child, later transplanted with a liver at age 8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a young adult, she entered medical school to become a transplant surgeon, leading to this encounter described above.

August, 2009, and Trine Engebretsen, 26 years later, is part of FIU's inaugural medical school class. "Always have faith and hope. It's not too late, until you're no longer alive, so hang in there. Good things will happen," she said. PS: Trine met her husband while helping him through the process of getting his own liver transplant

August, 2009, and Trine Engebretsen, 26 years later, is part of FIU’s inaugural medical school class.
“Always have faith and hope. It’s not too late, until you’re no longer alive, so hang in there. Good things will happen,” she said.
PS: Trine met her husband while helping him through the process of getting his own liver transplant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trine at the operating table in 2016!

Trine at the operating table in 2016!

 

 

Trine, first both transplant couple to give birth (husband is a liver recipient too)

Trine, first both transplant couple to give birth (husband is a liver recipient too)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and in conversation at this UNOS event with me we took this ‘selfie’ together:

Trine and me 2016 at the June UNOS board meeting where she is now an incoming board member

Trine and me 2016 at the June UNOS board meeting where she is now an incoming board member

 

 

“Human beans”
by Bob Perks

Patience is a virtue. One of the many I lack. Never more evident than when I am grocery shopping.

Some days the only time I get out of the house is when I force myself to head to the market to buy what I need for dinner. Oftentimes I go there with absolutely nothing in mind and find myself inspired by the aromas of fresh-baked bread or slow-roasted chicken. I enjoy the experience, except for the crowded vegetable section of the store. This is where most people slow down so they can inspect, fondle, smell, and squeeze until they have discovered that one grapefruit, that special cantaloupe that everyone else missed.

I can be seen, plastic bag in hand, waiting, moaning, and huffing as I finally slump over my cart in frustration. In just a few seconds I’m in and out, green pepper in hand and on my way to the scale to slap that sticker on it. No big deal for me.

Except for yesterday.

I decided to pick up some string beans. Of all the sections in the vegetable market, the string bean people move the slowest. One bean at a time. “Oh, Lord give me patience!” I said to myself as I approached the counter.

There, blocking access with his cart, was an elderly man. His messy white hair, flipped up in the back, made him look like a 80-year-old hippie. He was average height and looked much like a string bean himself. Thin and frail-looking, he moved slowly and his hands seemed to tremble as he searched through the pile of beans.

Without turning his head toward me, he said, “It takes time to find the right ones. There’s an art to this, you know.”

“I didn’t realize that,” I said. “Although that explains why everyone spends so much time here. They’re artists.”

“I see them as people,” he replied.

“The beans?” I asked.

“Yes.” he said in a matter-of-fact tone.

“See this one? This short, stubby one would tend to get passed over. Its appearance doesn’t fit the perfect image of a long, thin, crisp bean. Most likely, after too much handling, the clerk will toss it out thinking no one wants it. So I take it. People don’t know what they are missing, passing up this one,” he continued.

“Now I know this curved one won’t be used either. Some people see food as more than nourishment. It’s all in the presentation. The image of a few select beans, all of the same length, lying on a plate nestled perfectly next to the entrée, supposedly adds to the enjoyment of the meal. I for one see my food as representing life itself. The world is full of texture, odd shapes and sizes. My world is not perfect. Nor is my dinner plate,” he said.

Suddenly I realized that we were the only ones in this aisle. Very unusual for this time of day. I was calm and very attentive to everything this man was saying.

Also unusual.

“Yes, this pile of beans reminds me that people come into my life in all sizes. Some are broken like this one. Others are still attached to the vine where they were nourished and protected and oftentimes were ripped away from their roots, carrying with them resentment and fear. Like this bean, the vine needs to be removed so that it can be seen in its full beauty and not one clinging to things of the past,” he said as he tossed them in his bag.

A few minutes had passed as I stood in silence just watching the old man as he dug deep into the pile, turning and tossing them from the bottom as one would stir a salad.

“Well, I must go now,” the man said. “I’ll leave you with these ‘human beans.’ Be kind to them. Don’t judge them just by looks. Inside everyone of them is the same life-giving elements. But like people, many will never be given the chance.” he said.
“So they end up on the bottom, tossed aside?” I asked.

“The difference is,” he replied, “as people we have a choice not to settle for the garbage heap.”

He tied the top of the plastic bag and turned away, missing the cart completely as he tried to place it inside.

“Sir, let me get that for you,” I said.

“Every once in a while I misjudge the distance. I’ve been blind all of my life. You’d think I’d have this worked out by now.”

Blind? I couldn’t believe it. Suddenly a young lady appeared from around the corner.

“Poppa! I’m over here, straight ahead of you. Would you like me to pick out some nice tomatoes?”

“No, honey. I know just what I need,” he said.

Turning back toward where I was standing, he whispered, “She’s always in such a hurry. She’ll miss the best ones. Have a great day!”

What insight. What vision this old man had. A blind man helped me to see what joy I had been missing in the simple act of shopping for vegetables. I wonder what else I have been blind to in the hurry of my day.

By the way, tonight I’m having brussel sprouts. I can’t wait to get back to the market.

Bob Perks

Check out more of Bob’s wonderful reflections at:
https://www.facebook.com/bob.perks

Or, how about me sharing one of Bob’s writings at our church’s 200th anniversary party:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3QoiP4x5NU

Way back when I was ‘just a kid’ living in Metuchen NJ in the mid-fifties, my life time best friend Ray shared our tropical fish hobby as only two teen boys can. One day Ray’s really neat mom, Marie, decided she wanted to decorate their living room with a fish tank very different that what we were doing or even could afford to do. She wanted a long rectangular tank with black sand and black background filled with the vey colorful fish, truly a neon colored small fish, the neon tetra.

neon <- Neon tetra

Now Ray and I when we could afford to buy fish at our local small town haunt, Tropical Pet Land, it was one or two fish at a time. Marie bought, as I recall in my memory of that amazing venture, what must have been maybe 100 (ok, maybe only 50?) beautiful Neon tetras (or maybe the more colorful Cardinal tetra?) for that long Betta tank for over their mantle place. What an extravagance! I’m sure she must have had our friend, Bruce, the shop owner, place a special order for that large a quantify of those radiant fish. I can never forget that scene and the impression it made on my young hobbyist mind.
Move ahead more than half a century and Ray and I still go fishing, driving from fish store to store, looking for a bargain and often offering to buy a whole school of maybe a dozen of some fish for his 22+ tanks, or my 3 large tanks, to get a good price. Nowadays that means getting fish down to maybe few dollars each, which in retirement now, we can afford and enjoy.

cardinals <- Cardinal tetras
Still fascinated with the Neon and even more colorful Cardinal tetra fish, I regularly keep a half dozen in one of my tanks for pure pleasure. Recently I decided to grow that school to a more colorful 20 or so fish.

Calling Ray to share that memory of his mom’s adventure so long ago, Ray corrected my memory. It wasn’t that long a tank, maybe only 20 inches in length. The ‘huge school’ of Neons (not Cardinals) was just 20 (still a huge number back in those teenage days). They didn’t last that long, contracting some common Neon fish disease, ending her colorful experiment. But that still lasts in my memory, and there it is still a very long tank filled with 100 (well maybe only 50) bright colorful Cardinals shining like neon lights against that black gravel and background.
Today, for however long they last, I have two schools of 20+ fish in each of two large tanks, mostly Neons, but at least 10 are Cardinals, moving Marie’s memory into today’s reality where I can actually validate those numbers and yes, there are 20 in each tank.
Thanks Marie, for the wonderful memories (my eyes are tearing up as I write this and recall her impact on our lives those many years ago), often driving us kids to a swimming hole in her pink (yes, PINK!) Buick, the Stanley Home Products distinctive award she earned for a lifetime of customer sales and service, which today is still carried on by her son, Ray, my lifetime friend and fellow tropical fish hobbyist.
Check out my office tank with its school of Cardinals and Neons recorded minutes ago now on YouTube for you at https://youtu.be/H2FtpXVFYF0

When I look back on my personal values, one that has remained constant over these past 7 decades has been always learning something new. Much of that comes in the form of reading or listening to audio books, with two or three books in progress at any given time. Even in looking back over a career that I can honestly say I loved every day of it, whether it was short order cook (teen years at Danford’s in Metuchen, NJ), selling jewelry at Metuchen Jeweler’s, giving customer service at the local tropical pet store or car hopping at Stewart’book librarys Root Beer stand in nearby Ford’s NJ (great lessons when you work on tips – good service means rewards with each car you waited on; work hard and you make more – lessons every young person needs to learn to succeed in later years), or teaching high school mathematics (at St. Peter’s high school in New Brunswick NJ where I attended and later taught at as a peer with my former teachers – loved those kids and working days!).  I even was the high school tennis coach, an assignment that drove me to the library to learn how to play and score tennis since I had no background in the sport until then.

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

Geometry teacher (1968) JFK High School, Iselin, NJ

Later in corporate America working at Sperry, Univac, Unisys – the names changed over my forty years, as did the company – but always moving into a different challenging role every 3 years – constantly learning new things, usually by sitting down with individual team members and watching them do a job, then asking if I can try my had at it – great bonding and fun way to learn. Whether it was teaching (yes, never strayed far from that stand up in front of a classroom even in this environment) or presenting product to a customer/prospect, I was learning and growing.

It was during those years that I came to recognize how important a value that was to giving me satisfaction in my life. It was never hard work even when it required working beyond 24 hours in a day, and sometimes it did!

Now in retirement that still plays a major role in living a fulfilled life each day. Whether its hosting a support group meeting for organ transplant patients learning from a kidney recipient turned kidney transplant surgeon last Thursday evening, Saturday attending a day long leadership summit listening to a presenter from the UK sharing what organ donation is like in their world, attending a bible study on Sunday followed by a learning workshop on how to lead a church council, each expands my world of interest just as it has for these many years.

And so it goes, bones may ache, health conditions may challenge, but the mind remains alive and hungry. That’s why, after reading a Washington Post editorial about the political climate just before now, I found myself distracted in watching a YouTube video on how they make bubble gum! (which I then posted on Twitter, another social media resource I’m trying to learn how to use effectively – learning, learning, learning!) – and then was moved to share here in my long neglected blog, this story of today and learnings.

So what are your values that make your own daily life worth living? Not sure? Take some quiet time to ask and answer that question, then focus more of your life in that direction to get more enjoyment out of life today and everyday.

So now I’m off to more reading and a to-do list that is too long for a life in retirement that is supposed to be one of quiet and resting. My lesson for you today: don’t believe it – life is to be lived and the more you learn the more interesting each day can be.

What does one write in a blog?  For me the answer is serendipity moments in life.  Today, for example, a friend, Mary Wu, wrote about her name, challenging her blog readers to respond to a question about our nicknames.  Despite a list of things to do, I usually stop and reply to her thoughtful sharings.   Today I wrote back  . . .

To Mary: What an interesting challenge (“what’s in your name/nickname…?”) – for me I have a few nicknames, “Jimmy Mike” was an early name used when mom meant business.

Jimmy Mike, little sister, Sissy, and mom - 1947

Jimmy Mike, little sister, Sissy, and mom – 1947

Mimmy Mike” was used by my loving grandmother in growing up, she even still used that when I was a teenager and beyond.

Jim at year of graduation from St. Peter's High School (1960)

Jimmy at graduation from St. Peter’s High School (1960)

Just “Jimmy” by my friends – esp Ray & Joyce who have been in my life since 5th grade –  who still use that today, after 60+ years of friendship from growing up and through adulthood

Jim & Ray, friends for 65+ years with many more to come . . .

Jim & Ray, friends for 65+ years with many more to come . . .

 

 

 

 

As a high school math teacher, it was “Mr. Gleason” to my students.

"Mister Gleason" at the blackboard (1968)

“Mister Gleason” at the blackboard (1968)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For family and most friends today, it’s just plain “Jim

"Jim" is the most common today

“Jim” is the most common today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My full formal name: James Michael Gleason – taken from my father’s, James Michael, so I’m really a ‘Jr” a name that traces back to my grandfather on his side, “Michael James” – and then we named my son, to avoid the dreadful  “2nd” “Michael James.”

"My wonderful dad" and namesake, James Michael Gleason, Sr.

“My wonderful dad” and namesake, James Michael Gleason, Sr.

 

 

But most interesting is the surname, “Gleason” which means ‘son of a glass maker.’  My father was a ceramic engineer and did actually create, from natural elements, new types of glass, so I am indeed a “Glea-son”, the son of my father the glass maker!

 

 

I’ve always accepted my name and nick names proudly, especially once I found that meaning and connection to my dad’s occupation/name, “glass-maker”

“So what’s in your name?”