“Put your distractors in check”

By 8:00 a.m., I’d already showered, packed, and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee on my fifth floor balcony overlooking the unparalleled beauty of the white sanded beaches of the Gulf of Mexico at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach.

The morning view from my balcony.

The morning view from my balcony.

I felt great!

Twenty three hours earlier, I’d just completed the opening keynote speech of the Gulf Coast 9-1-1 Conference.

Enjoyed spending time with my buddy Marvin, the Coffee County 911 coordinator.

Enjoyed spending time with my buddy Marvin, the Coffee County 911 coordinator.

On past trips, I would’ve been full of beer and struggled just to be awake prior to the mandatory checkout time.

On this trip, I was full of energy, good food, and gratitude.

I’ve been making better decisions as of late, and my life, both personally and professionally, have never been better.

I’ve tried to rid myself of three things that took up much of my time. I had to put them in check.

First of all, I haven’t been drunk in over five months. To put that into perspective, barring my three tours in Iraq, I haven’t gone five months without getting drunk since the five months before I ever got drunk.

I’ll still have a beer or two here and there but those beers are far and few between, and, on occasion, I’ll have a glass of wine with dinner. Be that as it may, most of the time, it’s lemonade, water with lemon, or un-sweet tea for me.

Yes, un-sweet tea. If given the choice, that’s how I roll. Oftentimes, sweet tea can be just too sweet and can be poured on pancakes if you’re running low on syrup.

But, I digress; I haven’t been drunk since May 14, 2013. I had a slight “buzz” after a couple of strong beers at a brewery in Northern Michigan two weeks ago but called it quits when the buzzing commenced. I was only a block from my hotel.

The drinking and the extracurricular activities associated with it were very time consuming. Whether it was the consumption of alcohol itself or sleeping off its effects, it was just a complete waste of time. Oftentimes, I would drink enough to ruin the entire next day which lead to little, if any, productivity.

Secondly, I was spending way too much time playing stupid games on my phone. The objective of the first game I got hooked on was to knock things over with different types of birds. Yes, birds, angry ones, at that.

After I’d tamed the birds, I had words with friends in a game that was a lot like Scrabble. I really can’t remember what made it so special, but it was my longest addiction. One time, I had a word worth 180 points but it was still stupid, but I was even stupider.

Lastly, there was Ruzzle. It was stupid, too.

Thankfully, I was never involved with the mafia and never had a farm. Furthermore, I do not currently have a crush on candy.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, chances are you have a Buick in your garage, but trust me, you aren’t missing a thing. A glass of cornbread and buttermilk is much more interesting and beneficial. These are more stupid, time consuming games at the fingertips of many Americans who own smart phones.

To be called “smart” phones, they sure are filled with a lot of stupidity.

Luckily, I gave up the games, which lead to more time to focus on things that are truly important.

I said there were three things I’ve tried to rid myself of, but, for the life of me, can’t remember what the third one was. Now I know how Governor Rick Perry felt at the November 2011 GOP debate when he couldn’t remember the third government agency he would shut down if elected President of the United States.

I feel you, governor. Oops.

I guess, in my case, it wasn’t very important since I can’t remember what it was. That states volumes, so good riddance to whatever it was.

It wasn’t food. I know that for a fact. I will never give up my affection for good food.

We are all so busy these days and for many legitimate reasons; however, most of us have many unnecessary distractors in our lives, too. Try putting your distractors in check and focus on what is truly important. You’ll be amazed by the results.

Update on 10/26/13: I finally remembered what the 3rd one was…Fantasy Football. That took up so much of my time and I still routinely came in last place. 

Note: Recently, someone asked me if I was an alcoholic and without hesitation, I said, “No.” That is the truth but another truth is that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to have a problem.

Jody Fuller is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.

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Beer, Beer, Beer

When I was in basic training, one of my favorite cadences said, “Beer, beer, beer, said the private. Merry men are we…”

I was a merry man for a long time, but I recently went 40 days and 40 nights without flooding my body with alcohol. In fact, my body experienced a drought for 40 days and 40 nights, and, the truth is, I never felt better.

On the 41st day, however, I caved in and had three beers. Ok, that sounds a bit dramatic. One of my lifelong friends came over to my house to help me do some handyman work. Actually, he did the work and I just stood there, because my handyman skills are lacking.

Once the project was completed, we did what many guys do to celebrate the completion of a project; we drank beer. He brought over a 6-pack of really good, quality beers; however, we only shared three of them. No, we didn’t use straws and we sure as heck didn’t sip from the same bottle. We poured them into a couple of beer glasses that I’d acquired from microbreweries from across the country, so I really only had one and a half. Two weeks later, the other three are still in my refrigerator.

The last three times I cut the grass, I celebrated with a large glass of lemonade while sitting in the sunshine on my deck, and I’m here to tell you, it was just as satisfying as a celebratory beer.

I didn’t drink every night. Most weeks, it was only one night out of the week, but I would drink enough that particular night to keep a small brewery afloat.

Many of us have experienced those next day regrets after a night of excess consumption. Lord knows I have. At my age, those regrets spill over a couple of days, physically, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Did I mention physically?

I haven’t quit. I never said I quit. I’m disciplined in so many areas, so I just decided to add the consumption of alcohol to that list.

I still plan on having a beer from time to time. Beer in moderation makes me happy.

I still plan on having a beer from time to time. Beer in moderation makes me happy.

Knowing that the 10 biggest regrets of my life involve alcohol has a sobering effect (pun intended) on me. I can’t take any of them back. I can only learn and move on from here. For the record, no one was ever hurt; I just made some dumb decisions.

On the other hand, the only time alcohol ever got me in trouble was likely the best thing to ever happen to me. When I was 19, I was arrested for underage drinking which ultimately led to my decision to join the Army.

I feel confident that this new me is here to stay. I’ve been in some situations recently where I was able to maintain my discipline, whereas in the past, that would not have been the case.

I’ve frequented my favorite watering hole in Opelika on three different occasions since making the decision to scale back without falling back into the trap. Water with lemon is just as good, and so are the laughs with the fellas.

A couple of weeks ago, I spent four days and three nights in Sin City, Las Vegas, Nevada, without consuming a single drop of alcohol. That’s the equivalent of a police officer going an entire shift without a single doughnut. It’s simply unheard of.

On Sunday, I began my journey to Arizona for the National Stuttering Association’s 30th annual conference.

Because of my love of quality beer and BBQ, my cross-country escapades usually involve quite a bit of each.

I drove only a short distance that first day. I stopped in New Orleans to stay with my buddy and his family. The family stayed at home, while he and I went down to the French Quarter and ate at Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA, which was an absolute joy. I did have one really good local brew before dinner, but only because we had to wait a bit before being seated. We also had Emeril’s New Orleans BBQ Shrimp for an appetizer.

One beer in New Orleans is like one pair of jean shorts to a Bama fan. It’s simply unheard of.

I had dinner with water and a friend at The Cheesecake Factory in San Antonio on day two. We had a great dinner and conversation, in spite of the absence of alcohol. In the past, that would have simply been unheard of.

On day three, I drove the final 15 hours and arrived at the conference around 11:00 PM.

I’m sure some interesting stories will arise from this week’s conference. They always do.

For example, did you know that when there are three stuttering guys in a small room that the lights start to flicker? It’s a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights. Now you know.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I had three beers last night, although it wasn’t entirely my fault. I ordered just one, but my stuttering prevailed and the bartender misunderstood me.

“Beer, beer, beer, said the captain,” he thought.

I’m convinced that the secret to happiness is discipline. Whether it’s beer, BBQ, fishing or women, quality is always better than quantity.

Speaking of quantity, I just realized I’ll have to cut the grass when I get home. Yuck! Oh well, at least I’ll have an ice cold glass of lemonade waiting on me afterwards.

Cheers!

PS…I didn’t really have three beers last night.

Only one drink so far at the NSA conference and that was this glass of wine.

Only one drink so far at the NSA conference and that was this glass of wine.

Jody Fuller is a comic, a speaker, and a soldier. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit http://www.jodyfuller.com.