In Memoriam – Col. (ret.) Charles Allan Gillis

(My mother wrote this beautiful obituary of for my father, and I wanted to share)

Col. (ret.) Charles Allan Gillis
November 11, 1929-December 30, 2017

Col. (ret.) Charles A. Gillis (Chuck) was born November 11, 1929 in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he attended St. Mary’s Elementary School. (As did Mary K. Schmidt whom he eventually married. His one recollection of her was at a dance class in which the instructor made him dance with her. He says that not only did she have frizzy black hair, she was FAT.)

He went away to high school in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin and the Admiral Ballard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He was accepted at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, where he graduated in June, 1951 as a “distinguished military graduate” which earned him an automatic appointment as a second lieutenant in the US Army. He had extensive training in the Army including the US Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, KS and the US Army War College in Carlisle, PA. He majored in International Politics at Tulane, University. Continue reading In Memoriam – Col. (ret.) Charles Allan Gillis

Journal – Finding Meaning in Goodbye (getting unstuck)

My father died Saturday (December 30), as do all fathers, as do all sons. Ubiquity doesn’t erase uniqueness – not of feelings, nor of the individuals caught in the gristmill of existence. Mortality, the thought of it and the fact of it, is either the source of dread or the source of inspiration. And that can change moment to moment; particularly if I don’t keep an eye on the manic hobgoblin I call my subconscious.

I love life but you wouldn’t guess that from how I’ve been living, around Thanksgiving I slowed down and life began to happen at me – like being overtaken from behind by a leopard. Today was the day I was going to turn it around, as was yesterday, and the day before. I’ve been here before, and will probably return, and I thought it would be a good chance to take a moment to observe myself in this moment of inaction. As a reminder to me (and maybe a help to you) of how to break “the spell” of this kind of inertia. Continue reading Journal – Finding Meaning in Goodbye (getting unstuck)

Journal – 7/16/17: Goals, Success & Failure

Howdy! This’ll be the first of many weekly journal entries where I do a quick analysis of the previous weeks successes and failures, which I’ll share both as public shaming, but more seriously to share the formal process of personal goals.

Last week I started a 39 week goal cycle for weight loss and maintenance, plus two 16 week goals for exercise and wrapping up writing a novel that’s proven a tough nut to crack. I’m using two tools to help this process along, and Fitbit. Stickk is a simple goal-setting platform that lets you set a goal, apply financial stakes and include a referee for your goals. There’s two parts to Fitbit I’m putting to use, the first is the tracker to monitor daily activity, the second is the food log on their site where I get to be horrified by the sheer volume of calories I consume when I’m not paying attention. Continue reading Journal – 7/16/17: Goals, Success & Failure

Journal – 1/26/17: Ungrateful, Mindless and Whiny

It’s been awhile since I’ve journaled, as usual that has more to do with me letting life get on top of me than lack of nonsense to spew – my sabbatical ended, a new job took its place, a grand-niece was born, I got a kidney stone (I’m still waiting to give birth to), we had a family reunion, and on a surface level I enjoyed every minute of it. On a deeper level, as happens from time to time, I’ve had the feeling of experiencing life rather than living it. Losing touch with my goals, and reverting instead to habit. I have good habits, and I’ve got bad habits – the good ones take care of themselves, but my bad habits tend to fall under the umbrella of laziness. Continue reading Journal – 1/26/17: Ungrateful, Mindless and Whiny

Journal – 1/26/17: Keys

Fumbling to find the key to the Master lock protecting the treasures in my storage cage, I wondered why it took so long to find it. I have a ridiculous number of keys on this ring, ridiculous because I don’t know what half of them fit.

This got me thinking about two things; one, I need to throw away a bunch of these keys and, two, is my key-ring a metaphor? How many psychic “keys” do we carry around in life to locks we’ll never encounter, or have long abandoned? Once useful tools that now weigh us down for no reason. Continue reading Journal – 1/26/17: Keys

Journal – 11/23/16: Because I Can

MeSmallThirteen days ago I began a new sabbatical, then promptly lost track of why I took sabbatical to begin with – a loved one in pain, a political choice akin to hiring a florist to do your plumbing and some self-pity that things in general weren’t working out exactly the way I wanted.  Being distracted isn’t anything new for me, it’s the reason I put so much stock in personal goals, which is why these thirteen days won’t become thirteen months. I thought I’d share my slate of personal initiatives with you, dear reader, both as a way to think out loud, and to refine what I’m really hoping to accomplish. Continue reading Journal – 11/23/16: Because I Can

Journal – 7/04/16: Decisions, Dedication and Dummies

Firework_IconHappy 4th of July Y’all! Clearly I’ve been less than dedicated to this journal, always a clear indication that I’ve been drifting, or more to the point that I didn’t want to admit my drifting. I’ll always be honest with you here, which from time to time means fessing up to less than stellar behavior. Of course, the huge gaps in my journal entries point to the bad habit of not wanting to admit what a slacker I’ve been. I’ve lamented in the past that I’d prefer to be a heroin addict or alcoholic, to simply being lazy if for no other reason than it would make me seem more tortured (and would be a neat explanation for these fallow phases that recur in my life). Continue reading Journal – 7/04/16: Decisions, Dedication and Dummies

The Creative Ember – Death, Prince and Me

02_PrinceWhen Prince died I was writing an IT proposal to get a Federal contract. If you’d have told me that either of those things (Prince dying at 57, me leaving commercial art for filthy lucre) when “Purple Rain” came out – I would have punched you. Making accommodations to self-sufficiency were still years off, and I had years of struggle and failure ahead of me, I lived in a bubble of artistic delusion. I’m writing today to say, I wasn’t all wrong. Continue reading The Creative Ember – Death, Prince and Me