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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #10" 

31 August 2001

To those I am blessed to love as family, friends, and to those who care!!!

Enthusiastic greetings, hugs and wassup to each of you.

As always, I pray this update finds you at peace and content.  Are you ready for a seasonal change?  Yabadaba doo!  Fall is right around the corner.  I am speechless that 5 months of life have passed since I embarked on this journey.  Still confused about being happy with getting this over versus a deepening sense of remorse that this dream too soon will end.  Call me Dr. Nick Fickle.  Either way, I am excited to be strategically located in the North Eastern regions of our nation as Fall is quickly approaching.  New England will soon be drenched in color as heat gives way to soothing cooler temperatures and the trees will ignite with God's art display! 

This trip started on April Fool's day because I would have been a fool not to do this.  Since then I have driven almost 30,000 miles back and forth across this amazing land while finding gas in the range of $1.17-$2.40 per gallon.  Nice wide range eh?  My RV has served me well praise God, free from any mechanical failures while putting out 13.1 miles per gallon!  I may put it on EBAY after the trip so let me know if you may be interested in the USS Spirit of Reduction!  I love it but have sat in it one month too long already and still have three months to go! 

I have already enjoyed some great baseball in 25 of 30 Major League Ballparks with only those in Canada(2), New York(2) and Philly left. Have seen 86 games during which 843 runs were scored for an average of 9.91 runs per game!  Those with kids in Little League, pitching skills might increase the chances of a major league career.  I have been to 44 of our America's 50 states and the District of Columbia.  Only have three states in New England along with Utah, Nevada and Hawaii left to cover before reaching the goal of covering the whole country during this 8 month road trip.

With regard to the BIG diet, I press on.  God has generously blessed me with good health and great progress.  I have now lost 154 pounds with 83 to go.  It's amazing that as I look into the mirror, I don't see a big difference and at 313 pounds I still have lots of work left to do.  Maybe I have developed anorexia which for a while which may not be such a bad thing!!!  It's been entertaining watching faces of loved ones and those who have not seen me for a while.  This is only the beginning of a long process but of course I would be lying if I did not admit what a great source of encouragement the progress has been.   I still choke on my saliva when at a game and the guy next to me is swallowing a juicy dog, the lady in front of me is doing nachos covered with cheese, the kids behind me are cracking nuts and the boy on the other side is licking an ice cream cone.  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of junk food, I fear no calorie for Thou art with me" is my current version of Psalm 23:4.  It's been said that "a little encouragement can spark a great accomplishment" and that has certainly been a reality in my recent life.  I have been also spending much time at various YMCA's and physically am able to do things which 5 months ago were not possible. The progress and sense of impact in my life is picking up steam and with God's strength, I have not had a single lapse since celebrating my "last supper" on March 31st.

These last two weeks were free of the adrenaline surge and miracles of the last update.  I wrapped up my time with 15 year old buddy Mike Grant and was then blessed with the company of Dr. Don Miller, a physician also working full time with the underserved in North San Diego.  He is the most knowledgeable baseball fan I know and we had great fellowship and comradery while taking in some fun games.  Got a peak at the power and influence of music while visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.  While fascinated by the glimpse into the lives of some of these artists, I was also burdened with how vulnerable and gullible people in general can be.  Its sad that these modern day icons have such influence and impact over others while their own lives are often so desperate and hopeless.  Don't want to generalize too much but it was amazing to see how enthralled fans were to see some mere mask worn by a musician in a video 10 years ago.  Felt strange after a while.  It truly seemed like they were bowing to modern idols and the superficiality of pop culture is what shaped their life.  Off the soap box!  On Christ the solid Rock I Stand! (meant and said humbly).

In Cincinnati, Ohio I had a couple days alone spent golfing, weight lifting, pondering, reading, and journaling.  Then, I was excited to have friend and columnist Jeff Frank join me for a while.  One game we attended between the Reds and Cardinals had 8 home runs hit during it with both MacGuire and Griffey among those swatting balls out.  Jeff and I have both survived cancer, though his battle was much more extensive than my own, so we have some similar valleys traveled through in life.  I am thankful he made the time to join me and we got some quality time on the road.  Then I took a day long solo contemplative drive back to Bedford, Virginia to visit family.  You may recognize the name as the President recently dedicated a National D-Day Memorial there as that little Virginia town lost the most men per capita in the nation on that monumental day of battle during WW II.  I have been so thankful during this trip to visit many of these monuments and historical sites of significance.  So much history upon which our current liberty is built.

Just before I started this trip my maternal grandmother passed away leaving behind her hubbie of nearly 58 years and my grampa.  She is buried in the same graveyard as Civil War soldiers!   My gramps though 83, is still full of life and eager to join me on the adventure.  In Bedford I also have my Uncle Ray, Aunt Karen, and cousins Darren and Amy with their respective families.  Its like a home away from home now.  We had a great time for 4 days swimming, fishing, shooting, kicking back and enjoying the beauty of rural Virginia.  I even got energized during a southern revival at the Cross Road Baptist Church.  The place was rocking and swaying and I devoured the experience as calorie-free energy and nourishment for my heart and soul.  There was a little nervous excitement one day as 8 of us family members had rented a pontoon boat at a large local lake.  About 5 hours into the experience one side started taking on water and sinking and we had to scramble to make it back to shore just in time before the thing flipped over.  It was one of the few times my weight came in handy as I was leaning over the other side with the others trying to keep the thing level until reaching the dock.  We got back just in time but not before some tense moments of prayer and planning for a sinking vessel.  Since everyone knew how to swim I must confess the materialism of my concern over the safety of my digital camera.  It was most expensive and I have taken over 1500 pics and video with it and was worried about loosing the thing on the bottom of some lake!

Gramps and I recently hit the road together for three weeks.  Our first stop was Baltimore, Maryland birthplace of Babe Ruth and a city with sharp cultural and financial contrast.  Like so many inner American cities there is a vast gap between the haves and the have nots.  In places like Baltimore its just so blatantly evident.   The only person I know born on the same day and year as I is a medical school buddy named Dr. John Kempen.  He and his wonderful wife Lori hosted us there and it was great to see the evidence of God's generosity in their lives as a couple and as individuals.  We got to visit other friends and enjoy some rich historic sites there as well including Ft. McHenry a very strategic spot in our nation's history with the battle fought there during the War of 1812 against Britain being the inspiration for our national anthem. What once was a routine part of every ball game now has a new spark of relevance and reality to me.

After passing through and visiting some more loved ones in New Jersey, I am now back in Boston as my brother Paul and his new wife Eleni are here visiting her parents and sister Maria.  I abbreviated my Baltimore visit to see my brother and spend a couple days with him and his new family. The Yankees are in town again this weekend (as the last time I was here in May) to play the Red Sox which is one of the greatest rivalries in sports but I will pass on the games to hang with the fam.  I do plan on walking the entire Freedom Trail tomorrow in downtown Boston to view some more of the sites of significance in our country's early heritage. My grandfather and I then head up to Canada for a week on Sunday for some Canadian baseball and a favorable monetary exchange rate! 

And so my rambling comes to an end.  Thanks for reading if you made it this far.  I am still so very appreciative for the thoughtful support and encouragement I receive from so many. 

"The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him."
--  Lamentations 3:25.

Striving to be half the man I once was,


dr. Nick

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