My Obsession with the Number 23

A good number of people have asked why I seem to be so obsessed with the number twenty-three.  I’ll devote a few paragraphs here to give you the condensed version of why the prime number has become a big part of my life.  I don’t expect anyone to claim any significance the way I have, but will ask for a few minutes of your time to give you some background.

For twenty-five of my twenty-nine years in the public school classroom, math was one of the subjects I taught.  To be honest, I never really was that good in math, but my struggle to understand concepts I believe helped me to reach those that were going through similar struggles.  It was the “I’ve been where you are and know how you feel” mentality.  So it suffices to say numbers have always been an important part of my life.

About eight years ago, I was going through a particularly difficult time in my life and to be honest, not a whole lot of anything made any sense.  Separation and eventual divorce, recovery from addiction, and general upheaval has a way of doing that to you.  A fellow teacher, noting that I was really struggling, suggested I take up the hobby of numerology.  While I wasn’t a person that put a whole lot of store in what the numerologists seemed to be implying, it did peak my interest.  Somewhere along the way, I discovered the number twenty-three kept showing up over and over in my life.  That was the seed it took for me to study the number even further.

During my “investigation” I found out that both of my parents were twenty-three years old when I was born.  I was conceived in 1958 and those digits sum to twenty-three as well.  My son is twenty-three years younger than I am and my daughter was born on my sister’s twenty-third birthday.  Needless to say, the beginning of life is important to all and the presence of those numbers at my life’s beginning was too obvious to ignore.  * Note – I can say with some certainty that I was conceived on October 9, 1958, but I don’t want to raise your skepticism too early.

I also took a look at my birthdate in its numerical form:  7/6/1959.  If you sum the first four digits, you get twenty-three.  If you sum the last two digits, you get 14.  Since I am a person of the Christian faith, I began to look at the 23-14 combinations I could find in the Bible.  The first reading that seemed to have significance was Numbers 23:14.  It was there I found the name of the church I attend, Mt. Pisgah.

The next significant passage came from 2 Samuel 23:14, which contains the name “David” and “Bethlehem”.  David is the name I was given at birth and Bethlehem is the name of the town where Mt. Pisgah is located.  The most puzzling verse is Matthew 23:14.  In most translations of the Bible it’s not listed.  The Gospel of Matthew goes from 23:13 to 23:15.

So what did I take from all this you might ask? In a time during my life when not a whole lot was making any sense, I turned to God to find meaning.  I was fortunate enough to be raised in a home where church was an important element.  But it wasn’t until this difficult time in life when any of it began to take hold.  The different scriptures gave me assurance and bolstered my faith to the fact that God knew exactly what was going on in my life.  He had been there at the beginning and I had no reason to question He was still with me now.

So each time I see the number twenty-three, it’s like a “wink from God” that says amidst the chaos of my life, He is ever present…. He always has been and He always will be.  Now do I sometimes carry it a bit too far?  Perhaps so, but it’s something that I’ve held onto during the darkest valleys of life and I’m not about to let go.  I know some may think it’s pure nonsense and insignificant, but then it was God talking to me through a language He knew that I would understand and pay attention to.

And that my friends is the short version.  There are a lot of other situations that the number has kept showing up.  I just have to smile and know that there is One that knows me and will always have my best interest in mind.

David Lee

Mind over Matter….

Do the thoughts and emotions running through our minds have an effect on the outside world? Quite a bit of the reading I’ve done here of late would seem to say “yes.” Fascinating concept and something to ponder as I go through my daily routine.

I can readily say that I am an overthinker as a human being. From the time I get up in the morning to the last waking moments of my day, I’m thinking about one thing or another. Even as I consider that my brain might need to take a break from all that thinking, I realize that may not be entirely possible.

I also know there’s a fair amount of modern psychology that says that we can get addicted to our overthinking. It would seem this can be the case even when our thoughts are of a negative nature. At first, I couldn’t fathom being addicted to something that was unpleasant but realized I might just be one of those it applies to.

Most of the excess thinking, at least for me, comes in the form of reliving past events or trying to foretell something that is in the future. Needless to say, that keeps me from being in the present moment, which is neither positive nor negative.

So just for today, I’ll try to live in the present moment as much as possible. I’ll try to enjoy each moment and go with the flow as they say. I’ll try to document some of my experiences and share those with readers.

David Lee

Replacing a Bad Habit with a Better One…

On February 25th of this year, I stopped smoking (again). It’s definitely not be an easy road. Now that school is out for the summer, I’ve started walking again. I figured the smoking cessation would be easier if I replaced that bad habit, one that was harmful to my health, with a good one. I’m pleased and proud of my first week’s results.

Now that summer break has officially started, I know that there are quite a few things I need to be doing. Housework, getting my finances organized, and establishing a summer routine, are just a few of the things on my list. I’ve noted over the past several months that I’ve seemed to be gaining weight and knew that I needed to get more physical activity to keep my weight at a reasonable level.

I weighed in a little over a week ago at 226 pounds. I figured I probably had gained more weight than that, but it’s still not what I’d like to be at. That weight is going to serve as a baseline for my renewed summer habit of walking each day. Two summers ago, I had gotten into an excellent regimen of walking at least two times per day. I figured it would be too difficult to pick back up where I left off.

I’m pleased and proud to say the first week is over and done and I was able to log 18.94 miles of walking. I walked at least once each day and several days I walked twice. The weather was quite cool most all of those days and that made it much easier. I’m blessed to have several places in my area that are great for walking and that’s a big plus.

I know as the summer begins in just a couple of weeks that the temperature is going to get much warmer and it may be a stretch to keep up my currently weekly level. But I’ve at least gotten off to a good start. I’m going to set as a goal for this next week to walk twenty miles. Yesterday, the first day of the week, I logged 4.6 miles, so I’m off to a good start.

I’ve also found that once I got through the first several days, I’m feeling more motivated to walk each day. I pushed myself on several occasions to go a bit farther than I had originally planned. Even though I have some soreness associated with the first week of walking, it’s not so bad that’s it’s kept me from continuing. The added benefit of not smoking has also been a big plus. Two years ago when I did this, I was smoking and I’m thinking the fact I’ve been able to put those down will give me better results.

I’ll try to keep everyone up-to-date with my progress and I’m feeling good about this new habit.

David Lee

The Blue Feather Experiment – Put to the Test

I recently saw a post on social media about the “Blue Feather Experiment.” The premise is that one would set the intention to see a blue feather. You would then go along your way, not consciously thinking about the intention, but just waiting for it to appear. I decided to try the experiment or out for myself. And here are the results,,,

So I became a member of the “Law of Attraction” group on Reddit and perused the many posts in the group. The one post that caught my undivided attention was one that detailed an experiment that anyone could test out. Indeed I had some previous experiences with this law of attraction and figured it couldn’t hurt to try it out.

I sent the intention out into the Universe: “I would like to see a blue feather.” Then, the hardest part of the experiment – I had to consciously forget the intention and go on about my life. The intention either would or would not come into being and if it did, I knew I would be abundantly aware of it when it did. And off I went,,,

A couple of days had passed and I continued to go on my merry way. I had recently taken up walking again and figured I would likely see a blue feather on one of those walks. A couple of days passed and there was no blue feather to be found. I also was aware that I couldn’t impose a time table on the appearance of the blue feather, I just had to trust the process.

So today I decided to take a walk around the local university and during that journey, I realized I had yet to see a blue feather. I did see something blue in the grass soon thereafter, but upon inspection found out it definitely wasn’t a blue feather. I continued my walk and tried to put the experiment out of my mind.

During the second leg of my walk, I decided I needed to use the restroom and went into one of their buildings to do just that. When I stepped back out of the building, I startled a bird, which flew away. I’ll give you one guess as to what type of bird it was. Yes, it was a blue jay. While I was thinking I would see a blue feather that had detached from a bird, I had seen not one, but several blue feathers still attached to their owner.

At first I wanted to discount this sighting. I had expected to see a solitary blue feather on the ground,,, one that I could pick up and take with me as a sign of the success of the grand experiment. But alas, I had seen several blue feathers and took it that indeed the wish had come true.

I have to admit, I’ll still be looking for a solitary blue feather like I imagined, but at least for today, my intention had come to fruition.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Time for a Break from it all…

Part One – Summation of this past school year….

My last day of teaching for the school year was last Friday, May 26th. I served in two interim positions this school year, one at the beginning and the other covering the last half of the school year. I had several one-day assignments thrown in between for good measure. Now it’s time to take a break and refresh and regroup.

My first interim position was an eighth-grade assignment, teaching science, my favorite. Originally it was supposed to have been a seventh-grade assignment, but the teacher was reassigned. I was fortunate to have a great group of students and excellent teachers to work with on this first assignment. Those positions covering the first days and weeks of school can be challenging, but I was up to the challenge. I was eventually told that the position was coming to a close and I truly enjoyed the eight weeks or so it covered.

For the next several months, I filled in for teachers on a day-to-day basis. Those jobs were not difficult to find and I enjoyed most all the days I worked. I did cover for a teacher for four consecutive days and that too was a pleasant experience. It’s always interesting to not be attached to one particular school and see a wide range of teaching styles and groups of children.

While I was substituting in the class I had been with for the start of the school year one day, the principal came by and asked me to step out in the hall to discuss something. I of course thought someone had complained or something of the sort, but alas that was not the case. He had a teacher that had decided to leave her position and wanted to know if I could cover the classes for the rest of the school year. I didn’t hesitate to agree to the position that would start at the end of the first week in February.

These groups of students would have been the ones I would have taught if the teacher hadn’t been reassigned over the summer. So in a way, I figure it was in the Universe’s plans for me to work with this group of kids. I would also have the opportunity to work with a teacher I had worked with the year before and another teacher I had done an interim position for two years prior.

I will have to admit this group of students was a bit more challenging to work with than the first group I had taught earlier in the school year. But things worked out just fine and I think we had a really good second half of the year. As with most positions covering the last weeks of school, it did get quite challenging, but all ended well.

Looking towards next school year, I’ve gotten my teaching certificate renewed for at least the next five years. This will allow me to continue to do interim positions. I also have been given an eighth-grade teacher’s maternity leave to start the school year. So even more important to get some good quality R & R this summer. It’ll be time to start back before you know it.

Smoking Cessation – Not an Easy Road

Today marks ninety-one days of not smoking cigarettes. It’s definitely not easy road to travel, but I know it’s for my ultimate good. I had rolled up over 150 days back in December, but an emotionally-charged event occurred in my life and I succumbed to the urge to pick up again. I smoked a pack a day sixty-eight days, but once again gained the resolve to stop once more.

I’m still using nicotine lozenges to take care of those cravings and I realize I need to get those out of the way as well. But I figure I had to start somewhere and anything was better than inhaling all that smoke and all the other chemicals contained in cigarettes.

I do from time-to-time consider lighting up again. It’s not really what I would call a craving. I see someone, usually these days outside, and they are taking the last puffs off their cigarette before coming inside or smoking outside their car before reentering. I can imagine that’s me and have the illusion of enjoying every puff of that cigarette. But it’s just a passing train of thought and as of yet, hasn’t led me to go back to my old ways.

I’m taking it one day at a time and at least I know for the past ninety-some days there are 1800+ cigarettes that I haven’t smoked and I consider that to be a good thing – a life-saving thing.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day One Hundred

It’s taken me just over eleven months to get one hundred days of writing. As I look back over the ninety-nine posts, I’m reminded of on thing: impermanence. Things are always going to be changing in life and we must accept things that we don’t particularly like or understand along the path.

So much has changed over the past year in my life. As has been said, either nothing seems to be happening or everything is happening at once. There truly doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. If I look at the circumstances in my life a little over a year ago, they are so much different than what they are now. A lot of the changes are ones that I had no way of foretelling. But despite all the changes, I’m staying the course and keeping the faith.

Just over a year ago, I had a beloved dog, Abby. She succumbed to cancer only two weeks after her diagnosis. My mother, who was suffering from dementia, died less than a week later. Her death has left such a huge void in so many people’s lives. And then in-between there was a wedding, but here, just over a year later, we’re already separated. Three days short of the seventh month after we were married, it came to an abrupt close.

I am thinking the two interim teaching positions I’ve had over the past school year were a big part of what helped me keep my sanity. Both positions took a great deal of focus and gave me a true purpose for staying the course and giving me direction. It was bittersweet today when we said goodbye to our students and I realized that come Monday morning, I wouldn’t have that to look forward to each day.

So, here’s to the summer ahead. May it be filled with much joy and happiness.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Ninety-Nine

I’m nearly finished with my one-hundred days of writing. I had planned on writing for consecutive days, but that didn’t work out as planned. Nevertheless, these readings will provide some valuable insight on what has transpired in my life over the past year or so.

Anniversaries are usually joyous occasions, where we look back on years of joyous events in life. And while I still have a lot to be joyful of, this May will mark the one-year anniversaries of two somber events in my life.

It was during this month last year that my mother was suffering from the last stages of dementia that would eventually take her life. While I can say I’m glad she didn’t have to suffer any longer than she did, her last days with us were definitely not easy. I am so thankful that there are services available for families dealing with such situations and that our local hospice services were there for us during those last weeks. My mother left a legacy of sharing her love with all that she came across and is definitely missed by many.

It was also during the month of May last year that I found out my German shepherd Abby had terminal cancer. I had to make the difficult decision to say goodbye to her just six days before my mother died. She had been with me for over ten years and her death left a tremendous void.

The two deaths in such a short span of time were life lessons that we all too often take those around us forgranted.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Ninety-Eight

Random journal entries are interesting to read and sometimes give a new perspective on the past…These are my words from a journal that contains a wide variety of views and observations. I don’t have any particular objective with my selection of writings. Just to share what was going through my mind at the time.

November 20, 2022 – “I want to experience a positive working frame of mind.”

November 24, 2022 – “I have experienced a lot of changes in my life over this past year and am aware that changes can cause mental and emotional unrest. This past year I have experienced many new beginnings and endings. Some were joyous and some were somber. I definitely have changed the way I look at the world.”

November 25, 2022 – Smoking cessation – Since July 18th – 130 days, 2613 cigarettes avoided, $758 saved, 10 days won back.

December 4, 2022 – “I do not need outside validation to tell me I am a person of value. I do not need another person to tell me that my thoughts, words, and deeds are or are not ‘appropriate.”

December 14, 2022 -Today is the day for our flight to Tampa – first time I’ve flown in about 47 years – only the second time in all – weather here today is dreary and cold – although it’s supposed to have thunderstorms there tomorrow, it should be much warmer

December 19, 2022 – Beginning another week – Cold out this morning – Dentist appointment this afternoon at 2 p.m. – Planning on going to 10 a.m. WRC meeting this morning – need to call City of Hickory this morning to get water cut off at 924 today – Possible icy mix weather towards the end of the week – closing in on Christmas Eve and Christmas weekend

100 Days of Writing – Day Ninety-Seven

True test of faith… I have a small plaque in my bedroom that states: “Good morning. This is God. I am going to be handling all your problems today.” As I reflect on the past year, I’m not so sure what exactly that entails. I know that I need to do my part and yes, sometimes my faith in God becomes weak. But today I faithfully believe that there is a God who walks beside me and gives me the guidance, wisdom, and strength to face whatever lies ahead of me.

David Lee

100 Days of Writing – Day Ninety-Six

It was June of last year that I started my one-hundred days of writing. I planned on writing every day for those days. Here we are, nearly a year later and I’m just closing in on the hundredth day. It should be interesting to read back over what I’ve written this past year. If only I knew then what I know now. But that’s not the way life works, is it?

I am one of those people who genuinely wants to understand life. Why do things turn out as they do…why people, including myself, do the things they do. I have gained some understanding, but have I really. I think I’ve figured out why things in the past happened as they did, but have I really? It may just be my viewpoint and that’s about all. And I’m okay with that.

Radical acceptance is a relatively new term for me. But I think it’s an important concept to take into account moving forward. The past definitely cannot be changed. Things happened as they did,,,turned out the way they did. No amount of thinking is going to change that. While there are lessons to be learned for sure, I don’t need to obsess about the past and revisit all those moments.

So just for today, I’ll try to live in the present and appreciate the day.

David Lee