Can Slaving Over the Cat Boxes Save Me From Purgatory?

03/22/2016

All I did was express a simple hope. And you scoffed at me.

All I did was jokingly suggest that my cat box penance might help me out in Purgatory.

And then we got into this huge discussion about the existence of Purgatory and hell isn’t real and this concept of the devil is so Middle Ages… and Original Sin? That’s some Catholic concoction; get real.

Okay, okay… believe what you want. But if you think Purgatory is a crock and hell and the devil are primitive concepts with no basis in reality and Original Sin is part of that whole Mary obsession that Catholics invented, then we better keep talking after Lent.

Which technically ends tomorrow, by the way. But never fear, you’re going to keep hearing from me daily until Easter.

The Sunday after Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

We’ll have a ton to discuss about Divine Mercy beginning this Friday, Good Friday, which is the first day of the nine-day Divine Mercy Novena.

Until then, you’ll have to watch the video to get the full gist of today’s message.

It’s Tax Season. Did I mention?

Yes, still a recovering CPA.

And writer.

And personal fitness trainer.

And cat lover. Trapped in a dog lover’s body.

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Thanks for taking some of your precious time today to read and listen to my thoughts. My commitment during Lent 2016 is to post a daily video reflection to help you and me on our walk through the season and toward Easter Sunday. I will also explore other matters of faith and also health and fitness to keep us fit for the journey. Click here for my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/davekwiecinski

I appreciate your help and encouragement. Please let me know how I can help you. This is something I’ve been called to do for some time. I’m finally embracing it. Father, forgive me for procrastinating.

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I Hate Car Shopping. I Hate Coffee. Wait…

01/20/2015

Yes, it’s true.

Car shopping could actually be the bane of my existence.

Well, hold on.

Car shopping used to be the bane of my existence.

As I was formulating the brilliant words for this post, I was all set to recount some of the horror stories of Car Shopping Through the Years.

Like the time I went to the dealership when we desperately needed a van to fit us and the five kids. Our budget was tight and I needed to leave with a payment that was a certain amount and not a dollar more. I can’t remember what that number was. $150 a month maybe? $200? I don’t remember.

I do remember the salesman coming back from his manager’s office with a number that was not my number. It was significantly more than what I wanted to pay. I matter of factly told him that was too much and was ready to leave.

The guy went back to his manager and — lo and behold! — they met my price.  Exactly.

I was a terrible negotiator. I didn’t know how to do it. I just knew what I needed to happen.

Or the time when we were at Arlington Nissan, ready to buy our first brand new van. As part of the process, I was also talking by phone with the owner of the old Nissan dealership in Gurnee. Simply trying to exact the best deal. The guys at Arlington sweetened their offer. So I called the guy in Gurnee back.

“I know what you’re doing and I’m not playing your game any more.”

What game was I playing? What was I doing?

I stunk at negotiating. Or so I thought. All I thought I was doing was trying to get the best deal. The most vehicle for my money. Which was still a precious commodity.

In retrospect, I guess the Gurnee guy had gone as far as he could. He couldn’t match the Arlington offer.

Did that make me a good negotiator?

Heck if I know. I was just trying to get the best deal.

So, Arlington won. But then we had our encounter with the finance manager.

And that took, well, forever.

I remember stopping at the Burger King in Libertyville for dinner, with our three youngest kids. After 11 PM. Close to midnight.

Yeah, that was a late night.  Poor kids (he says, chuckling).

Even the last vehicle we bought. An all day affair. This dealership. That dealership. Test drives. Listen to the bull$@!&. Play the stupid game. Make the deal. Get surprised by another hidden charge.

Then dance with the finance manager.

I hate car shopping.

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Did I ever mention I hate coffee?

55 years of my life, I had no need for a jolt at the beginning of the day. As a kid, I woke up when my dad woke up to get ready for work. He worked an early shift. So he was up early. So was I.

Remember the test patterns on television? Before every channel was a 24-hour channel? When TV stations signed on and signed off the air? When WGN began and ended their day with The Star Spangled Banner and Five Minutes to Live By?

Yeah, I remember those days well. When I woke up, my brain was already stimulated. No need for coffee.

Then, last year happened. Dad went to the hospital. And it seemed like he was there for months. Oh yeah. That’s ’cause he was.

My body still hasn’t recovered.

My metabolism switch flipped (theme for another day). And averaging four to five hours of sleep every single night… day after day… week after week… finally caught up with me. The guy who never needed coffee to be fully awake suddenly needed a ton of coffee to get and stay awake and alert.

Haven’t recovered.

I still don’t need coffee first thing in the morning (still a dangerous thing), but I’ve become addicted to the caffeine and its effect on my neurotransmitters. No caffeine: tremendous, debilitating headaches. Caffeine: no headache, but too much of it and I bounce off the walls.

Today was one of those days. Way too much caffeine. Too early. Not enough food.

And it was a car shopping day.

Ugh.

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Kathy’s car needs work. Nothing major. But expensive. Four new tires. A brake job. Probably needs new rotors all the way around the vehicle. Car just turned 69,000 miles.

That got me to thinking. What would it take to get into a new vehicle? Same model. But new.

Momma gets the new car. That’s the way it’s always worked. I get the reliable used car. Definitely more grunt work to find the right animal there. So I guess I’m complaining a whole lot about this process, but her purchases are simpler.

But not easier. All I need do is recall with fondness all the anxiety attacks of dealing with car salesmen and finance guys.

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Kathy’s day off today. So here I was, all caffeined up, working the numbers, bouncing off the walls. Doing the nerdy thing recovering accountants/CPAs do. A spreadsheet, naturally.

Car Shopping and Coffee. Lovely.

Car Shopping and Coffee. Lovely.

What number makes sense? What can we afford to pay and how does that compare with what we have to do to her vehicle now?

And can I sit still long enough to figure it all out?

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I had paid a visit to the dealership last Thursday. Joe, the internet sales manager, offered a test drive, a quick look at our trade, and a quick number crunch. He promised to have me out the door in half an hour. It took closer to an hour. The numbers didn’t look promising. We parted company amicably. He thanked me for stopping in.

I did a little internet research Thursday and Friday to see what other dealers were offering for the same vehicle, similarly equipped. Was there enough wiggle room in the price to make it all work?

Saturday, on our way to my niece’s Sweet 16th, I got an e-mail from Joe.

The deal was suddenly much sweeter.

Yesterday, I sneaked onto the lot of another dealership, undetected by any salesmen, to spy on their inventory. Just wanted to see what was out there, on the lot. In case Joe’s numbers were too good to be true.

I’m a tire-kicker.

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After phone calls to two other dealers, Kathy and I headed over to see Joe. It was 1:00.

At 2:05, we were on our way home. Deal was done. New car, to be delivered from another dealership, on its way. 2015. Much nicer than our present model. Lots of high tech bells and whistles. And not much more per month than we’re paying now.

And no out of pocket for the tires, the brakes, an oil change, this month’s payment.

It was painless.

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I hate negotiating. I hate car shopping. I hate coffee.

But today, all three converged and created a surprisingly sweet experience.

Am I a good negotiator? I know what works for us. I didn’t persuade anybody to do something that wasn’t comfortable for them. I don’t think I changed anybody’s mind.

But I think we got a good deal.

For us, at least.

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On the ride home, I suggested to Kathy that I should start a car buying concierge service.

“Yeah. Why don’t you start something else?”

Okay, okay… I’ll temper my enthusiasm. I’ll stick with writing.

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I’d be remiss if I ended this without acknowledging Joe Matellanes at Ziegler Nissan in Lake Villa, Illinois. Joe, this was the most pleasant car buying experience I have ever had. I told Kathy on the way to the dealership that of all the folks I talked to, you were the guy I wanted to do business with. Thanks for making this painless.

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And now, if I get to sleep in 13 minutes, I get four hours of sleep.

Tonia, Melinda… I still owe you blog posts. I haven’t forgotten.


Introducing… Me!

08/29/2012

Hi everybody.  My name is Dave Kwiecinski.  I live with my beautiful wife, Kathy, and the youngest of our five children, Martha, in Winthrop Harbor, Illinois.  Take a look at a map… we’re at the corner of Lake Michigan and the Wisconsin state line.  See us waving to you?

I’m a “recovering CPA” who still prepares income tax returns every spring (keeps the mind sharp).  When I graduated from high school (many, many moons ago), I was convinced that I would make my living as a writer and author.  That’s all I wanted to do with my life.

College has a way of reshaping expectations and aspirations.

I wish I could blame it on the drugs, but I didn’t take ’em.  No alcohol either.  Not enough anyway.  But something made me do “accounting.”

Well, not something… someone.

Me.

I’m analytical, have a head for numbers, the rest is history.  Early into my career, I knew I had made a mistake and kept trying to “fix it.”

Over the last 32 years (yikes), the one constant theme of my life has been taxes.  Tax prep.  Consulting.

One more constant.  The unquenchable desire to help people.

Getting Kathy through nursing school, five kids, three in diapers, helping her through some major health issues, school activities… weeks blurred into months, months into years… it was easier to remain a CPA through it all.

Fast-forward to the late 1990s.  A minor health scare resulted in a trip to the emergency room.

Much ado about nothing, but to make a long story very brief, it was the catalyst to a second career as a personal fitness trainer and a new goal: to live to age 100.

Not just limp along, mind you, and gasp out my last as I crossed the “Age 100” finish line, but to live, to thrive, and to matter… all God-willing… until I’m at least 100 years old.

I have a lot to give, so much to share, and there’s so much I wish to experience, it’ll take that long to fit it all in.

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In 2004, I became a personal fitness trainer.  My new career journey began as a classic “rep counter” at the McGaw YMCA in Evanston, Illinois.  My practice has evolved into a variety of specialties, from working with clients suffering from debilitating disease, such as Parkinson’s and MS, helping the “unwell” move closer to optimal health and away from preventable diseases on the life cycle continuum, to simply helping those of us in our “middle years” cope with the ravages of time’s assault on our physical structure and those looking to transform their bodies for whatever reason.

I don’t own a gym or a studio.  I make house calls.

I will write more about how I provide solutions for you in a future blog post.  For now, I simply want to introduce myself.

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I still aspire to be a writer.

The next leg in my own personal transformational journey commences today.

I will assist many more of you virtually than I can individually, in a one-on-one setting, so I am entering the world of online business to search for people hurting and seeking solutions to their physical challenges.  This will fulfill my lifelong expectation that I would live my life as a writer and author, a dream sidetracked by misplaced ambition, then life circumstances, and personal choice.

My choice now is to bring me back to my center.  And thus help hundreds, perhaps thousands of you… not just a handful… at a time.  I have a lot to give, so much to share, and I still have that same unquenchable desire.  To help you get what you want.

Let me know about you.  What are your expectations for your life?  How can I help you achieve them?  Send me an e-mail: dave@davekfitness.com.

I cannot wait to help you.


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