Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 100

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 40
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 16
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 11


Mal and I, along with our two kids, had just spent a week in England with my sister’s family, then a week alone in Paris (including a trip to Euro Disney, now renamed Disneyland Paris) then we finished this great vacation with another week at my sister’s rented home in Windsor, England. My sister’s husband, Greg, took some time off from his work to introduce us to some local places of interest including the Windsor Horse Racing Track, The Chesington Amusement Park, and the famous “white cliffs of Dover.” These white cliffs are actual cliffs that contained part of the World War Two English command headquarters. This underground system of tunnels, communications centers and war rooms was restored to illustrate how this actually looked during the war and it was a relaxing and educational trip. All in all, this three-week vacation was really enjoyable, mostly because of the hospitality of my sister and her family.

When we returned home to Bolton, Massachusetts, we began to prepare for the beginning of the new school year for Adam and Cassy. Adam was to begin his second year at Lexington Christian Academy. His first year went extremely well and he made friends quickly there. He was elected to be the sophomore class president by his newfound peers based more on his popularity than any serious “campaign promises.” The previous year he had his first serious girlfriend but that didn’t last very long. He began to be more interested in Emma, a classmate who was a good friend and confidant. After a short while his friendship became more of a boyfriend-girlfriend thing but it didn’t take them too long to realize they were better off as friends. Then came Meridith. She was transferring to this high school as a sophomore and it didn’t take very long for something to develop between her and Adam. Meridith was a good friend with Emma and when it was apparent that romance wasn’t going to happen between Adam and Emma, she expressed interest in Adam. Adam fell for her pretty fast.

Mal was still battling her Fibromyalgia and she was exhausted and in pain all of the time, but she was trying to continue on with her regular routine as much as possible. One day after dropping Cassy off at The Imago School, Mal was invited out to breakfast with Kim, an old friend of ours. Kim had recently lost a significant amount of weight and Mal was surprised to see her eating bacon, eggs, and cheese for breakfast. Kim told her that she was successfully using “The Atkins Diet” and she explained the low carbohydrate diet to Mal. Mal was excited to try something new to get rid of the small amount of “extra” weight that she was unhappy with. She had tried other diets and had only occasional success with them. If she could lose some weight and still get to eat some bacon every now and then, this sounded like it would be worthwhile to try it. She’d just have to cut out bread, pasta, processed flour, and foods that are high in carbohydrates. Mal bought the Atkins book and read all about it before she tried it and it seemed to make good sense. After faithfully following this diet for a month or so she found that she had lost most of her unwanted weight but more importantly, she began to feel better. It seemed as if the symptoms of her Fibromyalgia were diminishing. Some scientists believe that Fibromyalgia is caused by a yeast imbalance and this seems a likely possibility since almost ninety percent of the people the disease affects are women. The medical community has been divided on this disease for many years. It was sometimes called “The Yuppy Disease” because it seemed to primarily affect women between the ages of 25-40. The environment to which many women were exposed was thought to be the cause since many of these women lived in new homes that were airtight and perhaps the air they breathed was contaminated. I don’t know what really causes this disease but I know my wife began to feel healthier when she cut out certain foods.

Since I had decided to “retire” from day-to-day involvement at my comic book and collectible store I knew I needed to be able to count on a stable, regular income for my family. Previously, I existed by paying all of the store’s expenses and paying all of my employees before I took any money for myself. My “pay” varied from week to week. Some weeks it was huge and some weeks there would be no money available for me, but that was okay because I was a pretty good saver. When the money was rolling in, I didn’t spend much of it. I knew I might need it later. So Chris, my company manager, and I agreed on a regular amount that would be paid to me each week in a paycheck. This turned out to be about forty percent less than I was accustomed to take but I knew that it was very important to allow the business to be comfortable to pay for the everyday expenses and to have the funds available to hire the additional people to replace me. (Don’t feel bad for me, I’m still making a good living.)

We also had to deal with paying off the loan for our huge building in Worcester. We financed this building by taking out a mortgage on my family home so I wanted this paid off. Each month, since 1992, we had paid an extra amount over and above our required mortgage. Some months it was only an extra one thousand dollars, but sometimes we paid an extra five thousand dollars directly to the principal loan amount and by the beginning of 1996 we had paid off the entire loan. It’s a liberating feeling to be free from the nagging obligation of loans.

Next chapter: Chris, the store manager, books a great line-up of sports celebrities as guests at the stores.

1 comment:

  1. Cake not signed inMay 21, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    I'm really glad the change in diet helped your's amazing how many people could see an improvement in their health if they actually did this kind of research. Until recently, I worked with a woman who suffered CONSTANTLY with various ailments...I convinced her to try gluten-free (I'm biased) and she improved quickly in a few days...but it's a lot of work getting used to a special diet and she couldn't be bothered with keeping it up.


    Happy Victoria Day! What? You don't get a long weekend to garden and party? You poor thing.

    Yeah, yeah, I know..."retired." Hush.