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Dry January

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 02/08/2024

Squeezed show art Squeezed

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Lent show art Lent

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Dry January show art Dry January

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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God Stop show art God Stop

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They're changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them.  ----- A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a...

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Twenty-One show art Twenty-One

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam spent Monday evening at a big party for a small group of twenty-one year olds. To say the least, times have changed. Here's what he saw. ----- A moment after midnight on March 4th, 1990, I stood on a barstool and declared loudly to the packed bar that I had just turned twenty one years old. I was in Boulder, Colorado. A moment later the bouncer had me by the shirt and said, “That means you used a fake ID to get in”, which was true. I was nearly carried, my feet barely touching the ground, to the door and tossed into the street. Oddly enough, the same story happened to my wife, long...

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Resident Cynic show art Resident Cynic

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

My real name is Charles. But Chuck and Chas live inside me. Chuck was trying to get out this week. Chas had to try to keep in under control. ----- An icicle hangs from the roof of my house. I’m looking at it but still can’t quite believe it. Icicles are very rare here. Usually reserved for the freezer door that was left open overnight. A winter storm blew through and Mobile, Alabama is doing what it usually does when it gets below average cold – we’re freaking out. School is cancelled, quote, “out of an abundance of caution” for the kids. There’s no rebuttal to that phrase. It...

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Kids These Days show art Kids These Days

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Storms blew through Monday night. It was tough weather. I survived. My daughter? It was the aftermath of the storm that nearly broke her... ----- My favorite oldest daughter is upset. “I just can’t deal with this. It’s just too much,” she keeps saying. She’s leaving for a bit. She needs to get out of the house. “I’m going to Starbucks,” she says. “I’ll be back later.” My wife and I say nothing. You see, the power is out. The big storms that cruised through Monday night left us in the dark. It’s now Tuesday afternoon and the power company estimates another thirty hours...

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God On Our Side show art God On Our Side

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On New Years Eve, I watched a conversation in my kitchen that was exactly as I hoped it would be.  ----- A friend called this past fall. He said, “The Holy Spirit told me to call you and tell you the Holy Spirit wants you and me to make a podcast together. Will you help me?” My goodness. What do you say to that but “Sure. I’ll help you.” The podcast is about his spiritual journey. He brings his friends on from time to time to tell their stories. My job is to keep us focused on the topic, keep us at around twenty minutes per episode, and toss out a contrary opinion that will help...

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Solstice show art Solstice

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories... ----- Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago. The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the...

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Leena's China show art Leena's China

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

A family tree of photographs is at the top of the stairs at my father's house.  ----- A picture hangs at the top of the stairs at my parent’s house. It’s of my mother’s grandmother, my great grandmother. I think it’s Grandma Leena. My father and I were trying to figure out who it was. My mother had told me about the picture and about Grandma Leena for years. I never listened. There are a bunch of other pictures. At the top, near the ceiling, are pictures of my mother and father’s family and they form a family tree, coming together, picture by picture, generation by generation,...

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On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions.

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Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen.

The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a solid month. I was eager to get out of bed each morning. All in all, Dry January was a hit. And I was surprised and thrilled with how easy it was to do. I’m now struggling to decide if I ever want to go back? I’m pretty sure the answer is No. And, my friends, that’s huge.

Some of my favorite people are the guys I gather with every Thursday evening after work. We’ve done it weekly for ten years at the same table. We talk and we chat. We rib each other like guys are prone to do. And we have a beer or two.

In early January, I avoided those Thursday gatherings, afraid that seeing a cold beer would tempt me too much and I’d cave. And I might have. However, by late January I had developed confidence in my Dry January and I was joining my group and ordering a NA beer.

What I learned in Dry January is that I’m not nearly as funny as I thought I was back in December. And maybe even for a decade before that. For years I’ve laughed at my jokes until tears poured from my eyes. And my friends were hilarious, too. Well, in Dry January, nobody was funny. Especially me.

A different friend hasn’t had a drink in over ten years. I now feel embarrassed about the times I’ve been with him with a few beers in me and I realized he wasn’t laughing at what everyone else thought was hysterical. In Dry January, it became clear why.

And I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. This new me is fond of this new me. But I liked the old me, too. And as of today, we’re entering the teeth of the Mardi Gras celebration here in Mobile. Mardi Gras about silliness and revelry and I enjoy both of them and a drink always helps with both of them. It’s a quandary.

I know that creating a grand drinking strategy for Mardi Gras is foolish. Temptation is everywhere and I know myself well enough to know that I manage temptation poorly.

However, my uncle told me that he stopped smoking by telling himself that when he wanted a cigarette, if he still wanted one in ten minutes, he’d smoke one and not feel bad about it. Gradually he stopped wanting them at all. I’m going to adopt his strategy and call it “the ten-minute delay plan for an uncertain semi-reformed drinker.” If I want a drink, I’ll wait ten minutes. After ten minutes, If I still want one, I’ll get one. And won’t feel bad about it.

And if you spot me laughing hard with my friends, you’ll know what happened.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.