A Word or Two to My Sons…

A few years ago, I “wrote” a book to give to my sons.  Nothing special, just a “guidebook” covering topics ranging from grooming and sartorial advice to books to read and what success might look like.   Just some things that I had already seen or experienced and I thought it would be fun to share them with the boys.  It may have been more for myself then anything, I cannot even be certain they read it.

This was in 2010, and a few years have passed, and along the way I thought to myself, “I should have added that to the book”.

I had another one of those “A-Ha” moments recently, which reminded me of another word or two to share.

Always go to the funeral

That is it.  Straightforward and simple.  When presented with the unavoidable position of knowing someone who has had a  family member, or knowing someone who has passed away, always go to the funeral.

Not always easy to do.

In the past year or so, I have attended the funeral for three of my friends parents, a relative and buried my mother.  There were also three funerals which I could not attend because I was out of town, and I feel really bad about missing those.  I guess I am at “that age” when this occurrence takes place more frequently…death of friends, friends parents and other loved ones.  Kinda sucks…

Which is why my advice is “Always go to the funeral”.

I know, I know.  When you attend the funeral, it is more for those still with us on earth, as opposed to the departed.  And that is my point.  Having recently been through this, I can tell you how much it meant to see people at my mom’s visitation.  People I didn’t expect…People I hoped would be there…And most of the people there had never met my mom…they were friends who were there for me or my brothers.  And to be honest, sometimes it really moved me.  Memories tried to race down my cheeks more than once when I saw the people who were there for her/me.

And speaking of memories, seeing some people there, and talking about the shenanigans our parents had, well, it was a lot of fun!  Laughter at a funeral is good…it feels good.   It actually feels right.  Brings about smiles amidst an otherwise somber time in our lives.  Which is why my advice is to … “Always go to the funeral”

One evening a few weeks after we laid mom to rest, I had the night to myself because Diana was teaching. So I grabbed the visitation register and cards from mom’s funeral, a couple of cigars, a glass and a bottle of Blood Oath Pact #3 Bourbon and headed out on the porch.  There I wrote a few “Thank you’s,” while looking back at the visitation and the people who were there…for me.  People I hadn’t seen in years.  People I never would have expected, and people whom I will be forever grateful.  When your entire street of neighbors shows up…and none ever met my mom…WOW!

Not sure if it was the memories, the bourbon or the cigar smoke, but my eyes once again began to fill up with smiles and laughter and love.

So with all of that said, there will be times when you simply are not able to “be there” for someone during this difficult time.  That happens.  Happened to me and I wish it hadn’t, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

And sometimes it can.  So when it can, and you go, remember…it will make a difference for the person you are going to see.  They may not let on, or ever tell you.  But if there is blood running through their veins, it will make a difference.

And isn’t that what we all desire?  To make a difference?  So, always go…

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Really, I am not a Bourbon snob. But…

Okay, I admit.  I like bourbon.  I like good bourbon.  And I actually have some very good bourbon.  But I would not call me a bourbon snob.  I just enjoy good quality.

And the quality and effort goes into how someone does their job also.

To that point, I also enjoy a good Manhattan.  Yes, a “good” Manhattan.  Not something that my son Tyler has labeled “a wedding Manhattan”.  That is a Manhattan you usually get at a wedding, when the person behind the bar just kind of guesses at the ingredients and then adds, ugh the horror of it all, Maraschino cherry juice!

And that brings me to what I wanted to address today.  Your job. My job. Your profession.  My profession.  The mark we leave on others when we are doing something and getting paid to do it.  (I know, right now you are wondering about the tie-in and if I have had too much of the brown Kentucky spirit myself.  No, but it is what got me to thinking about the topic.)

You see, I was out in Las Vegas for a national sales meeting recently.  We stayed at a resort/convention center which I had never been before.  Not on the strip, almost thirty minutes away.  Nice place.  But during the course of the five days I was there, I had an occasion to meet up at the bar with co-workers for an adult beverage, and in my case it was a Manhattan.  Each time I was there, there was a different bartender.  And each time, my Manhattan was made entirely different.  Really?  (Okay, let me hit the “PAUSE” button here for a moment.  For all of you who are not familiar with the cocktail, Manhattan, let me explain something.  There are three ingredients if you do not count the ice or garnish, which may or may not be in the drink itself.  There is Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth and bitters.  Done.  Period.  To make it even simpler to follow and for those playing the home version of the game, the proportions of ingredients represent the area code for Manhattan, NY…2-1-2.  2 ounces Bourbon.  1 ounce Sweet Vermouth. 2 dashes bitters.  Simplicity at it’s finest.)

Getting back to my topic.  The only choices given, or variations when you order a Manhattan at a bar, should be 1.  What kind of bourbon would you like?  2. Straight up or “on the rocks”?   So I have gotten use to watching the bartender make my drink when I am able to do so.  For three of the drinks I ordered, I saw Scotch used, I saw Dry Vermouth used and I noticed the barkeep use an orange colored liquid which was poured out of a plastic bottle which I later was told was “orange zest”.  Orange zest?  And each time I witnessed this, I sounded like a snob because I asked what they were making, because that was not a Manhattan.   And yes, I got some very “stink eyed” looks from each one of the bartenders I asked.  Sorry, but I simply wanted what I ordered.  That isn’t asking for much, is it?  And I wouldn’t think it would qualify me as a “snob”.

Okay, thank you for your patience and indulging me as I shared my sad story of a failed cocktail.  But this caused me to come to WordPress and type.  Here it is:  If you are going to do a job, do the best job you can possibly do.  There, I said it.  I know, I sound like my dad, seriously I do because I remember him saying this to me.  In the example of my failed drinks, the subject of my rant was a bartender.  Know the basics.  I don’t expect you to know every cocktail out there, but this one is very simple and a classic staple.  And if you don’t know how to make it, ask.  Or google it.  But do the best job which you are able to do.  Take pride in it, whether you are behind a bar, an airplane, a broom, sales catalog or an elephant in a parade!

And if you don’t want to do your best, find something else to do for a living.  Take pride in what you do and at the end of the day, stop and look in the mirror.  Not to admire yourself or notice wrinkles, but look in the mirror and ask if you did the best you could have done.  If you did, terrific.  Keep it up and let’s do it again.  If you are not sure, or if you think you could have done better, that is an opportunity.  Apply what you learned and do better tomorrow.

My son Drew shared a quote with me once upon a time.  It is by Ralph Waldo Emerson and has become one of my favorites:  “Finish each day an be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can.  Tomorrow is a new day.  You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

This quote is taped to my desk lamp and reminds me to take what I did today and use it to do even better tomorrow.  The key in this quote, to me, is the phrase, “You have done what you could.”  I ask myself if I have done my best.  Have you done your best?  Did you put your best foot forward?  Did you try to do the best, and somehow an “absurdity” crept in?  What could you have done better?  Are you happy with the work you did today?  Can you look in the mirror and say “I did my best today”?

It isn’t easy, I know.  But think about it.  How much better this world would be if everyone tried to do this, tried to do their absolute best at their profession, even for just one day?  A week?  A month?

I have a feeling there would be a lot more people smiling and a lot more love spread around.  Not a bad thought, eh?

Okay, now I need a drink…of coffee.  Too early for anything else.  Cheers to us all, and here’s to doing our best to make each other’s lives better and our life more fulfilling.

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Why are you waiting? Time isn’t.

Tempus fugit.  The inevitable passing of time.

Time flies.

And we are all so busy in our own world these days.  We get caught up in so much to do and get done.  24 hour news and sports.  Social media.  Keeping up with the Kardashians.  Just keeping up, period.  It is amazing we are able to keep up and keep our sanity at the same time.

Time moves forward. And we need to stop every once in a while and appreciate the moment, and those we are sharing the moment with. And tell them.  And smile. And laugh.

A few months ago, my wife Diana was inducted into the St Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame.  Quite an honor.  And for days after the induction, she was riding a beautiful “high”.  She said that people kept telling her how much of a difference she made in their lives, on so many levels, for so many reasons.  People she knew, and barely knew, sent her emails, texts, phone calls and told her in person that what she did, helped them or their child/children.  She said it was the type of thing you normally do not get to hear because these things were usually said after someone had passed away, and they never got to hear the words.

Time goes by.

Diana is right.  Why do we wait?  Are we that busy checking Instagram ?  Is it that important that we just “Checked In” at the grocery store, but we haven’t “checked in” with those who mean something to us?

Time stands still for no one. 

Time certainly does not stand still, and wait for anyone.  I recently experienced that myself with the passing of my mother.  I knew it was coming.  I was as prepared as I suppose I could have been.  But Diana’s words were never more meaningful.  Mom had been at an independent living facility for more than 5 years.  Life of the party…and every happy hour…daily at 4:00.  Perfect place for mom.  Cleaned her apartment.  3 meals a day (and happy hour).  Did her laundry.  Fall festivals.  Holiday parties.  Spring fling.  And lunch excursions on Thursday.  But for the final 8 months of her life, she was in a skilled nursing facility.  Mom just couldn’t take care of herself anymore.

When mom left us to be with my dad after 16 years, there was an outpouring of love, kind words and actions from so many people.  People whom I hadn’t seen in years came to the visitation.  Friends.  Family.  Parishioners.  Even people whom had never met mom.  And the cards, prayers and thoughtfulness is extending for weeks as I continue to hear from people expressing their condolences.  It makes me sad and grateful at the same time.  I understand that many people who share their feelings often do it for the family, and it is appreciated.  But it is a shame that mom didn’t get to hear many of the kind and gracious words which I read and heard from so many wonderful people…some even relatives.

Tempus fugit. When you are having fun.

So don’t wait.  Today is a good day to tell someone how much they mean to you.  Thank them for the simple things they do.  Smile.  Hold the door.  Make them dinner.  Buy a flower.  Write a note…seriously, a handwritten note.

The moments we have to share our feelings with others are fleeting.  And few.  Taken up by a tweet from the “flavor of the month celebrity”.  Who is more important?  What is more important?  Who loves ya baby?

You know the answer.  Tell them.  Show them.  Stop and smell a few roses with them…or plant some.

You will be glad you did.  You can thank me later.

 

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Published in: on October 8, 2017 at 9:28 am  Comments (2)  
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I’ve Seen that Job and I don’t want it!

I might be paraphrasing a tad, and please excuse the Bill Cosby reference, but in one of his stand up routines, he spoke about the job of being a Mother.  And he nailed it!  (Ouch, need to be careful when making Cosby references)  Most of us men have seen what it takes to be a Mother, and I venture to say very few of us want that job…or could even attempt to do it as well.

If most dads had this job as a Mother, here is what might happen:

  • Fewer diapers would get changed when needed.  “Hmm, no, I don’t smell anything funny, must be the dog”.
  • Which may lead to more little kids running around naked.
  • When the baby would puke, even a little, so would we.  Consequently, we would practically live in sweat suits, the old cotton ones, with the drawstrings.  They are easy to wipe off and throw in the washer.  And speaking of…
  • The wash would pile up…laundry needing to be done…dishes needing to be cleaned so bad we are now using paper plates…and we all could use a bath
  • There would be fewer scrapes and cuts “healed” with love and a kiss.  Dads can usually “rub some dirt on it” and share wisdom like, “walk it off”.
  • School lunches?  Ooops, forgot again.
  • Bus stop?  Damn, late again.  I have to pick you up AND drop you off?!?!
  • What do you mean?  I think 4 years old is old enough to mow the lawn.
  • Most, if not all runny noses would go unnoticed and wiped clean with a shirt sleeve, or worse…leaving the poor child’s face looking like a day old glazed doughnut.
  • Toys would seldom get picked up and put away, unless the kids did it. Why pick them up, they will get them out again anyway, it is a waste of time and energy.
  • Meals?  Cooking?  Uh?  Grilled cheese and tomato soup.  Mac n Cheese…out of a box.  Cereal, is good for any meal.  Pizza, again good for any meal.
  • And changing the sheets on the bed?  Have they changed color yet?

Okay, you get the picture.  And while I might be exaggerating a little bit, but not by much, it is a frightening proposal…being a Mother.   It is also a tough job, and I didn’t even cover the whole childbirth thing.  Yep no way I want this job.  I have seen it…and I have seen it performed by the best…and because of that…I don’t want it.

I have been blessed to have been surrounded by some of the best Mothers which God has placed on this little green rock we call Earth.  One of the newest to “the task” is our “daughter (in-law)”.  She has proven to all how the joy and love of a child, and becoming a Mother, can affect your daily life.  And love.  My Mother, and her Mother, and her Mother’s Mother.  (Did I ever mention my great grandmother was so poor as a single parent, that she put her three children in an Orphanage and then got a job there cleaning, so they would be taken care of and she could see them?)  But my exposure to great Mothers continues with Diana’s Mother and Grandmother.  All of these women had a few things in common…their family meant everything to them…and that helped vault them into their successful task completion of Motherhood.  Tough job description and all.

I have seen a lot of strong women successfully tackle the job of Motherhood.  But none quite as successfully have accomplished the “mission of love” as Diana, my wife.  I won’t go into all of the reasons why, there are many.  But if you know her, you get an idea of why I say this.  And if you don’t know her…your loss.  Motherhood.  One of many jobs and titles she has held and kept her head about her.  Kept her head held high.

To all of the Mothers reading this.  Great job.  You should be proud.

For all of us Dads…we need to “up” our game!

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What is Your Life Verse?

More often than not I believe we react.  React to our daily chores.  Our habits.  Surroundings.  The way we do the things we do.  (apologies to the tempting Temptations)

Some call this life.  Just a natural response to daily activities.  Choices.  Decisions.

Yes, decisions.  Those little things that sometimes we make without even a thought, and yet other times we feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders while we are mulling them over and losing sleep looking at the ceiling at night in our bed.

What’s for dinner?  Should I or shouldn’t I?  Can I without being noticed?  The red pill or the green one?  Which tie?  How about these pants? (or do they make my butt look big?)  Walk or drive?  Cash or credit?  Red or white? But what if?

Simple choices, mostly.  Innocuous and often unconsciously made.  But something helped you make them.  Pulled you in the direction of the white not the red.  Of going right instead of left.  Perhaps it was something in your upbringing.  Something in your fiber.  Something you developed along this journey of life.

Your Moral Compass?

Perhaps you have developed a Life Verse along the way and not really realized you were making choices that instinctively follow this verse of yours.

Do you have a Life Verse?  Or maybe verses?  Does it serve as a Moral Compass for you?

These verses are all around us.  With the popularity of social media, quotes are shared every day.  Open a book.  Listen to music.   Read the Bible.  The newspaper even.

Here are a few that I have seen/heard:

 Live to the point of tears

I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine

Sink or swim, I’ll dive right in

To thine own self be true

I will find a way or make my own

If you fail in raising your children, nothing else really matters

In the end, we only regret the choices we didn’t make

At the end of the day, you did your best, be done with it and get ready for tomorrow

There are literally hundreds of phrases out there that can resonate with each of us and how we live our lives.  Myself, I could fill pages with verses from Proverbs, Songs or Psalms in the Bible, then fill more with things I have said and heard in my life…

If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you always got.

When you are tired and you think you need a rest, stop and think what your competition is doing.

Consciously or not, some of these have stuck with me.  And if I look at how I live my life, well, it seems like there might be a bit of a reflection in what I have done.  Choices I made.

There is a quote from Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin, that has been circulating on Facebook recently.  Paraphrased it is something like, “When you are faced with an opportunity that you don’t know if you can achieve, take the opportunity and figure out how to do it later”.  

I like that.  It is a lot like life itself.  Would any of us, given a choice and all of the hard things we face, not think twice if we were given the choice of coming into this life?  Maybe yes or no?  But we are here so let’s figure it out!

Another recent verse I heard was something along the lines of,Love your parents and treat them with loving care and respect.  For you will only know their value in your life when you see their empty chair”.  Truth.

Gale Sayers, the great Chicago Bears running back had one that I think is beautiful.  His autobiography carried it as the title…

God is first.  My friends (family) are second.   And I am third.

So, think about it.  Your Life Verse.  Moral Compass.

Or not.  You can just take Mark Twain’s advice and…

Sing like no one is listening, Love like you’ve never been hurt, Dance like no one is watching and Live like it is heaven on earth.

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Published in: on September 1, 2014 at 10:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Song in Your Heart, A Song in Your Life and One in Your Head

A friend of mine from Australia told me he liked Country Western music because it talked about life, about things he could relate to.  And as much as I enjoy CW music, I never thought about it that way.  But ever since then, I find myself saying “wow, Alex Petrou was right.”

Sometimes I even wonder how that musician got into my head…the way that Dierks Bentley did with his song, “I Hold On”.

For those unfamiliar with it, don’t give up on this blog just yet.  Give me a chance to explain…

The song talks/sings about things in your life that are important to you.  Everything from an old box acoustic guitar, to your values.  Holding on…

To the things I believe in
My faith, your love, our freedom
To the things I can count on
To keep me going strong
Yeah, I hold on, I hold on.

Some might be meaningless to other people, like that item you have in your drawer from someone special.  To things that we can all relate to and treasure.  Things which we hold on to.

Like the stripes to the flag,
Like a boy to his dad
I can’t change who I am, right or wrong
So I hold on.

This song was actually playing on my Sonos system yesterday morning when I was updating myself on social media and Facebook.  I ran across a posting from someone I have known a long time, but haven’t seen in years.  It was one of those posts that you read, and think how spot on it is.  Then you either “like it”, “share it” or move on to the next post of someone’s kids pooping in a pool, or another cute dog.

Not this time.  This time I read the post again, and yet again once more.  Each time letting it sink deeper into my being.  My heart.  Here is that post, originally printed by AARP, I believe:

My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way … remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you … my darling daughter.

I know that it is meant to be to a daughter, but my mom had sons, until my wife came along and became a “daughter” to her.  It was actually the message above that was key.  Message received and lesson learned.  This could have been written by my mother, or perhaps she could be thinking this all the time.  She is slipping.  Walking slowly.  Memory fading.  Having trouble with her remote control.  Perhaps a stain on her clothes.  She was over last week for dinner, I know my patience was tested simply because of a few of the things mentioned above.

Lesson learned.

Yeah, CW music can remind you of real life.  My life.  I Hold On.  To memories.  Love.  Things.

And mom’s hand.  Heart.  Love.  And Life.  I hold on…and I am blessed to be still holding.

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Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 10:19 am  Comments (1)  
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The Family That Kicks Together, Sticks Together

Every four years in mid June, the world unites.  Well most of the World.   The world unites to enjoy soccer, football for everyone outside of the US, on its biggest stage.  The World Cup.  I have seen qualifying matches in the states with my dad. (1997 USA v El Salvador)  And have seen World Cup matches with my sons in person.  (1994 Qtr Final Brazil v Netherlands)  I can recall the first game I saw live on closed circuit TV in 1970.  (Brasil v Italy finals)  And I recall the first movie I saw of the World Cup.  (England v West Germany 1966)  And they are all great memories.  But only the tip of the iceberg.

The World Cup also takes place during/on Father’s Day, here in the US.  And in my humble opinion, that is very fitting.  At least it is for me.  One who had three sons who have played the game, and with my soccer beginnings and playing career being influenced greatly by my father.  Nothing against the Mothers who have influenced the Beautiful Game, but I am speaking from my experiences here.  Although my Mother was one of the best cheerleaders on the sidelines for her sons and the teams they played on, it is the bind between my father and I that the game of soccer forged to make stronger.  And the same bond exists with my three sons, Blake, Drew and Tyler.

Yes, the World Cup, and the game of Soccer, unites.  The World.  And Families.

A few years ago on Fathers Day, the boys and I went to a field and kicked the ball around.  Small sided games.  “Three-post”.  Fun stuff.  Then we came back home, watched a World Cup game on TV, had a beverage or two, and Diana made us some snacks.  Perfect.  Perfect Father’s Day or any day.

We have played together.  Watched each other.  Cheered and jeered together.  Made lifetime friends and a few others who may hold a grudge for something that happened on the field.  Soccer has allowed us to celebrate wins, try to forget losses, and to this day we can laugh, cry and make fun of one another.

Last summer Drew and I kicked a ball on an amazing field in Brooklyn that jutted out into the harbor, surrounded by water on three sides and a net that was not quite high enough!  Oops!

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Then in the fall Blake, Tyler and I kicked around on a pitch in Oslo, Norway…with Jenn joining in as well.

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Soccer has taken each one of us to places we never dreamed of.  Physically and emotionally…almost spiritually at times.  (and perhaps it took us to the police station…at least a few of us)

And it also is partially responsible for my 37 years of a beautiful marriage to Diana!  We initially met when she drove her brother, Craig, to a soccer camp he was attending and I was a camp instructor.

A few years ago, Tyler gave me a book entitled, “More Than A Game”, by Chuck Korr and Marvin Close.  It is an amazing true story about soccer and apartheid.  And illustrates how the game of soccer can bring people together under horrible conditions.  And change lives.

So imagine what the game can do under more ideal situations.

Bring people together.  Bring families together.  Spread love and joy and happiness.

In his final game,  the legendary player Pelé gave a brief pre-match speech during which he asked the crowd to say the word “love” with him three times.

Makes a lot of sense to me.  Especially since the game can bring a lot of love to those who allow it to do so.

I have.  My family has.  And I am glad we do.

Go USA.  I believe!

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One Day Away

Music is something I love.  Just like Books.  Dogs.  Bourbon.  My Family…in no particular order.

Not sure why, but music often just seems to resonate with me.  Strike a cord.  Leave me thinking or feeling a little different…often better.

One of my favorite types, or genres, is the blues.  I get that from Al, my pops.  He was a “blues man”.   And I suppose I followed in his footsteps.  If I am honest, and I try to be, perhaps I like the blues because my dad did.  I wanted to like the blues…just like him.

But for whatever the reason, I like them too.

Last summer, legendary blues player Buddy Guy release a new CD…I almost said album.   Good stuff.  One of the cuts features one of the “new gun slingers” in the guitar world, Keith Urban…another favorite of mine.  The song they did together, “One Day Away” hit me the first time I heard it.

Every moment has a meaning, and time is a precious thing.
When we wake up in the morning, who knows what it’s gonna bring?

It addresses our mortality…kind of.

Life rearranges, all of our best laid plans.
Better say what’s in your heart, you might not get another chance.

And the mortality of those around us.  Those we love and know.  We share a lot of experiences, joys, life, loves with each other.  But how often do we tell those around us about what it means to us?  What they mean to us?  Answer: Not often enough…perhaps never.

Okay, raise your hand if you have had a friend suddenly die, and you said, wow, I wish I had told them “…….”

Or how about a relative? Someone important in your life?  Someone you loved?

Of all the things we left undone, of the words we’re meant to say.
What if we could all have just one more day?

We take things for granted…I am guilty as charged.  We take each other for granted…again, as much as it hurts, guilty your honor.

So take a step.  A stand today.  Do it differently.

So tell them you love them, and do it today.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wish one day away.

If there is something to say.  Say it.  Don’t wait…don’t procrastinate.  Tomorrow may be too late.  Tomorrow may not come.

I was lucky…kind of.  I had the time to tell my dad things I needed to tell him.  We knew what was ahead and I didn’t like it, but I used it.  Not everyone is that lucky, or blessed in a twisted way.  But we don’t need to wait. We can do it today.

Tell someone how much you appreciated their friendship.  Something they did…said.  Let  them know how you enjoyed their friendship.  Their advice.  Their care or just them.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.  As the once coach of the Washington Redskins, George Allen, said, “The future is now!!!!!”  So go ahead.

So, while I do not know all of you whom may read this, I want to thank you.  It is humbling to have so many of you take the time to read my ramblings that would not have earned much more than C- from my high school English teacher.

I hope you will excuse me for a minute, I have a few people I need to contact.

I think you may also…

So tell them you love them, and do it today.
Don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wait for tomorrow, don’t wish one day away.

Published in: on May 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm  Comments (4)  
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Do You Have the Guts?

Every once in a while, you find something that you want to share with everyone.  It might be a thought or idea, a movie, a song, a piece of art, a gift you were given…or a book.

Let’s face it, that is how many best selling books become best sellers.  People share their joy and excitement for the book they read.  Look no further than Oprah and her book club.

In recent times I have been guilty of this.  There are a couple of books that I thought so highly of that I gave them to Diana, Blake, Drew and Tyler… and others.   That says something, when you give a book to those you love.  Not because of any reason, other than you think that much of the book and the person…and they should be together because it will make a difference.  And I believe that it can…if you read the book.

One book in particular is “The Go-Giver”.

I was told about this book about two years ago.  I was struggling with a few things, and trying to find some answers when I wasn’t even sure what the questions were or who was asking them.  A dear friend of mine, Cindy Adams Harrison PhD, told me about this book.  She didn’t really say much about it, other than you need to read it.  It is a “game changer”.  So I filed that bit of advice and kept searching for those answers, with no questions.

For whatever reason, I was in no hurry to read the book.  I looked at the summary on Amazon and put it in my “basket”.  But nothing quite moved me.  Then about last September I decided to get it and read it.  And Cindy was right, it is a game changer if you let it be.

A simple book.  Quick read.  Written in a story like fashion, almost like a parable.  An easy read.  And as I was reading it, I could imagine the characters as people I knew.  Some of them I saw as many people in my life, past and present. Sometimes it was myself.  Sometimes it was Diana, or Blake, Drew or Tyler.  Perhaps it was someone I worked with, managed or reported to.  Aha, there I saw my neighbor, and a team mate from a soccer team.  And on, and on.

Like many similar books, this one has a set of  “laws or traits, principles or habits”.

But unlike others, these are much different.  They force you to look at yourself and what you are doing in a different light.  Wearing a different pair of rose-colored glasses.  That when you take the glasses off, things still look rosey!

The whole story is base on misconceptions in life…that can also be applied in business.  Most of these type of  books look at life from a point of  “Here is what you should focus on if you want to…(Fill in the Blank )…”  However this book,”The Go-Giver”, illuminates the idea of a generous soul…Karma…and how it can change things in your life.  It will take your thoughts on how things should be done, and turn them upside down, in the process changing the way you look at life, business, others and yourself.

Truth is, I am not sure how many people will pick up this book and even dare to read it.  Most people are too negative.  They don’t want to change.  They don’t have the time or the inclination. They don’t have the guts to try something new, they just might like things the way they are.  And as Gomer Pyle would say, “Shame, Shame, Shame”.  

Some will say “it is too soft”.  “Not enough teeth in the idea.”  “I am pragmatic about these things.”  And to those I say, “Okay”.  But, pragmatism is a rather relative term, and perhaps a cop out.  The concepts in this book are certainly full of practical applications as well as theory.

Not sure if everyone I have given this book to has read it.  Or if everyone I have told about the book has bothered to look it up.  I can’t control that part.

But I can control myself and what I do.  Glad I took Cindy’s advice.

I think I waited so long to pick up the book because it was finally the right time.  I needed it and was ready to receive the message.  It was worth it.

I think it will help me to get more out of life.  And if you have enough guts to read it…it could make a difference in your’s also!

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My Father’s Shoes

I like shoes.  Diana sometimes calls me a “Shoe Whore”.  She may be right, but that is also the pot calling the kettle black.  I can even recall liking shoes while I was growing up.  Even though I had just a pair of dress shoes and a pair of tennis shoes…that was all you needed.  And sometimes the “dress shoes” were a pair of Hush Puppy loafers.

But I fondly remember being fascinated by my father’s shoes.  Two pair in particular.  The first pair were a pair of black dress shoes (not Hush Puppies) that had a perpetual shine.  Almost immaculate, except for the sole.  The sole showed a lot of wear.  These shoes were from a men’s store that was here in St Louis, Boyd’s (now long gone).  It was a nice one, perhap a middle class or working class Brooks Brothers type of store.  The brand of the shoes were “Threadneedles” and they were made by International Shoe Company, also in St Louis, also gone.  These shoes seemed to have a steel toe, it was almost like the toe on a military boot.  And the soles were very thick…and I remember my dad’s soles showing a lot of wear.  So much that you could see where a hole had started to wear through and you saw the layers of leather begin to show on the sole.

The other pair of shoes that I was drawn to were a pair of work boots.  Actually dad went though several pair of work boots.  Dad made the transition from a salesman to an electrician.  This helped the sole of the Threadneedles to last a while longer, but he wore the boots hard.  When he would come home from work as an electrician, dad would usually be dirty, wet, sweaty, muddy, frozen or something along those lines.  It seemed like most of his jobs were outside.  So mom had him take the boots off at the front door and leave them on a rug.  I can still see those boots.  I think what fascinated me about these boots/shoes was what they seemed to represent to me.  Covered in dust.  Perhaps they were muddy.  Maybe the leather got nicked and was torn a bit.  Worn laces.  Typically one boot was standing upright while the other was simply limp or on it’s side.  They represented a man and his work.  For his family.

And I guess that is what also drew me to the Threadneedles.  They were dad’s work shoes as a salesman.  Sturdy.  Got a shine.  Dependable.  Tough as steel.  Lot’s of wear and tear left in them.  As different as the two pair were, they were the same.  Belonged to the same man.  Hard work.  Showed a little wear.

As I get wiser (code for older) I understand more.  I understand what it took for my dad and his shoes to do for me and the rest of the family.  The courage.  Strength.  Faith.  Responsibility.  Accountability.  Broad shoulders carrying it all.  Including carrying me when I needed it and carrying himself with Pride.  Not the bad kind.  But a pride in his work, family, life and…his shoes.

I have never tried to fill those shoes.  I can’t.  No one can.  No one can fill another’s shoes.  You just need to do your best.  Find your way.  Have faith and belief.  Be the person you are and not someone else.  Have your own shoes and let them speak for you in a way that stands for something.  Someone.

Be proud.  Stand tall.  Have faith.

They are your shoes.  Make them count.

I suppose dad’s shoes were a reflection of him.  Of his life.  A little polish.  A little scruff.

A lotta life and love.

I hope my shoes are similar…the life and love part anyway.

I thought I would end on a musical note.  One of Leon Russell’s notes.  He has a song, “My Father’s Shoes” which is pretty good and seems kind of appropriate.  Whether it works in the post or not, I will leave it to you to decide. Either way, enjoy the song, the post and your life in your own shoes.

My Father’s Shoes, Leon Russell

What can I say to this child of my own
When he looks up to me for answers?
He’s got trust in his eyes and such innocent ways.
What are the words I can say?

Can I tell him of my life?
And can it be used for his own life’s goal, an example
To follow and finally remember some day?
What are the words I can say?

I could say “I was once wondering just like you,
And I understand the things you’re feeling.”
But gray hair and lines on my face just might say
“The old man is always talking that way.”

And now I think of my daddy, he wore this kind of shoes.
And after all this time, I think I know him.
I’d like to say I love him, but the time has passed away.
What are the words I can say?
What are the words I can say?

 

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Published in: on March 1, 2014 at 12:02 pm  Comments (2)