What Does It Take…?

Throughout our lives we all have been exposed to expectations.  Qualifications.  Requirements.

Going to school, we know what it takes to get to the next grade, or level.  There may be prerequisite classes that need to be taken.  When we apply for a job, we are presented with similar types of “requirements”.  Experience in Word, Excel, Sales, Management might be a requirement.  Another one could be College degree or 5 years experience in the said field.  And for some other jobs it seems that if you can walk, talk and chew gum…well you are then qualified…not even in that order.

And once you have that job, you usually can figure out what it takes to get to the next level…a promotion.

So, expectations are often set.  Qualifications realized.  It makes it easier to navigate around so you may do your best.

But what about fatherhood?

What does it take to be a Father?

Of course I mean on a much grander scale than simply fathering a child.  That is simply being a sperm donor, and the world has way too many of those already.  What are the requirements of being a father?

I can only look at this having learned from three of the finest men I have known…My dad, Al Schaefering.  Diana’s dad, Adrian Stahl.  And my grandfather, Joe Jurczyk.  These are the examples from which I have learned and witnessed.  Far from perfect, each one flawed as we fathers can be, but each one has shown me, “What it takes to be a Father”.  And I thank them for it.

Responsibility.  Accept it.  You are responsible for providing for your family.  Embrace this and wear it like a proud badge of honor.  It is not like being responsible for a puppy dog.  Be responsible and act responsible.  Impossible to do all of the time, but know it, be aware of it and take on the challenge.  Show how to be responsible.  How to act.  What this truly means

Protection.  You are there to serve and protect in many ways.  24/7.  This is not shift work, but you can not be all places at all times.  You can only be ready when needed and be there as needed.  Do your best.  Plan ahead, be prepared.  Stuff happens, but be there when it does.

Provider.  Provide the best life you are able to provide.  This does not mean the most toys, or the most expensive ones.  Nor does it have anything to do with the materialistic world we live in.  Food on the table.  Shelter.  Medical attention. Love.  Time.  Learning.  Make sure you provide these.  Children look to a father for this.

Teacher.  Coach.  This is not about a classroom.  The world is the classroom.  Nor is this about the athletic field.  It is about showing the way.  The right way.  The wrong way.  A new way.  Take the time to make sure you show what is “the right thing to do”.     Then you too,  must “Do the right thing”.  This is not a “do as I say, not as I do”,  type of situation.  Lead by example.

Faith.  We all need to have faith in our lives.  Some of us know this.  Some are still learning.  Others may take a while.  I have strong faith.  I received this from my “mentors”.  I know not all share the same faith that I have.  But we all need it…need to believe in something.  Someone.  Having God in my life makes a difference for me…and those around me.

Love.  And do not be afraid to show it.  Show it to your children.  Show it to their mother.  Make sure they hear it in your words and your actions.  Do not take this for granted. make sure the message of love is received.  Everyone expresses love differently.  Do not be obtuse about this.  This is not the time to be discreet.  Shout it out to them and to the world.

Patience…Patience…Patience.  Did I say to be patient.  Wait for it…because it will happen, just not always when we want it to happen.  I know first hand that getting frustrated and “blowing up” over something insignificant only leads to regrets.  Love is patient, and we need to be also.

Your Time.  Money can not buy this.  It is difficult to measure.  But impossible to do without.  You must be a giver of your time.  Quality time.  Time to talk, learn about each other.  Time to laugh and tell funny stories or recall those “remember when” moments you have shared.  Time to cry, grieve, reflect on your losses.  Moments to pick each other up off of the ground and tell one another,”it’ll be okay”.  Time you wish would standstill, frozen only in memories, but sometimes that is good enough.

I know that this is not an “all-inclusive” list of What it takes to be a Father.  Not a recipe or a secret list.  It is also not a complete list of what I have learned from the loving men I mentioned above, Al, Adrian and Joe. 

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It is only a few thoughts on this day that is set aside to recognize those Fathers in our lives and in our memories.  I hope a lot of people read this.  And I hope something I have said here resonates with something your Father has been able to do for you.

I hope you think of him.  Often.  If he is still with you, please thank him.  Thank him for me, because he has helped to make this place a better world.

One of may favorite quotes is “If you fail at raising your children, nothing else matters”.

Pay it forward. 

Being a Father is a journey worth sharing and enjoying.

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What I Learned…Recently

Keep learning.  Don’t stop.  Avoid complacency.

So, what have I learned lately? 

Well, one thing is I have learned that you don’t always learn something.  Uh?  What I mean is that sometimes you just get a reminder of something you already knew.  You knew it, or heard it before.  But perhaps something happened or took place that brought that memory to the forefront…and you learned it again…perhaps for the first time.

One of those re-learned things would be “Life is Short”.  Regardless of how old you may live to be, our time on earth, with each other is short.  We only have a limited amount of time to share, to love, to care for one another.  And we must do just that.  Share.  Love.  Care.  It seems that recently there have been a number of people whose life was cut short.  People I know.  Too short.  We never know when God will call us…  when our “number is up”.   So what to do about it?  Enjoy life today.  Plan for tomorrow, of course.  But live today.  Enjoy it and one another…it is a gift.

Something else I learned is that “Wherever you are, there you be”.  Again many of you are asking what the hell does that mean.  The best way I can illustrate it is in a little event that recently took place.  Many of you know that Diana and I have three wonderful sons.  But actually there is another amazing person we call our son.  His name is Leon (and his beautiful wife, Marie is our daughter).  Leon and Marie recently moved to Boston.  And a few weeks back he ran in the Boston Marathon.  (which surprised me because he has such scrawny legs, I am surprised they carried him through…grin)  Like all of us, no one expected the terror that took place that day in Boston.  I am sure Leon would agree.  Knowing him, he ate a proper breakfast, hydrated appropriately, talked about his “game”, and then ran the race that was set out for him…but it wasn’t the finish he had planned on.  Shortly after he finished, he switched from being a participant in the marathon, into the medical professional he was trained to be.  He probably planned on a light lunch with Marie.  Instead he was a “First Responder” assisting those that needed his care and medical expertise.  He was there…and Leon did what God had planned on Leon to do…care for others.  I was so relieved to hear he was safe, and I am sure those he cared for were relieved he was there.   Well done Leon.  I love ya.

And in a related story…I learned how pathetic our news reporting has become.  Oh yeah, you learned it too.  How overused was the term…”This just in”?  Or how about the famous, “We have an exclusive…” And both were stories that you had already heard.   Actually they kind of resembled the type of reporting you see/hear after a bad storm or tornado.  In other words, bad…real bad.  Here is a “this just in” moment…there is seldom any exclusives or anything that can be new in todays world with social media and 35 news agencies reporting the same thing.  Sure, there are many news worthy stories, and there is a need to report the latest updates and findings.  But remember…you and your network are suppose to be professionals.  Act the part.  Instead of watching how Ted Baxter does it…find another inspiration and take the high road and do it diferent than everyone else. 

Just as the race that Leon Scott was prepared to run turned into another form of race, our days can do the same thing.  We can be trained and prepared for one thing, but suddenly we are required to respond to a different situation…whether trained or not. 

This is Life.  Let’s live it and live it well.  Run the race before us and deal with the obstacles that fall from the sky.  Life is short.  But do not report it like CNN, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC and HLNews…report it with gusto and a feeling of pride.  Do it your way.  Enjoy it.

Maybe Ted Baxter was right all along…do what works best for you.  And enjoy it!

What I Have Learned…Recently

The road to hell is paved with “good intentions”. 

My dad used to say that whenever I would say something like…”I intended to mow the lawn”.  Perhaps your dad did too.

Anyway, I intended to post a “what I have learned” every month this year.  But, well see above comment…

However, I still will be posting a “what I have learned” often enough…because I am always trying to learn more and more.

So, “what have I learned lately”?

  1. I learned that it is okay to “quit”.  We have been told all of our lives that we should not quit.  Don’t be a quitter.  Quitters never win.  It is a sign of weakness. Not so.  Example…the pope.   Pope Benedict to be specific.  Now there may be “conspiracy enthusiasts” out there believing there were other reason he quit.  But on the surface he quit because he was “tired”.  Simple.  No shame.  No questions.  No sign of weakness.  As a matter of fact, I applaud him for being a bigger person and saying that he should step aside so someone else can provide the position the right amount of energy it needs.  Well played Ben.
  2. I learned that it feels good to smile.  Go ahead.  Try it.  I have.  Something changes.  Inside.  Mentally.  You feel good.  Feel a little better.  Recently we were in NYC with family.  Had a wonderful time.  Love.  Laugh.  Smiles.  Beautiful memories.  But I noticed that not many people were smiling.  Texting? Yes.  On their cell phones?  Yes.  In a hurry?  Yep.  Smiles?  Absent.  NYC is an amazing vibrant place.  Moving and grooving…so to speak.  Why not smile?  Pressure?  We all got it.  Stress?  Yeah I  feel that and I am sure you do too.  But a smile, “a frown turned around”, can be a game changer.  You will feel it, and so will others.  So give it a “go”.  People will notice and so will you.
  3. You are in charge of your own happiness.  A good friend of mine, Nick, used to say, “You were in charge of your own fun”.  How true.  I took it a little further and substituted “Happiness”.  Jobs come and go.  Today’s emergency is usually meaningless tomorrow.  Relationships can even feel the ebb and flow of the tide.  But you can elevate yourself and your happiness, yourself.  Take the time to reflect.  Smile (see above). Refresh yourself.  Think about what is important in your life.  Who is important in your life.  Be “in charge”…of your happiness.  Put material stuff aside.  And you will probably feel better and thank me later.

So, another month has been wiped off of the calendar and I learned a few more things.  That, my friends, is a good thing.

Learning.  Growing.  Living.

Oh, yeah, don’t forget about Being Happy and Smiling too!!  Enjoy life.  I am having a good time!

Published in: on March 24, 2013 at 5:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Timeless Thoughts: The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

Inspiration can be everywhere.

The other day on the radio, KTRS 550, one of the hosts were talking about things that the current and next generation will miss out on.  We have all seen the email that circulates about how if you were born after 1990, you perhaps do not know what:

…an eight track cassette is…a regular cassette…a mimeograph machine (with the purple ink we all liked to smell)…a photo album…that there used to be an East and a West Germany…and Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray and Adam Sandler used to be on SNL…perhaps you do not know that you had to take camera film to a place to have it “developed” so you could get your pictures–about 3-5 days later…television with only local channels…and little league baseball was played with wooden bats (oh heaven forbid)

Yeah things have, and are changing.  Pretty fast.

I am sure it was not a coincidence that I ran across my Grandmother’s Bible and thought about this.  (I am not saying that the Bible will cease to exist, I pray not, just in this context it may be different.) But I also wonder if families have a “Family Bible” these days.

My grandmother, NaNa, used to place things in her Bible.  Little remembrances.  Cards.  Newspaper articles and clippings.  Funeral notices and ho;y cards.  Things that might seem random at first glance.  This is an act that I believe is a bit of a “lost art”.  Not sure how many continue to do this type of thing.  And the reason I consider it an “art”, is because it can say volumes about the person involved.

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Here is a little example of what I found in her Bible…much is abbreviated because some of the items are lengthy…but you will still get the picture.

  • Copies of birth certificates.  In my grandmother’s case, NaNa, it is interesting because she was born in rural Kentucky.  The birth certificate is marked “delayed” and there are many questions in the family about it…including the accompanied letter on a bank stationary.
  • Random birthday and anniversary cards from my grandfather, PaPa.  Always signed the same way, Love Always, and he did.
  • Funeral holy cards from the funeral home.
  • A handwritten note from someone who states “it has been a long time since we have seen you”…and…”tried to call but no answer”.  Now these would be rectified in today’s world with 1. Skype. 2. Answering machines (if they still are used) and 3. Cell phones. 4. Email.  (Handwritten notes?  Don’t be silly!)
  • An article from 1960 entitled “I’m Fine”.  Among other things, it states, “There is nothing whatever the matter with me. I’m as healthy as can be. I have arthritis in both knees, and when I talk I talk with a wheez. My memory is failing, my head’s in a spin. But I am awfully well for the shape I am in. The moral is, as this tale is told.  We are all growing old. “Tis better to say “I’m fine” with a grin, ‘Cause ’twill merely help the shape we are in”. (In other words, better to be positive than to complain)
  • Another clipping is entitled “Beatitudes For Friends Of The Aged”.  And this can be applied to ALL  AGES. Here is a sample:  “Blessed are they who understand, My faltering step and palsied hand. Blessed are they with a cheery smile, Who stop to chat for a while. Blessed are they who make it known, That I am loved, respected and not alone.  (Hit home to me and I suspect many others, too).  And it continues on…
  • There are engagement notices…these used to be placed free of charge…no longer free.
  • A little card “To Mom”, which is what my grandfather used to call my grandmother…entitled Because I Love You…and it has Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How Do I Love Thee” poem.
  • A Thank You card from Diana and I for the wedding gift we received.
  • Something that resembles dried flowers in a plastic baggie…these could be from any number of occasions…funerals…weddings…anniversaries.
  • A couple of hand-made book marks from her grandchildren.
  • A small note card that says, “Lord make me an instrument of Your peace”.  Along with a hand written note (NaNa’s writing) stating “Please help me to be like the above.  Thank you.”
  • Birth notices
  • Obituary articles…several.
  • A funeral statement from Stock Mortuary from my great-grandmother’s funeral in 1965.  $1,040.00.
  • A newspaper article about “Forgiveness”.  A sample of the article: Be the first to forgive; Do not wait for others; To forgive is the highest most beautiful form of love; In return you will receive untold peace and happiness.
  • And finally, a hand written note which I think deserves to be shared in its entirety:  1. Be thankful for what you have, Don’t complain because things aren’t better.  They could be worse.  2.  Be helpful, but never intrude on others.  3. Suggest do not boss.  4. Don’t be a critic, but take criticism without resentment.  5. Never say an unkind thing – even if it is true.  Be kind to every one.  6. Have a sense of humor and use it when things go wrong; Laughter helps to take the sting out of irritation.

You can tell a lot about a person by the things they save and think are important.

This is another of those things that I fear may be lost by the current generation.  Oh, sure we have many new ways of saving things to different hard drives and folders.  But what I saw were hand written items.  Very personal and things that seemed to be close to my grandmother.  Will these be saved?  Will they even be hand written?  Will anyone care or notice?  If saved, could you find out which file or hard drive?

Yes, some things are lost in time and yet other things do not change.

The concept of how things are saved may be lost.  They may change…some will say they have evolved, progressed.  That is up for debate and discussion….another time and place.

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But the message, hopefully, will be saved and never change.  This is the message I found in NaNa’s Bible:

  • Love Always
  • We miss you
  • Forgive
  • There is a beginning and an end
  • Don’t complain
  • Be positive
  • I’m fine
  • Thank you
  • Aging is not easy
  • Patience is good
  • Help, don’t criticize
  • Laugh


Nana Papa

I know you can’t tell right now, but I am smiling, with a little tear in the corner of my eye.  Because, while my grandmother may have had faults, the above really describes her well.  And it is a timeless lesson for us all.

Those who wrote the Bible did a pretty remarkable job.  It truly is an amazing book that is filled with many incredible lessons and ways to live your life.

And my grandmother added to that.  In a rather remarkable way.

I hope I can too…in the meantime, let us all enjoy life!


Published in: on March 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm  Comments (5)  
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With Love and Life, From Oslo, Norway, To You

Oslo, Norway.

To most it probably seems very distant, in dreams, fantasies and in reality.  I would venture many would be challenged to point it out on the map.  And some of you might even wonder what language they speak…if they drive around in cars or sleighs…and live in a castle on a snow capped mountain…

Yes, to most of “us”, it is a rather exotic place.  One that Diana and I visited last May, and will be visiting many more times to be sure.

Our “daughter” is from there…Blake’s wife, Yvonne…and for now they live there.   I could fill page upon page of ramblings about our two week journey to Norway last May.  It was more than we ever imagined it would be.  Many surprises, often at every turn.

One of the surprises that I encountered was the affect that a sculpture park had on me.  Even though I admired the Louvre, and have some cherished art pieces, most of which are from the able hands of Blake, Drew and Tyler, I was caught off guard at this “art”.

Gustav Vigeland.  Vigeland Sculpture Park.  Oslo, Norway.  Google it.


Without getting into too many details, this sculpture park is in a public area on 80 acres with over 214 sculptures and 758 figures.  And it simply took my breath away.  Left me slack jawed.  Knocked me to my knees.

Gustav Vigeland designed the entire park with a theme in mind…although not a theme park like most of us know.  This park, with all of it’s sculptures and figures embodies the theme of  the relationship between man and woman, adult and child, life’s evolving stages.  It embodies our struggles…the relationships we encounter…drama throughout our life…the laws of nature with men and women…old and wise and sometimes weak with the young and virile and sometimes foolish.


And this just scratches the surface of the feelings which I had rushing through my being.  The importance of family…of learning…growing and sharing.  A zest for living and for supporting each  other as we address life’s burdens…while we enjoy the fertility of our life…the cycle of life as we have experienced it, will experience it and are experiencing it now.


Now, I am not saying that everyone sees the park the way I did.  It is full of art.  And we each interpret art in our own way…often drawing from our personal feelings and relationships.  And that is why it affected me the way that it did.

I saw a sculpture of a man and a woman…and felt the meaning of love.

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A sculpture of a man lifting up a younger man reminded me of my own struggles and those who helped me…and of the times when I would try to help others.


It reminded me of the comfort we need to give one another…the support.


Life’s emotions rang true in my head…

Joys.  Tragedies.  Love.  Dance.  Legacies.  Being.


My father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, wife, sons, daughter and all of you in my life…were all represented.  I saw your faces too!

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All of the sculptures in the park are without clothes…Vigeland did this in order to make his work Timeless…and I think it worked amazingly beautiful.  Just like our life.

The message I received while enjoying this park with Diana, Yvonne and Blake was that there is a beginning and an end to our lives.  But we continue on through others.  It displays the cycle of our lives and our experiences with each other.  Reminds us of our virility and fragility and the importance of each and how they come into our lives.


In my humble opinion, one must view this magnificent park as a struggle and a celebration of all phases of our lives.  Good, Bad and Ugly.


While I am writing this, music is playing in the background.  “Someone to Watch Over Me”  just finished and I am now listening to Chris Botti and “What A Wonderful World”.

And it is.  Thank you for being in mine.


“Once bitten by the snake of love, there is no cure…”


What I Learned…January 2013

There is a radio personality. Martin Kilcoyne, in St louis who has a mid afternoon show on KTRS 550.  He finishes each broadcast with a “what have we learned today segment.  Most of it is “tongue in cheek” and kind of fun. 

And a few years ago I asked people close to me to tell me what they have kearned from life..so far, and I turned their words into a book that I shared with them.

So this year, for my blog, I thought I would post, after each month, what I learned during that month.  I am not sure where it will take me or what I will learn.  But that is the fun part of this.  You just don’t know!  But regardles of what happens…regardless of how old or young you are…regardless of where you are…you keep learning. 

That is one thing I have learned, and have tried to live.  Keep learning.  It is a key to living your life.  If you stop, you can become stagnant.  I do not want to become stagnant…so here is what I have learned in January 2013…

  • I learned that nice guys do NOT finish last.  This past month St Louis lost an icon.  A staple in St Louis for over 70 years.  Stan Musial passed away.  It may be hard to understand what this “Man” meant to St. Louis, but just trust me on this…it was a lot.  This guy was beyond belief…beyond comprehension…beyond reality.  Saying he was a “nice guy” would be too much of a cliche’.  Because he was more than that.  He meant more than that to us in St Louis, and those who appreciated what he did on the baseball diamond, quietly.  He was a nice guy…and he finished at the top.
  • I learned how much I enjoyed St Louis Blues hockey.  During the NHL lock out, I was pissed.  Infuriated would be an understatement.  I will not get into the Millionaires vs Billionaires debate.  I will not get into the discussion about the career length of an NHL player.  I won’t even address the fiscal impact upon parking attendents or beer vendors.  I was just pissed.  But when that first puck was dropped, and Oshie, Backes, Steen and the Tarasinko-show started, I was invigorated.  Let’s Go Blues!!!
  • I learned what President Lincoln went through in order to free the slaves.  Okay,  so it might not have been the best way to get a “history lesson”, but the Steven Speilberg movie was amazing.  Plus I have been reading a few books on Lincoln.   And all I can say is…”I had no idea!”  He stood for his beliefs like few people have ever done before. He fought.  He believed.  He prayed.  And in the end…he died.  Emmancipation Proclamation.  13th Ammendment.  Civil War.   He stood his ground and in the end, it cost him his life.  But while many lives were taken during Blue vs Grey, many more were changed forever because a single man believed in “doing the right thing”.
  • I learned that you can be further away from someone…in terms of distance…but become closer to someone.  This one is personal.   But has a big impact.  I learned thst it is not necessary to live in the same city in order to be close to someone.  It may seem silly.  You might think, duh, of course.  But I really learned it.  I feel much closer to someone since they moved away.  Can’t explain it.  And actually if I learned they were moving closer, I would be excited.  But proximity has nothing to do with emotional ties.  I love this person, and respect their need to be where they are.  And in the course of it all, I feel just a little closer…strange, I know.

So there you have it.  January is in “the books”.  Done and done.  Learned and learned.  2013 is off to a great start, and i can’t wait to keep learning throughout the year.

How about you?  Did you learn anything new?  Hope so…keep it up!

Published in: on February 7, 2013 at 10:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Tune In, Turn On and Crank It Up…

In the immortal words of “The Doobie Brothers”, Listen to the Music.  (Yes, for the younger readers, this was/is an actual band…quite good in the late 70’s-early 80’s).

Every year about this time I put out a list of my favorite songs from the previous year.  Unlike most other “lists”, this list is comprised on “my favorites”…not necessarily the best.  Just the ones that I favored the most.  Maybe it was the artist…perhaps the type of music…if I found that my feet were moving unexpectedly while listening to a song, that is also a good enough reason to make the list.

While I enjoy a wide variety of music, you will see I tend to lean in a couple of directions more frequently.  However, if you find yourself asking,”where the hell did he find that one?”, then I encourage you to give it an ear.  You might be surprised.  That is the beauty of music…it is surprising and can bring all sorts of people together.

Smiling.  Dancing.  Movin’ and Groovin’.  Happy.

If it can do all of those things…what is not to like about music?!?!?!  So let’s get to some music that made me smile and dance (when no one was looking) in 2012.

Weather in my Head, Donald Fagen  This ancient mariner from Steely Dan fame has probably had more fall out of his head than most…and he still has threatening weather conditions in his noggin.  In typical R&B smooth flowing sound and lyrics, Fagen asks “But tell me what’s to be done  Lord – ’bout the weather in my head” when talking about love, pain and Mr Gore.  I got a feeling that the weather in his head is better off staying there…we do not need another Sandy or Katrina out here.

I’m Shaking, Jack White   A lesser known “B” side single from this years release, “Blunderbuss” (which is filled with great tunes) this is “the” tune that gets my feet moving in all directions.  It is an vintage blues-rocking little jam that can change the mood of everyone in the room.  Referencing Bo Diddley, Elvis, Samson and Delilah and St. Vitus this jam will find you “shaking” for more.

Payphone, Maroon 5 (with Wiz Khalifa)  Okay, this is “Guilty Pleasure #1”.  No, this is not a bro-mance, but Adam Levine has recently put out some songs I enjoy…even if they are coated in a little sugar.  Listen to some of the lyrics and you can sense a little bit of sarcasm and irony in this saccharin sweet “love song”.  But I must admit, in a few years people will ask,”what is a payphone?”

Keep Your Eyes Open, NEEDTOBREATHE  “If you never leave home, never let go, you will never make it.”  Those words may sting a little for me personally, but they are very true and are very strong lyrics in this amazing song.  If this is one of the songs you are not familiar with, get with it!  It reminds us there are better things ahead for us…but we need to stay focused and keep our eyes open…eyes on the prize!

The Baddest Man Alive, Black Keys and RZA  What do you get when you cross a blues-rock duo from Akron, Ohio with the main man from The Wu-Tang Clan?  Yeah, that is bad.  These three come together and the result is gritty, bold and full of themselves…with lyrics like, “I could take the pitchfork from the devil, Keep a super suit like I’m incredible…I’d grab a crocodile by his tail”…wanna argue with them?  Nah, just listen and walk tall with confidence.

Little Talks, Of Monsters and Men  If you get a chance to see this group, don’t hesitate, do it.  They are riding the folksy indie music wave with a sound that actually sets them apart.  The group from Iceland has taken a tragic romance tale and added an upbeat folk rhythm that can reflect hope and love and leave a catchy tune running around in yur head all day.  Great song.  Even better group.  If you are not sure, check out the whole CD…they will become a favorite.

Somebody That I Used to Know, Gotye (feat Kimbra) Here is the song you hate to love…Guilty Pleasure #2.  As quickly as you fell in love with this “poppy” song that channeled Sting and Peter Gabriel, you got tired of it.  Go on, admit that when you were driving in your car and it was played, you belted out the refrain,”Somebody that I use to knooooow,” in your best/worse falsetto voice…until you came to a light and another car pulled along side you.  Then you stopped.  Don’t worry, that driver was doing the same thing…

This Head I Hold, Electric Guest  This young duo really knock it out with their first released single.  It is a catchy, happy go lucky, I don’t give a damn melody that will catch you moving your shoulders, feet and anything else that moves.  The funky sound with a retro vibe sets you free with lyrics like…”Sit back, don’t think”…so take their advice…Sit back…

Dixie Highway, Alan Jackson (feat Zac Brown)  A CW legend and a fellow Georgian, Zac Brown, take a nostalgic drive  down the Dixie Highway.  And if you are up to a fun rollicking trip, get on board.  I can’t remember such a fun trip since Willie took us on his bus with “on the road again”.    Dixie Highway…a sweeter place you’ll never find.

Going Home, Leonard Cohen  This septagenarian doesn’t so much as sing this song, but whispers it breathlessly into the air.  You might expect to see him in a cathedral or a poetry recital.  But with this song, our sage Leonard tells us of God calling him home…”a home without sorrow…without burden…without the costume that I wore”.  I find the irony in “God calling him home” becuase I have thought that if God’s voice did not sound like Johnny Cash…it must sound like Leonard Cohen. Going Home is a heartfelt song that takes you to “where it is better than before”.

93 Million Miles, Jason Mraz  One of the great things about music, is it can bring us together.  My family enjoys music.  We each have our preferences and we know the other’s preferences.  We also share new music with each other.  This is a song that Tyler and Jen shared with me, for a possible inclusion into the family video.  And I am glad they did.  Enjoyable and endearing, this gentle song reminds all of us that no matter where you are on this earth, you can always come home…Are you listening boys?

Drunk On You, Luke Bryan  One of Country Music’s young gunslingers and fastest rising stars, “pours a little Crown in a Dixie cup “ and suddenly you have one of summers biggest hits.   You have to admit, when you hear him sing “Girl you make my speakers go boom boom / Dancin’ on the tailgate in the full moon / That kinda thing makes a man go mmm hmmm / You’re lookin’ so good in what’s left of those blue jeans”, images flash in your head from a time a short while ago…and suddenly you are there again…boom boom.

Mercy, Dave Mathews Band  This song will remind you why you fell in love with the music of DMB in the first place.  Acoustic guitar, infectious melody, and a rhythm that is smooth and as familiar as the voice.  The voice actually seems a little harsh and breathy at times, but I think it is intentional as the song finishes strong and is voice is clear.  Well played Dave, and as you say in the song…”Mercy will we overcome this, Oh we come too far to turn it around”…so have you Dave, so have you.

Hit Me Like A Bomb, Third Day  I have liked this group of Christians playing Christian music as if they were a rock band, for several years.  But now they have partnered with a producer who has worked with Pearl Jam and Bruce Sprinsteen, and they have re-imaged their sound without sacrificing their music or their message.  Relevant topics on change in difficult times, this song hit me “like a bomb”, and I hope has the same effect on you.

Sweet Nothing, Calvin Harris (feat Florence Welch)  Harris has made quite the name for himself collaborating with some of todays hit makers and putting out electro sounds of familiar songs.  This time it is the fiery red head who fronts “The Machine”, Florence Welch.  Take her flare and lyrics, combined with Harris’ hypnotizing beats and you get a real crowd pleaser that helps you dance the night away.

A Heart Like Mine, Dwight Yoakam  A few years have passed since his last hit, but channelling the Bakersfield sound on this cut makes the wait worth it.  Yoakam enlists Beck to help polish the guitar twang and rockabilly sound…and he hits the mark.  Yoakam might be wearing a cowboy hat, but you won’t find a “red solo cup” here…look for rock and roll and attitude.

It was a good year for music and those of us who enjoy it.  A few more songs for your consideration:

Madness, Muse;  Ain’t Messin’ Around, Gary Clark Jr.;  You Can’t Fail Me Now, Bonnie Raitt;  Live and Die, Avett Brothers;  Hold On, Alabama Shakes

Good songs…all of them.  At least I think so.

My blog page is entitled, “Pull Up a Chair”.  Well forget about that now.

Get up offa that thing”, as James Brown used to say, and enjoy some music.

Enjoy life.  Enjoy each other. Enjoy these gifts we are given!  I am!!!

Do What You Love, Trust Me


I have discovered that I enjoy this.  This writing, blogging thing.

Since Blake set this up for me about 2 1/2 years ago, I have found quite a bit of enjoyment and satisfaction out of simply writing down my thoughts and sharing them on WordPress.com.  I know that sometimes what I write is read by others…and sometimes it is read only by me.  And that’s okay.  That is why I do it…I think…for me…

A short while back, a long time friend of mine, we will call her Deb-Deb, sent me a message saying she enjoyed reading my writings and wondered why I wrote.  She quickly answered herself by saying, “nevermind, I think I know why”.  Shortly after that I discovered she also had a blog…so I follow her and several others on WordPress.

But the question,“why I write”, is still out there…

When Blake set this up for me, he said he did it so I could share recipes.  He knew I liked to cook and experiment in the kitchen, so why not share the results with others?  And that is how it began…but it has evolved into a number of musings about life and “stuff” like that. Cocktails, music, food, inspirations, family…yeah, “stuff like that”.


A number of years ago I read a book “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow”.  It is a good book, a good read.  There are a lot of meaningful points in the book for each of us.  Using our skills and unique talents in order to fulfill our passion and advance our careers is   “spot on” advice.  However, the author Marsha Sinetar, doesn’t say how much money will follow…  So, in theory the concept is very wise and feels warm and fuzzy, but in application, well let’s just say there are a lot of “starving artists” who may disagree with Marsha.

Now, putting that aside, I think there are great rewards in “doing what you love”.

And perhaps that is where I begin to find my answer to , “why I write”.  I enjoy it.  Now that hasn’t always been the case.  In school, I hated it.  I was not very good according to the Jesuits at St. Louis University High School.  And by grammatical standards, and Strunk and White, they may have been “spot on”. (yeah, I knda like that term, sorry)  I started writing more and feeling comfortable with it when I worked at Maritz Motivation Company in St Louis.  It was a little more fun than some of the writing I had to do in school and the Jesuits weren’t there to criticize.  Although I did refer to Strunk and White quite often.

A turn here.  Change direction there.  Stop.  Go.  Yield.  Back up.  It brings me to where I am now.  Writing today.  And I enjoy it.  Although I am still not 100% sure “why I write”.  Got an idea though.  I do find it peaceful.  Also it is relaxing.  Stress-free?  Yep.  A reminder of “good stuff” and “nice things/times”…you bet.

I guess I do know “why I write”...DUH!?!?!  I simply enjoy it.  No secret to it.  Very simple.

Marsha Sinetar’s advice about “Doing What You Love”, is good sound advice we can all take.  Forget the money part…well for the sake of this discussion anyway…this is about something that money can not buy you.  It is about feeling good about what you are doing…yourself…your work…life and being.  It is about love and faith, relaxing and enjoying those around you.  We can all stand to do something that is stress-free and relaxing.  Find a little time and as that ancient Roman philosopher, Nike, once said, “Just Do It”.

“Do What You Love”

Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?  I believe I am going to give it a go and follow that advice…

…with myself…my wife… my children…my friends…and you.

So there may be more postings on WordPress to come.

Next up: Got to work on that money following thing…(sigh and grin)






“Everyday Holds the Possibility of a Miracle, I Need a Miracle”


We all need them. We have asked for them. Hell we probably even witnessed them.

Anyone remember Al Michaels asking us all, “Do you believe in miracles?” during the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Games?

Or how about when you forgot to study for one of your tests, perhaps a final, tell me you weren’t looking for a miracle then.

A “Hail Mary” play or pass. We all look for it. Hope for it. Perhaps even pray for it. Just a little hope for the “improbable”.

Have you ever heard of the saying,“Be realistic: Plan for a miracle”?

Farmers pleading for rain. Unemployed looking for work. Lost looking to be found. Ying wanting Yang. Lassie saving Timmy in the well. (for you who do not know what this means, ask your parents, if they are over 55. If not, ask me.) They can all be “miracles”.

Not to take a miracle lightly, it is just sometimes a term we use.

I listen to a lot of music. A lot of different kinds. Genres. Artists.

One of them is a Christian band by the name of “Third Day”. They do not fit the normal “profile” of a Christian band…whatever that may be. They sound more along the lines of a band of Christians playing rock/southern rock music. They have a new disc out called “Miracle”. And one of the songs on it is “I Need a Miracle”. It is one of my favorite songs of last year. Makes you wanna move your feet, but also makes you think. And it did just that to me…made me think.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

It made me think of the everyday miracles we see. Take for granted. How they come to us. Perhaps things we do not even think of as a miracle in the societal sense of the word.

Look around each day and I am sure you can see one or more. Perhaps you are one. Something has happened to you that was “surprising”. Unexpectedly good. Impossible? Improbable?

So pause. Stop for a moment to take inventory. Of yourself and what you have and have done. Of your love, loved ones and gifts of love. Look at what you have instead of what you don’t have. Look at how and who brought you the miracle.

In the song I mentioned above, there are lyrics that say..

“Well no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done
There will come a time when you can’t make it on your own”

So look at those who have helped you. Helped you today. Helped you get to where you are today. Perhaps someone helped you cross the street and manuever through treacherous traffic, or maybe they helped you simply pick up something you dropped.

Miracles? Perhaps. Who’s to say they aren’t?

As Al Michaels said, “Do you believe in miracles?”

I certainly do. I have seen them. And am thankful for them.

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm  Comments (4)  
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Naughty? Nice?

The question on everyone’s mind this time of year isn’t about the fiscal cliff…it is whether you have been Naughty or Nice.

So, which is it?

I imagine, like most of us, it may be a little of each if you are honest with yourself.  At least that is what I was told by many young hockey players the other day.

See, Diana needed a “Santa” for a hockey skating class she teaches at St Peter’s Rec Plex.  It is a bunch of beginners learning to skate better to get to the next level of play.  Ages range from about 4-5 to maybe 10-11 years old.  And for the pre-Christmas session, she rented a Santa outfit (complete with padding of course) but she needed someone to fill it.

Enter John.

I must admit, I was a bit nervous.  Wanting so bad to be a good Santa.  Practicing my “HO-HO-HO” and exactly what voice to use.  Anyway, it was really heartwarming…and knee-warming because they all sat on my knee.  (I know a couple of them let loose with a stink bomb on my knee also…Naughty to fart on Santa’s knee)

Playing Santa, seeing those innocent faces and their eyes light up really made me feel good.  Which I can never get enough of lately…good feelings.  Oh, of course there were a few annoying youngsters…attention grabbers.  But most of those little ones were very polite, respectful, waited patiently…even when I asked if a couple of the young men would mind if a few little sisters saw Santa while they waited.  I was impressed and again, I smiled to myself at their gentlemanly conduct.

Here are a few other things that made me smile:

  • When I asked one youngster “What do you want to see on Christmas Eve”, he replies,“Mrs. Claus”!!!!
  • I engaged the group to recall the names of all of the reindeer that help out Santa on Christmas Even.  I got Prancer, Rudolph, Donner…then one young man says “Joshua”!  I said I think he was in the bible, and not a reindeer.
  • I was told what many of them want to get as presents.  And some are not that picky…many just want to be surprised.
  • When I asked one little girl what her favorite thing about Christmas was, she replied…“It is when baby Jesus was born”.  (I choked up a bit there..well done Mom and Dad…you “get it”)
  • And more than a few of them were honest when I asked them if they have been Naughty or Nice…they said they were Nice most of the time.  (same answer when I asked if their room was clean and if they mind their parents…most of the time)  It is tough not to appreciate honesty in the world, especially from little ones.

So that is what brought me to the question of the day…”Naughty or Nice?”

I hope most of us can answer like some of those innocent ones who saw Santa at the ice rink…“most of the time”.

Sometimes that is all you can ask for. Do the best you can do.  Care for each other and yourself.  At the end of the day, look in the mirror and be able to smile at what you see, and be happy with it.

It is not always easy.  But nothing worthwhile ever is.  But like what you may find under the tree…life is a gift.

Life is a wonderful and precious gift.  Treat it as such and treat others that way also.

Merry Christmas everyone.  Take care of one another and be Nice as much as you can!


Published in: on December 24, 2012 at 11:05 am  Leave a Comment  
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