My Story. Humble and Kind.

If you have read my last few blog posts, you will know that I have an inspiration for writing about the theme…”What is my story”.  And you may have seen, there is no single answer about what makes me…me.

Quite often “my story” is formed by past experiences, my upbringing, life’s lessons and those around me.  And more often than not, I find myself listening to a song and thinking…hey that could be for me!   Being raised in an environment where there was always three things present…love, discipline and music…it is no wonder I find inspiration in music.  And in this case it is Country music by Tim McGraw.

Humble and Kind.

I remember being told one time,”you are never as good as you think you are and never as bad as you think you are.”  It stays with me, just like this song.

“Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be a waste of time
Always stay humble and kind”

And I have found out in life, this is not always easy, to be Humble and Kind.  Sometimes you do not want to be humble.  You want to be “Loud and Proud”.  Make a little noise about yourself and what you have done. But that noise doesn’t last.  A humbled presence will last.  And sometimes I do not want to be kind.  Simply put, I want to be that A**H*** who does what many others are thinking.  But again, that is fleeting and does no good for anyone.  Besides, that isn’t me.  Not my story.

“Hold the door say please say thank you”

Did I mention love and discipline were always present in our house while I was growing up?  The lyrics above from the song was part of our daily lesson in life.

“When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride but
Always stay humble and kind”

We all work hard.  We accomplish things.  Get things done. Sometimes things that no one thought we could accomplish.  The impossible?  Maybe.  When this happens we feel proud.  We feel good about ourselves.  It is a great feeling.  But it is also key to keep that feeling “in check”.  Enjoy that feeling of pride.  But don’t become too swollen with it…that will simply burst and get messy.

“Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why
Bitterness keeps you from flying
Always stay humble and kind”

There are many things in life which I find challenging.  To “Always stay humble and kind” is one of them.  But if you stop and analyze why you should stay this way, and I find myself doing this often, you will see that it is usually much better for everyone in the end…to stay Humble and Kind.

As an example, let’s take a look at some of these lyrics.

“Visit grandpa every chance that you can, It won’t be a waste of time.”   I used to make it a point to visit my grandparents on a regular basis.  I am glad I did.  It was like a classroom outside of school.  Not only did I learn things, although I may not have known it at the time, but I just really enjoyed it.  Seriously.  I wish I could listen to my Papa once more as the den filled up with pipe smoke, and Nana would poke her head around the corner asking if I wanted a “dollar sandwich”.

“Hold the door say please say thank you”.  Simple respect and common decency.  A few things that are lacking in our society right now.  Sad state, but I am glad I do these things.  You would be surprised how many times you get a smile in return.  A smile is golden.  🙂

“When the work you put in is realized.  Let yourself feel the pride.”  Hard work feels good.  As do accomplishments.  Go ahead with your proud self, feel good.  But as my father once told me,“If you are really that good, you do not need to tell anyone.  They will figure it out for themselves.”

“Don’t expect a free ride from no one. Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why.  Bitterness keeps you from flying.”  No such thing as a free ride or free lunch…there will always be a debt owed, a piper to pay.  When you hold a grudge in, it is like a poison that eats away at you, little by little.  It is a bitterness that keeps you from doing what you do and from being “Humble and Kind”.  Keeps you from succeeding in enjoying your life.

Humble and Kind.  It isn’t easy being this way or doing the things I spoke about.  And I am not saying that I am always successful in doing these things.  But I try.

As I said, it ain’t easy…but things that make us rich never are easy.

Anyway, here is another piece of my story.

Have you figured out your story?  You will.  I am still working on mine…

 

 

 

Published in: on April 30, 2016 at 11:39 am  Comments (2)  
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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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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Things get in the way of LIFE.  Really they do.

Work has been rough.  (That is putting it mildly)  Issues with Mom aren’t easy.  It seems like there is always sumpin’ ya gotta deal with.  And as Ol’ Blues Eyes (Frank Sinatra for the younger crowd) would say…”That’s Life, that’s what they say…you’re riding high in April, shot down in May”!

So, when I need a “pick-me-up”…I just go out to the mailbox.  Uh?  No, I am not expecting a letter from Ed McMahon saying I won the sweepstakes.  (Yes, I know he is dead)

It is because when I come back in the house, I am treated like a Rock Star.  Oh, yeah, my groupies are all over me.  If they could talk, I am sure they would call me “Rock God”.  But they can’t talk…not exactly.  You see, when I come back in the house, no matter how long I have been gone, I have one of the best welcoming committees greeting me around.  It doesn’t matter if I went to the grocery store, out of town for a few days, grabbed the paper out of the driveway…whatever…I have 12 legs jumping around, up on me, who are happy to see me.  Yes, 12.  And they belong to 3 individual…dogs.

Hint…ya want an ego-boost…and who doesn’t every now and then…get a dog.

Oh, of course, if Diana is home (Diana is my wife for those who may not know…) she treats me like a Rock Star also…yeah, right.  But most of the time, she is happy to see me come through the front door.  (I am too old to be sneakin’ through the back door any more!)  But if I just go out to the car, she might not notice…however, and there is always a however, Kodi and Weezie and Addikus all notice…and they are not bashful in showing their gratitude that I came back in the house.

Addikus goes and gets a toy to show me.  Kodi is at the door to protect me.  And Weezie, well he just yipes and finally makes his way, as he wobbles, to greet me.

And it feels wonderful.  Brings a smile  to my face.  Makes me realize that no matter how crappy things may seem, or are, this feels good at the moment.

There is a special link between humans and animals…dogs in my case.  There are books written about this. (check out Amazon, or just respond to me and ask…I have read some very amazing ones) There was even a series on TV about it.  Animal Planet had a series called “Saved” about this bond.  Stories about bonds created with our soldiers and pups they “adopted”.  People with life threatening illness who experienced “miracles” through their pets.  Guard dogs.  Family animals who saved their family from a fire in their home….and more…

Often times, we are the ones initially saving the dogs…but they save us, protect us…in so many ways we can not even fathom. If we “people” were as smart as we think we are…we could learn a lot from our dogs…our pets.

Actually, if they taught us, we would learn…

  • When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. 
  • Take naps. 
  • Run, jump, and play daily. 
  • On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass. 
  • Life is simple…enjoy it …don’t complicate it.
  • Offer no opinion…no criticism.
  • Be attentive…yet silent.
  • When it is hot, drink more water.
  • When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. 
  • Be loyal.
  • Enjoy a simple ride in the car, hell, be excited.
  • Don’t repress emotion…wag your tail!
  • Never pretend to be something you’re not. 
  • Listen, no need to talk about yourself.
  • No agenda needed.
  • If someone you love is having a bad day, sit by them, love them, be there…words are not needed.
  • Don’t try to change someone, just accept them as they are.
  • If you are happy, wag your tail!

A simple life.  No negotiating.  No self consciousness.  Few disappointments.  Let’s play and run around and lick…sniff…relieve ourselves and on occasion even hump!  Oh, and if ya got a treat, I would like one.  No pretension needed.

We touch them…dogs…they touch our lives forever.

They seldom try to be something they are not…and seldom are something other than what they are…unconditional love…gratitude…acceptance.

Excuse me, I think I need to go get the mail…need an ego boost if you know what I mean! 

And I think you do.

Life is Fragile, Enjoy it…NOW

I travel a bit for my job.  Probably more than most people.  Less than others.   Hop on a plane…hop off.  Different city…rental car, hotel, customer, repeat.

Kind of a no-brainer.  Sometimes it seems I am just programmed to do it, not really stopping to give it much thought.  Just doing what I need to do…another day, another Southwest Airlines flight, another hotel and another dollar.

Then repeat.

Many people do this.  Many do it much more than I.  Professional athletes come to mind.  Road games galore.  Football probably has the fewest.  Baseball…seemingly endless.  Basketball…uh, well this year is the exception.  Hockey.  Wow, another long season, half on the road.  And I am sure the process of getting on a plane is just “going through the motions” of doing what you do.

Until…

A while back there was a hockey team who was doing this very thing.  Boarding a plane.  Going to the next game…preparing mentally for their opponent…

But they didn’t make it.

A Russian hockey team, Lokomotiv, was traveling to play Dynamo Minsk.  Two former St Louis Blues players were a part of that Lokomotiv team.  Pavol Demitra (age 36) and Igor Korolev (just turned 41) were on that plane that caught fire, broke in two and crashed.

I am sure they were planning on playing another hockey game.

Fragile.

The other day I got word about a close friend of mine.  Her husband passed away suddenly.  She had gone to bed early.  Something we all do…go to bed.  And I am sure many of us have gone to bed while our spouse or significant other has stayed up a while longer reading, watching a movie or finishing a project for work or home.

Just routine.  Nothing to think about.  Maybe we tell our spouse we love them and give them a kiss.  Or perhaps we yell in from the other room,“hey, going to bed, g’night”.  They might follow to bed shortly…or finish their task at hand…or…

My friends husband never made it to bed.

Fragile.

Our lives really are.  So live.  Live well.  Be thankful for this moment in time…your time.

Each of us is given a gift of life.  We can share it.  Expand on it.  Glorify it.  Ignore it.

We are able to make it truly unique and put “our signature” on it.  We spend our lives, developing and creating our life.

Who we are.  What we are. What we do and with whom.

Don’t waste it…this beautifully unique gift.  Live.  Fully.  Sing.  Cry.  Dance.  Share.  Help.  Shout.  Love.

The greatest of these is love.

Love your life and those in it.  Don’t take it or others for granted. 

I won’t.  I promise.

Fragile.

Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 10:44 am  Comments (3)  
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Emails, Stress Management and a Glass of Water

Stress.

It should be a 4-letter word.  We all have it in our lives.

Some more prominent than others, but this is truly one of those “relative” things.  No, I do not mean “In-Laws” or Uncles or siblings…

I feel a lot of stress in my job.  But so does Diana.  And the kid bagging my groceries.  The nurses.  Pastors.  Mail carriers.

We all have it…and “it” is wearing a different face for each of us.

How we deal with it is just as different as the type of stress we each have.

I got an email from a dear friend not too long ago…you know one of those “forwards” that seem to fill our inboxes.  (yes, I am guilty of sending those on also, but I try to limit and control my urges)  This is someone that I always take the time to read whatever she sends me. (not that I don’t read what YOU just sent me)  It isn’t that everything she sends is worth reading, but most of it is.  I also like the fact that many things she “forwards” to me have a message…and it is usually uncannily very appropriate for the moment I can get “stuck in”.

This one addressed the topic of Stress.  It also did it from the perspective of a lecturer.  So since I have been in a similar position in the past, it struck me…and stayed.  So I though I would share it…slightly paraphrased, of course.

While addressing an audience, explaining stress management, a lecturer raised a glass of water and asked the audience “How heavy is this glass filled with water?”  Answers were called out and ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer continued saying, “The absolute weight doesn’t really matter.  It depends on how long I hold onto it.  Hold it for a minute, no big deal.  For an hour and my arm will get tired and perhaps sore.  If I hold for a day…well I may need to go to the hospital.  In each case, it is the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” 

“And it is different for each of us.”

The lecturer continued, “It is the same way with Stress Management.  If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, the burden becomes too heavy, almost to the point of incapacitating us.  We can not go on.”

“Just like the glass of water, you need to put it (your burden) down for a while and rest before holding it again.  Refreshed, we can carry it if needed or deal with it much better.”

Easy, uh?  No, I know it isn’t.  Because I try to do it all of the time.  I carry them too long.  And then I try to put them down for a spell…try being the “operative” word.  Sometimes it takes me a little longer to put them down.  But eventually I can set them aside…knowing that they can not be ignored.

Sometimes we need help doing this.  Again, this is a very personal issue, just like managing the stress.  We all have our own ways of doing what works best for ourselves.

Humor.  Prayer.  Meditation.  Reading.  Physical activity.  Imaging.  Music.  Travel.  A Vacation Day.

Here are a few quips I found.  Just remind yourself sometime of these and even if they make you smile, it was a good thing…we can all use a smile:

  • Just accept that some days you are the statue and some days you are the pigeon.
  • Keep your words soft and sweet, in case you need to eat them
  • Nobody cares if you can’t dance well, just dance
  • The second mouse is the one who gets the cheese
  • Your sole purpose in life may be to simply be kind to others
  • If you are “detoured” along your journey, enjoy the scenery

Somehow it doesn’t seem right to add a cocktail recipe after talking about stress management.  So I think I will save it for later.

In the meantime, put anything down that may be a burden to you right now.  You need the rest.  Once rested, carry on with your task.  But find what works best for you.

Me.  I found long ago that prayer works best.  I can use other things too, but prayer seems to help me.  The hardest part is “Letting go and Letting God” take care of things.  Guess I am stubborn…Or slow…Or (fill in the blank)

So set “it” aside and enjoy your life.  Enjoy your family, your friends, your loved ones.  It is a beautiful time of the year…enjoy it too!

I will, as soon as I set this damn glass of water down…

Published in: on October 6, 2011 at 10:48 am  Comments (3)  
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Red Letter Days…Red Letter Cocktails…Red Letter Lives

Red letter days.

Days that are special ones, set aside by being in red ink.  These are the days that are special to us.  Ones that we will remember.

Red letter days originated with the church…as it seems many/most things are that can be difficult to explain.  It was a term used in academia and the church to signify a church festival (BINGO!????) or a holy day or any day of significance. 

A special day, indeed.

We all have them in our lives…red letter days.  Dates, times places we recall that stand out in our lives, in our minds.  Birthdays…Weddings…Anniversaries…the Birth of your child, grandchildren…certain historical or societal events. 

Today is one.  Elvis Presley died on this day.  I recall on this day in 1977  Diana and I were in a tuxedo rental store in North St Louis County at Jamestown Mall.  A high school friend of mine, Don Behan, worked there, so I decided to go there to pick out the tuxes for our wedding.  Soon after Diana told me what I liked (wink-wink) I heard a voice over the intercom say,”Elvis has left the building…for good”.  The king had died on the throne…really, he did…on the “throne.”

A red letter day.

JFK assasination…a red letter day.  MLK…red letter day.  Challenger explosion…9-11…they all stand out among the other days…

Our lives are full of them.  If we live to be 75 years old, have three children, married 45 years, add Christmases, social events and other family functions, we will have…(let’s see, add the 3, carry the 4, assume a lot…)  … oh, perhaps anywhere between 200 and 250 red lettter days in our lives.  Seems like a lot…but in comparison…it kinda falls short.

Last Friday evening was one of those days for us.  A red letter day.  It was a celebration of Drew and Rachel’s wedding in Italy.  They had a “local” celebration with family and friends in St Louis.  Their version of a “reception”…after their wedding in Italy.  Totally non-traditional. (what else would you expect from Drew and Rachel?  Exactly!)  Totally remarkable and as unforgettable as the gown she wore.  It was definately “red-letter-esque”.  Something to remember.  And if I can remember it with all I had to imbibe…well, let’s just say it “rocked”.

 

 

 

 

Family and friends…does it really get much better? 

NopeNot this time.

And to add to that, TJ and Chad Michael made some special red letter cocktails to go along with the red letter date.   The cocktails were…

Golden Train

  • 2 ounces Don Q anjejo rum
  • 1 Ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • .5 ounce grapefruit juice
  • .5 ounce Averna Amaro
  • Mole bitters
  • Splash of Rose Champagne

 

After Tonight

  • 1.5 ounce Buffalo Trace bourbon
  • .5 ounce Green Chartreuse
  • .75 Cocchi Americano
  • Creole bitters
  • Lemon twist

Try them on your own…if you dare.

The celebration was illuminated by the ambiance and decorations at the Lumen Place in St Louis.  A little of Italy was present in the cake made with ricotta cheese, from “the Hill”.  Blake, Yvonne and Tyler sent their greetings and well wishes.  A video of wedding pics played through the night.  Family and friends flew in from out of town.  Special dances, Father-Daughter and Mother -Son, were danced.  And a great time was had by all.

 

 

 

Red letter date indeed.

We need more of them.

But it is up to us to make them.

I challenge each of you to make each day something special.  We all deserve to have more than 200-250 days in our lives that are “special”!  Make each day special.  Do something special.  Tell someone they are special.  Make something.  Rescue a pet.  Write a note.  Make a moment special.  Express your love for someone or something.  Surrender the moment and your desires and help someone else…in the process your desires will arise out of nowhere and become something special…something “red letter”.

I bet you can.  I bet I can.  I know we can. 

And if we do, our lives will be RED LETTER.  Something really special…for each one of us…for us all…for more than 200-250 flippin’ days!!!

Here’s to living a red letter life!

Lessons a Father Teaches…or Should

A couple of days ago was the ten year anniversary of when my Dad lost his battle with cancer.  He was a fighter to the end.  I am glad I can smile while writing this, thinking of his attitude during the battle.  As the battle was winding down, he was still teaching us…showing by example…how to face a challenge.  Even if it was the ultimate challenge.

Many of my memories of my Dad were of him “teaching”.  And yet I believe he did not view himself as such.

But I think that it is one of the roles a Father (and Mother) must embrace as they raise their children.  Teach.  Show.  Lead.  It is a responsibility.  As Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said, “If you fail in raising your children, nothing else really matters”.

There are times when the lesson is as obvious as a two-by-four upside the head…it needs to be because of the situation involved, or the age of the child.   And other times it is done quietly.  Almost as if nothing was said, like the “lesson” came to you by osmosis.  Or it was your idea…or a dream.

These teachings evolve themselves from the very basics as an infant,  through mere “suggestions” or reminders as a young man and then you have the “examples” given throughout our lives…by our choices…decisions…actions.  Often times they occur as a result of something, or a situation that has popped up like “Whack-A-Mole”.  (where you take care of one issue only to cause another to pop it’s little head up)  Then you have those little lessons that would be presented by Lifethe game we are all trying to win but no one knows all of the rules.  And of course simple acts such as riding a bike, changing a tire, shaving, throwing a ball or carving a turkey are more directed efforts towards teaching a specific skill…they are more task oriented.

My Dad was a coach.  Life. Soccer.  Baseball.  Even Basketball.  He coached teams which he had his own children on, and teams that didn’t.  Beginners  and advanced, more skilled players alike.  If he didn’t know things himself he would go to those that had the answers and learn from them…ask questions, or read.

I recall when I first began playing organized sports, at Our Lady of Fatima in Florissant, MO, my Dad said he wanted me to read something.  I had no idea what it was.  But he gave me a piece of paper, I believe it was printed on stationary from Prudential Insurance (my Dad and my Grandpa both worked for Prudential at one time or another).  It was entitled “What Does A Father Say To His Son Before His First Game?”  Dad said to me, I know this isn’t your first game, but I still think it would be a good idea if you read this…

So I read it…here it is (yes, I actually still have it) :

What Does A Father Say To His Son Before His First Game?

This is your first game, son.  I hope you win.  I hope you win for your sake, not mine.  Because winning is nice.  It’s a good feeling.  Like the whole world is yours.  But it passes, this feeling.  And what lasts is what you’ve learned.  And what you’ve learned about is life.  That’s what sports are all about.  There’s no telling how you’ll do.  You might be a hero, or you might be absolutely nothing.  There’s just no telling.  Too much depends on chance.  Or how the ball bounces.  I’m not talking about the game, son.  I’m talking about life.  But it’s life that the game is all about.  Because every game is life. And life is a game.  A serious one.  Dead serious.  But that’s what you do with serious things. You do your best.  You take what comes. You take what comes and you run with it.  Winning is fun, sure.  But winning is not the point.  Wanting to win is the point. Not giving up is the point.  Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point.  Never letting up is the point.  Never letting anyone down is the point.  Play to win.  Sure.  But lose like a champion.  Because it’s not always winning that counts.  What counts is trying.

…and then my Dad asked me if I understood it.  I probably didn’t really grasp it at the time, but didn’t want to “disappoint” him, of course I said I understood it.  I remember, he replied, “Good.  If I ever think you are not trying and playing to win, I will make you quit.”  And if you knew him, you know he would have made me quit. (and if you knew him you also knew how important he thought this was because he hated to lose!!)

There is more to that teaching than what I ever imagined.  So many truths are in it…ones I never knew about…ones I experienced often and some I experienced a few times…and still some I continue find hard to accept…

At the time Dad had me read this, I am pretty sure I thought he was talking about the game.  Baseball or soccer probably.

But now I am not so sure…

Not giving up is the point… 

Never being satisfied with what you’ve done is the point… 

Thanks Dad.  I am still learning…still trying.

Published in: on August 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm  Comments (4)  
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