Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lessons From My Difference Makers

I consider myself lucky. 

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by some really great people in my life. I have been taught. I have learned. I have grown because of them. 

Some are family. Some are mentors. Some were with me a long time. Some came into my life and left. All left their mark. All made a difference. 

In no particular order...here are some snap shots of the life-long lessons I have learned from others...

"Smile and the world will smile with you...frown and you are on your own." - Dad 
Pretty self explanatory. 

"I'll be dipped in turtle wax." -Dad 
My dad's way of explaining his shock or surprise over something. 

"Don't limit yourself to a broadcast school." - Cindy Leighton 
The on-air personality I worked with in high school on a show called "Teens n' Talk."

"Your problem is...you are good and you know it. - Pat Ryan 
My theater TA who told me I made the theater program but I was not a unanimous choice. 

Thanks to Jim Baughman (Journalism Professor at the UW) for teaching me that journalism was fun. 
Thanks to Ivan Preston (Journalism Professor at the UW) for making me work harder on my journalism classes. 

"Hit the trees Daddy!" - My Son Charlie 
One day, we were walking along in the rain and my son hit the trees and water came down on us.  We both laughed and I realized that we can laugh even during times that don't go our way. 

"What's fun about that?!?" - Ann Wesley 
A marketing pro who always says this when faced with situations where people either waste time doing stupid things or waste brain space on pettiness. 

"Close your eyes every once in awhile.  It's fun in there." - Ann Wesley 
When it's time to spark imagination or creativity. 

"Life always comes down to three rules; 
There isn't enough free food in the world. 
Sometimes...people suck. 
Everything comes in threes." - Max Wells 
A dear friend who passed away too young.  

"Our fathers were strong enough to let go." - Tom Walker 
My boss, mentor and friend of 20 + years after both our fathers passed away. 

There are so many more lessons and people who I can mention here but I will save those for another day when I need to remember their guidance. Happens often. 

My friend Max playfully imitating how my Dad sat at Badger games. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Angela Lansbury and Life's Play

Whimsical banter. 

Introduction of characters (not sure of role attibrution yet but developing antagonists and protagonists). 

A vile murder. 

Discovering and disiphering of clues, riddles and conundrums. 

Eliminating suspects.  The "nail in the coffin" clue. 

Mystery solved. 

Whimsical banter. 

I just described every "Murder She Wrote" episode ever made. 

Its formulaic and episodic and was wildly popular in its day. Angela Lansbury's portrayal of Jessica Fletcher, the wonderfully likable Sherlock Holmes-esque character was equisite. The show worked because of its winning formula. It was predictable. People do crave predictability. 

But people also crave surprise, spontaneity and the occasional plot twist or curve ball. 

This is the balance of life. Combining predictable moments with spontaneous behaviors. 

In life (as in theater), we love to cheer for the protagonist and jeer for the antagonist. It's reassuring. The problem (or opportunity) though is that we can't always judge the book by its cover. A protagonist may wear the badge only because of perception. Same with the antagonist.  

Predictability.  Spontaneity.  Protagonists.  Antagonists. 

It's part of the script of life. It's what makes the world go around. 

It's why we applaud or boo. 

And. Scene. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Water's Fine

When you are about ready to swimming...whether it be a pool or a lake...do you wade a while and tip toe your way in or do you just jump? 

It seems to me that the shock to your body lasts longer if you tip toe in than rather just jump. 

Same holds true of pulling off the band-aid. It's gonna hurt more if you go slow. 

Nobody ever says "Hey...let's roll up our sleeves...and methodically move at snail's pace towards our next step in the excruciatingly long road to wherever we need to get to.  No!  They say "let's roll up our sleeves and get at it!" 

Whatever you tackle in life, plan on jumping right in. Don't tip-toe. There is never going to be the "perfect" time or situation that will be better than the present to make your move. Throughout history...most people didn't make a mistake by starting something too soon.  Most mistakes were made because of waiting too long. By tip-toeing into action. 

Don't get me wrong...I want my heart surgeon to take his time.  I want our President to take his time before he approves military action. I want the engineering community to take their time on developing the latest breakthrough in medical technology...but...those are the exceptions. 

Most things in life...you can jump right in.  

C'mon in! The water's fine. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Keep Some in the Tank

What's more important?  The start or the finish? 

I will argue...it's the finish. 

The lone exception is a sprint. But nothing in life is a sprint.

Now, I am not saying the start isn't important.  It's the foundation for the finish. It's just not AS important as the finish. 

A couple of real life examples...

My dad's life was turned upside down in his 50's. Divorce. Career change. Some real life challenges. But he settled into a nice groove for his last 30 years on this planet and died with very little regret. He was ready to go.  

Recently I met an older couple at a restaurant. I would guess they were in their 80's. They were at the table next to us. I could see they were holding each other's hands throughout dinner, laughing and just really enjoying each other's company. I went over and asked them "what the occasion was."  His response was "every day is an occasion with my lovely wife."  I asked them how long they had been together and their response was 31 years. They said it took them awhile but they finally found their soulmate. 

When I competed in triathlons and marathons, I had a rule; nobody passed me and I passed everyone I could see in the last mile. There was nothing more motivating than knowing I had more left in the tank and others had nothing left. 

I am a huge football fan. Bleed Packer green and Badger red.  It is much more important to be playing your best football towards the end of the season than it is at the beginning. 

Again, don't misinterpret...the beginning is important but make your finish the best it can be. 

At the end of the day...no regrets. And that happens because of the end. 

In the play of life...you want standing ovations at the end...not people leaving early. 

And. Scene. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I'M Batman!

First there was Adam West.  

Then Michael Keaton.  

And along came Val Kilmer.  

Enter George Clooney. 

Hello Christian Bale. 

And next...it's Ben Affleck. 

They've all uttered the words "I'am Batman" with varrying degrees of success. 

It's strange how the evolution of Batman on the big screen has become a symbol to me for how things cycle through in our lives over and over again.  

I think back to where I was during each interpretive Batman performance and I reallze that I have been here before...and I will be here again.  

Places have changed...but they are the same. 

People have changed...but they are the same. 

Strange to think about when you watch someone or something outside of you change and evolve through the years how it can make you self-reflect. 

I actually was Batman myself for one night.  Have to admit...it was pretty cool. 

Actually hated taking off the mask that night. 

Maybe, an encore performance is in order. 

What's that in the sky?  Kinda looks like a bat to me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Connections Realized

We roam. 

We wander. 

We meander. 

Bumping into walls as we go. 


Until...connections realized. 

Doesn't matter what your Myers-Briggs test says about you. Doesn't matter if you classify yourself as a loner. We all feel the need to connect. The connection touch point may seem inconsequential to some. It may seem insignificant to others. But to you, it as electric as a live wire. The actual connection may not last a long time but the affect can linger. 

Here's the thing...

You may not even realize it was a real connection until long after the fact but when you look in the rear view mirror...you see it for what it truly was. 20/20 baby. 20/20. 

Don't ever stop looking for them. Don't take them for granted. They are the lifeblood of who we are. 

It's the human version of connect the dots...with one exception; the picture is never complete. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Take Two...


That's the date of my first published blog post. It was titled "Fork in the road decisions."  It seems like I wrote that a lifetime ago.  So much has changed since.  Some things clearer. Some things murkier. 
A lot makes sense. A lot doesn't. 

It seems life does come full circle and tends to repeat itself. 

As a matter of fact...anything that you put out in the atmosphere today...probably was there via you or your circles of influence yesterday. 

You see your life in others and other times. 

Been there done that...right? 

Not exactly. 

Things do come full circle and you see things today that you saw before but...

Your vantage point is different. 

Your skyline changes. 

Your blind spot changes. 

Your camera lens changes. 

You see if from another angle. 

You understand. You misinterpret. 

But...no matter what...

You keep moving forward. 

Say cheese!