Saturday, May 28, 2016

Freeze Frame

Yeah, I know you thought this was going to be all about the 1981 hit album for the J Geils Band, right?

You know, the band's only number one album where songwriters Peter Wolf and Seth Justman did not share credit for every song? Some will argue though that this album was not neccessarily a musical and lyrical success but more a flag in the ground for MTV and a harbinger of things to come for the music video era. But I digress.

This freeze frame is about a snap-shot in time. A picture in your life's photo album that defines the story today.

We all have them in life.

Some are incredibly obvious at the time that your life will never be the same again. I will never forget the day my children were born. I will never forget the day my dad died. I will never forget the day my ex-wife died. Those are the easy ones that we can point to. When you reread your story though, there are less obvious ones that appear. Something seemingly small, mundane or irrelevant at the time becomes a key piece to the puzzle.

They define us. They create us.

You don't have hindsight in the moment but when you reflect, these snap-shots create your reflection.

The next time you are walking down a path and go all David Byrne on yourself asking "how did I get here," remember where the path might have really started.

"Snapshot image froze without a sound."


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

I wear a size 10

Ever meet someone and wonder "what's their story?" 

We all have stories. We all have suffered disappointment. We all have enjoyed riding the high tide. We all have experienced the low point and the high point of the roller coaster. But each of us is who we are because of what we've done and how our individual past has built our individual blueprint. 

Here's the thing though...

It's not fair for us to judge someone else's story. We can not understand their story. We can not like their story. We can choose to ignore their story. But we were not born with a gavel in our hands yet we are all quick to use one.  

We all carry some type of backpack of burden.  One is not greater in weight than the other. It's relative to the individual. We are all hiking through the path of life whilst carrying this. One may perceive that an individual backpack is heavier than an other but one cannot judge the individual's strength to carry it. 

Ever hear the saying "if only you could walk a mile in my shoes?" It is the most difficult leap for people to make. doesn't need the whole mile. Just take one step and you will get a glimmer of what the weight/strength balance is really like for that person. 

Remove your gavel. Replace it with a shoe horn. It's a better fit. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Blind Tiger

The essential part of the word creativity is create. 

Creativity in thought only is nice but creativity in thought and action is where the real magic happens. 

The creative idea is only a nail. On it's own, it serves no real functionality. It may sit in the drawer or toolbox forever; never being used. The creative action is the hammer. The more force you use with the hammer, the harder the strike. The more belief you have with the creative action, the greater the impact. 

A lot of people get stuck on the idea and never want to take action. They are fearful of failure. The action part becomes public for the world to see. The idea part can stay quiet and private; never seeing beyond the closed off crevasses of our minds and hearts. 

I recently stumbled upon a new upscale local watering hole where the bar manager takes mixology to a whole new level. One night at closing time, he had me taste-storm (that's a brainstorm for the pallete) several new concoctions and spirits. It's a prohibition era themed joint so drinks need to have some character and class. They need to scream power and grace all at once. Imagine Capone. Imagine Ness. Imagine Rita Hayworth. 

We tasted and tested for a couple of hours into the night and while the bar juices oiled our creative juices, we came up with what we called the "Blind Tiger." (A Blind Tiger was another word for speakeasy back in the day.)  We felt we had a name and a taste that blended together into a symphony for the patron. 

I didn't think twice about that night. Until the next time I was in...

The bar manager came over for our regular closing time ritual and showed me the new drink menu. The Blind Tiger made the cut. 

Seems like a small success but I thought it was pretty damn cool.  

Creative idea. Creative action. The hammer hit the nail. Bullseye. 

Don't be afraid to create. Your creation could be the hammer for someone else's nail.  

Go ahead take a swing...


Monday, November 9, 2015

Super Saturdays

Every Saturday. 

Without fail. 

My dad and I would run errands. We would go from one end of our hometown to another. Talking. Laughing. Just being. 

It was a weekly journey. An expedition. Don't remember the destinations. But one. 

At the end of the trek, we would always end up at the same place...

The comic book store. 

See...I loved the world of super heroes.  DC and Marvel. Superman and Spider-Man. I couldn't wait for the latest issue.  It was like Ralphie and his Red Ryder BB gun. Every week. 

One night...I even lied down in an empty sand dune and prayed for the Captain Marvel lightning bolt to hit me to transform me into the "Big Red Cheese" himself. Didn't work. 

Many years later...I tried to explain to my kids the magic of Super-Herodom but alas...they just thought I was a dork. 


I locked the super hero memories away...

Until recently. 

Not exactly sure what triggered the time machine trip back.  The 1980's Superman stuff was pretty good (lost me with the whole Gene Hackman - Lex Luther thing). The 90's Batman had potential (Val Kilmer killed Jim Morrison AND Bruce Wayne). The 2000's Spider-Man had a good start (Tobey Maguire wasn't Pleasant...Ville though).  Nothing really grabbed me. 

Tony Stark. Oliver Queen. Iron Man and Green Arrow. 

Well done. Got me. 

Immediately transported me back to Saturday mornings with my dad. 

It's awesome. 

And both comic book empires now continue to tap into the long lost memory of an 8 year old on a Saturday morning quest with his Dad. 

Pretty cool. 

Pretty super. 

Thanks DC and Marvel for jogging my brain.  


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Set. Go. Hit. Fire.

Sorry. Been a little busy...

It's that time of year again. Autumn brings many a thing.  Fall colors, warmer clothing (yes, that includes boots for those of you who know me) and more darkness. But it also brings football. And with football, comes another thing; coaching. 

I am on the eve of completing my 12th season of coaching (8 in flag/4 in tackle) and I wanted to share some thoughts on this calling. 

First of all, it's so worth the time. From the beginning of August through the end of October, don't plan on making plans with me. It's at least a four night a week commitment and your Saturday's are     gone-zo.  But it's worth every minute, hour and day. I could do this for 52 weeks a year and never get burned out. 

There are two gifts you get. 

The first comes from the friendships you form with the other coaches. A lot of times you are thrown together with other dads who you really didn't know beforehand. You share the frustrations.  You share the celebrations. You share in the delight when one of your players learns AND executes. You share both sides of the column; the W's and the L's (with an occasional T in there as well). But most importantly, you share life with each other. During "coaches' meetings," you work on football things but more work on life things. They become like your brothers. 

The second gift comes from the kids. You love to see the growth.  You love to see the learning. You love to see the confidence. You love to see their joy. You love to see the teamwork. You see the tears and frustration too.  It's all there. But...most see the trust.  You can see it in their eyes. Mold them. Shape them. Give them a foothold on not only football but life. 

This past season, my birthday happened to fall on one of our practice nights. Moments after I got to practice, the coaches and players all stopped what they were doing and sang happy birthday to me. It was one of the most memorable moments in my life. Not just my coaching life, but my whole life. It validated everything I have always believed in when it comes to coaching. 

Wins and losses. It's life. The football season is a microcosm of your lifetime. And you a front row seat. It's the playbook of life. Learn every play. Earn every yard. Savor every last moment. 


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Chica and Eeyore

They say they are man's best friend. 

They are right.

Chica came into my my life and my dad's at the perfect time. 

Eeyore came into mine at the perfect time as well. 

Both dogs found us and we found them. 

Chica was a golden lab. So loyal. So gentle. She was with my dad and me for a long time. She crawled into bed with me on nights when I was scared. She greeted my dad every day when he got home from work.  She would run with us as we played catch night after night in the yard and golf course. She was so graceful. She had these beautiful light colored eyes. Part compassion. Part insight. 

Eeyore was a hound/Great Dane.  So energetic. So curious. He was with me for only a short time. He had a way of sighing when he was at peace and settled for the night. He would look out the window every time I left...all I could see were his eyes and floppy ears. He loved the dog park. He ran wildly. Awkward as elbows and ears flopped everywhere. He had these dark brown eyes. Part mischievous. Part wise. 

I remember the phone call from my dad at college. Chica no longer could get up and greet him. It was time. My dad carried her to the car. He knew. She knew. 

I recently received a call from a girl who worked at the doggy daycare. She wanted to let me know that she loved Eeyore with all her heart and if I ever needed to give him up, she would take him. It was time. 

Both dogs played a huge role in my life. Both were there when I needed them. Both let me to talk to them as if I was having a normal conversation. Both saw happiness. Both saw tears. Both were part friend/part confidant. 

They refer to a dog's owner as his master. I don't buy it. I was just their person. That's all. 

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 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 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.