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. 

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 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 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'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 regrets. And that happens because of the end. 

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

And. Scene.