Friday, October 30, 2009

To Laugh At Ourselves

The "drama" that seems to pervade many of our lives can be handled in one of two ways. It can be internalized as a "woe" or it can be externalized as a "whee." IMHO 'tis better to "whee." Yes, my sky is very blue. Beautifully blue.

A milepost of emotional maturity
Denoting my inner security
Comes not from a sense of self worth
It comes from my finding the mirth

The things that I do or perhaps I may say
Are not always right or said the right way
To know that it matters not one little bit
To laugh at myself is always a hit

It relieves any sense of playing the fool
In fact, to the contrary, it is quite the tool
By disarming those who take life too serious
Who set themselves up as being imperious

The reason for this is easy to see
Because of the fun I can have being me

Monday, October 26, 2009

This was written in May of 2006. Newly alone and lonely, longing for intimacy. Reading it now in present circumstances, thet truth of it rings clearly to me.

A man’s fate is his own
But he longs it be shared
With someone he loves
And someone who cares

The days bringing nuance
The years passing bide
Real love is simply
To lie side by side

To feel the warmth
Of one you adore
To feel the heart beat
Nothing is more

Peaceful and loving
Than the gift we extend
To lie in the arms
Of a lover, a friend ©

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old Man Wisdom - Each Day An Adventure

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, just returned from overseas.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to conclude this series. Not meaning to imply that I’ve written all my “Old Man Wisdom” – just a closing part for this bunch of stuff.
Met with my “men’s group” this morning and one of the fellows was lamenting getting back from vacation – and being back into the routine of daily life versus the sense of “adventure” that each day of vacation brought.

His lament sparked this within me: What attributes are necessary in order to make each day – regardless of whether they are “ordinary” or “extraordinary” – an adventure? Here is what came to me – in no particular order except for #1:

An open mind.
The willingness to explore.
The willingness to love – and to show it.
The willingness to listen – and hear.
The willingness to look below, above and beyond what is obvious.
The willingness to be at ease in all situations.
The willingness to laugh at ourselves.
The willingness to be tender – to be soft – to have heart.
The willingness to be open – and vulnerable.
The willingness to accept ourselves as imperfect.
The willingness to admire that which we find admirable in others
The willingness to emulate that which we find admirable.

As you’ve read these, many will seem to be redundant. It seems to me to be true that to be one, we must be all – to be all, we must be one but each statement brings its own “feeling” to my heart and mind. Therefore, they are listed separately.

So, my dear young son, there you have it. It has taken me almost two months since your birthday to finish your the gift. The writing of “Old Man Wisdom” has been a gift to me as well as to you. Thank you, Dan.
Love, Dad

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Casino Buffet Rap - Cop an Attitude !

Road trip to Cleveland with Robin - passed a casino along the way - sign out in front - it said:

"All You Can Eat – All theTime"
EntrĂ©e’s, sides and pie key lime
The casino buffet, I’m sure to win!
Park the car and waddle on in

Pay my money, pick up my tray
Ooh, the trough smells good today
Look to the left, look to the right
Food, food, food – I’m eating tonight!

Baby back ribs, looking mighty prime
All I can eat – all of the time
Mashed potatoes with butter and cream
Oo la la – a fat man’s dream

Broasted chicken with skin so brown
Grab two legs – gonna chow ‘em on down
Meat loaf’s coming and I can’t resist
Pick me a slab ‘bout the size of my fist

Baked beans, bacon and cheesy fries
They’ll go straight to my hairy fat thighs
Yellow jello with orange cookie crunch
Two big scoops won’t spoil this lunch

Mac and cheese, some corn on the side
Stick a brat on top for the ride

That’s all I can pile, no more will fit
‘Til my second trip, this is it
Amble on over and find me a seat
Set down the platter, all ready to eat

Wait! I need a cup in my hand
One more trip to the soda stand
Let’s see here, what’ll it be?
Yeah, pour that Diet Coke for me!

All I can eat – all the time
Waxing rhapsodic in syncopated rhyme
The words so sweet, gotta loosen my colla’
And stuff my face with my food dolla’ ©

Monday, October 19, 2009

The "Buddy Holly Story" - Minnesota History Theatre

Great cast, great music, great tempo, great show. The audience was into it. The cast fed off the energy and everyone had a wonderful time. This is a “MUST SEE”! The Minnesota History Theatre ( has added two additional shows. Get tickets if you can. They will sell out fast. Don’t miss it!

Followed by Byerly's Tomato Basil Soup! As my grandma used to say, "Ooof da, good."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Road Trip

Robin and i took a road trip to Cleveland. We left on Monday night and returned on Thursday night. All told, almost 2000 miles with the running around to various places off of the interstates. Aside from the business at hand, we visited the Euclid Bluestone Quarry Park, the old Euclid Crane Co. building and Ed Nye, the town of Vermillion on Lake Erie, the small town of Wakemon. Ohio and the Morman family, Port Clinton, the Studebaker Mansion in South Bend, Indiana. Blains Fleet and Farm Store in Ottawa, Illinois and Castle Rock at Volk Field in Wisconsin. We searched for and found three geocaches enroute - great fun. We enjoyed one anothers company - Robin is a trooper. What a woman!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Old Man Wisdom - Living with Integrity

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

I define “integrity” as living by the standards to which I adhere.
For instance – if I consider myself to be honest and trustworthy, having integrity means that I behave honestly and with trustworthiness – with others – and with myself.

To have integrity we must ask ourselves:
What are my moral standards?
What are my spiritual standards?
What are my emotional standards?
What are my intellectual standards?

Integrity is living one’s life in line with those standards. Simple, yes? Partially so because some of the responses are easier than others but complex in the sense that to live as people of integrity, those standards must be defined in detail. It is difficult. It requires time, it requires deep reflection, thought and feeling. It requires self-awareness – and integrity does not come all at once – nor do the standards upon which it is built.

Having said that, living a life of integrity is a process because as our lives change, our experiences broaden, our standards can and do – must - change and evolve. As I have grown, my “Old Man Wisdom” has grown in complexity because of the broadening of life experiences but there is a paradox in that complexity. Living with integrity becomes simpler – because of that broadening. There are fewer instances where I have to ask myself whether there is conflict with my standards because – at my age – issues are simply variations of past experiences. That is a good thing.
Love, Dad

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Old Man Wisdom - The Attributes of Character - On Being Judgmental

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

Being judgmental of others is a hindrance to personal growth. That statement is selfish but less so than believing we have a “right’ to judge others. Over the course of my many years, I have had many “epiphanies” – realizations that previous conceptions were inaccurate if not downright wrong.

Having said that, my “need” to judge others based on my conceived set of criteria is also wrong. Purposely moving in an opposite direction from one’s comfort zone is hugely enriching. Purposely opening your heart and head up to the differences in us all provides opportunities to learn, to understand, to appreciate – and to embrace the diversity that God has created in us.

When we judge others with what we perceive is our own “rightness” we miss the chance to broaden ourselves – to broaden our definition of “rightness.” Keeping an open mind when we meet others – whether they be part of our extended peer group, a stranger on the street or someone in line at the grocery store who simply “looks” different – may provide us the opportunity to hear their story – and they to hear ours. That type of communications / sharing enriches both parties and never, ever leaves those who have shared the same. There is always growth that occurs.

Don’t like someone? What are you basing that on? Try again. Listen with your heart as well as your head. Seek first to understand.
Love, Dad

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Minnesota Twins Baseball

Tonight, after four months of “win a game / lose a game” but having had a good August and a marvelous September, the Minnesota Twins – in the 163rd game of the season – won the America League Central Division by beating the Detroit Tigers in 12 innings 6 to 5.

The lead see-sawed throughout all 12 innings – the Tigers going up early, Twins tying and going ahead, Tigers tying and going ahead, Twins tying – until, at last, the 52,000 people attending the game and the millions more in Minnesota and the world, witnessed the conclusion with a run scoring single in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Baseball is sublime. The beauty of the field with green grass, the symmetry of the base lines, foul lines, batters boxes, et al. The rainbow of colors, skin and clothing, in the stands cheering on their teams. All ages – infants to elderly. Families, couples, singles, friends – all there for the love of the game.

The speed with which the game is played – agonizingly slow at times, faster than the eye can see at others and much in the middle – can alternately lull or thrill. No other sport quite like it. I love it. How ‘bout them Twins !

Old Man Wisdom - The Attributes of Character

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

Confronting Abuse:
There are many people in the world who use meanness, abuse and intimidation as their way of dealing with others. Quite often, the ones the abusers abuse the most are those they would say they “love.”
As my son, you know most of my story. You know my father did not know his father and had no good male role model upon which to build his parental skill set. He exhibited abusiveness – especially when he drank – toward his wife and children.
You’ve seen me sober during your entire time on the planet – I quit drinking four years before you were born – but had you known me before that, you would have likely said that those same patterns which I successfully broke, were in evidence.
So why do I bring this up now? Because it is an issue with many, many people. Drinking may contribute to it – or any substance abuse for that matter – but the patterns of abuse stem not from the substance but from the individual. A person can be stone cold sober and be abusive to others.
I bring this up now because when we are faced with evidence of this type of behavior we have two choices. We can choose to ignore it as “none of our business” or we can choose to attempt to instigate change. There are risks involved with either choice but I contend that to ignore it is the weaker of the two choices. Allowing abuse is tantamount to condoning abuse – and I cannot / will not condone it. I expect the same from you.
Most people are intelligent enough to realize that if they are challenged from outside of their “family unit” their secret is no longer a secret – their behavior / abusiveness has been made public and perhaps they should – at the very least – minimize it, and at the very best – stop it and seek help.
People can change – but only if they choose to change. It cannot be brought about without their consent and often their consent is not forthcoming when confronted with the abuse by the abused. It is only when confronted by “outsiders” that they may consider change as an alternative.
This is another one of those “choices” in life to be made prior to the situation presenting itself. Another decision on “how you will choose to live your life.”
Love, Dad

Monday, October 5, 2009

Old Man Wisdom - The Attributes of Character - Emotional Intelligence

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

We are possessed of different intelligences. An IQ test provides us insight into our mathematical, analytical, associative and cognitive abilities. We have physical intelligences in our abilities to run, jump, play sports, coordinate hand and eye, etc.

An area of intelligence which is seldom measured and seldom discussed is emotional intelligence. Our ability to discern what we are feeling at any given time and whether those feelings accurately reflect the significance of a situation along with our ability to have empathy for others constitutes our emotional intelligence.

The “OMW” for today, my dear son, regards anger and my contention / belief that it is a secondary – or reactionary – emotion. When you or someone says “I got angry” it is important to think (or ask) “What did I feel before the anger?” If you stop to think about the last time(s) you got angry at someone or something, you will realize that a more primal emotion occurred first. Perhaps it was frustration or guilt, fear, shame or hurt or embarrassment or something else.

Whichever it was, it is important to realize that the anger that followed – and that may have been acted on – was a reaction to the first emotion. Would you have handled the situation differently had you realized that you were hurt? Or shamed? Would the recipient of your anger been treated – talked to – differently? How would the result have changed?

Now turn that around. Remember the last time someone got angry with you? What feeling were they having that morphed into anger? Did you do or say something to bring hurt or shame or guilt or frustration into their hearts / heads? Further, I would bet that you thought they had reacted wrongly with their anger.

Anger quickly clouds how we perceive our feelings. Anger quickly clouds our ability to understand another person – or situation. It is only with practice that you – and I – can take a step back from the brink of anger and think about what we truly are feeling and address the person or situation from a more accurate viewpoint.

Anger is not an “attribute of character.” The “attribute” is the ability to identify (and feel) the emotion that is leading to anger. Anger is a liability and a false response whereas the ability to discern “root” emotion is an asset and leads to a response from which growth can occur.
Love, Dad

Sunday, October 4, 2009

OMW - The Attributes of Character – Sidebar 2 – Pre-Decisions for Times of Crisis

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

How often have you seen or heard a report of someone in distress – whether it be from an accident or a purposeful act of rage or crime – and the report includes the following: “Passers-by stood and watched as ….” Or “People turned away while the assault took place ….”

I use those examples to make my point strongly. Decisions to act are seldom made at a moment of crisis. Crisis creates a moment / minute of indecision in us all. We’re not sure what to do – where to go – how to act – and that moment / minute passes and we’ve done nothing.

My challenge to you, my son, as a man is for you to decide now – today – what you will do when presented with such a crisis. Will you act on behalf of those being hurt? Will you act on behalf of those in danger? Will you act on behalf of those injured? Or will you turn away and go about your business – paralyzed by the moment of indecision?

Those reports I cited earlier of the passers-by and the by-standers – they are people who have not taken the time to ponder how they will behave in those situations. I am not implying that they are bad people – only that they haven’t considered their actions and the moment passes. After which they likely wish they’d done something.

The situations I refer to are not always extreme. They are not always physical in nature. They may be emotional dangers. They may be someone who threatens someone else. The bullies of the world. They may be very loud – or very quiet. They may be very obvious – or very subtle.

There are times when you must consider whether actions are necessary. Words will often be a better way of diffusing a crisis.

So again, my challenge to you is for you to spend time in contemplation of future actions. Ask yourself how you want to be. Run some scenarios in your mind. From the most frightening and life threatening to the most benign - and decide where your limits are.
Love, Dad

Saturday, October 3, 2009

OMW - The Attributes of Character - Sidebar 1 - Informing Your Heart

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

It is my humble opinion that many of the helpful articles / books being written today are being done a disservice. They are being read with the eyes only.
Why is this a disservice you ask? Because when we read with our eyes, what we read goes only into our head. The brain sees it and understands, interprets and uses it in its fashion – which in itself is not a bad thing – it’s better than nothing – but the disservice comes insofar as our hearts don’t hear the words.
I find that my head doesn’t always communicate well with my heart. My head uses past experiences, logic and analysis to discern how I interpret and retain what I’ve read..
It is necessary – if I want to truly understand – for me to read out loud. This lets my heart get involved.
Therefore, if I am reading an article, letter or book from which I desire a positive effect, I must choose to make the effort to read aloud – slowly and deliberately so that my heart and my head hear.
So please, my dear son, as you read my “Old Man Wisdom,” do so aloud. I want your head to hear me surely but I want your heart to hear as well.
Love, Dad

Friday, October 2, 2009

Old Man Wisdom #3 - The Attributes of Character

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

When you were born, your mom and I held you in our arms. We looked into your eyes and smiled. We spoke to you in soft, loving sounds. We were attentive to your needs – whether it was food, water, diaper changes or attention.
You are now a man but those acts we did with love when you were small are still with you. Those acts are still performed in their fashion when we see you. Translating the nurturing that takes place with a small child to the nurturing we do with each other; regardless of circumstance, is pretty simple.
Nurturing others is our call as people. Aside from the providing of sustenance, it is defined in my “dead tree dictionary” as: The act of promoting development and growth.
It matters not whether we are with family, at work, at play – we are nurturing to those around us in some fashion. Positively or negatively. Being aware of our words, our tones and inflections, our touches, our facial expressions and demeanor are all part and parcel of nurturing.
To promote development and growth in those around us is to allow them to be themselves. It is to acknowledge – in words and actions, aloud or tacitly – their importance to us as people.
To nurture means to give a little piece of ourselves to others – not in expectation of receiving back – but in acceptance of others as themselves.
It can be scary – there are times when the nurturer risks rejection – but to accept the risk knowing that it is the way to closeness with others is powerful. To put ourselves out there is freeing. It is the choice of those we come in contact with to accept or reject -but I assure you – like the stick of butter fresh from the refrigerator and left on the counter – those we nurture will soften over time.
As men, nurturing seems to come with more difficulty to us. Provide and protect – the man’s mantra – but remember, if we parse those words, to “provide” for promotes growth and development. To “protect” means to teach self sufficiency – a synonym in my book for growth and development. So get past the idea that men don’t nurture. Real men do.
Love, Dad

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Old Man Wisdom #2 - The Attributes of Character

For my beloved son, Daniel, a United States Marine, currently in Iraq.

Remember when, as a small boy, you admitted that you had hidden Nick’s billfold? At the time you did it, I don’t think you had thought about getting caught. I think you thought you could get away with it – and with whatever money was in it. I think it was only after a while that you knew in your heart that what you did was wrong so when confronted with the question, you admitted your guilt to me.

We all have lapses of honesty. Many times have I walked through a store and thought, “I could just take this.” Many times I have made an error on something at work and thought, “I could blame it on …” Those are examples of lapses and do not indicate dishonesty in and of themselves. They are just lapses – it is part of human nature to question ourselves about different perspectives of our being.

But there are additional “Old Man Wisdom” factors at work here. Honesty, yes. Also integrity and morality – and there is also the “guilt factor.” Guilt weighs a person down. Like a man with an empty wheat sack stopping at each field to bag some kernels, guilt builds slowly and inexorably becoming a full sack over time – hard to carry, hard to handle, hard to unload and if you are lucky enough to unload it, the muscle memory takes awhile to dissipate.

Better to not have the sack to begin with – back to honesty. Honesty is living life without that sack – and the temptation to fill it.

Honesty is being able to be trusted. By anyone – with anything. Honesty means more than “not lying” although that is a crucial piece. Honesty means a man or woman is real – to themselves and others – without pretense or affectations. It means a man or woman does not take advantage of a situation or others. It means you are genuine – what and who I see is what and who you are.

What honesty is not: It is not being “brutally honest.” Usually, you may notice, when that phrase is used, the words that precede or follow it are hurtful to another. There is tact in honesty. There is kindness in honesty. There is caring in honesty. There is love in honesty.

Big deal isn’t it? Remember, an honest man can be made up of all the positive aspects to follow in my “Old Man Wisdom.” A dishonest man will be made of none of them.
Love, Dad