Reunited And It Feels So Good (Part One)

{Note – I started writing this last week, in advance of my high school reunion which took place this past weekend in Dearborn, Michigan. As luck would have it, I didn’t get around to finishing and posting it before the big event arrived. More to come . . .}

Reunions – why the hell do we do them?

Almost exactly 5 years ago, I was getting ready to fly back to Michigan for a high school reunion – one ending in a zero. At the time, I was doing some consulting work for a company down in Provo.

You’d have to understand the somewhat unique nature of companies based in Utah County to fully appreciate the response I got when I told one of the senior guys at the company that I was heading back to Michigan for a high school reunion. “Not sure there is anyone I’d want to see at my high school reunion. I see everyone from high school that I’d want to see here in the office every day.”

That comment has stuck with me these past 5 years and I thought about it again as I was making plans to head back to Michigan for another high school reunion – this one ending in a five. Why the hell does it makes sense to spend $500 on a plane ticket (plus hotel, plus rental car, etc.) and fly 3 ½ hours across the country to spend a few hours with a bunch of people that I haven’t seen (other than previous trips at 5 year intervals) in three decades?

I haven’t always been great at attending reunions. My 5-year reunion, I was living in Japan, so I missed that one. For the 10-year, I think I was traveling for work. For the 15-year reunion, I was living in England, so I missed that one too. By the time I finally made it to a high school reunion, it had been 20 years since I had finished high school. And other than the first two summers after I left for college, and a couple months after I graduated from college before I had enough money saved up to move to Japan, I probably hadn’t spend more than two weeks total in the state where I grew up.

It’s not like I had a bad experience growing up. I didn’t leave for college with the mindset of “Goodbye Michigan – nice knowing ya!” I think of my childhood growing up in Michigan as pretty great – and typical for the 1970’s and early 1980’s. It was more just a case of getting busy doing other things, and not really making the occasional high school reunion a priority.

That changed about 7 years ago, in a different context.

My senior year playing football at Penn, I was fortunate to be part of something really special – an undefeated championship team. And every 5 years, on the 1’s and 6’s, the team reunites at the Homecoming game to celebrate that glorious year with our Band of Brothers.

My attendance at these reunions was a little bit better than my attendance at high school reunions, but not much. In 2011, I missed the 25 year reunion. At the time, there was no direct flight from Salt Lake to Philadelphia, so getting there just felt like it was going to be too hard – a connecting flight to Philadelphia or a direct flight to Newark and then an Amtrak down to 30th St. Station. Either way, it seemed like a lot of work for a very brief visit.

Not too long afterwards, I was exchanging messages with a teammate of mine, James, and I found out that a guy that had played with us as freshman (but not on the ’86 team) had died of cancer. It’s not important to the story, but his death had happened earlier in the Fall, before the reunion. But I was nonetheless saddened to hear about Chris’ untimely death and when I told James how sorry I was to hear about it, his response hit me square between the eyes:

“Yeah Kenny, you know we’re not getting any younger. So if any of the shit we did together matters to you, if it’s important to you, then make it a fucking priority and get your ass out here next time.”

While no doubt true, that still begs the question – why does the 3 years that I spent in high school (until I was a senior in high school, our high school was only 3 years) matter enough to me that I should make the effort to go back for a high school reunion?

This was a thought that I continued to ponder as I boarded a flight for Detroit last Friday.

[to be continued . . . .]

More on Failed Parenting Strategies (aka Why My Generation has FAILED at their Most Important Job)

I saw this article earlier today:

Needless to say, it very much aligns with what I have been saying and sometimes written about, such as here.

Please share with anyone with younger children. I hope it is not too late to reverse the devastating damage of the failed parenting strategies of the last 30 years.


Saying Goodbye to Our Four-Legged Family Members

There is a lot of pluses that come with having a furry, 4-legged family member (what some people would refer to as a “pet”) – well, dogs anyway, I can’t really speak to cats (dog owners vs. cat owners is a whole different train of thought for some other time, if ever).  With a dog in the family you get someone who’s always happy to see you. Who’s always up for any adventure and gets excited to run 10 yards and track down a tennis ball a hundred times. Who always listens to your problems and is happy to let you rub their (ear, head, back, belly) to relieve your stress. And all the other benefits Billy Currington so eloquently expresses in this song:

Continue reading

A Fragile Generation – Take Two

Four and a half years ago, in the original version of CTB, I wrote a post which I titled “A Fragile Generation.” The original inspiration for the post was around that time – early 2013 – I had heard from some co-workers about an unusually large number of recent suicides at a local high school. To say “unusually large” seems kind of insane to me as quite frankly, I would view anything more than ZERO to be an intolerably large number, but in this case, it was something like 8 in one year – in one high school. Which I just could not comprehend.

That got me to thinking about various things – this was before all the more recent stories you hear about the challenges of managing Millennials, trigger warnings, safe spaces and microaggressions on college campuses, or the complete meltdown of all the snowflakes in the aftermath of the presidential election results this past November. And somehow or another, I thought back to a discussion I’d had with a good friend of mine a year or two before that. Continue reading

Guest Post – All You Need Is Love

This is something a friend of mine posted on FB a while back and I meant to share it here, but then, as usual, got distracted. Anyway, sharing it now, because I still think it rings true. The original author didn’t title her post, so I I added one. And, as is often the case, I’m convinced that most insight into the meaning of life can be summed up by a Beatles lyric (usually one of John’s).


Guest Post – All You Need Is Love

The more I travel through my life, the more I realize that we are here only to love. Our purpose is to journey while collecting relationships. Some people are placed in our journey for a blink of an eye while others we hope to spend the whole of eternity loving.

Saturday evening I had the honor of watching what 50 years of friendship and relationship collecting looks like. You see, loving is exponential. It’s as if our heart expands and gains the capacity to love more with each person that we include into our life.  Continue reading

Never The Same Again (June 21, 2018)

Never The Same Again (Reposted January 28, 2020)

Reposting January 28, 2020 in memory of Mike Ouellete and Scott Mattern. Rest in Peace Mike and Scotty.  Rest in Peace Dana Blair Allen.  Gone, but NEVER forgotten.

Never The Same Again (Originally posted January 28, 2014, Updated June 21, 2017)

A little more than a week ago, I was back in Michigan for some college football camps with my son Alex.

On Saturday morning, after dropping him off at the U-M camp, I went to Our Lady of Good Hope Cemetery (I think it is in Wyandotte?), where my grandparents and Scott Mattern are buried. I stopped first to pick up flowers to place at their gravsesites (and this took me a good bit longer than anticipated, because the florist that used to be right near the cemetery is no longer there). I know the general location for the headstones, but after searching fruitlessly for awhile, I had to go back to the office to ask for the exact location. They gave me a map and out I went again. After more searching, I finally found my grandparents graves, spent some time trying to clean up the overgrown grass around their headstones, and then placed the flowers.

I was not so lucky in finding Scott’s gravesite. I had the general coordinates from the office, but no matter how much I searched the area, I couldn’t find the stone. I just went around and around in circles – frustrated knowing that it was right there and somehow I was too blind to see it.

After 15 minutes or so, I looked down at my phone and realized that my time was up. I went back to the office, explained my predicament, and asked the very nice lady there if she would be able to have someone bring the flowers out to Scott’s gravesite. She said she would be happy to take them out there personally and offered to go back out with me if I want to take them myself.

Unfortunately, I had already wasted too much time searching on my own and didn’t have another minute to spare. I thanked her for taking care of it and, as I turned to leave, I literally started sobbing – as I’ve explained before, it doesn’t really take much to generate that kind of reaction.

I felt that not finishing the job myself, I was letting Scott down. And all the pain and sadness of that cold January day 34 years ago dropped down on me like it was yesterday. I quickly walked to my car, hoping the nice lady hadn’t noticed my convulsions as I walked out the door. And then I dried my eyes as best I could and went on my way.

That is the thing about this kind of loss – it NEVER goes away. The hole in your heart will NEVER be filled. You learn to live with it, and you go on – because that’s what we do. But your life is never, EVER, the same again.

Never The Same Again (Originally posted January 28, 2014)

I woke up today, not really any differently than any day I can remember in the recent past.  Thankful for all that I have been blessed with and thankful for another opportunity to cherish those blessings. Continue reading

A Father’s Message to His Teenage Kids

A friend of mine (we’ll call him CSquared) forwarded this message that he sent to his teenage children, in part in response to the post-election protests and “angst” at college campuses across the country.  A lot of Millennials seem to be having a tough time dealing with the outcome, not to mention a lot of their parents and grandparents! I thought his message was worth sharing here:

Do not get the news from your friends or your teachers.  Listen closely but find it for yourself from reliable sources you trust. Investigate don’t just accept. Be informed. Take individual responsibility for your actions and beliefs. Do not join a crowd that thinks one wrong justifies another. Think independently and follow your heart. Above all, be kind. Honor the beliefs of others and be respectful when you disagree. Defend everyone’s rights to express themselves as long as they are also respectful. Lastly, always think before you speak. Words really matter – they can be the difference between building someone up or breaking someone down. Emotions often drive us to blurt things out. Resist that urge. We are stronger when we are completely inclusive and respectful. In the words of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. “If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

Profound words.  We need more of that!!


A Follow Up to “Seeing God . . . “

At a time of need, alone by the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, a friend of mine started a journey that led her to a greater fellowship with God. On reading her post, I responded:

A few years ago, I sent a someone a picture of the mountains outside my back door:


(it was winter, so the mountains were snow covered, but I think you get the point)


The person I sent the photo to responded, “You’re SO lucky – you get to see God every day.”


Since I am an inveterate smart ass, I replied, “We ALL have the opportunity to see God everyday. We just have to open our eyes and open our hearts.”

The wonders of God are all around us.  The motto of my home state, Michigan, is “Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice” which means “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”  The corollary doesn’t translate as nicely to Latin, so I’ll stick to English:

If you want to see God, open your eyes and look about you!!

Seeing God, at the Shore and Everywhere Else Too – a guest post

Writing a blog, consistently, takes discipline.  It also takes a little bit of hubris – to think that you actually have anything to say that other people would want to read.  While I certainly don’t lack in the later, I have been WOEFULLY deficient in the former.  I try to console myself by rationalizing that “I’ve been busy” but, if I’m honest with myself, I know that I could find the time – if I wanted to.

In the meantime, an old friend of mine (and by that I mean I have known her for a long time, which also means, by default, that she is OLD) posted a few things on Facebook that I wanted to share here.  I asked her for permission and, since she does not suffer from the same lack of humility that I possess, she said, “Sure, if you post it Anonymously.”  So here is one – and I’ll find the other one and post it soon.  The title wasn’t hers, but you can’t have a post without a title!!  So I made it up – and I’ll also share, in a follow on post, my comment back to her after I read her post – which partly explains the title as well . . .

Seeing God, at the Shore and Everywhere Else Too

This week I have been a beach dweller. One of my most favorite things to do is to pack up my family and drag them to the beach. I have trained most of them to enjoy this experience, and others not as much.

Many many years ago when I was walking through some really hard times, my soul found peace where the waves meet the shore. It was a crowded spring break trip with millions of people but I was so alone. I was sitting on the edge in so many ways. The edge of all consuming grief, the edge of adulthood, and the edge of making some pretty big life decisions. 

I went to Daytona Beach for all the normal 17 year old reasons. Most likely, I was hoping to meet a beautiful boy to take away all the pain and whisk me away to happiness. What I found on that edge though was much better. Many moons ago I sat at the waters edge and let the peace of God fill my heart.

It was the beginning of a lifelong journey. Looking in the rear view mirror, it’s plain to see that God was calling me to Him. Of course, I am a terrible listener and a slow learner. But, as I said it was only the beginning.

It’s been over 30 years since that trip to the beach. Still today, my soul craves the shoreline. I sit and I listen and I surrender. Many years later I have finally realized what draws me to this spot. You see, the vast and powerful crashing waves shows me two things that I never want to forget. I am so very small and my God is vast. I realize how many years I wasted trying to make myself bigger and the peace has been found in my smallness.

I ran across this devotional this week. It was so powerful and spoke to my heart.

The Sacred Romance calls to us every moment of our lives. It whispers to us on the wind, invites us through the laughter of good friends, reaches out to us through the touch of someone we love. We’ve heard it in our favorite music, sensed it at the birth of our first child, been drawn to it while watching the shimmer of a sunset on the ocean. It is even present in times of great personal suffering—the illness of a child, the loss of a marriage, the death of a friend. Something calls to us through experiences like these and rouses an inconsolable longing deep within our heart, wakening in us a yearning for intimacy, beauty, and adventure. This longing is the most powerful part of any human personality. It fuels our search for meaning, for wholeness, for a sense of being truly alive. However we may describe this deep desire, it is the most important thing about us, our heart of hearts, the passion of our life. And the voice that calls to us in this place is none other than the voice of God. (Ransomed Heart Website )

May you hear the voice that calls you.