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?

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

I saw this article earlier today:

https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/21155-7-damaging-parenting-behaviors-that-keep-children-from-growing-into-leaders

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.

Peace!

Saying Goodbye to Our Four-Legged Family Members (Reposted 11.12.20)

Well, unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to our yellow lab Angus late yesterday. So reposting in his memory . . .

We adopted Angus from the Humane Society in 2010, about a year after we moved to Utah from New York. I had gone to the Humane Society facility to look for another dog that we saw posted on the website. But when I got there, that dog had been adopted already.

“We have this great 2 year old, male yellow lab that needs a Forever Home,” the woman told me. She walked me over to the crate and introduced me to . . . I don’t even know what they called him at that point.

He seemed like he would fit right in with our crew. The next day, we went back with Licky and they spent some time together in one of the paddocks out back to make sure they were compatible. She didn’t start trying to herd him like a sheep until a few years later, so that first encounter went well and the next day, we brought the guy that would henceforth be known as Angus (among other names) home to join our family.

Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Chubbs . . .

Angus was a pretty mellow and chill dude most of the time. The exception was when it was time for a walk, when he would almost burst with excitement and could barely contain himself, and, like most labs, when it was time for a meal. Or when he thought he might be able deceive you into thinking that he hadn’t already had (breakfast/lunch/dinner) and that if he just played the part convincingly enough, he might be able to score seconds. At those moments, he turned into Dr. Jeckle and was a bit of a pain in the ass, if I’m being totally honest.

But other than those times, he was just happy to be part of the pack. He didn’t need to be the center of attention, was okay if Licky try to herd him around the house or in the backyard, and welcomed a scratch on the head whenever he could get it. As he gained weight in his later years, because in addition to the 3 square meals he got each day as well as seconds when cleaned out the remainder of Licky’s bowl, he also somehow managed to levitate to score more than a few sandwiches from the kitchen counter, he didn’t seem to mind too much when he went from being Angus to more frequently being referred to as Chubbs McKenzie or Señor Chubbs.

We had 10 good years together, going on walks, chasing balls at the tennis courts, and otherwise just hanging out. He will be greatly missed.

RIP Señor Chubbs. See you at the Rainbow Bridge.

 


Original Post (01.03.2018)

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:

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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).

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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, 2020)

Never The Same Again (Reposted June 21, 2020)

Reposting in memory of my sister-in-law, Dana Blair Allen, gone 30 years today. May she Rest in Peace.  Rest in Peace Mike and Scotty.  Gone, but NEVER forgotten.

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.

And then I was reminded of the date – January 28.  Like many other dates in my life that have a certain specific meaning, for one reason or another, it is a date that often creeps up on me, unexpectedly. And then it arrives and smacks me in the face.  Or punches me in the gut.  Or kicks me in the balls.

We all have dates like these in our lives.  Markers that signify important points in our life’s journey.  Some are happy dates – a wedding anniversary for example.  Some are unhappy dates – like the death of a grandparent.  Some of these dates rise to yet another level altogether, because they remind us of a moment in time when our lives were profoundly changed, never to be the same again.

I woke up on January 28, 1983 probably not much differently than any day before it. Still lying in bed, not fully awake, a friend came into my room to tell me the unimaginable news that two of our classmates had been killed in a tragic car accident. And the world was forever changed.

Newspaper Article

I got some interesting comments to a couple of my recent posts here and here.  One person pointedly said to me:

Many people don’t get the clean slate to write their own stories. Their life starts with other people’s bad decisions having an impact on their journey. Through no fault of their own they live with consequences of someone else’s shitty decisions and their lives are forever altered. Bad things happen to good people.

There is no doubt that this is true.  I thought about that comment this morning, when the calendar assaulted me. My two friends, Mike and Scott, were killed “through no fault of their own” when someone else made the VERY shitty decisions to 1) get drunk, 2) get behind the wheel of a van and 3) get on the interstate highway going the wrong way.  As a consequence of those awful decisions, three people died and the lives of everyone else they touched were forever altered.

I’m not a theologian, and I’m not going to attempt to explain why I think bad things happen to good people (at least not today). As I’ve said before, I believe that God has a purpose and a plan for each of us. But it’s cold comfort to those who lost brothers to say that there was a “higher purpose” in the death of their loved ones.

My wife (girlfriend at the time) suffered a similar loss with the death of her younger sister Dana in a car accident in 1990. Not a day goes by that she isn’t remembered.  The dates of June 21 (the day she died) and July 12 (her birthday) are especially difficult for my wife and those who knew and loved Dana.

DBA 1990

It’s different for me, because I never met her myself (my wife and I had only been dating for a couple months when the accident occurred). I feel sadness for the sorrow of my wife and her family (now part of my family) and I feel sadness for the loss of a life cut short, with so much still ahead of it. But it’s hard to personalize a death, when you don’t actually know the person who died.

(Note: 6/21/2020 – It occurred to me this morning that I have never referred to Dana as “my sister-in-law” .  . .  I guess because she passed away before Liz and I were married. But for whatever reason, this morning I realized that her death doesn’t change the fact that she is my sister-in-law. And as I write this, I am shedding a tear, maybe for the first time, thinking about the sister-in-law that I never had the opportunity to know.)

I do, however, understand the pain. It’s a pain that I have felt these past 31 years. A pain that I am reminded of EVERY time I see the Number 22 (Scott’s football number, but I can’t help but think of both Mike and Scott when I see it), whether it is another athlete wearing that jersey or the parking space of my rental car or my order number at a fast food restaurant.  A pain that you learn to live with as time goes by, but that never leaves your heart.

On some days, that heart feels a just little bit heavier. You look at the calendar and you are reminded of a day that changed you forever.  When things would never be the same again.

Rest in Peace Dana. Rest in Peace Mike and Scotty.  Gone, but NEVER forgotten.

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:

IMG_6255

(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.