Thursday, March 19, 2015
“I’m in your corner.” Have you ever heard that before? Of course you have, we all have. At one time or another we've all had this said to us as an encouragement, as a vote of confidence or we've said it to someone. But have you ever wondered what it really means to be in someone’s corner? Too many times we blurt out a phrase without really thinking about it and maybe you have done so with this boxing reference. It isn't unusual for people to go to the boxing world to illustrate a point they want to make. Even the Apostle Paul did so (1 Corinthians 9:26). So what about being in someone’s corner, what does it mean?
First it means Believing in that person before the fight even begins. When I was in high school I did a little boxing at the Westwood Boys Club. What I learned in that time was if the trainers believed in the boxer then the training would be focused and often times hard. They would spend time with the boxer long before he ever stepped foot in the ring. They helped the boxer stay focused during the exercises when he just did not want to go on and helped him be prepared for the battle in front of him. There is a lot of pre-fight work to be done and only those who believe in the boxer will be willing to invest the effort it takes.
Secondly, is Encouragement during the fight itself. Remember watching the movie Rocky? When Rocky was in the ring during the fight of his life against Apollo Creed his trainer, Micky, was shouting instructions and encouragement from the corner, especially when Rocky was on the ropes. Being in someone’s corner means being encouraging to them especially when they feel like the fight is too much. Although the fighter is in the ring alone, he mustn't feel as if he is. That’s when the corner team comes in with encouragement, especially when he is on the ropes.
Thirdly is Tending to the fighter between rounds. Each round is three minutes of hard blows and body punches. It doesn’t sound like a long time but it truly is. I equate it to standing in front of a crowd to give a speech for the first time. Even if it is only a minute speech, that minute can seem like an eternity. The same is true in boxing then add in someone who keeps hitting you in the head. However, after each round is 2 minutes of rest where the trainers give you a drink, instructions and tend to any cuts you might have from the battle, plus you get to sit. When we are tired from our battles and life’s struggles, we also need the rest and someone there to tend to us. Mend our bruised spirit, lift us up when we want to quit and take care of our wounds.
Finally, win or lose those in the corner are there to Support the boxer. It’s easy to be there for the victory. It’s a celebration, with cheering, laughter and pats on the back. We all need someone to celebrate our victories with. It’s sad to be victorious, yet celebrate alone, which does happen on occasion. What’s worse is the defeats. You are battered, bruised and just plain beaten down when you look around to see who is there. For many, there is no one to offer support or comfort. No one to say, “You’ll get’em next time.” You look back at your corner and those who said they would be there have left. However, those who are truly in your corner will always be there, maybe annoyingly so – ha ha. But they are there.
Next time you tell someone, “Hey, just so you know, I’m in your corner.” Take a moment to reflect on what it means to truly be in their corner. Then be there, they…I need it.
Monday, March 9, 2015
|On my jet with about 100 other folk|
Willie Nelson sang, “On the Road Again” about his love for travel and living the gypsy lifestyle. He has even said in an interview he is so much at home on his tour bus that when he is actually at home he will still sleep on his bus. I've heard a lot of artists convey the same idea as they travel. Most are given a hotel room, usually a suite, in a nice hotel only to use it for meet and greets or for meetings then actually sleep on their bus because it’s there “home.” Life on the road isn't easy but when you have those kind of accommodations to enhance your love for this gypsy life, then it does make a difference.
I don’t have a tour bus, I have a Boeing 737 which I share with over 100 other people each weekend. I would like a tour bus which would save of packing each weekend. I wouldn't forget some of my stuff, like I did this week because the bus would be my mobile home with all I need. Before you and I get all caught up in the “glamour” of life on the road allow me to take a second or two to say, sometimes it isn't all it’s cracked up to be. I stayed in a hotel where you had to slip a wire over the door knob for your “security” lock. I've had to leave the comfort of my bed, on more than one occasion, at 3am to drive 2 or 3 hours to catch a flight home. Once even in a snow storm. There is a lot of alone time, where it’s just you and the television. If there isn't anything on or the hotel has a cheap cable package you better have packed a book to read, your laptop for work to do (which there is always plenty) or at the very least a deck of cards to play solitaire.
Bundled together that way, life on the road doesn't sound much fun. But rarely is there a perfect storm of a weekend. The “catastrophes” I've faced for the most part is like this weekend where I forgot my Ipod (which I take on every trip) and my wireless mouse other than that, so far so good. With some of those bad experiences I mentioned, it wouldn't be fair if I didn't mention some of the good stuff. One of which is simply, I get to travel. I've gotten to see and experience things I never thought I would or at the very least just dreamed about. I have gotten to see this great country in which we live and meet a lot of interesting people. The mom and pop places I've gotten to eat in are too numerous to mention plus I get to see my family often.
Through my travels I have made new friends and have the opportunities to hang out with friends I've had for years. Plus I get to do what I love to do, be on stage. Standing on that stage performing for people I've only just met is a top notch experience for me where I get to be me and who I am.
This Gypsy lifestyle Willie sings about, well, it the life for me.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
|Me waking up in the back of my truck on Race day|
WOW! The things we do for the things we love and in my case it is NASCAR. I have been a race fan for as long as I can remember. I remember watching the 1979 Daytona 500 on TV which was the first time a NASCAR race was shown live from start to finish. I remember going to local tracks to watch the local race heroes battle it out on asphalt and often times on dirt with the occasional battle outside the cars. Everyone that is a fan has their favorite driver and will passionately defend why they should be the winner in Sunday’s race only to be disappointed when they don’t. Their driver is rarely the reason why a crash happened even when that driver admits to being the reason. I just sit back and laugh because I am the same way, Dale Jr has never caused a crash. Ha-ha.
This past weekend was the Daytona 500 and I was without a ticket. How could this be? A fan of my magnitude missing out on the Great American Race. But that is where I found myself, ticket-less and depressed. I moped around the house all day Saturday. If I had some sackcloth and ashes I probably would have been wearing them to display my state of despair. I couldn't do anything to get myself out of this rut even though I had a show that night. It was imperative I walk out of the room of gloom and get ready for the show. Which I did. I simply decided, as much as I wanted to be at the race I still had a lot of stuff to be happy about. This makes all the difference in the world.
I cleaned up got ready, still not quite myself but getting there. About 7 miles into my trip to the show I got the call, rather, the Facebook message, a ticket has become available. I of course was overjoyed, I will not miss this race after all. Now what? Well I will make phone calls, turn the truck around grab some provisions and head to my show. The show that night was a great success and I even saw a shooting star that night as I made the drive to Daytona. Then came the task of finding a place to sleep. Yep, I slept in the back of my truck in a huge field used for parking. I didn't want to miss a moment of the race experience and of course get ahead of all the traffic coming into Daytona from all directions on Sunday morning.
The cool thing about race weekend is the experience of race weekend. It is unique to NASCAR. Everything from the family aspect to the party to a weekend get-a-way. People in motor-homes and tents and even in the back of their trucks just so they can be here on this weekend to experience this race. Some may not find it appealing, some may even not have a good time but they are in the minority. By and large race weekend is the most fun a fan can have at a sporting event.
Thanks NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway for a great Sunday of fun.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Growing up I remember playing in my bathtub with my superhero action figures. I had Batman, Robin, Superman and Aquaman who would defeat, after a long battle, the soap demon or the wash cloth villain leaving us victorious. We would go back to the Hall of Justice (my bedroom) and swap stories of our defeat of evil. Each Saturday morning the Justice League cartoons would turn the living room into a headquarters where I could watch my heroes defeat the likes of the Joker, Lex Luther or any number of villains from the Legion of Doom. Even today, as old as I am, I can’t wait for the next superhero blockbuster to come to the theaters. Recently at the movies I saw some trailers and this summer is going to be fun.
As fun as those characters are to watch, they are fictitious. Even Superman, whose motto is, “Truth, Justice and the American way,” isn't really living in a city called Metropolis working for a newspaper. With these larger than life heroes on television and in movie theaters it is easy to overlook the real life heroes who live all around us. They are everywhere and have placed their lives on the line for each of us in one way or another, they are America’s Heroes.
Throughout my travels, I have met and even spent time with many who have laid it all on the line just so I can go around the country telling jokes for a living. My dad spent time in the Army and tells stories all the time of his days spent serving in the military. Just the other day he was telling me how he was on alert for the Bay of Pigs crisis (look it up if you don’t know). Everyone who was alive in the early 60’s remembers just where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated and my dad is no different, he was washing his army jeep when it came across the radio. I have heard stories from many veterans around the country about their time in the service. Never once have I heard them say they regretted their time. Although some didn't appreciate being drafted, they still served with pride which still resonates in them long after their discharge.
It doesn't just stop with our military folks but America’s Heroes are all around us. There has been a lot of talk lately about our police around the country, even on my Facebook some people post stories of the bad apples in the barrel (I am convinced not all these are true but edited video clips to make them look bad). But when you are in trouble, in a wreck or someone is poking around your house, these men and women come ready to take on whatever challenge lies ahead of them. Just the other day, here in Florida there was a shootout which resulted in the injury of an officer. As much as I played cops and robbers as a kid, I am not sure I want to be involved in a real life shoot out. But they are willing.
Firefighters rushing in a burning structure to help save the family pet so everyone gets out alive or sees the family photo album about to be engulfed so they carry it out to give back to the mother just so some memories are preserved. They are America’s Heroes. Even the crossing guards I pass when I take my daughter to school each morning willingly step out into traffic to ensure our kids cross the street to school or arrive home safely each day, America’s Heroes.
You see, they are all around us. They are our neighbors. They sit next to us at church or stand in line with us at the grocery store. They are often unsung, unnoticed and just go about their business which they are ok with it seems. But if the need arises they will stand up to be counted. They stand on the line between us and whatever evil is heading our way. They are truly superheroes. Well better than that, they are America’s Heroes.
If you see one today, tell them thank you.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
|Always the cowboy|
When you’re a kid you have dreams, aspirations and they seem as achievable as devouring your favorite candy bar. It didn’t matter that this was the 1970’s, you were going to grow up to be a cowboy (insert Kid Rock’s Cowboy or Toby Keith’s I should have been a cowboy songs) riding your horse chasing outlaws and those pesky Indians. Perhaps you had dreams of riding around on big red trucks on your way to fight a three alarm fire. Did you dream of being a policeman or something else courageous? As for me, I wanted to be a cowboy as captured in many early photos. Then off to be a race-car driver. I would have made it to the NASCAR circuit I have no doubts. There was that brief stint of wanting to be a wrestler but I was always drawn back to being a cowboy or a race-car driver.
One thing I noticed while pondering the dreams of childhood is there was no fear of the achievement. There was nothing saying, “You can’t” not did any of those seem ridiculous. Imagine a child of the 60’s & 70’s growing up to ride into town on his horse in 2015. It’s a pretty funny picture isn't it but not to a seven year old. Something changes as we get older. We begin to hear those words which put limitations on our dreams and place roadblocks in path of our aspirations. The worst part is we begin to believe what we hear and those roadblocks become insurmountable. The dreams die slowly becoming stories we tell our kids.
Sometimes those dreams die because they just don’t make sense like being a cowboy chasing outlaws. Other times they give way to true dreams of what you want to be when you grow up. I've heard several people tell me they have always dreamed of being a teacher, a policeman or a fireman. Others have told me it wasn't until they became adults before they realized what they wanted to do. For me, I am a mixture of both. I knew I wanted to entertain, I just didn't know how I was going to accomplish this or what form it would look like. One thing I did know was I could not sing or play a guitar. So American Idol and the Voice are safe.
Sometimes you really do have to grow up to realize what you are going to be when you grow up. It’s the resolve of adulthood that allows you withstand the barrage of naysayers saying, “You can’t” and figure out how to get around the roadblocks in your way. Sadly, though many don’t. They succumb to the pressures. Again, for me I think I have figured it out. With years of being in front of different audiences in different situations I have come to the realization that I am both an Entertainer and an Educator. That’s right, you read it correctly (we will discuss this in future blogs).
Childhood dreams didn't see the roadblock nor did they hear the naysayers so they dreamed. As an adult it is our job to silence the naysayers by doing what we have the gifts to do and to walk around the roadblocks standing in our way. This is accomplished simply by pressing on. It isn't easy. Of course, neither was moving that pile of dirt with my Tonka truck, but I moved it. So, I will write more stories designed to make audiences laugh and speeches developed to encourage people. Seminars will be constructed to help people learn how to be communicators and leaders. Perhaps you’re sitting there and reading this saying, “You can’t.”
“LaLaLaLaLa, I can’t hear you.”
Monday, January 12, 2015
|Listening to the birds and watching the squirrels. Florida living.|
They have work to accomplish much like me. They have nuts to gather and worms to collect. The other day I saw a hawk flying with a large clump of Spanish moss in her beak to add to the family nest. A pretty cool sight to say the least. Soon she will be laying eggs, protecting them from the elements and then off to find food once her babies enter the world. Yet they sing. They play. How can this be? How can they do this when there is work to be done? Responsibilities to be taken care off? I think there instincts keep it all in perspective so they have a song.
Jesus, himself, mentions this when discussing worry. He says, “Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; not for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” (Matthew 7:25-26 NASB). So they sing and play.
Have you ever noticed how much happier you are on vacation? There are no worries, no boss breathing down your neck and there is a song in your heart. OK, maybe not the song part, but you are generally happier, right? Why is that? Simple, you aren't worrying, you are living. You have a weight lifted. Life can be pretty heavy at times with schedules to keep at work and often times at home. There is many a morning I look at my “to do list” and just feel overwhelmed. Too many times my “To Do List” becomes my “Things I want to do but didn't list” and it tends to get longer. But I think for first time in my life I have actually “looked at the birds.” I have seen that responsibilities and work needs to get done but it isn't all there is. There is singing and playing to be had.
So as I continue to watch the squirrels and listen to the birds, life comes into a better perspective. There is still much to do on my list of what needs accomplished this week but why should I worry about it. As I take each one on it will get accomplished and I will celebrate with playing or singing (don’t worry there is no one around for me to torture with my lack of ability).
As I enter 2015 I will look at the birds and the squirrels. Perhaps you would like to join me.
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Do you remember those family trips when your parents would keep you looking at the clouds to see the shapes as they emerged trying to save you from boredom and keep their sanity? In those clouds you saw everything from a dog to a dinosaur to a pirate ship. The sky, in those days, was a giant canvas full of endless possibilities for a child’s imagination. One summer afternoon the sky was a brilliant blue with clouds like cotton balls floating by, each changing shapes with the wind. I would see cars, animals and a variety of other pictures. Even today I will look at the sky to see if there is anything painted on the canvas of heaven.
From a very young age we are taught to look into the sky and use our imagination. This skill of seeing disguised clouds floating along in the horizon would serve us well on those long summer days outside. As the wind slowly and gently blew them across the sky they would appear alive while a metamorphosis would take place before our eyes. Sometimes they would change into something better and other times just a big cotton ball. But each time you would look into the clouds, you could see something different and then you began to grow.
As you grew your parents kept reminding you to get your head out of the clouds. Face the realities of the world in which you live. You will become a steel worker, a teacher, run a restaurant or something else reasonable. For some these are their dreams made real but for others not so much. Regardless of what you would become, you were encouraged to get your head out of the clouds and back to earth. In a way, they would be protecting us from pipe dreams that lead us to disappointment and preparing us for a life of real experience. Who could blame them really? They didn't know of anyone who had their head in the clouds and survived.
However, so many success stories come as a result of people seeing their goals “in the clouds.” It doesn't matter if it is a movie star or CEO, they saw it. They imagined it. Sometimes their image changed with the age of time and the winds of reality but they kept their head in the clouds. Those kids who began writing songs as an elementary student dreaming of stardom would later become the Taylor Swifts of the world. Then there’s the guy who struck out of a small town to become the George Clooneys of Hollywood. Perhaps they heard “get your head out of the clouds” but they chose not to pay any attention to it.
The reality of life is this. Dreams change and perhaps yours has. Another reality is not everyone can be famous but flip that coin over because some can be, so why can it not be you? The clouds are full of limitless possibilities of shapes and sizes. So are your dreams. You can become whatever you chose to become. You just have to stay determined and focused. It certainly won’t happen if you don’t do anything towards the goal of capturing your dreams.
If you want it, then get your head in the clouds.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
The door is left open, nightlight is turned on yet it didn't deter the occasional a jump into the parent’s bed in the middle of the night. Have you been there? If you are a parent, of course you have. You’re also familiar with the words, “I’m afraid of the dark.” “Why be afraid of the dark?” we try to reason with the frightened toddler. But how can you reason with someone who has seen a mountain lion poke its head out of the closet or felt the monster under the bed. The noises heard from the dinosaur outside the window have the covers pulled all the way up only revealing two eyeballs searching the room.
Recently I read a quote, “Creativity, like human life itself begins in darkness.” This to me proved to be profound because, we have never been more creative than when we were little kids in the dark. There laying in our bed, the darkness of night around us, we created monsters with multiple eyes and sharp teeth. Ghosts hid in the corner and the alligators on the floor almost daring us to get out of bed. As we got older we began reasoning and what we had created had become a shirt on a hanger or a pair of shoes barely under the bed. As we got older the fear of darkness dissipated as did our creativity.
After reading that quote I began to think about the darkness and why we were so creative then. Outside of just plan paranoia, which I might add most kids don’t have, I think there are 3 reasons why were more creative in the dark. If we can reacquaint ourselves with the darkness perhaps creativity will reign once again in our minds. We have forgotten about the mountains we conquered, the robbers we caught and the sword fights we experienced. Perhaps, we can once again, be creative.
In the darkness there is quiet. When you laid there in your bed, you would hear every growl of the monsters and the click of their claws against the floor. All because the quiet drew your attention to every sound and you had no other option than figure out what it was, those monsters. There is a benefit to the stillness of the night (or morning) which permits you to hear your thoughts. If you want to get in touch with your creativity again, mark out a time where you can just be quiet. Perhaps it’s on you back deck with a cup of coffee as the birds sings. Maybe you have to wait till the kids are actually down for the night before there is a stillness for you. Whatever it is, you need to find it. Even the Bible gives value to the stillness and quietness. It’s when Elijah was finally not distracted by the noise and commotion that he heard the voice of God, in just a whisper (1 Kings 19:9-12).
The fear comes in the darkness when we lay there alone. Mom would tuck her little man into bed then leave and there he would be by himself. Sometimes even the bedtime story wouldn't work, often feeding into our thoughts as we lay there with no one around but the monsters. A lot can be said about finding some time where there are no distractions. Nothing but you and your thoughts running wherever they may. Each morning I awake before everyone else (or at least I try), grab my pen and pad then write whatever is in my head, free-writing (not typing on my computer) three pages each day. I have written jokes, articles, have had ideas for TV shows and been very creative when it’s just me. Not to mention all the ‘To Do’ and grocery lists I have created. But it’s more about capturing my thoughts, its unleashing a flow of creativity which allows me to explore areas otherwise pushed aside or not even seen due to the distractions around me.
The third reason we were more creative in the darkness was because we used our imagination. While we laid there engulfed with darkness, we saw what wasn't there. We would hear sounds and then imagined what they were. They were real to us, those monsters under the bed and dinosaurs outside the window. We just knew once we were tucked in for the night our floors turned in moats or lakes filled with kid eating alligators. But it only happened when it was dark and we saw them with our mind’s eye, our imagination. Then we got older and our imagination grew dimmer as more light of reality shown on it. We just forgot our bed was actually a ship floating in the ocean and our cap guns would protect us from any danger.
The next time the lights go out and you are blanketed with darkness don’t be afraid. Instead, use the light of creativity to open a whole new world.
Friday, October 24, 2014
It’s Halloween time and I am looking back on the stuff I used to like. I guess I still like them but just never do them anymore. Such as Trick or Treating. Going from door to door in the neighborhood dresses in a costume and asking…no wait…expecting the person behind the door to give me candy. My mom would tell me stories of when she was a kid and instead of candy it would be money, mainly pennies or nickels. Beggers night is what she would call it. When you look back on it, I guess that is what we did and in a way they still do.
Then there are all the stories to go along with the night. Ghosts, Goblins and Witches rule the night going in and out of the shadows. A full moon’s glow with and eerie night cloud floating by it only makes the most scary night of the year more fun. Then hospitals opening the doors to X-ray candy and those apples Mrs. White always gave out to the neighborhood kids. They would look for razor blades, synergies and any other spooky threat perpetrated on the un-suspecting youth. Nothing was ever found or reported but still they would look, adding to the “terror” of the night.
What about all those movies which would come out at this time. The Nightmare’s which happened on Elm Street or the camp kids getting hacked by dude in a hockey mask. Then there was the crazy brother who terrorized his sister, especially around Halloween. Not to mention the Screams, the houses at the end of the street and the campy ones making fun of all the others. Designed to frighten people, these movies were a God-send to guys on dates. Fun nights were had as we played protector or were they just wanting us to put our arm around them? Ahh a mystery for the ages.
Haunted houses, Halloween alternatives and a variety of other events helping create memories in our minds as we get older. Entertaining every one with stories around back-yard fires as we cooked hotdogs are on a stick and with those gooey marshmallows. We impart these rites of passages to our kids so they can have the same yet different memories to pass on to their children.
So this Halloween, put on your favorite costume, watch your favorite scary movie but most of all remember this is for the kids. Allow them to have fun and teach them to enjoy life by not being afraid of those things that can do no harm. We need to stop raising our kids to be afraid at every shadow and raise them to enjoy living.
Have fun…there’s nothing to be afraid of.