A major league season …

From the moment they are born, most children are all hope and potential for their parents. We search for a glimmer of a shining star in anything that they do. Throwing a toy is a future major league baseball player. Repeating the words sung on a radio tune is a future world class entertainer. Jumping and rolling is a future Olympic gymnast. To a greater or lesser degree we work to bring out the natural talents we see in our children, sometimes investing thousands of dollars to try to develop their skills. It’s what we want for our children, and as they grow, it’s often what our children want for themselves.

One of the best things of the U.S. culture is this belief in the right of the individual to capitalize on their natural talents. We want to afford everybody the opportunity to be all that they can be. So much so that even our U.S. Army adopted this as an ad campaign to recruit new blood into their ranks some years ago. From this belief, much of reality TV such as America’s Got Talent, American Idol, The X Factor, have developed a following. The fact that some of these shows originated in other countries only stands to prove that this belief is wide spread in other countries as well (mostly free-world republics).

Unfortunately, we all know that there isn’t much reality in reality TV. Individuals who become major league sports players, achieve fame and glory on the stage, or become Olympic athletes are few and far between. Many factors go into those opportunities and they don’t all involve getting the best and most talented people. Don’t squash the dreams of your little dancer by telling her she’ll never be a Rockette. Our children need to set their expectations high and work hard to achieve their goals. And they need to choose for themselves a path that they can be passionate about. I know accountants who have been passionate about accounting, and that has been where their major league season has been. I’m one of them. I’ve known doctors, lawyers, teachers, IRS agents, ministers, computer programmers, musicians, chefs, cooks, waitresses, writers, architects, homemakers, in fact, people in almost every field who have been passionate about what they do and that is where their major league season has been. Helping your child find their passion and developing their skill to play a major league season is a good thing. Just make sure that it is their dream, not yours.


Every day is a gift. “Live like you were dying.”

It took me a long time to realize that every day is a gift. I think it is one of those things that you really don’t comprehend until you’re playing the back nine (golf metaphor).   Not that I’m on the 18th hole, at least I don’t think I am, but I am on the back nine.

It gives you a different perspective on the game.  For one thing, you realize it’s a Saturday morning with great weather so there are lots of other golfers on the course. Not everyone is watching your game, so don’t try to play like they are. Miley Cyrus will wish that she had not compromised her integrity to keep herself relevant. She is better than that. I am being judgemental, but when you’re playing the back nine, you know that you don’t want to swing that hard on the third hole.  If you put yourself all out there on the third hole, you’ve got nothing left to give when you reach the thirteenth. Learning that is part of the experience of playing the course.

Integrity is the moral fiber we all struggle with our entire lives.  It is the investment we make in every decision.  That investment either returns a dividend that contributes to our moral bank, or it spends our soul.  Society, our friends, and our family provide lots of conflicting incentives for making decisions.  We measure those incentives against an internal moral compass. In Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket says “let your conscience  be your guide”.

Life is a journey of continuous improvement.  At the end, our integrity survives. Will Rogers said that some men learn by listening, a few more learn by observing, and the rest learn by peeing on the electric fence.  We tune the moral compass instrument by what we learn, however we learn it. What are you tuning your moral compass with?

The Indoctrination of My Son, the College Student

I am looking at the texts that have been assigned to my son for his History class at college and on the surface, I am a bit disturbed by assignments of

    The Slave Community

by John Balssingame and

    The Puritan Family

by Edward S Morgan. I am not so disturbed by the contents of the books, I’m sure they are very fine reads about important topics, as much as I am disturbed by the selection of texts to define to students who they are. The importance of a college education has been so marketed in the U.S., that we are terrified to think our children might not have one, so we pack our children off to these institutions, and because the children are now at least legally “adults”, we are not allowed to monitor what their brains are being fed. So our institutions of higher learning have become breeding grounds for indoctrinating people into a way of thinking. (Did someone just say, “Them are fightin’ words”?)

Please don’t stop reading now and write me off as a racist. I don’t deny the despicable treatment that was incurred by Africans brought to this country and sold as slaves. Even after the emancipation following the civil war, it took a hundred years in this country to realize that people with a darker skin were not being treated equally with those of a lighter skin. Even today, incidents of bigotry often receive top billing in many media channels. I don’t deny anyone their oppression, in fact, I can identify with it more easily than deny it.

You see, the history in my family (at least on one side) goes back to a little German settlement in Russia. The Russian Czar had married a German princess who was lonely for her people. So out of the kindness of his heart, the Russian Czar set aside land and invited German farmers to come settle there. My ancestors, among many others, went and became Russian sharecroppers on land that could hardly produce anything. What it did produce mostly went to pay taxes to support the Czar’s lifestyle. As Marxism began to take a foothold, the ruling party conceived this to be a German threat, so my great grandparents escaped, stopping first in America before proceeding on to Brazil. My grandmother spoke fluent German, Portuguese and English. I loved her so much that in her final years, I did not even realize that diabetes had stolen her sight. I was eight when she died.

My grandmother’s life resembled more stereotypical black than white. Her family moved back to America and rumor has it that she met my grandfather on the ship. She married at 16 and had 16 kids, half of which either died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. When my father was 14, his father abandoned the family. Harmonywise, it was not a great loss as he was very abusive anyway, but economically it shifted responsibilities, and my father carried three paper routes to try to help make ends meet at home.

So I guess I’m a little sensitive when a political faction, be it left or right, wants to define a group of people in a certain way. After all, isn’t that the definition of prejudice? Yet, certain people look at me or my kids and all they see is privileged white. I don’t get it.

Life is changing at the speed of sound

I like to think of my childhood like the Andy Griffith Show. It wasn’t that sweet or wholesome, nobody’s was, but there was a desire to “while away the hours”, and I did spend many fishing with my dad. Life seemed to keep a better pace back then, but the rear view mirror tends to distort your vision. Racing to the finish line was not the main theme.

In those days, the kitchen was the warmest place in the house and often a gathering place as well because Mom often spent 3 to 4 hours a day there, and there was always a good aroma there. The microwave oven had not been invented, coffee percolated in a coffee pot, and dishes were washed by hand, rinsed in the strainer, then dried and put away. Maintaining a home was labor intensive and a full-time occupation, which is why Mom often did not work outside the home.

I was a wee toddler at that point and life did not stay that way long. Efficiency products were the great new invention, and consumerism took over, raising the cost of living so that the bacon Dad was bringing home no longer fed the family’s appetite. There were so many places to go and so many things to see as automobiles became faster and more reliable, and motels and restaurants popped up from coast to coast. The changes that have taken place over the last 50 to 60 years have been phenomenal, and I would never advocate turning back. Now, I can’t imagine living without my laptop computer, my smart phone, and the internet, even though I can easily remember a time when I had none of those things.

I can also remember playing out in the yard and having the serenity of the day disturbed by a loud boom as a jet overhead crashed through the sound barrier. Life is changing at the speed of sound, we feel the sonic booms all the time, and there are those among us who embrace it because they have never known it any other way. The challenge is learning to adopt to the rapid change. The speed of that change is only going to increase to approach the speed of light. This requires more flexibility, more tolerance, more patience, and much more listening. The opportunities are all around you, but you have to become aware of them first.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

The strength to survive …

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”  — Mahatma Gandhi

Have you faced any real difficulties in your marriage?  Something that you never thought you would have to deal with in your lifetime?  Maybe a health crisis, an unexpected event, a financial crisis, something that really challenged you down to your soul?  If you have been married any time at all, I’ll bet you have.

How did the two of you handle it?  Did it tighten the bond or did it nearly finish you?  If nothing else, I’m sure it taught you things about each other that you never knew before, maybe things about the way you were raised. Maybe a parent stepped in to help out, or maybe one stepped in to take control.

When a marriage takes place, a new family is formed, but the family you come from does not end. It continues to play a role in the new family that is formed. The new family has to define its boundaries with the old family even as the couple defines their boundaries with each other.  This is an ongoing process throughout your marriage, and if you have a good marriage, you will teach each other.

If your family is so lucky, there will be children and you will be given the opportunity to make mistakes with them, just like your parents made mistakes with you.  You have to take a test and be licensed to drive a car, but anyone can have a kid. When you take on that role of a mom or dad (or in some cases both), you need to learn all you can about how a child develops and what you can do at every stage to give them the best chance for surviving this life. Isn’t that what you wanted your parents to do for you?  Read on …