Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

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One love

April 19, 2011

My son turned one today and I am amazed at how fast the year has gone. This time last year, my wife went into labor, we believe, due to the smoked ribs my friend Tad made for us the night before. Jill headed home and I stayed for drinks. It didn’t hit me until the next day that it was the last time it would just be my wife, daughter, and me at our home.

Since the first time I saw his face until now he obviously has changed. He started out with jet-black greasy hair to now stick straight blonde hair like his mother. He is almost walking and is showing signs of his dad’s impatience, temper, and sense of humor (especially bathroom jokes.) And as he has changed, I am constantly changing and learning lessons too.

Just this past weekend, we had a baby shower for a fraternity brother and his wife expecting a son themselves here soon. And upon arriving at the party, hugs, handshakes, and hi-fives gave way to conversations, laughing, and advice for the new parents. I love those guys. They are really more family than friends, and we pick up quickly from the last time we saw each other, even if it was a year ago. So Cam, lesson one that I have learned is you will never be alone, never be lost, and never without a smile with great friends.

After the party we all went back and got our kids and brought them together at the expecting parents house. What a torturous thing to do for two people waiting to have their first child…fill their house with six kids all under the age of five. (No turning back now, Mr. and Mrs. Benson.) Within five minutes our daughters and sons were playing, laughing, and having a good time with each other. And for some, they just met. Our kids know no prejudice; they don’t care about money, religion, or politics. The girls like big girl shoes and candy necklaces, the boys popping balloons with their mouths and throwing things. Cam, lesson number two. Be open, honest, and respectful to each person you meet.  Don’t ever lose the gift of seeing people for what we really are…people.

And yesterday we had our big first birthday party. Family and friends joined us and watched as Cam decorated himself in cake and blue frosting. All the while, he just laughed, half-naked and all. Cam, here comes lesson three. Never take yourself too serious. I sure as hell don’t. I’m not perfect and never will be. That doesn’t stop me from trying to be great, rather knowing that mistakes are part of the game makes the score easier to tolerate when we don’t win. Keep smiling and give it all you have.

And the last lesson goes without saying. Your dad loves you and always will. You’ll never know how strong that love is until you have kids of your own; so for now trust me and thank you. Thank you for being my little man.

Happy birthday son.

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I haven’t had a bad day.

February 17, 2011

As funny as that sounds I need to remind myself of just that. I haven’t had a bad day.

My wife recently shared another sad story from her work at Riley. I’ll save the details except that another preventable and unthinkable act was taken and the result is a child who will live the rest of their life hooked up to a machine. The child was never really loved and will never experience the most simple of activities going forward. Sliding down a slide, walking in a park, and even giving a hug. I never faced such adversity as a child. I have a loving family who has supported, encouraged, loved, and fostered my growth even as an adult.

I haven’t had a bad day.

One of our close friends is a facing a battle with their child that I can only image tests every fiber of their being and every thread of their core. I don’t know how they do it and I only hope that one day I can be that strong. Honestly, I actually hope I never have to be that strong. My kids are laughing, my kids are growing, my kids are healthy and my kids are loved.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I recently read another story about a young person who committed suicide as a result of bullying. Some of these kids are harassed because of their weight, sexual orientation, religion, beliefs, and sometimes simply because they are individuals in a world of conformists. What a shame. What a shame in 2011 we can’t embrace the differences that all make us unique and work together towards common goals that only help humanity, not tear down what makes us human. I’ve never had to feel like I couldn’t be myself. I’ve had family and friends who have put their love and trust in me and in return helped me know my place in the world.

I haven’t had a bad day.

I am guilty, just like the rest of us that I don’t reflect on what I have enough. And it is unfortunate that sometimes we don’t think of these simple blessings and graces until something bad happens. Sure I’ve had my share of pain, but never have I had to go alone and never have I had no where to turn.

I haven’t had a bad day.

 

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A simple thank you can go a long way.

November 3, 2010

I was left a voicemail message the other day from a close friend and fraternity brother, Brett Benson, thanking me for something that I did.  And what I did was not groundbreaking, world changing, or even difficult, but you would never know it by the thank you I received.

Brett is someone I personally and professionally admire. He is every bit as passionate about life as he is quick to crack a joke. He lives to serve and his life’s goals are fixed on giving and sharing to others rather than receiving or focusing inward on selfish wants.

I have seen him get so worked up discussing his desire to help and those outcomes of when he has, that he verges on that laugh/cry mix that is nothing but pure emotion. It is raw, it is real, it is Benson.

That is one big reason why his message left such an impression with me I decided to write about it. And the other reason was what and how he said it. In an age and a generation where it is easy to text, email, or adjust our writing to 140 characters or less, he took time out of his day to reach out. To let me know he didn’t just appreciate what I did, but that he appreciated me as a person. He didn’t thank me for one event, but for things that cumulated over time. And he reminded on how sometime taking the time to say a heartfelt thank you, has become a rarity. And not only from a personal side, but in business as well.

Brett, you are the one we should all thank for your dedication, generosity, thoughtfulness, and daily impact you have on the people around you.

I sometimes end these with a quote and here is one I learned from you: “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, it will be enough,” Meister Eckhart.

Thank you.

 

 

 

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One person can make a difference.

October 22, 2010

I try not to be skeptical, however I am quick to break everything down to a realistic and rationale perspective. So when I hear people talk about how one person can change the world, I tend to struggle with that comment.

I was asked recently by a fellow BSU Delt, Steve Roseman, to sit on the board of The Paul Fangman Jr Foundation that he started over the summer. Steve’s grandfather is the inspiration and Mr. Fangman lived his life stressing the importance of giving your time and talents to others and how precious family and children are to the world.

Mr. Fangman was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 37 yet still raised seven children, managed a successful family business, and loved his time with his 43 grand and great grandchildren. He lived his life with dignity, grace, and a helping hand.

Steve is quick to point out that he only remembers seeing his grandfather walk 10 times and the daily fight he had battling MS. Steve was so inspired by his grandfather’s courage and love of life that he has used it as a springboard to help others.

The foundation was founded on teaching young people to live and maintain healthy lifestyles and to help families manage the cost and the stress of finding adequate health care for loved ones suffering with MS and cancer.

In five short months he has already raised a considerable amount of money, is in three schools working with children, and is lining up more donors, more schools, and more ways to impact people’s lives.

I realized on the way home from our meeting, that when people say one person can change the world, what I was lacking was definition around the word “world.” Steve is living proof. Watching him speak about his work, the children, his grandfather, and the conviction he has to serve others is inspiring. The world in which Steve is creating for himself and others he is helping is making a difference.

In a time when people tend to hold their hands out for help, Steve is holding his out to help. So yes, I do believe one person can make a difference; he has already made a difference in mine.

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Some of the best ideas were written on a napkin

September 14, 2010

We have all heard stories about conversations at a bar between friends that spark an idea that changes the way we do business, no-name musicians jotting down the hit that ultimately makes them a household name, and ad campaigns that leave us smiling and buying products.

And ever so often we have one of these moments. Either by taking the initiative to write the idea, thought, or concept down or being lucky enough to be on the receiving end of such genius.

I happen to think the best idea that ever hit me happened this way. On December 6, 1998, I was at a bar after a work function and my future wife took out a pen, smiled, tilted her head, and wrote me a note in Japanese on a cocktail napkin. To be honest, I still don’t know what she wrote and I don’t care. What I do remember is in that instant, I realized she was the one.

She had the brains, the drive, the sense of humor, the charm, the wit, and the spontaneity to go with the beauty. I was blown away. It was such a simple gesture, yet one that will last with me forever. That note started a life together that has seen us go through marriage, building a house, changing careers, raising children, and being eternally grateful that she wrote that note to me, on that night, in that moment, forever.

Today is my eight year anniversary to a woman who has shown me the gift of life, the blessing of love, and the joy of family. 2,920 days. Each one I am thankful for and each one more wonderful than the next.

Happy Anniversary Jill. I love you.

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TMI at work… please stop the madness.

September 7, 2010

We have all been there. A co-worker harmlessly adds to a conversation and then starts sharing their lives’ most interesting and awkward moments.

I’m not sure if these people have no filter or they simply need affirmation that they might not be alone in their quest of universal weirdness.

I worked with a woman years ago when I was in college who not only had TMI syndrome but also was quite random when inserting her stories in otherwise normal conversation. One time she jumped in about how nice a local high school’s football field was. Nothing odd there, until she proceeded to comment “that is where Melvin first rang my bell.” Yikes. This was the same woman who openly talked about her struggles with what the doctors called, “a bit of a weight problem” and one summer went on and on about her raging hormones and possible start to menopause. Yeah the sweating had nothing to do with the fact 95% of her wardrobe was made out of Spandex and she walked to work.

Then there are the WebMD folks who get into the TMI zone. I once mentioned how much better I felt after going on one of my long runs. That sparked a peer to discuss a time they ate bad turkey and was using runs in a much different context. You also know you’re in trouble anytime the conversation starts out with a visit to anyone ending in gist: gyno, proctolo, gastro, etc. It never ends well and it always ends up with discussion around, well… someone’s end.

And we also have the dysfunctional family TMI abusers. These people have no problem with discussing drug abuse, prison, interesting tattoos (both design and location), and domestics. My favorite was a co-worker who went on and on about their niece and why couldn’t she marry a nice guy, get a concept of birth control (she had three kids to three different guys), and she should at least stop getting all the exes’ names tattooed on her. “You know those things are hard to remove.” And did I mention her niece was 17 at the time? I used to think Springer was set up, wow was I wrong.

Any good TMI moments today?

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Having two kids is not that far from living back in the fraternity house

August 31, 2010

I have been blessed with two beautiful kids — two kids who are already throwing me back to the days of Delta Tau Delta at Ball State.

There is always a body function happening
At first there is the innocent and often, “I can’t control my gas” infant stage. People laugh and think it is cute because it is a baby. This is not the case when a guy, nicknamed “Dirt”, breaks wind after drinking malt liquor all night and eating a burrito the size of your head.

Spitting up is so common I now have no sense of smell or a desire to eat. I have a burp cloth on my body at all times because I never know when Mt. Cam will erupt and spew whatever he just ate all over the place. In the fraternity house the only thing funny about spewing was the occasional dry heave. I still don’t why that is funny. Maybe the eyes welling up with tears or the fact I always think of Jim Carey.

Streaking
Yes, sometimes it is nice to set yourself free. My three year old finds great delight in streaking around the house after a bath. You can see the sheer joy of being clothes- and worry-free on her face. This look was also found many a night when someone would casually walk through the house sans pants, sit down on your couch, and act as if this was normal. Thank you creator of the slipcover.

Nose picking is an Olympic sport
I guess until now I thought the nose pick was merely done out of necessity. Nope. I am not sure what the fascination is with having your finger two knuckles into your nose, but the kids dig it. Yes, pun intended. I am worried more about them being able to hide a grapefruit in their nostril than do it in public. And at the old Delt house you had guys who were the Michael Phelps of nose picking. After each victory they always wanted to show you their medals. Remember the dry heave part? My eyes are still watering.

Being tired is the norm
I am up at all hours, I don’t ever feel like I sleep through a whole night, and when I am up, I have to be on. There is always something to clean up (see above), someone to entertain, and someone getting into something they shouldn’t. Hmmm…this one didn’t change.

Time for me to go, I think someone just made his underwear into a headband.