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Monthly Archives: January 2014

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20 Habits That Will Make You Highly Successful

Love this post! I agree with (and actually DO) all but a few of these. The active break every 90 minutes is a new one to me, and one I will adopt.

Everything Swim Bike and Run and the Occasional Life Encounters

The most successful people in the world are the most motivated – correct?

Not entirely.

Successful people habits to become successful jay-z warren buffett

It isn’t motivation that creates success, but habit and action. The most successful people in the world definitely have passion for what they do, but passion that isn’t accompanied by action is rendered useless.

It is your habits, more than anything, that will lead to your eventual success.

If your days are dominated by habits that help you on your journey to success, you’ll one day find yourself exactly where you want to be, doing what you want to be doing, earning what you want to be earning.

20 Habits That Will Make You A Success

1. Don’t define success with a dollar amount, but in relation to your happiness.

The habit of defining success with a dollar amount will lead you to constantly chasing a higher price point. It’s a chase that will never…

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I want a city like this…

I was checking out a buddy’s blog and he posted a documentary about a cycling city in the Netherlands.  Now, if you’re viewing this in the US, please keep in mind, when the professor talks about the “Left Wing” positively and the “Right Wing” negatively, first this shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s a professor (and all too often it takes an intellectual to speak so eloquently and stupidly about the Left Wing) but secondly, they cannot be the same left wing and right wing as they are in the US.  The only thing the Left Wing is capable of doing well in the US is making shit blow up – be it the execrable Weather Underground or Unabomber, or for your standard Democrat; the economy, freedom and happiness.

In any event, there’s plenty of awesomeness in a cycling city to go around for both wings…  In fact, most of the guys I know (myself included) are neither wing, they’re much closer to the right wing (whether they know it or not, sometimes its so tough to break the media’s stereotype of the right, I know), or somewhere nearer the middle.  Either way, check this city out (and notice how healthy the populous looks):

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/76207227″>Groningen: The World’s Cycling City</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/streetfilms”>Streetfilms</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

…And the Day of Rest…

Today will be our day off.  I’ve got the guest book to drop off at my sister’s but it’s 4 am now so I’ll leave in an hour and be back before anyone ever wakes up – the joys of being an early riser.

The funeral service for my pop yesterday was perfect as could be hoped for.  Not a large crowd, just a group of our closest friends and family.  We sent him to God with respect worthy a King, even though he was simply our dad, or grandpops.   When we picked the music on Wednesday (or maybe it was Thursday), the one song that was absolutely required to be in there was Amazing Grace.  That song, loved or not, has a very special place in the hearts of most recovering alcoholics.  I made it all the way to the ninth word in the song before losing it.

The rest of the service was absolutely beautiful, save the priest’s several nervous ticks (though for me they were oddly soothing, imagine that).  After, my brother Chris, a Sergeant in the Army Reserves (previously Airborne in the Army) had arranged for representatives of the Air Force (my father was a weatherman) to send my dad off with full Military Honors.  It was absolutely the perfect cap to the service.  The five of us kids decided that my brother Chris would receive his Flag with the understanding between the five of us kids that if anyone should get it, it should be him – Military to Military.  At first, I won’t lie, I was a little bummed out – there are good reasons for those emotions but in the end my feelings were mistaken, the right man got that flag.  Even though he was not in uniform (regulations were checked) after the Flag was folded with precision and meticulous care, my brother took two steps forward as the second Honor Guardsman walked off and the first turned to Chris.  He had the Flag out in front, carried in both hands, point of the all-too-familiar triangle pointing towards Heaven and my brother slowly raised his hand in a three-count to a perfect salute.  The Airman raised his, matching my brother…  And the most perfect rendition of Taps I’ve ever heard began.  That scene said it all and will live with me till the day I die (thank God my awesome wife caught the whole thing on video just so I can be sure).  It covered everything that my dad was to me.  I know, if he was watching from Heaven, he was up there with a tear of joy in his eye, leaning into Jesus whispering, “Those are my kids”.  He was so proud of us, to be able to reciprocate that simply couldn’t be beat.  After his battle with Alzheimer’s, that took so much from him, to me it was our way to bring him back to whole, to say, “Screw you Alzheimer’s, that’s my papa and you can drag him through the mud but he washes up just fine”.  The Airman and my brother lowered there arms…  I couldn’t catch everything but I got the important part…  “On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I present this Flag”.  That was it.  ‘Nough said.

At the lunch following the service, presented by three precious ladies from the church (one knew us from when we went there as kids 36 years ago), one of the girls from the nursing home that he stayed at shared some thoughts and experiences she’d had with my dad including the fact that when my dad spoke to my brother Chris the morning that he passed, before he hung up he kissed the phone.  We never could have known.  Chris held it together like a professional through the Flag ceremony, but hearing that was just too much for him.

Next, my Isabella shared a few thoughts about how she’ll miss her grandpops that would have made him proud.  Then a lady who played his wife in the Nutcracker Ballet…  She said, with tears rolling down her cheeks, that she’d married my dad ten times and every one was special.  Too cool.  Then my dad’s favorite guy from the home and we were done.  We packed up and left.  Last night, the five us sat around the dinner table and opened and read his Will.  We already knew what was in it, but we figured everything out and did the math anyway.  Finally, we went out to dinner one last time together this go around as my brother flies back to Florida this morning (where it is currently 53 degrees warmer and with wind chill, will be 70 degrees warmer later on – S#!T).

So, today will be a day of rest and reflection, followed by a much-needed night at the bowling alley.

Thanks again to everyone for being so awesome through this.

Today is the day.

My father’s funeral is today, so after this I promise some much more upbeat posts… However, combining the two is possible today – the funeral and upbeat.

We had the receiving of friends and family yesterday and after expecting a trickle of friends and family, we were happy to have the place packed, shoulder to shoulder, for three hours. There were plenty of condolences but many more laughs and remembrances of a great man, husband, father and friend. Even my last boss, now good friend, showed up. My buddy Brian came by for a time and even Canuck Steve and English Pete’s wife and kids (Pete is at a 10 day silent retreat, so pray for him!). Friends from the old neighborhood showed in waves, as did some family members. My mother-in-law and step father-in-law came down and stayed with us.

After the viewing we all, and the kids, went over to my sister’s house and shared pizza, salad and a whole lot of memories and laughs.

This has been better and more healing than I ever could have hoped. I am truly a blessed man.

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On the Celebration of Life…

I am going to try to be very careful about how I choose my words in this post because I have to be honest; after my dad’s passing, my brain to mouth filter is a bit more, um, porous over the last couple of days.

While I am terribly broken up over my dad’s passing and will miss him greatly, his death also provides many reasons to be grateful.

For instance:

My wife has been nothing short of stellar through this.  To say we’ve grown closer through this would be an understatement of Biblical proportions.  My dad’s passing has also given my wife and I the opportunity (and we’ve seized it) to teach our kids how to accept death and celebrate life.  It’s also given me a finer perspective on the importance of being a good dad.  My brothers, sisters and I aren’t often in the same State at the same time, let alone having the chance sit down and eat together.  We will have that chance several times over the next few days.  Also, working together to get the funeral through the burial together has been nothing but good for us as a family.  I spoke with my best friend for the first time in almost two years ago yesterday, it was good.  On a normal day I have distractions; this job needs to be quoted, that job needs manpower, this company is late in paying for their services rendered, that guy is going to miss work because his doctor only schedules appointments between 10 am and 2 pm – and obviously it’s too much to ask for a little notice…it’s always something.  For once, at least for a few days, everything has worked out so all I have to do is concentrate on celebrating my dad’s life and enjoying time with my wife, kids and siblings.  Finally, I have a tough time grasping, or maybe understanding, what my place is in society.  While I do have a healthy opinion of who I am, actually seeing evidence of how many people care has been really cool, even a little surprising.

So, while I’m quite broken up many good things have come from the process of grieving my dad’s passing.

 

It May Take a Village to Raise a Child… But it Took a Father to Raise a Man

My father was a good man, with some glaring defects.  There is no doubt though, he did a bang-up job with what he had.  I have written, on more than one occasion, that I am one of the few recovering alcoholics that I know of who can honestly say I had a great childhood.  It really was good times and noodle salad.

My dad taught me how to play baseball, he was a recruited catcher in high school but chose a different path, so I can throw a rope rather than some of these lame famous people who end up bouncing a ball to the plate for an opening pitch.  I learned the outfield and to play a mean first base (can to this day).  My favorite baseball memory was learning, in the front yard, the importance of not being afraid of the ball.  I was fine with a tennis ball but put me at the plate with a hard ball and I had no nerve.  My dad took me out in the front yard, made me put my hands in my pockets and threw the ball at my chest and stomach – not too hard, but hard enough that it hurt.  Today I think the sissies call that child abuse – but it worked.  I learned that the sting goes away and it’s not all that big a deal.  From that day on, I absolutely loved baseball.  The sports didn’t stop at baseball though, I played hockey, dabbled in football (too small) and basketball.  Finally, when I was sixteen, after hitting a golf ball through the neighbor’s window, my dad started taking me out to the driving range and started sharing his real passion with me:  Golf.

My dad and I played some serious golf together.  He creamed me too, up until maybe eight years ago.  We would talk about the game, watch some on TV.  Talk about the swing and how I finally learned to bomb it (after some serious work with a pro).  My fondest memories with my dad occurred on the golf course.  Starting about six years ago, I took off every Friday afternoon during the summer to pick him up and play a round.  Eventually he degraded to a point where he didn’t have the energy for the last few holes so he’d watch me finish up.  Then we were down to nine holes.  The last time I took him golfing he teed up a ball, turned around and hit it right at me.  I only played four more rounds after that day.  Each one broke my heart just a little more.  I haven’t touched my clubs since.  Now that he’s gone though, I’m feeling a little inspired to carry on, and pass on, the legacy.

Beyond the sports, my father was a hard-working fellow.  He was so successful, his story can be summarized in just a few short sentences.  We moved to Michigan in 1975 so he could help my grandfather run the family business, my dad was just 32 years old.  I think he was on the job maybe two weeks when my grandfather (mom’s side, he owned the company) died of a massive heart attack.  My pops took the reigns, ran the company himself and grew it.  He did very well providing for us.  If there was a time we wanted for anything, I can’t remember it.  My dad did so well, my mother never had to go back to her nursing career which she left shortly before having me, until they divorced.

My dad was tough too (if you couldn’t get that from how he taught me to get over the fear of a hardball).  Even so, I can only remember him ever hitting one of us one time.  My brother and I were young, maybe nine and seven, and we were fighting in the basement.  He kneed me in the nuts, hard.  When I yelped, my dad came running down and asked what happened.  When I told him, he went to town on my brother’s butt.  I can still remember the cigarettes in his pockets flying everywhere.  From that moment on, whenever we reached my dad’s limit for our screwing around, all he had to do was slam his hand on whatever table he was near and we straightened up.

My dad, when I was in fifth grade, helped me put together the science project that would last a lifetime.  Before he and my mom met, he was a meteorologist in the Air Force.  In fact, his four years ended just before the escalation of Vietnam so he didn’t have to go.  Starting several months before my science project was due, my dad picked up a kid’s weather package and we hand-built wind measuring tools in his workshop in the basement.  For the wind speed measuring tool, my dad drove and I sat in the passenger seat with the window open and I hung out the door with the gauge.  I marked five mph increments starting at zero all the way up to 60 mph and with no seatbelt.  My God in Heaven!  I measured wind  speed, temp, precipitation, cloud cover and type of clouds present twice a day, for a month, dutifully recorded the information and laid everything out on a spread sheet.  The spread sheet and all of the tools were mounted on a display and submitted.  I aced it.  That little project, 33 years ago, has stuck with me to a point that I can still perform a look out the window, “rain will be here in fifteen minutes” weather report and be right every time (I was wrong once, down in Florida).

I started getting into trouble when I was 18 years-old.  My dad bailed me out every time and did his best to turn that into a lesson right up until I turned 21 – and some of those instances were big.  For one, I was facing real time.  It was after that, I ended up getting pulled over for drunk driving…  My dad showed up to bail me out and informed me that this would be the last time.  Any more trouble and I was on my own…  Monetarily and living quarters wise.  Of course I screwed up again and he let the hammer down.  I was in treatment shortly thereafter.  They took me back in after I left and I never let my parents down again.  Once my pops stopped bailing me out, I became a man out of necessity.

My dad had his fleas too.  I inherited my drunk streak directly from him.  We always knew he was loaded if he came home chewing cinnamon Dentyne.  Damn that gum.  He tried, when I was about 15, to turn quit and turn himself into Ward Clever but by that time my mom had given up.  They were divorced, if memory serves, by the time I turned 23.  In the end, that, combined with Alzheimer’s, did him in.

Being a drunk wasn’t my dad’s most glaring fault however.  His biggest fault, if it can be called a fault, was that he made being incredibly successful look, from where I sat looking in, easy.  It took a lot of years and a trainload of mistakes on my part to understand just how hard you have to work to make it, to pay all of the bills, to make the rent (now mortgage) and to be a good, honest person in the process.  I did make it though, and without the need of bailouts and hands up.  He set the example and I pulled up the boot straps until I could match his example, even surpass it in terms of being a dad.

My pops did an awesome job raising five successful kids.  He is survived by his three sons, two daughters, eight grand children and my mom.  A business owner, architect, fire fighter, fashion designer, stylist and mother, an independent beauty consultant and super-mom, a sign language translator and mother, a teacher and mother and a nurse.  We didn’t get to where we are because he gave us opportunities.  We made it because he gave us an example.

Rest in peace pops, you did a great job…and save a golf cart for me.  I’ll be along in 50 or 60 years.  Hit ’em long and straight, fairways and greens as always…and please, don’t practice too much – catching you down here was hard enough.  I can’t even imagine the back nine in Heaven (but I bet it’s beautiful).

JRL 1941 – January 21, 2014

Special thanks to my wife, who my father picked as his last contact and who has made my life good.  I couldn’t be handling this so well without her.  To my mom, who is simply amazing through this.  To my brothers who are my closest friends on the planet.  Especially to my sisters who shouldered a huge load in carrying for our pop – I am so very thankful for them.  To the people at Shepherd’s Gate in Hartland, especially Angela, Jordin and Barb for taking such good care of my dad and doing the tough work that we couldn’t.  And finally, to Hospice of Michigan who made my dad’s passing quiet and comfortable.  A truly amazing group of people and a blessing in our lives.

Finally, to all of my internet friends, especially you Sandra, for all of your support and prayers.  When I wrote my post announcing my hiatus the other day, each and every time my phone chirped with a notification that one of you had left a comment wishing us well, I felt a little better.  Thank you so much, the prayers did indeed work and we needed them.

Minor Hiatus Needed…

I’ll be taking a hiatus for the next day or several.  My father has been fighting Alzheimer’s for several years now and appears to be at the end of that battle.  I’ll update the site as I can.