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Fighting the Darkness

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

Only light will work.

We do not need to be philosophers, or saints, or sages to own this truth.

And we do not need to walk on water, or hot coals, or even air.

We need only shift our awareness to see from a different perspective, which allows us to make sense and see the world as it really is.

Last night I watched the riots take place in Minneapolis, after the murder of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a police officer.

His death was senseless, evil, and wrong. There is no justification for it.

As the protests increased and the looting started, I started to think about the fact that I am a white male closing in on 60 and I grew up in a world that made life easier for me because I was a white male.

While I think that there are other ways to protest than to destroy the very neighborhood you grew up in. I see that these men and women grew up in a world that made life harder simply because they are black.

It is wrong.

On all levels.

So, I cannot even try to understand or relate to what it was and is for a person of color to sojourn life in this world.  

However, riots do not fix things.

Historically, when you look back at the riots of the 1960s in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Chicago, it has only made life harder for those neighborhoods to recover.

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

The fact is, long after these riots have eased, pain and suffering will go on if we do nothing.

Wishing it to change… changes nothing.

Right or wrong, suffering is ingrained in our historical DNA. It is part of the universe we live in.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In all the years of human existence has not changed the fact that we will abuse the planet, watch our parents get old, and see the world divide itself with hatred, prejudice, and racial divide.

Disasters of all kinds will strike and, at one time or another, our bodies will fail.

The Polio crisis became the Spanish Influenza, which became the AHannah's Hope » Blog Archive » We raise our white flags…IDS epidemic, which turned into Covid-19, which will one day turn into something else.

Let me be clear, this is far from a fatalistic view of the world.

There are no white flags here.

No escape hatches or dodging earthly responsibilities.

There is only optimism for us all to move the planet to a better place.

This is a rallying cry to laugh often, love deeper, care more, and do all we can to seek joy.

Yes, the world can be a serious and dark place. But, as any poet will tell you, it is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness. Only light will work.

And we are that light. You. Me. All of us.

And should we choose, the world (with all its joy, sorrow, anThank you, Hamas - When Darkness Reveals Truth | Hanna Perlberger ...d racial prejudice) can become a teaching space that will help us all find deeper truth and awareness on our journey to become mindful, awake, and alive.

It is in this place where our lives will never be the same.

We need to change our perspective and see the world as it should be—without thought of race, gender, religion, age, or political ideologies, or the job we hold, or the amount of money we make, or in any way that aims to divide us.

Hopefully, from this viewpoint, we will embrace our struggles as a path to higher awareness, so that our suffering can become a compass which allows us to look inward, and step into a world far more profound than the one we’re living in.

And I would add, the light is what makes the world a kinder and more hopeful place to live.

And all it takes is for all of us to change our perspective.

It is impossible to fight darkness with more darkness.

Fight the darkness.

Only light will work.

Be that light.

 

I Am Not Discouraged

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

Vigilantes shot Ahmaud Arbery to death. He was a 25-year-old unarmed black man jogging through their neighborhood. Viewing Arbery through the lens of their own prejudice, they presumed that a running black man must be a criminal.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

The impact from the COVID-19 virus continues.

Millions have lost their jobs. Businesses have shuttered. Two Southern Union students test positive for COVID-19 | CBS 42Families face shortages of life’s essentials. Those with the fewest resources at the beginning of the pandemic have been the hardest hit.

We are all feeling the strain, especially since none of us can see clearly when this will end and what the new normal will be like. And yet some refuse to take even simple measures to protect their vulnerable neighbors from infection.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

I am currently unemployed.  After almost 25 years at a company I loved, the business was sold, the plant closed, and I was left without a job. In this time of pandemic, it is next to impossible to find a job that is remotely close to what I had all those years.

I still continue to look.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

My sister-in-law, Lynn is in the middle of her second round of ovarian cancer.

Another friend was diagnosed with brain cancer last week.

I have no words to describe my feelings other than cancer sucks. I hate it.

My heart is troubled. But I am not discouraged.

When I dwell on the state of things, I am sad and outraged, anxious, and appalled.

In other words, my heart is troubled.

Some of you might be tempted to share with me an especially Jesus-y sounding bit of advice.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.”

(John 14:1)

So, let me just be straight up here.

If you’re telling me—if Jesus were telling me—that having faith means that the world won’t break my heart, give me a migraine, and sometimes send me running for the airsickness bag, then I’ll never be faithful.

Now…  I don’t mean that life on this planet is only a crushing of your soul.

I am not discouraged, because… | | Dont Give Up WorldMy spirit soars at the everyday heroism of doctors, nurses, assisted-living workers, and the many other true essential workers that fill in the gap that I cannot do.

I find peace when I write

I find peace and comfort in the naive goofiness of my grandsons.

Sunrises, sunsets, and starry nights leave me breathless.

Hanging with my wife eases my soul.

I could go on and on…

And yet, greed, selfishness, violence, prejudice, oppression, poverty, unemployment, and cancer stir something deep within me.

These ways of being—and the carnage they leave in their wake—can not stand.

We must resist them. And we must persevere in our pursuit of a world in which every human being is treated with the dignity they deserve as the beloved children of God. A world where no one is expendable. No one is replaceable.

In other words, we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED! — Steemit

As it turns out, that’s what Jesus was telling his friends on the night before he died.

He wanted to make sure His recipients knew that whether they were younger or older, parents or children, men or women, all could be encouraged in the truth that God was at work among them; He was near and knowable as their Father.

Here’s my rather loose and very amplified translation of the passage I mentioned above:

Don’t give up. Hang in there. Keep loving like I’ve been teaching you. Things will get messy, and loving will leave a mark. But I’m in this with you. Sometimes it won’t seem like we’re getting anywhere, but trust me, love wins. (John 14:1)

Just Keep Walking – Shelly CalcagnoIn other words, Jesus acknowledges that walking the way of love is difficult.

We may grow weary and feel disheartened.

But we do not walk alone. Jesus walks with us. Or more accurately, He dwells within us as both guide and source of strength.

I admit. At the moment, my heart is troubled.

Maybe yours is too.

But I am not discouraged.

Let’s just keep walking.

The New Normal

Stay-home fatigue is a thing.

Without intending to do so, most of us have discovered over the past weeks that much of our former lives ran on automatic pilot.

Study shows we are on autopilot most of the time – MindfulbalanceRoutines like the workday and the school week, grocery shopping, and hitting the gym structured our days (ok… not the gym so much for me), populated our to-do lists, and focused our attention.

The what, when and where of life had a default setting.

We could function fine, well mostly fine, without reflecting on it.

In other words, things were normal.

We didn’t have to start each day strategizing how to secure toilet paper, keep the kids from melting down by noon, and stop ourselves from eating all the snack food in a single sitting.

Alone. In the closet. So, nobody catches us.

Since the coronavirus crashed onto our shores, we have lost normal.

We have lost most of the simple, habitual patterns of life.

Now we have to plaCoronavirus: Adapting to the 'new normal' amid a pandemic - BBC Newsn… strategizing and organizing everything.

Every. Stinking. Day.

It’s exhausting.

I have heard it over and over: “I’m ready for things to get back to normal.”

I have said it too.

I miss the routine. I miss my grandkids. I miss jumping in the car and run errands without feeling like it is a dangerous mission to Mars.

Coronavirus: Adapting to the 'new normal' amid a pandemic - BBC NewsI continue to stay at home as much as possible for the sake of my neighbors. I commend you for doing the same.

But if we have learned anything from the pandemic’s disruption of daily life, it’s that we have cruised through much of our lives without really thinking about it.

Sometimes normal stands in the way of a new way of living. A way that is truer to who we really are.

Don’t get me wrong. It is human to mourn the loss of normal. There is much to be grateful for in the lives that we inhabited before COVID-19 swept across the globe.

And yet, while the old normal is suspended, we have the opportunity to discern what about that old normal is not worth going back to.

Actually… we who follow Christ have a holy invitation to let that go.

Followers of Jesus are resurrection people. We’ve staked our lives on the promise that, as Paul puts it, those who are in Christ are a New Creation. (2 Corinthians 5:17) And to be a new creation means that we not only accept but look for a new normal.

Jesus does more than repair what is broken, merely putting things back the way image-assetthey used to be. The resurrection brings a New Heaven and a New Earth. The former things pass away. The old normal passes away. And God brings into being a New Normal in Christ.

Okay, I’ll admit it. The New Heaven and the New Earth are a long way off.

Infinitely and eternally far off.

But the pattern of dying and rising that draws us ever closer to it happens every day in ways both small and great.

Each individual life consists of habits. Habits of thinking, feeling, and acting.

It’s our normal.

And some of that normal—even good and beloved parts of it—must be left behind to allow something more to emerge.

An old self must die so that a truer, more loving self can emerge.

Our communities have social, cultural, economic, and political patterns. Justice and peace are the ideals of community life. And the patterns we have established provide that for some of us.  

To achieve the justice and peace we all desire, an old normal must give way to a new normal. As we tell our own history, the American Revolution sought to precisely do that. To displace tyranny with the ideal of freedom and equality for all.

The Apostle Thomas understood that Jesus was talking about a New Normal.

In comparison to his friends, he was quick to see that the new normal would emerge from the grave of the old normal. That to be a person of the resurrection meant that he would have to let go of the comforts of the old normal. (John 20:1-31)

What Thomas saw in Jesus’ hands and feet were not disfiguring scars. Instead, he saw that Jesus’ wounds had been transformed into breath-taking icons of divine love.

The agony that Jesus endured had not been left in the past. Jesus himself had been transformed.

Transformed into a truer Jesus. The Jesus that Peter, James, and John had once glimpsed on the Mount of the Transfiguration.

In other words, Thomas wanted reassurance from Jesus himself before he let go of the old normal. Reassurance that letting go is the way to the new normal.

Like you, I am really tired of staying at home.

But I want to do more than go back to normal.

I’m looking for the New Normal.

The New Normal (TV series) - Wikipedia

Recognizing My Grandfather

James Russell Lee died on Christmas Eve 1986.

I lost my Grandfather.

His heart simply gave out… it was his time. https://thelegacybuilder.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/grandpascan.jpg

I would like to say that I accepted the fact that he was gone with reverence and understanding – but I can’t. His death came as a crushing blow to me. It was sudden and I was up in Michigan when I should have been at his side.

Only a few days before he was holding my first-born son in his hands… now my son would be cheated from knowing the man that made me proud of who I was.

Nathan is now 33 and understandably has no recollection of his great grandfather.

And yet I recognize my grandfather in Nathan.

Facial recognition usually plays an important role in our day-to-day ability to identify other people. Apps now mimic our neurological abilities, making it possible for your mobile phone or your tablet to unlock itself for you when it registers that it’s really you.

So, you may assume that Nathan resembles my grandfather.Nate

But Nathan shares no facial features with his great grandfather. Those who know my son often say that he favors his father. Me.

Nevertheless, Nathan regularly brings my grandfather to mind for me.

For instance, Nathan’s quirky sense of humor, his childlike affection for babies, his unwavering kindness, and the cheerful grit that he shows brings my grandfather to life right before my eyes.

I hear echoes of my grandfather’s spirit in the way that Nathan carries himself in this world.

I do not see my grandfather’s face, but I recognize him.

If you’re a follower of Jesus, your face is, well, just your face. You may be male or female. Old or young. You may trace your heritage to Asia or Africa or Europe. But if you genuinely want to follow Jesus, you hope that other people can feel the echo of his spirit in how you carry yourself in this world.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus put it this way: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)

When we love, Jesus is making himself known through us.

To follow Jesus does involve seeking to make Jesus known to others by how we navigate this planet. But Jesus is also showing us that He dwells in those we register as strangers. Jesus urges his disciples to seek Him in the stranger. Every stranger. Even the unlikely and off-putting ones.

Let’s be honeshttps://thelegacybuilder.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/last-pic-scan0001.jpgt. Seeing Christ in the stranger—especially in the hard-to-love stranger—can be a challenge. It can be easy to judge someone or to write them off.

But Jesus urges us to do this instead: Look for a familiar face. His face. Especially in the most unlikely people.

As I see my grandfather in Nathan, my prayer is that I see Jesus in others as well.

But more importantly, may others see and recognize Jesus in me.

Drawing Circles In the Dirt – A Tribute to Dr. Larry Haag

I’ve written many times about my travels when I was a student at Liberty University.  I traveled all over America and to South America and all through the country of Brazil.  I traveled to Africa and the country of South Africa.

As I listened to church this week, I had a memory of something that had happened years ago.  It flooded my mind with such clarity and vividness that it took me by surprise.  It was if I was right back there and nothing had happened in the 35 plus Image may contain: 14 people, including Scott Davis, people smilingyears since then.

The memory was of a church service I was in while traveling with the ministry team when I was a student at Liberty.  We would come to a church and teach and sing about our responsibility to reach the world for Christ.  Now for sure, I had been in hundreds of these same type of services.  Why this specific one stood out and was flooding my memory all these years later was a surprise.

We had a church service somewhere in North Carolina.  I don’t remember the town, but what stands out about this service at this church was I was having problems with the sound system.  I was the sound man for the group.  I had everything set up correctly the night before and tested it but for some reason, I was hearing a local radio station through the speakers.  I was doing everything I could think to do, but I couldn’t stop it from happening.  

Our team leader was Dr. Larry Haag, he was teaching at Liberty after Soundboard Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty-free) 4315025 ...coming back from the mission field in Brazil and he would travel with the team each weekend.

I was so frustrated because the sound was not working properly. Dr. Haag was not shaken by such things. He smiled and finally stood up and said, “We are going to do it old school today. I have done more than my fair share of preaching without a microphone.” 

I kept trying to fix the problem until Dr. Haag looked at me and said, “David, it’s all good. Nothing is going stop the message getting out today, so relax and take the morning off and listen to what God has laid on my heart.”

I smiled and sat down at the soundboard and listened. What happened next is something that has impacted me since that day.

Dr. Haag said the following, “I‘ve always done a small thing when I go to a new place. It’s simple really, but it’s a way for me to remember what I’m here for and who I am.”

“In my mind or if possible, I draw a small circle in the dirt.”

Then I pray. “Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle.” Then I step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”

“This simple exercise does two important things for me. It reminds me that my presence anywhere is a chance for God to work in that place. And, it’s also a reminder that any place I am I will touch other lives. How I interact with them can draw them to the Lord, to his love, or turn them away. I pray that my little exercise will allow God to work in that place and in me.”

“So, let me invite you to do my little exercise. Draw a circle in the dirt and then step in it.”

Image may contain: 1 person

“You are in this place, in this time, encountering people for eternal purposes… never forget that. If a simple reminder like this helps you I invite you to join me as I draw circles in the dirt.”

Dr. Haag’s words were simple… yet so profound.

Sometimes it is the simple lessons that have the biggest impact.  I almost missed the message by being distracted by a sound system that didn’t work properly.

That Sunday was one of the few services where I got up from my seat at the soundboard and made my way down front to the alter. I had to make a few things right.

Sometimes you get so busy doing “God’s work” that you forget that it begins with you being in the right place.

When I think back to a message that I heard in 1983, I think of the message and illustration that has stuck with me all these years. When I think about it, I remember some messages that I heard way back in Sunday School than the ones I have heard as an adult.

Dr. Haag passed acircleway a few years ago and he is in heaven. I never really told him about the impact he had on my life before he passed. But this I do know… God welcomed Dr. Haag into heaven with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

May my life forever be influenced by Dr. Haag and his wonderful message… “I draw a small circle in the dirt. and I say, Lord, begin a revival in this place and begin in this circle. I then step into the circle and pray, “And Lord, begin with me.”

May it forever be true in your life as it is in mine.

 

When AM Radio was King

My best friend, Bryan Blakely was always a step ahead of me whenThe Monkees - The Monkees - Greatest Hits - Amazon.com Music it came to music. Even at the age of eight or nine, he liked his music to be harder. We called it “hard rock” and I wasn’t a fan. At that time, I still liked the sappy love/pop songs of the era. The Archie’s, “Sugar, Sugar” and “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe was about as “hard” as I liked my music.  As a matter of fact, I knew the music catalog of The Monkee’s better than that of The Beatles.

For my eighth birthday in 1969, my mom gave me a portable AM transistor radio. I was thrilled. Everyone I knew wanted one. My radio was six inches by three inches or so, ran on a 9-volt battery, came with a brown leather cFirst Gen. Regency tr1 transistor radio w original leather case great conditiOnarrying case, and most important, a white bakelite single earphone. I wish I could remember the brand. There were days when I carried my radio with me everywhere I went outside of school hours, and that earphone was in my ear from the time I got up until I left for school, and after I arrived home from school until I fell asleep at night.

So many times, when we think of our childhood memories, we think of friends, family and the events that surrounded us. It might have been playing baseball, swimming at the lake, going to Cedar Point or just hanging out with your friends in the neighborhood.

For me, many of my childhood memories were filled with sound. When I hear these “sounds” today, I am instantly taken back in my mind to the 1960s and 70s. I can remember memories and I can go back to where I was when I first heard it. I can smell the chlorine in Teagarden’s pool or the smell the freshly mowed grass of the field all my friends and I played on. These special sounds… were the sounds of Motown Music.

In those days, long before FM Stereo, the only radio station that was of importance was CKLW out of Detroit / Windsor, Ontario, Canada. “The BIG 8” as it was called When CKLW Was America and Canada's Greatest Rock & Roll Radio ...back then. It was a loud, glitzy noise-making radio. Everything was shouted — even the news. The 50,000-watt AM radio giant spewed rock and roll and hyped-news across 28 states and mid-Canada. It broadcast from across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, but it was Detroit’s station. I will never forget the tagline that the DJ’s would say, “C-K-L-W, The Motor Cit-eeeee.” The capital of the music world was not Nashville, nor was it Los Angeles. Back then, it was Detroit, Michigan.

The style… the sound… the hits.

It was Motown. It was everywhere, and it was ours.

I have clear memories of long summer nights spent listening to music. I carry that Motown sound in my musical tastes even to this day. All I do is put some music on from that era, close my eyes, and suddenly I am drawn back to the times when all of us listened to music on our dime-store AM transistor radios.

We had not yet experienced the stereo sound of FM channels. That would George "Keys" Izquierdo's Music Book 2015 - Main Menucome in the coming years, but back then, we were content to have our musical tastes defined by AM radio stations.  There were only a handful of AM stations that you could tune in to during the day and most of those stations went off the air when the sun went down. When we would tire of CKLW, we would try to get channels that you couldn’t tune in during the day and if the weather was right and the wind blew in the right direction, sometimes you could bring in other stations. If you had a transistor radio, you knew that there was a special niche in getting your favorite station to come in. Sometimes you had to hold it just at the right angle and maybe above your head to hear your favorite channel.

One summer day, Bryan and I were riding our bikes around the neighborhood when he said that we should put in our earphone and tune into the same station. That way we could listen to music as we rode around. It was brilliant! I had no idea why we had not thought of it before. So, that is what we did. We put in our earphone and soon all our buddies were doing the same thing.

All of us riding our bikes around town with the mono earphone blasting in our ear. If the music sounded tinny on the main speaker of the radio, the headphone Earphone with 6 ft. Cord Classic Radio Designearpiece was much worse, but we felt cool and we would listen to the same music as we rode around town. It was like living our own version of a music video.

One day, I guess the sheer fear of the potential “gang” violence coming from a group of adolescent bicycle riders wearing an earphone in town caught the attention of the police of our small town. The “gang” of five from our neighborhood was riding in the unfamiliar territory of Erie and Portage Streets. As far as we were concerned, it could have been as far away as Toledo to us. The corner of Erie and Portage was not a place where we would frequent. But there was a feeling of strength in numbers and all five us rode with no fear of attack from a rival “gang.”

We were just passing time, trying to escape the boredom of a hot sunny day. Our parents would have been upset at us for being so far from our block. I am not sure exactly why we were over there; it was probably because of a girl. That was usually the motivation for much of the things we would do. We were riding in circles and just hanging out on a street corner that wasn’t familiar to us.

No mischief, nor ill will towards anyone.

Then we saw the police car coming down the street towardspolicecar_1970 – Sixth Amendment Center us. All of us, for some reason, knew that they were coming to ask us what we were doing so far away from our own turf.

Back then, our small town had just a few police officers. Most kids only knew the name of the chief and one other officer. That officer was Larry St. Clair. Larry seemed to know everyone and always had the reputation of being “cool” and fair whenever he had to deal with something.

I looked at Bryan and said, “I hope it’s Larry St. Clair.”

It wasn’t.

It was the police chief, Bill Paulsen.

Now by all accounts, Bill Paulsen was a wonderful man, a good man. Someone who dedicated his entire life to protecting the small-town of Oak Harbor, Ohio. I’m sure he knew all of us by name and knew we were not going to be the cause of any oak harbor ohio | eBaytrouble. However, this was the late 1960s, and there was a certain aptitude for standing up against authority figures. So, we fought the immediate urge to flee and sat defiantly on the banana seats of our stingray bikes, waiting to hear what “the man” had to say.

He had a job to do and he pulled up next to us and said, “What’s going on boys?”

Boys!?! Did he just call us boys? While the fact remains that we were, in fact, “boys,” we were at the point that anything that came out of his mouth we would have found something wrong with it. Even though we thought ourselves to be bad and rebellious, we would never show outward disrespect.

We simply responded, “nutin” to his question.

“What brings you to this side of town?” he asked inquisitively.

Bryan responded with clarity, “Nothing… just riding our bikes.”

Chief Paulsen paused for a moment to look at us and make a mental picture of who was lined up in our “gang.”

“Well, boys, behave yourself,” he replied as he started to pull away.

He suddenly stopped his car and said that maybe riding around town with our earphone in one ear wasn’t safe, so it was a good idea to put it away while we were riding our bikes.

Bryan defiantly rolled his eyes as Chief Paulsen continued his safety lecture. The rest of us all disconnected the wire, wrapped it around the radio and stuffed it in our pockets. Bryan was the last to comply.

Chief Paulsen waited until all of us put our radios away. Bryan waited all of 10 seconds after the Chief drove away to put his back on. He was always a rebel when Pin on facebookit came to those sorts of things. We quickly followed his lead. We pulled our radios from our pockets and one-by-one, turned the AM radio on and put the earphone back in our ear. We all looked each other in the eye like we were the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. We knew that the police never bothered us on our own turf. We gave each other a head nod, never spoke a word and took off again on our bicycle journey. Our unspoken quest was to ride across town, back to the confines of the safe zone of our neighborhood without getting caught by the “fuzz” or Chief Paulsen.

In reality, Chief Paulsen wasn’t chasing us. He probably never gave us a second thought after he pulled his car away. But, fueled by our active imagination and an attempt to create some drama to kill the boredom, we now had a quest and a story we would talk about for years.

Each of us was on our own to find any way possible to get back to “home” base.

Stingray Paintings | Fine Art AmericaSuddenly, we split up and each one of us was zipping down separate alleys and sidewalks… riding our bikes through backyards and boulevards, all in the quest to get home.

Bryan was the first to arrive back at our home base in the alley between Walnut and Washington Streets. I was the second gang member to get there and we waited patiently for the others to return. It was like waiting for soldiers to return from the battlefield, hoping they would report to the command center, but knowing it did not end well for them if they didn’t show up soon.

I remember whooping and hollering as a group when everyone made it back. We defied “the man” and we weren’t just boys on bikes that could be bossed around. We leapt off our bikes and were jumping around like we just won the World Series. We patted each other on the back, gave each other hugs and looked each other in the eye with the acknowledgment that we were forever tied together by this single act Soccer team children celebrate Stock Photos - Page 1 : Masterfileof defiance.

No longer boys… but men.

We were hardcore.

We were a gang.

We were rebels… rebels without a clue.

That was how that summer progressed. We were no longer bound to the alley between Walnut and Washington Streets. We were gaining some independence and our music was changing too.

On one of the many sleepovers that summer, we were down in Bryan’s basement discussing music. We would always have music playing and we would sometimes act as if we were the artist singing. This night we were talking about the song, “Crimson and Clover” by Tommy James and The Shondells. Bryan was trying to explain to me how the song was made and all the benefits of the sound of stereo music.

As we grew older, Bryan would be the one to introduce me to stereo FM music. He was the first of my friends to have a record player that played stereo music and had an FM radio receiver attached to it. Suddenly, music was about listening to albums. Aerosmith Logo Download VectorI was introduced to bands like Aerosmith, KISS, The Edgar Winter Group, The Doobie Brothers, Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk, Bad Company and Deep Purple. In front of Bryan, I always told him I liked the music he was exposing me to, but deep down when I would turn on my transistor radio, I would always turn on CKLW and listen to Motown and the sappy pop songs on AM radio.

I am a child of a time when AM radio was king.

No offense to anyone reading this… but if you never listened to AM radio on a transistor radio you probably will not understand the significance of this period of history. It’s not your fault, you just don’t know that you were cheated out of a great time period in music history.

For me, it was always wrapped up in the music. Saturday mornings were spent watching cartoons and the afternoons were spent watching American Bandstand so you could see the latest dance moves and possibly your favorite singer or band.

It was the decade of The Beatles, Dylan, Aretha, The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones, and Zeppelin. But that’s not all it was. The 1960s also included The Monkee’s, The Kinks, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Jackson Five. While my sister was The Temptations - streaming tv show onlineenamored with Donnie Osmond and my brother was into Steppenwolf, I was all about The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson, The Supremes and Stevie Wonder just to name a few.

It was a single-oriented era—a startlingly inventive period following the initial explosion of rock‘n’roll but before the album became dominant—when entire new genres seemed to bubble up every few months. The 1960s marked a time when pop music became more than a teenage fad. Music was turning into an important art form as it sound tracked the civil rights movement, the hippie heyday, and the Vietnam War.

I’ve wondered what it must look like to the younger generations who didn’t live through the 60s. Are they awe-struck by the moon landing? Is teetering on the verge of nuclear war just the start of a good sci-fi movie? Are the assassinations of political and human right leaders just names and dates to memorize for a history exam? Were the hippies, flower power, Woodstock, the Vietnam War, women’s lib, civil rights, the space race, the Cold War, the British Invasion, TANG, miniskirts, Charles Chips, bell bottoms, lava lamps, tie dyed t-shirts, Green Stamps, Evel evel-knievel-logo-image.jpg 500×440 pixels | Logo images, Logos ...Knievel – and who could forget the Manson murders – just evidence of a random decade? I think not. The list could go on and on.

It’s inevitable that all of us would see when AM radio was king through our own personal lens. The 60’s and 70’s were like an epic blockbuster that involved music, clothes, politics, social unrest and social change. There really hasn’t been anything like it since. So many historic events happened in that period.

But that doesn’t mean that I want to go back.

History has a knack for showing the flaws of a generation that planted the seeds to produce it.

That’s what all historians do; they look back and see things that were planted and the results of which may not be seen for years. While I love to look back and remember, it’s important that we don’t forget that many of the seeds that were planted all those years ago are the reasons we now see major political, social, and cultural changes in our society. We wonder how this generation of young people can be the way they are, and truth be told it is because of the seeds that were planted in the 60’s and 70’s.

We have made the mistake of ignoring the seeds that we planted.  In many ways we don’t like the results, yet we are the ones to blame. Our children pay the price of not having the freedom we had to play outside and have the run of the town. We now dare not let our young children out of our sight for fear that they may one day have their picture on a milk carton. We thought we had it under control, yet we act as if the change itself remains unexpected, invisible, even unimaginable to most people. We should never forget how surprisingly fast these changes can happen.

Nevertheless, looking back at the seeds planted when AM radio was king is very important, because it can help us pay more attention to seeds that are growing Logopond - Logo, Brand & Identity Inspiration (AM Radio)underground right now. Of course, we can’t predict which seeds will connect with which other ones to create significant change, and certainly not when or how it will happen. But history can teach us to watch more closely and optimistically for signs of change that might be coming surprisingly soon.

The seeds of change. I can fully appreciate how malleable history is and how its perspective changes with time. I imagine 40 years of perspective on any decade we’ve lived through would be interesting.  Forty years from now, I’m confident that the Obama and Trump years will also look much different through the lens of history. I really regret that I probably won’t be around to read it.

I enjoy U.S. History more than most, but in the years that have passed, I’ve forgotten more names and dates than I remember. Our history is complicated and imperfect. There are facets of it I don’t fully understand.

It was all filtered by growing up in a small town. It was easy to find people who sneeringly complained about how trapped they felt there as a teenager. I was no different from most kids growing up there… I began making plans of escape early on, but I still got to experience the life of living in a small town when AM radio was king.

Oak Harbor held on to those days longer than most and that makes me smile even after all these years. But once the seeds of change are planted it is hard to ever go back to the way it used to be.

The history that was built for me was wrapped up in what we had when AM radio was king. It’s gone now, and we will never get it back. We have future generations that will never fully understand what it was like back in those days.

That makes me incredibly sad and I will forever miss the days when A.M. radio was king.

Steps Taken

I wish I could tell you there was a specific day when I looked at the watch, and knew the exact time when it all changed but I can’t.

I took a step.

I would go look in the mirror to make sure I was still the same. It was a waste of time because even though I see myself every day and never noticed a difference. Only old photo albums will ever tell the truth.

I took another step.

I am carrying a backpack, one that is full of yesterday’s discoveries.   I am making space for tomorrow’s unknowns. Never really worrying about today. Just feeling lost while being in the present not knowing I am here until I realize I was.

I take another step.

The future seems further away than ever
even if I’m closer now than before.
Maybe I should’ve copied someone else’s paper
back when they had us write down our dreams
instead of scribbling down anything
because I was told I could be anything.

I take another step.

Some people are happy.
Some people are sad.
Is the future all a lie?
Covered up with fake smiles and money
because we have to do something
instead of anything.

I take another step

Remember the song on the playground
about love and a baby carriage?
It’s not as funny anymore
some of the ears that heard those words
now see them with their eyes
and feel them every day with their heart.

I take another step.

I told my kids to grow up.  They don’t know what that means.
So, they dressed a certain way and used words they didn’t know the meanings to.
Until the day finally comes, when life steals their childhood for good.

I take another step.

We are told to never compare ourselves to others.
Yet everyone always feels the need to ask questions
just to see if they are winning the race.
It’s all a little game
meant to build up egos and tear down others.
All in the name of being polite.

I take another step.

None of this mattered a short time ago.
Answers were never needed for a list of questions
nor were explanations given to the unseen and unheard.
It is a different world now
and my age is the all access pass
that I can never refund.

I take another step

With all the time that passes,
I move further away from the person I was
and closer to the person I will be.
Always being the person I am
it’s the only way I’ll ever get there is
one foot in front of the other.

Steps taken.

One step at a time.

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We’re Winning This Game

How you doing?

For so many with high anxiety, depression and general fears, this is so hard.

I am no exception.Tell Us Your COVID Concerns and Clinical Tips | Psychiatric Times

There’s no end date. 

We don’t know the outcome.

We’re facing something we’ve never seen before. Businesses small and large are facing challenges they never predicted.

Can I offer a word of encouragement and maybe a charge for when we come out of this?

Some you know I coached basketball for many years.  I loved it. When I quit coaching, it became one of my life regrets, because I always wished I would have coached longer.

It never leaves you. It is in my blood. It will always be a part of me.

I learned so much through coaching.

They say basketball is a game of runs.

Basketball Hoop 2A game can sometimes just flow… everything is working.

Offense. Defense.

Your team instinctively runs the plays you have practiced all week and it all comes together in a wonderful, climatic, easy, exciting portion of the game.

Then… it hits you when are not ready for it. The opponent now gets their run of things. Suddenly your team forgets everything they have been coached. They forget the fundamentals of basketball and as a coach, you wonder why you put the effort in at all.

Mind you… this all takes place in the time span of about 6 or 7 minutes… sometimes even in a shorter period of time.

What do you do as a coach?

You call TIMEOUT!Coaching

You call timeout to stop the momentum.

You call timeout to get control.

You call timeout to take a breath.

You call timeout to regroup.

You know it’s no different than with what we are experiencing now.

The reality is that we have been on a pretty good roll. Life was cruising with a few bumps here and there. Then it happened. Our opponent just hit us with something we never saw coming. It happened so fast. In just a few moments, we got hit with a run. The gym is loud. We’re looking to one another to try to figure it out. The score is changing, and momentum just went to the other team.

Every coach and armchair quarterback at home knows what you have to do and do it fast…

You call TIMEOUT!

You call timeout to stop the momentum.

You call timeout to get control.

You call timeout to take a breath.

You call timeout to regroup.

Across the nation and world, we just reached the huddle.

KBA Basketball Coaches Clipboard Playmaker & Case - Walmart.com ...So, let me grab the clipboard and do some coaching if it’s okay…

My basketball coach friends will know what an “ATO” is. It’s known as the “after-timeout” play.

When you burn a precious timeout, especially to stop a run, a great ATO can make all the difference in the world. In a close game, an ATO could make the difference between a win or a loss.

If I was facing the nation right now, I would use this timeout to draw up an ATO that would be aggressive, strong and take back control of the game. I would look the nation in the eye in the huddle and say that “when we come out of this, WE ARE WINNING THIS GAME!” We’re going to win it because we are going to punch back with everything that got us here. We’re going to work together as a team. We’re going to rely on each other and when we get tired, we’re going to sub in another player with just as much energy.

When we come out of this… we’re winning this game.

To the small business owner facing an unknown future… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To all those that got let go from their job (including me)… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To the students that lost seasons, proms, graduations and so many other things… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To all you on the front lines in healthcare, first responders and in the supply chain… when we come out of this (because of YOUR efforts), we’re winning this game!

To the teachers using technology to reach students and keep them engaged… when we come out of this, we’re winning this game!

To this nation that is reeling from a run from the opponent, when we come out of this…we’re winning this game!

Friends, we are in a timeout. It's a scary time to be an official': Refs call foul after two ...

Be thankful for it. 

It’s tough.

Our team is tired.

We’re depleted.

In some cases, we’re even in some foul trouble.

Take a deep breath…

Because when we come out of this timeout…

WE’RE WINNING THIS GAME!!!

As Good As It Gets

I was thinking the other day about this growing old thing. 

One day, you are just a kid and the next day you, well, aren’t. 

I remember high school graduation like it was yesterday, but no, it was 41 years Image result for Graduation 1979ago. 

A mere blip on the cycle of life. 

Those days were a lot of fun, but they also contained a lot of angst. We wanted a lot of stuff that we were too young to have. We wanted to put school in the rear-view mirror and overlook the prospects of having to get a job.

We wanted to have our own money, our own place, and make our own rules. We wanted the good life and we wanted it right now.

Well, if there is anything to be said about getting old, I guess it is that I have all that now. I married my high school sweetheart. And, just for good measure, I don’t have acne either. 

What I do have, however, is an increasing resistance by my body to respond to certain commands like ‘stand up’ or ‘run’ (like that’s going to happen).  I guess you could call that getting old. 

Image result for Outliving your warrentyI prefer to think of it as outliving my warranty. 

There is no such thing as OEM parts for a body. They are all produced by aftermarket manufacturers, so we start to turn into an entity consisting of spare parts.

Time was, if I dropped something, I would simply pick it up. Today, I find myself contemplating whether I really need it anymore. 

In my youth, if I fell down, people would just laugh. Today if I fall down, they gasp… except for my grandsons… they seem to enjoy when grandpa falls down.

All a matter of perspective, I guess.

I’m happy to say that my mind seems to run pretty well. Oh, I do forget things, and find a lot of my conversations contain the phrases ‘did I tell you this before’ or ‘now what was I going to say’? 

But that’s OK because my wife will reply ‘Huh, what did you say’?

In retrospect, I’ve got to say I’m kind of enjoying this aging thing. I think senility will be a rather smooth transition for me. I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling cranky, people are not surprised. If I ask for the senior discount, I don’t get challenged. 

Image result for AS good as it getsSince I suffer from cellulitis and peripheral neuropathy, I have a handicapped sticker in my car.  Have you ever watched someone park in a handicapped space and, when they get out of the car you check them out for external signs of infirmity? 

Well, I’ve noticed when I get out of my car, people just nod.

I could probably do without that.

Anyway, it is what it is, I guess. 

This is probably going to be as good as it gets.

Learning to Say NO

I’m trying. I’m not there yet. I still say yes to almost everything.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I am not ready to become a curmudgeon.

As I have said before, I am not the guy that yells at the neighbor’s kids to get off my lawn. I don’t ever want to be that “guy.”

Image result for learning to say noHowever, seconds after I say yes to certain things I regret saying yes. It’s not that I don’t want to help people or assist when and where I can. It is more of a mindset in my head. I have never been able to really say no to things. My mind screams no and my lips say yes.

Don’t misinterpret what I am saying or meaning… I will always do for my family and what I feel is necessary. I will say yes to almost anything for my family.

In addition,  I am learning that with over 40 years working I have said yes to just about everything at the places I was employed. If it wasn’t illegal or immoral I would do anything I ever was asked.  I now see that the hours that I stayed late without pay and all of the “stuff” I did still finds me unemployed at 58.  I lost my job due to a corporate buyout and I have worked the last year closing down the business I sweat blood for. At no fault of my own… saying yes to everything related to my job still lead to my unemployment.

Image result for learning to say noSometimes I feel like a target, meaning people learn who will say yes and who will say no to things. When you deal with these people and you finally say no… all hell breaks loose. Some people who I finally had to say no to a few things have completely cut me out of their life and they went on to take advantage of others. I am no worse for them doing that.

I’m slowly learning that one of the most liberating parts of getting older is learning how beautiful and empowering it is to say no. The keyword there is learning… because I have to change my mindset to convince my lips to say no.

I haven’t said it much, or at least I don’t think I have.

I think we could use a little more “no” in the world.

And, of course, I understand how much we all love the word “yes” and the kind-hearted people who use it. It’s such a generous word—the ultimate people-pleaser.

In fact, let’s call “yes” the hero of the dictionary—a positive affirmation for what is possible. 

To say yes is to join in, take charge, and find a way to make something happen. To say yes is to move mountains, find cures, and solve problems. Yes, pushes the boundaries and takes us to places we never thought we’d go. 

You want a beautiful next chapter of life? Say yes, every chance you get. Yes, to a better job, yes to more health, improved relationships, and new adventures. Yes, to joy, challenge, laughter, peace, compassion, happiness, and love. 

Saying yes can rock your world. And I’m all for it. 

However, like all good paradoxes, yes can also destroy us or turn us into puppets Image result for Say No to yesand clones.

Yes, can make us do things we don’t want to do or more importantly it can make us do things we shouldn’t do.

Yes, may be the language of the hero, but no is the language of the walk-to-your-own-beat, live your own truth warrior.

If yes is Superman, no is Batman.

IMG_4058
Snapchat created photo… no, I do own a Batman suit. lol.

Batman is a bit darker, but still, a superhero and arguably the second most powerful word in our vocabulary is no.

I have always considered myself more of a Batman as opposed to Superman… lol.

Yes, my friends, it’s time to shake our heads and wag our fingers. It’s time to border up the windows, lock the doors, and learn how to say no. 

If it makes it easier to swallow, think about it as saying say yes to no. 

Learning to say no can lead to and finding a beautiful yes.

Your life will never be the same.

Something to Ponder:

A good no shouldn’t be defiant, unyielding, absolute, or without motivation. That’s not the knee-jerk liberation we seek. A good no should be quiet and confident, a peaceful mantra for living your authentic truth. 

Challenging Ways to Practice Saying No 

Here are a few suggestions for putting a few more life-affirming no’s into your life. I am sure that you can add a few of your own…

  • Say no to putting yourself last. You can’t give away what you don’t have, whether that’s energy, love, humor, or joy. Take care of yourself first, and the world will be better off. 
  • Say no to too much overtime, unreasonable deadlines, and impossible workloads that leave no time for joy and a deeper search for meaning. Schedule your life so that your work serves your inner and outer worlds. Make the same time and commitment for your inner journey that you do for your career or your family. 
  • Say no to excessive television, electronics, news, politics, gossip, food, drink, or anything that brings you imbalance, fatigue, and illness, no matter how harmless, pleasurable, or intoxicating it may be.
  • And while you’re at it, say no to people who try to make you feel guilty for not doing more. 
  • Say no to friends who infringe on your space, covet your time, suck your energy, and give nothing in return (you know who they are). Aim for creativity and compassion as you firmly put this into practice.
  • Say no to work you don’t want to do, places you don’t want to live, and situations that no longer serve your needs. 
  • Say no to blindly adopting the attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets of those around you. Discover new ones that challenge and inspire you to live and create differently.  
  • Say no to always being the knight in shining armor. While it’s great to be there for others, don’t get trapped into thinking it always has to be you who is the shoulder to cry on, throw the surprise party, or house-sit the neighbor’s pet. This can be hard, especially when it comes to family and friends, but if your no comes neutrally and from the place of your truth, it’s the right word. If someone resents you for it, then the favor wasn’t asked with a spirit of gratitude, which validates that it wasn’t in harmony for you to say yes in the first place.

The beauty of no is that it asks us what to leave out. “No,” asks us to recognize what doesn’t work, and in doing so, to discover what does.  

When you think about it… no is yes in disguise—a small shake of the head that becomes the line we draw in the sand—a choice and a statement of what we believe and how we want to live.

Yes or no should not define you… this should:

The truth is that life isn’t about which side you’re on, which candidate you support, Image result for Stop saying yes to everthingwhich views you hold on an issue but life is about how you treat one another.

Are you kind? Do you see others as more important than yourself? Do you yield at the light? Maybe open the door for an elderly person? Say thank you? Do you tip well? Do you help those who are struggling? Encourage those who are down? Life is not a competition to see who wins. If any of us lose we all lose.

My favorite verse is hidden at the end of 1 Corinthians. It’s verse 16:14- “Do everything in love.”

That’s it. Four words.

And they sum up a life lived well.

Don’t live in fear, live boldly, love well and see those around you.

If they don’t finish well then neither do you.

Saying No… just may be our secret weapon for a better life for you and those around you.