Finding Floyd

TEACHING AN OLD DOG

teaching an old dog

ONE OF THE MANY WONDERFUL YEARS

Who says teaching an old dog new tricks is impossible? I’m not saying it’s easy, but I think it’s possible. On advice from literary agents who passed on signing me, after dragging my feet for about a year I finally started this blog.

The next pressure was to “social network” in order to support the blog and connect with people that I couldn’t otherwise. My shoes must be getting a bit worn out from dragging them, but this time I only dragged them for about seven months.

If someone would have told me a few years back that I’d be writing publicly every week and be on Facebook, I probably would have laughed at them, however I learned a long time ago to never say never. The words spoken in haste without wisdom are bitter to swallow along with that pride.

Life has a way of taking unexpected turns along the journey. One of those twists was by chance, destiny, fate, or what I consider to be the hand of God.

Kenz was getting ready to start her sophomore year of high school lacrosse, at that time there was only a varsity team and Molly and Sarah were the coaches and had been since the inception at the school several years before. Sarah announced her retirement along with the fact that she was pregnant.

Molly stated she would coach, but only if she had help. Enter my wife… She announced, “I think you should do it.” I responded, “ARE YOU NUTS”!!! I couldn’t believe she could come up with something so absurd.

She later continued, “I don’t know, I just think you should do it for some reason.” I didn’t give it much merit. After all, this was me we were talking about… Impatient, short with people, tough on kids, known to lose my temper at the drop of a hat, busy beyond belief with work, intense and obsessive. These weren’t my words, but I couldn’t argue much with the descriptions and accuracy at the time.

After prodding from my wife and a few of the other parents I’d watched the games with that first season, I told them I’d help as a last resort, that is if they couldn’t find anyone else.

I found myself at the indoor try-outs on an early Sunday morning due to some rainouts the week before. While at the first try-out I discovered something I never knew existed inside me; anxiety…

A bunch of high school girls ranging from freshman to seniors and me about to coach a sport I’d never played… I said to myself in my mind over and over, “I don’t belong here”! “I’m too hardened and calloused from business and life to relate to these kids”! –“Not to mention they’re girls”!!! “I don’t know anything about girls”! “Diane (my wife) should have known that”!!!

I had immediate regret… I knew I’d already made a commitment and couldn’t back out on my word, even if coerced into it by some others. That was one of the first things I tried to teach the girls, keep your word, and give everything you’ve got.

As fate, destiny, chance, or God would have it Molly became pregnant with complications requiring her to be bedridden. So much for hanging around for support. I was it, I thought, “these poor girls.”

My life was never the same after that. All of those girls that year and the girls every year that followed broke my heart. God used those girls to bring out a person I never knew was inside of me.

That time spent with those girls made me a better person, my focus wasn’t just on my family or me, but every single girl and her life I had the opportunity to be part of and have an impact on. I will forever cherish the bonds created that will last a lifetime.

I’m reminded how blessed I am and how many true friends I have as a result of those years spent coaching my girls when I started connecting with people via the social network.

Now God is using my girls in helping to coach and teaching an old dog some new tricks.

Wherever we are, whether spoken or not, we will forever be, “Brother And Sisters In Arms.”

Thank you, Ladies…..

“HOO-RAH”!!!!!

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BLACKBIRD

life of a blackbird

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I sat in a parking lot this morning with about 10 minutes to spare before an appointment. I witnessed a real survivor show live, with a front row seat. A day in the life of a blackbird who was working hard for his breakfast and a grasshopper was working hard to not be it.

It almost looked like they had rules of engagement. After the blackbird would hop close and then swoop down for his prey and miss, he would wait and take a shot at another potential meal before re-engaging the first.

There was the display of life’s daily struggles set before me. I immediately thought about how similar that bird and grasshopper and they’re struggles are to ours as humans. Sometimes we’re the bird, but more often it feels like we’re the grasshopper.

We chase after not only simple food but many other delicacies that tend to elude us. We aren’t satisfied with just a seed laying on the ground, we want the caviar or another tasty non-essential.

I’m certain that come dusk this average looking blackbird will too be jostling for a choice branch in one of the biggest trees in the best bird neighborhoods in town. This is another trait we have in common, this bird and me.

How much time is spent trying to get the good spot in that tree of our life we call our home? It’s pretty obvious that many of us struggle through grief and strife in order to achieve that place in the tree with the best branch.

It’s becoming apparent that there is really only one big difference in the instinctual action of my fine feathered friend and me. In all of his failings he never loses his perspective, he stays focused and really looks like he’s enjoying life. One failure after another and he still loses no enthusiasm for his task.

Tonight when he’s fighting for position to claim his home for the night, I’m sure he’ll use that same can-do attitude in his endeavor. This little guy should be a good example of what is expected of all of life’s participants. My little buddy isn’t waiting for someone to deliver his seed or grasshoppers, he’s working for his meal and doing it with pride.

I compare this little guy’s life that is subject to the elements and is a struggle every day just for survival. In contrast, I see our society and the attitudes that are prevalent among many of us.

We want more, when we achieve a pretty good spot on the branch, we want to go higher in the tree. It’s a good thing we weren’t born with wings, how could they ever keep us satisfied? If someone else had more or bigger feathers, how long before we would set our hearts on wing extensions?

It seems this little flying creature may have a bit more wisdom grounding his instinct than a lot of us. He seems to know that the Creator knows when one of his fellow feathered friends fall to the ground.

He doesn’t seem to be at all stressed about feeding himself or his family. He acts as if he knows that the God of heaven will provide him with food, shelter, and clothing. Many of us “know” that same thing, we just don’t live it with the confidence of this blackbird.

Often we live in fear and dread of a world that is ultimately controlled by God. He either causes or allows everything that happens in our lives. There are great blessings and there are also consequences. In the end, we should know that like this blackbird, we have the promise from God of provision.

My little fine feathered friend must have had enough provision today.

I can almost hear the grasshoppers laughing at him.

He’s in for a long day…

RECYCLING

recycling

image courtesy of photobucket.com

I rarely get political, but I’m trying to clean out old unpublished posts and get more organized. I’m not an expert and if some of the readers disagree with this opinion expressed here that’s OK. We can disagree and respect others opinions. If you’re not up to a political debate today, you might want to take a break from this one today.

We generate a lot of trash around my house. So much so, that sometimes I have to stomp the garbage bags down one at a time to be able to get all the trash in the can. Often the lid to the trash can looks like a lid to a popcorn maker, The lid close to 90 degrees to the earth with trash a couple of feet above the rim of the trash can.

I have to confess I at times am a recycling can cheater. I have put things in the recycling can that I sometimes shouldn’t when overwhelmed with too much garbage. When the situation arises that I’m forced to break the recycling honor system I have to be discreet. Dare I even say sneaky because of the recycle posse living at my house. She looks suspiciously like my youngest but doesn’t act like family when dad becomes the “recycling-cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater.”

No plastic bags? Really? How are you supposed to carry all the recyclable things to the can? No styrofoam? That seems like the one thing that should be in that can! Green? Yeah, I’m green around the gills with the whole thing.

Overall, I’m good with reusing resources and saving the ones we have. I have to say this whole green movement is beginning to feel like a religion or more precisely a cult. The earth is not my mother, I already have a mom thank you very much.

In school, everyone in history class learns about ancient people who worshipped the elements, the sun, moon, stars etc. There was a time we laughed at the ignorance of the ancients who worshipped the creation instead of the Creator.

It seems we’re headed back to the Dark Ages, going back to something that obviously didn’t work and yet the secular world calls it “enlightenment.” I wonder why we never get to hear the costs associated with “going green.”?

The factories in Europe producing many of the solar panels used here in the U.S. couldn’t pass the EPA standards of our country. We go green here while polluting “mother earth” over there? Isn’t it one earth? Never mind the degrees of separation between us and China.

It’s interesting that we don’t get to hear the statistics of how much carbon dioxide was present in our atmosphere due to volcanic activity in centuries past.

It was only about twenty-five years ago when the “threat” was global cooling. OK, I’ll admit I’m somewhat of a skeptic, but understanding human nature gives me good cause. Who funds the research for global warming? The government or our taxes to be more precise. Grants are given to specific groups that will corroborate the theory of global warming, not for scientific evidence based on facts. Instead, we pay for hypothesis or theory.

You know you got a winner when you can cite warming trends or cooling trends to make your case, talk about circular reasoning!

If truth was the priority wouldn’t the government fund all research? Instead, the government wants to tax based on carbon credits? Wow! Maybe instead of punishing people for being productive, they should provide tax credits or incentives to facilitate change?

Stacking more taxes on an overloaded middle-class free market seems to be exceeding the weight limit set by the manufacturers, our forefathers.

A little God given common sense might be in order. The earth is designed by God to be a pretty resilient place. The farmers in the Old Testament days were instructed through God’s word to “rest” the land for one year every seventh year. The rain, atmosphere, and the soil itself, enriched the soil in that one year of rest.

In Deuteronomy, God called the worshipping of the sun, moon, or stars, detestable. Being good stewards with what He supplies on this earth is our responsibility, not our religion.

Am I the only one who has cheated the recycle-can-code-of-honor? Be honest…

A DIFFERENT TIME

a different time

CHEESE!! image courtesy of photobucket.com

A few nights ago I heard a song by Barry Manilow from the 70’s titled “Mandy.” It brought back some memories from my childhood and sent me just over the border into Melancholy Ville.

It didn’t last long because the next thought I had was of the movie Tommy Boy starring the late Chris Farley and David Spade. The specific scene I thought of was the one when they were in the character of Spade’s car driving across the midwest en route to making sales calls.

Farley’s character, Tommy Boy was spinning the radio dial in search of some decent music they could both agree on, but Tommy Boy stopped on a Carpenter’s song. For the younger readers, it was a brother and sister team that were considered even softer and cheesier than Barry Manilow.

Tommy Boy says something like, “Oh man, I hate this song”! trying to live up to the peer pressure thrust upon him from childhood, the “real men don’t listen to this kind of stuff” mantra. Spade agrees the songs horrible, both of them glancing nervously back and forth not wanting to admit they want to listen to it.

Tommy Boy finally says something like, “Well there’s really nothing else on”! –“I can stomach it if you can”! Spade smartly replies, “Suit Yourself”!

The movie cuts directly from that scene to the next with the both of them singing at the top of their lungs with tears in their eyes to that Carpenter’s song,

“Don’t you remember you told me you loved me babeeeh”

“Said you’d be comin’ back this way again babeeeh”

“Babeh, babeh, babeh, babeh oh babeh”

“I love you… I really do”

Complete mush… Not one self-respecting boy I ever knew admitted to liking the Carpenters or Barry Manilow. I’m not sure how the Bee Gees sold so many millions of records since no one liked or listened to them?

In truth, those songs didn’t have much appeal to young boys who were moving at light speed along with their favorite music. The appeal is nostalgic in many cases, being old enough to be able to sit back and reflect on our lives.

The funny part of Tommy Boy is the honesty portrayed that no one likes to admit. Even the things that were not considered “cool” are part of our past and therefore part of us. Time has a way of changing our perspectives doesn’t it?

Even some of the people we weren’t really friends with becomes part of a relatively small close knit group that shared a specific place and time along the way. We didn’t all have the same taste in music or believe the exact same way about many things, now in hindsight the things that were looked down on or avoided for the sake of being cool become part of what helps define a time in our life.

Since we understand our lives are special, many of those nostalgic things take on more meaning. I can’t say I’ve ever owned Barry Manilow or the Carpenter’s music, but I can now listen and be reminded of a special time.

A time when those type of songs played repeatedly on the radio.

A time when the AM radio stations were still playing music.

A time before cassettes or CD’s were the “in” thing.

A time before mp3 players and I-phones.

A time when pay phones were the only form of communication to parents at home who made sure we had a dime for a phone call.

A time when most of the music we listened to happened at home via albums or 8-tracks with other family members.

A time that in some ways though difficult were some of the best times…

When I hear a song that brings back the memories of those days long past, I cherish them.

I might even sing along to an old cheesy song.

I might sometimes even have a tear in my eye… It was a different time…

THE DREADED F

dreaded f

I sketched this about 5 years ago, a project that never got off the ground. Thanks Mr. Parker

If you’ve read my “ABOUT” section then you already know of my getting kicked out of journalism class my junior year in high school. If you had any doubt about my youthful ignorance from that year I’ll share another story that should remove any lingering doubt… The dreaded F.

Right across the hall from my journalism class was my art class. I’d taken art as an elective my freshman and sophomore years which qualified me to take commercial art my junior year.

We had an amazing teacher named Mr. Parker. The class was advanced and other advanced kids from within the school district were allowed to attend Mr. Parker’s classes and receive credits at their school.

There was an event called the World Of Wheels held at the Civic Center downtown, it was a pretty big deal in those days. The schools had a contest at the event in which a local car dealership brought new white vans to the event and the schools art classes would paint murals on the vans.

I wasn’t close to being the most talented kid participating from our class, in truth there were wildly talented kids who became even better under the tutelage of Mr. Parker, including my friend Beth who’s daughter Brooke is an avid reader of this blog! (hi Brooke!)

There was about six of us including Beth representing supposedly the best of the district since we were fortunate enough to be under the supervision of Mr. Parker. I guess we were considered the heavy favorites to walk off with 1st place.

We collaborated  in class as to what our mural would be, although not the most talented artist I must have been the pushiest. My concept was a dark cowboy pulling his two pistols as if drawing to shoot the person gazing at the mural.

The smooth canvas of a metal finish and the time limit had us struggling to finish the mural. Due to the talented classmates I was working with it was looking pretty good, the only thing we had to finish was the face. In retrospect, the most detailed part of the mural should have been started earlier.

As the clock was ticking down to zero Scott painted a cartoon face with a goofy smile and one big tooth accenting it. We were having fun and laughed to exhaustion over our failure.

Mr. Parker was humiliated and embarrassed… I don’t think any of us considered his perspective at that time. In my opinion, the problem with art class is the subjective grading system. That system cost me yet another credit… I was the only mural painting participant who Mr. Parker failed that semester.

It took me a while to get over being gotten even with. I was hurt, I didn’t share my feelings at the time, but everything else I’d done was dismissed as failing. Not a good feeling… Especially when it was my favorite class and I’d given genuine effort.

The gift God blessed me with, I used to convince my classmates to paint my mural. The responsibility that went along with that gift I shirked. Instead of showing regret for coming up short, I showed indifference to hide some insecurity. Although the face Scott painted was pretty funny, I suppose a good leader would not have allowed it.

There have been many times in my life when I used the gifts from God for my advantage then dismissed the responsibility that accompanies those gifts. God’s word says, “To whom much is given, much is required.”

If God were passing out grades on this lesson, I’d have failed more times than I care to admit.

I wonder how many more times I’m gonna have to learn this lesson?