Sunday, June 26, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Perseverance, Forgiving and Living"

Like many of you, I enjoy traveling. It’s a lot of fun visiting loved ones, exploring new places and, at least for me, slowing down enough to read. I love to read while traveling. Recently travel took me to Chicago, for another celebration of darling girlfriend’s 50th birthday - it’s a year-long deal folks. Several of Kathy’s girlfriend’s also made the journey to the Windy City, her hometown. One of her “sisters from another mother” and your correspondent - the designated porter - were browsing for books at Denver International Airport before departure. “Mac, you should read this one” offered the beautiful wife and mother. Boy, was she right.

The Texas native suggested I read Unbroken. It’s about a guy, Louis Zamperini, written incredibly well by Laura Hillebrand. I will not spoil the story for you but trust me, it’s a riveting tail of perseverance, forgiving and living.

Devoted readers of these weekly musings know I like to write and speak often about the importance, despite life’s unexpected twists and turns, of trying to turn life’s lemons - heck with lemonade - into sweet and savory margaritas. Life rarely goes as planned, right? We’re stuck in situations that leave us wondering, “What the heck is going on around here? Why me?”

Zamperini, a California native now 94-years-old, could certainly have asked that question many times during a harrowing adventure in the Pacific theatre during World War II. Pick up the book, you won’t regret it. The former Olympic track athlete survived his ordeal, persevered, and then ultimately, was able to forgive his tormentors and truly begin living, again. Reports of Zamperini’s death, like Mark Twain’s, were greatly exaggerated.

I think quite often in life when we’re in challenging times - job loss, illness, relationship breakdown or others - we become despondent, right? We also want to blame others and seek revenge against our tormentors, real or perceived. I have not spoken directly to Zamperini about this - I do hope to interview him soon - but I would suspect his advice, in terms of seeking revenge or holding a grudge would be, “Don’t go there.”

Colossians 3:13 states: “Be gentle and forgiving, never hold a grudge, remember the Lord forgave us, we must forgive others.” From the time 30 years ago when boredom and a desire for direction led me to read those wise words, that passage has always stuck with me as valuable. Forgiveness. It ultimately set Zamperini free, it has done the same for me through injuries, divorces and job losses and might work for you too.

Thanks Kelly. While writing, in the early morning, on Poor Man’s Porch, I recalled her recommendation, “Mac, buy this book” leading me to Unbroken and Louie Zamperini’s life story. It’s a powerful example to - whatever may ail us right now - persevere, forgive and live. A current best-selling book, history’s best seller and this Pep Talk are reminders of that truth. Good luck this week living it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Be a Good Man"

Father’s Day 2011. I have sired two wonderful children allowing membership into the fatherhood fraternity. The oldest, son Kyle, is 21 and lives and works full-time in Los Angeles. We were on the phone recently talking about life and family. He asked about his youngest sister Rachel, 14-years-old and devoted to volleyball, and other family members.

Then the conversation switched to two men, one middle-aged, the other young, and the importance of, while having fun, trying like heck to make healthy and productive decisions about life - home, work and elsewhere. The conversation centered on a young man’s social life. Many of us - at least I do - know from personal experience it involves many late nights and an occasional overindulgence of drinking and other activities that have us, often the next day, wondering: “What the heck was I thinking?”

Father and son were chuckling about a Facebook profile picture Kyle had posted, briefly, showing him, after an especially productive day at work, celebrating with cigar and a drink. I asked him, “What are you drinking?” His response, “Scotch”, made me think of his grandpa, my father, Marvin Walter McIntosh, Jr.

My old man loved Scotch too. I have never taken a liking to it preferring beer, wine and margaritas. We hear often that some traits “skip a generation” within families, right? Well, apparently a fondness for Scotch permeates the genes of my son like it permeated the genes of my father. After my son offered testimony concerning enjoyment of an occasional Scotch, I recounted a story about his Grandpa that brought a smile to my heart and laughter to his soul.

My father used to organize, from his Kansas City, Missouri home, golf trips to Arizona each winter. Many would convene in the warmth of the desert, escaping the cold of Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado for a weekend of golf and fellowship. “Mac” as everybody called him, was always the tournament organizer and, in the end, commissioner. He would handle disputes whenever they might arise between friendly, but very competitive, participants of the “Desert Shootout.”

I told my son about Grandpa’s celebratory mood one evening after a particularly good day on the golf course. “Hacker Mac” had won a few “skins” and was festive, which meant the Scotch was flowing freely. Many were gathered in the bar area of the golf course, when lo and behold, a man who embraced life to its fullest despite its challenges - emotionally, physically and financially - leaped out onto the dance floor and started tap dancing, in golf spikes. Well, it made quite the clatter, inspired others to join in and left an imprint, certainly on the dance floor floor, but also within my soul concerning how much my father, who passed in 2007, loved life, golf and hanging with his buddies.

I hope someday my son has similar fond memories of the time we spend together. Marvin, Mark and Kyle McIntosh, three generations of McIntosh men. Each bonded by genes, two by Scotch and the one in the middle blessed to recall a great father who inspires him daily to play like a champion in the game of fatherhood.

Thanks Dad, you showed me the way and it is good. I love you, think of you daily and hear, especially when it comes to how I conduct my life, you whispering to my soul: “Be a good man.”

On this Father’s Day 2011, Dad wherever you are, I hope you don’t mind me sharing this story with others, especially fathers. I hope it encourages them like you encourage me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Sacrifice Fears"

I always look forward to Friday mornings and fellowship with some buddies. We unite with a purpose: to challenge one another, through talking about faith, to play like champions - home, work and elsewhere - in ways that honor a higher power, nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve.

On this particular morning, almost two dozen men - white, black and brown - focused on where our thoughts take us, especially in challenging and fearful times. When life’s unpleasant stuff comes a calling, where do our thoughts go? It’s a real challenge for each of us, ain’t it? Life rarely goes as planned, right? Would it be fair to suggest having a game plan for handling life’s lemons in healthy and productive ways might be smart?

We had a lively discussion about fear and how thoughts play tricks on us. There’s a great acronym for fear that really resonates with me and, I hope, with you: Forget Everything And Return. In other words, we try like heck to move forward from past hurts and disappointments in an effort to become, emotionally, spiritually and physically, superior to our former selves. But, we all can relate, the road to improvement can get a bit bumpy. Ever been there? Don’t feel bad, we’ve all visited that lousy lodge. We fall back into the old and unproductive habits that created the consternation in the first place - we forget everything and return, wondering, “Why?”

In these times, my foundation is faith, particularly the wisdom found in Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper and not harm you; to give you hope and a future.” Whether it’s been moving on from the pain of devastating injury curtailing a promising athletic career; marriages, with children, ending in divorce; jobs in the television industry terminating with disappointment, remembering, and often reciting, those wise words have helped me stay rooted in hope for the future, not pain from the past - be a student, not victim of the experience.

I know, it ain’t easy. We also know truly valuable things in life are rarely achieved without sacrifice, right? Well, how about this week we promise one another that, collectively, we’re gonna do one thing: we’re gonna sacrifice our fears. Shakespeare once suggested: “Our doubts are traitors that make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

An introspective prophet more than 2,000 years ago; an English poet and playright four centuries ago; a recent men’s fellowship group and now this Pep Talk reminder today - sacrifice fears, not dreams.

It’s a truth that transcends time, permeates the soul and fuels, if we allow it, faith.

Monday, June 6, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Dare to Dream"

Whenever blessed to present a Pep Talk to others we always discuss the importance of putting fear aside and allowing wonderment to win in trying like heck to play like a champion - home, work and elsewhere.

It’s just my belief that ability - wonderment prevailing against fear - is a critical foundational element to success in life. Our journey rarely goes as planned; we get knocked down; the path takes a detour of a mental, physical or financial aspect and we’re challenged to keep moving forward limited only by imagination, not fear, in creating productive choices to the challenges we face.

Perhaps, in short, what I’m trying to say is this: we gotta, despite life’s challenges, always dare to dream. For many years I have had a dream. With one particular buddy its been prayed about endlessly. With great joy I inform you, God answers prayers.

First, some background. Ever since beginning to speak professionally about turning life’s lemons - heck with lemonade - into sweet and savory margaritas, upon concluding the message, often someone would approach me and suggest, “Mac, you outta be a preacher!” I must admit to being inspired by the wonderful men and women who have made that suggestion but usually quickly dismissed the thought for two reasons: I can’t afford to go back to school at my age with two deserved children needing my emotional, physical and financial support and honestly, the idea of having to constantly work weekends was not appealing.

So the dream had been kept alive mainly by prayer until another buddy recently suggested, “Mac, it’s time for some faith-based sports talk in this town.” Well, that thought - thanks to many but especially LeRoy, Scotty and Beth - began a domino-type reaction leading to this: Pep Talk with Mark McIntosh: A Daily Dose of Faith, Life and Sports.”

Each weekday afternoon at 4:30PM MST, for 15 minutes on KLTT Radio,, I will be blessed to host a show encouraging listeners to play like champions in ways that honor a higher power of goodwill - for me that’s God - nurture those dependent upon us and add value to the communities we serve.

There will be interviews with remarkable athletes, coaches and other sports personalities. They will share their faith, life and sports. We hope the conversations inspire you and others. Listeners will also be encouraged to unite with others, talk about faith and then put that faith into healthy and productive action.

A non-profit organization, The FLS (Faith, Life & Sports) Foundation will be the cornerstone of this ministry. Information on how to support our mission will be announced shortly.

There you have it. God answers prayers. Dreams do come true. Don’t give up on yours because, when you least expect, they just might manifest into reality - dare to dream.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Exalt A Man"

Billy Joel is on the piano, and Ipod, as I settle in for this Pep Talk about the journey we call life. Ironically, the idea, exalt a man, crashes into my cranium on Mother’s Day. But that seems to make sense considering who appeared.

My thoughts are interrupted. 21-year-old son, aspiring television producer, informs: “Dad, hey, gonna have to bag the food idea. I’ll eat at the airport.” We agree that’s cool and then off the strapping young man went, back to work reading scripts. He had been in Denver for a quick and fun visit that included darling girlfriend’s special birthday bash and time with neighbors who are like family. Good stuff.

He seemed happy as he bounded back up the stairs. For that I am grateful. Life ain’t always that way – happy - and to reside on that side of the tracks ain’t bad. I’m just a simple dude from Missouri but it sure makes sense to me. I think most people would choose happy, right? Well, my son looked happy as he went back to his business and me to mine – you and Billy. By the way, She’s Got A Way just finished. My son. I love him dearly and dang, as a parent, can you ask for anything more in life than realizing, in healthy and productive ways, your kids are happy? Wow, sign me up for a lifetime membership.

Timothy Barton deserves a lot of credit for the young man my son is becoming. My brother from another mother is my first former wife’s third husband. For those scoring at home, I am the leadoff hitter. When Kyle headed west from Denver to California, my “love at first sight” buddy stepped up big time. I felt like I had a brother taking a lead role in teaching my son to be a man. He’s one of those “fox-hole” kinda guys mentor Bill McCartney and I love to talk about each week – rock solid in all areas.

All kidding aside, my son now lives on his own while chasing dreams in Los Angeles, but Timothy and I stay in touch. He was the man on the ground during my son’s successful journey through middle and high school. We talked a lot back in those days. I love him like a brother.

It’s time to shut this down. Billy is really getting after it in The Ballad of Billy the Kid and tears are strolling down my cheek. On, Mother’s Day 2011, my cranium wanders to a Malibu motor-head, bull-in-china-closet basketball dude, Timothy. Man, when the mother of my son – okay, here’s the Mother’s Day connection – ends up married to a dude who is a fox-hole kinda guy? – yeah me.

So really this becomes, thanks Jean, for finding Timothy. My son is better because of him. I am too. I have just exalted a man. Try it this week. Home, work or elsewhere, exalt someone deserved of praise. I know it will encourage them and, trust me, make your marrow warm too.
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