Sunday, November 27, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Whisper Greatness"

Is anybody out there trying to raise teenagers and, at the same time, trying to care for aging parents? It certainly has its challenges, right? The question becomes, how we will respond?

The journey through these often turbulent waters requires patience, love, discipline, courage, gentleness and, when you feel like tearing your hair out, or lashing out, self control. Full disclosure, I could improve in all areas. Beautiful human beings: those who created us and those we created; we ache when they ache; weep when they weep; rejoice when they rejoice.

Constant thoughts about life as a member of what I like to call the “Sandwich Generation” controlled my cranium following a workout at my sister’s home during the Thanksgiving weekend. A few days earlier she had suggested I read a letter placed beneath glass on the dresser inside the guest bedroom that was my residence. I finally had a moment, grabbed my reading glasses and discovered a wonderful reminder to what, when it comes to concern for chronically-advancing children or parents, ailed an aching heart.

It was a short letter written a few years ago by my late father to my niece - my sister’s daughter - during her senior year of high school. A standout prep athlete, she had just decided to play college basketball for Washburn University. My father, before his passing in 2007, was known for an upbeat personality and positive outlook. He had read a story in the Kansas City Star about Washburn’s women’s basketball team, nicknamed the Lady Blues. He had clipped the article and wrote a short note to a young woman finishing a successful high school career and looking forward to chasing collegiate dreams for the Topeka, Kansas university known for its excellence in women ‘s basketball. Here’s what he shared:

Dearest Had (short for Hadleigh):

Thought you might like this article on the Lady Blues. Your play last night at Fort Osage (the opponent) was something to behold and confirms all I have known was you since you started your drive to be a great basketball player. Your leadership, character and ability was so evident and you are definitely in control of your destiny. I am so proud of you and the beautiful person you have become. All the best is yet to come.

Love, Grandpa.

Suddenly tears joined sweat upon my face. A short and encouraging note reminded me of, not only, a loving father but of another person too. A wonderful friend and his recent wise words. I had spoken with this mentor about feelings of inadequacy in helping, in healthy and productive ways, a developing teenager and aging parent. His words were brief, simple and powerful: “Whisper greatness.”

That’s exactly what a grandfather, in his letter to a grandchild, had offered; that’s exactly what a friend, in his encouragement to me, had suggested; it’s what each of us could do to whomever - child, parent, friend or foe - needs an encouraging word.

Ya never know, this week, our soothing words may just inspire a soul - whisper greatness.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "Out of Love"

It was late on a Thursday evening and I’m driving back from Boulder, Colorado after an event that brings great joy to my heart: since September, each Thursday night “Coach Mac’s Feast and Fix” feeds, entertains and, we hope, inspires others. It’s a bunch of CU football fanatics who are buffs to the bone in support of head coach Jon Embree, staff, players and everybody else trying like heck to restore the fortunes of the football program.

It’s a fun night out that brings together folks around a common goal: unwavering support of the challenging restoration project ahead. The Buffs, from the late ‘1980‘s through early 2000‘s won a national title, many conference titles and recruited many great players who went on to great success in the National Football League. The Buffs during that span, under Bill McCartney, Rick Neuheisel and Gary Barnett were an elite program - not so much right now.

So each Thursday night, McCartney challenges a growing number of folks, bellies full of Pasta Jay’s great food served within the beautiful confines of Gebhardt BMW - great event space - to unite. It’s been a lot of fun hearing the funny, heartwarming and courageous stories guests - players, coaches, staff - share. The crowd also gets an inspiring leadership message and poem from McCartney. Yeah, that’s right, the tough and intense football coach? Yeah, he loves to write poetry and shares a poem, written to honor the guests, with the audience right before the event closes with the school’s fight song. Trust me, it’s worth the price of admission.

Anyway, back to the point. I was driving home from the “Feast and Fix” and had three “to go” boxes of food. I wasn’t hungry but I had grabbed three of the boxes before departing because of a great lesson I learned long ago, when covering the CU Buffs football team as a sports guy at KCNC-TV in Denver. I did that from 1988-2005 and traveled on the team plane for most of those years. You become part of the family in many ways. Well, former Buff All American Bobby Anderson, who was on the radio team back then, would always grab leftover sack lunches left on the plane once we landed back in the Mile High City after what was usually, considering the years we covered the team, victories by the Buffs.

A lot of the kids, after a grueling football game, get on the plane and sleep, listen to music, chill - lots of food is left over. Anderson used to scoop all the unopened meals and take them to a homeless shelter in the area. I always thought that was pretty cool.

So I had grabbed the food, headed back to Denver and pulled up to an area of downtown known for having hungry folks congregated. I pulled up and asked, “Anybody hungry?” A few folks immediately came to my window and, in a respectful way, took the food. Then another approached, looking famished and forlorn: “Do you have any more?”

I didn’t and felt terrible. The ten minutes that remained on the drive home changed dramatically: what had been a joyful night became quite reflective. Did I create more problems? Did they fight over the food? What about the woman who, unless the others shared, might go hungry? Doubts about whether it was the right thing crashed into my cranium.

I don’t have an answer for that, but this much I do know. In the best-selling book ever written, in Galatians, we’re encouraged to “never grow weary of doing good, for at the proper time, you’ll reap the harvest if you just don’t give up.”

It just makes sense, right? Hungry people, need some food, care for them. The gesture was meant out of love. Let’s try like heck this week to never grow weary of thoughts, words and actions meant out of love. I’m just a simple dude from Missouri, but it just seems if we dwell there, wow, against such things, there is no law!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "No Exceptions"

The music was the usual, old-time favorites, as I burrowed deeper into another day of cleaning gutters, raking leaves and winterizing the back yard. The early 70’s hit “Everybody Plays the Fool” was on the radio.

Here’s a little history. The song rose to number three on the charts in 1972. I recall that year well. My older brother was a high school senior and played for the Raytown South Cardinals who, that year, won their second Missouri state basketball title under legendary coach Bud Lathrop. I later played for the incredible coach and owe much to him. I remember the man, year and song with fondness.

According to Wikipedia, a trio, The Main Ingredient, recorded the song which was nominated for a Grammy the following year. For Cuba Gooding, Sr., Tony Silvester and Luther Williams, Jr. it was their biggest hit as a team. I’ve always loved the lyrics for their truth: we all have “played the fool” a few times in life, right? The subsequent lyrics certainly suggest that, stating - “no exceptions to the rule.”

In those “What the heck is going on here?” moments, the question becomes, “How are we going to react? Are we going to learn from the experience or become a victim of the circumstance? You know the best answer. Easier said than done, right? It’s easy to talk about turning life’s lemons into - heck with lemonade - sweet and savory margaritas but far more difficult to accomplish. We’ve been hit from the blindside and it’s a struggle to rise and fight again - do. My buddy Bill McCartney would say, “sometimes you have to lie on the battle field, bleed a little, then rise and march on.”

Amen brother.

Back to “Everybody Plays the Fool” and the lyrics, “no exception to the rule” and their importance to dealing with life’s unexpected twists and turns. Here it is. When we’ve played the fool it’s critical to repent to anyone we’ve harmed but equally important to forgive ourselves. We can’t keep dragging that hurt and disappointment around with us. It’s like a beer belly, easy to notice and not good for us.

I have always loved in the Bible what it says in Colossians. The Apostle Paul, writing while imprisoned in Rome, encourages folks in Colosse - western Turkey along the Lycus River today - to “be gentle and forgiving, never hold a grudge; remember the Lord forgave us, we must forgive others.” I have always tried like heck to live that truth, would encourage you to try the same and would like to add a bit to the “forgive others” end of the verse: “starting with ourselves.”

We can’t, or shouldn’t, beat ourselves up too long. We have to rise, dust ourselves off and move on down the road. It ain’t easy - few rewarding things in life are, right? - but try and stay focused on learning from the experience and determined to become superior to our former selves in ways honoring, nurturing and adding value to the communities we serve - home, work and elsewhere.

The song ended and for a bit, so did the yard work. A song tugged the heart strings, activated the spirit and inspired me to share what crashed into cranium. In conclusion, can I tell ya something? I hope and pray a few encouraging words about not beating ourselves up is received as intended: everybody plays the fool; there are no exceptions to the rule but hang in there, persevere, learn and grow.

Blessings to ya and good luck!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

This week's Pep Talk: "On Our Hearts"

It was one of those Centennial State early November weekend days that, at least for me proclaims, “Dang, I love living here.” A good bit of vegetation grooming in the alley was complete, along with quick chats with three alley-sharing neighbors in Denver’s delightful Congress Park neighborhood. One of the families loves the fact I’ve left up, despite little use, a basketball goal in the alley. As I think about their words: “Our kids like to shoot baskets on it” my heart warms with thanks.

It also makes me think of Bill McCartney, for a few reasons. First, he and I have a bet to settle. You see, each of us fancies ourselves as pretty good basketball players, especially at shooting. Sooner or later my buddy and I are gonna have a shooting contest. Not many folks know McCartney, known as an outstanding football coach, was a standout athlete in three sports growing up in Michigan. He was the first Michigan prep coach to ever win a state football and basketball time in same school year. The guy knows how to play, coach and win. During our frequent visits over water and mud he likes to make a “swish” sound while warning, with an ear-to-ear grin, not to mess with him on the basketball court. I’m not smart enough to heed his advice. I”m just a simple dude from Missouri. He’s gotta show me! I also ponder, it might be wise to join the neighbors’ kids and use the adjustable hoop.

And then another thought, centering around brainstorming with the only coach to lead the CU Buffs, in football, to a national championship, crashes into my cranium. Our time together has taken me to a new level of effective prayer and inspires me to share and hope you find value in it.

McCartney likes to suggest, “there is no discussion without dissension!” To that, I say, “amen brother.” Our brainstorming sessions about the Buffs to the Bone project and other topics get animated. At that time, something very cool usually happens: we will stop and say a quick prayer - clarity and courage - to truly speak what is on our heart. Honesty in the best policy, right?

I learned it - stopping for a quick prayer in times of adversity or joy - from Coach Mac. Thanks. This quick, painless and empowering act seems, at least for me, to calm the spirit and allow articulation of what’s burrowed in the heart. Then it does get tricky because we also want to make sure what’s on our hearts is good natured!

I dunno, thought you might like to try it this week. When you’re in one of those tough moments where you know honesty in the best policy, but that’s gonna take a lot of courage, stop. Say a quick prayer like, “Dear God, give me the strength to speak what is truly on my heart” and then, share your idea, thought or suggestion.

The question becomes, “What is truly on your heart?” The answer to that question is vast, wide and deep. Let’s try like heck this week to make sure answering that question lies within the playing field of honoring, nurturing and adding value to communities served wherever roaming - home, work and elsewhere.
facebook metwitter
linkd in

Hey Comeback Coach Copyright© 2009

About The Comeback Coach | Contact Us | Links | Privacy Statement