Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pep Talk: "Gallop With Gusto!"

“There was a much different perception to this visit.”

That thought came crashing into cranium while visiting with a buddy on a cool and overcast Centennial State Friday morning. Another way to look at what follows in this Pep Talk might be, “throw off what hinders and entangles, cast fear aside, allow wonderment to win and run, with perseverance, the race before us.”

It was the weekly Platoon meeting. A group of knuckleheads gathered to blast away at one another in the belief that iron sharpens iron. Collectively, in a nondescript conference room in Aurora, Colorado, we challenge one another to grow stronger spiritually. Your scribe was responding to a question from a companion about a recent visit to the University of Missouri-Columbia, my alma mater.

Along with darling fiancée, we made the trek into the rolling hills of central Missouri to visit a young lady who is studying journalism at Mizzou. She’s the cherished daughter of dear friends and calls me “Uncle Mac.” It was the first trip back to campus in quite some time. Bravo to all who have turned what used to be a concrete jungle-type campus into a botanic garden. Mizzou’s looking good these days.

In an earlier life as a sportscaster, I had made many trips back to Columbia to cover battles between the Colorado Buffaloes and Missouri Tigers. However, those trips were quick and focused on the football stadium, not the campus. Each visit was bittersweet. I enjoyed duties as the “Buff Guy” for Denver’s CBS-owned television station KCNC-TV. But admittedly, each return was also a reminder of an athletic career that ended in disappointing fashion.

Covering football games inside Memorial Stadium between the Buffs and Tigers always reminded me that I was supposed to play on Faurot Field. It was impossible for my mind not to wander to “What might have been.”

But this visit was different. It was focused on campus, not sports. On visiting a dynamic and adventurous girl loved like a child of my own. With the love of my life who will soon be my bride. With a perception of self as a long-time journalist, small business owner and servant to Victory’s “A Stronger Cord” project and its mission to call men out, starting with the workout.

Only because of a different mindset did strolling the grounds of Mizzou bring a sense of wonder and excitement, not a tinge of sorrow for unfulfilled dreams and ambitions. I was sharing those thoughts with a buddy before the dudes of Platoon dug into the message of the day. Talking about it made me think of another: the woman who gave me life, Patsy Sue Perry.

Almost 80 but still as feisty as ever, she’s on the move again. The town of St. Joseph, Missouri is calling Patsy Sue home. We’ve had a lot of discussions about what this move means for the mother of four and grandma to eight: returning to a senior living facility where friends greet her like a rock star; having important resources - senior citizen’s center, medical care, churches, library, schools, bars - all within one block of home.

Also, the two residences where she grew up are within a few blocks. Lively chats about the pending move focus on it being the “Alpha and the Omega” for a news junkie who, cognitively, is still sharp as a tack. What a blessing. It’s the fourth quarter of life for Patsy Sue. Heading home to where it all began. We’ve talked a lot about “finishing strong.”

But that will require a change in perception of self for her, too. It will require a woman to somehow, someway, muster the courage to let go of the past. To be gentle and forgiving and not hold grudges, especially against herself. Yep. Forgiving self. Ever been there? Sure you have. Simple but not easy, right? How to focus on the future, not the past, with a sense of wonder, not sorrow, for what might, or should, have been?

It’s a constant theme in working with homeless men and encouraging them to become fitness-minded, dependable and productive members of families, workforces and communities. The past? WE GOTTA LET IT GO!

It’s my prayer for Patsy Sue. For you, too. We must drop that bag of dung that is the past. We have to lighten our load. It will help us run, with perseverance and success, the race before us.

Within the shadow of mom’s new high-rise home sits an impressive statue of a Pony Express rider. The late 1800’s mail service started in this town nestled against the mighty Missouri River just north of Kansas City. The dude depicted in the statue is in full gallop, pointed westward, toward California.

This week, let’s do the same. Drop the sack of regret about the past, jump on our horses and gallop with gusto toward the future with wonder, not sorrow, as our guide!

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