Sunday, February 22, 2015
“Your brother’s in the middle of the fire right now,” barfed from this simple dude’s cranium during a recent three-way phone conversation with the dude, me and his sister. That thought ended with, “The question becomes, is he going to be refined or incinerated?”
Divorce. It sucks.
Been there and done that twice. Painful in so many ways. The above-mentioned buddy is in the middle of an inferno raging through his emotional, spiritual and financial house and almost 30-year marriage. This friend is getting singed. The damage is widespread. Wallet, pride and self esteem? Cleanup crews sifting through the ashes find only fragments of their existence.
Life throws us some curveballs doesn’t it? Those, “What the heck is going on around here?” kinda moments that try and pierce our resolve. It’s one of the core foundational pillars to Victory’s “A Stronger Cord” project.
We all have our stories. Nobody’s life, well, maybe a few, has gone exactly the way we planned. Stuff happens. Like this buddy’s challenge, when the stuff hits the fan we need to realize we’re not alone. Everybody reading this probably knows of someone going through a similar situation. Life seems so damn unfair and it’s real easy to, taking a boxing jab, throw in the white towel of surrender.
What if we could somehow encourage these folks to rally around each other? We’d be along for the ride too? We all have our stuff, all need encouragement and benefit from exercise. So, let’s take in an ASC workout? Work out. Hang out. Help out. Fitness. Relationships. Communities. We get some exercise, meet some good folks and then, united, help out in the community. At the very least, we’ll get in better shape. I’ll quit begging and get back to the point.
Life often throws each of us in the fire. Job are lost. Marriages unravel. Illness arrives. The calamities call from every corner of life. We know that. The big question always becomes, “How will we react?” We will become a student of experience or victim or circumstance?
To repeat what blurted from my mouth to buddy and sister on the phone, “Will we be refined or incinerated?” The answer to that lies squarely within those in the fire. We’ve all been there.
Don’t try it alone! It’s too hard. There are plenty of folks out there in the fire too. It’s widespread, especially in America today. We’ve become a nation too isolated, unfit and stressed. We’re everywhere. From missions to mansions to Main streets. Brown. Black. White.
Folks, I don’t know if anybody’s noticing, but America’s in the fire. We have much room for improvement in many critical areas concerning families, jobs and communities. Whether we’re talking societal issues, humans, a youth soccer team, small business, non profit agency or whatever, in all likelihood, none will be spared fire’s potentially damaging flame.
What will investigators find at the scene? We’re the remnant. The story line is, refined or incinerated?
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Since this aging jock from Missouri can remember, inside of thy soul has always been a fascination with words and their meaning. In reflection, it seems that love affair was manifested early. As a youth, Scrabble games in Baldwin, Kansas at Aunt Ruth and Grandpa Perry’s were always a blast. Anybody else dig Scrabble? Love that game!
Ruth Perry is still with us. The former school teacher is going strong north of a century. Can’t see or hear real well but her mind is razor sharp. Admirable.
Anyway, back to the story. I’ve always loved words. Perhaps, the reason for pursuing a career in journalism, writing books, blogs, speaking and all that jazz? I still cherish opening a tattered Oxford American Dictionary and finding the meaning behind a word considered for sharing.
Which, finally, brings me to the point of all this. It’s been interesting to see the reaction to Victory’s “A Stronger Cord” project. It’s about bringing folks together and realizing that, “Hey, we all have our stories of good, bad and ugly. We’re all just a bunch of knuckleheads who believe that by coming together to warm up, work out and hang out, we can sweat, bond and grow. Body, mind and spirit. Exercise. The great stress reducer, connector and equalizer.
Each workout ends with the gathered, in unison, shouting “Knuckleheads!” There are some who are offended. Don’t like that name. For good reason. If you open up a dictionary, the definition makes you pause: “A stupid person.”
Well, this movement of ASC folks realize there are too many isolated, unfit and stressed folks - ourselves among them - in this country. Zip codes don’t matter. We live in missions, mansions and everything in between. The modern-day Knuckleheads are trying to change that grim reality. We sweat, bond and grow.
The men and women participating in ASC workouts have a different definition of the word. We are “fitness-minded, dependable and productive folks who are one step from stupid, heed Solomon’s wise words, unite with others and seek a stronger cord to families, jobs (schools) and communities. That’s an ASC Knucklehead.
This might be way to obvious coming from a Missourian, but what we call ourselves matters little when compared to who were are. Actions speak louder than words, right?
Just my opinion, but it seems this country has lost its sense of humor. We get offended easily. Whether we live in a mission, mansion and somewhere else. It seems, we’ve become a tad thin-skinned. Don’t get me wrong, I’m talking about good-natured humor here, not hurtful and degrading words.
But for folks to get bent out of shape because a group of people are focusing on becoming more fitness-minded, dependable and productive with a passion for developing a stronger cord to families, jobs and communities? And they joke around and call themselves, “Knuckleheads?”
Really? Let’s don’t go there this week. Let’s make sure actions define us and determine how we define others.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
Since leaping off the high dive and proclaiming that A Stronger Cord is a movement to get America moving in a better direction, much time has been spent in community gatherings. Usually these moments are manifested as community activism on high alert because of conflict.
At least in Denver, the latest? The much publicized shooting of a 17-year-old teenage girl. She and several friends had been partying from Sunday evening into the early-morning hours Monday, stole a car before being caught by the cops in a northeast Denver alley around sunrise. What happened next is in dispute. It resulted in an officer, allegedly in fear of being crushed between the car and a brick wall, firing several shots and killing the young woman who was driving.
It’s a flaky-snowfall Saturday afternoon, and concerned humans of all colors were gathered in a church. We were discussing the bad and ugly of the situation. It was productive. It will be interesting to see if any action comes from it. I sure hope so. Honestly, ASC would love to be involved as a mediator. Conflict resolution? How about this for a twist? Challenge the key stakeholders with, “Before we even THINK about discussing this, let’s jump into some workout clothes and get a sweat on.”
We know the research. Exercise is a great stress reducer. We’ve also discovered, quite by accident, that it’s a great equalizer. I love sharing videos of ASC workouts. Viewers are watching a bunch of folks executing group calisthenics and working up a lather. I query, “Pick out the folks who live in missions, mansions or somewhere in between?” Darn tough to do.
Anyway, back to the point. I’m sitting there listening to one impassioned person after another speak about important social issues that boil down to relationships and responsibilities. Many speakers had wonderful points about what police could do better: Same for lawmakers, the criminal justice system, parents and kids, too. In this case, it seems there’s plenty of room for improvement across the board.
But what hit this simple dude from Missouri up side the noggin with such force that I’m still trying to recover is this tragedy: The Colorado State Legislature allocates four times as much money to incarceration as it does to education.
A Stronger Cord shouts to the rooftops to anybody who will listen, “We have too many isolated, unfit and stressed dudes.” Everywhere. Missions, mansions and every place in between. After hearing that startling funding imbalance between educating our kids and correcting our offenders, is there little wonder we’re in this pickle?
We need new ideas. It starts with coming together and hanging out. ASC’s Knuckleheads would suggest, “It starts with the workout.”
Like everything in life, there’s no guarantees. This much is hard to dispute. In a country with an obesity problem, at least we’ll get in better shape. Who knows, we also might get lucky and build bridges between chasms that divide us.
Worth a try isn’t it?
Sunday, February 1, 2015
Super Bowls. We’re now one shy of half a hundred.
The first is still vividly fresh. It involved the beloved Chiefs of hometown Kansas City in 1967. As an eight-year-old boy, I cried after Green Bay handily beat my heroes. Three years later the Chiefs returned and beat the Minnesota Vikings. I cried again. Happy tears.
As a sportscaster for KCNC-TV in Denver, this knucklehead covered three Super Bowls. The Broncos against San Francisco, Green Bay and Atlanta respectively. The year against the Bret Favre-led Packers? I spent a week in Green Bay before the game. Northeastern Wisconsin in mid January? Cold, dark and boozy. The folks of Green Bay can drink. As a journalist it’s important to immerse in the story. Hey, just doing my job.
What stands out from Super Bowl memories as an impressionable youngster, embedded sportscaster or casual observer is a lesson learned in New Orleans. Super Bowl XXIV. Heavily-favored San Francisco against Denver. Back then, KCNC-TV was “Home of the Broncos.”
Our station hosted Broncos head coach Dan Reeves’ television show. We’re preparing for a live “Super Bowl Edition.”. It was the day of the show, I had taken a break from duties and was devouring delicious red beans and rice at a popular Bourbon Street restaurant. When what to wandering eyes would appear, sitting nearby? The legendary Mike Ditka, a good friend of Reeves.
For good reason ( the Joe Montana-led 49ers were powerful) Reeves had been tighter than a banjo string. An idea appeared: “Reeves is uptight, Ditka’s a good buddy, invite the personable Chicago icon onto the show to help loosen Reeves up a bit.” Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? I sprang from my seat, marched over to Ditka’s table, introduced myself and offered, “Hey, wanna come on Dan’s show tonight?”
I had not checked with Reeves, our show producer or anybody else. Intuition, like a magnet, had pulled me to Ditka’s table. After a brief look of “Who in the heck is this guy?” the current ESPN commentator responded. “Sure.”
The story gets better. Later that evening, I’m waiting for Ditka to emerge from his hotel elevator. Surprise. He walks out with fellow former Chicago Bear Dick Butkus, at the time the star of those funny Miller Light commercials. The Hall of Fame linebacker was carrying a case of the beer. Two for the price of one!
It was a fabulous show. The two knuckleheads loosened up Reeves on the eve of a monumental shellacking. It has remained a powerful lesson to an important fact: Sometimes in life, you just gotta toss fear aside and allow wonderment to win.
A hunch during lunch produced a great coup. One of the best of a long and memorable sportscasting career. Here’s the question. Where, as Emerson proclaimed, is that “Iron string within” vibrating for you? Got a hunch? Act on it.
Who knows, it might spawn a personal victory more joyful than winning the Super Bowl!