Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pep Talk: "Folks Who Wander"

After a fun but long day of the usual Saturday A Stronger Cord  “work out, hang out and help out” and then teaming with wonderful partner Bungee Bootcamp promoting the wellness movement at the NE Denver Walkfest, this tired knucklehead was relaxing at home. It’s about four o’clock on an absolutely gorgeous and warm Centennial State day; college football’s on television with Texas Tech hosting third-ranked TCU the best. Your aging jock of a scribe is dressed in pajamas. Relaxing.

Somebody bangs on the door. It’s my neighbor and pal. A former preacher. We have some interesting conversations. “What the hell are you doing in your pajamas on a Saturday afternoon?” is the first question from his mouth. This traveling man doesn’t even say hi. Before I can answer he asks another question. “Are you okay?”

LMAO, that’s a loaded question.

Anyway, I end up following him next door to his place. His lovely bride joins the conversation. Mentions nothing about the pajamas. We cover information about their travel plans, current events and the conversation ultimately gets around to them asking about family.

That zoomed the ol’ cranium back to a conversation with my mother from the day before. The feisty octogenarian and her middle of three sons have a routine. I call her every Friday morning while driving to meet a bunch of fellow looney tunes who challenge each other to grow in our faith. On the way to and from that cherished meeting, mother and son talk. This particular conversation was discussing a route I was taking to get to the gathering. It was a new route that required using three Denver-area interstate highways during Friday morning rush hour. Traffic’s a bit lighter on Friday, but it’s an adventure traversing a trio of clogged highways symbolic of Denver’s growing traffic woes. 

It had gone fairly smoothly. I joked with mom, “Maybe I won’t have to find a different path.” But often in life, we do.

I had experienced that truth a few days before, upon the discovery of a new route from Denver’s Park Hill neighborhood to home in a central part of the Mile High City. Each weekday morning, ASC is active in this northeast area of the city. But it’s in the middle of morning rush. Sitting in traffic sucks, but a little wandering had revealed a fairly quick cruise through some beautiful and leafy neighborhoods that led me back home just fine and not grumpy.

It also got me thinking about the importance of having the guts to sometimes take a different path. This example was about traffic, but it’s really true about life. Some times we just have to take that leap of faith and try a new route.

We have to wander. I saw a bumper sticker the other day: “Not everybody who wanders is lost.” Amen to that. Some folks who wander are looking for a different and better path. 

Let’s journey there this week at home, work or wherever we roam!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Pep Talk: "Stimulate Thy Organ"

I’m walking through Target on opening day Sunday of the NFL season. It’s an hour before games commence. I’m wearing, with pride, a Raytown South Cardinal golf shirt. It reminds your knucklehead scribe to play like a champion. Then something happened that stimulated the heck out of thy organ. Easy folks, I’m talking about this simple dude from Missouri’s brain.

Yep. Just looked it up to confirm and discovered from an online search: The brain is an organ as it controls the functions of the body. It is sometimes referred to as a muscle of thinking as the brain actually tells your muscles what to do. The brain is the most important organ in the body because it controls all bodily functions as well as the other organs.”


So, let’s make sure we’re using it in healthy and productive ways, K? I won’t promote, too much, Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement, BUT working out, hanging out and helping out in ways promoting better fitness, relationships and communities would not be a bad way to use that brain. Just sayin’.

Anyway, while walking out of Target before settling down to watch Green Bay at Chicago, highlights from other Week 1 games and before hunkering down for Baltimore at Broncos, your humble correspondence’s brain is pumped realizing how much I love to talk and visit with folks of diverse backgrounds. It really gets thy aging cranium fired up.

As a nation there’s room for improvement when it comes to gathering with others.  Regardless of color, address or moniker, it’s time to rise up and engage in healthy, spirited and constructive dialogue on how we can achieve goals and overcome challenges at home, work and elsewhere. America, we’ve got a few.

Obviously ASC is jazzed about being fit of mind, body and spirit and for the Knuckleheads it does start with the workout. Science has told us repeatedly, exercise is good for the mind, which controls functions of the body. Ground Zero. What are we gonna do this week to preserve or, possibly, improve the health of grey matter lying within our noggins? 

Here’s an idea to ponder or toss into the trash as another “dumb idea” from an aging dreamer: Be real intentional about reaching out to people this week who stimulate the most important organ in your body. Talk with folks who challenge you to grow intellectually beyond present borders. To learn something new.

I think immediately of buddy Carl Medearis. Visiting with him always involves taking a trip beyond perceived mental borders. The Nebraska native - Buffs’ fans, don’t hold it against him - travels the world and speaks wonderfully about a Jewish carpenter with this prevailing thread: “Jesus didn’t ask anybody to start a religion. He asked folks to follow him.” I really like that spirit, fits me well.

Anyway, whenever I get a chance to visit with Medearis, thy most important organ is stimulated in new thought. We need more today in the good ol’ USA.

A stimulated brain, in honorable fashion, healthy for it, us and everybody.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pep Talk: "Rise Up!"

Incredibly darling wife and your knucklehead scribe were recently driving to the mountains for the Labor Day weekend. Vail is our spot. We love it there. Since the radio reception is bad on the drive toward our little slice of heaven on Earth, the business executive dug around the car and found some Bruce Springsteen music. Specifically, an album produced in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. My boss popped it into the car’s cd player.

One of the songs is called, “My City in Ruins.” First written and performed in 2000 to inspire a New Jersey town to comeback from adversity, the Garden State native, in his amazing and poetic way, exhorts others to “Come on, Rise up!” It’s powerful.

The song took on greater meaning on the infamous day 14 years ago that forever altered our country. The 65-year-old changed a few lyrics and continued to encourage America to rise up in the wake of the heinous attack on our nation’s values and citizens. As we slogged through holiday mountain traffic, I heard the song many times. It oozed into thy marrow.

With son attending college, and now working in Manhattan, and just loving NYC’s energy, we visit often. Any trip includes a pilgrimage to Ground Zero. From right after the horrible day, to the slow rebuild of infrastructure and soul, I have always been drawn to the site. The water-dominated memorials seem to represent a nation weeping and mourning. Juxtaposed against the now, soaring to the sky, Freedom Tower. Springsteen in adapting the song challenged America to rise up. A tower that soars almost 1,800 feet above lower Manhattan, at least symbolically, answers that call.

Nearly 3,000 folks lost their lives. Many more were greatly impacted from that terrible moment. It’s hard to fathom how difficult it must be to “rise up” from a heart-breaking experience defying logic and understanding.

But it’s what we must do when facing life’s darkness. Are we gonna rise up or shrivel away? I think of America’s challenges. There are many including the constant vigil necessary to keep future lunatics from unleashing carnage. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement is heavily involved in encouraging Americans to rise up from addiction, isolation and detention. As a nation we need more effective ways to help the downtrodden. In particular, we have too many men in America who are disconnected. This truth isn’t predicated on whether we’re black, white or brown or living in missions, mansions or on Main streets. With sincere respect for the 911 victims and their families, the physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually absent man has inflicted more damage than hijacked airplanes.

The fallout is vast and destructive, especially for children. America’s men must lessen the addiction, isolation and detention problem. We need a more fitness-minded, dependable and productive spirit from dudes who seek a stronger cord to families, purpose and communities. 

Men, we gotta heed Springsteen’s words and “Rise Up!”

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pep Talk: "Weaving Magic"

The passion for Colorado Buffaloes’ football runs a bit deeper these days. There are two reasons throwing fuel on an already strong blaze after being the “Buffs Guy” for so long: A man deeply respected has joined Buff nation, and precious-princess of a daughter at the last minute de-committed to Oregon and signed with CU. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Separate and unrelated moments joined forces recently and became a wonderful reminder of the power of encouragement.

Your knucklehead scribe found Jim Leavitt much like the Buffs new defensive coordinator was when we first met almost 40 years ago. “Come on guys, it’s time to roll. Let’s have a great day!” the former San Francisco 49ers’ linebackers coach exhorted as CU players burst through the gate to the Buffs’ practice fields. The 58-year-old is an upbeat guy.

The same dude who helped a physically and emotionally wounded athlete back in 1976. Leavitt was getting ready for his junior year at Mizzou, was a standout strong safety and darn good baseball player for the Tigers. As this feeble mind recalls, the Florida native played mainly as a designated hitter. Anyway, while Leavitt was making contributions to the success of Tiger football and baseball, yours truly was wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?”

I met Leavitt as a freshman at Mizzou. I was supposed to play football and baseball, too. But accidental head and shoulder injuries just days after signing a letter of intent to play at Mizzou derailed those plans. When reporting for fall practice in 1976, a confused 18-year-old spent more time with doctors than coaches and teammates.  

However, when around the team, Leavitt and I spent a lot of time together in defensive back meetings. The junior was a leader then, and still is now.  As wife, daughter and yours truly watched Leavitt - he was jumping rope - encourage players running onto the practice field, athletic college freshman daughter, standing on my good side, mutters, “Wow, that dude is intense.” Yep.

Almost four decades ago a promising athlete from Raytown, Missouri had big sports dreams. They got sidetracked. Sports was my ticket. This southpaw was not feeling good about life and felt like an outcast. Leavitt made me feel part of the team. It didn’t hurt that girlfriends at the time were in the same sorority and we had the baseball connection. When McIntosh was not feeling real good about himself a concerned buddy was there to encourage. He gave me hope and confidence. Lo and behold, there he was, so many years later still at it, cheering on others. It’s in his DNA.

Who you gonna encourage this week? There are many options. Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness movement can connect you with folks who could use hope and confidence for their comeback from addiction, neglect or detention.

If clues are needed on how to encourage, let me know. We can visit a CU practice and watch Leavitt weave his magic.

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