Sunday, October 25, 2015

Pep Talk: "A Clear Call To Caucus"

“What have you learned this week?” queried Patsy Sue, mother to your knucklehead scribe during a recent phone conversation. She was referencing my 2016 RISE UP with Mark candidacy for Colorado House District Six. The campaign-education process is like drinking from a fire hose. I learn something new everyday.

Without hesitation, I fired back: “It’s absolutely critical to get more people interested in attending caucus meetings because that’s the entry point for the process.” The feisty octogenarian followed with, “Tell me more.”

My mother heard this, thanks for reading it.

We’ve all heard the “It’s complicated” cliche often, right? It’s usually associated with relationships but it’s a good description to the exercise registered Democrats and Republicans living in Colorado endure every two years during the election process.

The caucus system is controversial. Many would like to abolish, or at least tweak it to invite everybody to participate regardless of affinity, or lack thereof, to a political party. For the record, I like that idea. For the average American, when talking politics, there’s frustration little can be done. Here’s an idea.

Let’s participate. Here’s why that’s so important.

Since I’m running for House District Six we’ll use it as the example. There are about 50 precincts within the district in east-central Denver. Each precinct has a caucus on March 1st of next year. Think of an extended-family party with everybody sitting around a large picnic table. In advance of this gathering, the two major political parties have assigned each precinct a certain number of delegates (IMPORTANT) who will move beyond caucus to attend each party’s state Assembly, a larger gathering of all the precinct’s delegates.

This is a critical point because delegates who move from caucus to Assembly ultimately decide which candidates are placed on the primary ballot. There is one other way to get on the ballot but it’s secondary and a topic for another day.

So, back to caucus and its importance. Why? Our influence is powerful at that entry point. It determines which candidates have the most delegates moving to Assembly. Please host a Meet and Greet and we can get deeper in the weeds.

Anyway, in terms of time, attending caucus will cost someone an evening. At this point, the meetings tend to be dominated by fervent political enthusiasts. They wield considerable power concerning which candidates carry the most delegates to Assembly and, thus, have the best opportunity of getting on the ballot for the June 28th, 2016 primary. Ironically, my mother’s birthday. She likes to proclaim, “I think that’s a good sign!”

That statement is debatable but this one isn’t. We must rise up and get involved in the controversial, antiquated, but absolutely critical entry point that blasts candidates forward toward election or leaves them sitting on the launch pad without the required thrust.

Mom was bored with talking caucus and shifted the conversation to news the rent is going up at her retirement community. We began to talk about caring for the elderly, an important piece to our campaign platform. They’re often vulnerable. Mom cracked, “What am I to do? They know I don’t want to move. They have me by the balls.”


Where is it time for caucus? To gather with others and discuss the political process, family dispute, work issue or neighborhood concern?

Pick any of them. Who cares, just sound a clear call to caucus!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Pep Talk: "A Cue From Kathy"

“When having trouble sleeping,” mentioned darling wife recently in pre-dawn hours when each of us was restless, “I think back to our wedding day and how much fun it was. It helps me get back to sleep.” One year of matrimony and, overall, a lucky 13 years together. The journey uniting us was anything but conventional, but it has been fun, loving and supportive.

To cherished wife, happy anniversary!

I think back to an early date at a popular Mexican restaurant. After the busy waiter plopped down menus, along with chips and salsa, your knucklehead scribe quickly learned two facts about a beautiful, smart and successful woman. Upon learning these tidbits about the Illinois native, it produced a jumble of emotions. 

The first was about food preference. Without even glancing at the menu, the brown-eyed beauty, upon the server returning to take our order, quickly pronounced, “Tacos al carbon.” Suddenly my reticular activating system was on high alert. That was the same order, in the same manner, my first former wife would offer when we frequented this trendy spot. Weird and ironic.

The second fact was discovered before the first round of margaritas was gone. It revolved around birthdays. It’s a common question in the early stages of budding relationships, right? I had shared that April 13th was the day Patsy Sue delivered me into this world. It was the photogenic brunette’s turn to share the day the late Judith Ann introduced her to the world. The response was equally weird and ironic, “May 10th.” The same birthday as my second former wife.

I must admit, as we dug deeper into the meal and the conversation, to thinking, “What the heck is going on around here?” I’m trying to move beyond two painful experiences, have begun dating an absolutely dynamite woman with a food preference and birth date absolutely in alignment with two women who gave me two incredible kids before deciding to take life in a different direction.

Life has a funny way of working out, doesn’t it? We plan like crazy, set goals and all that jazz. Often I think God’s up there laughing her or his butt off, while chuckling, “Watch this.” Regardless, our road toward one another, embracing the possibilities and falling absolutely in love has been a wondrous adventure. You always know when my wife’s around, you can hear her laugh. It’s distinctive and frequent.

You can also feel her warmth. As Victory’s wellness movement A Stronger Cord continues to grow and this simple dude from Missouri vies for public office with the RISE UP campaign for Colorado’s House District Six seat, she has always been loving and supportive. I am blessed.

That’s the point of this love letter to my wife on our first anniversary. As long as we’re drawing oxygen from this world, let’s take a cue from Kathy. Let’s be loving and supportive of others. It’s good for us, and from my experience, does wonders for the recipients. 

Try it this week!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pep Talk: "Sometimes We Get Screwed"

This past week marked the 25th anniversary to one of college football’s most infamous games, the nationally ranked Colorado Buffaloes on the road against the Missouri Tigers in the “Fifth Down” fiasco. I grew up in Missouri, attended the university for undergraduate and graduate studies, and have many friends who are devout Tiger fans. One summed up their feelings, still strong a quarter century later: “The refs screwed us.”

It’s a game your knucklehead scribe will never forget. At the time I was a sports guy for KCNC-TV, Denver, “The Home of the Buffs.” I was the sideline reporter for the Big 8 conference game Channel 4 broadcast back to the Mile High City market.

There was much confusion on the field immediately after the game. There was also lots of debris. Angry Tiger fans were throwing batteries, bottles and whatever else they could get their hands on toward the Buffaloes as they raced off the field after the 33-31 victory.  I was trying to interview those players and was getting pelted too but didn’t have a helmet as protection. It was crazy. The next evening’s “Bill McCartney” show was the station’s highest-rated ever. Many Buff fans were alarmed their coach might forfeit the game once he realized the officials’ mistake. Not a chance.

A vivid memory happened about 15 minutes after the wild and erroneous conclusion. The usual gaggle of reporters was gathered outside the Colorado locker room located deep within the bowels of the University of Missouri’s Memorial Stadium. We were waiting for McCartney to emerge after the mandatory “cooling off” period to speak with the media.

The Hall of Fame coach was anything but “cooled off” upon bursting through the locker room door and, without prompting, launching into a fiery tirade about the condition of the playing field. It was an artificial turf with sand sprinkled throughout - today tiny rubber pellets are used - designed to soften the turf. On this warm fall Missouri afternoon, the sand did nothing but make the turf very slick. The Buffaloes’ talented stable of offensive players spent the afternoon slipping and sliding. Awarded five downs on the winning drive was not the first thing on McCartney’s mind as he shouted, “That’s the worst field I’ve ever seen in college football!”

As the Colorado coach, also a University of Missouri graduate, continued to rail against field conditions, suddenly a voice from above chimed in. Not from God but from a Tiger fan exiting the stadium via catwalks within earshot of the coach. “McCartney,” the prophetic man shouted, “Remember, you’re a Christian. Don’t lie, you know you got five downs.”

The comment brought laughter and a smile to the red-faced coach’s face and soul.

Life often ain’t fair. It’s true in football and every aspect of this roller coaster we call life. Often, like Tiger fans, there’s only one productive thing that can be done to alleviate the anger and frustration birthed from unjust disappointment and defeat. We must forget it and drive on. Learn from, not become a victim of, the experience. 

Sports teaches us many lessons including, sometimes we get screwed.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pep Talk: "Where's The Box Lid?"

Those who - thanks - read the weekly peak performance Pep Talk know this aging knucklehead enjoys writing. One who inspires me is Daniel Schantz. He’s been writing for Daily Guideposts for years. I enjoy the Moberly, Missouri resident’s style. It draws me into the story in an inspiring and visually powerful way.

In a recent entry in the spirit-lifting devotion, Schantz wrote about his wife’s love of jigsaw puzzles. Here’s what he shared about a recent encounter with his bride of 50 years as she prepared to solve a puzzle: “You know, hon, life is like a jigsaw puzzle. Only you don’t have the box lid to show you what it’s supposed to look like.”

Amen to that buddy.

The grandfather who celebrated half of century of marriage with a trip to London and tours of the homes of legendary writers Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare has a playful side. He always sneaks one piece and hides it till the end before slipping the missing link into place. The college professor loves to hear his wife’s cry, “Hey, you stole a piece didn’t you!”

Life is a jigsaw puzzle. I think of a dear loved one whose world has been rocked recently. Everyone wondering, “What the heck is going on around here?” The future looks uncertain and overwhelming. Where to start sorting through the jumbled mess and find the right pieces? How to move forward from heartbreak and despair when we don’t have a box lid to show us what the future’s supposed to look like? Later in the story Schantz mentions his wife’s deliberate approach to solving jigsaw puzzles: “I’m in no hurry. A puzzle is not a speed race. It’s something to savor, to enjoy.”

Amen to that sister.

When life throws us derailing curveballs we tend to desire a quick resolution to prevail against whatever ails. It’s human nature. We want the emotional, spiritual, physical or financial pain to subside quickly. We want the box lid to show us what life’s supposed to look like, right?

Another favorite writer is William Bridges. In “The Way of Transition” Bridges writes of life’s uncertain moments and compares them to the great rivers of America’s heartland like the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri. One time while flying across the country from New York to California the respected professor and consultant noticed how the rivers meander with little pattern other than unpredictability. Much like life.

Then it dawned on Bridges: Where the rivers meander and zig zag is where rich sediment is deposited. Fertile soil is created and produces farmland responsible for growing much of America’s food supply.

Life is unpredictable. It meanders, zig zags and often seems an unsolvable puzzle. We don’t have a box lid to show us what it’s supposed to look like. But keep trying and remember, it’s not a speed race. In trying times, we need to trust fertile soil is being deposited for future growth and if persistent, we’ll discover the missing piece even if currently hidden.

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