Sunday, March 27, 2016
How many like to wear clothing that makes a statement? Ya know, sets the tone for what lies ahead? Work, sporting event or whatever? I’m big on that. For instance, in canvassing neighborhoods for the RISE UP campaign while looking for signatures to get on the ballot for Colorado’s House District 6, I frequently wear a Denver East High School pullover, or CU Buffs cold-weather jacket or something else personal and pertinent to the area of town your knucklehead scribe is wandering.
It’s a good conversation starter. Anyway, the point being most of us have moments where we put on the “uniform” to represent something bigger than ourselves. Like, all the darn Broncos’ gear you see?
Which sets the stage for an update on my Friday morning Platoon buddy battling cancer. “My wife started something on Caring Bridge,” the faithful warrior proclaimed while rising from his seat, pulling back an outer garment and revealing a t-shirt. “Every time I go in for radiation, I wear a different one. The statement on the t-shirt inspires me to persevere.”
Wow, what a great idea by his wife. Let’s have some fun. Do you have a favorite t-shirt? One that transforms your thinking from chump to champ? One that inspires you to stay courageous despite the roller coaster ride ahead? One you could offer to Doug – mail it to me and I’ll deliver - for one of his treatments? The father of six, every time - 33 total - he’s strapped in the cranium cage for a blast of potentially life-saving radiation, would know there’s plenty of folks out there rooting for a miracle.
If you’re interested, let me know. For instance, he and I have already chatted about him wearing an A Stronger Cord t-shirt for an upcoming treatment. All the knuckleheads out there want him to know thoughts and prayers are pouring his way. Also, thanks to many of you who are doing the same. “I’m still riding that wave” is what the great dude reported as we chatted.
Folks, it’s just the latest example of something we know as truth. The more we encourage one another the better off we’re gonna be, right? This is not rocket science. It’s really pretty simple, just not easy. We’ve become too isolated from one another these days. It’s challenging to encourage one another if we’re not connected.
As an incredibly precise laser attacks a cancer trying to snuff the light out of a guy who has an eternal beam of hope. He’s enthusiastically wearing different t-shirts into battle. They give him hope and confidence.
Always a good thing. The battle might be to whip addiction, cancer, bad relationships, poor attitude, incarceration, homelessness or something else. Our wellness is threatened: physically, emotionally, financially or spiritually. Maybe all four at once. Ouch.
We need hope and confidence for such trials. This week, let’s live the motto on an ol’ t-shirt. Yep, find it and live it. The weathered rag is probably worth little, but sure means a lot for the courageous and triumphant spirit it represents.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
“It’s like I’m riding a wave of prayer right now,” mentioned a beloved buddy battling cancer. The father of six was giving a journey update to fellow goofs gathered for our usual Friday morning fellowship.
It has already included surgery to remove a tumor from his neck. That left a scar running from behind the left ear, down the neck before taking a right turn and heading toward the Adam’s apple. I’ve written before about his kids joking, “It looks like Dad got in a fight with a shark.”
The fight against cancer is no joke and has entered a phase of intense radiation. The outstanding faith-based marriage counselor passed around a picture of him strapped into a Hannibal Lector-looking mask for the first blast of, we pray, cancer-killing radiation. For treatments to be effective he must remain perfectly still. A steel cage encircles his head and is bolted to a gurney-like apparatus. It ensures the noggin’ remains still and the laser can do its job. He cracks with a smile, “It’s a little bit uncomfortable.”
What’s been absolutely admirable is this man’s spirit. It comes from his faith. A belief that God has a plan. The tsunami of encouragement has certainly helped. “I received a wonderful hand-written card the other day from a guy I’ve never met,” offered this warrior. “He survived similar stuff and wanted to encourage me not to lose faith in miracles.”
The utterance of “encourage” warmed my marrow on this chilly and snowy Centennial State morning. Icy and slick roads kept attendance to a minimum. Usually there’s 10-12 dudes gathered around the large conference table. On this day, just four braved the elements to sharpen our faith. I’m damn glad to have been one of them.
Life a tad challenging right now? I would suspect the answer is yes. We all have “stuff” threatening our physical, emotional or financial health. We should never grow weary of encouraging one another to courageously confront the battles. Devoted Pep Talk readers know your scribe’s love for encouragement, defined as, “To give hope and confidence to.”
Can you imagine? What the heck would our world look like if we, empowered by encouragement, displayed more hope and confidence? Considering I’m running for political office, it’s impossible to resist: What would our country look like if we had more hope and confidence in our political system presenting candidates who truly represent the will of the people? A topic for another day.
Cancer-fighting buddy mentioned something else that still resonates. He talked of a preacher’s recent sermon about those who sniff out counterfeit money. “They only handle real money. They become experts in how it feels and smells. This way, they know what a fake looks like.”
This week, let’s not fake anything. Let’s be real and realize the importance of encouraging one another. It’s a shield of hope and confidence against painful forces blasting our world and well being. Miracles are welcome too.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Peyton Manning’s emotional words during a retirement press conference still resonate almost a week after he walked away from professional football following 18 seasons. Especially ones concerning what will be missed most about playing football at all levels: youth, high school, college and the NFL.
The certain Hall-of-Fame quarterback did not mention any particular game, play or pass when speaking of the most difficult adjustment to life after the gridiron grind: “I will miss relationships forged in the locker room, weight room, film room and training room.” Relationships. For most of us, easy to initiate but challenging to sustain. Because of life-altering situations, like ocean tides, they seem to rise and recede.
Manning was a gifted quarterback. However, the Louisiana native’s greatest skill is the spirit he brought to football and brings to life. Success, money and fame born from #18‘s ability to dissect defenses pales in comparison to an ability to relate with others in a genuine and caring way. The 39-year-old talked about a “reverence” for football. He has it for relationships too.
My younger brother Matt possesses similar skills. Your knucklehead scribe had the pleasure of being reminded of this recently during a visit to south Florida to play in a tournament with the nine-handicap golf enthusiast. The father of two, grandpa to one and his lovely wife own a winter home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My darling bride and I spent four wonderful days with them in the warm tropics playing golf and hanging out. Two brothers channeled the spirit of our late golf-loving father in winning our flight of the Coral Ridge Country Club’s annual member/guest tournament. We had a blast.
What’s it take to forge healthy and productive relationships? What is it about Manning, a sibling, his wife, my wife and others who, like magnets, seem to draw adoration and respect? It’s just one simple dude from Missouri’s opinion but it starts with their devotion to adoring and respecting others. The law of circulation rearing its beautiful head.
What’s the old adage? Treat others the way we’d like to be treated? I can only speak for myself, yet suspect it’s true of everyone referenced in this Pep Talk, but during formative years treating others with respect and dignity was emphasized and expected by parents and other mentors. All children need and deserve such wise counsel.
It’s a foundational principle to Victory’s A Stronger Cord wellness outreach movement. It does not matter where we live, color of our skin or nature of how we become involved with one another. We’re flawed and as we like to joke, “One step from stupid.” However, ASC’s a program designed to encourage all to become more fit, connected and giving. Healthier. It starts with how we treat one another.
Desire dignity and respect? Start with reverently delivering those traits to others. I know, simple, not easy. Venues differ but the strategy’s the same. Never grow weary of it because we’ll win often. In football, golf, business and life!
Sunday, March 6, 2016
It has been an absolute blast walking neighborhoods on Denver’s near east side in the quest to get on the ballot in seeking to replace term-limited Lois Court in Colorado’s House District 6.
I think it appeals to the journalist buried within your knucklehead scribe and an innate curiosity to how people think. This much I know in meeting folks on the street, at their door or being invited into their homes: not many are happy with the state of politics in our communities, local and national.
But that’s not what this Pep Talk is about. It’s a message of thanks to those who take the time to walk with me. Not only for this campaign, but also in life. Canvassing’s a great way to get some exercise, talk about the issues and meet some new friends. If you’d like to join me, let me know.
I also learn a ton from friendly residents who open their doors and from those who stroll alongside. On a recent spectacular and sunny day a dear friend did just that for two hours. He heard the “pitch” presented to those who opened their doors and listened. It’s a simple message about, at this time, trying like heck to gather the necessary 1,000 signatures from registered Democrats in the district to gain entry onto the June 28th primary ballot. We’re just asking for a chance to compete for their vote.
The man who walked with me had a successful career in business and great acumen when it comes to sales. After listening to the RISE UP with Mark message for a few hours he offered some smart advice about the presentation. I took it to heart immediately. It’s wonderful to have a coach sometimes, right? Someone you know has your back and truly desires to help? It’s comforting and inspiring.
Toward the end of our walk, my mentor also pointed out something that troubled him. Quite frankly, it was laziness on my part. I had become sloppy and would occasionally walk across a lawn to the next house. “Mark, think about it. You’re not the only one walking on their lawn. Be respectful. It will leave a good impression.”
The devoted Kiwanian was spot on. I had temporarily lost focus in the rush to reach as many people as possible. It comes down to attention to detail. Doing the little things right. The two hours we spent together was fruitful for catching up on our lives and collecting signatures. But also, at least for me, of fine-tuning the canvassing game and more important, being reminded about a critical lesson of life: Attention to detail and walking the proper path.
This week seek out a mentor, spend time together and welcome a critique of your game. It might be just what the doctor ordered to help you become superior to your former self and keep you on the path to success!