Sunday, November 27, 2016

Pep Talk: "Better Than Turkey Day Leftovers"

Driving and feeling a sense of accomplishment for buying the first holiday gift, your knucklehead scribe’s mood shifted dramatically during a phone conversation. “My father died suddenly last week,” offered a beautiful soul in a strong voice, “I am devastated.”
The woman is a care giver. An absolutely amazing sentry of a beloved friend who, because of memory issues, needs someone to keep an eye on him.

Anyway, this spiritual warrior just lost her father and was “back on the job” for the first time as necessary mourning continues. “My dad,” suggested the kindred spirit. “It was so touching. In his final hours he would awaken, look around and see everybody present. He would smile and proclaim, ‘I am so blessed.’” Wow. That dude is my hero.

Thanksgiving 2016. What a time in our nation’s history. These days, considering America’s tumultuous state, blessed is rarely the first word folks offer. Stressed? You bet? Blessed? Not so much.

But, we do have blessings. The fact we’re conversing suggests we’re each alive and breathing. That’s a decent start. But what else can we do to “lessen the stress and bring the bless?” This is not a marketing ploy for a community outreach movement, A Stronger Cord, but America needs to figure out ways to unite. Why not with wellness?  Healthier in mind, body and spirit? We need more folks to, like a dear friend’s dying father, proclaim, “I am blessed, not stressed.”

The other day this ol’ jock was blessed to be encouraging men from the Denver Rescue Mission’s New Life Program during an ASC Monday night. We talked about the value of wise instruction, perseverance and faith in overcoming life’s inevitable bumps in the road. We talked about unleashing suppressed gifts and talents in healthy and productive fashion. We talked about giving thanks for those gifts and talents.

Generations Church in Denver has embraced ASC’s “Work out, hang out and help out” philosophy. I enjoy attending their Sunday services. Pastor Jody Earley is a dynamo. Last weekend the East Coast-transplant implored the gathered to make sure our thankfulness is expressed, not just felt.

Perhaps that’s where we could start in building a stronger cord to another? Whether living in a mission, mansion or on Main Street, let’s focus on proclaiming what we’re thankful for, not just what we’re unhappy with? It’s well-known science that we become what we think about, right? If we decide to focus on gratefulness, not grumpiness, might things improve? How?

Here’s an idea. End the isolation. We need to rally around one another. ASC uses exercise as the hook, but use whatever, in healthy and productive fashion, works. Then, once you gather, REALLY get to know one another and then, collectively, look around and say, “Let’s go help others.”

The sudden and unexpected passing of a dear friend’s father triggered a powerful reminder to give thanks, count blessings and serve others in an effort to multiply those blessings beyond our selves.

The stress removed from our world? It’ll be better than Turkey Day leftovers!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Pep Talk: "When Facing The Unimaginable"

Sometimes a trip down memory lane can be quite conflicting.

The other day your knucklehead scribe offered a ride to an A Stronger Cord stalwart. The father of two beautiful daughters needed to get to Greeley, Colorado (about 45 minutes north of Denver) for a legal meeting.

Being an old television sportscaster, as we drove into the city’s southern limits, temptation ruled. The story of FIDO was shared. It’s an example frequently offered  in consulting work with groups or individuals challenged with letting go of the past. It’s the story of a long ago Denver Broncos’ football team. It was back in the early 90’s. Despite having future Hall-of-Famer John Elway at quarterback and other talented stars, the year before, the Dan Reeves-coached team had underachieved.

Back then the Broncos held summer camp in Greeley, home to the University of Northern Colorado. It was the first day of camp the next year. The Broncos were trying to comeback from disappointment. As a sports guy for KCNC-TV, I was covering the team and stationed outside the dining hall early on the morning of the first practice. Every player, coach and staff member, who sleepily walked into the chow hall, had on the front of their t-shirts, in bold letters, this statement: F-I-D-O. It became the focus of my report that morning. Upon inquiry, it was discovered, Coach Reeves, at a team meeting the night before had issued the t-shirts, which signified, about the previous season’s disappointment, “Forget It, Drive On!”

My buddy enjoyed the story, was delivered to his appointment and then I turned right around and drove back to Denver. The return trip sparked a reflection concerning recent experiences making the “FIDO” creed quite difficult to embrace.

Like, a wonderful workout and golfing buddy and his former wife burying their 27-year-old son after the young man’s unexpected death. The vision of a “brother from another mother” grabbing a shovel and beginning the Jewish burial tradition of, once the casket is lowered into the ground, pouring dirt on the casket. Wow. It’s something I’ll never forget. How do parents “Forget it and drive on” from such grief?

Or, how does a dear friend and spiritual warrior, wife and six kids, “Forget it and drive on” as he continues to fight cancer? It has spread throughout his body and is clearly winning right now. This stud of a man still shows up on Fridays for Bible study, speaks through a voice box and acts like nothing’s wrong? Really? It’s sure easy to talk about forgetting and driving on when the going gets tough. The major question becomes, can we LIVE IT? How?

While driving home contemplation landed on this: Faith in FIDO can be fickle. However, ultimately it is necessary. There are certainly moments of great suffering when “forgetting it and driving on” seems impossible. In grief, when facing the unimaginable,  all we can do is pray for emotional and physical healing we can’t see or even imagine.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Pep Talk: "Shock and Awe"

Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States of America? The world is shocked, protestors are in the streets and it’s a reminder of something very important.

First, to the shock. Images from a downtrodden Hillary Clinton election-night party were powerful. Democratic followers in tears and shock. In contrast, images from a raucous GOP celebration at Trump’s gathering showed followers in tears and shock too. 

Oxford American dictionary defines shock as, “A sudden effect upon a person’s mind or emotion.” America felt it when the reality television star surpassed 270 electoral votes to secure victory as our nation’s 45th president. At that moment, personally experiencing a sudden effect upon mind and emotion took my thoughts to a couple of favorite moments during the television sportscasting days for KCNC-TV (CBS4) in Denver.

The first came in Seattle, Washington in 1994. Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals. The #1 seeded Sonics were expected to steamroll a young Denver squad. The Nuggets shocked the NBA basketball world, upsetting the heavily favored Sonics. Sports fans remember Nuggets’ center Dikembe Mutombo lying on the floor, holding the basketball above his head in joyful celebration.

As a reporter covering the game, I’ll never forget being near Mutombo, capturing post-game reaction on the floor and then sprinting up the steps of the Seattle Center Coliseum to execute a live shot back to Denver. What will forever be remembered? The look on Sonics’ fans faces. Dressed head-to-toe in green and gold, they sat motionless in their seats. In absolute shock.

Later the same year, in the fall of ’94, your knucklehead scribe was in Ann Arbor, Michigan covering the CU Buffs against the Michigan Wolverines. In one of college football’s most amazing finishes, CU quarterback Kordell Stewart’s Hail Mary prayer pass was answered as the Buffs pulled off a miraculous win. Ever heard 105,000 screaming fans go deathly silent because of a sudden effect upon mind and emotion? Unforgettable.

Just personal opinion, but the shock of Trump’s thumping of Clinton speaks to Americans rejecting the political status quo. I know from attempting to run for Colorado state representative the disgust citizens have with it. Dedicated campaign manager Pam Read and I knocked on more than 5,000 doors in House District 6 and talked with many on the streets. Often was heard, “Throw ‘em all out!” when talking about the sad state of affairs. The New York native shocked the world because Americans rejected the political status quo. Let’s hope it leads each party to some serious soul searching.

But Trump’s victory is a win for the American way. This country became great behind a belief that “anything is possible.” Few gave Trump a snow ball’s chance in Hades of winning any primaries, the GOP nomination, let alone the presidency. A good buddy offered wisely, “It’s the essence of America.”

Got a dream? Chase it with gusto. Shock the critics and provide an awe-inspiring reminder to others that, “If you can conceive it and believe it, you can achieve it!”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Pep Talk: "If We Seek It"

It’s comforting knowing there’s venues that tolerate old farts. For a good buddy and your knucklehead scribe one spot happens to be Bad Daddy’s. It’s a wonderful hang out in Cherry Creek North that embraces middle-aged men who love the music, beer and attention to sports offered on Saturday afternoons.

It’s a welcoming watering hole for embellishment, lively debate about today’s culture, listening to ‘80‘s classic rock, watching sports and savoring tasty food with the necessary hydration included. Harmless and productive, most of the time.

A recent trip to Bad Daddy’s involved watching Kansas State and Oklahoma State fight to the finish in Manhattan, Kansas. The Cowboys outlasting the Wildcats in a thriller. Mike Gundy is the current Oklahoma State head coach. The competitive-minded guy was the ‘Pokes quarterback in the late ’80’s during my Denver television sportscasting days covering the CU Buffs, who along with Okie State, used to play in the same conference. Gundy is a winner, his football program reflects his spirit.

Anyway, I digress. The point of this Pep Talk focuses on sitting at the bar shooting the bull with a friend. The conversation shifted to a family situation he’s experiencing. It involves a loved one’s addiction and current strategies employed to deal with it. It’s a challenging spot. A delicate balancing act between empathy and reality. Often, that lousy spot between a rock and hard spot. Ever been there? Sure you have. We all have. Anybody who tries to suggest differently is lying.

How to support, but at the same time not enable, a loved ones’ roller coaster ride with addiction? While watching the game and chatting, my mind quickly wandered to a young man considered like a son and his release from prison. Almost 26, handsome and smart but struggling to find meaningful purpose. During a recent visit, we had a conversation about the importance of becoming a student, not victim, of life’s experiences. The tall, green-eyed dude offered something profound while we were scrounging around Wal Mart. We were looking for clothes, hygiene products and other stuff to make a Colorado Springs’ half-way house half way comfortable during his three-month stay.

“I need to seek wisdom.” Wow. Good for you buddy! The Louisiana native added, “I find it in the Bible, in Proverbs Four.” While incarcerated a fellow inmate offered the talented musician this morsel: “Believe what it says in the fourth chapter in verses five through seven about wisdom.”

Here it is: “Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you. Love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme, therefore get wisdom. Thought it cost you all, get understanding.” Sound logic from the greatest selling book in the history of mankind.

Whatever you’re trying to accomplish this week, seek wisdom in an effort to achieve goals and overcome challenges associated with the endeavor. At Bad Daddy’s, from the Bible and beyond, wisdom is abundant and available if we seek it with an open mind!

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