Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Stronger in 2011!

In trying to come up with a catchy motto that would motivate me going into the New Year, I’m faced with the same challenge my West Point class had in coming up with a class motto. Nothing really catchy rhymes with 7 or 11. So we decided on “Our Country We Strengthen”. I love that motto! So for 2011, strengthen will be my battle cry. My relationship with my wife I strengthen, my relationships with my children I strengthen, my friendships I strengthen, my personal brand I strengthen, and my relationship with my Maker I strengthen.

I hope that 2011 is an awesome year for you all!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mobile Shout Out 12/18: thanking the Good Lord for safe travel, our Hoosier is home!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

In It to Win It!

When I woke this morning, the phrase “in it, to win it” popped into my head. I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe my brain was telling my body the reason it was up so early again? LOL I’m definitely in it to win it. So I started thinking about what my “its” were.

My Its:

The love, respect, and admiration of my awesome wife.

The love, respect, and admiration of my incredible children.

The hearts and respect of my friends and family.

The respect of my professional peers and co-workers.

The victory in those little things that can add up to be big, like: deciding to praise instead of berate, offering a smile and a word of encouragement instead of a frown and a dig, choosing to meet someone else’s need instead of chasing selfish gain, and finishing that project I started – no matter how big or small – before moving on to the next one.

I never want to take any of those for granted. So each day I do the little things to put myself in a position to win them over and over again. I’m it to win it!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The 12th Man is Here!!!!

Just letting the Army Team know that on Saturday, the 12th Man will be in the house to do whatever we can to assist in the dismantling of the Navy Team. Not only will the 12th Man be present in the stadium in Philly but will be tuning in from every corner of the world!!

So to the Army Team I say: "The 12th Man is Here!!! Go Army, Beat Navy!!!!!

That is all....

Monday, December 6, 2010

Beat Navy!

I went to my first Army-Navy football game in 1983. It was very memorable for two reasons: 1) it was my first and 2) it was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena! The Army team didn't come out victorious that day - on the scoreboard anyway - but this is the cool thing about this contest. The teams will play their hearts out for 60 minutes trying to kill each other on the field. When it's all said and done, they will pay respects to each other's Alma Maters and once again become brothers in arms. It's an incredible tradition to behold.

Army and Navy square off again on Saturday and I get just excited today as I did back in 1983.

Go Army, Beat Navy!!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mobile Shout Out Dec 4th 2010: Huge championship weekend in college football. You can be a champion this weekend to someone in your life that matters.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Try Again

The Wii Golf game has a training section. Yes I ‘practice’ Wii Golf – What?! LOL ANYWAY, if you miss a putt in the putting training section a voice tells you to “try again”. It’s not necessarily a super encouraging voice, but it makes me feel better to know that I have another crack at it and that someone cares enough to let me know to try again. There is something very renewing to me when I know that I have another chance to try at something that didn’t go well or that I even failed.

Don’t let the events of yesterday or today ruin your tomorrow! Mary Anne Radmacher said “courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow’.”

So be courageous in the face of your trouble! Although tomorrow is not promised, if it does come, TRY AGAIN!
Mobile Shout Out, Dec 3 2010: Happy it is Friday! But I am happy every day that I get a chance to live, love, and laugh! Lets GO, Happy Friday!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


My thoughts lately seem to have a lot to do with needing help and relying on other people (LOL). Not quite sure what is up with that! Well on second thought if you ask the folks that are close to me, they’d probably tell you I need a lot of help. Anyway, here we go again! I’ve always known that sprinting records (like the 100m dash) are only counted if they are not wind-assisted times. But I found out recently that there is actually a metric. A maximum tail wind of 2 m/s is allowed for a 100-meter race to be considered eligible for a record. So I guess a wind of 2.1 m/s or higher and it’s no record today! That doesn’t seem like very much wind to me but I guess there has to be a cut-off somewhere.

Thank goodness that in life there are no ‘tail wind maximums’. In fact as I run the race of life, I’m looking for as much tail wind as I can get. For me my tail winds are those things that I value, those things that motivate me, those things that I am passionate about, those things that I love, and my Maker above who provides plenty of tail wind when I need it. My tail winds are family, friends, music, laughing, seeing the fruits of my labor, giving something my all no matter who gets the credit and even if no one is watching or keeping score, having a positive impact on someone’s day, and making someone smile whether they want to or not. A tail wind for me can be something as simple as an encouraging word, a pat on the back, a word or gesture of appreciation. It can also be something as large as someone standing in the gap - see Monday’s post :) - for me and helping me through a major endeavor.

Those are my tail winds and they assist me in my race, help me win (or at least do my best), and get me ready to lace ‘um up for the next event. I would encourage you to identify your tail winds and get that 'wind assist' whenever you can!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Test run of my new mobile blogging app. How often will I use this? Dunno, do you really think I can get all of my thoughts out in 160 characters or less?! LOL

Monday, November 29, 2010

Standing in the Gap!

I think the older I get the more I realize that I have issues. I know shocking right?! I do prefer however to refer to them as opportunities. They are opportunities for me to overcome them and be a better me. I also realize that no matter how independent I think I am, there are certain ‘gaps’ in my life that I just can’t bridge alone. There are gaps in my personality, gaps in my energy, gaps in my thinking, and gaps in my emotions. But I am also extremely blessed that I have a few people in my life that I know I can count on to stand in those gaps for me. If you have that one, two, or maybe three people in your life that you can call on any time in any situation and they will support you, shore you up, and do whatever it takes to help you bridge that gap, you know exactly what I am talking about.

In my experience, having that in your life is pretty rare. I think/hope that I am a ‘gap stander’ for some of the people in my life. I am so thankful for those people who stand in the gap for me!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


It was really short but I am so very thankful for the time that we had with our oldest this Thanksgiving holiday. This phase of our lives with him – away at college living on his own – still feels very new. The time we have face to face with him is oh so very precious because it is so few and far between visits. After dropping him off at the airport this morning, we talked about what really defines this phase now: a series of hellos and goodbyes. The hellos are always sweet and the goodbyes are always bitter. But for me what makes the goodbyes a little more palatable is perspective. I realize that he is making his way in the world. He is pushing daily towards his dreams. In order for him to realize true adulthood and independence, he has to distance himself from the security of our decision-making. He has to develop his own clarity around situations. He has to decide what kind of man he wants to be and plant the right seeds that will manifest themselves in that man. It’s a thrill watching him grow and learn albeit painful at times as you want to protect your children from the pitfalls you didn’t avoid. But certainly we learned from our failures as well as our successes and I know he will do the same. I would never want to cheat him out of the nicks and bruises that sometimes accompany life. I know they’ll make him stronger.

He is a fantastic young man! Whatever small part of helping him become fantastic that I may have contributed, I am very happy for that and that’s all I need. He has my full support in whatever he feels like he needs to do, to do him. I know he’ll be great because in my eyes he’s already a winner and a big success.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Point Your Remote at Life and Click Away!

Saw a post from a new Facebook friend today and was inspired to write about it. She wrote that she wished life were a remote. That way she could play the easy times, pause the good times, fast forward through the difficult times, and rewind the memories. There is a lot of wisdom in that statement and words to live by if you let them be.

Challenge yourself to use ‘your remote’ on your life. On those rare occasions when life is giving it to you easy, just let it play. Relax and enjoy it while it lasts. Hit pause when things are going really well and take the time to take in the moment and thoroughly enjoy it. Because when you take a tally, those good times often seem few and far between. If life is kicking you in the teeth a bit, hit your fast forward button. Put your head down, gut your way through it, and get through it as fast as you can. You know times that will allow you to hit pause and play are right around the corner. But don’t forget to at least take a few things from those difficult times and learn from them. Maybe you won’t have to hit fast forward quite as often – for that situation anyway – in the future. Lastly, hold your memories and rewind them as much as you like. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past – either awesome memories or not so awesome memories – but do allow yourself to relive those precious moments and maybe those moments when you didn’t make the best decision. Our past truly shapes our future so rewind when you have to and enjoy.

Embrace your life’s remote and make sure you always have fresh batteries in that bad boy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Poem :)

Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and all through my mouth

Each taste bud was perky, not one had gone south.

Preparations for goodness are underway with care,

In hopes that St. Turkey soon would be there.

My taste buds are nestled all snug in my maw,

With visions of cranberry, dressing, and slaw.

My family’s together so that is what’s best,

But I’m gonna eat so much my tummy’s gonna say hi to my chest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Road Trip!!!

It sure doesn’t seem like a week has passed already since Mandi and I returned from our weekend getaway. I don’t remember when the last time it was – probably back before kids – that she and I just headed out on the road together. We logged nearly 1600 miles in 3 days! That’s like driving straight from Clearwater to El Paso TX!! We made some awesome friends and saw some fantastic shows, but for me the best part of the weekend was spending so much time with my incredible bride.

We laughed so much over the 3 days that my sides are still hurting. Went down memory lane as we sang songs from back in the day as there are no lack of “70s, 80s, and today” stations out there. I’m pretty sure a couple of truck drivers got to see me doing the WOP and the Snake a few times. We ate, talked, and reconnected in a pretty awesome way. I highly recommend it.

We made some awesome new friends in Birmingham and in Nashville. Thanks for the memories guys, you all rock!!

We got to see Sam Bradley - accompanied by John Notto (the Man) - play in two different cities on consecutive evenings. We also had the pleasure of meeting his road dog, Dustin. Awesome dude! We hadn’t seen Sam together in about a year and a half and it had been about a year since Mandi had seen him play. All I can say is Whoa! He has really stepped up his game in that time and was phenomenal!! What an awesome talent and extremely cool cat to boot! The tour is so timely with the release of his latest EP, Zuni. Check it out!!

Big ups to our incredible friends for keeping our kids while we were gone. We don’t take that gesture lightly and we SO owe you. Totally willing to return the favor whenever you like.

I’m the luckiest man in the world and if you know Mandi, you know why!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Our daughter Victoria was a competitive gymnast for a number of years. She was exceptional! I think Mandi and I were more nervous watching her compete than she was. During her floor exercise she would get so high in her tumbling passes, watching her fly around the uneven parallel bars was major white knuckle time, and seeing her head down the runway at top speed and then pop that vault and twist and turn her body in ways I could only dream of – yikes! But the event that was the wildest for me personally was the balance beam. It’s so unimaginable that not only could she walk across this 4” wide, 16.5’ long beam but she could jump, tumble, dance, and kick without falling off. I think that was the event that she had to work the hardest at in training. Clearly the key was for her to develop extraordinary ‘balance’ and strengthen her ‘center’. When she competed she had to maintain that focus and balance with the crowd cheering for other competitors at other events, music blasting from the floor exercise, coaches and parents encouraging her, etc. So not only did she have to balance her body, she also had to process out all of the distracters around her.

In life, one of my biggest challenges is finding and maintaining the right balance. Balancing quality family time, work requirements, physical fitness, coaching, etc. is seemingly a daily challenge. When I get out of balance I know pretty quickly because I “fall” in that area(s) of my life that I’ve neglected. Much like Victoria would fall off the beam – not very often :) - if she got out of balance up there. This would happen typically if she let a distracter come in and take her off her center. She would get up, regroup, regain her center and balance, and finish the routine.

I think the bottom line for me is, keeping a healthy balance in life is a ton of work! But it is well worth it. If I get out of balance, life will let me know quickly. All I have to do is get up, dust myself off, regain my center and balance, and finish the routine!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


While none of us know how many days we have on this Earth, what we cannot dispute is that they are numbered. I say we make each one count. Reality is that everyone of us has obligations, commitments, duties, and responsibilities that certainly can consume a lot of each day. In the midst of that reality, I'm challenging myself to at least carve out SOME time in EACH day to spend doing the things that I love and that I am passionate about. I'm going to spend some time each day laughing out loud, singing at the top of my lungs, loving on my wife and kids, and spending time with my Maker.

Make your days count because they are numbered. Commit at least some time each day to the things that you love and that you are passionate about. Who's with me??

Monday, October 25, 2010

Making an Impact!

Just had to share about the incredible time I had in East TN last weekend. Was blessed to be invited back to the church that Mandi, the kids, and I attended for about 6 years while we lived there. Impact Fellowship in Maryville. It was so cool seeing so many familiar faces and let me tell you, Impact Fellowship is doing "it" right. So excited for them.

So I flew up on Thursday. Greeted at baggage claim by my friend and pastor, Greg. Have one of those friends that no matter how long you are apart, the instant you see them it's like no time has passed? Yep that's how it is with me and Greg. After retrieving my bag, his awesome wife and my dear friend - aka my sister from another mister - pulled up. We loaded up and headed to their place. Now they live in the country straight up and for those of you that know me well...um anyway. :) It's so beautiful out there. There are no photos that do justice to the natural backdrop behind their home. It's like the most awesome postcard you have ever seen with a little touch of Heaven mixed in. As we pulled up, the boys had a nice fire going outside and they whipped out the hot dogs, chili, cheese, chips, and other goodies. Yep we cooked hot dogs over an open fire. Those were simply some of the best hot dogs I've ever eaten. After dinner we headed to the basement where it was just me, Laura, Jacob, and Andrew. We had a little "pre-rehearsal, reunion, get your praise on like hot-buttered popcorn", jam session. It was so much fun.

On Friday I got up and headed out for a little run. After making up a rather long and steep hill, I hit the main road. About 50 meters down the road I encountered about 4 dogs running around with no leashes. SOOOO I quickly turned around and headed back to the house. Stopped in to see Valerie, Connor, and Savannah on my way back. What a great family. Miss them so much but it was so good to see them. Hope I get to see Danny next time. Got caught up on a little work - boo! - and then Greg took me to lunch at El Jimador. Probably my family's favorite Mexican restaurant of all time. We had a great time catching up and Greg dropped some serious knowledge on a brother that I will always keep and cherish. That evening the rest of the band and praise team came over and we got our eat on again with some BBQ this time and then headed down for rehearsal. Wow what a great rehearsal we had. Probably one of the best I can remember from the like trizzilion rehearsals we had together in the past.

Saturday was a pretty chilled day. We did grab some Bella Roma pizza for lunch. Another Team Jackson favorite and Laura busted out with this pot roast that she had been cooking since the night before for dinner that was completely and totally off the chain. Wrapped up the evening watching TN football with Greg until we couldn't stand it anymore. :( Another tough game for the Vols. But I didn't really care because it was cool just sitting and hanging with my pastor. You know what I mean?

Of course Sunday was just incredible. The usual early morning start to go get set-up, rehearse, and then have church. The band and praise team are so talented and so committed and it is always an honor to sing with them. We had a nice lunch right after the service and I had a great time catching up with old friends and making some new ones. We held back the tears as we said goodbye at the airport. Although the sun was basically going down and Laura did have on some big ole sunglasses. Hmmm, LOL.

Oh yeah and of course we made two different trips to Sonic for fountain drinks while I was there.
I could write on and on and on but I won't. It was great!

The Howards are a special family, they took me in and I felt right at home from the first second I was there. So excited for Impact Fellowship and the wonders you all are going to see. Hope to see you all again soon and God bless.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Another Installment of Gabe Gabs!

I don't think our family is unique in the fact that a lot of interesting conversations take place at meal time. Clearly we are unique though in that our family is beautifully, racially mixed. Meal talk and our family make-up combined to bring out an hilarious quote from our 9-year son Gabe once again.

We had Mandi's birthday dinner on Saturday at a great Mexican restaurant we found near the house in Clearwater - Poblanos. It has not completely taken the place of our beloved El Jimador in Maryville, TN but they are working on it. Somehow we got into a conversation about skin tone and someone made the observation that often times a person whom is racially mixed can have a darker skin tone than someone who is not racially mixed. So anyway out of no where - I did see the wheels turning before he spoke though - Gabe busted out with "You know that may be true but Africans, now they're ALL THE WAY BLACK". It was just too funny!

One more little nugget came out last night at dinner. Mandi and Victoria were talking about something and apparently Gabe didn't think that Victoria was displaying the proper attitude about it. He told her that her "attitude was unacceptable". (Something we have have told both of them too many times in the past) LMBO, this kid is 9. Where did he come from????

Thursday, September 9, 2010


My friend Mike P. posted a funny tweet yesterday asking "if anyone had some bootstraps he could borrow". I knew the question was rhetorical but of course I sarcastically replied that I thought the whole idea was for one to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps". Well later on I got to thinking about that. The metaphor of 'pull yourself up by your bootstraps' has been around for a long time, meaning to get better by one's "own unaided efforts". I agree whole-heartedly that I am the captain of my own ship - what, did I just use a navy analogy?! - and that I am responsible to work hard at being a better me.

But I also know that I am blessed to have a few people in my life that I can call on any time to help me pull up my bootstraps and/or to Mike's point, let me even borrow theirs if need be. Because there just are those times, circumstances, and challenges where my own efforts fall short and just aren't enough.

True friends are really hard to find, for me anyway. I count it a privilege to have those faithful few that I can count on no matter how badly I have screwed up, how egregious my mistake was, or if I just need a little hand with that last inch to get that "boot" up. Very grateful for the 'bootstrappers' in my life!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

What Have You Done For Me Lately?!

I woke up this morning with the thought that "every day is an interview". Each day I should be 'on my game' and reinterview for the important "jobs" in my life. My jobs?: husband, father, brother, son, friend, and business leader. Each day I need to remind my beautiful wife through words and deeds that she made a good choice in choosing me 23 years ago. I need to reinterview and be on my best game as father to my children. As brother to my sister - my only sibling - and son to my parents and Heavenly Father. I have to renew my commitment to my friendships and be true to how I presented myself at the 'initial interview'. I must continually add the value I sold to my profession and daily add that value.

The song by Janet Jackson "what have you done for me lately" from back in 1986 - yikes - had some wisdom to it. Every day is an interview. Dress to impress and be determined to win at all the jobs I've been blessed to possess!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Little Man Turns 9

Our little man is not so little anymore. He'll be 9 on Sunday (yep he was born just a few days before the tragedy that was 9/11/2001) and the birthday celebration weekend is well underway! Yesterday his best bud came over in the afternoon. We went to my - oops I mean his :) - favorite pizza spot for dinner. Came back and they went swimming and watched a movie. Then his best bud spent the night. Up early for waffles by Charlie this morning and now we are all prepping to head to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Gonna spend the day there for major coaster action and tons of fun. Tomorrow we'll do presents and cake and then Monday it's too the beach!!!

So excited about how our little guy is growing up. Our family would not be complete without him. That little sucker makes me laugh every day!!!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Make a Comeback!

I was listening to a celebrity on the radio this morning talk about going through some major challenges in her life recently and now is making a comeback. She received some counsel from trusted friends, renewed her faith, and reset her priorities. Now she is coming back and looking forward to taking life to the next level.

Her story made me think that each of us has challenges in our lives. I mean we fall down, we make mistakes, and we hurt others and ourselves. But we have two options. One option is to wallow in our despair, hurt, and disappointment. I think that will only lead to a lot more of all three of those. Option two is to reprioritize, forgive ourselves (or maybe forgive someone that hurt us), renew our faith, and drive on. In other words, make a comeback! Make a comeback and ‘do you’!! Here is an undeniable truth: NO ONE can do you, like YOU!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I love being a part of a team. A good team can exponentially accomplish so much more than an individual. The interaction, exchange of ideas, and driving towards a common goal are what get me going. I affectionately and often refer to my family as Team Jackson. That is by far the most awesome team I’m on. I’m on several teams at work and both contribute to and learn from them all. My softball team is a hoot, and although I’m one of the oldest dudes on the team I hold my own and represent for we 40 'sumpins'! For any team I think key glue that holds it together is the sincere exchange of appreciation and respect.

I set out this morning with a goal to let at least 20 people know today that I appreciate them. I’ve already blown that out of the water. Webster defines appreciation as an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude. For me it takes me to an entirely new place of energy, motivation, and determination when I know that someone appreciates me. And appreciates me not just for what I have done, can do, or may do for them but rather just for the person I am and what I stand for. So I figure that is the case for most people.

And if you took 2 minutes to read this, I appreciate you!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Too Blessed To Be Depressed!

I posted this morning that I had to break out the calculator to count my blessings. It was just one of those mornings that I woke up focused on the awesome things in my life and fighting hard to keep the negative at bay. I have an awesome wife who concomitantly is an awesome mother. As I look around – and I don’t have to look far – I realize how huge it is that I can say that. So many people don’t have that blessing.

We are all healthy and with the exception of yours truly at times, are all in our right minds. Again, I don’t have to look far to see how huge that is. A son who is doing so well in college and another son and daughter who are doing the same in their schools. Some real, caring, and incredible friends.

For me it goes deeper – albeit pretty basic – than even all that. The times that I spent away from my loved ones during the first Gulf war and most recently our family’s separation when we decided to leave the family in TN so that Jared could finish high school there, make me appreciate every single day. The – what I call - “Leave it to Beaver” type moments are the best! Walking in the door of our home and grabbing a hug and kiss from my best friend. Having to brace myself – everyday! - as my children bum rush me screaming “Daddy you’re home” and give me big hugs. Sitting at the dinner table together enjoying a meal and talking about our days. Being there and watching my children participate in the things that they are passionate about. Having my 8 year old give me a thumbs up when I manage a hit on the softball field. Just looking over and being able to SEE my wife’s lovely face and thinking I should have gone into sales to be so blessed to have her in my life.

I’ll end this with a quote from my favorite – after ‘the Beave’ of course – character on Leave it to Beaver, Eddie Haskell: “Wally if your dumb brother tags along, I’m gonna – oh, good afternoon, Mrs. Cleaver. I was just telling Wallace how pleasant it would be for Theodore to accompany us to the movies.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mama Said:

THERE WOULD BE DAYS LIKE THIS! The 12 hours between ~ 8:00 PM last night and 8:00 AM this morning were wild! After spending about 3 hours off and on cleaning our pool yesterday, I was just about to head outside to chlorine shock that bad boy to finish off my weekly maintenance. Just about 8:00, a nasty storm blew in with ~ 30 mph winds and heavy rain. Well the 5 oak trees that overhang into our backyard dumped about a trizillion little seed pods right into the pool. In about 5 minutes, they turned my pool a nasty brown color. So I went out there - in between lightning strikes and heavy downpours - to start cleaning the big pieces out of the pool so that later it would not be so bad. That was about another two hours off and on.

So we turned in around midnight thinking that the storm had passed and just as we were getting to sleep around 12:30 - the brightest lightning I have ever seen and the loudest thunder I have ever heard - exploded around us! It woke up everyone in the house and scared Gabe almost to death. He crawled into our bed and we all went back to sleep. WELL then at 5:00 shap and for no apparent reason, the upstairs smoke detector went off. That daggon thing was SO loud I'm sure our neighbors on the whole street were up and checking for smoke. Still don't know why it went off. Once the excitement of that wore off, we got Gabe back into bed but of course it was time for me to get up and see what the pool looked like.

Spent the next 3 hours off and on cleaning up what was left - including a bunch more of those stinkin' seed pods - and trying to get it back to it's original color. Fortunately after that and a nice chlorine shock, it's clearing up nicely. That's a relief because I had visions of having to drain my pool and my savings account at the same time. Will have to see what it looks like when I get home.

So I changed and got ready to head into work. It's almost 8:30 so the parents who avoid the drop off line by parking on our street (= fail by the way and I'm gonna have to post some signs) are pulling in and out dropping their kids off at the cross walk next to our house. Well just as I am about to back out, this lady pulls up almost right behind me to drop her kids off and her van is literally covering half of my drive. I have enough room to get out but have to cut a little bit to do so and backed right into the crossing guard lady's car. A small dent in her car and no damage to mine but my 30-year streak of driving accident free is now blown!!

So that ended my 12 hours of chaos and the blessing was no one got hurt through any of it and I'm sure we'll laugh about it all SOME day. I am now exhausted again just from recapping it all. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

All The Above!

I have a new personal theme song, and I wanted to share it with you. It's All the Above by Maino feat. T-Pain. If you have been through struggles or challenges (that's probably everyone) and you set that stuff aside each day and continue to push toward your goals and dreams, you'll feel me on this.

Here's the chorus:

Tell me what do you see, when you're looking at me?
On a mission to be, what I'm destined to be.
I done been through the pain and the sorrow,
the struggle is nothing but love.
I'm a soldier, a rider, survivor..And all the above!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Going for the Gold!

On the heels of the Vancouver Winter Games! Olympic competition has always been a favorite of mine and the family and I enjoyed this last go around a lot. I'm certainly impressed by the discipline and hard work it takes - for many years - to prepare to compete at such a high level. The brutal reality is that only a small percentage of those athletes get the opportunity to don the title - Olympic Champion. To see their country's colors raised and their national athem played for the world to hear. For me that whole scene is very moving but I have professed before that I am a dork.
In many cases, earning a gold medal brings with it celebrity, opportunities, and often times fortune. Again very well deserved as the training regimen and disciplined lifestyle must be very intense. And the difference between standing on the medal podium and packing your gear to try again in 4 years or never is often fractions of a second or one slight error.
I'll never have the opportunity to stand on the Olympic podium, have some smooth old dude place a metal around my neck, and shed tears of joy while the national athem is played. But I can commit to doing something everyday that allows me to "go for the gold" in my own life.
I don't have tens of thousands of people clinging to my every word on Twitter or anxiously waiting for the next great thing I'm going to do. And no one plays music or stands up and cheers when I go to work everyday. But I tell myself and what motivates me is the opportunity that I have everyday to be a champion in my own space. When I do something that makes my wife smile or laugh or makes her say that she is proud of me - I'm a champion. When I fix something around the house - and I am So not that guy who easily fixes things - that has been a nuisance to everyone - I'm a champion. When I help one of our kids through a tough situation or a tough assignment - I'm a champion. When I stand up for my kids when someone has not treated them fairly - I'm a champion. When I stand out at work and go the extra mile - I'm a champion. When I help a friend through a tough spot - I'm a champion.
Again I don't expect that there will be a formal medal ceremony and Charlie's anthem hasn't even been written yet but each day I do a little bit more so that when this gig is done, I'll have earned a gold medal for the events I compete in: Husband, Father, Teammate, Friend.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I guess if I am keeping it real, I'm basically at halftime in my life. Wow, the first half was amazing and I am SO excited about what the second half is going to bring. I am so blessed with a wonderful wife (whom I have known for nearly half my life) and children, awesome family, true friends, a sense of humor that doesn't allow me to take myself or life too seriously, and incredible opportunities to succeed. For those of you that really know me, you already know I am big dork. So you won't be surprised that the events of today that I am about to share totally fired me up and I am looking forward to many more days like this in the "second half".

My birthday 2010:

I woke up a bit before everyone else as I often do. Made some coffee and enjoyed the quiet of the morning for just a few moments until Little G came bouncing down the stairs. We talked for a few moments and then started working on some of his plays for flag football. He is new to the game so we used pillows on the floor to represent players as we walked through "holes" and running assignments - he's a running back. We also moved the pillows around to represent changing formations. It was a lot of fun. We put the pillows back on the furniture before mom came down stairs. LOL Then we had some breakfast together. Just him and I. I love that time we spend together.

So then it was off to flag football practice and an hour later Mandi joined us at the field for G's first scrimmage of the season. He did great and we enjoyed watching him play although we almost froze our you know what's off. It was so cold this morning! We linked up with Victoria at home after the game and I walked into the kitchen to a surprise of a happy birthday banner, balloons, a cake, and presents!!! I got some great stuff and we shared some laughs as I tried very hard to open the presents with this new wrapping paper Mandi used that does not require tape. My mother-in-law also sent me a great gift. She is too cool and never forgets anyone's birthday. After that we went to Olive Garden (I have never had a meal there that I didn't like) for a late lunch. That new Pansotti dish with sausage is off the chain and I highly recommend it! While at lunch, Jared - our college boy - called to wish me a happy birthday. I got kinda choked up thinking about that. "I" have a son that lives away from home and is calling "ME" to wish me a happy birthday. Wow!

After lunch - well not right after as we were all stuffed - they lit the one candle (thank you for just one!) and sang happy birthday to me. The cake is amazing. It's marble with like canoli filling and chocolate chips, and other goodies. OMG it is too good. We watched some of the olympics together and I hopped on Wii golf for a bit. Must have been birthday luck because I beat the family course record and although Victoria was cheering me on, I know secretly she's miffed and is planning her revenge as we speak. We previously held the course record together. :)

Went for a great walk with my bride, had a nice relaxing shower, and now I am just chilling and reflecting on the day and oh yeah a bit on the "first half".

Friday, February 5, 2010

Gabe Gabs Entry 2

Gabe got into a little trouble at school yesterday and the root cause (root cause? – am I a quality guy or what? – geek!) was he didn’t make a good decision. We are working with him a lot lately on his decision-making. So his punishment was no TV or video games last night before bed. After that was administered, Mandi did a little test to check to see if he got the whole decision making thing. When he asked if he could get dessert after dinner, she asked him if he thought he should have dessert. After a few moments of face distortions (he was really thinking hard – LOL) he busted out with “I know I should say – ‘I shouldn’t have any because I don’t deserve it’ – but I really want it though”.

He made that statement very softly so I didn’t here it. I had to walk away anyway because his face distortions had me about ready to bust out laughing. Then while Mandi and I were walking later, she told me what he said. OMG, classic Gabe!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What is Your Land?

Those who till their land will have plenty of food, but those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense. Proverbs 12:11

What is your land and are you working it?

Till = plowing, sowing, and raising.

Our time is so limited - it seems - when we look at the big picture of things. Back when Solomon wrote this I am sure that more people could relate from a farming perspective because I think everyone farmed. I personally don’t know any farmers, as I am sure that is the case for most of you. But we have our own “land” to till these days. The key I think is that we select the right “land” to work, and then work it! The “land” you pick to work obviously is a personal choice. And I believe that the “land” you decide to work will bear fruit. If you prioritize and make good choices with respect to the “land” you work, I don’t think there will be much time for following worthless pursuits.

Here are a few personal examples of “land”: marriage, family, children, relationships, profession.

So pick your “land” and get to tilling!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gabe Gabs Entry 1

For many years our 8 year old has made me laugh with some of the things that come out of his mouth. If you read my first blog last month, you got a good example. I always vowed to start writing them down because usually I can't recall what he says. Well I am starting a new series of blogs right now entitled "Gabe Gabs".

I find myself using the phrase "this is an A-B conversation so C yourself out of it" more and more with my kids when my wife and I are trying to have a private conversation. I know private conversation for a married couple with kids is nearly an oxymoron, but I digress. :) Well he knows this. At dinner tonight Mandi started telling me something in a whisper in an attempt to keep it on the down low as it was related to something that Gabe was involved with earlier in the day. So Mandi starts telling me this and Gabe says "Mom, what did you say?" We both looked at him with 'that look'. He looked back at us and asked "Oh, is it any of my concern"?? LOL Dude seriously, is it "any of your concern"? You're 8! Too funny.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On This Day

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on this day in 1929. He had a lot to say during his life – obviously – but one of the most impactful statements to me is:

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. “

Sadly I couldn’t find when or where he said it but wow is it full of truth. As I will be fortunate enough to be home with my family in honor of his birthday this coming Monday, I will reflect on this truth.

I think we all should realize that our words and actions have an impact on others. I think we choose if they will have a negative impact or a positive impact. I don’t think that everything we do or say should be overly examined before we do it or say it so don’t get me wrong there. Because I think in order for us to have a positive impact on others we have to be ‘comfortable in our skin” first and know who we are. But I do believe the premise Dr. King conveyed here in that I can never be everything I should be until my words and actions impact you in a way that builds you up and helps you be everything you can be. I, for one, don’t want to be at my “mountaintop” only to look back and see people I have impacted that are not at theirs. But am I really at my mountaintop anyway, if you are not at yours?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have reconnected with a bunch of classmates over the past few weeks and even saw a picture of myself from my West Point Prep School days. Wow! I think all that has me thinking about the three words we lived by – and hopefully still do today – Duty, Honor, and Country.

Honor = integrity. I’ve learned over the years that although duty and country is key, I would say that integrity is the most important. If you fall short of a duty, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, fix it, and drive on. But integrity is something that once it is spoiled is nearly impossible to recover. We teach our children that above all protect your integrity and be honest in all that you do. We tell them – kind of tongue and cheek – that we will always find out what they do because we have ‘parent power’. :) So they might as well be honest in the first place. But there is a lot of truth in that because I believe the truth will always come out no matter how slick we think we are being. LOL

We also try our best to have them steer clear of the ‘gray areas’ of life. That’s when we tend to get into half-truths or the “what they don’t know won’t hurt them” categories. A half is as bad as a whole and it will hurt. Remember the ‘parent power’ from above.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making Memories

What a wonderful time we had with our son Jared over the holidays. He was home for about 3 weeks after he completed his first semester @ Indiana University. He is studying music performance – clarinet – at their Jacob’s School of Music and had a fantastic first semester. WAY better than my first semester at West Point for sure! :) We were pretty young when Jared was born and we always tease him that he was our guinea pig and the other two have benefited from the mistakes we made with him. LOL But I think he turned out all right so no harm no foul right?

Our family is truly blessed. That’s kind of cliché I know but in our case it is true. First we still can’t believe that we have a child of ours attending college but that’s a story for another day. We made lots of memories; you know the simple but impactful things. Sitting around the table at meals together, the laughter, watching all the kids hang together, eating out together, watching movies together. Our family and movies is probably a topic for about 3 other blogs but I will say now that we enjoy ourselves and do so for many years afterwards with the memories. And somehow – I guess through mere association – I have converted Jared into a true blue Cowboy fan. As we watched them play together – ok it was only 1 quarter as I guess there was a pressing on line gaming session he had to get to, but I’ll take it – it brought back memories of my dad and I watching them play oh so many years ago.

His little brother – and all of his little friends - looks up to him and thinks he is all that and a bag of chips. And although they still argue like cats and dogs, he shares a special connection with his little sister that warms my heart. I know when push comes to shove; she knows that he has her back.

I’m thrilled to see how he is maturing and coming into his own. He’s a fine young man and I know he’s going to have a fantastic impact on our world. Can’t wait to make more memories when he comes home for spring break.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Tomorrow, 1/9/10, Mandi and I celebrate 22 years of marriage. We said our “I Dos” in a wonderful ceremony in the Cadet Chapel, West Point NY. So when the clock strikes midnight tonight it will be 22 years that equal: 264 Months or 1144 Weeks or 8030 Days or 192,720 Hours or 11,563,200 Minutes! Now that’s a lot of minutes!! Now we are a pretty darn good team and when I think about all of the decisions we have made together a lot of them – especially the day-to-day stuff - “only take a minute”. Kind gestures, gift ideas, or making plans to spend time together they all really “only take a minute”. She has made every minute count for me and I am looking forward to the next 20,000,000 minutes!

Here is an excerpt from Robin Sharma. This appeared on his blog just last month.

It Only Takes a Minute!

It only takes a minute to tell a loved one you adore them. It only takes a minute to run towards a fear. It only takes a minute to set a big goal. It only takes a minute to drink a glass of water. It only takes a minute to read a great idea (that just might rock your world). It only takes a minute to write the most beautiful thank you note you have ever sent your parents (or a teammate or a customer or a high school teacher who blessed your life). It only takes a minute to smile. It only takes a minute to connect to a friend or a co-worker. It only takes a minute to help a human being in need. It only takes a minute to raise your standards to world- class. It only takes a minute to go the extra mile at work and wow a customer. It only takes a minute to reflect on what you can do today to be better than you were yesterday. It only takes a minute to embrace change. It only takes a minute to make a new choice that will lead to your best life. Make the best of your minutes. Each one of them makes up your life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm a Man of a Certain Age

Men of a Certain Age is a new show on TNT that is entertaining and if I’m being honest, pretty accurate. I’ll let you check it out for yourself and won’t go into all the details of the characters. But watching last night I had to laugh at myself as I could SO relate to all the Rocky references. From the song references, to one of my favorite quotes from Rocky 1, to the one dude raising his arms after a victory over a stubborn government agency. Too funny! The Rocky series of movies are my all time favorites! I love the continual theme of working your butt off to achieve your goals and ‘the journey’ being the most important takeaway, almost making the actual victory anti-climatic. It hasn’t been so bad in recent years but in the past my family had to endure me watching these movies over and over again. I probably have watched the first three @ least 30 times each.

I am a “man of a certain age” and know many of you are too. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to play sports for millions of dollars, hoist a Stanley Cup or the Vince Lombardi Trophy in the air, or do a fist pump after making a birdie putt to win the U.S. Open, but we can be heroes in our own ways. Reading a book with your child and seeing his face light up in amazement because dad knows all the big words. Standing up for your child when they are wronged and letting them know you have their back. Making dad’s special scrambled eggs with cheese on Saturday morning. Praying with your kids at night before they go to sleep. Surprising your wife with something she really likes – just because. Being the loudest and most encouraging parent on the sidelines cheering on your kids as they try their best on the fields of friendly strife. Fixing the leaky faucet, changing that light bulb that only you can reach, or fixing the DVR right before “the most important show” of the year to your kids comes on that you promised you would record for them.

Just getting out there everyday for your family and being the best you, you can be! With all of your warts, faults, and shortcomings but your heart firmly in the right place. So let’s celebrate we “men of a certain age” and raise our hands in the air after each ‘small’ victory. Those bad boys add up and I think are the most important anyway.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I'm Grateful

- For a loving and forgiving Heavenly Father
- For a loving and forgiving wife of 22 years
- For healthy, happy, bright children
- For my health and mental faculties - well mostly :)
- For gainful, engaging, rewarding employment
- For wonderful friends and encouraging family
- For a positive mental attitude in the wake of any adversity
- For enough sense to know “it” isn’t about me, no matter what “it” is
- For hope for the future and wisdom gained from the past