Why is everybody always laughing at me? Maybe it’s because I want them too.

It has been a very interesting experience for me over the last year or so writing my book, posting irrelevant anecdotes on my Facebook page and writing semi-monthly blogs. I have had some really interesting feedback. Unless, some of you are just trying hard to be kind, it has all been amazingly positive and inspiring. I thank you all for that.

There was a time in my life when I really worried about what others had to say about what I said and or did. I had to have that reassurance and vote of confidence. My first baseball coach had “confidence” written on the back of my jersey instead of my name. I was really little okay, but I was cute and the moms all loved me, and I had game, so eat your hearts out. Even today, I will often find myself prefacing what I am going to say as if it were an intrusion or that it needs the proper “set-up”.

You know I really used to care. I really really did. What if people see me as an idiot? What if they think I am a complete imbecile? What if they take on that I am just plain odd and that they don’t want to have anything to do with me?

I remember my dad saying, “Son, people can always be perceived as being smart until they open their mouths”. I became great at the “nod” and a master of words and phrases like “I understand, tell me more “or “What is the reasoning behind your thoughts?” Or even simply the word “Really?” I didn’t want to face being judged.

Well, I love all of you but get this; I am strange, idiotic and silly stupid at times. I am the tomato of fruit (it is) and the peanut of nuts (it’s not) and I love it. The cold hard truth, and we have all heard it before, is that life is hard and then we die. I am all about finding the nonsense in all of it.

If you have read my book or followed my blog you know that I love Robin Williams and have often recited his quote “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” The truth is, I love his madness. I love his ability to pick on anyone at anytime without trepidation and just live in the moment. His approval and acceptance come from his ability to be completely comfortable with his own sense of insanity.

I honestly don’t believe that we are fundamentally willing to put ourselves at risk enough to live from and inside our own sense of insanity. Now let me be clear here, not going insane and doing something which is illegal, unethical or immoral, but insane only to the point that you are willing to put yourself at risk to take on something new and exciting. Something refreshing and out of character which creates the room for you or others to laugh at or with you.

I love it when I walk up to a stranger and say something completely out of left field and they just start laughing. I love making silly faces when it’s not called for. I love telling a really bad joke at the most inopportune time. It allows me to be human and it allows me to be me.

If I make you smile and brighten your day, mission accomplished for me.

If you hang with me, you’re going to run the risk of being embarrassed, because I don’t take myself seriously and neither should you. I’m not for the weak of heart. The one thing I will guarantee you is a pretty funny ride. I’ll take on doing whatever it takes.

As I have shared with you, my daughters are dancers and if I wanted to be an active part of their life, I needed to take that on as well. For the last 15 years or so you can find me on a couple of warm June nights performing at their annual recital with other dads, who like me, have plenty of room for not really caring what other people think. I’ve dressed up in drag many times; I’ve been Santa Claus’s elf, entertainers Pink, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and even Tina Turner. I’ve even stripped to my boxer shorts, t-shirt and a white top hat parading around to the song “Leave your hat on”.

Believe me there is nothing more thrilling than chasing a makeshift boob made out of styrofoam across a stage.

I might be a lunatic but after years of mental anguish and much therapy my kids now know I am willing to do what it takes to be the cool dad. Embarrassing at times sure, but I know they are proud when their friends tell them how “cool they think their dad is”.

It’s really not just about being crazy for crazy sake; it really is about giving you permission to step outside of your comfort zone and having some crazy silly fun. I want to find the fun in everything. I want to laugh out loud and it doesn’t matter to me if I am laughing at you or myself.

Some people choose to define insanity in the manner in which Einstein’s did. That insanity was doing the same things over and over again expecting different results. I mean absolutely no offense to those who may suffer from any mental illness and respect the challenges that they may face. In good spirit and in the face of challenging you to love life just a little bit more I choose to define insanity as:

1. You write to your mother in Italy every week, even though she sends you mail from California asking why you never write.
2. You wear your boxers on your head because you heard it will ward off evil dandruff spirits.
3. You always have to apologize to your next door neighbor for setting fire to his lawn decorations.
4. Nobody listens to you anymore, because they can’t understand you through that scuba mask.
5. You have meaningful conversations with your toaster.
6. Melba toast excites you.
7. When the waiter asks for your order, you ask to go into another room to tell him because “the napkins have ears.”
8. The person you always talk to is invisible to everyone but you.
9. You keep thinking this is the year for the Lions.
10. You see migrating flocks of ducks in the fall and only your attachment to the toaster keeps you from joining them.

Love life my friends and try taking on just a little more craziness and a little more silly stupidity. You just might find out how far a good hearty belly laugh can take you.

So Here It Is, “It Is What It is”

So here I am sitting in a chair at the mall while my wife and daughters are looking at wedding dresses when I can’t help but overhear an elderly couple across from me debating some issue which in the grand scheme of life, was probably insignificant. “You’re missing my point” he argued. “You’re wrong” he further exclaimed.

Not to be outdone she fired back “No, you’re just not listening to what I am saying” she continued on with “If you just be quiet for a minute, you will see that I am right”

As I listened to them I began to chuckle watching how animated each of them were becoming as they tried so hard to forge their argument. Each was convinced that they were right and that the other was wrong. While it was cute for a while, it became a little sad that neither was giving in and they were both getting extremely upset with each other.

I started thinking and wondering if it is fundamental human nature that for us to be right, someone else has to be wrong. Is that really true? Have we become as a society, that judgmental?

The question drove me to do some research (okay I Googled it) and I found that everywhere I looked the difference between right and wrong was based on some sense of morality. But is it really, because I’m not necessarily sure I agree. Isn’t morality in a sense, a form of judgment?

Couldn’t right and wrong be simply defined as a matter of ones perspective or experiences that drive their specific viewpoint? Could it be that an opinion is just that, an opinion not necessarily based on any absolute truth or fact, thus making it neither right nor wrong?

Let’s look at it this way. Say you are enjoying a great movie on the couch in your living room with your significant other when all of a sudden they proclaim “I am freezing in here; I’ve got two blankets on me”. Your immediate reaction is “Are you nuts, I’ve got a tee-shirt and shorts on and I am as hot as I could possibly be”. Immediately an argument ensues as you call each other crazy.

Now here is the funny part, the only real absolute truth is the temperature on the thermostat. Everything else is opinion, judgment and or perspective. No morality here that I can see. Could you both be right? Can it be both hot and cold in the same room at the same time?

Take it one step further to an analogy that most of you are familiar with. Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full? Or is it simply a glass with a measurable amount of water in it? Maybe it’s not so much about if you are an optimist or a pessimist. There would be judgment in that right? Can it in fact be both?

Let me also be clear in what is an absolute truth. I see it as an unalterable and permanent fact. I do get that the concept of absolute truths – what they are and whether they exist – has been debated among many different groups of people, but for our conversation, humor me. I get that philosophers have waded in the muck of defining absolute truth for centuries. While, Plato believed that absolute truth existed, many others believe in relative truths, where facts may vary depending on the circumstances.

Humor me just a little bit more as I recognize that it’s difficult to disprove the concept of absolute truth, since saying that there are no absolute truths – that it is absolutely true that no absolute truth exists – is itself an absolute truth.

The hard part is that living in a world which thrives on exercising judgment leaves very little room to examine what may or may not be an absolute truth. We have become so focused on our opinions and judgments as being factual instead of taking on our country’s newest catch phrase “It is what it is” that we only want to debate for our standing rather than accept that two opinions can both be right.

While certainly the phrase is not new and the origin is uncertain, it has been around for years. It really became more prominent and mainstream in 2004 when the five-word line used by many athletes and coaches to sum up troubles of all sorts sent an instant message that it’s time to move on, and “It is what it is” was declared “The Sports Quote of the Year”.

Don Powell, psychologist, sports fan and author of Best Sports Clichés Ever!, and a local resident of West Bloomfield, Mich., whose nickname is Dr. Cliché has a theory why the phrase has become so popular. “You have athletes becoming more philosophical than they used to be,” said Powell. He further noted that many athletes are now willing to take on “It’s happened. I’m going to forget about it. I’m going to move on. … There is nothing more that can be said or done about it.”

Hanging on to what you believe to be right by making others wrong will never translate into positive or constructive conversation, nor will it ever, despite the motivation behind your desires, create the space for someone to willingly accept you as being “right”.

I am reminded of the old story I once heard about a Rabbi who was having trouble with his congregation. It seemed they could not agree on anything. The President of the congregation said, “Rabbi, this cannot be allowed to continue. We must have a conference, and we must settle all areas of dispute once and for all.” The rabbi agreed.

The Rabbi, the President, and ten elders met in the conference room of the synagogue, sitting about a magnificent mahogany table. One by one the issues were dealt with and on each issue; it became more and more apparent that the Rabbi was a lonely voice. The President of the synagogue said, “Rabbi, enough of this. Let us vote and allow the majority to rule.”

He passed out slips of paper and each man made his mark. The slips were collected and the President said, “You may examine them, Rabbi. It is eleven to one against you. We have the majority, therefore we are right.”

The Rabbi rose to his feet and exclaimed. “So,” he said, “You now think because of this vote that you are right and I am wrong. Well, that is not so. I stand here” –and he raised his arms impressively– “And call upon God to give us a sign that I am right and you are wrong.” And as he said that, there came a frightful crack of thunder and a brilliant flash of lightning that struck the mahogany table and cracked it in two. The room was filled with smoke and fumes, and the President and the elders were hurled to the floor.

Through the carnage, the Rabbi remained erect and untouched, his eyes flashing and a grim smile on his face. Slowly, the President lifted himself above what was left of the table. His hair was singed, his glasses were hanging from one ear, and his clothing was in disarray. Finally he said, “All right, eleven to two. But we still have the majority.”

Here is a little something to take forward. Remove judgment from your daily conversations and watch how people change how they interact with you. I am not saying I’m right, nor if you don’t buy into what I am saying that you are wrong; I’m just saying “It is what it is”.

A Date With The 60’s

I am a big Robin Williams fan. In fact, I used a quote of his in my book, “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” The funny part is there is often much truth to his sense of irreverence. (Yes, a bit of shameless promotion and you can get a copy of “It’s a Great Deal All Three of Me Think So” from me, Amazon or directly from the publisher at: http://www.publishamerica.net/product87431.html

On a recent comedy show Robin made the statement “Why do they call it “Rush Hour” when no one actually moves. Okay, not as much funny as it is inquisitive. The term “Rush Hour” actually has its own Wikipedia definition where it convinces us that the term is a “misnomer” because it is “often more than an hour” and that it refers not to the “pace of traffic but the “rate of flow”. Oh, and it tells us that there are two distinct “Rush Hours”, one in the morning and one in the early evening as people are working their way to or from work.

The site even wants to convince me that there is the possibility of a “Third Rush Hour” to define the period of time that everyone is back in their cars racing around during their lunch hour. Huh?

All of a sudden the lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s Feelin’ Groovy just flashed through my head (No, not a flower child here, and by the way the actual song title is 59th St. Bridge Song and it was featured in Spiderman as the bridge that the tram was on).

If you don’t remember, try this on for size:

Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.

Ba da, da, da, da,…Feelin’ Groovy.

Hello lamp-post,
What cha knowin’?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’.
Ain’t cha got no rhymes for me?
Doot-in’ doo-doo,
Feelin’ groovy.

I’ve got no deeds to do,
No promises to keep.
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.
Life, I love you,
All is groovy.

Okay, now I dare you to get that out of your head for the rest of the day.

Here is the truth my friends. We really have forgotten what is to feel “groovy”. We race to work in the morning and we race home from work at night. We race to take our kids to lessons or a school function. We are either coming or going all the time.

Life has become more complicated than we ever anticipated it might be. Unfortunately most of us have cloaked ourselves completely with obligation and responsibility 24/7 without giving us room to take a breather.

I ask you, when did that become healthy?

Yes, I grant you that they are often the yardstick by how we are measured in society and I won’t disagree with you that as adults we have a sense of responsibility to our daily obligations. Our jobs, our kids, our family, our friends, social obligations, after hour work functions and on and on and on…..

I get it. I also get the fact that we will be judged by how others view how we handled each of these individual circumstances. That it will define us in life.

Well for you, if it does I can accept that. For me it doesn’t work.

I have lots of obligations and responsibilities just like the next guy and its not about who has more, it’s simply about taking time from the fast track and finding time for myself. It’s about doing what I need to do for self preservation and an ability to clear my head and complete my thoughts.

I tell my youngest daughter often that I view every day as awesome and that the only thing that can take away from that is what I personally allow to detract from it. I can only be upset or angered if I agree to take those feelings on.

No, I’m not saying that it is easy, because of course it is not. It is however the choice I chose to make.

I also choose to set aside a portion of each day for me. It does not matter whether it is for reflection, clearing, or simply alone time to regenerate. I need to mentally and physically be in a place where I can meet my responsibilities and obligations head on and with the correct attitude, because I recognize how important it really is.

I love life. I love being happy, smiling, telling a good joke (even a few bad ones) and laughing out loud.

Now follow along with me…Ba da, da, da, da, …Feelin’ Groovy.

Defining Your Identity. Who Was That Masked Man Anyway?

Well, with great anticipation (okay maybe only by me) my book was finally released January 5th. The reality of this adventure has really been incredibly surreal. I never really did set out to write a book. It was never on my radar as I worked diligently in my mortgage banking and financial career.

The thought only crossed my mind after others encouraged me to consider combining what I had learned or created during my life with my unique sense of humor, personal experiences, and some would say warped look at the world.

It was that, or what they were really trying to do was to get me to commit to what I had to say to paper and then get me to stop talking. Well the last laugh is on them. Now I am writing and talking, and for me it is much easier than walking and chewing gum at the same time.

One of the interesting things for me as I travel down this new and unique path is that I have been finding great humor in the perceptions that others have developed or began to cultivate about what success with the book could bring (I know a rather amusing thought). They all revolve around the premise “Are you going to remember us little people when you become rich and famous? I think that is all too hilarious.

Recently when I strolled into my favorite cigar shop and shook hands with many of the regulars and a few not so familiar, one gentleman stated “I remember you, you’re the author” I graciously said thank you, grabbed a cigar, sat down and thought, well “Yes, I guess I am” What was amusing to me was that during a 28 year career in the financial arena, when I walked into a room I was immediately referred to as the “Mortgage Guy”

I dwelled on that for a while for many reasons. Some obvious and some not so obvious, with the thought that did the “Mortgage guy” or the “Author” really define who I was? Was it my identity or was it how others identified who I was?

I am not really sure where the adage “We are we what we eat really came from. Some may argue that it is driven from the Bible in that “We reap what we sow”. Others may argue that is simply words that were contrived to attribute our physical condition. For purpose of our conversation, it is irrelevant other than to decide if it is a precursor to our identity.

Okay, with that being said, are some of us really chickens and others turkeys?

Sorry for the fowl reference, I couldn’t help myself.

So then, what really does define our identity? Is it really what we do in life as an occupation or is that simply our vocation. Is it a measurement of our accomplishments? Many would just debate that was simply our legacy.

So who are we? How do we define what our real identity is?

Well, dictionary definitions often vary on the subject of identity. Most of them relate more to our character or personality, which is probably better defined as our sense of individuality, or by how we are psychologically identified.

I will take the position that your identity is very different from your personality. I believe that your identity is at the very center of who you are as opposed to your personality which is simply an expression of how you navigate your way through life.

Someone’s personality can at times be complex and at other times be very simple. We have learned as we have moved our way through the world that we can modify our personality to any individual set of circumstances, whether it is during social interaction or in the business climate, in order to cause some form of mutually beneficial conversation.

I do not believe that your identity is modifiable, adaptable, or flexible when considered in the same context. As Popeye said “I am what I am”.

Yes, I agree we are a product of our lives experiences. I also agree that each event, each circumstance, each person we have met through our lifetime have in one way or another, positive or negative, impacted us. However, more importantly I believe that at a very early age certain events were the major contributing factor in how we relate to life and to the fundamental person we have become.

Through these experiences we create how we see the world, the decisions we make about how we chose to live our life that protect us and the commitments that we chose to help us chart the waters so that everything remains comfortable.

I believe that defines our identity. That truly is who we are. It is nothing more, nothing less.

I can’t tell you whether you identify yourself as a chicken or a turkey, that all depends on how you see yourself and the perception you helped to create in the minds of others.

Spend some time discovering what your true identity is. Try separating your job or vocation from your identity. Now remove the distinguishing characteristics of your personality. Have a little fun with it. You just might be shocked to find out you are not the person you thought you were.

What’s This Whole New Year’s Resolution Thing About Anyway?

Happy New Year! It is a time for a new begging, a fresh start, a new outlook, a clean slate. I even know what many of you are thinking, “I’m going to make 2010 a much better year than last year. I am going to do it by making some resolutions and by George, I am going to stick with them!”

Oh yes of course, its time to commit to those New Year’s resolutions that will make us all a better person. You got your pen out and you are thinking hard. What will you do? Will you quit smoking? Will you eat healthier? Will you work out more?

If you’re into facts and statistics, Franklin Covey released the results of its third annual New Year’s Resolutions Survey, which polled 15,031 customers. The survey found that respondents’ top three New Year’s resolutions or goals for 2008 were to (1) get out of debt or save money, (2) lose weight, and (3) develop a healthy habit like exercise or healthy eating.

Now here are some fun facts. The survey goes on to say that 35% of the respondents broke their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. Only 23% of those surveyed never broke them (at least at the time of the survey). The others most often broke them before the end of the first quarter. Nearly 40% of those surveyed attribute breaking their resolutions to having too many other things to do, while 33% say they were never committed to the resolutions they set.

So, where did this concept of New Years resolutions come from anyway? Well, arguably the tradition of the New Year’s Resolution goes all the way back to 153 B.C. when Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar.

In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings and endings. His most prominent remnant in modern culture is his namesake, the month of January, which begins the New Year. He is most often depicted as having two faces or heads, facing in opposite directions. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

I can’t be the only one who sees the humor in that. Two faces, making a commitment and then not actually living up to it. How ironic.

Well here it is. Given our success rate, I’m calling for a moratorium on strictly self serving improvements as New Years Eve resolutions. I’m calling you out. You owe it to yourself and your family to make a fundamental commitment to the three most widely acclaimed resolutions noted above. Using them as new resolutions is merely cheating the process. And besides if you are not currently complying with those commitments, the odds are, you will fail again anyway.

Let’s shift our focus from using resolutions as a false directive towards self improvement and on to making resolutions to improve the world around us. We don’t have to start big and we don’t have to commit more that we expect that we can deliver.

Start small. Think how can I improve or enrich the lives around me? Understand that on January 1st you are standing on top of New Year’s hill. You pack a snowball full of optimism, love, compassion and understanding and you send it on its way. Yes, you can be in charge of that snowball and you can take ownership of it.

I don’t know about you, but I will run the risk of getting run over with a positive punch.

Many have asked me about my 2010 resolutions. Well here they are. I have made a list of 52 resolutions or commitments (at least one per week) that I plan to complete by the end of 2010. Some might call it a “Bucket list” if you will. I am providing it to each of you to help hold me accountable during the year. If you feel some personal value in it, feel free to print it and use it, or create your own.

I resolve to:

1. Shake a soldier’s hand that I don’t know.
2. Assist an elderly person across an icy parking lot.
3. Tell at least five people to have an awesome day that I have never met before.
4. Apologize at least once for a disagreement when I still believe I am right
(and the facts back me up).
5. Just do something without asking why.
6. Be there for a friend before they have the opportunity to ask for help.
7. Make at least five strangers laugh.
8. Make a donation to at least five different charities.
9. Spend a day assisting at a food bank or homeless shelter.
10. Buy a stranger a hot cup of coffee.
11. Take a friend at his word and jump into something strictly based on emotion
rather than fact.
12. Make at least five new friends.
13. Tell my wife that I am a better man because of her.
14. Answer a phone call when I know who it is and I don’t really want to talk to
them.
15. Renew my Detroit Lions Tickets (because even a loser needs to know that
someone still supports them).
16. Be nice to telephone solicitor (just once).
17. Donate a used cell phone.
18. Send an email to someone for no other reason than to brighten their day.
19. Treat a group of young kids for pizza and ice cream
20. Salute the American flag.
21. Buy at least a dozen products made or manufactured in my home state.
22. Tell my kids how much I love and am proud of them.
23. Pave a new and better path for others rather than taking the one I always
have.
24. Look up an old friend who I haven’t seen in many years and buy him or her
lunch.
25. Build a snowman with my kids.
26. Compliment someone’s culture by eating something I’ve never tried before.
27. Write a letter to someone just to make them happy.
28. Travel somewhere I’ve never been before and experience their culture.
29. Enroll in a young child’s enthusiasm.
30. Be so goofy one day so as to make people wonder if I’m crazy
31. Go to a Tiger’s game with friends.
32. Open my own home to others more often.
33. Have a couple of Lafayette Coney Islands with extra onions and some well
done fries with someone who has never been there.
34. Enter a contest that has absolutely no relevance to anything important in my
life just for the fun of it.
35. Do a load of laundry without being asked.
36. Jump in a pile of leaves with my wife just to be silly and to remind us why we
married.
37. Say yes just once when I really really want to say no.
38. Go to a friend or relatives children’s function and cheer for their success.
39. Help a stranded motorist.
40. Donate a dollar to a homeless person without passing judgment as to what he
or she may do with it.
41. Just once, refrain from rolling my eyes when I really want too.
42. Break out in song and or dance one time when no one would ever expect it.
43. Call my mother and sister more often to check in on them.
44. Arrange family gatherings more often just because.
45. Talk less and listen more to the insight of others.
46. Vacuum the house without asking.
47. Be a voice of reason when called upon.
48. Be a shoulder for anyone anywhere who may need it.
49. Defend the honor and integrity for someone who for whatever reason
may not be able to stand up for themselves.
50. Help others discover the passion for, and fun in life.
51. Be an awesome dad so as to make my children proud.
52. Love my wife with all my heart.

Have a truly awesome holiday season. I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy New Year. May it bring you all the richness you deserve.

So Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

This morning as I was slipping and sliding my way down the street, I saw a chicken crossing the road. My immediate thoughts were that he was on a mad dash to escape Coronel Sanders or he was just trying to get to the proverbial other side of the road. I just shook my head at first and found the humor in situation.

By now, if you have been a faithful reader of my blog you know that I have a very difficult time just taking things at face value. I analyze and over analyze things. Yeah I know what you’re thinking, where do you come up with some of this stuff and sometimes I am really not too sure myself. But hey it’s just me and that odd perception I have on life.

As I was driving, I started to think about that old joke or riddle (whichever your definition is, is fine) and started to think about it in a slightly more complex way. Why was that chicken really crossing the road? Was it because he was just wandering aimlessly with no direction and the road was merely a path he decided on at the spur of the moment to take? Did he perform some kind of logical thinking process to decide that he needed to obtain a different viewpoint?

Maybe there was something on the other side of the road which captured his attention and he needed to cross over to the other side to investigate. Or maybe still there was something on the other side of the street that he wanted and he decided that he need to make that trek to obtain the desired goal.

And another thing, why did it have to be a chicken? Why not an Anteater or Rhinoceros or a Llama for that matter? I can think of some pretty funny jokes about why an Anteater crossed the road.

No, I’m not crazy. I am going somewhere with this. There is a method to the madness I call the bizarre logic of The Bruce.

If you haven’t figured out yet where I am going, try and think for a moment of yourself, as bizarre as this may seem, as the object contemplating that journey. Are you doing it confidently and with a sense of self assurance or are you that “chicken”.

Many would describe that chicken as a healthier alternative to meat, however a secondary definition, now readily available and accepted by such dictionaries as Merriam Webster is “as a coward in any of various contests in which the participants risk personal safety in order to see which one will give up first”. I will take it one step further and go out on a limb and proclaim it to be simply someone who is full of trepidation and unsure or unable to take the next step.

Okay, so now maybe I have you thinking, am I a chicken, or am I an ok, bold and unstoppable. Am I a little of both, or am I so incredibly complex that I am a bad Chinese placemat?

Now if you have managed to decipher who you really are, and I’m betting that many of you are not who you think you are, what is it that is on the other side of the road? Is it a matter of curiosity or is it a fundamental matter? Is it is something logical or is it speculative. The truth is, it is simply nothing more than change.

Sitting and staying on the same side of the road breeds complacency. As human beings, we love complacency. It’s warm and fuzzy and we have grown comfortable with it. If we are not forced to alter any portion of our being, we probably won’t.

I do believe however that we define ourselves by the number of risks that we are willing or not willing to take. Living life to the fullest extent means putting yourself out there and charging across the road.

What is on the other side of the road? I really don’t know. I believe it to be individualistic and therefore for you to figure out. It could be a new job opportunity, a partnership commitment, or simply an item on your “bucket list”.

Can I guarantee you that the grass will be greener, of course not. I can in fact however guarantee you one thing, and that is, that it will call for you to step out of your comfort zone and examine something that you have never experienced before.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Maybe it was for no other reason than he was hungry and saw no more corn feed in his sights so he needed to search for another opportunity to feed. For him, the potential gain exceeded the risk of starvation. He could no longer be complacent because it became a matter of survival.

Life is not about surviving; life is about living and making the very most out of each day. Yes, it’s challenging, but it is also adventurous and fun. Take a risk today. Find something worth crossing the road for.

Who Ever Paid Me To Be a Role Model?

Bet I know what you are thinking, “What the hell was he thinking?”

I have no intentions in this blog to take sides in this issue. I won’t debate whether he owed society an explanation for his behavior or if it should have remained a family issue. I am sure you can find that in many other blogs.

I want to talk about a more important issue. Let’s just say the mighty Tiger has been brought to his knees and leave it at that. Many will argue that his transgressions will be the destruction of yet another famous athlete’s reputation. All you have to do is read the headlines in your local papers. “The Downfall of an Icon” reads one. “A Great American Role Model Gone” reads another, and probably the most damming that I read which stated “Youth around the World set back by the actions of their idol and role model”.

Wow, that’s pretty heavy stuff.

However before we go any further into our discussion, let us take a moment to break down that last statement and better define what or who Tiger really is.

What is a role model? Encarta defines it as somebody to be copied: a worthy person who is a good example for other people. The free dictionary defines it as a person regarded by others, especially younger people, as a good example to follow. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines it simply as a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.

Now let’s look at what an idol is. The same dictionaries define an idol as a person, whose behavior in a particular role can be considered as god like, or one that is adored, and finally a representation or symbol of an object of worship

Think for a few moments about those definitions and how they may be somewhat similar yet worlds apart.

Okay here it is in Black and White. Tiger Woods is and was an idol if you or your children made the conscious decision to accept him as one. He is not, never was and never should have been considered to be a role model. I am not asking you to necessary agree with that fact; however I hope that, whatever you do believe, defining role models start at home.

Our responsibility as parents is to provide a safe, nurturing, caring and compassionate environment which fosters our children’s ability to learn. Provide them with a haven to learn about love, respect and responsibility. To learn what honesty, integrity, and sincerity truly mean as they learn to interact with others. Anything short of that is a failure on our part. Sorry to be so harsh, but I elected to bring children into this world and for that I must assume the culpability and responsibility that comes along with it.

It is your responsibility and you need to own up to it.

The greatest compliment that any child can give a parent is to tell them that they in fact are their role models. That as a parent, they have set a good example for them and that they are a better person for emulating the lessons that they were taught as they were growing up. That’s called validation for a job well done.

Your responsibility as well is to insure that your children know and understand what the difference is between an idol and a role model. By no means am I saying that there is anything wrong with having a room full of posters, and memorabilia for those that they idolize. But that is my point; it is someone that they, by definition see as an idol. They only become a role model if we as parents are not there to point out the distinction between the two or if we fail in our efforts to foster the right environment.

Here is another truth. All worldly idols will at one point or another drop the ball. Why? Because they are human and human beings are not infallible. Everyone one of us, no matter how perfect we profess ourselves to be have had a moment or two in our life that we are not proud of. A moment in time where we sit back and reflect on what exactly we were thinking.

As a role model for our children, we can sit them down on a one on one basis and discuss the issue and utilize it as a learning experience. Idols rarely do.

We have a terrible habit of placing idols on a pedestal in the middle of the village square and professing them to be everything that we want to be. We want to live our lives vicariously through them and in our eyes they are perfection. But that’s the funny thing, they are not perfect or flawless, we just tend to look past those idiosyncrasies.

We buy what they pitch. We emulate their golf swings. We dream to have what they have. That’s what we do with idols.

While, as we said, any parent wants their children to see them as a positive influence it is not always the case with idols that we allow our kids to consider as role models.

Ex-professional basketball player Charles Barkley, after attempting to spit at another player missed and hit a young man at court side. When chided for his actions and cavalier attitude about the circumstance he replied “I didn’t sign up to be any kid’s role model”.

If you ever visit my office you will see to pictures side by side. You will see one of Tiger Woods in the middle of a perfect follow through. I idolize the guy for his golf game, his dedication to charity, and his unwavering focus (I really have no intention of taking it down either). He would be just as successful running a fortune 500 company as he is on the tour.

The second photo is of a dad and his son walking off into the sunset with their golf bags over their shoulders under the caption “Priorities; Love is, above all else the gift of oneself”. You see my dad was my role model. He taught me about life.

Make sure to spend a moment with your children and help them define the difference between an idol and a role model, it could make all the difference in how they see the world

Fair, Who Ever Said Life Was Fair?

dad and daughtersThose of you who know me well, know that I am a man who is never at a loss for words. Instead of talking so much and yes I still do that, this forum has allowed me to put some of those words to paper. I must say that I was totally shocked by the impact that my last blog posting had on so many people. Yea, some have accused me of being a little over dramatic at times so I was not really sure if or how many of you would respond.

The relationship between a dad and a daughter is certainly a wonderful thing. It is something that only a dad and a daughter can truly understand. It was never my intention to bring people to tears, only remind them that life is fleeting and to enjoy every moment of the quality opportunities that we are granted. My two daughters allow me to be a part of many of their life’s experiences along with them and for that I am very blessed.

You see, life is really a funny thing. Not necessarily in a Ha Ha… way, but more specifically in an ironic way. True, sometimes it can be humorous. Sometimes it can be carefree and sometimes problematic. Sometimes it can be adventurous and daring and other times full of trepidation and anxiety. However, the one thing that life is not is fair.

As young kids, we often told our parents that certain things just weren’t fair. “How come she can do it and I can’t, that’s not fair”. Why did they pick him and not me, that’s just not fair”.

If you are so inclined to do so, look at the MSN online Encarta dictionary and you will find that there are thirteen different adjective definitions, three adverb, and two verb definitions. That would make eighteen different definitions for one word.

However, when you review each one you will find that life is not any of them. It is nor reasonable or unbiased, it’s not done according to the rules. It’s not acceptable or slightly better than acceptable.

When did this perception that life was fair start? Who ever said that things need to be fair?

In the last couple of months I have seen three friends lose their young sons due to varying circumstances, and a groomsman from my wedding who was followed shortly thereafter by his heartbroken father.

If the years you have experienced haven’t spoken to you yet, let me remind you. Life is not fair. It wasn’t meant to be, it never intended to be and it never will be. Life is not a destination that we arrive at like a train station or an airport terminal. Life is not arriving at grandma’s house safe and sound. Life is an adventure more comparable to a roller coaster with its ups and downs and unpredictability.

We all react differently and we all see the experience differently. Some will see it as an awesome ride and others will see it as a few minutes of sheer panic. The truth is that the experience creates your perception.

Watching my oldest daughter drive off to Florida to begin the rest of her life was heartbreaking to me. Watching a parent lose a child is nothing short of gut wrenching. My heart aches for their families and I can find no spoken or unspoken words to say other than that I am truly sorry and that I will always be there should they need me for support.

Yes, I know and understand that some of you may feel that it is part of the plan of a higher being, or that they are in a better place now. I grieved when I lost my father a few years back and I grew to respect and understand the words that others said to me. I knew that their intentions were well meaning, but for me, at that time, it just wasn’t fair that he was taken at such a young age and there was no rationalization that I could grasp.

Some will say that I have no business writing a blog about a topic I have no personal experience with, and thank God I don’t. I do have experience being a parent to children I love and adore. There is nothing fair about a parent having to bury a child. It’s not fair.

I am heartbroken for these families and I hope that they can find the necessary comfort to move on at some point with the rest of their lives. I understand that it will never be the same for them again. I will however be there as a friend with open arms and a listening ear when they need someone they can count on.

I am sure that right now they can not find any peace or any semblance of understanding for what has happened. To my friends, you are right, it is not fair. Each of your children was incredibly special and touched every life that they came upon. In their own way they enriched the lives of others and made an impact on this world.

Know that the last message they left the rest of us was that life is not fair and that we as parents should be more focused and driven to find a few more minutes in our busy lives to pick up our own kids and hug them or stop and call them to tell them how much we love them and how proud we are of them.

I love you girls and I am damn proud of you.

A Dad’s Letter to His Little Girl

dad and daughterTo my Daughter,

Yesterday, I held your tiny little body in my hands. So fragile and frail. I watched your eyes open for the very first time as you tried to focus on something familiar. I watched intently as you gazed upon a new and unfamiliar world. I choked back tears as my emotions overcame me as I admired how beautiful you were. I was so excited that I was going to be a new dad and you were going to be my first born daughter. My little girl.

When I think back over the last twenty three and a half years, I think how truly amazing it is what I recall. I can be accused of not remembering what I had for lunch, but memories of you, I will never forget. I remember bringing you home from the hospital for the very first time; painting Sesame Street characters on your bedroom wall and that wooden rocking chair where we first bonded.

I remember the special relationship you and our dog Camelot had. How inseparable the two of you were; funny Halloween costumes and family vacations to Disneyworld; daddy daughter dances. I remember sprees and carnivals and just being silly, for silly sake, yet how responsible you were when we bought your first car.

I remember the wonderful relationship you had with your grandfathers. They were both blessed to call you their very first as well. I will never forget how you could make them smile like nothing else in life. How you made them glow and how their eyes lit up with a twinkle whenever they spent quality time with you; how you showed them such a special kind of reciprocal love.

I remember your love of dance. I recall everything from practice and lessons to costumes and rhinestones; from falling asleep in the lobby waiting through late night classes and then driving home to traveling the globe for competitions; all of the competitions to our trip to Los Angeles. More than anything I recall all of the special conversations we had about life that we shared together during those times.

I remember how beautiful you looked and how incredibly proud I was of you on the monumental occasions that you have experienced so far in your young life. I recall how confident and self assured you were at your Bat Mitzvah, to what an elegant and classy young lady you were for each and every homecoming and prom.

I remember college days and all of our wonderful chats as you faced becoming an independent, grown-up young adult. I remember visiting you at college and picking up a rock from the parking lot and giving it to you as a special remembrance of our special time together. I’ll never forget the tears streaming down my cheeks as I watched you walk across the stage to receive your college diploma.

In case you ever wondered, my love for you was never just because it is a dad’s responsibility to do so, but more because of who you were becoming, who you are today, and what I know you are destined to be. While it would be easy for any dad to recite all the reasons he loves his daughter, I love you most for your sense of empathy.

I love how passionate and understanding you are, and how cognizant you are of others feelings. You are tolerant and patient and dedicated to what is true and right. Traits that are rare today yet will drive you to excel in whatever paths you choose to navigate.

I hope I have done a good job of raising you. I hope I was a great dad when you needed me to be one. I hope you understood when I scolded you, and I hope I made you smile enough to laugh at life. I hope I was a good friend when you needed me to be. I hope I listened when you needed an ear and I hope that I was a voice of reason when you needed a shoulder.

I hope more than anything, I taught you to dream. And when you dream, I hope that you always dream big. I hope that I taught you to always believe in yourself as much as I believe in you. Never ever forget that you can accomplish anything your heart desires. Always reach for the highest of stars and aspire to do or be the unimaginable.

This week I will watch as you drive away to begin the next chapter in your life in another state far from my protecting arms.

Oh, I really do understand. I really do. You have become a grown up woman, passionate and independent, and you need to go where you can build a future for yourself. I get it. Graduate school, a career, and a fiancée await you, and I couldn’t be prouder. Proud of what you have accomplished, and proud of what I know you will become. I know your impact on this world will be immeasurable.

The most difficult challenge for any dad is the thought that he has to be his daughter’s protector. He needs to shield her from any harm. He needs to make any pain go away and needs to look over her shoulder to make sure she always makes the correct decision.

You have made raising you my greatest joy. I am so thrilled to be your dad and know you have made an excellent choice in selecting the man that you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

Just remember not to forget me, as you will always be near and dear to my heart and never out of my thoughts. Just don’t fault me if those tears start streaming again as I watch my little girl drive off as a confident and mature woman.

Love,

Dad

A Dog Walks Into a Bar and Orders a Drink…

LaughingA Rabbi, an Indian Chief and an Accountant all walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says “Okay, I give, what’s the punch line? Alright I give you I don’t have the worlds greatest sense of humor, however for me, it works. Ask my friends, some of my jokes are better than others. The truth is however if you keep feeding them great ones without a groaner in there once in a while, the crowd will never appreciate the really funny ones.

I love a good joke, as I am sure you do as well. It serves so many purposes. It is a great ice breaker in a difficult or uncomfortable situation. It humanizes you when you may seem robotic or unapproachable. Most importantly when you share a good joke it allows others the ability to take a moment and escape from their daily grind. A laugh, a chuckle, a silly smile or even a groan allows others to take their mind off of the challenges they may be facing at that moment, or in the best possible scenario, allows them to reset their priorities in a much better light.

I will tell you another thing of fact. Telling a great joke and the ability to laugh at one self is also a tremendous stress reliever. Yes, I put myself out there, right on the firing line. Sometimes I will have others laughing hysterically and other times just sitting there shaking their heads. But hey, that’s perfectly okay. They can laugh at my jokes, or me. I am okay with it either way.

Why do you think that some of Johnny Carson’s greatest monologues on the Tonight Show were the ones where he just wasn’t funny? We thought it was riotous just watching him squirm under the hot lights. He didn’t care that the jokes bombed, you laughed and that’s why you tuned in.

You see jokes are really a lighthearted look at life. They can be based on misconceptions or actual reality. They can be delivered as a witty slice of life or a dry take on human drama. In most cases, as they should always be delivered, they are not designed with any pre-conceived malice. Jokes create a harmonious environment. Yes, people will go to a sold out concert to watch a master of humor tell jokes for a couple of hours to be entertained, but on a much smaller scale look for the joke teller at your next social gathering and I bet you will find the crowd around him or her.

I can sit for hours trading jokes with old friends or by sharing a love of laughter with new ones. I love a great comedy show, concert or movie when it takes me away from my challenges. I love the Robin Williams quote “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. You’re only given a spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

So I ask you, when was the last time you let your hair down? Not necessarily when was the last time you heard a really great joke that made you burst out laughing in public? No, I mean when was the last time you took it upon yourself to risk making a complete fool out of yourself retelling one of the funniest jokes or stories you ever heard to others?

I am not saying that every circumstance in life deserves a good joke to lighten the moment, but you might be surprised if you think back to certain moments in you own lives where someone told you a great joke and it immediately changed your outlook or perspective.

The world is filled with unique personalities, social classes, ethnicities, and levels of intelligence. A great joke, when not offensive crosses all barriers. Some of the funniest jokes are often delivered by someone when it is completely out of their character.

Albert Einstein, arguably one of the greatest scientists that the world has ever seen once was quoted at a national symposium as saying the following “When you sit with a nice girl for two hours, it seems like two minutes. When you sit on a hot stove for two minutes, it seems like two hours. Now that’s relativity.” Now that’s also funny.

Yes, each of us is born with just a little spark of madness. That cut loose, it’s okay to be stupid and make an idiot out of myself, what will people think of me in the morning madness. However, way too many of us suppress that madness as a distraction or wasted energy when in fact it just may be what the situation needed. Some will say “Life is tough and then you die” and to them I say life is a journey and it is what we make it. Live love and laugh. Better yet, lighten up. Find just a little spark of your madness and take the time to share it with others.

A rabbit walks into a bar in the old western days and proclaims “I‘m looking for the guy who shot my paw’…