Archive for January, 2015

Nothing But Weeds?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds” Gordon B. Hinckley

Sit back and give that quote some thought. Once it processes it should make a lot of sense. When I was a child the grass grew like wild fire on the flat spot at the top of the hill behind the house. My father began to clear it and before long it was a beautiful baseball field. I played baseball throughout my younger years and that field was a crucial part in the development of my game. The imaginary fence was highlighted by tall grass, which wasn’t mowed in order to make it clear that any ball that reached it in the air was considered a home run.

Time moved on and before long I was buried in books. The college years passed quickly and the days of yesteryear presented me with a gentle reminder that weeds will bloom if you don’t take care of the diamond. One thing led to the next and before I knew it the baseball field on top of the hill disappeared. One weed turned into two and then the whole field was taken over by the invasive plants. My father had stopped mowing it after I quit playing baseball. The beautiful diamond was now nothing more than a cardboard square. It hurt, but I realized the events that had transpired reflected the changes of life.

After I graduated from college I returned home. Playing baseball had long since faded out of my life, but shooting archery became my passion. I could stand for hours in the lawn and shoot one arrow after another. The arrows glided effortlessly toward the target. More often than not they found their way to the center of it, which brought me a lot of joy and happiness. Archery allowed me to grow. It centered my mind and brought me inner peace. I found a passion that will stay with me for the rest of my life. It has allowed me to travel all over the country shooting in tournaments. I’ve also been lucky enough to go bow hunting from the Northeast to the Midwest to the Rocky Mountains. Archery became my life.

In order to improve I needed a good practice range. The diamond below the weeds still existed. It required a lot of work, but the diamond reappeared and a new archery range was built. Once again the weeds were gone. To keep the weeds from growing I put in a lot of work. I started shooting local tournaments before feeling comfortable enough to head to some regional tournaments. After tasting success at the regional championships and state championships I decided to jump into the big pond. Since I had become a big fish in a small pond I wanted to see if I could swim with the big boys who ruled the depths of the water. After finishing in fifth place at my first national event I knew I could compete on that level and the diamond remained.

Now, almost 20 years later, the diamond still exists. The hard work has kept the weeds from growing. Not only has my hard work helped, but my father’s hard work has brought him a record that still stands in the National Senior Games. All of his practice allowed him to shoot the third highest score ever recorded in his age bracket.

No matter what we choose to do in life hard work is necessary if we want to be successful. The weeds might not make their presence known for a while, but gradually they’ll take over and run rampant. Once they settle in the beauty of our work fades away and the hard work is forgotten.

Diamonds are forever. Don’t let the weeds overtake their beauty.


Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

I’m sitting here looking at the calendar. There are only a few more days left in January. A month ago many people made resolutions for the coming year and I’m sure the vast majority of those resolutions have already found a hiding place. I’m not sure why people do it every year. Maybe it makes them feel better for a few minutes, hours or days. Some might stick it out and make wholesale changes while others never came up with plans to achieve their fabricated resolutions. With all of that being said I guess that’s why this quote shows up on my calendar for the month of January: “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.”

What does that mean to you? Every time I read it I’m confronted with a variety of thoughts. Unfortunately none of the thoughts remain consistent. Sometimes I think I get it and other times I feel as if I’m grasping at a leaf blowing through the sky on a windy fall day.

We’ve all made choices that have led us down different paths. When I examine the quote tonight it reminds me that we will meet our destiny no matter where we go. Although we can make choices that bring us in and out of happiness we can’t control what will ultimately happen to us.

I could go to the store tonight and find myself in the hospital after hitting some black ice. I could see someone at the store who I haven’t seen in 20 years. I could pick up a hitchhiker only to find out he is a veteran of the United States military who is searching for his family.

No matter what the circumstance things happen to us based on timing. Timing is everything or nothing all at once. A matter of five seconds can be the difference between life and death. A matter of minutes might keep you from meeting the most influential person of your lifetime. A day or two might keep you from getting swept away in a tornado.

Very rarely do people think about timing and the effects it has had on everyone around them. We are all in the position we are in because of perfect timing or maybe not so perfect timing. If my mother hadn’t become pregnant in 1965 there’s no guarantee my parents would have gotten married or decided to have two more children. My parents were kids and they were going to start having kids. It was taboo back in those days to have children out of wedlock, but my grandmother took my mom and my father in and allowed them to start a family. There’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for everything that transpired after my mother and father found out they were going to have a baby.

I’m sure it was a scary time. I’m sure they probably thought of alternative plans, but they stuck it out and gave it  their best. As with any marriage there have been ups and downs, but they have succeeded at becoming the best parents any child could ever ask for. Their destiny was to raise a healthy and loving family they could be proud of. The original road they were traveling on probably had no children crossing signs on it, but their destiny was to erect the signs and watch them disappear over time as their children became adults.

As I sat in the church today for the funeral of a very well-liked young man it was another situation where timing led to his destiny. For a reason nobody will ever understand it was his time. He might have been here to enlighten all of the people he touched. It might have been his job to show people how to love unconditionally. He might have been here to show us that nothing lasts forever. No matter what the case there’s no way anyone could have stopped it. Although we all want to go back in time and hope for a different outcome we can’t do that. Instead, we have to accept the pain from the tragedy and find a way to help others get through it. We have to put our hands on their shoulders. We have to squeeze them tight. We have to tell them we love them. We have to use our strength to help others deal with the pain that will take a lifetime to subside. Maybe he was put here to show people it’s okay to help others.

None of these questions will ever be answered. That’s why we have to find strength in others. Don’t take people for granted. Life is fragile and it can be taken from any one of us at any time. Do the things you enjoy and include the people you love. You can love them as a partner, a sibling, a parent or just a friend. It’s okay to love a lot of people. The most loving people usually find the best support.

As you pick the roads you will travel realize that no matter which ones you choose there will never be a wrong choice. All roads lead someplace and the one you’re on is meant to take you where you’re supposed to be. Always enjoy the ride and everything will happen as it’s supposed to happen.


Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Throughout my elementary school days my classmates and I were asked a number of times who our heroes were and why we choose them. As my classmates answered I sat back and took it all in. I heard all of the normal stuff such as famous baseball players, football players, ballerinas, actors and actresses, but very rarely did I hear, “My parents!”

From one year to the next I never hesitated with the answer or my reasoning behind it. My parents always provided me with everything I needed to grow up on a good environment. I was always well-fed, clean, rested and well-mannered. I was taught to respect people even when they don’t respect you.

My parents always told me to kill them with kindness. It’s very hard for someone to be mean to another person when the person is smiling. Give it a try sometime and you’ll see how well it works. Depending on the person it will either drive them crazy and make them extremely angry, especially if they harbor a lot of internal anger or it will make them calm down and smile, too. You can find out a lot about a person’s character by examining their reaction.

As I moved from elementary school into high school my parents remained my heroes. Both of them were hard workers and they did everything they could to ensure the happiness of me and my siblings before themselves. They were and still are the perfect models for what parents should be.

All of us kids were taught about the importance of money. We had to earn our own money and hold jobs when we were old enough to work. The three of us got lucky enough to land good jobs right out of the gate and gain ground quickly while working. Before I left for college I made my way into management and stayed there throughout college. I enjoyed what I did because the employees under me liked me, but more than anything they respected me. I ran a loose ship, but when it was time to work I accepted no excuses. I wasn’t a micro-manager as so many unqualified people in management are today. They taste some power and become power mongers without knowing how their actions affect the entire workforce.  When morale begins to spiral out of control the power mongers begin pointing fingers. They blame it on other employees rather than accepting the blame. It’s always easier to blame someone else than to own the problem.

Now, as an adult in my mid-life years, I tend to take it all in and ride the wave. I like to imagine myself as a surfer. I ride the wave without letting is suck me under and pound me into the sand on the ocean floor. Once the wave breaks and the water takes me toward the shore I hop off the board, hit the beach and walk away. It’s a simple way of avoiding the backlash of the waves. The younger version of me would still be out there fighting every wave rather than letting it take me where it wants to. There’s no sense in fighting a battle that can’t be won.

Even now I still have the same heroes as I did 40 years ago and better yet both of those heroes are still alive. I know how fortunate I am, especially when I look around at all of my friends who have all lost parents and siblings alike. My entire family is here and I know how lucky I am. Although I’ve lost all of my grandparents and a few aunts and uncles along the way  the roots of my tree are still planted in the ground around me.

Some days these roots seem like they belong to an unbreakable tree and other days I wonder how much more the trees can take before the big nasty storms blow them over. The weather was calm for many years, but the last few have brought one storm after another. The wind and rain keep pounding and the trees bend but they haven’t broken.

Heroes come and go in life. My heroes have walked beside me for the last 45 years. No matter what happens in the future I’ll always have their characteristics, which have been instilled into my personality for my entire lifetime up to this point. Choose your heroes wisely and do the things you have to do in order to be a child’s hero. Anyone, no matter who you are, can make a difference in someone’s life.


Here are my heroes.