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Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Bowling For Cookies

In Giving Back, Inspiration and Motivation, Pursuit of Happiness on April 27, 2010 at 10:32 am

Olivia Grace Armand, affectionately known as “Cookie,” died of a rare disease called I-Cell (or Mucolipidosis Type II) on December 11, 2009 (10 days before her 5th birthday).  Within a few weeks of Olivia’s passing, her parents, Trish and Mike Armand, established the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation.

Being that Olivia’s brother, Mikey (who turned 4 yesterday), also suffers from the same rare disease that took his sister’s life, it is logical to think that the foundation was set up to find a cure for I-Cell, but it wasn’t.  Unfortunately, the harsh realization is that very little can be done for Mikey at this point, but that hasn’t stopped Trish and Mike Armand from wanting to selflessly “pay it forward.”

Because of their disease, Olivia and Mikey have spent countless days in hospitals.  The Armands give a lot of credit to the doctors that they have dealt with, but the ones who have given them comfort and strength are the incredible pediatric nurses that they have encountered over the years.  For this reason, the Olivia Grace Armand Foundation was established to provide pediatric nursing scholarships to the unsung heroes who provide an emotional support system that goes beyond medical care.

Needless to say, I was honored when I was asked to be a board member for this incredibly noble foundation.  Although I haven’t personally had much experience around pediatric nurses, I have seen the difference that compassionate nurses can make in the lives of family members who are dealing with a dire situation.

In 2001, a severe head injury caused my father to go into a coma.  The neurosurgeons did absolutely nothing to comfort us.  In fact, their stark presentation of my father’s condition made things even worse.  The only solace that we ever received was from the compassionate nurses.  Even though it has been nearly nine years since my father’s passing, I still remember one particular nurse named Colleen.  Colleen treated our family as if we were long-time friends, and it didn’t take long for me to trust whatever she told us.

My father’s fight for his life lasted for 5 days, until he finally couldn’t fight any longer.  During that time, Colleen would tell us what was happening, and what was likely to happen next.  She was never wrong!  Even though the news was never good, she always delivered the message with great compassion.  The night that my father died, Colleen hugged each of us, and cried with us as we said our goodbyes.  I’ll never forget Colleen as long as I live, so I know exactly why Trish and Mike feel so strongly about giving back to pediatric nurses.

In a short time, the foundation had already raised $10,000 leading up to the first fundraiser, “Bowling for Cookies,”which was held this past weekend.  I am truly honored to have been a part of it.

When I arrived in Florida on Saturday evening, I was greeted at the airport by Trish and a few other board members (some of whom I had never met before).  It was a fun-filled evening with a lot of laughs.  By the time that the night came to an end, I felt as if I had made new friends.  We only spent a short time planning for the event the next day, and since none of us had done this before, we were going to have to learn on the job (so to speak).

After having a quick breakfast together, we started our day by going to visit Olivia’s gravesite.  Although visiting a cemetery is usually very solemn for me, Olivia’s final resting place felt different.  Trish described it best in one word…“peaceful.” The wind chimes hanging from a small tree blew gently in the breeze as we all stood together talking about the day.  I was sad that we were standing by the grave of a little girl, but happy that we were about to do something special in her name.

We arrived at the bowling alley about four hours before the event was to begin.  At first, it was a little confusing trying to figure out each of our roles, but before long, we were working together as a team, and getting things done.  Slowly but surely, the lobby was transformed into a greeting area that made you forget for a moment that you were inside of a bowling alley, the billiard room became a silent auction staging area, and it began to feel as though we were a team of people who had done this together before.  Each of us seemed to just gravitate towards a responsibility as Trish led the way, which couldn’t have been easy with all of the stress and emotion that she was feeling.

There were many touching moments throughout the day.  It began with the first family showing up, and each of them wearing purple (the foundation’s official color).  As the bowling alley filled up, Trish gave a speech thanking everyone for coming.  Through the tears, and a quiver in her voice, you could feel the passion that she has to make this foundation a success.  And perhaps the most touching moment of all came when Trish picked the winning ticket for the 50/50 raffle, which ended up being a $400 cash prize to the winner.  Everyone applauded as Trish’s friend Jason came forward to claim his prize.  As Trish went to hand Jason the money, he immediately told her not to hand it to him, and that the money was for the foundation.  Trish announced Jason’s generosity to the crowd, choked up, with tears in her eyes, and said…“you see everyone, this is what paying it forward it all about!”

Shortly after Jason’s show of generosity, everyone attending the event sang “Happy Birthday” to Mikey.  And though I couldn’t see his face from my vantage point, I got the full description from Trish’s dad and step-mom, who told me that he usually gets a little scared around the candles, but not this time.  They told me that he really enjoyed himself, just like everyone else who attended the event.

“Bowling For Cookies” was a tremendous success.  It seemed as much a celebration of Cookie’s life as it did a fundraiser for nursing scholarships.  Being that this was the first event, I had no idea what to expect in terms of money being raised, but I do know that my expectations were exceeded.  We ended up raising over $8000 to go towards the “Cookie Jar!” Pretty amazing when you take today’s economy into account!

I encourage everyone to check out www.OliviaGraceArmandFoundation.org for more information about this amazing little girl and to make donations.  Please also visit www.OliviasCookieJar.com to shop in the Olivia Grace Armand Mall, where all proceeds go directly to the foundation.

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Fallen Idols

In Family, Life Lessons on April 19, 2010 at 8:50 am

Kids today have so many things that I never did, and yet I still wish that my children could experience life the way that I did as a child.  Change is inevitable, but it isn’t always good.  And though I have become just as dependent on modern technology as the younger generations, I still have a great appreciation of what life was like before the instant gratification mindset penetrated our society.  So, while I may bemoan the fact that kids today seem to be tethered to some sort of electronic device at all times, I understand that it is just the way that life is nowadays.

Despite all of the technological progress that has been made since I was a kid, things aren’t necessarily better for kids today.  They have to concern themselves with things that never entered into my mind when I was young.  Aside from obvious things like terrorism, there are more subtle threats like online predators.  Although I was told not to talk to strangers as a kid, the reality is that I was pretty sheltered from most crime living in a Long Island suburb (aside from our home being broken into one time).  I can’t recall being exposed to any of the heinous crimes against children that litter the news on a daily basis.  I’m sure it existed, but I only paid attention to sports news.  But even that is no longer a safe haven.

Sports news today is as much about the bad things that famous athletes are doing as it is about recaps of games and statistics.

Money has changed things.  Athletes always made a decent living in comparison to most people, but today’s salaries border on obscene.  With the endorsement money that many athletes make on top of their salaries, they are in a financial stratosphere that most people will never reach.  In my opinion, this creates problems.  Most athletes are ill-equipped to deal with their newfound wealth.  They spend money as if it is going to last forever, even though their careers span a fairly short time period of their life.  And many athletes live their life as if they are above the law.

It is sad to say, but the most memorable sports stories in recent years revolve around athletes committing shameful acts of varying degrees…from Tiger Woods’ cheating scandal, to the murders committed by O.J. Simpson and everything in between.  There is no way to tell when one of the “good guys” is going to do something bad, and thus, athletes can no longer be idolized by children unconditionally, and certainly can’t be counted on as role models.

Who would have thought that a young quarterback, a rising star of a storied franchise, would be in the news for sexually attacking women?  If not for slipshod police work, a lot of money and the fame that comes with being an NFL quarterback, it is quite likely that Ben Roethlisberger would be spending time behind bars rather than waiting to see how long his suspension will last.  As the father of a daughter, I am sickened by him.

Sadly, Roethlisberger is just one of many athletes who have tainted the world of professional sports.  Donte Stallworth received a 30-day sentence for killing someone while driving drunk (the sentence was eventually reduced to 24 days).  Leonard Little received a 60-day sentence for committing the exact same crime (in addition to 1000 hours of community service).  Six years after the involuntary manslaughter charge was wiped from Little’s record, he was arrested again for drunk driving.  Rae Carruth is a name that I will only remember because he is in jail for conspiring to kill his girlfriend (who was 8-months pregnant with his child at the time).  And the list of deplorable athletes goes on and on…too many to mention in the context of this post.

I wish that my son was able to idolize his favorite athletes unconditionally, but he can’t.  He will never have the luxury that I had as a kid.  This is not to say that every athlete was a choirboy while I was growing up, but they somehow managed to avoid committing heinous crimes.  Perhaps it is just my perspective, but it seems to me that athletes played for the love of the game when I was a kid, whereas many athletes today play for the love of money.

Although there are a number of professional athletes who do great things, those stories don’t make for good headlines.  The truth of the matter is that the majority of professional athletes will never step outside the law, or be in the news for some kind of cheating scandal.  Since there is no way to tell who is going to commit bad acts, or when it will happen, the proverbial well has been poisoned for all professional athletes.

In retrospect, it was probably never fair for professional athletes to be role models in the first place.  It is up to parents to be good role models for our children.  To a lesser degree, the burden also falls on teachers, coaches and anyone else that has an active role in shaping the minds of our children.  Regretfully, we cannot shield our children from all of the harm that exists in today’s world.  I just wish that the shield didn’t have to extend into the world of professional sports.

I Would Be Rich Beyond My Wildest Dreams If…

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Pursuit of Happiness on April 15, 2010 at 8:09 am

Throughout the course of my sales career, I have attended a number of seminars by industry leaders, subscribed to newsletters and read books by some of the most successful people around.  But nothing compares to the sales lessons that I learn daily living with the world’s greatest salesperson…my 3-year old daughter.  Not a day goes by where I don’t experience her unique style of salesmanship.  In fact, I’ve already witnessed it first-hand this morning.

We were getting ready to take my son to school, and my daughter asked if she could bring two library books with her.  Since she does nothing with the books but hold them, I suggested that she bring one of her baby dolls instead.

She picks up two library books and the baby doll and says…“I’ll just bring these two books and the baby.”

I replied…“What did I just say to you about bringing the books?”

Getting frustrated with me, she exhaustingly says…“Okay, okay.  I’ll bring my baby AND a book!”

This type of back and forth goes on regularly.  Somehow, in her own way, she works the negotiations out in her favor, but makes it sound like she has given in and agreed to what we have asked of her.  She has this incredible way of turning every “no” into some sort of victory for her (truly the mark of a great salesperson).  By the time she has finished negotiating, she not only has gotten her way to some degree, but she also appears to be walking away defeated, with a martyr-like quality that actually makes you feel kind of bad for her.

I can only imagine what my life would be like if I were able to apply the sales techniques that are used on me daily.  Let’s use real estate as an example…

How great it would be to go on a listing appointment using this technique.  I can see it now.  The homeowner would say that they will let me know after meeting with a few other agents.  I would reply with…“Okay, okay.  I’ll list your house for the price that I think it will sell for, and I’ll do it for a full commission!” I would then make them sign the listing agreement, pack up my stuff, and walk away sulking leaving the homeowners feeling bad for me.

Working with homebuyers would be a dream using this technique.  No longer would buyers be afforded the luxury of being eternal fence-sitters and taking up countless weekends looking for the “perfect home.” If the buyer tried to say that they want to see more homes before making a decision, I would respond with…“Okay, okay.  I’ll write up the offer for the house that I liked the best today.” The buyers would feel bad for me as I got into my car to drive home, realizing that I could have been home even sooner if they had just allowed me to make the decision for them earlier in the day.

The beauty of this technique is that it works for every product or service.

In the interest of fairness, I will issue the following warning…

If I master this sales technique, I will be impervious to your resistance.  You may as well say “yes” right away to anything that I am selling, because if I have to break out my daughter’s sales technique to close you, you will end up spending more money and feeling bad for me for saying “no” to me in the first place.

“Ideal” Conditions

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 14, 2010 at 7:19 am

This morning, a fairly insignificant moment with my daughter inspired this post and a life lesson that should benefit me going forward.  Hopefully those that read this will reap some benefit as well.

Potty training my 3-year old has been an experience (to say the least).  Like many kids, she resisted the idea of shedding the diaper, even though it meant bribery gifts, “big girl” underwear with her favorite characters and more.  Try as we might, there is very little that can be done to make it happen before she is willing, even if she is able.  It takes work, and it can be very frustrating at times.

To date, we have finally gotten her to use the potty at home.  However, we are still working on getting her to use a potty outside of the house.  This struggle seems to be more of an epic battle than it was to get her to go on the potty at home.  But it was no easy task at home either.

It started with the little potty because she was scared of the toilet with the potty seat.  Eventually, when we got tired of having our kitchen double as a bathroom, we took away the little potty and forced the issue a bit.  Though there was some screaming at first, it didn’t take long for her to realize that it wasn’t so bad to go on the big potty.  However, there was still one fear to overcome.  Let’s just say that she was no longer “regular” as she held it in out of fear.  Overcoming this fear was more work than just getting her to transition to the big potty, but before long, she realized that it wasn’t so bad after all.

Although we have conquered every milestone (aside from going outside of the house), it still doesn’t come easy at times, and this is where the life lesson was realized.

I don’t know if it is some kind of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or if she is merely a stickler for details, but my daughter still requires “ideal conditions” before using the potty at home.

First of all, it must be a “fresh bowl.” Sometimes kids forget to flush, so the bowl isn’t always fresh.  I understand this compulsion.  What I don’t understand is the fact that she refuses to flush the toilet if she didn’t just use it, so the reinforcements (my wife and I) must be called in to handle the “dirty work.”

Second of all, the stool that she uses to reach the potty must be as close to perfect as possible.  This morning it wasn’t.  Usually the problem is that the stool has gotten wet because it is near the sink.  Today proved that my daughter either has OCD, or that she is a perfectionist.  The conversation went as follows…

“Daddy, I have to go potty, but there is something on my stool.”

“What is it, baby?”

“It looks like it’s a sesame seed.”

One single sesame seed threw her off her game!  It’s not as if the stool was inexplicably covered in sesame seeds.  It was one seed!  During this conversation, my daughter was “penguin walking” through the living room with her underwear around her ankles.  But this wasn’t surprising, because part of her routine includes the “penguin walk,” even if it is only across the bathroom.

I laughed to myself at the absurdity of a sesame seed preventing her from going potty.  At that moment, it hit me that my daughter requires “ideal conditions” for something that should be fairly routine.  It got me to thinking about some things that I have done in the past, and continue to do at times today as well.

My “sesame seed” is paralysis by analysis.  It is trying to get everything “perfect” before getting started on something.  But we live in an imperfect world.  Very rarely does the world fully cooperate and wrap everything up in a neat little package with a bow of perfection.  There are ALWAYS unforeseen circumstances and unexpected issues that arise.  Whether it is something small and insignificant, or a real hurdle that must be overcome, the bottom line is that action is better than inaction.  Smart planning is one thing.  Obsessing on making things perfect is quite another.

The truth of the matter is that this blog would not exist if I approached it with perfection in mind.  I would have had to have found the perfect domain name.  I would have wanted it to be designed professionally.  I would have added things to it that aren’t really necessary.  It never would have been launched because it would have taken too much time, money and planning.  Sometimes, in life, it is best to live by Nike’s tagline…JUST DO IT!

If I find myself waiting for “ideal conditions” again in the future, I will think of the sesame seed on the stool, realize that “ideal conditions” don’t really exist and JUST DO IT!

The Memories Remain

In Family, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm

The sun rose this morning at 7:03am.  Normally, the exact time of the sunrise on any given day is pretty insignificant.  But today was different.  At sunrise today, Texas Stadium (the former home of the Dallas Cowboys) was imploded.  And though I have never attended a game there, I have been a Cowboys fan since I was a kid, and the stadium has always held special meaning to me.

In 1995, I attended a tradeshow in Dallas.  It was the only time that I had been in the area before moving here last summer.  Words can’t describe the feeling that I had as I saw Texas Stadium as my plane approached the airport just a few miles away.  Something that had always seemed larger than life to me finally seemed real.

When I was done working, I took a taxi to Texas Stadium to take a tour.  It was probably the best $5 that I have ever spent.  The Cowboys were dominant at the time, in the midst of their Super Bowl runs.  Even though I was in the stadium during the off-season, it still was an incredible feeling.  I can still remember running patterns on the field, and being surprised to see the pitch on the 50-yard line to allow water to drain.  On television, it always seemed perfectly flat.  With a magic marker, I signed my name on one of the goal posts (although I’m not sure that we were actually allowed to do so).  And then came the highlight of the tour…the Cowboys locker room.  It was before we all carried cell phones everywhere, so I called my girlfriend (now my wife) from the pay phone in the locker room.  When she wasn’t there to answer, I called my mother and told her where I was.  It was surreal, and one of the coolest experiences that I’ve ever had.

As I laid in bed with my son watching the implosion of Texas Stadium live on TV, the memories of that day came rushing back.  Even though I didn’t have many memories of the stadium, it was still sad to watch it disappear before my eyes.  Thankfully, we’ve driven past it several times since arriving in Texas, so at least my son got to see it (albeit from the car on the highway).  Watching the replay of it with my wife brought back an entirely different kind of memory.

The news kept showing the implosion from different vantage points.  From every angle,  the only thing that remained were some beams and a cloud of dust…reminiscent of what we saw from our Jersey City condo on the water on 9/11.  On that day, we watched the towers crumble before our eyes, and the dust cloud hovered for months afterwards.  Up until today, the only times that I have relived that moment is on each anniversary of 9/11…when it all comes rushing back.  Of course, the sadness of my 9/11 memories is profound, while the sadness of seeing a stadium imploded is purely nostalgic.

While seeing Texas Stadium crumble to the ground was not easy, it was nothing compared to the feeling that I had when I found out that Shea Stadium was being torn down to make room for Citi Field.  Out of all of the venues in sports, Shea Stadium is the one that means the most to me.  It is the place that I would go to ballgames with my family.  It is the only place that I ever saw a ballgame with my dad before he passed away.  It is where my son and I went to our first ballgame together.  It is the place where I saw my first concert ever (The Who’s “First” Farewell Tour in 1982).  It is a place that always has been, and always will be, a part of me.

When Billy Joel announced that he was going to be playing the final concert ever at Shea Stadium, I knew that I had to be there.  Amazingly, I had gone all of those years without seeing him live for one reason or another.  But going to see him for the first time was only part of it.  Being there for the last concert ever was the main reason.  I probably would have gone even if was an artist that wasn’t one of my favorites.  And though it might seem a bit ridiculous, I only wanted to go on the final night.

It turned out to be one of the best concerts that I have ever seen, with some amazing guest performances.  The highlights for me being Paul McCartney (who was incredible), and Roger Daltrey (because my first concert ever was The Who at Shea).  As my wife and I watched the show, I know that she was totally wrapped up in the music.  I loved the music, but also found myself getting lost in the nostalgia of it all several times throughout the performance.  I distinctly remember looking up at the sky and thinking about my dad…hoping that he was there with me one last time at Shea.

My son and I went to a game at Citi Field when it opened.  Part of me didn’t want to like the stadium because it replaced Shea Stadium.  But it didn’t take long to let those feelings go.  As much as I loved Shea Stadium, it didn’t compare to the Citi Field experience.  And though I never attended a game at Texas Stadium, I did take my son to the first game ever at the new Cowboys Stadium (pre-season vs. the Titans).  The experience was like no other stadium experience that I’ve ever had, so I have to imagine that it made the Texas Stadium experience pale by comparison.

The nostalgia in me makes the tearing down of old stadiums and arenas a bit forlorn.  In all likelihood, the Nassau Coliseum will be torn down at some point in the not-too-distant future.  Like Shea Stadium, the Coliseum also holds a lot of great memories for me…hockey games with my son and more concerts than I can even recall.  In fact, whenever I attend Islander games with my son, I habitually park in the same area that I did when I went to concerts in high school, and we would all tailgate before the show.

As the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.” Having been to newer stadiums and arenas, I understand that older stadiums and arenas eventually become obsolete.  While the buildings may no longer exist, the history that was made in each place will always exist, and for those that were a part of it, the memories will always remain.

David vs. Goliath

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on April 10, 2010 at 4:07 pm

When I was a kid, I used to wake up early on the weekend to watch one of my favorite shows… “Davey & Goliath.” I can still hum the theme song today.  Each show delivered a message, but for me, it was less about the message and more about the love of watching a boy with his talking dog.  It wasn’t until much later in life that I learned the actual story of David vs. Goliath.

Today was a big day for my son’s football team.  After dominating our first two opponents, it was time to test our mettle against the Goliath of the league.   Our opponents won the Super Bowl in the fall after going undefeated.  With all of the returning players from the fall, they are the team that many fear, and everyone respects.  And though we did well against them in a pre-season scrimmage game, we knew that this was going to be our toughest game of the year.

I’m not sure how all of the kids were feeling, but the coaches were on edge and ready to play the game.  As coaches, all we can do is prepare the team to the best of our abilities, but ultimately, the kids are the ones that have to execute on the field.  Despite our repeated warnings to the team about what to expect from the league favorites, it didn’t take very long for them to take advantage of our early mistake.  Three plays into the game, we were already trailing by a touchdown.

On the following possession, we moved the ball well, but ultimately fell short, turning the ball back over to our opponents.  Having already been a part of a team that lost badly to this team in the fall, I started to think that it was going to be a long day.  After all, our previous two opponents could not contain our star player.  But then again, the other teams were not the defending league champions.

After failing to score, our defense settled down and stopped our opponents, giving us the ball back with good field position.  This time, our running back broke through and scored.  After missing the extra point, we trailed by a point, but at least the game was starting to look competitive.

On the next possession, our opponent broke another run for a touchdown.  They added on the extra point and lead the game by eight points with less than two minutes to play in the first half.  At least we were getting the ball back with enough time on the clock to tie the game before half time.  Or so I thought.  The aggressive play by our opponent caused a fumble on our kickoff return.   It looked as if we would go into the half trailing by two touchdowns, but our team rose to the challenge.  The kid that fumbled the kickoff intercepted a pass deep in our own territory.  With very little time on the clock, we went into halftime trailing by eight points…but we were very much in the game.

Our team received the kickoff to start the second half, giving us a chance to tie the game up, but we didn’t do much.  It was a defensive third quarter for the most part, but we did score at the end of it.  After a successful two-point conversion, the game was tied going into the fourth quarter.  Needless to say, for the first time in a very long time, Goliath had something to be worried about.

With the final quarter winding down, it looked as if our best effort still wasn’t going to be enough.  Our opponent marched the ball down the field.  They had first down and goal to go from the nine-yard line.  There was less than a minute to play, and clearly, the odds were against us.

First down…our opponent gained two yards and called a timeout.

Second down…our opponent gained three yards and called a timeout.

With two more chances to go, it looked as if the game was going to end on a last-minute touchdown.

Third down…the running back on the other team breaks towards the opposite sideline, making it difficult to see the play from our vantage point.  I was disappointed because it looked like he was going to score, but elated when the referees indicated that it was our ball after recovering a fumble.  With less than 30 seconds left in the game, and about 95 yards to go for a touchdown, I figured that the game was going to end in a tie…which it did…sending the game to overtime.

Our opponent got the ball first.  Four plays, and our defense barely allowed a yard to be gained.  A score by us would give us the victory.

On the second play, our running back bolted towards the end zone on a beautiful run, but before he got there, the yellow flags came flying…a holding penalty against our team.  I dropped to my knees and pounded the turf out of frustration.  Two more plays, and we couldn’t move the ball.  It looked like double-overtime was in the cards.  But then it happened…

Our running back busted through the line on the exact same play that was called back moments earlier.  As he headed towards the end zone, I was jumping up and down celebrating.  No flags this time!  Somehow, someway, David had beaten the odds and managed to defeat Goliath in the game of the season.  Barring any unforeseen missteps by either team, it looks like these two teams should meet again in the Super Bowl.

As I hugged my son, congratulating him on a great game, he told me that he was the one that recovered the fumble to save the game.  Words cannot describe the pride that I felt at that moment, and still feel right now.  It seems appropriate that he would be the one to make the play, since he is sort of a “David” in his own right.

My son is one of the youngest kids on the team.  In fact, I’m fairly certain that he is the second youngest.  On top of that, he is one of the smallest kids on the team.  Only two kids are smaller than him, and both of them are playing football for the first time.  But despite his age and his size, he managed to earn a starting position on both offense and defense.  And though he isn’t known for his speed, his football quickness allowed him to earn the starting defensive end position (usually reserved for the biggest kids on the team).

Genetically speaking, the odds are stacked against my son when it comes to football.  He is likely to always be one of the smaller players, and will probably never be one of the fastest either.  But he is coachable, and more importantly, he has heart.  And that is something that you can’t teach.  Although I am the parent, and the one that is supposed to be teaching life lessons to my son, I learn from him as well.

Life isn’t always fair, and some people are blessed with better opportunities than others.  And while things may seem insurmountable at times, unbridled determination can help you beat odds that you never thought possible if you give your best effort.  In the immortal words of Jim Valvano…“Don’t give up…don’t ever give up!”

Today, we bask in the glow of our victory.  On Tuesday, when we return to practice, we will relinquish our David role and assume the role of Goliath.  Next week’s opponent is also undefeated, and I’m sure that they would like nothing more than to knock us from the ranks of the unbeaten.  I, for one, am looking forward to the challenge!

A Disappointing Ending

In Family, Pursuit of Happiness on April 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm

One of the things that I looked forward to most about moving to Texas was the chance to attend minor league hockey games.  In fact, we attended the first pre-season game as a family shortly after we arrived over the summer.  Right away, I knew that it would be something that we would enjoy as a family. There is something about being right on top of the action that makes attending minor league sporting events very exciting.  It also doesn’t hurt that everything is reasonably priced, whereas taking a family to a major league sporting event has become very costly (and time-consuming).

Last night, we went to the final game of the season as the Brahmas were knocked out of the playoffs.  For a good part of the game, it seemed as if the home team would prevail and send the series to a seventh game on the road.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  So as the visiting team scored a goal in overtime, I was left feeling very disappointed.  Not the kind of disappointment that I expected though.

As an avid sports fan, I have gotten used to “the agony of defeat.” But this disappointment was not as much about seeing my favorite team eliminated as it was about not being able to attend the games again until next season.  Although most times it was only my son and I attending the games, there were a handful of games where we went as a family.  Surprisingly, my 3-yr old daughter really enjoys going with us (even though she inevitably ends up sleeping on my wife’s lap about half way through the game).  Attending these games made for some fun family nights out, which is the main reason why I wish that the season would have continued for a bit longer.  As the saying goes…“all good things must come to an end.”

We’ve already started talking about going to minor league baseball games when the season starts in May.  While I am looking forward to it, I know that it just won’t be the same.  There is a lot of downtime in a baseball game, which makes it hard to keep the kids engaged, whereas sitting two rows off of the ice at the minor league hockey games made it virtually impossible to disengage from the action.  At least the hockey season ended with a “bang” (both literally and figuratively).

During a playoff game last week, one of the Brahmas checked a visiting player into the boards right in front of us, instantaneously shattering the plexiglass, with small bits reaching us in the second row.  I’m thankful that we weren’t sitting in the front row because my daughter was sleeping on my wife’s lap at the time of the “crash,” and she could have gotten cut up pretty badly.  In retrospect (knowing that we’re all fine) it was kind of cool to experience the shattering at close range.

Last night’s game didn’t have the same kind of drama, but it did end with a “bang” for my son, who got to ride on the Zamboni between the second and third periods.  Little did we know that he would have the final ride of the Brahmas’ season.

While I am disappointed that the season is over, I will savor the good times that we all had as a family throughout the course of the year.  The minor league baseball season will probably not be as exciting for us, but the most important thing is that we’ll be there together as a family.  Fortunately for us, the minor league experience is very affordable, so we will get to do it more than the budget-busting major league experience.

I don’t think that I truly realized until the overtime goal that ended the Brahmas season was scored that going to these events is much more about family bonding than it is about the actual game.  When it comes down to it, seeing your team win is really just the icing on the cake.

Looking Back at March

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Pursuit of Happiness on April 1, 2010 at 10:08 am

Each month, I do a recap to measure my progress while keeping myself accountable to my goals.

Here is my look back at March…

THE PURSUIT OF HEALTH

I wish that this was an “April Fool’s” joke, but unfortunately, it isn’t.  The pursuit of health went way off course this month for a variety of reasons.

As the month began, I was in Las Vegas attending a convention.  Over the course of three days, I probably walked as much as I would have if I had been at home.  It’s just that the walking took place in a huge convention center instead of the streets and walking trails near my home.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that conventions are not the best place to eat properly, and this convention in particular, made it virtually impossible.

Once I got home, there was a lot of follow-up work to be done.  And on top of that, my son started having football practice during the time when I would normally go for a walk.  While practice isn’t every day, it was enough to stop me from getting back into my usual routine.  Busy days and evening practices left very little time to do the walking that I intended to do.  Getting off of my routine was bad enough, but then I had to deal with some personal issues that also took my mind away from making the time to take my daily walks.

While it was a difficult month, I realize that I could have made the time to exercise, but I didn’t do it nearly as much as I should have.  It would be easy to blame my failure this month on extenuating circumstances, but the reality is that I didn’t do what I needed to do.  All I can do now is look towards the future.

This month, I will be starting a more rigorous exercise program designed by a friend.  The program will eventually be released as a DVD for others to use.  I will be sharing my progress in future posts once I get started.

THE PURSUIT OF WEALTH

Although March was not a good month for my pursuit of health, I made progress in my pursuit of wealth.  Two of the projects that I am working on took some steps in the right direction.  It’s all part of the process of laying the foundation for the future.  While my impatience tends to get the best of me at times, I realize that doing things the “right way” now is more important than taking shortcuts to reach my destination more quickly.

I’m looking forward to sharing more details about one of the projects sometime in April.

THE PURSUIT OF “HAPPYNESS”

As is usually the case, this month had good days and bad days.  I knew heading into the month that it was going to be difficult (see posts entitled “A Year Ago Today”, “Dear Dad” and “Too Hard to Let Go” to understand why).  In addition, there were some other unexpected issues to deal with.

While March had its share of trying moments, there were good times as well.  The trip to Las Vegas was good on a business level, but the highlight of the trip was reuniting with a cousin that I hadn’t seen in a long time (see post entitled “24 Years” for details).

It is said that “when one door closes…another one opens.” The unexpected issues that I had to deal with have shown me that the saying holds true.  I am very grateful for the silver lining that came with the dark clouds.

On the positive side, I am thrilled with my son’s football team.  It is a great group of kids, coaches and parents.  For the first time since he started playing organized sports, I feel that he is finally experiencing the joy that I did while playing little league baseball as a kid.

Of course, in spite of any bad days that I may have had, there was always something to be happy about.  I’m thankful that laughter fills our home at least once a day.  Although I always knew this, sometimes the bad days give me an extra reminder of how great my life is with my wife and kids.

CONCLUSION

It seems a bit silly that flipping the calendar is really a chance to start anew, but I do feel that way today.  Overall, March was a difficult month and I’m glad that April is here.  I’m ready to move forward and build on the positive things that happened in March.

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