“A Happy Man Once Said….”

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A friend sent me these – worth sharing and re-reading occasionally:

“Don’t ruin other people’s happiness just because you can’t find your own.”

“Living a good life really is the best revenge.  Once they acknowledge they cannot ruin your happiness, they lose their power.”

“Never let someone steal your happiness – it is not theirs to take.”

“Ignore those who try to steal your joy.  Their lives are full of noise.  Yours is full of purpose.”

“No one can steal your love, joy, or happiness without your permission.”

“Whoever is happy will make others happy, too.  The opposite holds true as well.”

“For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”

“You can’t separate a fool from their foolishness.  You gotta separate yourself from that fool.”

“Don’t worry about what I am doing.  Worry about why you’re worried about what I am doing.”

“You can’t always control what goes on outside.  But you can always control what goes on inside.”

“Have you ever met a hater doing better than you?  Me neither.”

“HATERS = Having  Anger  Towards  Everyone  Reaching  Success.”

“Whatever you do – good or bad – someone is going to have something negative to say”

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions.”

“Don’t worry about those who talk behind your back.  They are there for a reason.”

“I love the ones who are in my life and make it amazing. I’m thankful for the ones who left my life and made it even more fantastic!”

“You become a real master of your life when you learn how to master your focus – where your attention goes.  Value what you give your energy to.”

“Instead of wiping away your tears, wipe away the people who created them.”

“Sometimes it’s better to react with no reaction”

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because they suffer within themselves and their suffering is spilling over.  They do not need punishment – they need serious help”

“Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you. Their opinions aren’t your problems. You stay kind, committed to love, and free in your authenticity.  No matter what you do or say, don’t you doubt your worth or the beauty of your truth. Just keep shining like you do.”

“Life only comes around once, so do whatever makes you happy, and be with whoever makes you smile.”

“Your mission:  be so busy loving your life that you have no time for hate, regret or fear.”

“Every human being has a finite number or heartbeats.  Don’t waste any of yours.”

“If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”

“My past is my past.  It made me who I am. I have no regrets and wouldn’t change a thing. I just don’t live there anymore.”

 

 

 

 

Me: From A to Z

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By far not the most original blog idea, but this stems from a daily writing prompt.  What is cool about something like this, is that I can probably return to this idea a few times and come up with some different answers.  The idea is to take all 26 letters of the alphabet and describe yourself with each one.  It shouldn’t take too long.  Why not do your own in the comments?  Here is Me … from A to Z:

A     Always early (“If you’re on time, you’re late!”

B     Blessed (with friends, family, and so many things)

C     Coffee drinker.  (Not sure how I’d make it through the day without it)

D     Daddy to Dante’, Dimitri, and Ella (I love them all so much!)

E     Emotional.  (I am probably too emotional.  I cry at sappy TV commercials!)

F     Friend.  (I have some of the greatest friends.  I treasure those friendships.)

G     Gaining weight. (About 25 pounds over the course of my wife’s pregnancy)

H     Happy. (I am the happiest I have ever been in my life.)

I     Italian.  (Proud of my Italian heritage.)

J     Jokes.  (I love hearing them.  I love telling them.)

K     Kind. (One of the greatest things we can be is kind to one another.)

L     Laughs a lot. (Laughter is important.  Life is better with laughter.)

M     Music lover. (“Where words fail, music speaks.” Music is SO important to me.)

N     Night Owl. (Yeah, I work midnights, but I have always been a night owl.)

O     Old Stuff. (Love old TV shows, old radio shows, old movies, etc…)

P     Procrastinator.  (One of my bad habits.  I tend to wait till the last minute to do things)

Q     Quotes.  (Might be a line from a TV show or movie, or a famous quote to apply to life)

R     Radio Personality. (The thing I wish I was still doing full time.)

S     Sam’s husband. (She has made me the happiest man alive.  She is my one true love)

T     Trumpet. (Wish I was still playing it in a band.)

U     Unique. (The easy answer, but it’s true.  We are ALL unique!)

V     Vague (Like this answer, for example)

W     Weird Al Yankovic.  (We’re both weird and I have all his albums.)

X     XOXO (I always kiss and hug those I love!)

Y     Young (Something I wish I was again!)

Z     Zoo (I love the Zoo.  Love going with my kids.  Favorite animal:  The Otter)

2 Years of Ramblings – A Reflection

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Two Years Old

Word Press informs me that this blog turned two years old yesterday!  Two years and the blogging continues….

I wrote a blog reflecting on one year and some feelings remain the same.  Rather than look back on the entire two years, I thought I would reflect on the last year, which had many milestones!  Over the past year, I have gained many more followers, so for those new followers, let me give you a brief look at why this blog exists two years later.

The beginnings

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When I began this blog, I really didn’t have any idea of what it would be.  In my head, I thought that I might blog about some things I liked.  I also knew I would probably write about some favorite memories.  I might also write tributes to important people in my life or just random thoughts to help me deal with emotions or life situations.

This blog was meant for me.  It was to be a “sort of” therapy for me.  I envisioned it as a way to keep track of thoughts, write down stories I didn’t want to forget, and occasionally just vent. I had often joked about writing an autobiography, and in a way, this blog has become “chapters”.

I never thought that anyone would actually want to read these blogs (unless, of course, the blog mentioned them)!  Yet, here I am over two years later and I have “followers” – people who actually make it a point to read this no matter what the topic.  It humbles me.

Looking Back

If I were to compare “year one” with “year two” I would say the blogs leaned a lot more happy.  They contained many happy moments.  Looking back, I see how I have grown and learned to deal with certain people, certain situations, and look at things more objectively.  I have learned to think before reacting.  I have learned to separate myself from those things that bring on stress and make me uncomfortable.  I have gotten more in touch with the person I want to be. Looking back, I see much more happiness.  Life has been very good to me over the last year.

Musical Blogs

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Much like last year, there were plenty of blogs about music.  I began to post a song every Tuesday that held some special meaning.  Maybe the song was prompted by a singer’s birthday or it was just something I heard on the radio.  I admit toward the end of the year, I neglected the Tune Tuesday feature a bit.  I hope to be a bit more consistent with it in the year ahead.  Last year’s songs ranged from Dean Martin to Hugh Laurie to the Muppets!  I look forward to this year’s selections.

Memories of the Past

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Nostalgic memories are often featured here.  Many of them stem from things I see that bring back memories.  Some writings stem from an idea I got from a fellow blogger.  Some of the topics from last year included the ice cream man, toys I remember from my childhood, breakfast cereals from my childhood, memories of band class, the Sunday comics I used to read, books I read as a child and to my boys, and the summer baseball games I played in the neighborhood.  There was also a blog about Muppets phased out of Sesame Street.

Guest Blogger

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I toyed with this idea, and my little brother stepped up to bat.  It was fun to tell him to write whatever he wanted to and see what he came up with.  I really like this idea, and I hope to get a few others to write occasional pieces for this blog.  I am very open to this idea.  Let me know if you would like to do this!  You could write about me, our friendship, or expand on something I have already written.

Friendship salutes

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This year I saluted my oldest and best friend on his birthday.  I also saluted three of my friends from school/band in one blog because they all celebrated birthdays in October. Remembering some of the funny radio stories that involved my co-host Stephanie was a blast for sure!  Some blogs were inspired by friends and their posts on Facebook.  Year three I am already planning some overdue friendship blogs.  Stay tuned!

Movies

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This year, I did a series on my favorite movies by decade.  The idea was to pick one favorite film from each year you have been alive.  I was born in 1970, so I did a blog for each decade (70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s).  I neglected to do 2010-2019, but now that we have entered the new decade, I will have to make sure to wrap that series up.  I really enjoy being able to write about my favorite films, and I found it a challenge to narrow it down to one each year.

Celebrities

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Last year I wrote about less celebrities than the year before.  I wrote about The Three Stooges, in a round about way, as I went with the boys to the Stooges Festival in Redford.  I devoted an entire blog to some of the very funny lines that Paul Lynde had from the Hollywood Squares.  The great Jack Benny got an much deserved blog on his birthday.  I also wrote about Elvis on the anniversary of his passing.  I believe that there are a few other celebrities who I could easily devote an entire blog to, I just wonder if folks would read it.

Television

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Along with movies and music, TV tends to be a topic I love to write about.  This year I wrote a blog about the classic 1966 Batman show.  I also wrote about my favorite TV shows of the 1950’s.  For Tune Tuesday, I picked Sanford and Son because of the theme song.  I really need to write about that show and some of my other favorites.  This year I blogged about the remake of All in the Family and The Jefferson’s which again brought me back to one of my original blogging ideas – “why must they remake everything!?”  I also had a chance to talk about one of my favorite Christmas TV specials this year.

Serious Topics

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While many blogs tend to focus on entertaining things, some blogs wind up being of a serious nature.  I am human.  I can’t be upbeat all the time.  I finally had the guts to write about the topic of divorce – just to see if I could do it. Death was also a topic.  I lost some close friends this year.  I also had friends of mine who lost loved ones.  Just this week alone, my buddy Chris lost his mom and a co-worker lost hers.  It’s a hard topic to write about, but I did.

Emotional Blogs

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As I look back over “year two”, there is no shortage of blogs that brought about strong emotions from me.  One of those stemmed from a photo shoot for my oldest son.  Senior pictures.  I still choke up as I think about him being a senior and graduating.  Speaking of graduation, my wife graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in April.  I felt so much pride for her as she walked that stage.  She did all the work, so why it was so emotional for me, I don’t know.  I sometimes think I can get too emotional.  Rest assured – there are more emotional blogs in the year ahead!

Rants

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The blog also consisted of many personal rants.  Some I have mentioned (TV and Movie remakes, missing Muppets, and such), but I also ranted (and whined) about having the “man cold”.  That blog brought about much teasing from friends!  I also ranted about how much I miss record stores (prompted by a record player I received for my birthday).  I know I have other “rant” topics in my blogging notebook.

A Love Story

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Sam and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.  I chose to take the occasion of our anniversary to tell “our story”. The people who were close to us knew the story, but many didn’t.  As sort of a “love letter” to my wife, and as a way to tell just how our wonderful relationship began, I wrote a series of three blogs leading up to our anniversary.  Those blogs talked of how we met and became close friends, how we began dating and how I proposed, and then how we got married.  Those blogs were among my highest read last year.  A blog followed about our anniversary trip.  Sam makes me SO happy and I am sure there will be many more blogs about our amazing relationship.

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On Father’s Day, Sam told me that we were expecting a baby.  It was SO hard to NOT blog about that!!  We waited some time before spilling the beans with our big announcement.  A series of blogs about expecting a baby, then finding out we were having a girl, and finally sharing the name we had picked for her remain the most read blogs in the history of this blog!  The support from our friends and family has been SO amazing!  Sharing stories of the baby shower and 3D ultrasound pics has been a thrill.  We are closing in on the due date (February 16) and she can come anytime.  The nursery is ready and so are we! We anxiously await her arrival and with it, I will have plenty of things to share with you about being a dad again!

The Future

As I said last year – Not so long ago, I was told my someone once close to me to stop writing.  “Nobody wants to read about that crap!  It is a waste of time.  Stop trying to be creative. Nobody cares about what you like and don’t like!”  If I have learned anything from Facebook and this blog, it is that people do care!  People do like to read what I write!  In the end, I don’t really write for others, I write for myself.  The fact that other people read this blog and get some enjoyment out if it is a little bonus.

In future blogs, I will continue to write about things I love.  I will write about things that people want to know about.  I hope to do more Question and Answer blogs and I will continue to participate in Blogathons.  I want to write about how Autism played a role on my life, which I never seemed to get around to last year.  I also want to continue to write on movies and music. I will continue to write about things in my personal life (and how it is affected by the arrival of our beautiful daughter). I will continue to write – because I enjoy it.  The minute this is no longer satisfying and I feel that I have written all I can write … I will stop.  Until then, thank YOU for reading my “various ramblings”.  I appreciate you!

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

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Quotes I Needed To Hear Today

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It’s not worth my time (or yours) to rehash why I am writing this blog. It will be a short one. After an incident today, Sam (as she always does), saw a great quote that really helped me today:

“Learn to be ok with people not knowing your side of the story. You don’t have to prove ANYTHING to ANYONE.”

That quote was followed by a post from a friend on Facebook which read:

“Start ignoring people who threaten your joy. Literally – ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.”

Both of these quotes were just perfect and helped me deal with a situation. While I have never been one to seek revenge on anyone, another quote I stumbled on also helped:

“Living a good life really is the best revenge. Once they acknowledge that they cannot ruin your happiness, they lose their power.”

It’s all about control. Author Jill Blakeway says it this way:

“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you. The misinformation will seem unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth – JUST LIKE YOU DID!”

Fitting right in with that last quote:

“The sociopath fears two things. (1.) Losing control and (2.) Being exposed”

Author Daniel Chidiac says:

“When a person attempts to control someone else’s life, it only reflects the lack of control they have on their own.”

Not sure if this is true, but actor Will Smith is credited with saying:

“Haters are the people who will broadcast your failures and whisper your success”

When you break free from people who have controlled you or manipulated you for years, you have to remember that now that you are not in their life anymore, they must turn to someone else and manipulate them. There is a great truth here!

So why did I write this? To be a constant reminder to myself of how far I have come and to always remember:

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Expanding on an earlier Facebook post.

Vacation

I am on vacation.  I have the next week off and will have my sons all week.  I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am to have them over.  I am hoping that the weather will cooperate and we’ll get to do some fun things this week.   This vacation could not have come at a better time.  I’m not sure why, but I just need the break.  I have so much that has been on my mind.

For example, Thursday was typical for me.  I slept for about 3-4 hours.  It is my day to switch from “midnight” mode to “days.”  Normally on Thursday, my head hits the pillow and I am asleep quickly.  That was not the case.  I actually broke my own rule (and what I tell all my patients about electronics before bed) and was surfing the web and reading stuff hoping to make myself tired – it didn’t work.

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I read once that if you can’t shut your mind off,  just jot all the thoughts down.  The thought process is that it can help free your mind of them.  I hoped that this would work and posted the following on Facebook.  In posting it here and re-reading it, I may or may not comment on these thoughts.  Some of them are repeat thoughts, some are not.  Here goes:

“Been here in bed since 10:30. Sam is already sleeping. The cats are both on the bed, too. Mind won’t shut off. Trying not to think about something that happened earlier that really just made me angry. Random thoughts/wishes:

* As much as I love to sit and write, I wish I could find a gig that paid me to do it.

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Comment:  The more I think on this, the more I wish I could do this!  I believe that you are always your own worst critic.  I have often wondered why anyone would even want to read what I write, yet, here you are.  I’m sure many authors have wondered if people would want to read their stuff too.  Writing is therapeutic for me.  Much like radio, I can take my observations and share them.  You won’t always agree with my thoughts or opinions, and that is OK with me.

* In talking to an old radio buddy, it makes me miss doing it full time (even though it has changed dramatically)

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Comment:  While I am not doing this full time, I need to acknowledge that I am very lucky to still be doing it part time.  Even if it is once a week, whether it is live or recorded, I still have my foot in the door and I get to “create” and “perform.” I still love it and radio will probably always be in my blood.

* I wish I could review music, bands, or movies and get paid for it. Neat to see some friends of mine doing it and having success with that!

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Comment:  I follow some blogs that write movie reviews.  I know they don’t get paid for that.  However, I have a friend who writes a lot of political stuff for websites and gets paid for that.  I also have a buddy who always seems to be out and about interviewing celebrities about their films for various news stations, TV and radio.  What a cool gig that has to be.  When I interviewed people on the radio I was always told I was a “good interviewer.” Maybe I am.  Pardon me while I digress and share two instances come to mind:

When I was at B95, Craig Morgan was scheduled to come by the studio.  At the time he had a minor hit, and some tunes that weren’t being played on the radio.  I was told by my boss to put him on the air for a few minutes, ask him about his new song, play it and move on.  I did my research, and there were a lot of things about Craig that I found interesting.  Yes, I was going to ask about his song, but there were other things I wanted to as about.  I asked about his military career, his family, and such.  Craig is a very funny guy.  He and I hit it off instantly.  We laughed a lot and had a bunch of fun. About 5 or 8 minutes into the interview, my boss went into the studio in the next room and stood in front of the window.  I thought he was gonna give me the “Wrap it up” signal because we were going longer than anticipated.  Instead, he gave me the “keep going – stretch it out” signal.

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I don’t recall how long the interview went, but it was FUN.  My boss said, “You just took a guy who no one was really familiar with, and made the listeners love him, because you related to him.  You asked questions that made him so real.  It was entertaining, and enjoyable.  That’s the best damn interview I have heard in a long time!”  The kudos I received were unexpected.

Also at B-95, Jewel came by the studio and I interviewed her on the air.  She had recorded a country album and was promoting it.  I did my research and prepped for her interview.  I found a lot of stuff that I could ask about.  Jewel was homeless for a time.  She lived in a van.  I wasn’t sure if that was a topic she would want to talk about.  When she arrived I asked her off air if there was anything that she didn’t want to talk about, she said to ask whatever I wanted to.  Naturally, I asked about her album.  I also asked about her family life and pop hits. I also asked about her being homeless, in which she shared some great stories about writing songs.

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One of the things I asked about was some Wizard of Oz TV special she did in the mid ’90’s.  She started chuckling and joked about it.  She asked “How did you find out about that?!” This led her to talk about some plays she was in in school and some other childhood memories.  She was so moved and excited to be talking about those things.  It was so cool for me to see how moved she was to remember those stories and it was great radio!

After Jewel left the station, about a half hour later, I got a call on my cell phone from the record rep who brought her to the station.  He said, “I wanted you to know that Jewel just told me that you were by far the best interview she has done on this radio tour!  She was blown away that you asked her about that Wizard of Oz thing!  She said she felt so comfortable talking to you and she really enjoyed herself.  She said you made her remember some great stories that she has never shared with anyone before.  Nice work, cowboy!”

Again, a high point in my radio career!

back to my original thought – I think it would be very cool to get the chance to hear an album before it hit stores, see a movie before it hits theaters, or read a book before it hits the shelves and then offer a review.

* It’s a shame when an entire team has to be punished because of a few others.

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On my hour drive to work each night, it is often the time I catch up with friends on the phone.  We talk about family, friends, and work.  In discussing work, there was this common theme.  Rather than dealing with employees individually and holding them accountable for whatever the issue was, bosses made a knee-jerk reaction and punished the entire staff for the issues of a few people.

I am not in a position of authority at my job.  I was a boss on more than one occasion.  Observations that I made as an employee, helped me to manage.  Managers motivate!  When employees are motivated, they will go above and beyond for you.  Many managers tend to demotivate.  Jay Trachman, one of my radio mentors, wrote an article geared toward radio managers, and it holds true for any manager, really.  It included things that managers do to demotivate, with or without knowledge of doing it.  They included:

  1. Ignoring employee ideas
  2. Setting unattainable goals and holding employees responsible for them
  3. Treating employees like children
  4. Ignoring that employees have lives outside of work
  5. Making rules for the entire staff because of the behavior of a few members
  6. Focusing on errors or mistakes, no matter how trivial (Incidentally, the facts show that when you dwell only on problem areas destroys the employee’s confidence and self-esteem makes the employee more error-prone!)

* I hate when an opportunity seems right, but no matter how many ways you try to make it work, you can’t.

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Comment:  Without going into detail, an opportunity presented itself.  It was one of those opportunities that doesn’t come around too often.  I took it all in.  Asked questions.  Weighed options.  Re-weighed options with different scenarios.  Crunched numbers.  Re-visited scenarios.  Made a pros and cons list (my wife swears by these!).  It was an opportunity that just was not something I could jump at.  I am ok with that, though, because, it doesn’t change anything I am already doing.  No big deal.

* I am hoping the scale shows a loss tomorrow at weigh in.

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Comment:  It did.  My total weight loss now is at 24 pounds!! I couldn’t be happier!  I was a bit worried because last Saturday I DJ’d a wedding and the dinner didn’t necessarily have the most healthy choices.  Oh, and they had a doughnut bar!  LOL.  I am determined to get back down to 199 (where I was about 20 years ago, and the last time I was on Weight Watchers).  The journey continues!

* I am not looking forward to a visit to the dentist tomorrow.

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Comment:  Uneventful cleaning.  No cavities, so I was happy with that!

* I wish I could do more voice over work.

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Comment:  I looked into a few voice over services, but most cost money to be a part of.  They also require you to do many auditions daily.  I could probably do this on my days off, but it is hard to do working midnights, and without a home studio (or the money to build a home studio)!

I am lucky to have the relationships I have with The American Way, Whitetail Journey, Modern Craft Wines, Fox 66, and RPM Auto Sales.  I would love to add a few more clients to that list.  If you know anyone looking, I can certainly send a voice sample to them.

* I probably could have wrote a blog instead of this. Maybe I will just copy and paste it….lol.

Comment:  That’s what I am doing!

* There is so much sadness in the Facebook feed this week. My heart goes out to my friends who have lost loved ones or have loved ones in the hospital.

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Comment:  Scrolling the Facebook news feed this week, I was saddened to read of some friends coping with the loss of someone special to them.  I also read of a dear friend who is now home with hospice care.  Some friends have been Facebook silent, but I am aware of some health struggles that are dealing with.

Many people state that they hate Facebook.  They say there are too many political arguments, opinions, etc.   I would agree, but I also utilize the “mute” button.  There are ways that you can unfollow those who post stuff you don’t want to see.  You remain friends, but you don’t see their stuff.  You can also post things while making sure that certain people can’t see it.

I happen to like Facebook.  It is a great way to keep up with friends.  I almost never forget a friend’s birthday! I always love the pictures of weddings, first and last days of school, band concerts, dance recitals, and the addition of new babies or grandbabies.  There are sad things, too.  The passing away of parents, prayer chains for those who are sick or suffering, or the loss of a pet.  Without Facebook, I’d never know these things. It can be a place to offer words of support, encouragement, or better yet, prompt you to reach out to your friend on the phone.

While I love social media, I also feel that it is important to reach out and actually talk to friends.  I have decided that I am going to try to do that more.  Yes, texting and messaging is easy, but you know what?  I want to hear your voice!

* I hate change. I am a man of routine. Sometimes, change is inevitable. Sometimes change is exciting.

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Comment: I take the same way to work every day.  I am a creature of habit.  One of the things that helps me stay focused on Weight Watchers is that I know the point values of meals.  I tend to find something I like, and will stick with that meal.  I have been eating a lot of veggies and fruits.  I am also eating a lot of salads.  However, to change things up we had turkey tacos last night.  Not going to lie, changing it up was exciting!  That’s right – I was excited for Tacos!!

* Guy on TV said to his gal, “I couldn’t be happier.” I think you can always be happier. Happiness can grow, much like love can grow. Each day I think I can’t love Sam any more than I do, but that love grows deeper. Happiness can grow too – that’s cool to me.

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Comment:  Just re-reading that made me smile.  Think about this – “Happiness is a habit – cultivate it” (Quite attributed to Elbert Hubbard)

* The wrong motivation can kill morale and desire to give their all for you.

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Comment: See above comments about punishing the entire team because of a few others.

* I wish I was an expert on something. With the recent talks I have done for conferences and small groups, I would totally love to do that for a living.

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Someone commented on the original Facebook post and said I should be a motivational speaker.  I don’t know that I’d go that far.  I have many obstacles of my own that I have yet to conquer.  I am not sure how motivating I can be.

I have always enjoyed doing career days at schools.  I think it would be cool to host classic movies at a theater.  I have no problem public speaking.  I thought about teaching a public speaking class at one of those community education night class type programs.  I don’t know, it’s a pipe dream perhaps.  I just think it could be a very fun thing to do and would be great to get out and meet people.

* Was hoping that by jotting this stuff here, I’d get sleepy … Maybe I should at least try to go to sleep.

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Comment:  I didn’t.

* Even with all of these random thoughts, one still remains true. I am one lucky man! I am blessed beyond measure.

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Comment:  The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:18, “In EVERYTHING give thanks.”  What powerful instruction, and a very difficult thing to do! I have always tried to make this one of my “life mantras,” but some days are harder than others.  At one point in my life, nothing could make me feel better.  I was deep in that depression and suffering with so many feelings.  I was struggling bad.

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Today, however, I am a new man.  Those quotes that I always had in my mind are back and help keep me focused.  This one still remains difficult, because “everything” means “everything!”  In good times and bad times – give thanks!  What a challenge! Despite the fact that I had a variety of things (both good and bad) running through my head Thursday night, I remind myself of just how thankful I am to be alive!  I am thankful for my family.  I am thankful for my job.  I am thankful for my friends.  I am thankful for YOU.  Thanks for reading!

Now, I am off to enjoy my time off!

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Father’s Day Reflections -2019

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As Father’s Day approached, I found a few minutes to reflect.  In a world where you hear constantly about “deadbeat dads”, I am lucky enough to have a dad who played a HUGE part in my life in SO many ways.  I have blogged about his musical influences on me (Which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/03/30/my-biggest-musical-influence-dad/) and wrote a blog for him on his birthday (which you can read here: https://nostalgicitalian.com/2018/11/01/birthday-tribute-to-fred/).  I was truly blessed with a great dad.

One of the hardest jobs in the world is being a parent, I’ll be the first to admit that.  I will also say, though, that while it is a difficult job, it is also one of the most amazing things a man can do! As I look at my two sons, I consider myself blessed.  Being a father is one of the most satisfying, frustrating, fulfilling, and life-affirming things I have ever done!  I have been a dad for almost 18 years, and as I thought about my boys, I began to make a list of the things I love about being a dad.  I thought I would share that list with you.  Perhaps you can add to it or relate to mine.

Things I Love About Being a Dad

  • Your kids think you know it all.
    • If I had a dollar for every time my kids have asked me a question about something…LOL.  Many times, you know the answer, but sometimes, they ask you something that throws you for a loop!  They truly believe you are the smartest person alive!
  • Playing catch.
    • One of my favorite memories of my dad and I was playing catch in front of our house. I remember the first time he threw his “submarine” pitch to me and how much my hand stung when it hit the mitt!  Throwing the ball around with my sons is something I will never get tired of doing!
  • Coaching – Sports.
    • I was lucky enough to coach both of my sons in T-ball and baseball.  I truly wish they had both continued to play ball, but as they grew older, they lost interest.  I also helped the coaches out when my oldest son was on the bowling team in middle school.  I loved watching them play soccer and taking them to the driving range to hit golf balls, too. I only got to really go fishing with them a couple times, but I hope that it happens more in the years ahead.
  • Throwing them around in the pool.
    • We lived at one place that had a huge pool.  One of the thing I never got tired of was picking the boys up and tossing them back into the water in the summer.  I also loved letting them push me in the pool, thinking they had surprised me, when all along I was waiting for them to do it.  My oldest is as big as me now, and he still wants me to throw him around!  Pool fun is always great as a dad!
  • Your kids think you are the strongest person!
    • I remember arm wrestling with my dad and being amazed at how strong he was.  I remember “helping” my dad move things and struggling with my end of it because it was so heavy.  Dad wasn’t phased at all, though.  As kids, we are always amazed at how strong dad is!
  • Rocking and singing them to sleep.
    • Whether it is at the beginning of the night or in the middle of the night, I never grew tired of rocking my kids to sleep.  Holding them with their head on my shoulder and singing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra songs is forever etched in my memory!  The songs changed from son to son, but some remained the same.  I used to sing “Bouna Sera,” “On An Evening in Roma,” “Watching the World Go By,” “Vieni Su,” “Cruising Down the River,” and other songs.  I used to love when they would sing them to me, too!
  • You become aware of your bad habits.
    • My dad used to smoke.  He used to say, “Don’t ever let me catch you doing this!”  He eventually quit cold turkey, whether or not it was because of my brother and I, I don’t know.  I do know that you are extra cautious about doing things or saying things you don’t want your kids repeating.  My dad always tells the story of driving while I was in the car seat behind him  Someone cut him off and he yelled, “You stupid prick!” and I said, “What did those pricks do, daddy?!”  “Sticks – there were sticks in the road!” was his response.  HA!
  • Play time and using your imagination.
    • I remember my dad coming into the bedroom and pretending to be a bear while my brother and I were under the covers.  I remember him pretending to be a wrestler and bouncing us on the mattress.  I remember pretending that way with my sons, too.  I remember playing superheroes with towels tied around our necks for capes!  So much fun!!!
  • Embarrassing them.
    • This gets more fun as they get older.  My dad did it to me.  I do it with my kids.  Just recently, we were walking down the street to go to the city fair.  On the walk I started skipping and both kids were like, “Dad!  Stop it!”  This one car was playing some song with a really loud bass, so I started dancing.  Again, “Stop it!” When the petting zoo came into view I screamed, “Oooo!  Look at the baby goats” and started running toward them.  They were so embarrassed!  It’s what dads do!!
  • Introducing them to things from your childhood.
    • For me, dad introduced me to a lot of music and such.  For my sons, I shared movies and music, but thanks to technology, I was able to share with them the Atari 2600!  They had some retro Atari that was loaded with 200 games or something one Christmas.  My oldest loved it.  He was always playing Maze Craze!  We used to hit the thrift shops and I would love when there was some old toy from my childhood there!  Of course, I passed down the Three Stooges to them!  I also introduced them to the Classic Scooby Doo cartoons, Hong Kong Phooey, and the Muppets.
  • True and unconditional love.
    • It’s a mutual thing.  I have never felt such an unconditional love for someone or from someone, until I became a dad.  Holding each of my boys for the first time, you melt!  The love just gushes out from you.  It is an amazing thing.
  • Hearing “I love you” from them.
    • This kind of goes with the above item.  As if you can’t love them any more, the minute they tell you “I love you” is just an amazing, emotional, and wonderful thing that you will never forget.  I still have voicemails from both boys as toddlers on my phone.  I need to find a way to get them into an MP3 or something.  I never want to lose those!
  • Halloween
    • There were a few years I worked nights and missed out on taking them out trick or treating.  I was able to be at all of their Halloween parades at school.  I loved being able to help pick out costumes with them.  Pulling them around the neighborhood as babies was something very fun.
  • Gibberish talk.
    • As parents, we all do this. Especially when they are babies.  I wish I could remember all the things I said to my kids, I don’t.  I know there were gibberish phrases that I used for each boy, though.  I used to love saying them to make them smile.
  • Making them laugh.
    • My kids were always my best audience.  “Do it again, Daddy!”  There is nothing like making your child laugh.  Their laughter is like music!  Even as they grow up, I still love listening to them laugh.  They may not laugh at it everything like they used to, but that’s ok.  It’s still fun to make them laugh.
  • Roughhousing.
    • It’s a bit different now that they are older, and have the potential of kicking my butt!  I love when they want to rough house!  I remember my mom yelling at my dad, “Stop that rough housing!”  Why?!  It was fun for all of us!
  • Being silly.
    • Adulting sucks.  Sometimes, you just have to be silly!  Being a dad allows you to be silly.  Silly is good.  Sometimes, you have to break away from the serious and embrace the silly!
  • Letting them win.
    • Oh how many games of cribbage did my dad let me win?!  With Uno, he wasn’t so nice.  I think he used to love putting down that Draw 4 card – much like I do with my kids today!  Sure, I have let them win occasionally, and there is some satisfaction in watching him and his brother brag about how they beat dad at the game.  Every once in awhile, though, you gotta show them you can beat them at it too!
  • “Caving” at the store.
    • I don’t do this as much now, but I used to.  You know how it is – you go to the store and there is that “can we get this?” or “I need this!”  All too often, I would cave and buy whatever it was.  Now that they are older, they understand a bit more when you tell them you don’t have the money to buy that right now.  they younger they are, the easier it is for dads to cave!
  • Getting beat at video games.
    • I love spending time with my boys.  They love their video games.  They have this one called Super Smash Brothers.  I really don’t understand it, but the gist is that you are a character (there are many) and you beat each other up until someone wins.  They kept asking me to play, so I did.  They wiped the floor with me.  Both of them were laughing as they beat the snot out of my character.  I was just pushing buttons trying to make it hit or whatever.  All of a sudden, my character started to light up and did this crazy punch/kick thing!  My youngest said, “Dad, you figured out how to use the special!”  There was some special move – every character has one!  They just neglected to tell me about it and let me lose!  LOL!  Smart boys!!  I don’t care whether I win or not, I just enjoy the time with them.
  • Carrying them on my shoulders
    • I remember as a kid, loving when my dad carried me on his shoulders.  I used to hold on to his hair!  My boys did the same thing!  I would give anything to be able to carry my sons again on my shoulders.  I used to love walking through the store with them up there.  I loved taking walks in the park with them up there.  I wish I had more pictures of them up there.
  • Snuggling/Hugs
    • I have always been a hugger.  I love hugging my kids.  I miss the days of snuggling up next to them for a nap.  I miss holding them while we watch TV.  I remember many times trying to get up from the couch, trying not to wake them because they fell asleep.  Those moments are so special for a dad.  I love when they come up and hug me for no reason.  It is still an amazing thing.
  • “Pull my finger”
    • This is probably the one thing that is exclusive to dads.  Not many moms do this!  Farts, dads, and kids mean laughs.  It’s probably such a huge annoyance for moms.  Dads fart.  Kids laugh at farts.  I remember one time my friend and I were outside in the front yard playing with Matchbox cars.  Dad came home from work and as he was walking in the house he made the “finger gun” with his hand and “shot” it as he farted.  We still laugh about that!  The fart will always be a funny thing that dads and kids both laugh at together.
  • Looking at your relationship with your kids and being able to connect it to memories you shared with your dad.
    • Go back and read how many times I mention something I love about doing with my sons, and how many times I can connect them with something my dad and I shared!
  • The “bond” that is eternal.
    • There will never be anything that can come between me and my kids.  I love my sons with all that I am.  They are my flesh and blood and will forever be my little boys.
  • The firsts and lasts
    • Those firsts stay with you forever.  The first steps.  The first words.  The first day of school.  The first concert.  Both of my sons are still in school, but if social media is an indicator, the last day of school is just as emotional as the first!  Watching each of my sons get on the bus for the first time was very emotional for me.  Big days – big emotions.
  • Artwork
    • Back when I had an office at work, I used to have countless drawings that they did in school.  I used to have a macaroni bee that my oldest son made.  The noodles eventually broke on it.  I still have some paintings they did and the coffee mug coasters that each boy made me for Father’s Day in kindergarten or first grade.  Those little things hold special meaning for me.
  • Bedtime Stories
    • It starts as you reading to them.  I don’t know how many times I read “Goodnight Moon” or “I’m Thankful Each Day” to my sons, but I enjoyed it every time.  I am sure there were other books, too.  “Snowmen at Night” was a favorite, too.  I used to love when they would read to me!  I wish the video games weren’t so accessible, because I really wish they would find more time to read.  I loved when they would tell me about a story of book they read in school.
  • The emotions that they make me feel.
    • They make me proud.  They make me happy.  They make me cry (both happy and sad tears).  They make me worry.  They make me thankful.  They make me feel a never ending love for each of them.  I am not ashamed to admit how emotional I have gotten watching them in a play, a band concert, a baseball game, or during an awards ceremony.  God help me, when they graduate, get married, and have children – I can barely hold it together now!!

I am sure if I had a few more minutes, I could add many more items to this list.  Being a dad is the greatest thing I have ever had to do.  My sons have been tremendous blessings to me and fill my heart with joy and laughter.  I love them so much.  If and when I am blessed with another child, I will look forward to reliving some of the things mentioned and creating new memories with that child, because being a dad is one of the coolest, most special, and fulfilling things I have ever done, or will ever do in my lifetime.

Happy Father’s Day!

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31 Years Ago

The year is ….

1988

  • Ronald Reagan is President of the United States.
  • It cost 24 cents to mail a letter.
  • A gallon of gas was 91 cents.
  • The Washington Redskins beat the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII
  • The Winter Olympics were held in Calgary.
  • The average yearly salary was $24,500.
  • The LA Dodgers beat the Oakland A’s in the World Series.

1988 movies included Rain Man, Die Hard, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Big, A Fish Called Wanda, and ….

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1988 music included:

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…and Sweet Child O’ Mine from Guns ‘N Roses, too!

It was also a very special year for me …

Always an Abe!

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I was reminded by Facebook’s “Memories” feed that it was 31 years ago this week that I graduated from Lincoln High School. (25 years later – to the day – I would graduate from college.) It’s hard to believe that it has been that long. Some days I can’t remember where I put my car keys, but I can remember graduation day like it was yesterday!

The ceremony always happened outside, unless it rained. If it rained, less people from your family could attend, because it was moved indoors to the auditorium. Luckily, the weather cooperated June 9, 1988, and we walked the stage outside in the stadium. The band performed some songs prior to things getting started. As a senior, we played through most of them. I remember conducting a number – it was called Tin Pan Alley. That is a memory I will never forget.

At the required time, the seniors left the band to go line up to walk in (to Pomp and Circumstance). I will always remember in the days leading up to graduation, sitting in band class and the seniors having to “sit out” during a number because we weren’t going to be there when they played it. Sitting in class listening to Pomp and Circumstance while the underclassmen played it was weird. It was then that I knew exactly how the seniors the year before felt when they had to listen while we played it.

I remember someone telling me that your senior year will go fast – they were right. There were times I wish there was a pause button. It was my favorite year of high school hands down. Our football team was undefeated. I had a solo in the marching band show. I went to all the dances and the prom. I got my first new car and spent many hours with my friends driving around listening to mix tapes I had made.

Things I Miss Most

It’s 31 years later and there are times I wish I could go back. There are so many things I miss about high school:

Friday Night Football Games. Yes, I miss playing in the Halftime Show, but I also miss watching our boys win! My classmates were always out their playing hard, and as I said, were undefeated my senior year. Coach Jim Benefield was the BEST! Hands down.

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Movies in Class. Whenever you walked into a class and saw the TV and VCR, you were instantly excited. Even if it was some dumb educational film, it was a welcome event!

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School Holidays. Winter Break! Christmas Break! Extra days surrounding other holidays! We had a lot of extra time off! And who can forget Summer Vacation?! In some countries, extra days off and built in vacation time is looked at as a must. Productivity in those countries are high and workers are happy. Sadly, once you graduate, you seem to work to death and often have to fight to get time off! I miss those holidays!!

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Yearbooks. There was a time where you didn’t know what your picture looked like until the teacher passed them out. 9 times out of 10, mine came out looking terrible. Even Picture Retake Day didn’t help! There are plenty of bad yearbook pictures of me! There are also plenty of other kids with bad yearbook pictures. Today, I love sitting back and reading the things people wrote in my yearbook.

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Less Responsibilities. This holds true for most adults. We tend to look back at the days of ‘freedom”. Who wouldn’t want to be in a position to not worry about whether or not you have enough money to pay bills?!

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Working While Going to School. My first job was at a boat marina. They worked around my crazy band and school schedule. I don’t remember the hourly rate, but I do remember getting a check for $150-$250 every two weeks. It was like “mad money”. I used it to buy albums, tapes, books, and gadgets. I really had no bills, and a teenager rarely saves money.

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Passing Notes. Long before texting, we used to write notes and pass them back and forth in classes and in the hallways. Sometimes, I’d get caught passing one in class. I did most note passing in the hallway. Many times it was just stupid gossip, a drawing, or the “Do you want to go to the dance – check yes or no” type note. Some folks even got real creative about the way the notes were folded, too!

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Lockers. I am sure my locker partner, Joe (who was always good at numbers), can remember our locker combination! I remember it was outside the library, under the clock, on the second floor. I rarely used it after freshman year. I kept most of my books in the band room or in a backpack. A lot of girls decorated the inside of their lockers, and on game days, they often decorated the lockers of the football players. I think my locker was basically a storage place for whatever I didn’t want to take home.

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Less Technology. I’ll be the first to admit that I am connected to my phone today. But, back in school, we weren’t connected to it. We talked to people. We had to use the card catalog to find books and encyclopedias to write reports. We used maps. We watched film strips! We had to thread the film projector. We rewound tapes to listen to a song again. Yeah, technology is great, but there were advantages to not having it too.

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Field Trips. You had to have your permission slips! I never did the Washington DC trip. I did do a Florida Trip to Disney. I also loved those little trips to places like the Detroit Science Center or Cranbrook. I remember having my mom chaperone a couple times. Field trips were probably more frequent in elementary and middle school, but the ones in high school were always great fun!

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Young Love. As you flip through a yearbook, you can often see those high school romances (the ones that lasted, and the ones that didn’t). I know a few people who married their high school sweetheart and they are still together!! That’s amazing! With young love comes hurt in many cases. I witnessed that at a prom I DJ’d recently. I remember seeing this guy sitting on the floor with his face in his hands and I thought, “I know how you feel, pal.”

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Dances/Prom. It wasn’t until high school that I even attended a dance. It always seemed like it was just me and a few friends going to get out of the house. We never danced with anyone, we sat and talked and listened to the music. We walked around and drank that really crappy punch that always seemed to be the drink provided. I remember going to Homecoming with a gal who asked me. I had no idea even how to dance! After that night, though, I realized dancing with girls was a whole lot more fun than sitting eating those stale mints and drinking that punch! I remember using some of the money I was making at that boat job to rent a tux and go in on a limo for the fancier dances.

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Teachers. No surprise here. Go back and read some of the many blogs I have written about the teachers I had in high school. They were the best! Mr. Shaner, Mr. Benefield, Mr. Balos, Mr. Yanoulaki, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Beltz, Mr. Harvey, the list goes on and on. I am friends with many of them on Facebook. I am also friends with other teachers who I never had in class, but always respected and made an impact on me. I was lucky to know them in high school – and after!

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Friends. My core group of friends and I have pretty much stayed in touch since high school. With My Space and Facebook, I have been able to reconnect with those I lost touch with. That’s one thing about technology that I am ok with. A downside to this is that since we all are connected on Facebook, our chances of a real reunion probably won’t happen (Not that we ever really had one – we didn’t. We tagged along with the Class of ’89 once, but nothing official for my class.) What was great about high school is that you always saw your friends every day. It was always extra cool when they were in the same class as you. The ones that weren’t, you couldn’t wait to meet them in the hall to tell them about something silly that happened or to plan something for after school. I miss that, but at the same time, when I am finally able to hook up with a friend on the phone or on social media, I enjoy picking up where we left off.

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The Future. In high school, the future seemed so unclear. There were infinite possibilities. Your career path had not been chosen yet. There was a blank canvas for you to paint on. You had so many choices. You were in control over what you did next. The future was bright and it was something to look forward to. I’m not saying that 31 years later, I have no future, I do. It’s just different to look at it and know that the future is a bit more narrow since there is a lot less time ahead of me. I can still look ahead and know that there are a lot of good things awaiting me. I still look forward to the future, but I am looking at it through eyes that have seen more than an 18 year old. I have experienced more hurt. I have seen more cruelty and negativity. I have seen more dishonesty and hatred. I have lived through much difficulty. I look at the future a bit more cautiously now than I did at 18. I am smarter now, I hope.

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Final Thoughts

Would I love to go back to the days of my youth? Would I love to have less responsibility, no bills, and have more time to just have fun? Yes. Without a doubt! However, if I were to go back to those days, I would live through some hurtful times, through depression, and shame. I would likely make some of the same bad decisions. I would make the same mistakes, maybe more.

Truth is, if I had the opportunity to go back and change things, I probably wouldn’t. Anyone who has watched Back to the Future or any time travel movie knows that all it takes is one small change to change everything else in the future. Would I like to go back and erase embarrassing moments? Would I like to go back and take back words I said in anger? Would I like to correct a mistake? Sure. But if I did that, it changes where I am today.

Yeah, I went through some real crappy times, but they all brought me to where I am today. Today, I am a happily married man. I have an amazing wife. I have two wonderful sons. I have some of the most amazing friends. I have a loving family. Life is good. Why would I want to change it?

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