Weekend Wrap Up

Michigan weather has been just beautiful the past week or so. It looks like we’ll have one more nice day and the temps will drop. Saturday, while the baby was napping and my son was doing homework, I went out and cleaned up the leaves from the driveway. Later that afternoon, my kids and I got to get out and take a walk around the neighborhood. He enjoys pushing his sister in the stroller. It is a good time for us to just catch up.

I decided to take advantage of the weather and get the Christmas lights up. The more I thought about what I wrote in a recent blog, the more I was convinced that putting up the lights early would bring about some happiness in a year that has really sucked. My son and I strung all the lights out on the side porch. The nice temps made it easy to do and with him helping, it only took me half the time.

I got some of the decorations up out front, but I have a few bad strands that I need to check fuses on before I string them up. I am thinking of adding the strands of white LED lights that I had strung along the fence for our 4th of July party. I usually only put the lights along the rails on the porch, so it should be pretty easy.

After I dropped my son off and the baby woke up from her nap, we spent most of the day outside. We took our stroll through the neighborhood and walked a bit longer than normal. I had to laugh because when we got back home, she totally kicked her foot up like she was relaxing!

After our walk, we played in the leaves (until she tried to start eating them), played on the slide, sat on the trampoline, and then just sat in the grass. She was standing next to me in on the back lawn and I looked up and saw our shadows. For some reason, looking at them it hit me how fast she is growing up. I can’t believe she will be 9 months old tomorrow! The shadow was a reminder to enjoy every little moment like this…

Heavenly Jeopardy?

I have never read a bad thing about Alex Trebek. Every interview I watched of him, he always seemed like a wonderful man. With his passing, there has been an outpouring of wonderful tributes to him by celebrities all over the country. A friend pointed out that Trebek and the great Sean Connery passed away within a week of each other.

One of my favorite sketches on SNL was Celebrity Jeopardy. Will Ferrell played Alex Trebek and Darrell Hammond played Sean Connery. In the sketch, Connery has this unreal hatred for Trebek and always made countless jabs about Trebek’s mother. It was always a treat to see Norm MacDonald playing Burt Reynolds in these sketches.

I always waited to see how Connery would take a category and make it dirty – for example:

Real Category: Let It Snow. Connery asks for: Le Tits Now

Real Category: The Pen Is Mighter Connery asks about: The Penis Mightier

I truly hope that SNL doesn’t miss the opportunity to do some kind of tribute to Connery and Trebek this week. I can see a Heavenly round of Celebrity Jeopardy with Ferrell, Hammond, and MacDonald being very funny!

Same Old Lions

Sunday, I got to see bits and pieces of the Detroit Lions game. It was awful, as usual. I saw this on Facebook today, and had to share. I know that this is totally supposed to be more of a political jab, and I am not posting it to be political, I just thing it is pretty funny!

The Election

It was certainly great to hear that voter turnout was so good. Whether your candidate won or lost, if you voted, you did your part! Over the past couple decades, we’ve seen a lot of division. We’ve seen a lot of lost trust in the system and the government. With every election, I hope and pray that the elected officials will do something to bring us together. I may have posted this picture before, but I thought it was one of the most powerful that I had seen this year:

In 2016, after the election, I wrote something on Facebook. It came up in my Facebook Memories today. It is worth sharing:

Maybe we are family. Maybe we went to high school together. Maybe I went to college with you. Maybe we worked together. Maybe we bowled together. Maybe you and I like the same movies or music. Maybe we met at a conference.

However we met, however we know each other, you are here because you are my friend. You and I are Americans. We are citizens of the greatest country in the world. One of the great things about being an American is that we have the freedoms to believe what we want and vote for who we want. We don’t always have to agree. I say this because no matter where you stand as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent…..as a Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran nondenominationalist or Dispensationalist….. heterosexual or homosexual …..male or female…..employed or unemployed….union or nonunion…..I don’t care!!! You are my friend and I am glad you are my friend. You have the right and the freedom to believe what you want and voice your opinion. Knowing that we may not agree is ok with me. There are other things we have in common that led us to be friends. I haven’t deleted any friend or family member because of their vote, because of their faith, because of their sexual preference, or because of their job or financial status. Thank you for being my friend.

Life would be pretty boring if we were all the same! A quote from Andy Hargreaves came across my timeline today and I want to share: “If we were all on the same page, no one’s reading the whole book”!

So what if your candidate lost? So what? One of the first thing I learned as a kid was there are winners and losers in games and elections. So what do we do now? You take the words of a pastor friend of mine who reminded me that “The guy you voted for may not have won, but you should still pray for him.”

So that’s what I am going to do. Here are the Bible verses to back that up:

I Timothy 2: 1-3

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

God Bless America!

We Need A Little Happy…

Let’s face it, 2020 has kinda been a crappy year. As it draws to a close, many of us will be glad to see it go! Sure, there have been high points, but the bad has outweighed the good throughout most of the year. Covid-19, quarantine, the election, political ads (on TV, radio, and via text message), politics in general, loss of income, unemployment, businesses closing, to mask or not to mask, hate everywhere, and the list goes on and on.

The things we experienced this year have messed with the mental health of all of us. Depression and anxiety diagnoses have skyrocketed. We are going bananas being cooped up in our homes. We miss the interaction with friends and family. We miss being able to go and fellowship with our church friends. Our children are lacking personal interaction with friends. This year has left so many of us scarred for life!

I don’t know about you, but I am physically exhausted by it. I “snoozed” so many friends who were posting countless political things on Facebook. I had to. Come on, how many times has someone’s post on Facebook about an issue changed your mind or your belief about something? I understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, and I am entitled to mine. The wonderful thing about our country is that you and I can share different opinions and still be friends!

What amazes me is how there are some people who just can’t be happy unless they are voicing their disgust about something. Those things don’t even have to be “hot topic” things, like what I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Here’s an example:

A friend of mine posted the following on Facebook:

“What the hell is the matter with people? I can’t believe that people are already putting up Christmas decorations! Trees are lit and in front windows, lights are strung along the gutters, and the blow up Santa’s are sitting on lawns! Radio is already playing Christmas music!! Stop the madness, people!!”

My response to this is simply this: why is this such a big deal to you? Is it hurting you? How does a blow up Santa on the lawn of someone who doesn’t even live in your neighborhood affect your life? It seems like you were just looking for the next thing to complain about, and this was it.

2020 has so many things to look back on in disgust, so I welcome anything that would bring happiness! We could use a little happiness. We could use something to brighten our world. We need happy songs. There’s a song that says “give the world a smile each day.” Maybe if we spent a little more time smiling at one another, there wouldn’t be so much hatred in the world.

You know what? I’m not going to live my life like Debbie Downer (or whatever that SNL character was called). It’s pretty easy to find things to bitch and complain about (pardon my French), but it’s just as easy to find things to rejoice in. If you can’t find happiness – find a way to spread it! Be nice. Be kind. Smile.

To those who are already spreading joy with holiday lights – bravo! Thank you for making me smile!

To those who are walking around grumpy, angry, and looking for something to complain about…. take some advice from Bobby McFerrin:

Rest In Peace, James Lipton

I was saddened to read of the passing of James Lipton this week at age 93.  Many know him from Inside the Actor’s Studio, but he did so much more.  He was a writer and producer (working with greats like Bob Hope, and writing for many soap operas).  He was also an actor (on Guiding Light, Arrested Development) and voice actor (often playing himself on shows like the Simpsons and Family Guy).  He was also an author (he wrote the novel Mirrors, which was made into a TV movie in 1983).

He was born in Detroit and worked as a copy boy for the Detroit Times.  He actually starred on radio’s The Lone Ranger (which was broadcast out of WXYZ in Detroit) as Dan Reid, the Lone Ranger’s nephew.  He wanted to be a lawyer, but went into acting to earn money to pay for his education.

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It was with Inside the Actor’s Studio that made him a household name.  The show was a non-credit class at the Actor’s Studio Drama School where successful writers, directors, and actors were interviewed by him about their craft.  The acting students could also ask questions of the guests.  The sessions were recorded, edited, and broadcast on television for audiences to enjoy.  The show began in 1994 and continued with him as host until 2018, when he stepped down.

He was parodied by many, including Will Sasso on MadTV and David Cross on Mr. Show.  But the most memorable parody was done by Will Ferrell on Saturday Night Live.  Ferrell’s portrayal was over the top and hilarious.  When asked how he liked it, Lipton said, “I love it!  I love it!  It’s flattering.”  The thing I always remember about it was the HUGE stack of blue question cards Ferrell had on the table for his guest.

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I know many people found him to be a bit creepy, but I found him fascinating.  I was always amazed at how he was able to get his guests to open up and share stuff.  He was very good at that.

Whenever we interviewed someone on the radio, we had a jar with questions.  The questions were written by staff members, listeners, and some were just made up.  We’d have them dig into the jar and answer five of them  We called it the “Final Five”.  It was far from an original idea, as James Lipton always wrapped up his interviews with a series of questions inspired by French interviewer Bernard Pivot.

In honor of his passing, here are those 10 questions.

  1. What is your favorite word?
  2. What is your least favorite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favorite curse word?
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession would you not like to do?
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Here are my answers:

  1. Ridiculous.  I am not sure that I’d call it my favorite, but I use it a lot!  I am guessing it changes from day to day.
  2. Moist.  That’s the first word that pops into my head, and I hate it!
  3. My wife. Constantly!  She is beautiful.
  4. Smoking. I was exposed to it as a kid and I find it disgusting.
  5. Birds singing on a spring or summer morning.  Love it even more when I hear it on the golf course.
  6. Children crying – it always breaks my heart.
  7. Fuck.  Not proud of this, and believe me, I am trying really hard to stop using it so much!  There are just some things that force me to say it – like my co-workers – they’ve come to expect it from me.  LOL
  8. I would love to teach.  Today’s atmosphere is a lot different from when I was in school.  I would love to teach some sort of fun subject – music or entertainment oriented.  Wishful thinking, I know.
  9. Any political job.  No matter what you do, someone disagrees with you. I’m not sure I could handle that kind of criticism or pressure.
  10. I believe heaven does exist, and I would love for God to say, “Welcome, Keith.  You’ve done well.  You were a good father, a good husband, and a good friend.  You’re mom and grandparents have been waiting for you.  They need a fourth for pinochle.”

What are YOUR answers?

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“Let It Go!”

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With the upcoming birth of our daughter, my wife will often quiz me on Disney Princesses. This will be my first daughter and princesses are kind of a big deal! When Sam is getting ready for work she will often listen to her Disney Pandora channel. When a song comes on, she will ask, “What’s this one from?” Sometimes, I get it right, and sometimes I get it wrong. I have titled this blog “Let It Go” because it ties in with Disney Princesses and the apology I am about to make.

Remember Dana Carvey’s “Grumpy Old Man” character on SNL?

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I’m not sure I have been quite as obnoxious as that character, but I know that I have gone against so many of the things I have posted in the past few months. I guess this proves three things (1) I am human (2) practicing what you preach can be difficult and (3) I need to always remind myself to “Let it go”.

I know for a fact that I have been in a “mood”, because I haven’t blogged as often as I have wanted to. My mind has been preoccupied with BS that I cannot control. I’ve never been able to really meditate or do “mindfulness” stuff, maybe because I can never seem to find a place and a time where there are no distractions. I wish I could, that might help.

So today’s blog is an apology, mainly to my wife, who knew things were bugging me and made me aware of it. It is an apology to my friends, who I have called and vented and ranted and raved to. It is an apology to you, because I am not a hypocrite, and need to practice what I preach. It is also an apology to myself, because I should never have let myself get to this place. I know better.

Time is precious, as I have stated in past blogs, so why spend so much time wasting it on worthless bullshit? I guess I have spent so much of my life doing it, that it is a hard habit to break. I have come a LONG way, but I was reminded this week that it doesn’t just go away, I still have to keep working on it. I’m an old dog, and this is a new trick. I must constantly be aware of the techniques I have learned to cope with certain situations and certain people. I must consistently practice them, not only for my own sense of well-being, but for those around me.

So I have gone back to my many notes and have compiled a mini-list of ways to “Let It Go”. They include:

Stop Talking About It

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Complaining is almost a natural response to being upset. Talking about it constantly isn’t going to help me (or anyone). Complaining basically stimulates my mind to keep thinking about it. Many times, as I have learned in hindsight, complaining can make a small issue, bigger than it is. Hey, sometimes you gotta vent and get things off your chest, but I guess the key to it is to vent and move on. Once it’s talked about, be done with it.

Put It In Perspective

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“What’s the most likely thing that can happen?” When you ask yourself that, you can see possible outcomes and even realize that you can get through it. We tend to think of the “worst case scenarios” and go there without ever considering the other perspectives. It’s hard to remember that you often think about would “could” or “might” happen instead of what actually will happen. A great practice I was told to try was to ask, “How much is this going to matter tomorrow?” “How much will this matter in a year?”

Let Go of Control

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The old saying holds true here: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” If life has taught us anything, it is that we cannot control the behaviors of others or the random events in life. What we CAN control is how we react or respond to those things! This is my biggest challenge. It is extremely difficult for me to use the “Gray Rock” method. I mean, I’m Italian, I talk with my hands! It goes against all that I have ever known, but I know that it’s the way to react to certain individuals.

Recognize the “Crazy”

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How appropriate is Mickey Mouse here? Disney! It all ties in! LOL!

With some people, you simply have to remind yourself of WHO you are dealing with! I have to remind myself that they probably suffer from some sort of mental illness. Perhaps it’s Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Bi-Polar Disorder (the signs are there for both). This person is like an angry teen who needs control over everything. When they do not get their way, there is a meltdown. “You need to treat them like an immature child” I was told. So true.

Understand that these people need “you to be the enemy”. This only makes them look better to those who don’t know your side of the story. They will elaborate and create stories to make you look bad. It’s what they do. It’s part of the mental illness. You can’t control this, and I have already talked about the things you can’t control. If you can recognize the “crazy”, it will help you to deal with the craziness that comes with interactions with them.

I love Maya Angelou’s advice, “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Recognize who they are!

Set Boundaries and End the Drama

In some cases, communication has to happen with certain people. When vocal communication gets hostile, whether on the phone or in person, the conversation needs to end. If this happens regularly, then communications need to be done through text or e-mail. This will avoid (1) one person interrupting (2) yelling and raising voices and (3) the need to say sarcastic or under the breath comments or insults. This will (1) allow for a “paper trail” of the communication (2) no contact communication and (3) allows for short and concise communication.

Set the boundaries and stick with them. Don’t let others take advantage of you, use you, or guilt you into doing things or thinking things. Be the constant!

Closing thought

Someone sent me a Facebook message recently that said “you can’t let the behavior of others steal your joy. But if you do, it’s your choice. Focus on being the best and happiest that you can be – that’s where your energy should go. Set the best example you can and spend time and energy on people who lift you higher.” There is a lot of truth in that.

So in the words of Elsa, “Let it go!”

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