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Image  —  Posted: May 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

Cautionary Creativity.

Posted: May 20, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Here’s something that I didn’t learn in 10th grade art class…

Sometimes when you make art, people aren’t going to like it.
It’s true.
I’ve learned that sometimes craft confuses people.
To be an artist is to be willing to be misunderstood.

I was three years old when I first learned that sometimes when you unleash some art, not everyone will celebrate it.
My cousin Kelly was/is my sistah from anutha mistah. We have both always possessed the same wild, weird, offbeat, fun seeking spirit. We only got to see each other about once a year because she lived in Washington, and I lived in Oklahoma. But, from the start we’ve had a serious bond. Once, during their yearly visit, after a morning of playing and visiting the zoo, it was nap time. We were at Grandma’s House. Our   exhausted mothers tucked us in and left us alone in a back bedroom.
BIG mistake.
There was art in our three year old selves waiting to get out.
We quietly explored the room and do you know what we found?
A big box with Grandma’s oil paints.
It was full of tubes of every imaginable color.
And so we created!
We finger painted the walls, the bedsheets, and when we ran out of space, we painted ourselves.
By the time we were finished, it looked like a unicorn had vomited cold rainbow soup all over everything within a twenty foot radius.
And THAT is when our mothers decided to check on us.
We were quite proud of our work. It was beautiful and original.
But…SHOCKER…no one over the age of three shared our enthusiasm.
After a moment of shocked silence, there was some shouting and probably some cursing and feeble attempts to erase the art.
What we viewed as art, the adults viewed as vandalism.
It wasn’t the last time that happened.
In fourth grade I spent hours carefully drawing a picture of Tom Landry. I really felt like it was a masterpiece that belonged in a museum or the Hall of Fame. I showed it to my gym teacher who told me it looked like a potato in a hat. That was hurtful.
As a sixteen year old, I was the editorial cartoonist for my hometown newspaper for two weeks. The city councilman who was the object of my second cartoon threatened to sue the paper, so, I was fired.
I’ve written stuff that has been misinterpreted and used against me.
I had people insist that I redo projects for them twelve times until they felt like I finally “got it right”. This was a project that they weren’t paying me for.
My artwork has been called crude and superficial and weird.
I’m okay with that, because my artwork has also made some people smile and feel hope and joy.
My artwork makes me smile.
It’s what I was created to do.
When you make stuff, most people won’t get it. Some people will be mean. Some people will be confused. Some people will try to shut you down.
Criticism can cut.
Don’t let it quiet.
The natural reaction is retreat.
You want to pack up your crayons and go home.
You can refuse to share your stuff, but that would be a crime against humanity.
The world desperately needs to see what you see.
Art is meant to be shared.
Art is all about how YOU see the world.
The vision is yours.
It’s not up for debate.
Every body sees the world differently, some people will appreciate your viewpoint, some won’t. Don’t let that stop you from crafting what you see.
You create…
You make…
You reproduce the deepest parts of your soul so that the whole world can see what you see.
Sometimes they will thank you and celebrate your craft.
Sometimes they will stomp on what you crafted.
Don’t stop.
The world desperately needs to see what you see.
Break out the big box of paint and use every imaginable color!

Back Scratch Fever.

Posted: May 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

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This morning my sweet little granddaughter was feeling a little sour. She was cranky, the Moonpie had her pouty face on as she incoherently fussed about something. I scooted over next to her and started scratching her back. She suddenly started smiling and purring like a satisfied Siamese.
Never underestimate the healing power of the back scratch.
It took me back to when I was a kid sitting in church on a Sunday night. I didn’t want to be there and I was pretty sure I was going to die from boredom. But, then my Mom would reach over and start scratching my back. That made everything better.
It was like some kind of childhood medicinal magic.
When I got a bit older I learned the wonder of the self-scratch. My favorite accessory was the shiny purple plastic backscratcher with the creepy looking hand. It was amazing. You could get it at Stuckey’s or any amusement park. You could also get the slightly classier bamboo version, but for me the purple creepy hand did the trick.
I’ve also scratched my back with a pencil, a stick, and a plastic fork.
I’ve awkwardly rubbed up against a wall to ease my back itch.
Don’t judge me.
One of life’s sweetest and simplest pleasures is a good backscratching. It’s unquestionably therapeutic and undeniably mood altering.
I think the world should catch back scratch fever.
I think there should be corporate back scratch breaks. Every afternoon there would be a 15 minute mandatory break, everything would shut down and everybody would break out their purple plastic creepy hands. The workplace would be a much more relaxed happy place.
Or how about world leaders getting their backs scratched while they meet about tense diplomatic matters. It could change everything. That simple act could prevent some wars. It’s hard to strut and swagger when you are being scratched.
Anyway, that’s what I think. I’ve gotta go…suddenly my back is itching.

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Image  —  Posted: May 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

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Image  —  Posted: May 15, 2018 in Uncategorized

Years ago, I was away from home at a meeting. It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of meetings, this one lasted for days.

It was a big denominational meeting.
There was serious denominational work to be done.
The organizers of our organization split up the meeting, they had one meeting on the west coast and one on the east coast. I was an east coast boy.
There was intense restructuring going on and we spent hours looking at flowcharts and discussing organizational culture. At the time I was a district youth director so I was cordially invited…weeee!!
The meeting consisted of almost all men. There were two ladies, my boss and the event planner.
There were a lot of older men with more impressive titles and much more experience than me.
As I sat in the back of the meeting space, trying hard to not say anything stupid, I began to realize that changes were coming.
I could sense that it wouldn’t be long before the restructuring was going to affect me…
WHAT?!!
I was doing the job that I had dreamed of since I was twelve.
I got the feeling that was about to change.
After dropping the dream bomb, they casually announced we were going to take a break.
We had all worked really hard and it was stressful wrestling with all this…
yeah, thanks man.
They informed us that we were going to have a “fun night”.
I needed some fun, so I tried to just shake things off.
Fun night…
We heard rumors that the west coast guys went to a Dodgers game the week before, so we were expecting big things.
There was a minor league hockey team in town. They were playing that night!
PERFECT!!!
Did I mention that this meeting consisted of almost all men?
It was a perfect hockey crowd! A bunch of dudes who had been cooped up in meetings for two days!! We needed to blow off some steam!!
The event planner came into the meeting room as we were about to dismiss for the day.
She excitedly announced that she had something special planned for the evening…
In the conference center where we were staying, a regional theater group was performing the broadway show, Annie.
We all had tickets…
WHAT?!!
Did I mention that this meeting consisted of almost all dudes? Mostly old dudes?
It wasn’t really a musical crowd.
My boss didn’t even go, she stayed in her room and ironed clothes.
We were disgusted…but, we were also bored, so we stuck around.
Something happened.
In the midst of dreams being restructured, I found some hope.
I wasn’t the only one. I looked around the room and cynicism was being replaced by wonder.
I saw it on the faces of men who had heard and seen it all.
We were captured by the story of a plucky little orphan.
By the end, MOST of us were singing along.
At one awkward point, I even tried to hold hands with my friend, Jim Cooper. He quickly let me know that was NOT okay.
Life is crazy, just when you have everything figured out and you are living the dream, everything changes.
Sometimes, when you want hockey you get Hannigan.
It’s a hard knock life, it is full of twists.
Sometimes you can get restructured right out of things.
‘Stead of treated,
You get tricked.
Maybe you need a new song and story.
Sometimes, when you want hockey you get Hannigan.
Go with it.
You are probably going to have more fun than you think.
What do you do when Life gives you Miss Hannigan Again and Again?
You learn to sing along.
Because…the sun will come out tomorrow.
Bet your bottom dollar.

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I was impatiently waiting in line for driving school.
I was ready to drive…
Preferably FAST!
I was 10 years old.
I was waiting in line for the bumper cars at Bell’s Amusement Park in Tulsa.
I loved the bumper cars, they made me feel very mature. After all I WAS driving and I was learning valuable transportation skills.
You don’t have to be coordinated or super brave to drive bumper cars. You just need to be able to sorta steer and press down on a metal pedal.
I was very concerned that I would be able to reach the pedals. I wore my tallest shoes, it worked out!
I had a ticket to ride!
We all ran to get the shiniest car, because it had to be the fastest. Hopefully it was red.
I quickly buckled up and surveyed my competitors. Where were my buddies?
I waited impatiently as it took FOREVER for everyone to find a car and get ready.
Then it would start…
The crackling static of the poles that connected the cars to the ceiling. It sounded kinda like a bug zapper.
We screeched around the floor.
Bumper cars are like a demolition derby for the whole family. You get to ram into complete strangers. You try to keep it friendly and avoid knocking dental work loose.
It was awesome! We were moving at the blistering speed  of 3 miles per hour. At one point, I thought the wind was in my hair, but it turns out that someone had thrown a Pepsi at my head.
The Bell’s bumper car school of driving was very beneficial.
Here are a few things I learned…

It really is important to keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times or things could get ugly.
Try to stay away from the mean people, the teenagers and the occasional broken adult who are not out there to bump but to bruise. You figure out who they are pretty quick, and you definitely tried to dodge those people.
You shouldn’t try to drive and eat a snow-cone at the same time
When  you get stuck…and you will inevitably get stuck. You will run up against the wall or find yourself unable to move because you are in a crowd crash. When you get stuck, you will need a good friend to help you get unstuck.
And now you know my secret…
My first driving school was a bumper car ride.
That is where I first developed my driving abilities.
AND that is one of the reasons why, today, my wife does most of the driving.