Posts Tagged ‘carbonated joy’


Posted: June 2, 2015 in brain belches
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There’s really nothing pretty about a parking lot.

It’s concrete and cracks.

It’s hard and gray.

But, occasionally you will find something growing through the cracks…

A dandelion.

There it is, beauty in the bleak.

A flower in the middle of frustration.

It’s art emerging from the asphalt.

Sometimes life feels like a parking lot.

It’s cold, hard and gray.

You feel like you are just parked, not going anywhere.

You are living with more pothole than purpose.

Stop, take a deep breath and look around.

Find the dandelion.

Grab the beauty in the midst of the bleak.

It’s there, it’s always there, growing where you least expect it.

Don’t miss it.

Today, I want to start something.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to get something started.

I want to banish boredom.

I want to notice the small things like june bugs and the smell of leather.

I want to listen to a child tell a joke.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to cuddle with a beagle.

I want to live with a wide open appreciation of the gift of life.

I want to laugh out loud…a lot…maybe at inappropriate times.

I want to use my words to celebrate instead of criticize.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to talk like a pirate for no apparent reason.

I want to eat a burrito that’s bigger than my face, or a corndog slathered in mustard, or a tomato sandwich.

I want to high five a stranger.

I want to sing in an elevator.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to spread fun like chunky peanut butter and leave a little everywhere I go.

I want to burp as loud as I can.

I want to tell stories of hope.

I want to wear socks that don’t match.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to be left breathless by something other than a treadmill, like maybe a rainbow or my wife’s beautiful smile.

I want to be uninhibited, unhinged and maybe a little uncouth.

I want to let the sun warm my face (unless it’s raining, then I want to let the rain beat down on my bald head).

I want to listen for the music that only I can hear. And, when I hear it I want to dance.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

I want to jump without caution and love without condition.

I want to learn at least 4 things.

I want to create something out of nothing.

I want to be amazed and amused.

I want to incite joy.

I want to wake wonder.

Then, when I finish the day I will be a little younger than when I started it.

And tonight, I will lay down to sleep without regret and I will wake up tomorrow and start something new.

A few years ago, when we lived in Dallas, I almost became an NBA dancer.

I know that, if you know me,  you are probably thinking NO WAY!

some of you might have thrown up in your mouth a little.

BUT…oh, it’s true!

I was a HUGE Mavericks fan, and I saw in the newspaper that the Mavs were having tryouts for Maniaacs.
The Mavs Maniaacs are a hip hop dance troupe of beefy, uninhibited men.
They were the original NBA big man dance team.
They dance at halftime and during breaks.
The tryouts were being held at a local dance studio. There were about 100 big, sweaty, over enthusiastic dancing men. It was a sight to behold and a fragrance to be smelled. The judges were Mavs dancers and local dignitaries. I was dressed for battle: a bright orange Mavericks shirt, blue basketball shorts and Chuck Taylor all stars.
I’m a condensed beefy boy, I was about a foot shorter that the other guys. In fact, I Heard one of the judges say “look, is that mini-me?” This didn’t discourage me.
This was my shot, I was gonna take it.
They taught us a choreographed combo that we did in groups and then we got to freestyle some serious dancing.
They would eliminate several people after each round. You would wait for your number to be called (or not) and you would proceed (or not).
Again and again I danced my guts out and made it through.
This was my shot, I was gonna take it.
We ended up doing the routine about 8 times. I hadn’t danced like this since…never. My muscles were rebelling against me.
I’m allergic to choreography. I’m not coordinated enough to keep up, but I can creatively shake my booty.
This was my chance…my ONLY chance to be a part of an NBA team.
Sometimes life gives you a free throw and you got to take a shot.
Whether you make it or not, you take pride in the fact that you tried.
I made it to the final ten!!! Then they told us that they were looking for five dancers.
One more round…
Ignore the pain…
Take your shot.
During the last round , one of the judges shouted words that I thought I would never hear: “Okay, we want to see some flesh…if you want to be a Maniaac, we need to see your stomach!”
This caused most of the guys next to me to start ripping off their damp shirts and flinging them around slinging warm sweat everywhere. I learned the true meaning of GUTS and glory.
Some things should never be seen…
Some things can never be unseen.
I. Just. Could. Not.
As much as I wanted to be a Maniaac, I wanted to hold onto some shred of dignity.
I couldn’t bring myself to unfurl my man boobs.
I didn’t make the top five.
I was ALMOST an NBA dancer.
I left with my dignity, a really sore back and a great story.
I had Stepped out and lived a great story.
Life is about stepping out even when you don’t make the cut.
It’s taking risks, it’s overcoming the paralyzing fear of public opinion.

What if success were all about risking instead of reaping.
What if we realized that it’s better to be an “almost was” than a “never tried”.
What if success were found in the act of stepping out.

Sometimes you got to do something unexpected…unlikely…unbelievable.
We should live in constant pursuit of a better story.
Sometimes life gives you a free throw and you have to take a shot.
Sometimes it goes in the basket…nothing but air.
Sometimes it bounces off the backboard.
Sometimes you don’t even get close.
The point is that you took a shot…you played…you tried…you danced.
You got off your butt, you took a risk, you overcame fear.
And you gained something more valuable than any trophy…
A Life lived in pursuit of a better story.
Step up…
Take a shot…
But please, for the love of God, leave your shirt on.


Posted: January 26, 2015 in brain belches
Tags: , , ,

Growing up I had many interchangeable dreams that came and went.

One dream came and stayed.
It was a simple dream.
I wanted a beard.
As a kid, I would literally sit around and visualize myself with a big nasty beard.
See the beard…be the beard.
I drew pictures of what I thought the bearded me would look like. It was a little creepy.
I wanted a beard.
To me, the beard was the epitome of free spirited manliness.
It was an exclamation point for your face!
My Uncle Bill, who was one of my heroes, had a beard.
Barry Gibb, Gandalf, Mr. T and Grizzly Adams…ALL had beards.
I was a late bloomer, I was almost 20 before I sprouted facial fuzz.
I tried everything to set off the stubble. I shaved my naked cheeks twice a day ( somebody told me that would work). I rubbed miracle-gro on my face. I prayed. I watched Chuck Norris movies.
FINALLY, my wildest, wooliest dreams came true.
In the last 30 years, I’ve only been without facial hair once for one misguided week in the late eighties.
I realized that my beard is the only thing that keeps me from looking like a chubby 9 year old boy. Many people have skittishly asked me, “is your Wife okay with you having that thing?” The answer is yes. For starters, she doesn’t want people to think she is married to a chubby 9 year old. She also recognizes that I’m a man who makes manly decisions about my manly face. Before you grow stubble, you probably ought to grow a spine. There are a lot of beard bashers who can’t wait to tell you what they think about your face. Chalk it up to beard envy. Haters gonna hate, don’t shave it off.
I think we are living during a magical time for beards.
It is a big hairy renaissance.
there have been epic beards in the past. Abraham Lincoln, I’m looking at you.
But I truly believe, with all my face, that we are living in the golden age of facial hair.
I’ve experimented with every possible expression of whisker. I’ve had a full beard, a goatee, a mustache, even the modified Australian Fu-Manchu.
I finally decided to just let it grow wild and define itself. It has, I believe by divine design, evolved into a “Chullet”. It is a “chin mullet”. The message is clear: It’s a party for my face.
It is a “yeard” (a beard that has grown for more than a year).
It’s a very handy thing, to be able to grow your own scarf or to go container.
How could it be a negative thing to get occasionally mistaken for Santa Claus?
A beard turns an ordinary face into art. In life, beauty is brought forth in the strangest ways. Look out for it.
A beard should be grown all year, manliness is not seasonal.
Sometimes the greatest things in life just grow on you. You do need to groom the growth to get the maximum awesomeness. That’s true with beards, it’s also true with relationships.
Sometimes your beard gets itchy. This is when many well intentioned guys give up. Don’t do it, be a man! don’t surrender the stubble. Work through the itch. It won’t last forever. Real life is the same way. life is itchy. Work through the itch. It will be worth it.
Just because something is untamed, doesn’t mean that it’s not clean. That’s true of beards, it’s also true of people. Don’t judge people.
Remember, with great beard comes great responsibility.
Unfurl your fuzz.
Celebrate your chin fruit.
Let little bits of awesome escape out of your face.

I was about 12 years old and I was going to my first night club.

I was excited! Once a month the 20th century club (a very cutting edge establishment) had a Catholic youth disco night. It was on a school night and I was going! Why stay home…when you should be dancing!
I didn’t want to show up alone, I didn’t want people to think I was a loser.
So I invited my cousin…
My incredibly incredible cousin Carmen agreed to go, because she was (and is) a really kind person.
One of our Moms had a great idea…for us to wear matching outfits. We wore denim vests and purple shirts. I think there might have been sequins involved. We looked like part of the Osmond family.
I tried my hardest to look like Barry Gibb, I had a gold chain and shiny, plastic shoes. I put some of my Mom’s Aqua net on my hair and my Dad’s old spice on my face.
We got dropped off and I couldn’t wait to boogie.
I had been watching American Bandstand for a while so I was schooled in the fine art of disco.
I danced like crazy.
I danced with all my might.
I danced like someone was watching.
That was a problem.
I’ve since learned that It’s a whole lot more fun when we dance like nobody’s watching.
Just because we love the dance.
But, it turns out, THERE was somebody watching. An actual FEMALE somebody, who wasn’t related to me. I was doing some alluring moves to KC and the Sunshine Band, when I looked across the dance floor and there was a girl smiling at me! And…then…she…waved…me…over!
i was fairly certain that she wanted to dance or maybe elope.
This girl was about my age and she was cute. Feathered hair, a shiny dress and braces to match.
So, without breaking eye contact, I danced over to her. that’s right, I was that cool.
She smiled the whole time. The disco ball reflected off her retainer.
She was standing with some friends drinking a 7up.
I boogied up, ready to hustle her heart away.
She giggled and said “you are such a cute little boy!”
And then dream girl patted me on the top of my head like I was a puppy…SERIOUSLY.

that wasn’t the reaction I wanted. there would be no eloping that night.

Then she walked off with her friends.
I was crushed…humiliated…embarrassed.
I remember it like it was yesterday, because that kind of painful rejection parks itself on the dance floor of your psyche.
This girl saw me in a sweaty horde of preteen wanna be dancers and in comparison I looked like a little kid. I was smack dab in the middle of a crowd that was taller than me. If only the lighting had been better, she could have seen my mustache. Then it would have been undeniable that I was a MAN. instead she saw a puppy in a pen of big dogs. It was all about the surroundings.
It’s still true 40 years later.
I’m 5″1′ tall.
Honestly, I never really notice my height until I’m standing right next to people who aren’t 5″1′.
It’s really only in a crowd that I feel small.
I look around, and all I see are armpits. I lose myself in the crowd. It’s when I break away from the crowd that my differences don’t matter.
Let me share something unbelievably profound with you…

Ifyou want to STAND OUT you got to STAND OUT.

I know…that just blew your mind, right?
If you want people to get to know the real you STAND OUT, don’t blend in.
Why would you get lost in the crowd when you should be dancing?

When I was 16 years old I entered the wonderful world of minimum wage.
My first job was at a grocery store called “Super-H” that was about 4 miles from my house. I was never sure what the “H” stood for, it depended on who you asked. My official job description was “sacker” (which sounds a little more dignified than “bag-boy”). It wasn’t a tough job, I put groceries into sacks and carried the sacks to cars. It wasn’t complicated. I was a hormone crazed, microwave burrito fueled goof ball ready to take the world by storm. This was back in the dark ages when your bagging choices were limited to “do you want paper or…well, paper?” I have to confess, during my sacker days I killed a lot of innocent produce. I also broke my share of not so innocent eggs. It was dangerous work.
I wore a faded blue apron, a spiffy name tag and a garage sale necktie. I managed to make enough money to pay for my first car (a ’74 ford pinto, yep, it was a car named after a bean). But, despite the tens of dollars that I made bagging other people’s food, I took away other things that were immeasurably valuable.

I learned many valuable life lessons from my first run in with organized work.
I learned to show up 15 minutes early.
I learned that shortcuts rarely pay off. Don’t trade RIGHT for EASY.
I learned that if you at least look busy, you get yelled at less.
I learned not to get distracted. My friend was slicing a ham once and got distracted by a pretty girl (what else) and ended up slicing off a chunk of his finger tip. The positive thing was that it blended right in with the ham.
I learned valuable skills like mopping and how to properly use a time clock. Both of these took me years to master.
I learned that, even when you THINK you have found a good spot to hide out, somebody is probably watching you.
I learned that there is always that ONE person who is ALWAYS in the break room.
I learned that sometimes people are mean. They treat you like dirt. That doesn’t make you dirt.
I learned that joy is a powerful weapon.
I learned that joy makes some people nervous.
I learned the value of a buck or 3, I made $3.35 an hour the entire 4 years that I worked there.
I learned that sometimes there is no chance of advancement. That shouldn’t keep you from advancing. Be better.
I learned the difference between BE and DO. I had to DO a lot of stuff that I didn’t like, that didn’t change who I was. You DO what you have to do while you find ways to BE who you are.
I learned that everybody has a story and most of those stories are pretty interesting.
I learned that sometimes you will have to deal with a lot of crap. Once, we were out of toilet paper in the very public restroom, so an older guy wrote a hostile message on the wall…with his own…um…crap. Guess who got to clean it up? Yup, it was me. Sometimes you have to do that!
I learned how to tie a necktie, which is a skill that I still use, every Christmas Eve.
I learned that I really hate neckties.
I learned that I’m also not a fan of name tags.
I learned that you don’t want to put canned green beans on top of bread.
I learned the value of just showing up. You earn a reputation by showing up as a person who shows up instead of shrugs off.
I learned that if you drop a jar of spaghetti sauce just right, it will break and go all over your customer’s white pants.
I learned that attitude is more important than ability.
I learned that some thieves aren’t very smart. I watched an older lady hike up her muumuu dress and put a gallon of ice cream down her panty hose. We stopped her and she denied it until it started to melt.
I learned that your social circle is going to grow out of the people that you are around the most. Hang around with people who make you better.
I learned that sometimes the customer is wrong.
I learned that you might not always want to tell the customer that they are wrong.
I learned that some people will do anything to advance themselves, don’t be THAT guy. don’t throw other people under the shopping cart.
I learned that we all have a daily choice: am I going to be a jerk? Just …don’t…for the love of God…don’t be a jerk.
I learned who I was and who I wasn’t. I was more than a hormone crazed, microwave burrito fueled goof ball.
I learned that you can learn something from everything.
I learned that cruddy jobs don’t last forever, but the lessons we take away from cruddy jobs DO last forever.

I have a dent on my forehead. A nasty little scar. It’s a forever testament to the fact that I’m easily distracted. When I was a little kid I was hanging out on a playground on a summer day, I was pushing someone in a swing. They were laughing I was laughing. But then…suddenly something caught my attention…SQUIRREL!!! I stopped and turned to look at it. The problem is that the swing didn’t stop. That is until it was stopped by my forehead! So I have a swing set shaped dent in my head. It hurt at first but I got stitches and treated it the way It needed to treated and it eventually healed. But, It left a mark. In time the scar became a story. It’s a part of me. A part of me that’s not pretty but it is real. Life is hard, hurt happens but healing can happen too. life can leave a dent, don’t let your dents become ruts. Don’t let scars become shackles. Let your Scars become stories, testaments to survival. Stories of hope and healing. What is your scar story?