Posts Tagged ‘carbonated joy’

dandelions

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.

BEHOLD the BEARD!

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.
BEARD up!
Let little bits of awesome escape out of your face.
VIVA LA BEARD!

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?

I was introduced early to the man club through my dad & his circle of hunting buddies.

They would stand around in a smoky garage, swap stories with Merle Haggard and George Jones playing in the background on the AM radio.
I still remember the smell of the garage, it was a combination of sweet feed, motor oil, cigarettes and hard work.
These were Men who only called each other by last names ( I didn’t know that one of my dad’s friends even had a first name until his funeral).

These were good men who loved their country and their families ( sometimes it was easier for them to communicate their love for their country than their family), in fact these men mostly communicated in the manly language of insult, they mercilessly put-down each other, because, after all, that’s what men do…right?

They referred to their wives as the “ball and chain” and “the old lady”.
They worked on old trucks, butchered rabbits and deer,
They spit, cursed, laughed, Talked about politics, football and muzzle loaders.

Innuendo flew around that garage like stained confetti. Women were objects of desire rather than dignity.

They were men…good men.

They had the best intentions.

They had good hearts.

They were fiercely loyal to each other.

My brother and I would stand in the corner, out of the way, soaking it all in.
I left that garage with the fragrance of pall-malls on my clothing and hair.

I left with the fragrance of misguided manhood on my soul.

Every boy wants to be a part of the man club.
We imitate…we take notes…we learn the rules.
It’s natural, sons were made to learn from fathers.
We were made to mimic…to imitate.
But, Maturity is learning to imitate heart instead of habit.
We can learn great things from the hearts of those who have gone before us.
But, We don’t have to repeat the habits.

From time to time, I see men my age stuck in the old familiar groove. They are masters in the linguistic art of insult, they live out of a place of insecurity. They compare and ruthlessly claw to get to the top of the heap.
It is easier to insult than invent.
There is a better way…

A new way to be man.

A way that knows and accepts yourself and refuses to play the game.
A way that elevates compassion over comparison as a man gauge.
A way that creates a safe place for everyone you love.
We need men who live for something bigger than themselves.

We need men who throw away the outdated ruler of manhood.

We need men who are passionate about their passions.
We need men whose words COVER instead of CUT…words that BUILD instead of BREAK.
We need a new man club.

Back when my wife, Diana, and I were engaged, I found a picture of Her and a prom date. Diana looked beautiful. She had perfectly coiffed big ’80s hair. She was smiling. Her date was wearing a rented pastel tux and he looked a little nervous. His name was James. The only thing that I really knew about him was that he had really good taste in girls. I was a little bothered…okay…jealous, so I thought I would try to change the romantic picture…literally. This was before photoshop, so I grabbed some scissors and scotch tape. I cut out a picture of my smiling face and taped it on top of his. Suddenly, I was the guy in the picture! But, it just didn’t look right. For one thing, it wasn’t proportionate. My face was too big and he wasn’t built like me. I showed it to Diana. I was sure that she would be impressed by my act of creative love, and I could tell that she was by the way she rolled her eyes. To be fair, the redone photo was an unsettling image. My freakishly large head looked unnatural. That’s what happens when you try to rewrite history, you end up with a freakish misrepresentation. The thing was that you could peel my picture off and James was still there. Despite my efforts, He was still a part of the story. Rather than try to rewrite a part of Diana’s story, I should have rejoiced that I was the man who got to stand by her for the rest of the story.

We live in a photoshop world. If we don’t like something, we simply crop it out of the picture.
We are constantly trying to crop all the unpleasantness out of our stories.
We try to airbrush away all our blemishes.
We want to protect our image. We don’t want to offend.

But, it doesn’t seem like God is concerned with protecting His image.
The Bible is most uncropped book ever, it is brutally honest.
There are stories of liars, murderers, prostitutes, adulterers and screw ups. And those are the GOOD guys! It’s there, in all its ungutted and unfiltered glory.
The Bible isn’t really family friendly and the disturbing thing is that God didn’t try to fix that!
It’s pages are filled with more rule breakers than record breakers. Despite what we were told in Sunday school, the biblical patriarchs weren’t shiny, perfect, airbrushed flannel gram role models.
The Bible is the story of some broken people who didn’t stay broken…they are models of redemption.
Can you picture a nervous editor looking over the original transcript and saying to God: “let’s rethink this section, it might offend people…I’m not sure if the bible will go over well in the Bible Belt!”
“Let’s edit…let’s crop out the ugly.”
But, God doesn’t seem to be concerned with public relations, He is more interested in authentic relationship.
The Bible is raw and honest….
Combine the real with the redemptive and hope is born.
God doesn’t Photoshop, instead He gives us a brand new photo op.
We don’t get a rewrite of the past, BUT, We do get a brand new chapter today.
It seems like the bible is all about honest hope.
God says be honest about your yesterday and see what I can do with your tomorrow.
You can’t crop what has already happened, but you can create what is yet to be.
Live honest with hope.

Growing up I wanted to be a cowboy.

Most of my heroes have always been Cowboys, with the hats and the stories to prove it.
Grandpa was a cowboy and horse trainer. He taught us how to ride and how to wear a Stetson hat. He taught us how to cuss and how to wrestle. Wrestling lessons consisted of him putting us in a headlock and not letting us loose until we shouted “CALF-ROPE!

There is something so cool about the cowboy life. You get to hang out with your buds and eat beef jerky and beans. You ride Mavericks, Sing songs and tell stories. You ride the range, rope and wrestle. You occasionally sit around a fire and celebrate bodily functions….AHHHH! The life of a cowboy.

The problem was there are certain things that might have killed my cowboy dreams.
I look kinda goofy in a big hat.
My one attempt at chewing tobacco ended very badly. I turned the shade of spinach and I threw up all over a storm shelter (to be fair, I was 7 years old).
I tried to ride a quarter horse once and I actually needed a step ladder to get on board. It seriously slows you down and kills your cowboy cred if you have to use a ladder to get on your horse. Fortunately, my grandpa had a Shetland pony named George. Shetland ponies are the compact cars of the horse kingdom. I spent many happy minutes riding the trails with George.
Big belt buckles scare me, I always think that if I bend over fast I might rupture my spleen.

I think the cowboy life is more than wearing boots and bandanas.
There are certain ideas that embody the spirit of the cowboy.
Ideas that anyone can rope…see what I did there?
The cowboy life is about uncontainable wildness. It is big, bold, untamed.
It is living unbound.
It’s a Life that is more about invention than convention. More about campfires than committees
It’s a daily search for new adventure.
It’s grabbing life by the throat and wrestling it to the ground until it shouts “CALF-ROPE”!
It’s all about Freedom and friendship.
I can still live the cowboy life even if I never wear a pair of wranglers.
It happens when I refuse to conform, compromise or compare.
I am myself no matter who is watching.
I ride wildly through the fields of grace and wonder.
I search out new adventures and tell better stories.
I live authentic…rustic…raw.
You with me?
Whoever you are…whatever you do…
COWBOY UP!
Live free.
Sing songs, tell stories.
Be the wildest, undiluted version of yourself!
Let’s Saddle up the Shetland ponies and ride like a strong breeze!