Dec 27

A repost of: A Stubbed Toe

The post below was originally from December 4, 2011.  My dad’s birthday.  It’s always been a holiday and it always will be.  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Enjoy!

For the past nine months I’ve walked into and in front of people almost every day. If you’ve been on my right side you’ve been ignored, unnoticed and sometimes even gotten the inadvertent right hand slap. You know who you are.

One thing that surprisingly hasn’t happened is a stubbed toe. I’ve gotten in trouble for not seeing many things on right. Fortunately those thing haven’t been table legs, door jams or chairs. Well at least when I didn’t have shoes on.

I remember in 1993, Connie and I were living in the Chicago area as DINKS (Dual Income No Kids). We had a pretty simple life in Bloomingdale, IL. It was simple, but difficult for me being so far from home. After all it was 258 miles from where I grew up near Wayne, OH. That’s even 10 miles farther than Connie’s Luckey, OH address.

Most nights, for me, meant having dinner at the coffee table in front of the TV. Pizza was a frequent menu item. When Connie wasn’t preparing for the next day’s or week’s sales calls, we’d usually watch TV play a game of cards. It was either Uno or Rumy. The former was more fun because she always lost at Rumy. I probably wasn’t a very good winner.

This one particular night, I remember having a few beers after dinner and walking to the restroom. It was a small two bedroom apartment, so it was a five-step walk. Not being totally sober, I turned the corner and with full force hit my small toe on the door-jam of the restroom. The numbing agent kept the pain from being too bad, The next morning was another story

I hobbled for days and knew that the toe must be broken. But, we could I do? No doctor was going to be able help with the exception of pain killers. It was just something that I needed to deal with.

It would be tough to draw any parallel between a stubbed toe and brain surgery. But, that’s one of those life circumstances that may not define you but it goes into making you who you are.

I remember being “sick” and had to stay home from school. Nick, who is my brother that’s 10 years older than me, would always antagonize me. He seemed to know when I wasn’t sick and would poke and prod. How I dealt with that also made me who I am. Everyone should have grown up with seven older brothers. I can’t think of a better way to stay humble. They have no sympathy for stubbed toes.

I can’t have a post on December 4th without wishing Happy Birthday to two very important men, Wally Wagner (my dad) and Eric Gowans. These two were born 44 years apart, but you’d never know it. It’s true that my dad can talk to anyone and so can Eric. Life’s journey makes us what we are. I can’t imagine who I would be without either of them. Happy Birthday!

Nov 15

There’s a Resource Action AND You’re Affected

Are you kidding me?

I laughed at him?  You can’t be serious.  I’m having a lot of success in the position that I’ve only held for 4 months.

This doesn’t make any sense.  “I’m sorry, but this is what I’ve been told.  This isn’t what I thought my job would be”.

This is a conversation that nobody ever wants to have.  It sucks.  It’s stupid.  It sucks.


The decision has been made.  Fighting is futile.  All that’s left now is to see how I respond to it.

In life, we all have Events every day.  Some are big (like losing your job) and some are small (like forgetting to take out the trash on garbage day).  What matters more than the Event is your Response.  The Event plus your Response will determine your Outcome.

E + R = O

This isn’t something that I’ve thought up.  It’s a real thing called “The R Factor”.  Look it up at

Urban Meyer has implemented it on his Buckeye Football Team.  It’s something that’s being implemented into our community’s school system.  It’s changing the way we approach learning, living and loving.  It’s even had a positive effect on my marriage.

In addition to that, it helped me on October 28th at 10:30 when my manager called me into his office.  It allowed me to Pause, Get My Mind Right and Respond with Above the Line Behavior.

This is why I’m excited for this new chapter in my life as more of my energy flows to my writing and speaking career.   Please pray for my success in this new adventure as I strive to help others to Overcome Adversity.


Oct 11

Time to Reconnect

This afternoon I’m taking a trip.  I’m going to a place where I can disconnect and be who I am.  It’s a place like none other.  It’s a place where time stands still.  It’s a place where most people can’t go.  Many people don’t even want to go.  It’s a place that brings me back to who I am and where I’m from.

Do you ever wonder why we have to go to different physical location to experience life differently?  Why can’t we experience life differently but stay in the same place?  Why can’t we get more from life by getting less?

I have the good fortune of doing that today.  I’m experiencing who I am and where I’m from without leaving town.  This was my morning.  Later this afternoon, I’ll take a trip with my daughter for another time to reconnect.

It takes me to the corner of Thurstin & E. Court Street in Bowling Green, Ohio.  It will remind me of the “street corner” that I sat at this morning.  Have you ever been there?

Sep 19

XC team

Back when I was a kid in high school we had a “CC” team that ran through the cornfields of Northwest Ohio.  It wasn’t a large team, but it brought with it a great sense of belonging and diversity.  I always thought that the “CC” stood for Cross County.  For some reason, in the past few years there have been quite of few “XC” teams popping up.  What’s that all about?

One of them is the Hilliard Darby XC.  They’re running the streets of Central Ohio, since there’s not much farm ground left where I live.  However, much like Elmwood (my alma mater) there is even greater sense of belonging and more diversity.

It’s a great team with a great coaching staff.  They have a “growth mindset” and team motto of LEAP.  It stands for Love Energy Audacity and Proof.  The investment that they make into these kids is incredible.

I spoke with them about “self-limiting beliefs” and how you can overcome them.  It’s an important part of the process as we go from Blind to Sight to Vision.  It’s something that we all should go through.  Once you do, your “eyes will be open” (pun intended) to much more.  Since I’ve lost part of my sight, my vision is better than it’s ever been.

I had been thinking that the “X” probably represented a cross or maybe even a place holder for whatever running you’d like to do.  Whether it’s cross country or short country or no country J.

Maybe it has do with the diversity that the sport allows for, since almost anyone can run.  We don’t have tryouts and anyone can be on the team.  It doesn’t matter if your 5K time is sub 16 minutes or 25 minutes plus.

Maybe this is it.

When “who” you are matters more than “what” you are, X.

Mike drop.


Thanks for allowing me to talk with you.  God is good.

Sep 11

I Hate Driving

There.  I said it.  One of the things that I used to love is gone.

Just keepin in real.

I bought a car in February of 2011 that had 5,000 miles on it.  On March 3rd, less than a month later, I was blinded by one of two Cavernous Malformations in my brain stem.  From that point, until mid-October of that same year, Connie drove my new car to get me where I needed to be.  If it weren’t for her, I don’t think that I’d be here.

The other part of that combination, the car, has also been instrumental.  It’s allowed us to travel an additional 134,000 miles.  When I recently told my friend Pete how many miles were on my car he was amazed.  “Wow, you drove that many miles with just one eye! ”  Not, “hey that’s been a good car or gee that Ford is a keeper.”  He brought it back to the person behind the wheel for all of those miles.  Then, of course, I do most everything with just one eye.

I dreaded those days from March to November, when I had to ask one of my friends or coworkers for a ride.  I hated it.  Why did that bother me so much?  Normally, it wouldn’t matter much at all.  They probably didn’t think anything of it, so why did I?  I don’t know.  As I dig into more understanding and try to relate to people that are struggling, I find myself asking more questions.

From this point forward, one question that I will try to answer with an affirmative “YES!” is if someone asks me, “can I drive?”  It sucks driving at night.  It sucks having my head on a swivel to make my huge blind-spots smaller.  It sucks pulling up to a drive-thru window or toll-booth.  It sucks knocking my mirrors off on the side of the garage.

Fortunately “Charles”, my 2011 Taurus, has kept me safer with blind-spot detection, automated cruise control adjustment and collision detection.   Still, with all of those miles, it’s about time for the next model. Hopefully, the next one will be even safer and maybe drive for me.  🙂

No matter how bad my day starts or ends, I still drive.  I still do things that are uncomfortable. I still push forward. Doing things that I may not want to do allows me to experience the things that I love.  Tomorrow is another day.  The sun will rise in the east and set in the west.

Are there things in your life that technology has changed for the better?  Are there other things that you wish for?

Sep 05

What’s It Like to See Double?

This is a tough subject for me to write about.  No-one can really imagine what I see, but I’d like to give you an idea.  The idea is that you’ll have an appreciation.  Maybe someday this will help somebody.

I often remind people that I only have one eye.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I actually have two eyes. One that I use and another that I keep under covers.  Not intentionally, my right eye lid refuses to work.

These issues stem (pun intended :-)) from the Cavernous Malformations in my brain that bled in 2011. For those of you new to my blog, you can get the full story here.

You may have experienced double vision.  If you have, I’m sorry to hear that.  It’s definitely one of the most difficult things that I’ve had to deal with.  I’m sure that most people have forgotten or maybe think that I’m adapting well to having just one eye.  Is that what you think?

I can tell you that it’s not quite that simple.  My vision actually changes minute-to-minute…literally.  How can that be?!?  I wish it weren’t, but I can honestly say that I have very dynamic vision.

When my right eye is fully closed and my left eye has had a chance to wake up, my vision is good. Monocular, but still good.

When my right eye pops open there is a lot more light in my world, which is great.  What’s not so great is that my eyes still don’t go together, so I have double vision.  That can change too.  Depending on the situation, my images can be in any number places.  It’s not nearly as simple as the attached picture.  For example, when I shave, my right eye goes asleep…kind of.  It’s hard to describe, but when that eye falls asleep it falls in toward my nose.  However, I can still see out of it.

How do I determine which image to look at?  Well, I don’t always pick the right one, but it’s usually the one with a crisper image.  It’s a very non-perfect 3-dimensional world.  That’s because having 2 good eyes allows you to see depth, as well as width and length of objects.

When I’m monocular, I can only see in 2 dimensions.  That means, if you toss me something chances are that I will not catch it.  I’ll probably just look at you or duck out of the way.

In case you’re wondering, in October of 2011, Dan Cox at The Ohio State University Driving Rehabilitation Program approved me to drive again.

There’s 3 things to take from this post about me:

  1. If you can see my right eye, it’s probably not a good day for me.  My balance may be off, which is really not uncommon.
  2. Don’t throw me anything that I wouldn’t mind if it hit me.  🙂
  3. It’s usually a safe bet, if you can’t see my left eye, you can assume that I don’t see you

I’m sure that’s more than you ever thought that you wanted to know.

There’s a few things to take from this post about you.

  1. In the end, the moral of this story is that you just have to keep going.
  2. Keep pushing through barriers.
  3. Keep trying new things.
  4. When people tell you that you can’t do something, acknowledge them and then prove them wrong.


Aug 28

Can I Get You Some Coffee?

These last few days I’ve had my face in my phone more than normal.  I’ve been trying to read as much as I can.  Why?  Well, I know that the more I read the easier it will be for me to write.  Why do I need to write? Why can’t I just be a dad, a husband, a coworker, a salesman, a customer, a christian?  I’ve been all of those things for part of the last 49 years.  They are good and important.  But, they are not why I exist.

I exist to serve others.  That’s why I write this blog and that’s why I’m writing a book.

As I was sitting at breakfast this week, the waitress approached my table.  My head was down with my face in my phone again.  I was reading.  She startled me and I think I startled her.  When I looked up, her expression faded and her smile ran away from her face. I could tell that she was surprised to see my look.  I’m not sure what she was thinking, but I don’t think my image matched her preconceived notion.  It happened in an instant and it wasn’t something that could be hid.

It’s times like this that I’m reminded of how others see me.  It reminds me of all that I’ve been through.  It reminds me of all of the people that God has put in my life to help me get to where I am today.  It reminds me that I need to keep doing what I’m doing.  It reminds me that God has given me a chance to do something with this gift that I call a face.

After talking with her and my friend, for a bit, the conversation seemed normal.  The common chit-chat about the weather, the food and then the day’s business.

That was enough to fuel my fire for the work that I love.

I’m putting my head down again, but this time it’s to write so that my words will be read by someone else. There’s a book in my head and in these fingers that is about to come out.  There’s something more to this life that you didn’t get to see in the first 49 years.

…head down…

Aug 21

Our Kid’s Know What It Takes!

Over the past few days Connie and I have been on a college movement crusade.  First, we took our daughter to Bowling Green to begin her first year as a college student.  She’s a bright and beautiful girl who fills her dad with pride.  I still remember the day that we found out about her heart condition.  This condition would cause her to have heart surgery when she was only four months old.

Now, she’s moved in with 5 other freshman girls into the dorms at BGSU and is ready to take on the challenges of a full workload.  All of that with a part-time job working for her Aunt Cathy in the same college.  I can honestly say that I’m proud that she’s a Falcon…even though I’m a Rocket!

Once we had gotten her started to settle in, we returned home.  The next day we left for Chicago to pick up our oldest son Grant from his summer co-op.  He had a successful and rewarding experience at Gary Lee Partners, which is predominantly an Interior Design firm.  Having said that, they do have 2 architects on staff which is the path that Grant is taking.  We learned, in his final review, that the company left the door open for Grant to return someday (who knows if that will happen).  Additionally, they encouraged him to tell his classmates about the company for future co-ops.

The best part of the trip was being alone with only them and their phones. 🙂  We never have a problem with Jess opening up, but it’s always good to talk with her.  Grant continues to become more talkative.  He’s witty and even sarcastic, like Jess.  They’re their own people.  Much like Colin who held the fort down in Hilliard, as he started back to school (as a Junior in high school) with an old car and black-and-blue toe.

There’s such a joy and peace know that they know…what it takes!


Aug 14

Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do

Self limiting beliefs (you know, those things that creep into our “self-conscious” where we sabotage our self image and credibility) are bad enough, but THEN you have other people that add to those doubts.  It goes something like this.  I’ll tell people that I’m writing a book and beginning a speaking career and here are some of the responses that I’ve gotten.

  • Who do you think would buy your book?
  • How many speeches have you given?
  • What makes you think you have anything to say that others haven’t heard before?
  • What gives you the authority or the right to tell others what to do?
  • What type of certification do you need before you can do that?

And, these are comments from my family and friends!  I get it.  They want to make sure that I don’t get hurt and I appreciate that, but this isn’t helpful.  I wish that they would think of a constructive way of protecting me.

Before these questions come out of there mouths, I wish they’d say “that’s awesome” …”can I get a signed copy of your book?”…”you are and will continue to be an inspiration.”

I know this may seem that I’m “oversensitive” and “needy.”  That’s probably true, but don’t put a label on me.  Don’t put a label on anyone.  People grow and change.  Don’t think that because you knew me in high-school that you still know me.  Maybe I’m better, maybe I’m worse but I’m certainly not the same.

So, what can you do?  Listen carefully to the words of others.  Be keen at identifying those that are speaking the words that you want to hear.  If they’re your family, you can’t disassociate yourself from them.  You don’t want to tune them out.  If you can, you want to help them understand your position.

I know, it’s not always that easy.

However, when you do get with people that believe in you…unconditionally…you HAVE to make the most of it.  By that I mean, share your hopes, wants and dreams.  This is where true inspiration comes. Knowing when you have others around you with “like minds” is where the magic happens.  This is where life gets breathed into your dreams.

If you’re wondering how you can find such a place, send me a note.  I’d love to help you.

Aug 07

Push Yourself

What’s it like when you know that you have to get out of bed, but don’t want to?  What’s it like when you want to stay home, but have to go to work?  What’s it like when you’ve given a free pass, but don’t want to take it?  What’s it like when someone has offered you a ride, because they know that you could probably use it?

Those four questions are very different.  The first two require self-motivation.  This is pushing yourself from the outside.  The second two questions require self-acceptance.  This is pushing yourself from the inside.

How do you push yourself from the outside?

My mom and dad lost a son when he was 12 and another when he was 17.  Can you even imagine? Those two events occurred approximately 15 years apart.  When asked how they kept going there was no silver bullet or “Ah ha” moment.  It was very matter-of-fact, which in my family is no surprise.  🙂  They “just kept going.”

Somewhere, there was someone that was counting on them.  Somewhere, there was someone that believed in them.  Just in the other room, there were mouths to feed.  The sun was still coming up tomorrow.  They couldn’t change that, so they embraced that.

How do you push yourself from the inside?

Having the gratitude to accept assistance graciously isn’t always easy.  For example, when a group of people repeatedly offer to “clean your house” this may be because it is “dirty” but you haven’t been able to slow down to notice it.  (No, our house doesn’t need cleaned!)

Accepting a free pass doesn’t mean that you’re accepting a hand-out.  It’s not charity or a welfare check. It’s your way of allowing someone else to “pay it forward.”

Being on the opposite end doesn’t have to be considered negative.