Jul 31

Keep Trying New Things

I did something new this week.  I attended a Cross Country (XC) camp with Connie and Colin in Logan, OH.  It was a life changing event.

When I came home from Phoenix, where I had surgery (another life changing event), I didn’t want to do much of anything.  It was all that I could to muster up enough ambition to get out of bed.  After I mastered that, I wanted to take a shower.  That didn’t thrill Connie, because both my eyes were still mostly closed.  She didn’t feel comfortable with me in a slippery shower with no handles.  Looking back, I can’t say as though I blame her.

Once the doctors at the OSU Driving Rehabilitation program allowed me to drive again, everything that I did was done at 55 MPH or greater.  Understandably, that scared the bajeepers out of Connie.  But for me, it was a way of growing.  It not only allowed me the freedom to get around on my own, but it also marked another task that I had accomplished.

As uncomfortable as it was, I had to continue to try new things.  Even trivial things, like getting my picture taken was, and still is, a major event.  To this day, when I look in the mirror, I see someone different, someone deformed, someone struggling in his own skin.  Regardless, I continue to push past my level of comfort.

This is really no different for you.  At least, that is, if you have a growth mindset.  This is the type of thinking that will keep you going in good times and bad.  It reminds of the line from Shawshank Redemption when Andy said to Red that it comes down to one simple choice, “get busy living or get busy dying”

Cross country camp with 45 like-minded young men and 10 adults reminded me.  It reminded me the importance of my state of mind.  It reminded me of the first time that I tried something new.  It reminded me of Love Energy Audacity and Proof.  I’ll tell you more about that later.

What’s your mindset?  Are you getting busy living?

Jul 10

Rely on others

The last two mornings, I’ve gotten out of bed, poured a cup of coffee and headed for the back yard.  Didn’t look through my email.  Didn’t check out Sports Center.  I DID do my morning stretches, but that’s it.  I headed to my little weekend oasis.  I don’t have a big sprawling lot with all kinds of room and wildlife, but I have enough.  Truth be told, I have more than I deserve and more than enough.

Once I get to the bottom stair on my deck, I have to take about 10 steps in the grass to get to my patio.It’s been damp the last few nights with temps in the low 60’s here in central Ohio.  Without shoes on, I tiptoe through the dew-soaked grass and make my way to the patio.  That’s where I take my seat.  No phone, no book, no problems.  Just me, my coffee and the occasional bunny or bird.

It’s at times like these, that I really want to appreciate all that I have.  I get to have a job, a house and a car.  I get to have a beautiful wife. I get to have three awesome kids that make me look good.  I get to have friends that care about me no matter what.  I get to have a birthday.  On top of all of that, I get to have problems.  Wait…what?  You heard me, I get to have the problems like you have.  I get to have problems that involve senseless worry over things that I have no control over.  I get to have problems that sometimes consume my thoughts.  I get to have problems that sometimes don’t belong to me.  That’s where I struggle.  This is ruining my morning.

We all have problems of some sort.  Whether they’re manifested or manufactured, we all have them. Some of them come from our own mistakes.  Some come from others and even some come from the evil one. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was, “if you never do anything, you’ll never make a mistake.”  There’s a lot of truth to that.  Life is about continually learning and growing.  One of the best ways to learn is to make some mistakes.  The real judge of your character is what do you do, once you’ve made them.  Once you’ve made a mistake or two, you’ll remember that and grow from the experience.

Before the learning process can happen, you have to rely on others to:

  1. Inform you that a mistake was made (sometimes it’s not obvious)
  2. Counsel with you on how to make reparations (making decisions in a vacuum is rarely a good idea)
  3. Walk with you through the process (the load is much lighter with more shoulders to carry)
  4. Pray for you in times of darkness

So, who are these others that you can rely on?  They are the ones that I first started to show appreciation for.

  • My beautiful wife
  • Three awesome kids that make me look good.
  • My friends that care about me no matter what.
  • My spawling family
  • …the list goes on…

The point is to remember to be thankful for the positive aspects of your life and not dwell on the problems.  We all have problems.  Because no matter how much goodness we have, we’d always like more.  No matter how happy and healthy we are, we’re always worried about that next bug.  We’re always disinfecting our lives, worried about what we can’t see.  We worry about the health and happiness of our extended family and friends.  We want to see them all happy and healthy, as well.  We worry that we’re too worried.  It can be maddening.

My prayer for you is that you “have enough” and can see through the would-be problems.  Let’s call this my gift to you.

Jul 03

Relationships to stand the test of time

One thing that enabled me to handle adversity was something put in place long before the storm of events hit. This “thing” didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen because I said that it should.  I didn’t put myself first and that certainly didn’t happen without effort.

This “thing” is the relationships that I have in my life.  Where do they come from?  How can I keep them?  Even better yet, how can I tell YOU how to get them and keep them?

I can only recommend how to get them and keep them, because relationships come in varying ways for varying reasons.

My wife is nothing short of a Godsend. By saying that we are in a “relationship” seems like a gross understatement.  Moving on…

I could name hundreds of people that have had an impact on me. But not all of these relationships come from people that are related to me – like Earl, Pete, Jeff, Bill, Warren and Rye.  Beyond those six, there is a name that I haven’t mentioned.  He’s the kind of friend that I could call in the middle of the night and ask him to meet me and he’d be there.  He’s been there for me and my family in good times and bad.

How did he become my friend?  I don’t remember wishing for a friend like him, but I can’t imagine life without him.  I don’t remember praying for a friend like him, but I remember praying with him.  I don’t remember thanking him, but I DO thank God that he’s in my life,

How did I keep him as my friend?

I paid him.  🙂

Well, that’s what he’d tell you.  But, I’d tell you that I’m blessed to have such a friend.  At the same time, there has to be a connection and there is a connection.  We both are approximately the same age, with wives from Northwest Ohio and kids that are of similar ages.  God put us together in 1999 and hasn’t taken us apart ever since.

Without the relationships in my life, I’m not sure where I would be.

I’d say that my advice to you is:

  1. Give more than you take.
  2. Trust others.  My dad always trusted everyone that he knew, until that trust was betrayed.  This is a great way to start.
  3. Be reflective.  Look back over the last 6 months, 6 years and even more.
  4. Reconnect with those people with whom you’ve lost touch.  We can all do better at that.  It may not seem like much, but it will have an impact.

Do you have any relationship secrets that you’d like to share?

Jun 14

Overcoming Adversity

One of these days, I’m going to write more.  One of these days, I’m going to tell my story more.  One of these days, I’m going to make time for this.  One of these days, I’m going to remember before I lay in bed.

One of these days….

One of these days…

One of these days……

Today is the day.

In the coming weeks I hope to tell you more of how I do it.  How have I dealt with my own form of adversity?  How have a battled the demons in my head?  How have I learned to experience uncomfortable things, that others dismiss?

Remember the title of this post is “Overcoming Adversity”, not “Overcame Adversity.”  I said “how I do it”, not “how I did it.”  There will never be a past tense, until my days are done.

It’s not always been easy, but my experiences can help you.  They will help you by learning that someone else knows how you feel.  Someone else has issues that are similar to yours.  Someone else knows what it’s like.

Topics to follow include:

  1. Form relationships that stand the test of time
  2. Rely on others
  3. Keep trying new things
  4. Push yourself
  5. Don’t let others tell you what you can’t do

I’m looking forward to this.  I hope you join me.

Apr 03

I still lick the frosting, but don’t always save it for last!

My mom is one of the best cook’s that I know.  To this day, she makes mostly everything without a recipe.  This goes for everything from casseroles, to cookies, to carrot cakes to pies.

When I was a kid, my mom always made chocolate cake with brown sugar frosting.  Without fail I would HAVE to help her clean the bowl where she mixed the frosting.  After our main course, the best way to eat said dessert, of course, is to save the frosting for last.  This may not be the same for you, but to me, it’s like the band playing their best songs last.  It’s what you can easily remember and savor the most.

There was sometimes a problem with my culinary intake.  My seat was immediately to my dad’s right.  You might wonder, why would that be a problem?  Well, my dad didn’t think that was the proper way for this dessert to be eaten.  Either that or he just liked being ornery.  You see, if I took my eye off of my plate and let my guard down his fork would quickly finds its way on to my plate and he would take the prized frosting that I had saved for the last.

The frosting was the best part and I just wanted to save for last.  To this day, I still like to “lick the beaters” and sometimes save the best for last.

It was this time of year, 5 years ago, that my life changed forever.  What happened?  During those dark days, I pledged to help others overcome adversity.  One year ago, my dad lost his life.  During and after his dying days, my focus changed.  It’s time for me to get back to my pledge.  I think it’s what dad would want me to do, with my primary focus of providing for my family.  As dad used to say, “working for a living has its drawbacks.”

I may still save the frosting for last, when I have mom’s cake.  But, following my pledge means that I will share what I have with others.

Aug 23

Breaking Grant

Twenty years ago, Connie and I held a little boy that would change our world.  We were two twenty-somethings that thought we had it all…not to mention knew it all.  We lived in the suburbs of Chicago and had good friends that were also new parents.  Grandmas and Grandpas were only a 5 hour car ride away in Northwest Ohio. We made that trip every two weeks and sang to him as we rode.  G-R-A-N-T, Grant you’re my pretty baby boy!  While at home we rocked and read to him frequently.

Life was simple.  Life was good!

We considered having another child, but how could we ever love another child this much?  Would there be enough of us to go around?  Next came Jessica and then Colin.  There WAS and there still IS enough to go around.  .

Fast forward to 2013, the same year that Grant graduated from high school.  We were in a tough spot.  Things had not been going well with my job and Connie had been forced to take a part time job to make ends meet.  There had been a lot of items trimmed from our budget, but one that stayed was Netflix.  It was $7.99 a month and Connie found a show for us to watch.  It was called “Breaking Bad.”  I’m not sure why she liked it, but she did.  After a few episodes, I was even hooked.  It’s about a drug manufacturer and dealer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It was difficult to relate, but the plot was captivating. The binge watching started.

Fast forward to Summer of 2015, as Grant prepares for his second co-op with the Architecture Department in the University of Cincinnati.  He misses the opportunity to join two different firms in San Francisco and takes a job in Albuquerque.  Go figure.

Last Thursday, Connie and Grant boarded a plane for the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico.  

During the visit to the office, where Grant will be working, they notice a picture showing that a scene from the movie was shot in the very same building.  The caption reads “This is what happens to architects who go over the edge.”

I love that little boy and the man that he has become.  Life is good.

There’s more than enough love to go around.

 

 

Jan 26

Safely at work!

Once I’m in the parking lot or my company’s office, I send the message to Connie.  “Safely at Work.  I love you.”  I’ve only been sending this message for the last year and a half.  The first sentence, that is. 🙂 Over the last 4 years, most of my previous jobs entailed working from home.  Driving wasn’t nearly as frequent.  Everyone felt much safer with that situation.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t a successful career experience from my perspective.

That’s when I took a job across town.  Although it forced me to face some of my fears, it also robbed me of my identity.  I know that sounds heady, you’ll have to ask me privately someday.

Since March 3rd, 2011 my world has changed.  Not all of these changes are a result of my medical condition.  Many of them can be explained and I have excuses for almost all situations, although I despise using them.  I’m happy to tell you that I’ve found a new home for my day job.  It plays to my strengths of forming and keeping long-term relationships.  These relationships can be personal or business.  So often people talk about having a work-life balance.  To me, it’s more like having work-life integration.

I learned about this from the master himself, my dad.  His world has changed too.  Eight years ago, he officially retired from farming at the age of 81, but he has continued to putter.  Lately, medical issues have sidelined him.  His putter has turned into a putt.  However, he will be back.  Once he is, we look forward to his putter coming back.  You’ll then see how that integration plays out.

All things considered, I’m happy where I am.  Safely at work.

Nov 02

Helpless

Let me know what you think of my new logo.  A new friend of mine created it for me.

Many people have asked me, “how do you do it?” “how do you remain so positive and upbeat?”.

I’ve struggled with this answer for years.  You see, I want to give an answer that gives someone else hope.  The truth of the matter is that I’ve done “this” because of and for my family.

Call me crazy.  In fact, you can call me anything that you want.  First of all, remember that I’m a son, a husband and a father.  There’s not a day that goes by that my thoughts don’t go to one of those connections.  It’s my family that gives me joy.

When I see my own kids, I can’t help but smile.  This weekend, Colin cheered on his teammates that were in the cross country state championship.  Jess played in the marching band state finals.  Grant brought three of his roommates, from college, and stayed with us the entire weekend.  I’m in awe of how this life is playing out.

It’s true, there are things that I don’t like.  Especially the things that I can’t avoid.  In the end, those things don’t matter.  It’s the blessings that God has given me that make this a life of abundance.

Helplessly in love.

I just can’t get over the feeling of love that I have for my family.

Do you have something or someone that gives you the kind of joy that makes you feel complete?

 

Sep 14

POS

Over the last 12 months a lot has changed for me.  I’m sure that it has for you too.  The rollercoaster of life has made me nauseous.  Some days I just want to step off.  Some days I crave it like a drug. Some days I want it all to go away.  Some days I feel like I’m making an impact.  Some days I’m dreaming to live.  Some days I’m living the dream.

There are times when I’m sure that I’m loved.  Then there are times that I wonder why I am loved.

Am I any different than you?  If you look at my picture, you may think so. Looking at the outside this may seem realistic.  Looking from the inside-out is a much different image.  If you’re reading these words, this may sound foreign.  The words don’t always match.  Living this life isn’t always easy.

Do I have you off balance, yet?

The push and pull, the give and take, the shake and rattle all make up this life we live.

I’m here to tell you that it’s all about how you start.  The first impression means everything.  The first test you take is important.  How you deal with the first crisis will reveal you.  How you handle the first meeting will be, good or bad, when you can get pigeon holed.  I’ll never forget the first time that I entered a job that was (what I thought was) a terrible job, a dead-end relationship or a meeting that I didn’t want to be in.

It’s doesn’t have to be that way.  I have the secret for getting off to a better start.  You may think you know what my answer is.  You might even be right?

 

 

May 26

PERSEVERANCE taught by a 14 year old

My youngest son, Colin, competed in the Middle School Track & Field State Championship this weekend. He ran in the first race of the day during a sun-soaked event in Central Ohio.  He was the third-leg of his school’s 4x800m track team.  They ran very well and came in second overall.

Colin’s second event came more than 5 hours later.  By then he was tired and ready to be done.  The ceremonial event-shirt had been purchased.  The sports drinks had been drank.  The snacks had been snicked.  His teammates had completed their events and most of them had even gone home.  He told us that his calf was hurting and he didn’t really want to run anymore.

Coach Jackson told him that he should run the race.  Connie and I went below the bleachers to talk to Colin.  He told us how he felt…on the outside. We knew how he felt on the inside.

This was his race.  The 3200m (2 mile).  He had ran this race for the past 2 years in cross-country and earned a personal best of 11:41. This time it was different.  He had a smooth track and a glaring sun.  The lack of wind was eary.  It was a beautiful day for a run.  But he had demons.  “I can’t do it.”  “I don’t want to injure myself.”  “I’m sick already.”  Those self-limiting beliefs came creeping in.

I can relate.  My day job has really taken off, which is a good thing – says the salesman.  At the same time, I want to continue to serve you and work towards my dream job.  That’s a tough thing.

It’s time for me to take a step back and evaluate where I am.  Am I adding value?  What can I do better? Can I do it?  Will I injure myself?  Am I really as tired as I think I am or am I just distracted?

Reading my own words on paper makes me realize something.  Something that I should have realized a long time ago.  This is something that I need to pray about, not stew about.  Just asking God for discernment may give me the clearer head that I need.   Enough about me.

Let’s finish that story about Colin.  He ran the race with 35 other runners.  There were both boys and girls. In the 3200m race, the runners make 8 laps around the Dublin Scioto High School track.  After the first two laps Colin was in 10th place.  He looked good and in the next 2 laps he put himself in 8th place.  The lead runners began to separate themselves from the field.  I was worried that Colin would lose the drive to finish strong without the lead pack in sight.

If you’ve ever been to a sporting event, that I’m at, you know exactly where I am.  This day was no different. Those last four laps everyone else disappeared.  It was just me and Colin.  No matter where he was on the track, I continued to yell words of encouragement.

With 2 laps remaining Colin was in 7th place.  He looked great.  There was no sign of sickness, no sign of fatigue, no sign of a sore calf.  During the 7th lap he moved into 6th place.  Way to go Colin!  Way to go Wagner!  Just one lap to go.  It’s time to kick it in.

During the backstretch of the 8th and final lap, the unthinkable happened.  He got passed by the same runner that he had just passed.  My best parenting skills were thrown out the window.  If I could have run across the infield I would have.  Let’s go Wagner!  It’s time to get it back Colin!  (and you thought I was yelling before).

Through turns 3 and 4, Colin and the other runner became neck-and-neck.  Here they came down the homestretch.  Colin steps to the outside and makes a surge with 50 meters to go.  It was as if he had a totally new sense of life.  He knew where he was and where he needed to be.

He didn’t let up from that moment on and he crossed the finish line in 11 minutes and 28 seconds.  A new personal record (PR).  Way to Colin!  Nice job!  Way to go Wagner!  Nice job!  That was awesome!  … He was spent.

When we caught up later, I told him how proud I was of him and how we would never forget that race. It was a good day.

This was his last race at middle school, but one of his first in life.

This is good stuff.  What have you learned from sporting events?