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Mandate

A few days ago, my bud for many decades called and suggested we should spend some quality time together. We’re just two dudes who grew up together, once owned a business together, been through love and loss, and still endeavor to hang out every once and a while. You know, a Man Date.

We set the date, and left the departure time and what we would do to chance. The date approached, and the weather, which should have been a beautiful late August sun filled thrill, turned to disappointment. Instead of saying damn the torpedoes, and turn our heads into the storm, we set out sights east and decided to chase the sun.

That’s the advantage of living in an area like Washington. Just one hour east of Seattle, you can cross the Cascade Mountains and find sun and a warm climate on the other side.

We headed for a place that has memories for both of us. Just over the I-90 pass, is little ol’ George, home to the Gorge Amphitheater. We’ve seen all kinds of music acts there, both together and individually. That location holds some cool memories from out past.

Right next to one of the coolest music venues in the world, is Cave B Winery. A gorgeous location that offers up some amazing wine. That would be our place to hang out, enjoy and imbibe.

On the way over we discussed all kinds of things. Where we are in life, where we want to go in life, and what stands in our way (politics). We asked ourselves serious questions. One of the largest was what are we going to eat? Better get some vittles.

We stopped at one of my favorite shops in the whole world. The Sausage shop in Cle Elum. These guys do the whole smoked meat and sausage thing better than most. We picked up an assortment of meat, cheese and crackers and continued on our Man Trek.

The nice thing about this particular mid week venture, is having the gift of time. We took back roads, looked at scenery that was reserved to non vehicles not that many years ago. In other words, we meandered our way to awesomeness.

Upon arriving at Cave B, the wind was blowing pretty strong, but the temp was in the mid 80’s and life was good. We tasted some wines, made a decision on a bottle and retired to the picnic benches outside overlooking the Gorge.

The main plan was to read, write and discuss, but the food paired with the food quickly melted that plan away. It was one of those moments to stop, take in the scenery, smell the air, taste the local offerings and just plain celebrate the moment.

Everyone says it, but on this August day it really came true. Good friends, good food and good wine equals not just a good time, but one of the best times of our lives.

Cheers.

Clarity

What’s most important? What’s next? Why? Just plain why? Questions that rattle around in our brains sometimes. When change is a big part of your life, you find these in front of you more often.

I purposely have not written much recently. I felt like much of my messages have been along the same vein, and I needed a new point of view. That, plus life was getting in the way with a variety of things, distractions and excuses why not to take the time. So, time to clear away the cobwebs and get clear.

Last Sunday we did something I have never done. At least in my adult life. We decided to take the time and drive the North Cascades loop. Ok, not the entire loop, but I-5 to Highway 20 East, down through Chelan, to Wenachee and then back West across Highway 2.

I knew it would be a long treck. 10 hours I guessed. It was a beautiful day. Sunny, warm and inviting. We bought some road snacks, took the top off the 1990 Miata and hit the road.

What struck me most was the diverse changes in landscape, scenery and style. Between Concrete and Winthrop amazing mountain peaks, incredible vistas, glacier blue river water and sudden changes in temperature from one moment to the next. In Eastern Washington diverse changes from baron desert into lush fields of fruit and produce through the simple process of irregation. Back again into Western Washington on Highway 2 at about 10pm which ground to a traffic standstill because of the lack of simple infrastucture through Startup and Goldbar.

It really was an incredible 12 hours. We took in everything the trip had to offer, on all emotional levels, and afterwards many things were abundanlty clear.

First, it was all important. The decision to make the trip, the views, the wonder, the time. What’s next….who knows? I was thinking at multiple stages of the trip that many many years ago, this region was buried more than a mile of ice. Why? Because that’s natures way. A drop of rain will fall and flow either east or west depending on what side of the mountain it falls. The rain drop can’t control which way it wants to go, it just travels upon the route it falls into. Simple rules of nature.

As humans have the ability to reason and make changes on our own, sometimes it is best for all of us to try not to control everything, and just be patient. Let nature and chance do what naturally happens. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to do your best, put your best foot forward and be proactive on making your way in the world. But you can only do so much to try and make things go your way.

In taking the time to wonder at the awesome power of nature, I find clarity in it’s beauty and random order. I’m going to take some advice from a young friend and throw caution to the wind and truly watch my life begin.

Mirror, Mirror

Things happen for a reason.

The last 48 hours have been pretty interesting. Reflection is a pretty amazing thing if you allow yourself to look back and see what is IN the reflection.

You see, I’ve been wrapped up in a few things. An opportunity to work for a very large insurance provider in their Marketing Department courtesy of a professional staffing organization really occupied much of my thoughts, time and focus. To the point where the other things I have been involved in have been put on notice, that if the job comes through it will come first.

So, what are those other things? First, the birthday of my darling, and second coming up this weekend is helping to lead the success of a catering project for over 100 people.

I have been good friends with a very large Catholic family for over 20 years. These people are awesome, and I have been invited to participate in the celebration of one of their family members, a true Sister. She is celebrating 50 years as a Nun. It’s an honor. There will be gourmet food, tasty refreshing beverages and outstanding desserts to mark this awesome occasion. My role, is to make a roasted beet, onion and goat cheese salad, as well as help direct the volunteers to ensure the event comes off smooth as silk. We’ve spent weeks talking, testing recipes, planning layout, execution and planning on generally being of service.

The following week, my girl has a birthday. She self describes it as a birthday without milestone, but it’s a celebration none the less. We have some cool plans, but they have been loose until we know what’s going on with the Marketing opportunity.

In both cases, I have made it known that if the gig comes through, that’s first on the list. I would not be able to give the other two as much time and attention as I would like. Everyone has understood and gratefully approves.

So today, I had the big interview. Over the past 5 days I have dedicated many hours “cramming” for this interview, slated to last an hour. The job revolves around the new Health Care Reform law. Therefore, as one who loves to be as informed as possible, I dove in head first. I now understand what issues insurance companies must come into compliance for in the upcoming months. I studied what the insurance companies stance, writing style, Mission, Vision and Values are. I was READY.

I went in, and really had a good interview, although short. It lasted less than 20 minutes. I felt good, this could be really cool. Helping shape the message of what this means to millions of people.

Then the call came. The scope of the job had changed, and although they thought the interview went extremely well, and they loved who and what I stood for, they passed because they felt I was over qualified and I would be “bored”.

I loathe rejection. It is what I run from and am affected by more than anything else. More than the money, more than seeing how this very large, mulit-layered company would operate, it was the “sorry, but they are going to pass” that cut through like a rusty sword.

As I’ve stated in past submissions, today I am going to change and do things different. While processing the news, I realized that this is supposed to happen. I need to focus my time and energies on what IS important. Making the celebration of a Nun who has dedicated her life to helping people,be the best event it can possibly be. Making a birthday epic for someone who is in my corner even when I am not. Yeah, finding a good well paying gig is important, but today it will be throttled back enough to truly give focus to the other things on my plate that may have been compromised.

Things happen for a reason.

As I write this on my iPad, I can see my reflection in the glass, and I’m proud of what I see.

One Hour In The Sun

It’s a regular weekday, a regular day in July. I’ve got an hour or so before meeting with a friend, and catching up.

For a couple of days now I’ve hit a kind of writers block. No real nuggets of wisdom, or thoughts or really anything that consists of substance.

One thing comes to mind though, and this will take a bit of explanation, so please, be patient.

Back in 1984, a freshly turned 21 year old was at a bit of a crossroads. With 2 years of college about to be history, there was a burning desire to jump at the next thing. In this case, it was securing a job at a radio station. At that time radio filled my every pore. I breathed it, loved it, was consumed by it. It was my first real passion, and I was head over heels in love with it.

I had been at the college radio station during my collegiate tenure, and it no longer held that passion. I wanted to run with the big dogs, not be held back by those who were earning credits. So during a chance meeting with a legendary DJ, I had successfully secured an internship at the one radio station, the only radio station that mattered. KISW.

I started working with Steve Slaton during his evening shift. Then I was introduced to Gary Bryan, the Program Director. He agreed to bring me on during the day and do more than just answering phones. I was giddy with excitement.

Up until that point, I had this “feeling” that something was going to happen. I can’t put my finger on what that feeling was. It wasn’t anything pronounced, it was just there making it’s presence known. I just needed to let things take their course and see what happens. Problem was, at 21 I wasn’t very patient.

2 or 3 days into landing that internship with Gary, I walked in one morning and Beau Phillips is standing in the lobby. He explains very nicely that Gary had been let go, and he would be once again taking the programming helm at KISW. My heart sank, I thought for sure that he would not take on a kid to be just another intern. Again, not very patient.

The exact opposite happened. He gratefully took on this green kid, and allowed me to fly. Beau is one of my few mentors, who allowed me to learn from the best, shaping who I am today. Within 3 months I became Promotion Director and learned so much from him and that job for the next 4 or 5 years.

It’s funny because that “feeling” is back again. I know that this time my unemployment is the right thing at the right time. This time though, I am being patient. Allowing the time to fully take in what’s next. I’ve felt it for about a month now. Opportunities are presenting themselves, but in non traditional ways.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know where I’ll end up when the next chapter begins, though it may already have. I just know that this time it is different, it is exciting, and that feeling is there.

So it’s an hour in the sun, on a regular weekday in July, and this time I am loving the feeling it represents. In the past it would have felt different, empty. Today though it feels glorious, beautiful and fun. I am sitting by the lake writing, watching ducks, boats, people….life.

It’s an hour in the sun on a remarkable Tuesday in July.

Commitment

It’s been over a month since I heard the words, “We just can’t afford you.” This is familiar territory. As a Creative Professional, the position runs the risk of being one of the first to get the pink slip once the ledger doesn’t balance out.

At this point in my life (pushing the 50 stage), I’ve made up my mind that it will be different this time. Christine said early on, now is the time to do something for you, to spend time working on things that will improve the person, and the man.

I’ve been dedicated to the gym, heading there mornings at least 4 times per week. That quest to get back into shape began on June 8th, and I am beginning to see some fast improvements. She says she can see it in my face, that I look like I did when we began dating. Cool. I see improved aerobic intensity and duration. I’ve also been dedicated to writing more, and seeking work in all the right places. Not just finding the first thing that comes along. That’s a big change from the times in the past when I’ve found myself in this familiar territory.

Change takes commitment. It takes determination. It takes courage.

I’ve long been an advocate of change, but this time I’m going to be a fan. How I approach what’s next for the second half of my life is going to be drastically different this time. In my 20’s I was all about a radio career and hanging out with rock and movie stars. My 30’s was about dealing with the death of my father and a marriage that wasn’t to be. The beginning of my 40’s was about crisis, discovery and then redemption. Now that I have the experience of triumph and loss behind me it’s time to refocus the talents, and change how I operate.

This time, the commitment is to be the best person I can be, to discover the path that was purely meant to be and to pursue peace and harmony within the spirit that resides deep inside. I am spending the time I have without a daily work commitment, committed to work on a better more meaningful future. Committed to change, and committed to a rich and vibrant today, and tomorrow will be new and exciting opportunities.

I saw a piece of art in Vancouver last May, and I think about it every day. It said, “There is no such thing as small change.”

That is my commitment to change.

Vancouver Artwork

Yesterday’s Given Sunday

A beautiful day, a beautiful idea
Let’s take top off the car, and put a shine on the afternoon
Throw the worries to the wind, and take a drive into the past

Together we take the long way, through roads less traveled
Sun in our eyes, the wind whistling through our hair
We pass old and new
Twists and turns newly discovered
And familiar places fondly remembered

We discover the new location of her guide
A simple design with peace in mind
She stops and gently takes it all in
This is where she can find her balance again
Though far away, worth the time to find

The we move on to see her beginnings
Where she first came from afar
Where she set roots here to grow
To become comfortable in this part of the North
Then to venture out and find her true self
Not what she wanted, but what she was given

We head back the same way
Admiring what we did not see the first time
Taking in the aromas, the sights, the time together
If she had not traveled that path, we may never have found each other
Though the drive we discover just how close our paths had come

Tomorrow looms around the bend
Together we’ll be ready to forge new paths ahead
As for today, we drove into the past
A beautiful day, a beautiful idea

Inspiration

The water, the cool air, the wildlife, the vista. This one place, is like no other place on earth. Calm. Serene. Beautiful. Peaceful.

Aside from the occasional boat or ferry noise, it’s so quiet……it’s inspirational.

Last night we discovered the tale of how they came upon this sanctuary. In the mid 1950’s this blissful piece of property on Lopez Island was purchased for $800. OMG! Seems so petty by today’s standards, but think about the time and place everyone was in that era. The new owner worked 3 jobs with multiple kids and a wife who spoke frank and for her time was extremely driven. She was against the purchase, the land was too much money out of pocket, and for what? A bunch of dirt, trees and critters that overlooked a bay in the little known San Juan islands.

But the old owner wanted to sell and they struck a deal for $10 per month. The new owners threw caution to the wind and took a chance. A chance to make a difference for so many down the road.

From that point many seasons passed. First a concrete slab was poured, then a structure with 2 rooms. Then they added a living room. Year’s later a kitchen, a bathroom, and recently satellite TV.

The next generation constructed an a amazing deck which completely frames the experience, plus a bunkhouse for the kids, friends and the frequent guests.

Thing is, no matter how many adults, kids, or dogs this location has a spiritual energy I have never felt before. Right now my fingers are typing on a wireless keyboard with a bluetooth connection to one of the new tablet computers that makes life grand. It might as well be a piece of parchment, pen and ink well which helped change the world so many years ago. It doesn’t matter. It’s still a way of putting down this inspiration that overcomes my every sense of being.

It’s moments like these, where everything seems to just come together. Problems are small. Love is grand. Friends are so important. And life…..is just so amazing.