Finding Your “Why” – What I Learned from a Football Coach

I have never understood sports and especially NOT FOOTBALL.  I have never been a fan other than to enjoy the awesome experience of being at a live sporting event with all the food, beer and commotion.  I spent many years in a corporate environment surrounded mostly by men.  Their communication methods often involved sports analogies.  Team colors and banners decorated people’s offices.  There were football pools and discussions about rivalries and results.  I didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand me.

Working with Benedictine University’s Head Football Coach, Josiah Sears, his coaches and players changed the way I see the world of sports and especially FOOTBALL.  I see now that playing, coaching and watching football can help men express their biological need to be a WARRIOR in a way that I never previously understood.  I now understand the close and permanent bonding that comes from participating in a common and difficult experience, working together toward a common goal and caring for and supporting each other.  I also now see how this program builds men to function in the world in many more ways than just on the field during the season at hand.  It teaches them to be part of something bigger than themselves, to think and care about others, to believe they are capable of doing great things and to be grateful for the awesome gift that life truly is.  I FINALLY GET IT!

Thanks to Coach Sears for sharing his world with such enthusiasm, caring, belief and gratitude.  It opened my eyes – WIDE.  This program is really special, as it focuses on building the players and a team, but on building men of character and excellence as a key part of the equation.  Putting this video together to demonstrate this very special man and his great program was an AWESOME experience!

Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day isn’t until next month but I want to offer my services to those who still have their mothers so I’m thinking, talking and writing about my own mother who is still very much alive.

As with myself, my mother has been a mother her entire adult life and she has been doing it for 63 years now.  She approached it, as we all do, in her own way.  My dad’s job was to “bring home the bacon” and to fix whatever was broken.  My mom’s job was to figure out how to make the bacon last until the next payday, to have and take care of the kids.  Over the course of 17 years, there were 6 of us who entered this world as her child, with me being the second child and only girl.

Mom made sure there was food on the table.  In some ways, this was very literal.  There was (and still is) always a bowl of carrot and celery sticks on her kitchen table.  We would fill up on those before reaching for the cookie jar, which often contained home made cookies.  Dinner was at the same time every night and we kids were expected to be there with the exception of authorized activities.  There was always enough to eat and usually something left over (which was never, ever wasted.)  I didn’t appreciate the careful choices at the grocery store and in meal prep until much, much later.  She also made sure we had something to wear.  For me, this meant clothes that she made.  Being the only girl, I didn’t have to wear hand-me-downs like my brothers did but always longed for “store bought” clothes.  I didn’t appreciate the many hours she spent feeling the fabric, comparing prices and laboring over the sewing machine so that I had something affordable and decent to wear to school.  She always put herself last but never complained about her life even though she had the thankless job of making ends meet and caring for so many kids.  She never said so but we all knew she loved us with every ounce of her being.  I didn’t appreciate that until I became a mother myself.  I do honor her and appreciate her now.   I am so blessed to have her as my mother and appreciate that she allowed me to capture her stories on video.  Although she won’t be around forever, her sense of playful enjoyment of life and love of her family will be there for mine and future generations to enjoy.

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Legacy of Love

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My friend Louie recently passed away. It was sad but not unexpected seeing as he was 102 years old. He had lived a full and rewarding life and died surrounded by many members of his very large family. He was not a politician or a wealthy businessman. In fact, although he did become a small business owner, he had only received an eighth grade education. You see he had to quit school to help put food on the table when his father, a farmer, died during the great depression and his mother was trying to scrape by and feed her 10 children. Louie eventually married Eugenia and they had 10 children of their own. They encouraged all of their children to embrace music in their lives and all but one of them did. Louie was an ‘old school’ Catholic and had a very strong faith. He helped me to embrace God, if not religion, by showing me the power it could have in my own life. Louie also found his way into my heart with his incredibly positive attitude and with his stories. Stories of poverty and joy, love and life. I captured many of them on video, integrated many of his family photos and gave that compilation to him and his family as a gift. His youngest daughter, Bernie, was especially appreciative and encouraged me to expand my business by doing this important work for other families. When she and I spoke at his funeral, she again expressed her gratitude and loved having the video playing that day but said that it would become even more precious later. When I work with a family on a project like this, I feel very close to them. I am so grateful for them allowing me into their lives in this special and intimate way. This is a legacy so much greater than the worldly goods someone leaves behind. It is a legacy of love.

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How I spent my winter “vacation”

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I took some “vacation time” this December to work on a project that had been haunting me for years.  It is especially relevant to my new retirement career helping families and businesses tell their stories on video.  I am also the primary photographer and “historian” in my family with 5 male siblings and as the mother of 3 and grandmother of 5.

I’m guessing I am not the only one my age (baby boomer) who owned a “BIG honkin” video camera that recorded onto VHS tapes.  We took tons of footage of all the precious moments happening as our children were growing up, changing so quickly and so ADORABLE!  My youngest daughter who starred in most of these family movies now has a child of her own and sends me little video snippets from her phone so that I can keep up with his changes even though I don’t live nearby.

The project, of course, was trying to make this shoebox of movies into something that could be shared and enjoyed.  This not only meant digitizing them, but pulling out the special and representative bits from the large amount of material available.  This process of editing is what I do in my business to turn footage into a story.

The method of digitizing works such that you play the tape and it digitizes it in “real time.”  This project is a double edged sword.  It is great fun walking down memory lane but at the same time thinking, “did I really need to film the unwrapping of every Christmas present?”

Well, I managed to digitize all that I had hoped to and made some of them into mini-story snippets.  The quality of video we can capture now is pretty amazing compared with this.  I will do more of these stories as special occasions come up.  I am experimenting with the best way(s) to share these with the family.

I will cover that in a future newsletter.

In the meantime, here is the mini-story of Christmas 1987.  When Tom and I got married, we moved, with my 10 year old son, to Minneapolis where our 2 daughters were born.  Tom’s mother lived in Cleveland and his brother lived in Nashville with his wife and son.  I never met Tom’s father who had passed before we started dating.  This was a typical Christmas during those years.  We would all drive to Cleveland to visit Tom’s mom, her best friends and her cat “Rowdy.”  My nephew is now a “grizzly” of a man with a small daughter of his own but in this movie he is a cute little boy.  My son who is about 12 in this movie is now in his 40’s with a grown son and 3 beautiful daughters of his own. My oldest daughter who is now in grad school was a year old and adorable with or without clothes.  My youngest daughter was in my belly at the time.

What are your family traditions and memories?  Have you found the time to organize and pick out the good parts?  It is fun and rewarding to do this but also VERY time consuming.

Grab your smartphone or iPad at Christmas!

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Everyone is gathered around.  Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Em & Uncle Ferd, all the kids and grandkids.  Grab a smart phone, set it to video and start asking some questions of the elders in the room.  How did you meet Grandpa?  What was YOUR Christmas like as a child.  These can be fun stories and valuable memories to cherish later.

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Never Too Late

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Its never too late…

To be kind

To share a smile

To say you are sorry

To forgive someone (including yourself)

To love someone (including yourself)

Your life goes on until it doesn’t so don’t quit before it’s over.

What have you done thus far that you are proud of, wish to be remembered for?  Have you accomplished a particular goal?  Perhaps you worked hard to provide for your family, either inside or outside the home?  Perhaps you achieved a college education?  An advanced degree?  Started a business?  Became expert at a hobby?  Read a library worth of books?

Perhaps you have made many friends along the way and continue to touch their lives and be touched by them in a genuine and caring way?

Perhaps you married and have been devoted to your partner through many wonderful times as well as times of hardship and stress?

Perhaps you have become a parent and/or grandparent with all that brings to into your life… Unconditional love, lifelong dedication, teaching, learning, enjoying their presence?

Perhaps you have been able to influence a situation in a way that is bigger than yourself and your immediate family?  Have you volunteered to help others in need?  Paved a way for others to make their path easier?  Inspired others to go beyond what they believed was possible?  Participated in government?  Written a story? Made a movie? Protested a wrong against the world or humanity? Discovered a cure?

Perhaps there are things you have done that you are not so proud of.  Perhaps you have hurt someone?  Gotten angry and lashed out?  Collected a house full of junk?  Forgotten it was your turn to pick up your kids at daycare?  Left the bathtub running?  Texted while driving?  Forgotten your mom’s, husband’s, grandchild’s, child’s birthday?  Taken a nap instead of doing laundry?  Worked too many hours while your children were growing up?  Become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, spending?  Focused on money and belongings rather than on the quality of your family life?

What lessons have you learned in your life?  What lessons do you hope you have taught your children?

I have many areas of pride as well as areas of shame and regret but one example for me that it’s never too late is this…  All my life I have been angry with my father.  At the age of 59, I finally realized that I was the one that needed to change.  I needed to stop wishing for things to have been different, to just let go, to forgive him for not being who I wanted him to be but to accept and love him the way he is.  I finally did it and a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders.  What took me so long?

What can you do to lift any burdens you carry and to add to the areas of pride in your life?  Life is short but it’s never too late…