You Booze You Lose

I was 17 and wondering how I’d managed to ruin my reputation with the teachers in my school. I thought I had my act together—good grades, ambitious, involved in school and community. 
But I found out how quickly and definitively that could change. One stupid decision to get drunk on an overnight school field trip was all it took. Now, a whole year later,  as I sat in my US History teacher’s classroom, asking advice, he said, “You booze, you lose.” 
Abraham Lincoln said it more eloquently, “It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, and five minutes to lose it.”
All I could do was move forward. And I did.

I became aware of alcohol as a child—observing my parents drinking wine with dinner. As a young teen, it progressed from wine to cocktails before and after dinner. 
Alcohol didn’t seem to be a problem. It was just part of our lives. My parents worked hard and provided well for the family. I felt loved and cared for. 
When I reached the drinking age at 21, my doctor handed me a check list fo…

Esports Frontier

I read about Sarah-Charles “Charlie” Morrow in our local paper. She’d just been hired as the first esports coach for Peninsula College. 
I needed to meet her—and find out more about this whole brave new world of esports and video games. We met over coffee and I told her about my grandson and how much he enjoyed gaming. He's focused on improving, and shares this time with his close friends—all online.
Charlie told me players develop fast decision making skills—mentally calculating up to 100 actions per minute. My grandson enjoyed Fortnight. Now he has another favorite. He’d like to compete in tournaments. 
Esports is a lucrative and competitive world. Just this last summer, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf won the Fortnight World Cup. It earned him $3 million dollars. 
Fortnight is one of the most popular games ever. There are 250 million players and it has amassed billions in revenue through in-game purchases. 
Charlie understands why parents worry about video games—their content and the tim…

Celebrating Good Neighbor Day

Back when I was a young kid, good neighbors were just about all there were. Bad neighbors? In my juvenile perspective everyone on my block looked out for everyone else.
Especially Mrs. Demers. 
She lived two houses down from mine and my earliest recollections were of going to her house and playing while Mom visited or she’d come over for a morning coffee break—nearly every day.
Laughter and Mom’s cigarette smoke filled the air of our small kitchen. I’m sure there was plenty of grownup talk that I ignored, but when Mom went back to college, it meant an empty house for me. 
Mrs. Demers opened her front door and waved as I walked home from school. She checked on me and my older sister. Often, she had snacks for us too. 
Mom never had the chance to reciprocate because schooling continued for another four years which then led to a full time job. That didn’t deter Mrs. Demers. Her smile and her after school check-in continued without any expectation of payback. 

So, when I think of Good Neighbor …

Sleep Deprived Life

Emily’s alarm is set for 4:35 AM. That gives her enough time to pack four lunches and start a load of clothes so they can be put in the dryer before she heads out. Folding clothes will wait. 
She sets the crock pot out and puts in all the ingredients she prepared last night before bed—which came after three hours of monitoring the kid’s homework, doing dishes, and getting them ready for bed.

By 5:30 AM, the baby is up, fed, clothed, and readied for day care. By 6:30, her other kids wander out, one by one, sleepy-eyed and in various states of readiness for the pending school day. Breakfast is fixed and she cajoles her slowest eaters to hurry.
She gulps down her now cold coffee, then rushes to make sure everyone has their backpacks, lunches, and knows where they are heading after school. 
Hustling out the door she narrowly catches her own bus while making sure her kids are on theirs. She gets off near the babysitter’s, drops off her youngest, then jogs to another bus stop so she can barely …

In an Ocean of Bloggers

There are 600 million blogs in the world and 2 billion blog posts published every year. 
That’s trillions of words on the worldwide web. 
So celebrating my 500th blog post seems like a drop of rain in the ocean. 
Looking back, the most popular posts were the stories of painful loss that resulted in courage and hope. 

Like Betsy Schultz—and how she’s turning her 1910-era bed and breakfast into a respite home for grieving Gold Star families. She knows that grief after losing her only child to a road side bomb in Afghanistan. She's using her grief to help others deal with theirs.

I cried for Dana, an amazing new mom. The doctors told her that her beautiful baby girl had the terminal genetic disease, spinal muscular atrophy. She remained courageous, holding her own life together while losing her first child. She has since raised thousands of dollars for other families coping with SMA.

Then there was Cynthia, the twenty-five year-old I met in the cancer center waiting room. She’d exhausted a…

Dream Big

I saw the sun gleaming off something bouncing along the shoreline. Intrigued, I walked closer and realized it was just a balloon. 
I grabbed the ribbon before the wind picked it up and carried it out into the sea.
Dream Big! This must have been from someone’s recent celebratory party—maybe graduation, or a new promotion. 
Dream Big. 
I smiled and thought of Rudy. Those were always his parting words to me every time we met. That was a lifetime ago.....

I looked at the piece of paper with the office number the college advisor had given me. She’d said, “Go see Rudy, he’ll set you up for next quarter.” Now, as I walked past faculty offices, I heard him before I saw him. Uproarious laughter echoed down the hall. 
Peeking in the open door, a large arm waved me in and pointed to a seat that was surrounded by stacks of books. He was on the phone and enjoying the call immensely from the sound of it. 
I looked at floor to ceiling bookshelves crammed full. I wondered if he’d read them all. Rudy hung up…

Labor of Love

New research claims that 80% of adults are dissatisfied at work. Since we spend 90,000 hours of our lives at work, that’s discouraging news. 

But Clyde was hard at work long before researchers researched things like this. Clyde was a simple man doing what some might call simple work—he fixed household appliances.
Customers would bring in a faulty toaster or a favorite griddle and he’d find the offending part or wire connection causing trouble. Or he'd travel the winding farm roads with his tool kit if need be. He never charged more than he should. 
His small shop was lined with uniform metal bins that held screws and whatever odd assortment of parts he needed. He could look at something with his good eye (his only eye) and usually make a diagnosis.
This was back when people fixed what they had, and Clyde could do it. His shop wasn’t on Main Street, but one block east. His rotary phone hung on the wall in between his metal bins. 

The long counter served as both an operating table and a …