Monday, June 30, 2008

Vacation - Day One!

A Walk on the Beach with the right Music enhances Everything!

The sun came out a bit late today, but enough for me to have a great walk. I had some great music pumping through the earphones, and as I walked, it changed the experience I had. Since there weren't many people on the beach today, it was a perfect day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Maine coast almost all by myself. As the ocean air pushed against me with great tension, a song came on that spoke of the greatness of the environment. It was perfect.

Here was the beach in front of me as I walked...gorgeous and plenty of room!

The Seagulls Love the Beach too...and act like people!

I thought it was funny to see the sea gulls running in and out of the water like people do. There was not much food for them on the beach, so they did not have to be aggressive scavengers. I think they were enjoying the waves as they slowly washed up on the beach. They would run to the wave, and then turn and run out. It reminded me of how kids do that very same action.

Here are a few camera shy sea gulls...

SEAWEED: The Ocean's Dust Bunnies!

Seaweed is everywhere today! The Town was removing some of it in certain areas on the beach, but in our area, it was left there. It made a line at the top of the beach. Some of the kids like to play in it (ewww!), but so do a lot of insects. Smelly and ugly.

GROW UP! - Why does being on vacation make you realize how your children have grown?

It was great to have both my children at the beach today. What I noticed was how much older they are, and how great they are. My daughter does not get much time with her brother, so this time with him is very special to her. You can see this emotion in her every interaction with him. I wonder if he notices. They have a ten year age gap in age, so that makes a big difference.

Here is Justin and Alexandra together:

Here is Alexandra with Justin's hat on!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Everything's Coming Up Roses!

It has been a hectic time. Ending the school year, getting all mt work files in order, updating my monthly reports, statistical information, and reviewing my processes. I have worked a lot to look at my product and see where I can improve, where I am wasting time, and how I can be more efficient and have better output for my Bigs and Littles. It has been kinda crazy!

You know that saying, "You have to stop and smell the roses"? Well, thanks to a dear friend who gave me rose bushes a year or so ago, I can do just that in my own yard. In my hectic past few months, I was able to come home and see the roses pictured here right next to my driveway. As I exit my vehicle, I go over to them and enjoy their beauty.

I just thought I would stop and let you see my roses...and maybe the next time you see some, you will stop and go smell the roses and appreciate their fine detail and beauty.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Friendship is a Sheltering Tree

I often think about friendships. We all have different friendships; different bases of friendship.

I have been in moods of recent where I see the world changing around me, and none of it makes sense. The world is in an emotional state and it filters down to all of us in some personal way. Oil is too high priced, so when it hits our wallets, we take this frustration out on someone else, and so starts the dominoes of life.

When I feel happy or sad, I run to my friendships. I do find friendships like a sheltering tree. You can stand there, feeling accepted, and you can cry, or laugh, or simply just be.

I have several friends that I hold close because they feed me what I need to be strong, satisfied, and loved. Many times we laugh together, complain together, and are quiet together. So as the dominoes fall, we huddle together and brace the storm. And trees are strong and live through it all. They lose their leaves, but grow right back. You can lose a limb, but you do not lose your soul. You can be tossed and turned in the strongest of winds, but you survive. And you can stand alone or be in a group and you still provide shelter.

Friendships are the most expensive thing on the planet, but your investment is minimal, but your value grows over time.

Oh yes, sometimes trees die, but the rings they accumulate shows history, and their seedlings did grow near them, or as far as the wind will take them.

I have friends who have come and gone as well, but our friendship together helped shape who we are as people. I think everyone around us shapes who we are. Through friendships, we borrow and steal ideas, attitudes, lifestyles, and a multitude of other good things. We make them our own, and we expand, and we grow. Sharing this growth is the best feeling of all.

You know, Friendship really is a sheltering tree. Tend to your roots and be appreciative of all that makes you grow and prosper through life's seasons. Hug a friend today.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

For Tracy - A "Jeep" Shot!

By: Alan Katz

My Mom Drove us for fast food,
and the guy there had a cow!
The place didn't have
a drive-thru.
Thanks to Mom,

Father's are Mentors, too!

I was at our Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, which shows our appreciation for those who volunteer to become mentors to youth in our community. We also showcase the businesses and people that support our organization.

My co-workers and I each got up to do a small speech and give out our awards. I found it very odd, but cool, that in my speech, I focused on my invited guests (Businesses who support us and fundraiser volunteers) as being a real part of the mentoring "Family." They may not be mentors, but they support the mentors, much like a family does with their children.

Prior to my talk, our Executive Director told a story about his own personal life. He spoke about his own mentor growing up, his father. It started out as this great story of what we would consider a normal father-son relationship. The father took such interest in his son's life and interests. He did not want to be the coach of his son's team, but he helped lead the whole organization. So by being there for his son, he was also there for everyone's children. He was a mentor to his son, a mentor to his peers, and a mentor to other children around his son. Exceptional.

The story comes to a point where the son is playing football, in a pre-season game. The father could not be there, but his son carried on because that is what he had to do. He did not get much field time as he was the back-up quarterback, but in this game, he was called in. He called a play in the huddle, executed it, and as this son passed the ball to his teammate, a touchdown was made. What an exciting time for the son. And how sad was it that the father was not there at that very moment to see it. But, the son was pumped up, and knew that the minute he got home, he would be able to relive the story to his Father.

Since this was an away game, it took some time for the son to get home. But when he did get home, very excited to tell his story, he realized from a family friend that his father had been taken to the hospital. This son got into the car and drove to the hospital, which was several towns away. When he got there, his father had already passed away. His father was only 37 year old. He never got to share the news with the man who had molded who he was, who he is, and who he would become.

The relationship to mentoring and the volunteer dinner was that we all NEED someone to share our story with, someone to tell our life story to. This son said that he had a father who cared, but also a father that listened to his life story. He said that every single mentor and mentee in the room had this same special bond.

The "Bigs" in the program and the "Littles" in the program were matched and given the opportunity to share their life stories together. And through this match of friendship, another life story is created. How wonderful is it that these two people blend into friendships and life stories.

I sat there a bit mesmerized for a moment. I think many got lost in their own lives in comparison. This son, who is now my executive director, had shared something so intimate, so personal, that I could not help but think of my own life. My sister just had a heart attack, but she was ok and at this dinner. Then I thought about his father's age and how young that was. Then I realized something.

I do not personally visit with my executive director's family. I do not even think I know all the names of his children, nor could i pick them out in a group of similar aged children, but what i do know is that this is a man who is a good father and a good mentor to his own children. He has taken the actions of his mentor and played it out again, with his own children. He may have lost his Dad that day, but what he never lost is his father's spirit. In fact, he took it one more step. He took that spirit from their story and time together, and he mentors his own children and the children of other people. He has created an agency where the focus is on children and their families. He has a story to tell, but he also shows it by actions in his work. I felt like his story was another opening to seeing what makes this man a man. I felt honored to hear this story.

I have this feeling that his Father was looking down upon this volunteer dinner with much pride. And the spirit of this father is alive and well in his son, for which I recognize and glad I was a part of that evening.

On this Father's Day Weekend, just remember that Father's are loving, caring, compassionate, and change lives. Father's are mentors, too!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day is so different now...

My Father's Day was celebrated already. At exactly 6:50pm on Wednesday, June 11th. The celebration lasted 10 minutes in the driveway of my daughters mother's home.

As I picked-up my daughter for her church class at 7pm, my daughter came out of her mother's house with a bird feeder. Unwrapped. Not impressed, my daughter gave it to me and said sadly, "I know it's early, but I could not wrap it, and there was no way for you to NOT see it, so here it is. Happy Father's Day." I was a bit shocked as this was unexpected, but I took it in my hands and said, "Wow, and it has wire over it so the squirrels will not get to the bird food." My daughter then got excited and said, "Yeah and the birds will not break the doors..." She went on telling me all the different things about this bird feeder. I happily put it in my car and thanked her for the wonderful present.

On the way to church, my daughter spoke to me about the lengths she went to get me this present. She needed to unload, and I was happy to listen and communicate back to her. She told me how she requested this present and how hard it was to get it purchased without a lot of baggage attached. I told her that she did not need to endure guilt or any other feeling to get me a gift, that at Father's Day, all a Father wants is to see his children around him. To share and be with him. I told her that she had other choices to celebrate Father's Day, none of which were necessary, but she had options. It was a nice moment.

As I dropped her off to church and headed myself back to work for the 90 minutes we would be apart, I realized yet again the sadness of divorce and the havoc that it continually places on my family.

My daughter had to go through pain and guilt to celebrate ME! She had to argue and feel ashamed to celebrate ME! That saddens me.

My hope is that my daughter will get beyond this and be respectful and giving like I try to be. I can blame my own mother for how I turned out. She always said to me, "Ron, you will never like all the people that you meet in your life, but always remember that the one thing you can always do is respect people. And remember, you can always be in a room with a person you don't like for 2, 4 or even 6 hours, but the best part is that you know when you go home, you leave them behind, but respectfully." God, I love my mother.

So as I have another Father's Day, I realize how different my life is than I had expected. I laugh now as I think of the days when I wondered who I would marry and how grand my life would be. Mother's Day would be filled with the kids and I doting on their mother, and on Father's Day, the same love would be returned to me. Not gifts, but laughter and togetherness. aaah, the dreams of youth.

I think it is sad that divorced parents can not be respectful of each other and commit themselves to making sure their children celebrate the true meaning of Mother's Day and Father's Day. Not for gifts, but for the meaning of honoring. Despite my daughter's mothers actions, I continue to be respectful and celebrate her when it is appropriate and just. It is not to give her a gift or love, it is to make sure that my daughter is respectful and just. For if I do not educate her now, she will not have anything to pass onto her own children. It is tough to lead by example when your heart is broken, but I have mended my heart, and realized that when you have children, you have to provide the best examples despite the pain it may bring you. It is not about you; it is about them and their future.

What keeps me going? What gives me this power to educate my daughter? That is simple. I listen and watch. It is the real joy I see in good family relationships around me. My sister and her husband have three grown children and grandchildren and that gives me hope for my own daughter. My other sister is married and has one child, recently married, and their extended family life is just beginning. And I have one family, which I usually only hear about through the words of a friend, and they celebrate Valentine's Day everyday in their home, so that gives me the most hope.

So what will I do this Father's Day? I will tell my daughter I love her, and we will celebrate having this time together. My son may come by, or he may not, that is his decision. I will take great thought and comfort in my own dreams that other fathers are being doted upon by their spouses and children.

I may not have what I dreampt long ago, but I have the love of those who mean so much to me. I see my daughter every morning before she goers off to school, and she lives with me from Wednesday night through Monday afternoon. In many ways, it is safe to say that I have "Father's Day" in my home everyday. I have a new bird feeder to install in the front yard, and I am truly blessed.

Monday, June 9, 2008

It is GOOD to feel LOVED!

Below is what my daughter has listed on her MySpace Heroes Page. It is always nice to see things like this in print! This is a keeper!


iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3 iloveyou.<3
i know i don't say it as much as you would like me to, but i do love you, a lot. no matter what i say or no matter what u think i mean or you think i am acting. i'm still your little girl and i always will be, and just because i am a teenager doesn't mean that is going to disappear. i don't even know how to write here how much i love you. because i just do, pretty much more than i have ever loved anyone, so i don't even know how to say it, how to write it here,.i just don't know. it is easier for other people, because for most, it isn't so deep. it is so hard to explain, it is crazy. you just have to know, how great you are, how lucky i am and how lucky i feel, and how much i love you. i could describe it as well as a blind man could describe colors. it is too complex for words. the only things i can think of, and they don't even come close to how much i really love you, is that you are my everything. i wouldn't be me without you. i love you, through the good and the bad. i really really do. i am always your missy dolittle froo froos. i know how much you do, keeping our lives on track and paying for everything, working all the time and doing everything else. i do appreciate it. you are really great, and one of a kind. ur that one person that is unlike any other, and will never be forgotten. you always put others before yourself. who wouldn't love you, really? i care about you so much. not to mention you are hilarious. and enjoy this now, cuz i will NEVER admit this again. yeah, just about every time you crack a joke, no matter what mood i am in, i hold back a smile or laugh. especially when you accuse me of it. and i don't know why, lol. so yeah, your pretty silly. just think,...everyone else has a normal father. :] haha. i couldn't ask for more. i know this isn't much, but i don't even know what else to say, even though there is so much more i could say. i just cant put it into words, it is kinda hard to explain. it is just in my heart, it isn't something that can be written down. i hope you get it, just by this, of how much you are in my heart. basically;;you are my everything. and i love you, always, forever.<3

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Proof is in the PEZ!

I am sure many of you are wondering how many Pez I have, and what they look like all together living in Pez harmony! I would be happy to allow you a peek into my PEZ ROOM!

If you are planning a visit to my Pez Room in the future, I would suggest that you do not look at the link I am about to post. It is better to see it without having had a "pez peek!"

If you go to Ron's Pez Room Tour 2008, you will see that I do indeed collect PEZ! It may take some time for it to load up, but it is worth the wait. I would love to hear your thoughts on this wild display of Pez fun!


Saturday, June 7, 2008

"The Ron Hood Special" at Marco's Italiano Restaurant

I bet you are wondering why I would have a picture of a plate of food on my blog. Well, an interesting thing happened to me yesterday and I thought it might be worth sharing.

I was at an appointment and as I was leaving, I saw an elderly woman approaching the door, so when I went out the door, I held it open for her. She was moving slowly, but I waited patiently. After all, it was raining. One of those raw days.

As she approached the doorway, she stopped and said, "Well, look at you, there is a gentleman still among us." She noticed I had my work name tag on, and she read it aloud, "Ron Hood." She paused to tell me that her name rhymed, and she repeated it several times and chuckled to herself. As she walked into the door, she stopped half-way through and said, "Ron Hood? Are you the fellow that has a dish named after him at Marco's?" I laughed and said, "Yes, that is my dish." She said, "I had no idea the gentleman who would be so kind would be the same Ron Hood. I had that dish and it was delicious, really delicious." I thanked her and we both went on our way.

Interesting that you never know what will happen during the course of a day.

The Ron Hood Special is Grilled Chicken with dijon sauce, angel hair pasta with garlic and butter oil, and a small amount of dijon sauce for additional dipping. If you are bothered by too much garlic, there is the Ron Hood Special with veggies, which is the same as the "original," but you remove the pasta and get carrots & potato rounds. Either way, YUMMY!

Friday, June 6, 2008

OMG...People Are Reading My Blog!

I received a call today from "The Boss." He has been sick all week, so when he said to me, "Ron, I just wanted to call to see how your sister is," I just figured he had gotten word from someone at work. As I began to tell him how I felt, he said, "I know, I read about it on your blog." My reaction was, "Oh My Goodness, I never thought anyone was REALLY reading my blog. No one knows about it." He laughed a bit and said, "Well, I know 2 or 3 people that know about it."

In my warped little world, no one was reading it, or they would comment, right? Hahaha! What A fool I can be! I knew Megin and Rob had commented, but i thought they stopped reading it since life is busy. After all, it is Valentine's Day in their house everyday, so why would they choose to come here to read my blogs. No Pressure.

So for the one or thousands of you out there who could be reading my blog...or not...I apologize for my lengthy character. Sorry, it is a part of what makes me; ME! Gotta love me!

I did begin my 365 List on a separate blog, and I am enjoying that a lot. Check it out. Only 44 words for each entry!

By the way, my sister is now home, and she is scared, but who wouldn't be. This is not a death sentence for her, but more of a wake-up call, but I can understand how scared she must be. I would rather have her scared and alive than scared to death.

And Rob, thanks for caring and asking. I hope you get better and get back at work soon.

Take care to all my friends!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Pez Nurse Watches...

I was at work today discussing the future of next year's Big Brothers Big Sisters Program with one of my school representatives. I had the normal comments about how high gas and oil prices are, which keeps people at home, which means people do not volunteer anymore, and people do not "give" anymore.

I was trying to tell this person that we need to stimulate volunteers because staying home is not doing them any good. They end up dwelling in the negative, and maybe we need to focus on how volunteering can actually improve our health. We discussed how attitudes are so important, and we had to follow this up with action.

I was having a great time as we swapped success stories, how we each change lives or at least improve them, when my cell phone rings. I take it out of my pocket, upset that I had not either left it in the car or put it on silence. The screen had my mothers name on it. I hit the "ignore" button since I was at a lunch meeting. (TIP: Never hit the ignore button when it is your Mother. They know!).

As I was changing the cell phone to silent, the phone rang got it; Mom. I decided to take the call. I said hello and told her that I was in a meeting and that I would like to call her back when I finished. She said in an emotional voice, "OK. I just called to let you know that your sister had a heart attack a few moments ago. There is nothing you can do now, we are just waiting. Call me when you are done. Or maybe I will call you when I hear something; anything. I just want to be sure that you get your daughter because she will get off the school bus and come to my house with the door locked. I need to know you can get her ok." I tell her that I can get her and she should not worry. I then hear a muffled sobbing cry. I was speechless. Did she say my sister had a heart attack? MY SISTER? She is only 48. MY SISTER?

I asked Mom if she was alone with my sister. She said that she had my brother-in-law, my other sister, and my brother with her. I told her that I would finish my meeting, and then call her up. She said that was fine.

The woman I am with says, "Are you ok?" I said, "Yes, yes, I am. Just give me a moment to collect myself." There was a silence that was deafening. My mind was running so fast; faster than normal. I had to prepare my big celebration in that town, then I had to go pick up the items for my awards banquet later this week, and I had to go to yet another town to hold an end of the year celebration at an after-school program. "Did Mom say she had a REAL heart attack?"

I look up at the woman I am with, and with all seriousness, I said, "My sister had a heart attack. She is safe and under medical care. There is nothing I can do for now, so I am going to continue our lunch, go to the elementary school to pick up my items, then I will go get my daughter. I only have to figure out the end of year party in the next town at 3:30pm today. I can handle this. I can." The woman looks at me with watery eyes and says, "We can get our food to go. Really." I quickly replied, "No. She will be ok. She is under care, and there is nothing I can do to help if I was there. My mother will call if things change. She will call again."

I looked at the woman and said, "This kinda ruined the mood." She said, "Yeah, but I tell you what, I am going to go home tonight and hug my husband and call my daughter and tell her that I love her." I said, "You know the brealfast celebration we are having tomorrow morning at your school?" She replied, "Yes, but do not worry about that!" I said, "It was my sister who was preparing the breakfast items for that party." "Oh my goodness," replied the woman, "we can cancel the party if need be." I immediately replied to her, "Oh no! I will pull myself together to get through this party. I will make other arrangements for the food, and this party WILL occur. I got a donation of a bus and the bus will roll. If I need to fall apart for any reason, I will do so after the party."

As our food was delivered, we had light conversation about the important things in life. Surface stuff. It was nice. I think this woman and I had a tightening of our working relationship today. I think this will keep us closer in the future because we invested emotion, personal emotion, into each other today.

I went to the other schools and finished picking up my items, listened to some complaints, which seemed so trivial and minor today. I responded accordingly, but wanted to yell, "Shut Up, my sister had a heart attack you fool!"

When I got home to pick my daughter up from the bus, I decided to check my work e-mail messages. I got an e-mail from a co-worker that insinuated I was acting in a manner that I was not. I shot off an e-mail to her telling her my true intentions and that she actually read my e-mail incorrectly. I used caps for some words, which showed my anger, but I did not care.

My daughter and I sat in the car as I told her the news. Her face looked how I felt. It made me want to cry. I explained all that I knew and told her there was nothing we could do but support her. I told her I had a party to attend to and I wished she would come with me. I did not tell her, but having her with me made me able to hold it all together.

She helped me lug in the party items, and we were both very quiet. I think in many ways we each had a job to do emotionally and we did it.

I held the party...and no one knew the real pain that was inside my daughter and myself. I talked in front of a group of children, had them sign thank you cards for our Big Brothers Big Sisters supporters, and took photos. I passed out my Pez gift packs, and made everything perfect. As i passed out the packs, I noticed that one of the Pez was a nurse. I wanted to cry right there. I held onto it.

When I got to the car after the party, I asked my daughter if we should give this to Aunt Debbie. She shook her head yes uttering no sound. Her emotions were loud, however.

At the hospital, I took the elevator to the 3rd floor. I got out and the sign said "Birthing Center" and "Lactating Room." I just stood there in disbelief, then I started to laugh. We went back to the main entrance and found the right set of elevators.

Once in the room, my sister was as alert and said hello. Her first words to Alexandra were, "I am going to be fine, and we will be walking the beach on vacation, don't you worry." Alexandra broke down in tears and hugged me as she cried. I kept kissing her head to assure her that I was here for her. Her face was red and her mascara had run onto my white shirt. It would not come off. I said, "Good qualtiy mascara because it runs but never goes away." We laughed. I took my Big Brothers Big Sisters name tag and covered the area, which got a few more chuckles.

My mother was sitting on the window seat with my pregnant niece, and in a recliner type chair was my brother. The chair was right next to the hospital bed. I looked at the site and it was sad. I know my mother was thinking that she did not want to lose her daughter before herself. My mother lost her mother, her husband, and her twin sister within a year and a half or so, and she did not want to have one of her children pass away before she did. My niece was wiping away the tears as she watched Alexandra, and I am sure she was thinking a lot about the life she is bringing into the world, and how things can change in an instant. My brother was sitting there and you could tell he had no intention on moving. He became the support for my brother-in-law and he was not leaving until he felt they were ok, and they were not ok.

All the machines hooked up top her reminded me of a transformer. Alexandra and I had just watched that movie over the weekend. She could not move one leg and one arm, and if she did, an alarm went off. She had several "drips" going into her body, and even though she was smiling and saying she was fine, our hearts were telling another story. She said that all the pain she had been experiencing was now gone, and at least she now knows what is going on.

She was right. She could do nothing but let the doctors do their job and she had to cooperate to get her body back to normal.

I got restless, and I am not one to just do nothing, so I began to pace the room, I began to read all the signs: "CODE BLUE - Hit button and then call 9-1-1" "Guest services offers many options..." "Restrooms are for patients only...see a nurse for more information." As I looked at everything my eyes could absorb, I kept clutching the Pez Nurse that was in my front pocket.

I decided that I could not just stand around and wait for nothing. And since no one offered me a seat, I had to think about leaving. I was emotional, and becoming weak in the knees. I saw a bulletin board hanging on the wall opposite my sister's bed. It had a wide lip along the bottom to accommodate write-on/Wipe-Off erasers and pens. I quietly took the Pez nurse out of my pocket and stood her on this lip. I stood in front of it. Then my daughter and I said our good-byes. We left.

It was a quiet ride home to her mother's house. I certainly tried to tell her how lucky her Aunt Debbie was, and we are lucky to be able to see for ourselves that she is in good spirits. I think my daughter just needed to be with her mother to express her emotion because Alexandra is smart enough to seethe emotions in that hospital room. He Aunt Debbie is a mother, but she is also someone's daughter and someone's sister. I think Alexandra needed to have a moment with her own mother. To be able to express whatever she needs to express, to share whatever comes out naturally. Alexandra needs to be her own person with her emotions, which I know she will handle well.

My cell phone went off again as I pulled into the driveway of my home. I sat alone in the vehicle and spoke to my mother, who said, "Did you leave the Pez Nurse for Debbie?" I said, "Yes, someone has to always be watching, even if it is just a Pez." My mother said nothing for a moment, and then said, "I knew it was you, I just knew it." I could hear the other family members laughing. My mother said, "OK, I had to call and ask. I knew it was you. I just knew it." I thought to myself, "There is power in Pez....Really."

I sat in the driveway and as rain began to slowly tap the glass and distort the clear vision through the glass, I began to cry. My sister had a heart attack. Oh My God.

I know this sounds silly, but with that Pez in her room, I feel like I am there; attached. The Pez Nurse is watching...really...and she is very, very sweet.

A Morning Ritual...

I have been divorced now for 7+ years. Being an involved Father, I thought I wouldn't be able to see my children enough. As luck would have it, I have my daughter Wednesday night through Monday each week, and she is dropped off at my home each morning to take the bus to school from my house. I am lucky. I am fortunate. I am rich. I could cry.

So for the last few years, my daughter comes into the house for a few minutes before I drive her to the bus stop several streets away. We have some great morning chats, or other times we don't say much of anything.

If you read my post yesterday (which was really earlier this morning), you knew I had a hard time getting to sleep with all the emotions I had going on. I was tired. Very tired. I went to bed at 1:45am and my clock goes off at 5:30am, but I usually roll out of bed 5 or 10 minutes after that.

This morning, however, I slept through the alarm. And when I looked at the clock, it said 5:50am. I awoke in a panic and my first thought was that I did not hear the upstairs shower running, so my daughter was not up yet. Oh my goodness...she is going to be late because I am late. It takes her over an hour to get ready in the morning, and it is so quiet in the house. All of these thoughts are racing through my head. To save time of going to the bottom of the stairs yelling to her, I decide to call her cell phone because we all know it is still on and not charging!

As I hear the first ring of the phone, I realize. IT'S TUESDAY. I hang up. She is not even IN my house. She is at her mothers. I laugh at myself, and as I think, "Man, Ron, are you tired and out of it.." the phone rings. I jump. And I did NOT yell like a girl. I answer the phone and it is the tired voice of my daughter. "Dad, did you call me?" I said, "Yes, but never mind. My bad." She chuckles and says, "See you later."

When I hear the car door outside slam shut, I know my daughter is here. She comes in and I begin my usual welcoming greeting. "Froo Froos is here! I missed you! Did you miss me?" She looks at me smiling slightly and says, "Dad, it's early." I tell her that I called her so early because I thought she was in my house and we were late. She laughs.

Then an amazing thing happened. She came over to me and just rested her head on my shoulder. We stood there in the kitchen and she just rested herself. She is 14 and at an age where it is not cool to hug your parents, so this one moment was very special to me. It reminded me of when she was a baby and she would fall fast asleep in my arms. I didn't move and only said that I loved her and that she was the best daughter in the world. She quickly said, "Umm, Dad, I am your only daughter." I quickly said, "How do you know that for sure?" She then laughed and said, "Yeah. Right." I said, "It could have happened!" She says, "Ok, Dad, OK!"

Time for the bus! I love the morning ritual at my house. And I do have the best daughter in the whole world.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Emotions of Making A Difference...

STOP! Emotions are in the roadway! Please take a moment to reflect on how you made a difference today and the emotions you felt.

I had a very long day today at work. Nothing went the way I thought it would, but overall, in retrospect, it went rather well. Just not as I had anticipated. Life is funny like that.

I held some end of the year celebrations for my mentoring programs. It was a lot of lugging of party items, setting things up, being the emcee for the party, making sure I thanked everyone, blah blah blah.

At my first party, I had over 60 people in the room. It was amazing! Each person in that room was involved in some way, shape, or manner with my mentoring program. When I talked about how special mentoring is, and how proud they should be to be involved, there was no emotion. But when I had goodies to give to them to remember their special place in my mentoring programs that was different. When I had them come up to get their own packets, it reminded me of the days when cabbage patch kids were the "Hot Toy." The emotion was frantic.

"I saw your Pez Tie and I knew we were getting Pez!" ... "I think its cool they call you the Pez Man." ... "I hope you have a chewbacca Pez for me!" .... "I love Pez; just like you!" .... "Can I take two?" ... "This is better than Pizza!" ... "Do people think you're weird for collecting Pez?" ... "What happens to your Pez when you aren't here anymore?" and my favorite (from the principal): "Pez is something so wonderful and universal, isn't it? Everyone likes Pez. Do I get one?"

After that, more lugging, cleaning up, etc.... I then do the same thing for another party an hour or so later. Except this time there were only 15 people in the room. And the emotions were rather bland in comparison. No frantic emotions, no excitement. It was as if they were in slow motion. Kinda crazy! I wondered if it was all worth it. And would it be the same without Pez? Without me?

I had worked all day long with no lunch and no supper. To busy to stop for today. I then head to an awards banquet at a local high school. I am presenting awards to 3 students for their dedication to Big Brothers Big Sisters. We are meeting in the gym and there are lots of seats to sit in. The crowd gathers and it is made up of a huge cross-section of the community. Parents, grandparents, students, professionals, kids, etc.

The speeches were very quick and the awards were given out quickly. I began to have an internal panic attack because I am giving out 3 awards and my speech is 6 pages....typed! Oh My Goodness, I say to myself...I am going to bore them to pieces! I am really panicked.

I begin to get nervous as my name is called to present. I walk up to the microphone and I was immediately intimidated for some reason. I stumbled on my first words, but quickly corrected myself and began my speech. For some reason I lost total touch with the audience and never really focused on one or two people, like I usually do. YIKES! I scanned the audience at appropriate times during the speech. Other times i just concentrated on the paper in front of me. I was sure I sounded and looked nervous.

As I presented my first two awards, the crowd was quiet and respectful, and when I announced the names of the first two winners, I heard great applause. Maybe they were glad I was done, but yet I had one more presentation and it was many pages long! Uh-Oh!

I then realized that I am here talking about young adults who make a difference in their community, and I was going to complete my speech as planned. We never hear about the good deeds that students do to better their communities, so I just went for it, albeit nervously.

I began to talk about the "Big Sister of the Year" and I could tell the audience got very quiet. As a few moments passed, I felt a bit of a panic and thoughts of "taking too long" danced in my head. How many internal voices can one have? I felt like all my voices were fighting. My reaction was to stick to my typed words, but I picked up the pace. I expressed the emotions of how one person literally changed the life of another person. I then got lost in my own words and totally got into the emotion of the speech. I choked up at one point, but then quickly got back on professional track. I didn't care what I was saying as long as I was saying it. It is important. People need to know "Big Sisters of the Year" actually exist.

When I got to the end of my speech, and introduced the Big Sister of the Year, the young woman stepped up from the sea of people in front of me. She walked swiftly towards me. She was totally red faced from crying. When I saw her emotion, it stunned me. The Emotions of Making A Difference vary so much. This young lady is really just beginning her life, and she has already saved one. Amazing. Freakin' Amazing!

She came up to me and before even reaching for her award, she just hugged me and thanked me. I gave her the awards and said, "You deserve this moment so much, you really do." She turned from me, still full of emotion, and headed back into the sea of people from which she came. She blended back in, and I, too, went back to my seat and blended in as well. And so the show goes on.

When I sat down, a friend said to me, "You pulled the heart strings of every mother in this room with your speech." I replied, "I hope I wasn't too long, that is all." My friend said to me, "Ron, the audience was totally captivated by your words. They hung onto each word you said. A speech is never too long when everyone is engaged in it. I am surprised that mentor didn't get a standing ovation." All I thought was, "Wow!"

I looked around the room, and I saw many faces looking at me. Some would look away when our eyes would meet, while others smiled slightly. The woman sitting next to my friend said, "I don't even know this Big Sister of the Year, and I am crying. My son is a senior, and he should have mentored. I missed that one!"

Later in the evening, when my friend and I stopped to get a bite to eat because I was totally famished, my former supervisor saw me and said, "Great job at the award ceremony, you actually made me cry. Good Job!" My friend said, " made an impact. I saw how many people were captivated by your story of the success of this one mentor and her Little. It was Amazing."

It really was amazing to me that a room full of 60 people in the morning can be so different from 15 in the afternoon and 100+ in the evening. All the environments were different, yet all the people who were at these celebrations were there for the purpose to celebrate the difference people make, or the difference they make.

All people have passion, and I think it is great when we see it, when it is respected, and it is celebrated. When have you told someone who makes a difference in your life that they deserve to be celebrated? That you notice their passion. Do you have local awards that honor those people? Have you nominated those people for awards in your area? Have you written a letter expressing your emotion?

Share your emotion. Share your story. Share the success. We will all be captivated by it in the right circumstances. There is no denying that people make a difference in our daily lives. Why deny them the right to be celebrated. Share. And Share often.

I am hoping by doing this blog, I can finally get some sleep. Very long and emotional day.
And yet so satisfying.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Say What You Mean To Say...

We all know that communication can be difficult. Our current emotions can make us filter another person's message incorrectly. So I guess we have to learn to say what we really mean to say. Here is an example.

My Friend (In a Pierced Lip tone):
Where the heck have you been all day? (The Look).

Well, I have been doing....umm, Hey, are you mad at me because I am here so late? Or have you had a bad day? or did you just miss me? (Me, Smiling Brightly).

My Friend (Smiling):
I guess I just missed you and wished I had seen you earlier, that is all.

Me (Smiling):
I missed you, too, and wish I had been here earlier too!

Interesting isn't it? My friend wasn't mad at me, she was just communicating that she wished I was there earlier. This was all about Love and kindness, not anger and hatred!

So next time someone treats you like this, just ask...Is this what you mean to say?
It can cut through a lot of non-verbal wondering and get right to the meat of the subject. Communicating is difficult with the busyness and business of life, so make it as simple as you can.