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June, 2008

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June 28, 2008

I watched the movie, The Bucket List, last night.  Two men, complete strangers to each other, share a hospital room and they both have terminal cancer.  They strike up a friendship and embark on a globetrotting adventure as they share some of the final months of their lives together. Their goal was to complete their “bucket list” – that list of things you want to do before you “kick the bucket”.

Jack Nicholson plays the billionaire, a fast living, oft-married, self-made man who also happens to be the major patron of the hospital they are both in.  Morgan Freeman is in the role of a blue collar mechanic who’s worked hard all his life and together with his wife of many years raised three brilliant and accomplished children, at much personal sacrifice.  It’s an odd couple.

This movie is a different take on the “buddy” movie and it has some lessons for all of us.  What are we doing with the gift of our amazing lives?  What sort of footprint, our legacy, will we leave?

Just a few days prior to watching this film I had a nice chat with Robb Lucy.  He’s writing a book that explores the idea of legacy and the importance of thinking about it and living it right now.  Your legacy is not simply the inheritance you pass on or the “goodbye talk”.  We all should be living lives that make a difference.  What that means varies for each of us, but as Robb likes to say, it should be a legacy that makes you smile.  Check out his blog, Your Legacy Smile.

June 24, 2008

When we think about veterans of wars, usually it is about past wars.  And it is important to honor and remember them.  Our World War Two veterans are elderly and many are dying.  The Veterans History Project mission is to capture their stories, as well as those stories from veterans of other conflicts.

But what about our vets from Afghanistan and Iraq? They have stories and experiences.  Like many veterans of any war, they don't all want to talk or write about them.  But some do. And the powerful experiences they have should be shared so that families, friends and even strangers can benefit from knowing what our veterans have gone through.

Major League Baseball is getting involved in helping these returning vets with ceremonies and fundraisers.  I read an intriguing article about it today at the website.  Check the link out here.

June 23, 2008

I remember many conversations around the dinner table when I was a teenage lad about 15 or 16 that made my Mom both laugh and blush.  I would launch into a George Carlin routine, nothing too verbally offensive, mind you. But even the relatively tame Carlin stuff was hilarious.  

George Carlin died of heart failure on Sunday.  But his jokes and his amazing take on the human language and wordplay will live on.  Sure, he might have been best known for the "seven words" you couldn't say on TV or radio.  But his real genius went beyond that.  He might offend you. He could be caustic. But, oh boy was he funny.  And he made you think.

He was more than a comedian.  Thanks to an epiphany he had seeing Lenny Bruce perform, he went on to be the counter-culture's class clown.  The very first guest host on Saturday Night Live (1975).  A few movie roles.  The voice of the hippy volkswagon bus in the animated Pixar movie Cars.

Carlin was very observational.  And he had a lot of hit comedy albums (that's what we'd listen to for laughs in the '70's, before HBO specials - although he went on to great success with many of those, too).  He was a frequent guest on the Tonight Show. I think he really enjoyed making people laugh, but he was dead serious about having free speech, which is why he kept pushing the boundaries.

Just last week it was announced he was being awarded the 11th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. That honor will now be posthumously awarded at the Kennedy Center in November.

I agree with this Associated Press article by John Rogers - Carlin was a comedy icon.  

June 22, 2008

Isn't it remarkable how easy it is to forget to be grateful? I like to think I'm a person who appreciates my life experiences, my family, my friends and my many blessings.  However, I've been guilty of going through a day without recognizing that there is a lot in life to be grateful for.

Fortunately I have had some things happen in life that led me to change my way of living and to walk a spiritual path.  A big part of that path is having a grateful heart.  So when I get reminded (and I do in various ways) how good it is to be alive it helps me see the big picture.

We all get caught up at times in our problems and difficulties. Or we lose sight of what really matters.  Living an examined life - your life is your story - can help you keep this top of mind.

June 18, 2008

Tim Russert was a renowned TV journalist who passed away suddenly on Friday, June 13.  It was ironic in a sense that he died so close to Father's Day. In addition to his longtime hosting duties with Meet the Press, he was an author of two books about fatherhood (Big Russ and Me - about his dad, and
Wisdom of Our Fathers - reactions from others touched by his first book).

At a memorial service today at the Kennedy Center he was eulogized by speakers that included former NBC anchor Tom Brokaw, former New York governor Mario Cuomo, a video hookup performance by Bruce Springsteen of "Thunder Road" and a tribute from his 22 year old son, Luke Russert (who stated "I never met anyone filled with so much optimism.").  

It's clear that Tim Russert touched many lives, not just as a political analyst in the high-beams of the media spotlight, but as a good man. See coverage at the Washington Post website.

June 16, 2008

Some thoughts - post Father's Day

I was running yesterday morning.  Legs pumping, feet touching down and lifting up, little clouds of dust behind me as I ran along the dirt path.  The path was along an irrigation ditch not far from the Rio Grande River.  It is the Bosque area.  Trees are in full foliage green.  The sun is peaking in and out of branches.  Little tufts of fluffy, white cottonwood seed line the sides of the footpath (our summer snow). I have my iPod playing some favorites.  Van Morrison sings about cleaning windows; Bono and U2 remark it is a beautiful day.

And indeed it was.  Running can be a form of meditation.  On this Father's Day morning I was thinking about my Dad.  And thinking about being a father myself.  And remembering my mother.  A coincidence of the calendar that the two year anniversary of my mother's passing fell right on Father's Day.  

So I had a lot of emotions and memories.  I miss Mom.  I'm grateful for Dad. And for my wife and children.  Life is precious.  Everyday is an opportunity to experience the mystery of life.  

It is not easy to run 4-5 miles.  But the activity is important to my health - physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Sometimes I feel like I'm gliding along with angels.  At other times it is a grind.  It is like life - not all the same, but up and down.  The full spectrum of life includes pain, suffering, laughter and joy.  

Embrace it all.

June 13, 2008

Another weekend - yeah!  I survived Friday the 13th (so far!). How about you?

I've never been superstitious, at least not in the sense of bad luck comes from breaking a mirror or opening an umbrella indoors.  

Are there any family members or family traditions you would consider superstitious?  It might make for an interesting short essay.  Writing short pieces around themes is often a great way to accumulate material for a family history book.

Father's Day is Sunday.  Being a dad is a special calling, and so is being a mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, grandparent and so on.  We are connected to our families.  Sometimes the miles separate us...or conflict, resentment, anger and hurt keep us apart.  But don't ever underestimate the power of forgiveness.  It can bring about powerful healing.

All of you fathers (biological and spiritual) have a blessed special day.  And if you wonder how Father's Day came to be in June, the story I heard was about a month after Mother's Day a man suddenly said, "Hey!"

June 10, 2008

Kudos to Steve Pender, president of Tucson's Family Legacy Video, Inc. He recently received two Awards of Merit at the 2008 Annual Cactus Quill Awards, sponsored by the Tucson Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Pender's winning entries, "Family Legacy Video Web Site" and "FamilyLegacy Video Producer's e-Newsletter," were honored in the Electronic & Digital Communications category. IABC/Tucson's Cactus Quill awards program recognizes best practices in communications and is open to everyone in Arizona involved in business communications.

I've recommended Steve's work and his workshops before.  You can check out his Family Legacy Video website here.

June 6, 2008

1968 was a tumultous year.  The cultural revolution, rock music, hippies, anti-Vietnam War protests and a lot more.  Including, unfortunately and tragically, the assasinations of two public figures with great dreams and great moral courage.  Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis in April of '68. On this day, 40 years ago, Robert Kennedy died from the gunshot wounds inflicted on him 26 hours previously at the Ambassador Hotel.  He was there with his supporters for his Democratic Presidential nomination bid and had just won the California primary.

Pictures speak volumes.  Some previously unreleased photos of Americans standing at railroad tracks to pay final tribute to Robert Kennedy as his body was being transported by train are being featured in a new exhibition.  The photos were taken by Paul Fusco and you can view them courtesy of the website

You can see some powerful quotes by the late Robert F. Kennedy at Wikiquote.

June 3, 2008

"Bom-bom-bom-bom-bom-BOM-BOM!"  The Bo Didley beat has been the backbone of countless good boogie blues rock n' roll.  Without it the Rolling Stones, ZZ Top, George Thorogood and many others wouldn't be the same.

When I heard the news that Bo Didley had died it immediately brought to mind his signature rhythm.  And I also was suprised when I learned he was 79.  79? He was such a legend and icon of the blues scene that I thought he was much older!

There are not too many of the longtime bluesmen still around.  We still have B.B. King and Buddy Guy, two of my favorites.  But Bo was something special. Not only was he known for his signature hard-driving rhythm, but also for his unusual square guitar.

He was born Ellas Bates in McComb, MS, in 1928, but he picked up the nickname "Bo Diddley" from his days as an amateur boxer. Diddley started out in music playing the streets and then the blues clubs of Chicago. His first hit record in 1955 was the R&B hit "Bo Diddley" which featured the rhythm that has been regularly used by rockers and blues artists to this very day.

He had a number of hit songs including "I'm a Man" and "Pretty Thing". "Who Do You Love" was one of his biggest songs and often recorded by others.  I love the line in the song, "I use a cobra snake for a necktie!"

Bo Diddley was a colorful character and the real thing.  Check out for more.

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