Right now means everything (January 7, 2022)
Throughout the course of history, it would be interesting to know how much time humans have spent dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. What about “RIGHT NOW?” The past is gone, and the future is a promise to no one. Not to mention, if there’s one thing we should know by now as earthlings, we have no idea what the future holds, even when we do whatever we can to control it. On July 30th, 2020, my brother, Bernie, Jr., passed away after a courageous 7-year battle with ALS. You can imagine how this experience changed his perspective completely. In fact, along the way, he adopted the mantra, “Right Now Means Everything.” We don’t have to wait for something tragic or earth shattering to happen for our perspective to change. Right NOW is the time to start believing that “Right Now Means Everything.” Be present where your feet are planted.
“Oh, so that’s how you start a motorcycle.” (January 15, 2022)
A few weeks ago, I was watching a movie with my family. In one scene, the actor gets on a motorcycle and rides away. Seconds later, I hear my 7-year-old son Ziggy exclaim, “Oh, so that’s how you start a motorcycle?” You can imagine the comedy that provided us all, AND… suddenly, the sheer terror which came over me in thinking about Ziggy, at 7, starting up a motorcycle (trust me, he would). It was a strong reminder, our kids, whether they belong to us or not, are paying attention way more than we might think as adults. They are watching how we treat our servers in a restaurant, watching how we spend our time, watching how we overcome adversity, watching what we say, watching how we hate, watching how we persevere, watching how we work, watching how we forgive, watching how we live, watching everything – even how to start a motorcycle. Just something to contemplate.
Outhouse sessions (February 4, 2022)
My father, Bernie, Sr., grew up the son of two immigrants, in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh.
His mother, Verna, was from Poland. His father, Peter, from Italy. Both arrived on a boat and processed through Ellis Island. There’s much about my father’s story to be blogged about, but this entry is about his family outhouse as my Dad didn’t have running water until he went to college. He was and continues to be a major influence in my life and I’m so grateful my Dad was my Dad. Verna lived in the house my father grew up in until she passed. It seems each time we went to visit Grandma, my Dad & I would end up standing at the site where his outhouse once stood, probably because my Dad was a smoker so he’d go outside periodically to smoke, I would follow to get some time with him. For some reason, I was intrigued by how my Dad grew up and I asked a lot of questions. It didn’t matter how old I was, we ended up there, at the site of the outhouse. I think about these sessions almost daily, with fondness. And, though I don’t believe my Dad was being strategic, these sessions, I believe, were the best thing my Dad ever did for me. They taught me two very important things. 1. This is where you come from, don’t ever forget it. 2. It doesn’t matter where you start, if you’re willing to dream and work your tail off, you can achieve anything your mind can imagine.
“You gotta serve somebody” (February 25, 2022)
You ever had a bad day, bad week or maybe a bad year?
You ever felt sorry for yourself?
You ever felt alone in a crowd?
You ever felt lost?
You ever felt unworthy?
You ever felt invisible?
If you’re anything like me, you have, it’s a terrible feeling.
But might I suggest there’s a good solution, and it doesn’t cost money, SERVE SOMEBODY.
In previous blogs, I’ve referenced my older brother Bernie, Jr., and I’m sure I’ll reference him again.
About a year and a half ago, after a 7-year battle with ALS, little Bernie bravely surrendered and passed on. Over his 7-year battle, I had the privilege of caring for him in the most intimate ways, ways I never
could have imagined. It’s a “privilege” I never asked for and one I would have preferred to not have received, I’m sure he’d agree.
But let me tell you, having the opportunity to serve him was one of the greatest gifts of my life.
While serving him, I’ve never felt more worthy, needed, purposeful, seen, important and never felt closer to God.
Dear Bernies… (April 1, 2022)
This week’s blog will represent #13 since we began in early January.
I’ve found it to be time well spent.
It’s been time to be still, reflect, learn and unpack life; in a word, therapeutic.
As you may already know, I have two Bernies in my life (well, now 3, keep reading), my father, Big Bernie & my older brother, little bernie. Unfortunately, they have both passed on. They were, are and will forever be big influences in my life. As such, I find myself “talking” to them regularly and often find myself wanting to call them for encouragement and advice or to share exciting news. And so, I thought a semi-regular “Dear Bernies” blog entry would be useful for me. I hope you find it useful in some way too.
Though I know you are together and resting peacefully in the presence of God, I miss you and candidly wish things were different. Losing you hurts, daily. Mom misses you. Lindsey misses you. Christy (bernie’s Christy) misses you. All of your friends and family miss you both, dearly. We talk about you often. We laugh, we cry. We remember. Yes, we wish things were different, but we have faith in a greater plan. We accept it. We press on with the comfort of our memories. And, we promise to continue to take our pain and use it for good.
I am doing better and feeling more peace than ever before.
I wish you both were here to experience it all with me, with us. Though you aren’t here, I keep your memory alive by “introducing” you both to new people each and every day.
I really wish you were here to meet my fiancé, Christy. And to all enjoy life together.
You’d both agree, she’s a perfect match; she’s kind with an immense heart, a big reader & learner, gorgeous (inside & out), she loves to laugh & smile, appreciates everything in life (big & small), an incredible mother, sister and friend, she’s humble but hungry, graceful but tough. She loves me for exactly who I am, thru my brokenness. She “gets” me. Be assured, she “knows” you both and she loves you too. Unbelievable, but Christy’s father’s name is Bernard as well. I know, right? It’s my assumption you all have met “up there”. Christy’s dad liked beer too Dad, but I wonder if he likes Old Milwaukee?
We will all continue to live life by your examples, with no quit and always CHOOSING HAPPY.
I won’t say goodbye, just farewell for now,
Great gift, greatest responsibility (June 17, 2022)
Sunday marks another Father’s Day… Happy Father’s Day to all!
I am the father to Zoë, 13 years old and a rising 8th grader (OMG), Ziggy who will be 8 on July 16th and will be entering 3rd grade, and soon to be stepfather to Benen, who is 16 years old and will be a junior next year.
Candidly, I never thought I’d be a father. Never thought I’d be called “Dad.”
But, then again, many things have happened in my life which I never could have expected.
And, like many things you don’t expect, they can be the greatest blessings, the greatest gifts.
Having the opportunity to be a father has been THE greatest gift of my life.
It’s a gift which never stops giving.
That said, it’s also the single greatest responsibility I’ve been given. I take it seriously.
I heard someone once say, “I’d never want to bring kids into this world the way it is.”
I respect the statement and viewpoint. However, I look at it a bit differently.
Because the world is the way it is, is exactly why I wanted to bring children into it.
It’s my hope & prayer my children will…
- be the light where there is darkness
- bring peace where there is strife
- find solutions where challenges overwhelm us
- model love where hate persists
- be givers where being takers seems to be rewarded
- be willing to do hard things where taking the easy road, well, is easy
- think of others where “ME” is what we think about most
- choose hope where despair appears to be everywhere
It’s all how you look at it, right?
What “soundtrack” is playing in your head right now? (August 13, 2022)
Last week, I had the privilege to attend the Global Leadership Summit for the second time.
If you are ever in need of inspiration, a new perspective, just some time to reflect and hit the reset button? Put the Global Leadership Summit on your list! It can be attended on-line as well but if you can, attend in person. You know, the way we used to “attend” events.
Every presenter, called “faculty” at the GLS, is unique, super-talented, wise and inspiring.
Each resume as impressive as the next.
Jon Acuff, author of “Soundtracks: The Surprising Solution to Overthinking,” was my favorite.
He describes overthinking as the “sneakiest form of fear” and believes you can transform your overthinking from a problem, to a superpower… IF, you can learn how to be the “DJ of the soundtracks that define you.”
Soundtracks, what you tell yourself, stellar analogy.
I love this…
“If you can worry, you can wonder.”
“If you can doubt, you can dominate.”
“If you can spin, you can soar.”
It’s all in how you CHOOSE…to think.
What soundtracks do you have playing in your mind?
Who is doing the DJ’ing? You? Or someone else?
Redemptive power of LITERACY, from San Quentin State Prison (August 13, 2022)
In my opinion, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a real-life redemption story, especially when it involves LITERACY.
Meet Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll.
Now this, this is “news” worth sharing, good news.
I’ll let Curtis tell his powerful story, but this TED talk, from San Quentin State Prison will inspire you in multiple ways and completely validates the importance of literacy for all. It’s worth all 600 seconds.
Made in “MYSELF” (September 2, 2022)
How many times have you heard or read about people who are “self-made?”
Usually they are praised and looked at with the highest regard, like they are the special ones.
At the highest level, I get it, they came from “nothing”, sacrificed “everything,” took risks, overcame obstacles and succeeded… all VERY hard.
All this might be true but I’m confident in saying no one, no one, is “self-made.”
If you made a list of all the “self-made” people you know or have ever heard about, then made a list of ALL the people along the way who parented them, mentored them, invested in them, worked for them, encouraged them, supported them in anyway, that list, in many cases, would be more than a hundred times longer.
We get nowhere without the help of others. FACT.
Now, for the people who actually refer to themselves as “self-made,” no comment.