dare to be different

Brass Ring

“Breaker 1-9, Breaker 1-9, this is the Brass Ring.”

Road trips as a kid, from Georgia to Michigan to Western New York and back again, I heard it over and over.

Back before Waze.  Before GPS.  My Dad had his CB radio in the car, listening in to truckers talk about traffic, road conditions, and all kinds of other topics.  Back before podcasts and Audible and Sirius, there was CB radio to pass the time and exchange information. (There was also= 8-track cassettes and the States and Capitals game, but those are for another post.)

Brass Ring was my Dad’s CB handle.  Why the Brass Ring?  When I was growing up, one of my Dad’s many interests / hobbies was carousels.  He owned a small merry-go-round when I was very young.  Even after he sold it, we kept a full-sized carousel horse in our living room. We had a kids’ barber chair shaped like a carousel horse on our front porch.  We had a number of carousel-horse art piece throughout our home.

What’s the Brass Ring?  In the early 1900’s, many carousels were built with a “game” for the riders on the outside ring of horses.  Someone would slide rings down a dispenser, and you had to reach far out from your horse (while it was moving) and try to grab the brass ring.  Many of the rings were iron.  It took courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck to grab the brass ring, the real prize.

In my many years of riding carousels with (and in memory of) my Dad, I’ve only ridden 1 with the ring game.  I was probably in my teens, riding the carousel in Coney Island.  Many people don’t even know the brass ring exists.  I leaned off my horse and tapped the dispenser several times around before the old man working figured out I wanted to play.

I recently started a new business.  When trying to think of a solid name with some history and meaning, I remembered my Dad and the Brass Ring.  He used it as his persona.  He said it with a big-fish swagger, even though we were usually traveling along in a conversion van or minivan. He owned his place in that conversation, no matter what he was driving.

As I push forward into something new, I hope I carry on his swaggering spirit, as well as the courage, skill, timing, determination, and luck it takes to claim the real prize.  It will take some reaching. I may feel like I’m losing my balance as I really stretch. Sometimes I’ll pull the iron ring.  But if I just focus and stay in the game, my turn at the big prize will come around.

 

 

dare to be different

Puzzles

“Raise your hand if you’re a puzzle person,” I said, shaking a jigsaw puzzle box.

It’s a request I made at the beginning of a staff training I did a couple of years ago.  Maybe a third of the hands in the room shot up.  Everyone else either shook their heads “no way” or shrugged.

How do you become a puzzle person, I asked?  Those who shot their hands up said things like, we did them as a family growing up.  My friends and family told me I was good at them. Puzzles take time, sometimes collaboration, and persistence to achieve a goal.

For puzzle people, puzzles are associated with good feelings and success.  Those feel-good experiences can contribute to what we we are good at and who we are, or rather, who we think we are.  Most of the non-puzzle people simply didn’t grow up doing them or got frustrated a few times and decided (or were told) they weren’t good at them to begin with.

So it goes with many things.  From a young age, the things we spend time on and feel successful at (whether we learn that from experiences or what we are told) shape who we think we are and what we say we are good at.

As for me, I was told I was smart, good at school, and naturally skilled at test taking. These didn’t require too much effort from me.  I breezed through my early years and took in the accolades.

But, I wasn’t really a puzzle person.  I focused on the things that came easily for me, and whatever didn’t come easily I learned to avoid.  Unlike many puzzle people, who learn to try, try again, and even set things aside when they get frustrated or stuck and return to the puzzle later, I had little persistence or resilience in the face of adversity.

Well, as of this moment (at my not-so-young age) I am raising my hand and declaring myself a puzzle person.

I am embracing the problems I face as puzzles to be figured out instead.

I don’t have to have it all solved immediately.  It doesn’t even have to come easily.  As I make myself vulnerable more often and take on bigger, more complicated tasks, I know I have to remind my mind not to get frustrated or shut down.  I may have to be coached (which means – eek! – being coachable, which I am decidedly NOT when I am feeling overwhelmed, afraid, or out of my depth). Like riding a bicycle, then trying to do a trick or two, I may flop.  The world will not end and I can try again.

I’m shaking life’s box of problems as puzzles, dumping out the pieces, searching for the corners and the edges.  I don’t really have a full picture of what it will look like in the end for reference, but that’s all part of the process.  It will be beautiful, whatever it becomes.

 

 

 

adventure

Short Chapter, Long Story

Little known fact about me as a reader: I LOVE short chapters.

When I start a chapter, I often (ahem, always) find myself flipping forward, scanning to see how long the chapter is.  If it’s short, I am much more motivated to keep reading with interest.  Long chapters bog me down.  Ever since my third grade teacher read Sideways Stories from Wayside School aloud, each chapter just a handful of punchy, memorable pages, I’ve been a short chapter fan.  I like to see the story move.  I like to see progress.

By contrast, many chapters in my life tend to be on the long side.  I’m a slow thinker, a slow decision maker.  Not many cliffhangers.  Relatively few unexpected turns.  Pretty predictable.  Not really the stuff of a best seller.

Every once in a while, though, life takes a truly unexpected turn.  Things that I thought were fated or immovable turn out to be flexible.  Something that was maybe just a glimmer on a far off horizon explodes into the sky at staggering speed. An opportunity brought into my story by one of its most adventurous characters. A plot twist even I didn’t see coming.

And, in a surprising move, instead of watching the story fly by, this time I actually grabbed onto the streaking star and decided to ride along.  Instead of watching stories happen for others, I jumped in, embraced the promising unknown, and decided to start a chapter that is entirely new.  For many, it will be a jaw dropper, a head scratcher, even a whisper-behind-the-back moment.  Let them watch, confusion to amazement.

Sunsets and sunrises somewhere different.  Dramatic changes in just a handful of punchy, memorable pages.

A short chapter, yes.  A beautiful, breathtaking plot twist in a long, long story.

 

 

family, perspective

I Sat Alone

Something I normally don’t do is sit alone. However once the pandemic hit I found myself sitting alone more and more. Not always by choice but by circumstance. In the 60 plus days of restrictions, I think I learned to master the art of sitting alone and how to use it as fuel for my mind and spirit. A rejuvenation method.

When I think about it, it’s funny how the universe can whisper to you in the darkest hours and let you see light that is really shining in on you, your surroundings and your inner circles.

Today I decided to sit alone by choice. I was going to wait in the car while my travel buddy took care of an extended pit stop. Instead I ventured off a beaten path. The unknown path led to a cement picnic table on the Tennessee River. Covered in moss, cobwebs and bugs. I was drawn to it like flies on shit.

Definitely not a spot I had ever been to. Not a spot I ever planned to visit but to my surprise I enjoyed it. I had a book to read. I had AirPods to listen to a few podcasts. My keys to set off an alarm if any creepers came near and of course a pair of fancy shades. The essentials so to speak.

To my surprise I was more drawn to the sounds of the land than my packed items. I listened to birds of all sorts chirp and sing. I listened to the sounds of a jet ski and pontoon boat passing in the distance of the river. I stared at interesting cobwebs. I watched ants crawl. My mind was at ease.

I’m on a trip to see family and mourn the loss of a loved one. Some alone time is good for the soul. It lets you reflect. It lets you be at peace with what is and will be the new normal. Life less one or in my case less two people.

Life isn’t easy. Life is messy on most days just like people. Not physically messy just complicated messy. As I jot down this post in comes a text from a former athlete I coached. A sweet, sweet text of condolences. When a young person you impacted takes the time to reach out to you, how can you not be moved?

As I enter this next line, this post shifts from mourning and solitude to appreciation and foresight. We all have a chance to brighten another’s day at any given time, but do we? We all have the ability to look ahead and see tomorrow but do we?

Life is never about regrets or mistakes it’s always about new beginnings and sunshine for me. Today I worked on my photo reel. Photos of nature and beauty. Simple as it sounds but as complex as I make it when I visualize the purpose.

The purpose of today’s photo reel was to honor the people I lost while seeing the beauty in what they were about. I used nature to symbolize the beauty. Speaking of beauty nature takes another turn. Not one but two red cardinals are whipping by me and my picnic table. I didn’t grab a picture but I knew my two loved ones were letting me know all is good.

Simple. Sweet. Memorable. This post is dedicated to my dad and Irene. You may be gone but not forgotten. You both lived amazing lives.

I chose to close this post with a black and white photo as I’m closing the door on darkness and looking ahead to the bright sunshine of tomorrow and all that is visible on the horizon. A new day. A new beginning. A new set of goals and adventures that await.

Forging a path ahead is what those lost would want you to do. I may be a carrier of the message today but for anyone who reads this, the lesson can easy apply to you as well. Think about my post as a whisper from me to you. My universe to yours.

inspire, perspective

Excitement

Who doesn’t like a little excitement in their life? Who doesn’t get excited on a regular basis?

A big vacation starts tomorrow. The feeling of excitement hits you and sleep is no longer an option. The first day of school is upon you. Many emotions pass through your mind but one is definitely excitement to see what the day will hold. A birth of a new family member. Nerves are a-blazing but excitement is in the air. The examples are limitless in my mind.

Excitement is around us. It’s a word but also a feeling. Some show it visibly differently than others and that is okay. For me excitement is easily visible and can even be contagious.

My eyes light up. My curiosity is sparked. My brain fires on all cylinders. I engage others around me. Excitement is a stimulant to me in a way that many may not understand.

I feel excitement in my core and it radiates around me. I can wake up excited for the day where others are slow off the block or need coffee for arousal. This is what I mean when I say I feel excitement in my core. No dusting off needed to arouse my excitement, it sits at the core of my existence.

Some days it’s shaken and stirred. Other days the excitement becomes an inferno. It’s somewhere in between the reckless inferno and shaken when my mind works the best.

I am excited today and thus I decided to write. I often write in the morning when my senses are awakened with excitement. Content flows. Ideas go into the journal. Plans are made. Action is taken. Most of which happens before one gets up and has their morning coffee.

I am fond of the word excitement. It’s part of my aura. It’s part of my story. For now I will take my excitement off this page and into the world as it awaits. And there are some folks out there in the world that don’t appreciate my excitement. I have to assume it’s because their life is boring but I waste no time on that negativity. I just do me. Exciting me whenever possible.

I hope the word excitement has sparked some thought for you today. The post was meant to send you in that direction of excitement.