Tuesday, December 29, 2015

5 Reasons Why I Relate To Clark Griswold Now More Then Ever

“Well I’m gonna park the cars and check the luggage, and well, I’ll be outside for the Season.”

Each year when Christmas time rolls around we light the yule log, binge eat figgy pudding (honestly does anyone eat that culinary delight?), and take in the greatness that is Christmas Vacation. I have consumed this cinematic masterpiece and all it has to offer since it was given to world like a gift from the magi back in 89'. Each year as I have taken this in for my viewing pleasure, it has meant something different. As a kid I saw Clark as a funny, eccentric, and over the top adult. As an adult, all I see is a version of me. For this express reason please enjoy the top 5 reasons why this movie means more to me as an F'er than ever before.

1.  Anticipation of the Season: As soon as the leaves turn and Costco begins putting out their Christmas decorations (which seems to be October) I start to get excited for the Holidays. As a kid I would get pumped due to the prospect of the Christmas haul, but as an adult I get excited about making Christmas as cool as possible for my offspring and loved ones. Throughout the movie you can see Clark's desire to make this happen. From hand digging out his own Christmas tree to being a nervous mess about his Holiday bonus, Mr. Griswold's only purpose is to make to make Christmas as memorable as possible. Hence the poetic line uttered in this masterpiece, “We’re gonna press on, and we’re going to have the hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f’ing Kaye.”

2.  Family: I once heard it eloquently stated that fish and family both start to go bad after 3 days. With this being said, the Holiday season is a time to be together with friends and family. Even though there are annoyances, its truly what the season is all about. Clark embodies this by wanting everyone to be under his roof. Even though he spends all his time trying to avoid contact with familial relations, he goes out of his way to make sure everyone is there and involved. This cohabitation of shared genetic material can produce memories that will last for a lifetime or possibly produce a wrapped up cat and an overdone turkey. One of the most classic lines from the Movie is when Ellen declares, “I don’t know what to say, except its Christmas we are all in misery.”

3:  Lights: When Tomas Edison invented the light bulb, I am fairly certain he had no idea the level of contention it would produce in my household around the Holiday season. First let me state for the record that I am all about Christmas lights. The source of debate in my house revolves around the quantity. My wife is all about straining the power grid and I am all about a nice roof line. Impending death on an icy roof is not my bag, and to this my wife tells me to get over it and man up. Every time I watch this movie and see him falling off the roof multiple times, I take the subtle moment of cinematic instruction to explain to my significant other why the upper roof pitch will remain as obscured as the dark side of the moon.  Clark reassures the public that putting up Christmas lights is family trait much like common DNA when he says, “Dad, you taught me everything I know about exterior illumination.”   

4.  Stress: Andy Williams and his voice of gold may have sang, “It’s the hap-happiest time of the year” but the Holidays can also be the most stress-stressful time of the year. Finances, family, and meeting expectations can all induce the classic Christmas freak-out. This movie nails all this yuletide emotion has to offer. I am fairly certain we can all relate to the Christmas melt down, from Clark fixing the newel post with a chain saw, to losing his mind over his invitation to the jelly of the month club.  It’s ironic that the time of the year in which we should be focused on peace on earth and good will toward men can produce 100% proof emotions of rage and stress. My favorite Griswold melt down goes as follows… Ellen states, “Clark, I think it would be best if everyone went home… before things get worse.” To which Clark replies, “WORSE? How could things get any worse? Take a look around here, Ellen. We’re at the threshold of hell.”

5.  Eddie: We all have an Uncle Eddie in our lives, whether or not this person shows up over Christmas or is involved in our daily life. I bet if we all look hard enough into our pool of friends and family, an Uncle Eddie will show up. Eddie’s character embodies the individual in your life that drives you insane, but deep down (in some cases really deep down) you really love. Eddie for all his flaws is fiercely loyal, and willing to go to bat for Clark. Clark’s response to Eddie’s impromptu visit yields one the finest quotes from this picture show. Eddie states, “You surprised to see us, Clark? Clark responds, “Oh, Eddie…. If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am now.”

To all you F’ers out there, enjoy your Holiday season. Most of all remember, “you can’t see the line can you Russ.”

Monday, November 30, 2015

Gratitude, A Good Way To Roll.....

There are a few things in life that make me wildly uncomfortable. Number one on my list would have to be flash mobs, the thought of organized-impromptu dancing or singing in a large crowd makes my skin crawl. Second but not far behind flash mobs is the moment at Thanksgiving dinner when everyone goes around the table and declares what they are thankful for. As to not be misunderstood, now more then ever I am extremely humble and grateful for what I have experienced, the people I consider friends and family, as well as the life I have been able to lead to this point. What causes me to avert eye contact and socially shut down is the verbal expressions of these feelings. So here it comes F'ers, things are about to a bit awkward for this kid but first let me explain how I got to this point.

Over the past two months I have been getting up early and doing about 20 minuets of yoga and around 5 minuets of mediation (one of these days I will write an entire post on this but for now, namaste and inner peace). Through this process, I first discovered I was extremely inflexible and second there is a virtual treasure trove of  yoga classes and guided mediation sessions available on youtube. The resounding theme that seems to be repeated over and over during my daily online morning contortion is, "you are exactly where you need to be." This simple statement really got me thinking about my life and as well as conscientiously taking stock of  just how blessed I am. This realization made me grasp that I have been guilty of searching the horizon as opposed to enjoying the ride.

There are subtleties in our quest for living life to its fullest that may only occur once in or mortal existence. For example, as parents we may look at our little kids and long for the day that they are big enough to remove excrement from their own orifice. Only to wish years later they were still babies. The finish line is a glorious sight, but I declare the true prize dwells within the journey. Live big and dream big, just make sure to drink in what is around you during each step of the process.

So let me express my gratitude in all its awkward glory.... I am grateful for my life and all of those who have helped to shape me into the person I am today. I am grateful for my wife and kids and the joy they bring me daily. Now more then ever I am grateful to have been raised by such great parents and siblings. I am forever grateful for the experiences that cause me to laugh or smile when they play back on the stage in my mind. Last of all, I am also grateful for the experiences I have been through that really, really, I mean really sucked (the education of life is not cheap, but it has caused me to learn a thing or two). Geeeeezzzzzz,,,,,, that was uncomfortable but necessary. F-word nation,
take the time this holiday season to enjoy exactly where you are at today, I promise it will make tomorrow all the more delicious (especially if left overs are involved).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

London's Calling

This past week I had the unique opportunity to meet with my family and a surgeon to discuss  the upcoming surgery to remove my Dad's esophagus due to cancer. While sitting in the room at the cancer center, and going through a myriad of emotions, I noticed a Jack London quote on the wall. I typically take an annual  spin through  Mr. London's, "The Call of the Wild" but had never read nor seen the quote below.  I was moved by both the words and the relevance of the situation I found them in. After reading and re-reading the lines, I experienced a "right-on" moment.  Not only did I feel that everything was going to be OK, but I also felt blessed for the time I have. Live your life, take it in, and above all share it with others. Enjoy the quote and the ride we call life.......

“I would rather be ashes than dust!

I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.” 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Ear Candy

“Study hard what interests you the most in the most undisciplined, irreverent and original manner possible.” 
 Richard Feynman

I drive a lot for work, so much that at times I question if I am truly a salesman or if I am just moonlighting as an over the road trucker.  The 30,000 plus miles that I log each year makes me empathetic to Eddie Rabbits tune, “Driving My Life Away.”  Being a music snob in the worst sense of the word makes listening to music nearly impossible for long stretches of time (I realize this makes no sense, so I will not even try and explain it). For an alternative, I sometimes gravitate toward talk radio or the Spanish stations for both education and mild entertainment. With the amount of time I was spending on the road, I realized that what I was audibly ingesting did not equate to a net positive gain. After a day of driving around I would end up being upset with the state of politics or utterly confused (and rightfully so) by the fact Ranchero music relies on a tuba to hold down the bottom end.

 It’s been said that your actions and your level of motivation are the direct result of the 5 people you interact with the most. Realizing my radio buddies and my radio amigos were not the folks I was looking to emulate, I set out on a quest to learn. Right around this time a good friend of mine said; “Hey dude you ever listen to podcasts?” I sheepishly mentioned that I had not, and asked for some recommendations. The next day the once ignored “podcast app” on my phone became a treasure trove of incredible and insightful information and entertainment. I was learning how to become a better salesman in the morning, and being absolutely transported in time back to the vast reaches of the Mongolian Empire in the afternoon. Not to mention, all of this was being accomplished as part of my working day.

I instantly became the guy who prefixed the majority of my conversations with, “I was listening to the best podcast the other day.” The medium of the podcast fell right in line with my creed of purposely investing my time into things that I can impact or that can have an impact over me (see my blog post on Fight the Power). The podcast medium of audible feasting has presented me with the opportunity to grab the subject matter I choose and transform otherwise idle hours into a virtual classroom. This discovery and subtle change to my day has made a huge impact on my personal development …not to mention an improvement in my overall mood. Through this process, I exchanged political rants for self-improvement and Latin grooves (still a guilty pleasure) for the history of the world. All in all, I would say it has been a good trade.

It has been so nice to cut out all the negativity going on the world and replace it with a cornucopia of knowledge. Here is my challenge for you F’ers, find something you want to improve, work on, or learn about. I am fairly certain what every that subject matter is you will find a podcast on it. Below I have listed a few of my favorite podcast.  Although none of them can compete with Tito Puente grooving a Mambo, I bet you may learn a thing or two. (I listed links from itunes, but you can grab these through the stitcher app as well @ https://www.stitcher.com/ )

Work and Motivation

Dream-Think-Do (Kid Safe)

Entrepreneur on Fire (Kid Safe)

The Tim Ferris Show (There are some F bombs, so not the best while carpooling to soccer)

Stuff you should know (Kid Safe)

Becoming Super Human


Dan Carlin’s Hard Core History (History may be a bit too real for a small ear, no language… just reality). This may just fry your brain; start with the history of the Mongolians.

The History or Rome


The Adam Carolla Show (Not for the easily offended, not kid safe)

Happy listening…….. Provecho….

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Lets Go Build A Fort

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” 

Do any of you remember what it was like as a kid to pile up couch cushions, drape some blankets on top of it and crawl inside with your friends and tell scary stories?  Well, I do.  And it brings back such vivid and powerful memories.  So about 4 years ago when my oldest said, “dad, will you help me build a fort?” I couldn’t have been happier to oblige. This innocent question awoke a primal urge that has been part of man since our Australopithecus (yes, I just name-dropped an obscure anthropology reference) ancestors started looking for caves to adorn with pictures of mammoths.

So not too long ago my family and I were staying at a good friend’s cabin and it just so happened that, due to a pine beetle infestation, there was a significant amount of cleared and cut wood lying like manna from heaven for the taking. Our first attempt at construction was feeble but valiant none the less. Falling short of the mark (and both of us knowing it), my daughter and I spent the next 6 months discussing plans for re-designing our fort in a fashion that would gain the acceptance of the famous fictional architect Howard Roark.

With a healthy amount of anticipation built up during the drive to the cabin, and a general idea of how we were going to make this thing legit, we went to work. For the next three days we were in the zone. At the Brown construction site, my daughters made sure I understood that rest was for the weak. Being equipped with only the essentials…twine, a shovel, and a knife, we let our imaginations drive our creativity. As our veritable “edifice of frontier functionalism” began to take shape, an interesting thing occurred. For the first time as a father, I found myself and my kiddos on the exact same level of intellectual involvement. I was not pulling them to do something, neither were they pulling me. In that moment we were one in purpose.   And dammit, we were building the greatest log fort that Duck Creek Village has ever seen.

I don’t think I’m alone.  I mean...honestly…who doesn’t like building a fort? At home, couch cushions and blankets become sibling’s tools of the metaphorical communal Amish barn raising.   In the woods, sticks and logs do the trick.  I can only assume that thousands of years ago the ancient Druids were goofing around with their kids in a field full of rocks and someone said, “Son, have you heard of post and lintel architecture? It’s all the rage.” Fort-building is in our DNA.

Part of it is because let’s face it, when you finish the job, the pure awesomeness of crawling inside with a flashlight can be rivaled only by Ed McMahon’s surprise visit with a giant check in hand.  And do you want to know what the most satisfying and pleasantly surprising outcome was for me through the building process (I use the word process because although the fort is technically done…we plan on working on it every time we go back)?  I’ll tell you.  The most wonderful part of this was that the emotions I felt in those moments were the exact same for me now as an F-er as they were for me as a 7-year-old boy.  As the Brown family stacked logs, I was able to catch a perfect glimpse into the creative souls of my girls.  And at the same time, my girls were able to see a side of their dad that had long since been boxed up and locked away.  

So now whenever we go back to our friend’s cabin, we park, we unload our luggage, and we immediately go to work on the Brown family fort.  I get to feel like a kid again, and my girls get to travel back in time to see what their dad was like at their age.  And if you allow me to wax a little poetic for a second, this humble frontier dwelling is a terrific symbolic expression of my relationship with my kiddos. From the outside it may seem imperfect and haphazard, but step inside and it’s a stable refuge offering shelter and security. And no matter where we seem to be in the process there is always something to improve.  See… I told you it was poetic.

But seriously, all metaphors aside, this experience has been a priceless bonding experience for me and my kids.  So fellow F’ers, your assignment this week is to get out and build a fort. Grab some blankets and pillows, and get to work.  Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself driving the DeLorean at 88 miles per hour into the deep recesses of your childhood. And when you’re done bonding with your kids, send them to bed, grab some popcorn, and watch a scary movie in the palace you just created. I promise you it will open dusty old memories that you will be glad to re-live alone or with your family.  Happy Building!!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hello- My Name is Quinn Brown... I am 39, and I Play in a Band.......

This is a post I have wanted to write since the “F” word started but was unsure on how to put it together without sounding like epic blowhard.  Today I’m willing to risk it. 

So it’s 7:42 pm and I am sitting in a hotel on a Saturday night in Jackson Hole, WY. The TV is on in the background and I just woke up from a quality 20 minute power-snooze. My musical cohorts (all fellow “F”ers) and I will be taking the stage at a half-filled bar, presenting a musical odyssey that will last until about 1:30 in the morning. This will be our second gig of the weekend and since I am no longer 21, I am mentally preparing and caffeinating myself for the marathon ahead of me.  At my age, it’s a struggle just to not look and feel like a zombie on stage most nights (cough, Keith Richards, cough).

As I write this, I am taking stock of how just how lucky I am that I have the chance to follow this passion.   But at the very same time, not losing sight of how valuable this is experience is for me as a person.  Music, and the creation thereof, has always been a passion I have chased and an outlet I have cherished. There have been times when it has dominated everything in my life and times when it simply meant playing guitar to my kids at bed time. Through the years, the thing that has become very clear to me is that “I need this”.

In my twenties playing music started out as a passion and over time turned into a profession. There were times when getting on stage seemed like landscaping a yard and other times it was the cats pajamas. Throughout that phase of my life and before almost every gig, my friend and drummer Leo constantly reminded me that what we were doing was a gift. He would say, “first-this is not normal, second-there is a lot of people that would kill for this opportunity, and third-drink it all in because one day it will be gone.” His wisdom in that stage of my life was an incredible revelation.  Just as Leo Prophesied, one day we divided up the gear and it was over.  All of a sudden those super long gigs with two people in the audience seemed more like a fading dream and less like a nightmare. The questions that remained in the years that followed were….

Do I walk away and say, “I used to do that?”


Do I keep it going?

So here was the struggle I encountered as I put the musical side of my life in a proverbial save box in the basement. On one hand I felt the societal pressure saying, “time to grow up and let it go.” On the other hand I felt the self-doubt that if I play again, I will just be another balding old guy trying to chase a dream that has long since passed him by.  The one thing that remained constant was that I truly missed playing music.

This is where the wisdom of prophet Leo comes back into the story. One day we were talking about table saws, reliving the old band days, and just generally marveling about the Zen of life. During our conversation, he mentioned something in passing that made me take an introspective step back and look into my current state of happiness. He said, “Quinn you love to create.  You are an artist regardless of whether you like it or not.” He went on to say, “If you try hiding or suppressing that part of your life and personality, that part of you will die in the process.”

At the time I am certain he had no idea how much I needed to hear those words and how true and timely his declaration had been.

It was that day that I decided it was time to get back in the game.  I reached out to my good friend Jeff and pulled that side of my life out of cold storage.  The funny thing about it was that everyone we found to play was in the exact same proverbial boat. We stacked hands and the journey began again. 

With different logistics and life circumstances this time around, we decided if we were going to make this work, we would jam at 9 pm in Jeff’s sound proof room in his basement. This allowed all of us to put our kids to bed and not have our “musical bowling league” get in the way of family duties. As I read that last line, I realize how far away from the days that the goal was to “not get the cops called on us for noise abatement” or to “not interrupt our Friday night testosterone-filled gallivanting”.  As we started practicing together again and our band took shape, each of us felt the same void filled by the musical tapestry we were weaving. Wondering where this all fits into my adult life was replaced with the desire to create and share.

When you play in a band in your teens and college years, society views it as really hip past time. When you play in a band in your “F” word years it’s viewed as, “something you need to grow out of.” The question I propose is why? Should skateboarding only be reserved for 12-21 year olds? Should golf be reserved for those 30 and over?  The point I am trying to make is if you truly love to do something, then do it. That’s the point, right? Each of us knows deep down inside what makes us tick, what brings us joy, and what parts of our lives need fulfillment. I have no delusions of grandeur at this point in my life, only gratitude for a chance to practice and perform my craft.  These are the things we do for ourselves.

The challenge I would like to issue in this post is find that “thing” you have put away in your save box. Get it out, dust it off, rediscover why it made you happy, and share it with your friends and family. When I take the stage tonight, I will remember Leo’s advice, look around at my friends I have the opportunity play with, and create a musical “F” Word blow torch that can only be rivaled by the dragons of medieval legend…even if it does make me look like an epic blowhard.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Ten things you probably DON’T do with your kids (but should)

I had lunch with by buddy Trevor the other day and we got talking about the "F" word and things we do with our kids. He shared some classic kiddo experiences that induced a solid belly laugh. Being that he is a great father, and a year older than me (making him extremely old and wise), I asked him to impart some of his sage advise with the "F" Word tribe. This is coming to you Straight Outta Compton, Trevor Compton that is....

I’m f*#ty.  And…what that means is that I’m old enough to sometimes remember what I was like when I was cool.  Most of the time, I forget. 

But the rub is…my kid’s AREN’T.  To them, I’m bald, wrinkly, and boring dad.  They don’t remember the cool dad.  All they know is the dad that listens to talk radio, podcasts, and occasionally jams out to “old guy” music while they’re in the car to embarrass the living daylights out of them in front of their friends.  The dad that doesn’t like anything cool, that doesn’t DO anything cool, and the dad that has only a fleeting recollection of what cool actually is.  Or was.  Or should be. 

So, before I continue, I need to make one thing perfectly clear.  I’m writing this post to give advice to you, f*#&y-year-old dads.  The advice is this:  DO THINGS WITH YOUR KIDS THAT YOU ENJOY.  Why would you want your kids to see you as the dad that goes to Disneyland but hates it.  The dad that spends too much money at places with dancing rodents just because his kids begged him and he caved in.  Nobody wants to be the CAVE-IN Dad.  Being CAVE-IN Dad teaches your kids that you’re even less cool than they thought and that you’ve lost touch with who you are as a person.  Be yourself.  And in doing so, you’ll find out that your kids love you and are impressed and proud of who you are as a person and the things that YOU like to do. 

With that out of the way…here are the ten things you should start doing with your kids right now.  Not only because they’re (probably) enjoyable for you too, but because they will learn valuable lessons in the process about being proud of who they are and not afraid or embarrassed to be themselves:

10.  Take them to nice restaurants.  I once had one of my sons take off his flip flop in the middle of dinner, throw it across the dining room floor, bounce off a light, and land in another customer’s glass of wine.  True story.  For most of us the idea of going to a nice restaurant is appealing because you get AWAY from eating PB&J and don’t have to listen to all the fighting and complaining about the food.  Bringing young kids to a nice restaurant seems like complete social suicide.  But here’s why you should do it:  Because the more your kids see how to behave in places like high end restaurants, the more likely they are to learn manners and respect in public situations.  Just don’t let them wear flip flops…it’s harder to throw shoes if they’re tied tight.

9.  Drive through the wrong neighborhoods.  OK, so carrying racist signs through ethnically diverse neighborhoods may not be smart with or without kids.  But going out of your way to drive on the “other  side of the tracks” once in a while to give your kids a bit of perspective.  Whatever side of the tracks you live on, it’s valuable to have them see what else is out there in this big blue spinning rock.

8.  Take them to work with you.  So, if you work in a coal mine, it might be tough to pull off.  “I got the black lung, pop.”  Otherwise, most employers, supervisors, and companies will welcome the chance for your kids to see what you do all day.  My dad flew 737s growing up, so it was a little tougher, but he still managed to take me up in the cockpit once in a while and to the training simulator.  It made a lasting impression, because I still have a fascination with flying.  The converse is also true…if you have a boring job, it will be good for your kids to see this and aim a little higher than their old man. 

7.  Nothing.  That’s right.  Do nothing.  Unplug, turn off the screens, and just sit and be lazy together.  Let’s face it…it’s healthy.  And it’s something everyone should incorporate into their lives.  Down-time recharges the batteries and makes you grateful for the “up” times.  Meditation is a great way to structure and focus your down time, but it can be as simple as laying vertical on the couch and throwing a baseball at the ceiling.  Whatever it is, just do it together and get your kids used to the idea that they don’t have to be entertained every second of every day.

6.  Travel together.   On an airplane.  Yes, you heard me.  Carry the strollers, car seats, diaper bags, sippy cups, and all the screens you can find to keep them entertained.  It’s gonna suck getting through the TSA, and you’re going to wish you had Benadryl to…ahem…keep their “allergies” at bay.  But your kids are going to remember it, learn about traveling (not to be scared of flying among other things) and see the world.  Their world right now is probably the four walls of your home, a bus stop, a few friends houses, and school.  That is a pretty darn small place.  Show them that the “school of life” can be so much more educational and that there is so much more to see and do than any one person could accomplish in a lifetime.  My entire family will always remember seeing mom almost step on a Boa Constrictor in Costa Rica after the rest of us walked right by thinking it was a stick.  What a memory!  Are you beginning to see a theme here?  Perspective.

5.  Go to rock concerts.   Or any concert for that matter.  If you haven’t seen the Twenty-One Pilots show, put it on your bucket list.  My kids are 4, 7, and 10.  The 4 year old had a cold, but my wife and I took the two older kids to see them live in Salt Lake City over the weekend.  Their eyes were as wide as saucers the entire night watching people (quite the clique) and watching the incredible show.  Do I want them in the mosh pit smashed against the front stage…probably not just yet.  But for their first real concert, it was memorable for them even from the back row.  They may not realize just how cool this was of their parents to do until many years from now.  But what an amazing night and experience for both parents and kids.

4.  Run a race.  Odds are that your days of competing at a high level athletically are long gone.  At least mine are.  But the atmosphere of a race (run, bike, swim, motorcycle, etc.) is electric.  It’s something they’ll remember for a long time.  And seeing the winners finish will give them inspiration to compete in something for themselves.  Seeing the last few stragglers come across the line will also inspire them to know that ANYONE can run a race.  So, if mom and dad do a half marathon…sign the kids up for a 5k or a Kids K.  They’ll be so excited to be part of the family team.

3.  Backpacking/Camping.  “Yeah, but my kids aren’t big enough to carry a pack, they don’t like to eat fish or freeze-dried food, and they don’t have the gear for it.”  I’ve heard all the excuses.  I’ve made them myself.  The one thing I’ve learned after doing it for a few years now is that your kids will surprise you with how capable they are.  And there’s something about being outdoors that will really give them a connection with nature, themselves, and with their parents.  Try it once and you’ll likely make it a family tradition.

2.  Go on dates with them.  Don’t be confused…I’m not advocating that you take them with you on your date night with your spouse or significant other.  I’m saying to take THEM out on a date.  Teach them how to behave (open doors for their date, pay the bill, compliment their date, focus on them and not their phone, etc.).  This will go a long way when they start dating and learn to distinguish a well-behaved partner from a selfish douchebag.

1.  Choose your own adventure.  I know there are one or two things that you really love to do that are a bit on the wild side.  Skydiving, bungee jumping, motorcycles, airplanes, paintball.  I don’t care what it is…but you absolutely MUST do them with your kids.  Start them out small if it’s a scary endeavor.  But at the very least, show them what you do and explain to them WHY you do it.  Seeing you do something you’re passionate about will get them through the times that they get down in the dumps.  Knowing that everyone has a thing or two that really gets their juices flowing is a great lesson for your kids to learn.  Because they will search for that in their own lives.  And once they find it, they will truly find fulfillment and purpose.  They will have something to live for even when life seems like it isn’t worth living.  And maybe they’ll read this in 20 years when they have kids of their own and pass along the passion to their own kids.   At the very least…they’ll have something to tell their friends about at school when they’re bragging about how cool their dads are.  

Like what you have read?  #justifyingthefword or follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/justifyingthefword/timeline

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Justifying the F Word and The Dream-Think-Do Podcast

Huge news! Justifying the F Word was featured on the "Dream, Think, Do Podcast" today. If you have not had the opportunity to listen to Mitch Matthew's pod casts before, I highly recommend it. It's like an all you can eat buffet of positive vibes and motivation streaming through the world wide web. Mitch has had a huge impact on me and how I go about living my life. It was his "virtual push" that got this F word revolution started.

I promise you that if you download and listen to his podcast on iTunes you will find yourself bombing down a luge track toward your dreams with plenty of ringing cow bells to cheer you on.

 Remember the best way to justify the F word is to follow your dreams and reach your goals. Check out "Justifying the F Word" being featured on today's episode below!  

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fight The Power


At the vine ripened age of 39, I came to the conclusion that this F word thing was headed my way whether I liked it or not.  At about this moment, I had to come to peace with the notion that no matter what I do or how I feel about aging, its going to go down. No crossroads pact I could finagle with Beelzebub himself would have any influence over the amount of years that my 5’11” frame will carry. This got me thinking about all aspects of my life. Dismissing the option of selling my soul to become a servant to the eye of Mordor, I decided to take inventory of what I can influence and what is out of my control.

Right around this same time I was on a flight and after a delightful cruise through SkyMall (may you rest in peace great bazaar of the friendly skies) I read an article in Fortune in which multiple CEO’s were interviewed. The common thread that contributed to their success was the importance of a lifetime pursuit of knowledge. At this point the starting gun fired, the squirrels in my head decided to run, and I realized that for too long I had been in an intellectual holding pattern. 

Upon this epiphany, it also dawned on me that I have placed a significant amount of time and energy on things I have virtually no control over. For example, the 24-7 news cycle that we now live in throws people into a world of rage on both sides of the aisle. Between talk radio, cable news outlets, magazines, books, and internet news sources it is easy to become consumed with politics. Before I go any further let me mention that there is a major difference between the 5% who are truly involved and the 95% who arm chair quarterback.  Those who are truly involved do have an influence on what happens, but let’s be honest most of us prefer complaining over action. This post is 100% politically neutural, and yes it is important to know your stuff and do your civic duty.   But let’s be honest…how much time and energy is wasted on things and people that we cannot influence, change, or impact one way or another.

It dawned on me that I had been vacu-sucked into a billion-dollar industry that prays on people’s emotions and passions, with the net outcome really being wasted time, and depleted brain storage. So virtually overnight I decided enough is enough.  I was going to un-plug from all things I could not directly control and focus my energy and passions on what I can control; primarily myself and my sphere of influence.  

The very next day I ordered a few books to jump start the gray matter, downloaded a bunch of podcasts, dusted off the running shoes and started a quest of influencing my own life and others in a positive direction. The crazy thing about this epiphany is this: What we draw our happiness from, namely those things that mean the most to us, are ninety percent of the time within arm’s reach. Think for a moment about how depressing the news is, but how amazing having a good conversation with friends over dinner can be. Contrast how trivial pop gossip is when compared to the satisfaction of learning something new. How much energy does it waste to argue a political opinion versus spending that time developing a new hobby?  Why do we tend to worry more about things that are beyond our control nationally, than paying attention to what is happening at the school board, county, or city level.

Let’s face it.  Life is extremely complicated as is,  and I disparage no one for their involvement with government or other distractions. The point I am trying to make is that we have the choice to either live our lives to the fullest or allow them to be riddled with an array of distractions. I can only speak for myself and my recent experience, but since taking this stance I am happier then I have been in years. I have learned some pretty amazing things, become a better father and husband, lost a few pounds, and am actively involved in local initiatives such as developing a mixed use trail system in my community.

So…in conclusion, I use this format not as a pulpit, but simply to share what has turned my F word experience from a gas station taquito into a glorious, smothered, chipotle-infused steak burrito with hot sauce (just saying). As the great Cuban Jazz leader Joe Cuba once stated, "Try it... You'll Like it."

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Thank The Lord For The Night Time

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
 ~Vincent Van Gogh

Bob Wiley once stated, "There are two types of people in this world, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." Let me just say for my money it does not get any better than the Jazz Singer himself. Yep, "Thank the Lord For the Night Time." Bringing this full circle, on a recommendation from a friend I picked up a fairly priced light for my mountain bike. After multiple times of skirting death by riding down a mountain in the dark, I knew that my almost 40 year old self could spring for a light. Amazon does not disappoint, so upon arrival I was set on giving it a go. 

After my PM invitation to ride was declined by my amigos due to prior commitments, I headed up the mountain by myself. Once at the trail head I hooked up my light and turned on the Ryan Adam's Gold album and started pedaling at dusk. As my light flooded the trail, two thoughts came to mind.

1)     “Man this is peaceful”


2)     “I should have a healthier respect for apex predators who live in the mountains”

As I illuminated the night with my super cool light (no intention of rhyming) I became slightly overwhelmed by the beauty of the world in darkness. I have done this ride at least 20 or 30 times in the day but this time was different.  The shroud of night completely changed the dynamic of the entire ride and really made me think of how peaceful being alone in the dark really is. The nighttime sang its song as I cast shadows up the trail, disrupting an owl, being buzzed by numerous bats, and contemplating how Ryan Adams could have written such a good record start to finish (alien Technology, or the lost secrets of the Mayan’s being the only logical explanation). Upon reaching the top and seeing the stars, I felt an indescribable peace and fulfillment.

Roughly half of our 24 hour day is shrouded in darkness and when the sun goes down we tend to go inside. I blame this on evolution's, “let’s not become dinner for a saber toothed tiger gene.”  With this healthy fear passed down from our caveman brethren. We shut the door on the night. With so much noise and action in our everyday lives there is a solitude that only the night can deliver. If it has been a few since you stepped out into the void, I highly recommend it. The initial fear of the dark is healthy, but remember it is based around being unfamiliar with a new environment.  As a challenge to the “ F”  word nation, take a walk this week in the dark or sit out in your back yard and check out the stars.  Take the time when silence prevails to hash out or relish on whatever is floating around in your mind. Most importantly, if you do happen to get eaten on your night stroll by an apex predator your kids will have bragging rights on parental demise forever! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Row Row Row Your.... Ummm Paddle Board

"If in doubt, paddle out."
Nat Young

Growing up I always had a dream of living by the ocean, but the caveat to this is I grew up smack dab in the middle of Iowa which ironically sits in the middle of the USA. Geographically I could not have lived further away from either coast. My mom grew up surfing Malibu in the 50's and would tell us stories about going to the ocean every day. At that point in my life I could only compare her stories of epic swells to the ripples of the muddy Skunk river near and dear to my inland adolescent heart. Although landlocked, we still managed to mess around with my mothers vintage Bongo Board in the basement while watching ALF re-runs. At the ripe old age of 8 I saw the mighty Pacific Ocean for the first time at Zuma beach. It was an amazing experience and all I remember is from that point on the ocean and I were simpatico. Fast forward about 25 years and I finally made that dream a reality. The family and I moved to Carpinteria, CA; a sleepy beach town in south Santa Barbara County. Carp is hands down one of the last great surf towns in the US.

Upon arriving in California I picked up my Costco foam top surfboard; this board is basically the training wheels of the surfing world.  I soon began the controlled drowning which I would call, "learning how to surf." After a few months and a fine hand shaped Matt Moore custom board latter http://rincondesigns.net/matt-moore , my controlled drowning began to look more like actually surfing rather then a shark attack. The peace of sitting in the water waiting for the next wave or just watching the sun go down was like nothing I had ever experienced. I consumed my time living by the coast like the massaman curry I had for lunch today, but just like that delicious Thai goodness my time by the ocean came to end.

I may have moved away from the salt water (Great Salt Lake does not count) but my love of the water carried over into the fresh variety. Although there is nothing like riding a wave; the zen of the experience comes from being on and surrounded by the water. Upon moving to the inter-mountain west, I noticed an interesting phenomenon. I saw paddle boards on what seemed like every other car.  I must admit when I lived by the coast I had no love for the paddle board. To better understand my point, imagine your diving a Mini Cooper and a Tour Bus is bearing down on you. This is basically how it feels when you are out surfing and paddle board is heading your way. After my first summer living landlocked and getting over my schmug surfer prejudice I decided to give it a go. After my first cruse on a mountain lake I reconnected with the Zen moment I found sitting off C Street in Ventura watching the sun go down and seeing the water go from blue to purple to black.

I have my yearly surf trips to the coast and my subscription to Surfer Magazine with the purpose of maintaining my poser surfer image. Defaulting to the realization that I will be landlocked for the foreseeable future, me and my SUP are getting along just fine. This past year and after a ton of research I purchased a Tower inflatable board and love it http://www.towerpaddleboards.com/.  If you are in the market, I highly recommend this fine peace of equipment. If have any questions shoot me an email and I will give you the low down, but lets just say everyone I know who has one is pleased as punch. 

Maybe this is all part of my quest to Justify the F Word and maintain some form of coolness in my otherwise middle aged life, but I say it goes much further then that. Being that 71% of the earth is water and life on earth began in the water, there is and has always been a primitive pull that drives man back to our liquid home. If you have never tried it, rent a SUP and give it a spin. I highly recommend going out around dusk with a mind full of thoughts. Once you are on the water you will soon realize what Bear meant in the iconic surf movie "Big Wednesday" when he prophetically declares "That's the lemon next to the pie."   

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summertime Rolls And The F Word Version Of Kerouac's "On The Road"

As the last days of summer are passing as quickly as dollars through my bank account while back to school shopping, I wanted to take a second to reflect on how sweet summer really is.  To set the mood of this post, queue up my favorite summer anthem, "Summertime Rolls" by Jane's Addiction. Now that the mood is set, let’s go for a swim....

 Summer has different meanings during each phase of our lives. For example, when I was 14 I had, quite possibly, the greatest summer of my existence. Life was pure innocence and all we did was skateboard, listen to bad punk rock, fish, and swim in the river (OK, there were a few weeks of indentured servitude in the corn fields mixed in with youthful bliss). Responsibility was basically non-existent, but we were old enough to have a sense of independence and moped licenses.  The combination of the two crafted the perfect non-repeatable "Sandlot" summer of my youth. With the bar set high at 14, I have since had summers of vagabonding from town to town throughout South America. I've spent summers playing 4 to 5 nights a week with a band.  Finally, and most exciting of all, living through summers working 60 to 80 hours a week and having the season blaze by me like quality forest fire. 

Although recreating the great summer of 14 is basically impossible, there is a certain bliss that is found when the weather stays warm and Mr. Sunshine hangs out a bit longer. Having a family of my own has caused me to do reality checks from time to time in-order to insure that I do not get so lost in work and life priorities, that I fail to help my kiddos have the kind of experiences that I did, and will forever remember. 

Reading Jack Kerouac's "On The Road" in my early 20's, fueled my already overindulgent sense of wanting to take in the world, and I did. The theory of Kerouac's life experience is sound, but different stages of life require different types of involvement.  Being realistic and no slight on Mr. Kerouac, beat poetry and living with migrant workers is not on my almost 40 year old ticket. At this stage in my life, "On The Road" consists more of "road tripping" in our minivan and slinging idol threats about leaving my kids at the next truck stop, than an introspective cross country hitch hiking walk about.

While I will always look back with fondness and envy to the summers of my youth, I do not wish to be 14 again.  There is, however, no reason why we as a justifying the F word nation, cannot create amazing summers! We can have memorable summers, not only for ourselves, but also for our minion clan.  Please post a comment at the bottom of this post about something you did this summer that justified the F word!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

And Be A Simple Kind of Man......

Try and keep a dry eye through this, I dare you.....

I need to start this post with a story of one of my resounding emotional breakdowns. To provide context for this story, I am not a crier and never have been. I accredit this personality trait to my mother who did a mighty fine job of reminding me she could "give me something worth crying over."  I am not taking pride in this, but it’s just part of who I am. The following story is a break from my dry eyed norm. I had just returned from a 2 year stint in the great country of Chile and was in my parent’s basement watching the Lynyrd Skynyrd Free Bird documentary, and then it happened. At the end of the Movie, once they had talked about the plane crash that took the lives of half the band, they rolled the credits with "Simple Man" playing to home movies of the band. I lost it and cried enough to more than make up for my childhood and adolescent dry spell. To this day, my wife reminds me, and gives me grief that I did not cry when we got married, nor when we had our children, but that I lost my marbles over the Lynyrd Skynyrd Documentary. Once again, I do not pride myself on this being healthy or a good thing.

So if you are listening to the above tear jerking melody, you may have picked up on the drift of living a simple kind of life. There is a joy and an art to simplicity that is complicated to grasp because of what society would deem as success. Spartan living is not what I am trying to advocate in this post; rather instead of looking outside your walls for fulfillment, take a moment to look within.

A Taco could possibly be the most delicious, yet simplistic cuisine known to hit the soft pallet of mankind. Think about it, tortilla, meat, little cheese and of course Cholula hot sauce (if you have not chased this dragon, I highly recommend your taste buds dance with this mistress of the southwest). There is a reason Taco Tuesday finds a place in my home. The interesting thing about a taco is, the more you try to over complicate it, the worse it tastes. Life seems to be the same way. Personal satisfaction and overall happiness is not a complicated formula. That being said, as an evolving species we seem to have done a mighty fine job of creating the entangled illusion that happiness, contentment, and overall satisfaction can only be achieved by climbing the social and professional rungs of an endless ladder.  Ronnie Van Zant had it right when he so eloquently stated, "take your time don't live to fast, and be a simple kind of man."

As a tribe striking forth to justify the F word; let’s all slow down this week and enjoy a summer night, take a walk, hang out with friends, maybe even cry a little (and try Cholula on anything from pizza to Mexican food).

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Life and Delicious Marinades and or Rubs

(From another life when I had hair)
"I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying" 
Andy Dufresne 

I first considered myself somewhat of an adult, or pretending to be one, when I got married. From the outside of adulthood looking in, I realized that in order to obtain, develop, and establish my man card, I needed to be maestro of the BBQ and enjoy watching football. As far as football goes, I failed. But as for the BBQ; I have treated my journey like that of Shaolin Monk. What I have learned to this point, besides the right amount of smoke and heat, is that its all about how you season the meat, that will make the final product worth pawning your kids over. 

Life is exactly the same. We all start out with the same slab of human flesh, but it is our choice on how delicious we are going to make it (I swear I am not going down the Donner Party path with this post). There have been times in my life when I have been over marinated and times when I was completely bland. Gather round the fire kiddos, because I am going to spin a tale about rediscovering myself. 

I am not going to go into the specifics on what lead up to this moment on this post (that will be a post unto itself) but just know life had delivered me a quality pimp slap. About 4.5 years ago I woke up, went through my morning routine, looked in the mirror and had the realization that this was the rest of my life. That realization produced a "Christmas Story" Ralphie, soap in the mouth worthy response. At that exact moment, I realized I was just passing through life and somewhere on my quest to become a so called adult, I had turned my back on the things that I loved. This, in turn, affected everything from being a good father and husband, to my job. 

The next day I promised myself that I would not just pass through this existence. It was time to do a "Howard Carter" dig into my life and rediscover the marinade that seasoned my life to perfection. Within 6 months, I had started playing in a band again, skiing with my kids, playing hockey, and taking in all that my area had to offer. The amazing thing about this process is that by rediscovering the things I had loved in the past, I was able do the majority of them with my family (band practice happens at 9 pm in sound proof room when everyone is asleep). 

I know I cannot be alone in what I have experienced and for this reason I have committed to writing this blog and creating our very own "mid life" safe room. There is a lot more to this story; so much so that I may just write a book about it some day. So here is my challenge for the week... Get out, do something you love, expose your kiddos to a who you really are and the things that made you who you are today. I promise you that as you rediscover yourself, life will become as tasty as well smoked and marinated brisket (if you are vegetarian, smoked and seasoned veggies are all right in my book as well). Part of creating the "Justifying the F Word" community is to help and motivate others. Take a moment when you are out, put up a pic on Facebook and or Instagram and #justifyingthefword. Let the revolution begin!

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Perspective.... Big... Small... and the End of the Road.....

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.” 
― Edward Abbey

As Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam, or Steven Demetre Georgiu (all the same person, should have just stuck with a symbol like Prince) once said, "Baby baby its a wild world." This past week has done an exceptional job of showing that our 3 named song spindlier could not have been more dead on.

Over a week ago I lost my Aunt and Uncle in a tragic car accident causing me to reflect a bit on my life. Looking at "things" and decisions from the standpoint of mortality is an interesting path to tread. With this in mind, a good friend and one who Justifies the F Word to the fullest took me up flying. Once you are up in the air, everything below seams fairly insignificant compared to the overall view of the horizon.

Life is the same way. Some issues that seem Kilimanjaro big are actually quite small once we step away and add a little perspective. How much time do we flush down the toilet stressing about things that we have no control over or worrying about the next latest and greatest? How much meaningful time with the ones we love or quality conversations do we loose being tethered to our electronics? I have been caught in this bear trap before and had to bite my leg off to get out.  How many quality moments are lost, because we know the ones who love us the most will be the quickest to forgive? At the end of the day when the lights go out, all that is left of our lives are the memories and the impressions we left on others. I promise you we wont be packing a suitcase of our prized possessions. With that being said, I am pretty sure why wife will try to pack an over-sized suitcase full of her Lululemon garb.

Lets all gain some altitude this week and find significance in the view of those around us and the life we have. My Cousin at my Aunt and Uncle's funeral shared one of my favorite Edward Abby manifestos and I would like to share it with you (enjoy).

“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am - a reluctant enthusiast....a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.” 
― Edward Abbey

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