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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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Yin and Yang of Life, Kids, and Selling Out to Taylor Swift

"Dragon Learning How To Wake Surf (She Loved it)"

Aloha...... I have just returned from an incredible family filled expedition to Lake Powell. I don't want to discount the fact that the one armed John Wesley Powell navigated the mighty Colorado through Glen Canyon in a row boat; but who's kidding who?  He did not do it with his 3 kids ranging from 2-8 and 17 other members of his clan (just saying). If you have never been to Powell, imagine the Grand Canyon filled with water, and there you have it. Swimming in the thick stew of parenthood and 80 degree water for 7 days gave me a chance to observe, spend time, and bond with my kiddos as well as a gaggle of nieces and nephews.  

This brings me to my point. For the entire duration of the trip, my son was on me like K9 excrement on the bottom of one's shoe. It seemed that every time I moved, he was in tow. It was honestly like getting social herpes, and once contracted, there would be no shaking it for 7 days and 7 nights. "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy" was on constant repeat much like Chumbawamba's "I Get Knocked Down" tune circa late 90's. Don't misunderstand, I love the little spawn of Beelzebub and drink in all of the  time he and my other kiddos want to spend with me. This part of my experience would be the Yin. 

Here comes the Yang..... My oldest daughter has always been my buddy and co-conspirator. She shares my same sense of humor and has always been by my side. Naturally, over the past few years, friends and activities have pulled her away from me and I have somehow reached Steve Urkel status. Once we arrived at the lake she was fully immersed in cousin time and my status became that of the kid your parents invited over to "help" you contract Chicken Pox.  I found myself acting exactly like my needy son, basically begging for for any attention that my daughter would give me. One thing you should know about me is that I am a complete pompous music snob. Having this understanding will help explain the drastic measures of my desperation to gain the attention of my daughter. I did it, I played  and sang Taylor Swift's "Shake it off" multiple times on my guitar all with the hope of gaining acceptance (there are some things you cannot undo).

So let's tie this all up. Here is what I learned; We all experience times in our lives when someone we love dearly wants nothing more than our attention and we naturally, after being  overdosed, tend to get annoyed. The crux of this is that we end up changing places with that person we love overtime.  The moral of the story is that even though Samwise Gamgee ended up bugging the shiz out of Frodo form time to time, he was there to the end with the little furry footed guy.  So I in my quest to "Justify the F Word" and make the most of this mid life experience, I am working hard to take it all in. Because one day, everything will change, and you somehow end up playing emotional musical chairs to Taylor Swift. 

Did I mention my middle kiddo was perfect?