September, 2011


29
Sep 11

On the Road Again

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Hey, good to have you hang out with me for a bit.

As you can tell from the title, I’m hitting the road again on my journey.

Side Note: You may be asking, what journey?  If you’re wondering about this journey thing, you will need to read the first few blog entries.

If interested just go to the right side of the screen and click on January 2010 and scroll down to the first blog.

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Every time I see the title or hear Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again, I am reminded of a funeral I once attended.  Yep… you read correctly… funeral.

I went to the viewing of the father of a friend who passed away.

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Side Note: Humm… passed away… don’t you think that is an odd phrase for death?  It sort sounds like you evaporate or something.

But I digress.

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When we walked into the viewing parlor at the funeral home, Willie’s song was playing away.  I was told it was the father’s favorite song.

I thought… that’s a nice touch.  What I didn’t realize is that the song was on a recording loop and after about the seventy fifth time through the song I was wondering who was better off, the corpse or me.

Let’s just say… it will not be a song I play at my funeral… or anywhere I happen to be.

OK, enough of the funeral talk and back to the blog and hitting the road.

I have felt the itch to start moving toward something.  I don’t know what, but toward something.  The last few blogs have been sort of like camping for the night and telling stories around the campfire.

So, if we are hitting the road… where are we headed?  Where do we want to go?  Important questions.

You see, traveling (or moving forward) needs a purpose.  A why?

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“Men go out into the void spaces of the world for various reasons. Some are actuated by love of adventure, some have the keen thirst for scientific knowledge, and others again are drawn away from the trodden path by the lure of little voices, the mysterious fascination of the unknown.”
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Ernest Shackleton, Antarctic Explorer

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If you don’t know the why then this journey can get pretty frustrating because you may be expecting something the journey wasn’t designed for.

The why can be a defined destination or a purpose more open and ambiguous.   It can be something as simple as for the fun of it, or for me at this point in my life… exploration.

There are times where I am focused on a destination… but what I like most is to explore.

Some people don’t like the unknown.  They fear it and avoid it as much as possible.

The unknown possesses a very odd paradox.  The unknown has the power to paralyze or propel.  For me, it propels.

But the reality is, without the unknown there is no exploration.

Exploring requires that you dig, peek into holes, walk unknown trails.

The heart of an explorer is compelled to look at things that are new, scary, or different.

It demands that you try things that are out of your comfort zone.

So the question again is, do you want to join me on the journey?  I hope so.

We’ll walk further down this road on Monday.  I hope you have your hiking boots laced tightly.

Or we can ride…

ROAD TRIP!

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26
Sep 11

Elvis Reprise!

Welcome back.

I don’t know about you but since the blog entry last Thursday, I keep having Elvis songs bounce around in my head.

There is this endless loop rotating from Stuck on You, I Can’t Help Falling in Love and You Ain’t but a Hound Dog.  Scary huh?

As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed the Elvis impersonator and his faithful sidekick… Hawaiian shirt man.

Just because I enjoyed the show, don’t get the idea I am becoming an Elvis fan – not at all.

But then again, Viva Las Vegas and Blue Suede Shoes are very compelling musical masterpieces.

As mentioned last Thursday, the first surprise of the fiftieth wedding anniversary party was the “King”.  Elvis was a tough act to follow but the second surprise took the prize.

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The Second Surprise

To set the scene, a few months prior to their fiftieth anniversary, the wife purchased a beautiful antique hat and veil.  She showed it to her husband and said that she wanted to get married again.

In true male fashion, jokingly he said, “To Whom?”

You can guess pretty quickly that his response didn’t go over too well.  So he decided to surprise his wife with the renewal of wedding vows at the party.

After Elvis did his thing the daughter of the couple stood and announced the special surprise… the renewing of vows.

Upon the announced nuptials the wife was excited and the crowed clapped and cheered in approval.

BUT THE BEST WAS YET TO COME.

The daughter stated that they searched for an ordained minister to conduct the ceremony and found the right person.

Yep, some of you guessed it… ELVIS.

As you can see, this Elvis was not a one trick pony.

Elvis had a credit card identification (gold colored of course… after all he is the “KING”) indicating that he was ordained.

This really threw the crowd into a celebratory mood.  The bride was quickly donned with the antique hat and veil which had been hidden away, and a bouquet of flowers thrust into her hands.

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The Ceremony

The ceremony was mostly serious and affirming of their love and commitment to each other.

Elvis behaved himself pretty well.  There were no hip thrusts, shaking legs, or singing.

But the “King” had to throw in a few things to… how shall we say… make it uniquely Elvis.

During the vows he threw in some titles of Elvis songs such as I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You, Love Me Tender, Suspicious Minds and he told the husband not to be a Hound Dog.

Elvis said that the vows were good for another fifty years or 50,000 miles – which ever came first.

All I can say is… thank goodness for the fun things in life.

God must have been in a really good mood to create smiles and laughter.  What a wonderful medicine to the soul.

See you on Monday.


22
Sep 11

Is “The King” in the house?

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Hi, me again.

Last weekend was a blast.  My wife and I attended a 50th wedding anniversary of some members of our family.

I know that you don’t want to hear about the party, who attended and what people were wearing.  Don’t worry… I wouldn’t do that to you.  This is not a Society Column.

But something happened during the party that was an absolute hoot.  I still laugh when I think about the event.

The husband of the couple is a great guy and he wanted the party to be special.  So he arranged for two very special surprises for his wife of fifty years.

I am sure that with the title of the blog you can guess one of the surprises.  His wife was an avid Elvis Presley fan so he arranged for an Elvis impersonator to perform.

Let the Show Begin

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As you can see it’s obvious by the picture that this was not Elvis in his prime.  In fact, it was Elvis about 10 years older than he was at his death.

I know that I cannot do the scene  justice, but I will try.

So here’s the picture… you have an ample sized older Elvis in a skin tight white studded jump suit with powder blue accent in the bellbottom pleats with the top opened to his navel exposing his overly hairy chest.

To add to the persona he carried himself as though he thought he looked – gooooood!

You know what I mean… the self assured look with the confident gentle strut.

The first thing that struck me was… is this guy serious?  I honestly couldn’t tell.  What makes it interesting is that as the show progressed I concluded that – he was!

Side Note: It may sound as though I am making fun of the guy.  I don’t intend to.

I am serious when I say that I am really glad there are people like this in the world.  They make life so much more enjoyable.  What a boring world without characters like this.

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Amazingly, the fellow sang just like Elvis… off pitch most of the time and not very good.

Yes, I know… I just riled a lot of Elvis fans.  I think Elvis was an amazing entertainer and fantastic showman – just not a very good singer.

But the fellow did not have the famous “Elvis moves”.

I am not exactly sure why he didn’t wiggle very much.  Probably it was because he was too old and he would throw his hip out of joint, he wanted to keep it rated “G” because there were a few kids, or he didn’t want any of the older ladies to have a stroke.  I think all three are valid considerations.

As he sang he strolled through the room to make sure he connected with the audience.

To add that special “Elvis” touch he made sure he placed a scarf around the neck of all the ladies in the room.

The Sidekick

As everyone knows… every star needs a sidekick.

  • Butch and Sundance
  • Batman and Robin
  • Bert and Ernie
  • Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon
  • Ferris Bueller and Cameron
  • Rocky and Bulwinkle
  • Fred and Barney

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…and of course there is impersonator Elvis and the guy in the Hawaiian shirt.

He was about the same age as Elvis, on the plump side, and wore a nice (somewhat understated) Hawaiian shirt.  You could tell he was comfortable in his role.

This may sound odd, but he was cute.  He stood behind Elvis and took care of the soundtrack equipment.  But the fun thing was that he mouthed all the words to the songs as Elvis sang.

As Elvis made his way around the room the sidekick discreetly followed with several scarves folded over his arm.

After Elvis put a scarf on one of the adoring ladies in the room, he would turn toward his faithful companion, bend at the waist, and the sidekick would drape another scarf around the “King’s” neck.

It is important to note that the scarf had to be draped around the neck touching skin… not around the oversized collar of the white studded jumpsuit.

It was great fun.  There were lot’s of smiles, laughing and memories.

The Second Surprise

Uh… you will have to wait until Monday to find out.  See you then.

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19
Sep 11

Ouch… that will leave a mark!

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Hi, me again.

I just returned home from a whirlwind weekend that included a party and Elvis, yes… Elvis.  I will talk about it sometime… but not today.

For some reason I sit here waiting for something profound to wiggle its way from the depths of my being and course through my fingertips on to the blank screen.

The blank screen calls me to write something, almost demanding but not arbitrary.

A blank screen (or sheet of paper) is to be filled with something.  Something that gives it its unique identity, and more importantly, its purpose.

Until something is on the blank page it is lost in the multitude of sameness, never to stand apart or in a greater sense… be used.

So here I sit, making weird shapes appear on the blank screen.  In and of themselves the individual squiggles I make are meaningless.

It is the order of squiggles that make all the difference.  It is how we arrange these marks which determine whether these random shapes will cause us to learn, laugh, and cry; or tilt our head in ignorance.

Llvad ou odnrae veu eya

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You are valued and loved

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Same letters… different arrangement.

One page may be used to carry a message of hope, encouragement and freedom that changes the lives of the reader.  While another page is burdened with meaningless blather and is relegated to the trash pile or destined into oblivion by the simple stroke of the “delete” key.

A blank sheet can be used for noble or ignoble purposes… it depends on the motives of the creator.

In a strange sort of way, a blank page is much like we humans.  We start out kind of like a blank page free from marks and clutter.

But as we live, life makes marks on us in the same way I make marks on this blank screen.

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I have on occasion used the old fashion manual typewriters.  I press the key and it slammed into the page… leaving a mark.

Ouch!  If paper had feelings I am sure it would have hurt.  It hurts just like the life marks made on us at different times.

But there is a big difference between the blank page and the marks of our lives.

The blank sheet I am writing on for example is completely at my mercy.  It has no say in marks I make or the order of those marks.

We on the other hand do have some choices.  We cannot necessarily choose all the marks that have been slammed on our life.  But we can arrange the marks in a way that determines the outcome.

There is enough evidence to prove that different people have experienced similar life marks but have ended with totally different stories.

It all depends on how they arranged the marks.  That is the choice.

Do we allow our life marks to create their own ending or do we decide to rearrange the letters?

See you Thursday.

Ciao.


15
Sep 11

It ROCKS or It’s rocks?

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Hi, thanks for visiting.

Well, I am doing something I thought I would never do again… I am going to use another quote from Charlie Sheen.

I know, I know…. I have no excuse.

What scares me is that I have crossed the line a few times the past couple of months.  I used a quote from Tony Robbins… and now Charlie Sheen… twice.

Now to all of you Tony Robbins fans, don’t get your shorts in a wad because I am cracking on him.

Well… maybe you should… because I just don’t like him, and I still think he’s creepy.  But I do have to give him credit for a good quote.

Side Note: If you want to know what his quote was… go back a few blogs and search for it.  I’m not going to pamper your lazy… rear (I really wanted to say ass but thought I should be kind to my blog friends) by providing it for you.

If you are new, just ignore my weirdness.  It grows on you after a while.

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Now Charlie Sheen on the other hand is quite a different matter.  I am sure some of you are bothered that I am even giving him any attention.

I totally understand.  There is absolutely no question that he is the poster child for attention freaks and yes, here I am talking about him.

I get the feeling that Charlie Sheen is the Hollywood equivalent of a NASCAR race.  Everyone is sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting for the inevitable crash.

Unfortunately… he will crash.  It won’t be a pretty sight.

We have no control over the Charlie Sheens of the world.

The sad reality is, we all have Charlie Sheens in our lives.  We care about them but no amount of talking, helping or support will do any good.  They are blinded.

Hopefully when they crash some sanity will be restored.  Then maybe they will be open to the help.

Maybe a better question is, are you a Charlie Sheen?  But then again, usually Charlie’s don’t know they are Charlie’s.

Anyway, I don’t think the Charlie Sheens of the world would be caught dead reading a blog about life.

Now that I think about it, I bet I seem creepy to him.  Humm?

OK, back to the quote.  The quote that jump started my mind a whirling is something that is so foreign to my way of thinking.

“People say you have to work on your resentments. Yeah, no, I’m gonna hang onto them and they’re gonna fuel my attack.”
- Charlie Sheen

 

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Sorry, but this type of thinking is so foreign to me.  I am sure that it is more common than I would like to believe, but it is still so foreign to me.

The really interesting thing to me is, Charlie Sheen prides himself on being his own person and unwilling to be controlled.

Strangely, his quote proves himself wrong.  You see, hanging on to resentments for him, or anyone for that matter, places the power in someone else’s hands.  In essence, the other person is controlling you.

Hanging on to stuff like that is a sack of rocks that takes its toll.

I like myself too much to put that much effort into something that drags me down.

I must say… Charlie is interesting, sad but interesting.

See you Monday.


12
Sep 11

Weird or Wise?

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Hi there.  Good to see you again.

Have you ever noticed that some people are just plain weird?

As you know, I like variety.  I have written several blogs on the gift of variety in every aspect of our lives to enjoy.  This variety has been given to us completely for our pleasure.

There is variety… and then there is weird.

First let me say that I am not saying you’re weird.  Of course you’re not weird because you’re reading my blog.

As I said, anyone who reads my blog is not weird… they may need a little more excitement in their life… but not weird.

Humm… but then again… I’m not the one reading an obscure blog about a metaphorical journey.  You’re reading it… I just happen to be the one writing.

Side Note: I really have a unique way of building blog readership huh?  Here I am poking at people who read my blog.  Hopefully everyone has thick skin.

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OK, back to weird.  Did you know there are some people, for example, that have a fetish about feet.  Yep… feet… that’s weird.

I saw a TV show about people who are compelled to eat strange things like dirt or toilet paper (unused of course).  That’s weird.

I will probably get criticized for making a judgment about what’s weird or not.

What makes me the determiner of what’s weird or not?  My going to church regularly may be seen as weird to someone else (not as weird as eating dirt, but possibly weird none-the-less).

What one defines as weird can be a fun topic to verbally spar on.  And yes, weird is in the eye of the beholder.

But what about right and wrong, or Truth?  Who determines that?

I don’t know about you, but that is above my pay grade.  I can handle weird… but Truth… Right and wrong?  No.

This is where things get real dicey.  If there is no central point of Truth then anyone can determine what is right or wrong.  A society can determine what is good and bad, right and wrong, and create rules and laws accordingly.

Some might say that I am saying this because I believe in God and I am trying to impose my God on the world.

That is a logical thought or argument.  But frankly, a very strong case can be built for why atheists (or anyone) would want a society based on the belief of a God.

I say this, because if a society determines right and wrong, then it could decide that it is a good thing to imprison people who don’t believe in God as much as imprison those who do believe in God.

Without something beyond the individual, there is nothing to supersede people’s feelings or opinions.

But regardless of societal standards, the trends always start with individual decisions.

Maybe on a personal level there is something for us to explore.  If not careful, we as individuals can easily get caught up in the “everything’s relative” thinking today and begin to compromise foundational beliefs and standards.

There is something seductive about the argument that, if everyone else is doing it then it must be okay.

Or when one is faced with a questionable business opportunity and they begin to think, if I don’t take advantage of this situation someone else will do it.

One easily sees the need for Truth beyond us as individuals.  If setting standards were left up to us as humans, we would be in a heap of trouble.

Talk with you on Thursday.


9
Sep 11

Pointing Fingers

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Wow, my week is really of kilter.

My Monday blog was posted on Tuesday and my Thursday blog is posted on Friday.  It’s really weird.

Either the Labor Day holiday messed with my writing rhythm or something more sinister in nature is at play.  Maybe there is some space alien influence or something like that.  Surely it can’t be my fault.

It is amazing to me how easy it is to blame something or someone else for our actions, or lack of it.  As I reflect on our society, it is terribly sad and telling that I can’t think of anyone who has stepped up and honestly accepted the blame or responsibility for some wrong.

I cannot remember anyone of prominence or high profile position who just simply and genuinely said:

  • “I was wrong.”
  • “I have no excuse.”
  • “I accept full responsibility and the consequences for my behaviors.”

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On the other hand, it didn’t take me long to think of a multitude of high profile apologies for being caught for doing something wrong.

The apology comes from PR Spin 101.  It is basically the same formula regardless of the person or the circumstances.  First you publically apologize for the mistake.  Then you must show that you feel bad for disappointing your fans or family (a tear is always a nice touch), and then you top it off by announcing that you are going into treatment or counseling.

PR firms know that the public tends to have short memories and the people handlers have learned… “this too will pass”.

The anomaly to both scenarios is of course Charlie Sheen.  Regardless of what I think of his completely destructive, inappropriate and barbaric behavior… at least he’s not a hypocrite.

“The run I was on made Sinatra, Flynn, Jagger, Richards, all of them look like droopy-eyed armless children. “
- Charlie Sheen

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The thing about it, Charlie is not blowing smoke up our skirt trying to make us think he is nicer or better than what he is.  Strangely… on some level I respect that.

But here’s the nitty gritty of this topic.  It’s easy to focus on those who are truly masters of the craft of blame (politicians and celebrities), and forget to look at ourselves.

The proliferation of professional blamers makes it easy to blame them for our blaming.

Frankly it doesn’t matter what other people do.  It matters what I do.

When we blame, we give away our power.

- Greg Anderson

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This quote is amazingly true.  We relinquish self when we blame.  We abdicate our personal power when we say something was out of our control when it was not.

In essence, we think that in blaming we are saving face.  When in reality we are showing our true face.

Where do you have a tendency to blame?

Who’s the easy target for you?

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The search for someone to blame is always successful.

- Robert Half
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Now that I have talked about blame, I guess I need to fess up as to why I didn’t get Thursday’s blog posted until today.

No, to my chagrin there was no space alien influence.  Frankly, I just didn’t feel like writing.  My brain was flatter than usual yesterday.

See you Monday.


6
Sep 11

The clue phone is ringing.

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Wow, I fell off the face of the earth yesterday.

I guess the Labor Day holiday messed with my head or something.  It was mid-afternoon before I connected the dots that it was a MONDAY.

So … I apologize for the one day delay of posting the blog… my bad.

Last Thursday I talked about people who try to be something they are not.  If you didn’t get a chance to read Thursday’s blog all you have to do is scroll down and look at the two cowboy pictures and you will see immediately what I am talking about.

I mentioned that it is natural for people to want to try new things to see if they like something or maybe discover a hidden talent.

Here’s the tricky part.

How does one discover without becoming delusional?  It is a balance of both risk and reality.

To grow, advance, or accomplish something great one has to fearlessly press forward against the odds.  We must take big risks.

There has to be belief, strength and tenaciousness that comes from the depths to withstand the pressure one feels to conform to limits we feel or the limits that other people place on you.

I read an interesting article about the best selling author, Kathryn Stockett who wrote The Help.

Her manuscript of The Help was turned down sixty times (yes, six – zero).

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In the article it said:

“… I opened my 40th rejection: “There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.” That one finally made me cry.

“That was a hard weekend. I spent it in pajamas, slothing around that racetrack of self-pity—you know the one, from sofa to chair to bed to refrigerator, starting over again on the sofa. But I couldn’t let go of The Help. Call it tenacity, call it resolve or call it what my husband calls it: stubbornness.”

She went on to say…

“The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good.”

- Excerpt from MORE (web magazine – www.more.com)

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Let’s be really honest for a moment.  Most people aren’t like Kathryn Stockett.  She was someone who knew in her inner core that the book was good and she needed to press on.

Unfortunately most people fall into two less desirable camps.

First there are those people who stop when they should keep pressing on… they need a big dose of RISK.

And secondly there are some who keep going on when they should stop… they need a big dose of REALITY.

As most of you know, I have worked hard to encourage people to step out, take a risk and press on.

But there is the other side of the coin.  There are some people who need to answer the “clue phone”.  Some people need to stop and get a reality check.

I can see most of you cringe when you read the last statement.  Me too.  But, what I said is true.

Side Note: My wife says I get negative from this point on.  So… heads up.

What’s sad is that some people are drowning in their delusion and need someone to help channel their energy in another direction.

Unfortunately I see more and more people like this.  I think part of the reason is that our society wants to protect children from reality so much that artificial success is created.

I understand the sentiment but kids are robbed of the sweet taste of accomplishment that only comes through struggle, tenacity and hard work.

The “Clue Phone” rings and they never answer.

They live in a delusion that keeps them oblivious to a reality that is so obvious to everyone else – a cardboard cowboy.  (Hey, my wife warned you.)

So how does a person learn what is real?  A person has to be open enough to listen, honest enough to look at the circumstances, and clearly discern what’s really possible.

I am not trying to be negative or discourage anyone.  What I do want to do is to help us look reality in the face and discern what’s possible.

You see, I would rather expend energy on where I can go and what I can do vs. run endlessly on a moving sidewalk to nowhere.

I’m sure I have some who disagree.  Let me know what you think.

See you Thursday.


1
Sep 11

Cowboy or Cowboy?

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Howdy Partner.

I guess I am in a cowboy mood or something.  The greeting just popped out.  What’s really weird is that this cowboy thing had nothing to do with what I was planning to write about today.

What I can say is this, having a loose creative mind can be pretty entertaining if I say so myself.  I never know what is going bounce around in my brain.  It’s a blend of adventure and frustration.

Sometimes it’s tough getting all those undisciplined ideas corralled (uh… sorry for the amateurish cowboy reference… but then again I’m the new bull in the herd to this writing thing… ok… enough).

As I said, I was going to talk about something totally different but my head took off in another direction.  So I had to go back and change the title and pictures.

Side Note: The real cowboy picture is one that I took while on vacation.  The fellow in the picture was to the core… cowboy.  He was quiet, had a strong presence, comfortable in his natural character, and reluctant to have a picture made.

It was a great experience for my wife and I.

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There is a phrase in Texas that sums up the difference between the two pictures.

All hat and no cattle.

Have you ever seen someone trying to be something they’re not?

There is a sad strange dynamic of obvious and oblivious at play.  To the observer it’s obvious, but to the want-to-be they are oblivious.

The really sad and scary thing is that all of us have been on both sides of the equation at some point in our life.

For the most part I think a lot of trying to be something you’re not is natural.  A person sees something that stirs, inspires or quite frankly simply appeals to them and they take steps to pursue the vision.

That’s not a bad thing at all.  It is these times of exploration where we discover who we are, what we like, and what we want.

Those of you who have been reading a while know that this exploration thing is really important to me.  You cannot have discovery without exploration.

But what is bad, is when a person ends up playing the role and never really finding themselves.  Their identity is a cardboard image… no depth, no reality.

From a distance the casual observer may not see the façade.  But as one gets closer the all hat and no cattle becomes obvious.

Unfortunately, to the cardboard cowboy,

they are oblivious to the reality that everyone sees.

So how do we find out who we are by exploring, but not get trapped in a lie?

We do it with a balance of risk and reality.

I will talk about that on Monday.

Evenin’ cowboy.