WHY THE WORLD SHOULD BE A SPRING SHOWCASE

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Tonight I went to an elementary school spring performance. In addition to singing contemporary favorites such as Uptown Funk, the children from k-4 to third grade also performed some of my favorite classics like Brown bear, Brown bear.

Two things jumped out at me during this show. First, I had all but forgotten that I had attended this very school. Although when I was there it was grades seven and eight, the look had remained virtually unchanged.

The second thing I noticed was the talent of the children. It was amazing. I found myself dancing in my seat. Well, at least as much as I am want to do. Another thing I noticed was that I was in a very good mood. That made me take a break from my legendary chair dancing to sit up and take notice. Every time that I find myself in an extreme of emotion, be it good or bad, positive or negative, I stop and notice what has lead me to that point.

In this case it was a very good mood I found myself in. Was it being back in a place I had been so long ago? Not quite. Days weren’t always rosy in middle school. As we approached the door I pointed out to my lovely lady, Margie, an area where I had indulged in a rather intense physical interaction with another fellow student. “You were in a fight?” she asked incredulously. Anyone who knows me will understand seeing me engage in a physical altercation is a stretch these days. Even though back then it may have not been.

Ruling out the power of nostalgia, I moved on. Being that I was rather sleep deprived, I decided just to relax and really be present for the show. Then somewhere between The hungry caterpillar and I Bought Me a cat, it occurred to me. It was the show itself that was inspiring me. Not just the positive and light-hearted lyrics, but the scene itself. Children were putting their hearts and souls into their performances. They were doing this out of nothing but personal pride and the desire to make their parents proud of them. The parents also made me proud. As children can so often do, when they are supposed to hold up a picture of a bowl of soup during a song, it winds up being in a position that would leave more soup in your lap than in your stomach. Despite this, the parents glowed with pride and cheered for not only their child, but each and every child. They did so knowing the reasons the children were doing it were pure and innocent.

There was a bonus item of joy I noticed it not only filled my heart with a personal sense of joy, but made me proud of the parents and even more so, the students. In each group there were several children who seemed to suffer from some form of challenge mentally. Not only were they allowed to join the other students in the production, which made me proud of the job the teachers did, but as they were often wandering all over the stage involved in what seemed to be their own little show, the students not only remained focused, but often encouraged and embraced these children so different from themselves.

I began to wonder why the world itself is not more like this ‘Spring Showcase’. Imagine if we all worked with a heart filled with joy and a desire to make those closest to us proud of the job we did? What if we encouraged everyone who worked hard, doing the best they could, even if it didn’t turn out perfect and they did hold up the picture of a cupcake instead of string beans. What if we accepted those around us that were different and even invited them to be a part of our world while living the way they were created to? This was an example of the way the world should be. The greater question is how do we carry this behavior into the adult world?

GIVE THEM A VOICE

Lately there has been a lot of attention to those who feel they have been suppressed or treated unfairly. With the #Metoo movement, protests of a political nature people are demanding equal treatment and pay for all. Personally, I am ok with this. It is my firm belief that regardless of what faith, political party, what the color of your skin is or whether you are a man or a woman you should be treated with equal dignity and respect.

I write this post not for any of the afore mentioned groups. This post is about those who cannot create a crafty hashtag slogan. They cannot come together to peacefully protest. They are not even allowed to vote and more often than not are too afraid to even speak up for themselves. Children. April is Child Abuse Prevention month. It is a cause I really wish to bring to light. Children are often not able to bring to light what is going on in their lives for fear of being punished for it. Sometimes the abuse comes from those very people who are supposed to be the ones protecting them.

The repercussions of child abuse can not only last, but continue to grow well into adulthood. I would implore you to take time to help protect a child so in the future we have less adults to heal. Child abuse can be hard to address and even harder to detect. I encourage us all to spend even a small amount of time this month educating ourselves on child abuse. There are plenty of resources available. Websites such as preventchildabuse.org and childhelp.org. There is also the national child abuse hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) On these sites there is plenty of information and additional resources.

There are also plenty of groups you could either donate to or become involved in. One of my favorites is Guardians of the Children(GOC) The mission of this group is to help educate on child abuse as well as assist the victims of child abuse and their families in crisis by providing strength and stability in a variety of different ways. I encourage you to consider joining or donating to their group. You can learn more about them and how you can help at their website http://www.guardiansofthechildren.com

This is only merely scratching the surface of what we can do. Look for local groups in your area to help, or even just Google ‘child abuse prevention’ to learn more. We may overlook a group that cannot post on social media or run to the news. It is for this very reason I encourage every one of us to help. By helping a child and giving them hope you will also be helping them become a successful and healed adult. Please do your part not only this month, but all year long.

GREAT PEOPLE DOING GREAT THINGS

We interrupt our usual material to bring to your attention a great opportunity to help impoverished children in both India and the U.S.

My amazing friends Sonny and his wife Ami are taking part in an event to raise money for children needing help in both Atlanta, where they live as well as India. I encourage you to click the link below to help them out as well as sharing this article to reach more people who can help. My heartfelt thanks in advance.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE AND TO DONATE

A GREAT LESSON

Yes, you are about to witness another post involving the Wisconsin State Fair. It is my favorite place after all. Even while ‘on vacation’ I still notice things that we can all gain motivation from. Take the example in the two pictures above.

I found this display behind one of the barns housing animals. It was a place where the people exhibiting their animals could thank those people who helped them on their journey to the fair! A lot of the signs you could tell were composed by young people. What a great lesson to teach these children? Instead of focusing on whether or not your pig or cow came in first, to appreciate all the work that went into just getting there. To remind them of the sacrifice of a lot of people made so their chance was possible.

Not all parents reading this have children in 4H or FFA, but in any case it is a good lesson to impart. Starting children out in the practice of gratitude early not only helps the parents have a more grateful child, but as the child grows into an adult it will help them to remain focused on what they have instead of focusing on what they lack.

What a great gift to give to a child, a tool to help them remain positive even in tough times. There is nothing, in my opinion, that can transform a life for the better than fostering an attitude of gratitude.

What if you don’t have any children or what if they are grown adults? The same holds true for friends and coworkers. Helping anyone become more grateful will make their life so much better. It will increase joy and decrease stress. A regular reminder of what we all are grateful for will help us all. What a great conversation to have as well. I would much rather listen to someone telling me what they are thankful for rather than listening to them complain. Let us all work together to help each other become grateful.

PUT YOUR MASK ON FIRST

This is a picture of me on the flight to Las Vegas this past December. I took my lady there for her birthday. Even on vacation my mind looks for ideas for improving the quality of my life that I can share with others, including you who are reading this at the moment. 

Here is the idea that came to me in this particular situation. If you have ever been on an airplane you have received the safety talk. This consists of direction on complicated matters such as how to fasten a seat belt, or notice where a sign that says ‘exit’ is located. I have heard this educational talk many times and can almost give it myself.

 One of the last things they talk about is what to do in the event of a ‘water landing’ which sounds very much like crash to me. In discussing how to put on the oxygen mask that will fall from the ceiling they make it very clear “you must put your mask on before attempting to place one a child.” 

This addressed an issue that can sometimes be difficult for a lot of people, including myself. Those who really care about the well-being of others can often do so to the detriment of themselves. When we do not take care of ourselves we end up not having as much, or being able to give our best to others. I use the analogy of trying to fill a glass from an empty pitcher, just doesn’t work. The reason they tell you to put your mask on before attending to children is that you can only help them if you are alive to do so. 

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it serves a point. Always remember to take care of yourself. Only by being your best, can you give your best to others. 
If you will excuse me that picture inspired me to take care of myself by getting some rest. 

CHANGE A CHILD’S LIFE!

Working in the tavern industry becomes less and less of an appeal to me with what at sometimes seems to be a daily pace. One of the great things about working in this industry though is on occasion you meet really amazing people. Some of them have been featured in my past blogs. Yesterday’s in fact! If you wish to read that one you can check it out here IT WORKS! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Today I wish to discuss another amazing individual my lovely lady and I have the pleasure of seeing as we do our shows. His name is Jerry Musolf, but he goes by Sonny. He is a really great friend by all standards. Friendly, helpful, always willing to lend a hand or a smile whichever is needed. Sonny also rides a motorcycle when the weather in this state allows. As such, you will often see him wearing a vest with patches of different sorts on it. One such patch on his vest looks like the one above. During one show Sonny had asked me to read a fundraiser announcement for a charity he belongs to. Always happy to help people doing good I did. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another friend of ours was wearing a sweatshirt from the same organization. That prompted me to inquire as to the what the group was all about. I was told to ask Sonny for all the details. What he shared with me is what I am about to share with you.

What influence I have in the world as an author, speaker and the use of this website I try to use for good. One of the causes that always is near and dear to my heart is children. They are innocent victims and often there is not enough support when they need it. If you read my post earlier this month about doing the Warrior Dash to help St. Jude children’s hospital that offers care to sick children and their families.

Another area where children suffer, and often alone is child abuse. Especially if the person doing the abusing is a family member or an adult the child trusts. In addition to the terrible physical aspects of child abuse the emotional and psychological effects can be just as or even worse and last a lifetime. What children need is a sense to feel safe. They need a group of adults they can trust.

This is where Guardians of the Children come in. Let me begin by sharing their mission statement with you. “The mission of Guardians of the Children (GOC) is to recognize and react to child abuse and educate the public to do the same; to serve as advocates to provide strength and stability to families in crisis; and be the answer to the prayer of an abused child or teen for courage, support and protection.” That all sounds good, but what does it actually translate to?

I am going to share both items available in the group’s literature as well as personal stories Sonny has told me. The group partners with other child abuse agencies to raise awareness of the prevalence of child abuse. The use donations they receive for birthdays, basic needs such as clothing and hygiene supplies, literature to promote child abuse awareness as well as activities for the kids. The strive to give these children the same opportunities that your own children have, a normal life and a family that loves and cares for their needs.

The last line is what really impresses me. This group often becomes the family these children so desperately need. The go to court with the children so they are less afraid. They often supply the children with a teddy bear (one that has been hugged by all the members of the group) to hold when they are alone and feeling scared. Each child also receives their own little vest with a patch that says “Little guardian”. The group also provides safe and fun activities for these children such as Easter egg hunts, fishing trips, roller skating and so much more.

In a world where there are far too many innocent child victims it does my soul good to know that such a group exists. On a personal note, I am proud to be the friend of a gentleman who is part of such a community. Below I will share both the national 24-hour child abuse hotline as well as links to both the national and local chapters of this amazing group. It is my sincere desire and hope that many of you will not only share this post, but chose to become a part of this group either through joining or donating. Together we can make this a better world for all of the children

24-hour child abuse hotline 1-800-252-5400

local chapter of Guardians of the Children

Guardians of the children Hawg city chapter

National website for Guardians of the Children

WHAT I GAINED BY BEING A WARRIOR 

Recently I completed the warrior dash race.  (That’s me in the middle, Siraya to the right and Deanna to the left) The warrior dash is a 3.2 mile run that is filled with 12 obstacles including, but not limited to, swimming across a small lake, running through fire and climbing through the mud under barbed wire. If you notice our fabulous appearance that is the result.

So why, on a perfectly fine spring day, would three normally fairly sane people do such a thing? The reasons vary and the best I can do is to give you some of mine.

When I first heard of the Warrior dash it hinted at adventure. The kind one cannot find by simply strolling through the park on a sunny day. The inner child in me was jumping up and down raising both hands screaming “pick me! Pick me!” It was that same voice that got me scolded for coming in with muddy and ripped clothes from some ill-planned adventure. As an adult there are very few opportunities to pursue such experiences. Although if my mother saw me I am sure she would not be happy about my clothes. So, allowing the adventure craving inner child to have some fun was one reason to do this.

Then there was the test of physical endurance. In our typical 9 to 5 world there exists very few opportunities to use the body for what it was designed for, and that is to move and utilize our muscles. Being able to see where I stand as a 41 year old man certainly was it’s own adventure. To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with how my body reacted.

Knowing I was about to test my physical stamina brought us to the next reason for signing up for this adventure. When the day finally came I wanted to not be disappointed in myself for the way I performed. Keeping this in mind got my sleepy butt out of my warm bed and to the gym on more cold days than not. When I felt like I could not do one more rep or run one more step I thought about looking old and out of shape on the course and managed to push on. Knowing if I skipped a day at the gym that would be one less chance to prepare that I could never get back. Having this end goal in mind helped motivate me on a daily basis.

Another important reason for me doing this is to be a good example. Telling folks they can chase a goal and achieve it is one thing. Doing the same yourself and setting the example is quite another. I employed many of the tools I teach on this very sight to stay focused and motivated. ‘Walking the walk’ in my opinion, is part of being a true warrior.

All of the above reasons were very good and did keep me motivated to continue, but all of these reasons combined were not as powerful as this last one. All the proceeds of this test of endurance benefit St. Jude children’s hospital. Knowing there are so many children born without the basic abilities you and I take for granted made me put my heart into doing this. Knowing all the funds from myself and all my fellow warriors would benefit children and their families facing challenges I can barely appreciate made me feel like a winner before I even began. One finds it very difficult to complain when running through ankle deep mud, when you know it benefits children who may not even have legs to walk on. Using our strength, our endurance and of course our entrance fee to benefit these disadvantaged children and their families that share the struggle with them is what made me truly feel like a warrior.

Each step tested our mental, emotional and physical endurance, but knowing each step helped children and their families pushed us further than we could normally go. In this spirit, everyone we met on the course was so friendly and so helpful. To see such a large group of people pushing themselves so hard for such a great cause gives a warmth and fire to the heart. With that thought in mind I tip my fuzzy hat with horns on it to not only my two fellow warriors who stuck with me the whole way, but to each and every warrior who fought their own physical limits to help children who face far to many. Next year will I not only do this again, but I plan on raising even more money for St. Jude. I hope to see even more of you on the course!