WOODY WAS RIGHT

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming more interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.”

Dale Carnegie, writer and lecturer

I’m from Columbus, Ohio. It’s a town that seems to eat, breath, and sleep Ohio State Buckeye Football. Woody Hayes was head coach for the team from 1951 to 1978. He died in 1987. Other people have assumed leadership of the team, but for many fans, Woody is still the man in charge.

In a 28 year career at Ohio State, Woody created a long list of accomplishments. He won five national titles, 13 Big Ten championships and led the Buckeyes to 11 bowl games. Under his command, the team played in the Rose Bowl eight times. Four of his teams went undefeated and another five lost only once. He was twice honored, “Coach of the Year.”

Woody also rolled up a big score when it came to counting fans. For 21 out of the 28 years he was in charge, the school lead the nation in-game attendance. For the other seven, they ran a close second. He had a passion for military history and when he wasn’t coaching players on the field, he was helping them in the classroom. The graduation rate of his athletes was as important to him as winning a game.

His personal creed was also the title of a book he wrote, You Win With People.

His talent on the playing field made him famous. His love for people made him a legend. Bringing with him as many players as possible, he spent countless hours visiting children in the hospital and helping the handicapped. He made several trips to Vietnam. When he found a soldier from Ohio, he would connect with their family upon his return home. Business people and politicians sought his endorsement. They still do. The Ohio State University Trademark and Licensing Service is frequently asked for permission to use his image or name on products such as T-shirts, ball caps, mugs, plates, puzzles, and pictures.

Woody was right. You win with people. Just ask Matt Berlin. He was in a bowling alley and on his way to rolling a perfect game. As he prepared to roll the 12th and final ball required to accomplish his goal, there was a power failure. The alley went black. Fifty minutes later the lights were still out. Matt recruited a half-dozen of his friends, provided them with flashlights and carefully positioned them along the alley. The ball left his hand, the lights swung and the pins toppled. A perfect game.

James Thurber wrote, “There are two kinds of light – the glow that illumines, and the glare that obscures.”

Which one are you?

You win with people – if we take turns holding the light for each other than we all win.

 

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LESSON FROM THE DUKE

“Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”

 John Wayne, actor

 

Once upon a time The Ohio State Football team had a mammoth player called, The Pancake.” he was given that title because everything that got in his way ended up, you guessed it, “Flat as a pancake.”

Since time began, all great philosophers have come to the same conclusion, “No matter how flat you make a pancake, it still has two sides.”

Those great philosophers also agree it doesn’t matter how tall you are, how much money you have in the bank, who your friends are, where you went to school, or what kind of car you drive –  without a trace of discrimination, life will pull your name out of the hat and squash you and your dreams – “Flat as a pancake.” It’s part of the trade-off for life on this planet.

Your “Pancake Experience” may come in the form of an accident, illness, financial setback, broken relationship, drug addiction or war. It could be all the above or a whole lot more. The point is, it will happen. When it does, remember those great philosophers, “A pancake always has two sides.”

You can flip it to whichever side you choose. The spatula is in your hand. You can make the experience work for you. It can make you smarter and stronger. Your other choice is to let that same experience make you bitter, angry, and even flatter.

Enter John Wayne known as “The Duke.” With the magic of video, he rides on. Forty years after his death, you’ll still find his name on the list of favorite actors. He was tough. His image is often the yardstick used to measure manhood. On my first day of boot camp in the Marines, the platoon lined up to meet our drill instructors.

“How many John Waynes do we have here?” Gunnery Sergeant Newman wanted to know. “We want more John Waynes not Gomer Pyles.”

The Searchers is one of favorite films staring John Wayne. In one scene, “The Duke” offers some sage advice. His family has been killed by Indians. At the funeral, the preacher drones on and on. John Wayne, ready to go after the Indians, interrupts the service with these immortal words, “Put an amen to it.”

Then he rides off to fight the good fight. That’s the lesson. “Put an amen to it.” “Amen to what?” you say.

Remember that pancake experience. You’re hurt. You’re lonely. You’re sick. You’re tired. You’re broken. That’s okay. Be those things. Grief is important. Don’t deny it. That side of the pancake has to cook too. Would you sit down to a breakfast of pancakes that had only been cooked on one side? My guess is no.

There is a time to cry. There is also a time to flip the pancake. “Put an amen to the hurt.”

Life is waiting. Saddle up your horse. Fight the good fight.

 

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FIND IT AND USE IT

“If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.”

 Billy Joel, musician

 

Guess who I car pooled with this week?

Waylon Jennings.

Yes, I know he passed away in 2002.

By way of “Books on Tape” Waylon told me his life story.

I heard about his friendship with the legendary rock and roller, Buddy Holly. I heard about his problems with drugs and the dark days in Nashville when he was searching for acceptance. I heard about the poverty of his early years and of love lost and love found. He also told me about the cotton fields of Littlefield, Texas.

His whole family had to pull cotton. The work started at four in the morning. It was hot. It was dirty.

It was three-quarters of a mile down the row to get a drink of water. Hunched over, gnats in his eyes, dodging snakes, back aching – he hated it. But it was in that cotton field that Waylon Jennings’s star began to rise.

“You know there is nothing I’ve ever heard in my life as mournful as the whistle of an old freight train in the distance when you’re kneeling down in a field. It sounds like death.

Now I’d be in the cotton patch, dragging a 12 foot sack about half full, kicking dirt clods in there to make it weigh more and I’d hear that lonesome old howl. It goes right through you. I was sure that train was on its way to somewhere and I wasn’t on it. I knew there was a better way somewhere. I didn’t know where, but all I had to do was go looking for it. The last time I was pulling cotton, I was 16. I said, ‘I didn’t plant this shit and I ain’t gonna pull it up no more.’ And I quit. I left that sack right in that field. It may be there to this day as far as I know.”  – Waylon Jennings (Time-Warner Audio 1998)

Did success come to Waylon Jennings the same day he left the cotton field?

No, and not the next day either. Leaving that bag lying in the field and walking away was only the beginning. He worked a lot of jobs. He made mistakes. He moved on. He followed his dream. It was not an easy road but he knew it was the right road. In time, his records found their way to the top of the charts. He was a success. He was a star. He was a country music legend.

If you’re happy pulling cotton, shining shoes, or making doughnuts – by all means keep at it.

If you feel there is something else, the world is waiting. Better throw down that cotton sack and get at it.

Listen to your heart.

Find that gift.

Use It.

 

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A REALLY BIG SHOW

“Patience is bitter, but it’s fruit is sweet.”

Aristotle, philosopher

 

Twenty-two years after graduation, at age 40, I was just about ready to give up on the idea of being in a high school play, but as the great Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, never give up!”

The dream lived on.

When my daughter was cast in her school’s production of Bye Bye Birdie, I remarked to some of her friends that I’d like to play the part of Ed Sullivan. After all, I’d been preparing for the role most of my life.

I grew up watching Ed Sullivan. If you were looking for me on Sunday night, chances are pretty good you would find me in front of the television watching his show. Dancers, puppets, bears, dogs, jugglers, comics, actors, singers, and sports heroes; Ed Sullivan had them all. Any performer knew they had made it if they landed a guest appearance on his show.

What was the secret of his appeal?

Most folks say he made it look like anyone could do his job.

He often made mistakes, fumbled names and tripped over announcements. He was a happy man, but had a stiff cardboard appearance that made him look like he was wearing his jacket with the coat hanger still inside. He was an entertainer everyone could enjoy and his show was safe for the whole family. A lot of people made an attempt at imitating him. Some professionals even made a living at it, I got pretty good at being Ed Sullivan.

“Now right here on our stage…a really big shoe! (show always sounded like shoe when Ed said it.)

The Upper Arlington high school production of Bye Bye Birdie went into rehearsal without me. I went back to minding my own business and occasionally acted like Ed for my own amusement.

As a wise man said long ago, “Be careful what you ask for. You might get it.”

I wouldn’t say they were desperate, but opening night was only a week away and they still hadn’t cast the role of Ed Sullivan. The kids didn’t forget me. They told the director about my aspiration. A short time later, opportunity dialed my phone number and I was on my way. The play called for Ed to deliver a few short lines of introduction. This would take place off stage, while some scenery was moved. In other words, the audience would never see Ed, only hear him.

The director recited over the phone what lines were required and I copied them down. Next, I moved into the recording studio. To the average pair of eyes, it may have looked like a cheap recorder in a bathroom, but to me, it was Broadway. After a couple of rehearsals, I cued the record button. A couple of nights later, by way of tape recorder, I was performing in the play.

Now let me borrow a line from Robert Schuller: “God’s delays are not God’s denials.”

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HOLY COW, BE PATIENT

“Adopt the pace of nature her secret is patience.”

 Ralph Waldo Emerson, writer

“May I have your attention.

Quiet, please.

Okay, how many of you ever drank a glass of milk?

Raise your hand.

Let’s see, one…two…three…37…38…39…103…104…105.

Great, almost everyone!

You can put your hands down now. Thank you.

Several years ago a good friend of mine told me about a painting she gave to a young couple as a wedding gift. The picture was of a cow grazing. Underneath the picture was the caption; “Patience, the grass will become milk someday.”

According to the book, American Averages, by Mike Feinsilber and William B. Mead, “On an average day in America, 10,930,000 cows are milked.” So let’s talk about patience and that glass of moo juice you drank today.

Do you see that cow over there eating grass? It’s a dairy cow and she eats about 50 pounds of food and drinks 15 gallons of water a day. Cows are able to make milk when they are two years old and have given birth to a calf. After the babies are taken away, humans make use of the plentiful supply of milk.

I think you’ll find this next bit of information “udderly” fascinating. The food eaten by a dairy cow is tough and coarse. It’s hard to digest. The cow has a special stomach to deal with this problem. In fact her stomach has four parts.

MOO!

When the cow eats, she chews just enough to swallow her food. The food goes to the first two stomachs, which are called the rumen and the reticulum. When the cow is full, she’s ready for a rest.

When break time is over the cow coughs up balls of food called cud. The cow chews the cud thoroughly and then swallows it again. On this trip, the food goes to the third and fourth stomachs, which are called the omasum and the abomasum. This is where it is finally digested. Some of the food goes into the cow’s bloodstream, then enters the udder where the milk is made.

MOO-VING right along.

When the udder is full, it’s time to milk the cow. This is done by hand or by machine twice a day.

The average cow makes five gallons of milk a day.

Next stop is the dairy where the milk is tested, pasteurized, homogenized, packaged, and made ready for shipment to stores. Don’t forget to pick up a gallon on your way home tonight.

Take a tip from the cow. When cooking up success, notice the recipe calls for plenty of patience sifted through set backs, disappointments and heartaches.

The Bible put it this way: “And let us not be weary in well-doing for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

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WRITE ON

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”

Natalie Goldberg, author – Writing Down The Bones

Summer, 2016

Lights! Camera! Action!

Hollywood was looking for me. (Sorta kinda maybe)

A group of prison inmates were learning to write screenplays.

The fire behind this project was a lady named Chinonye Chukwu and her classroom was The Dayton Correctional Institution.

A casting call went out for five films that were to be produced. One film called for someone to act in a short scene as a homeless man. Age 65, sporting long gray hair and a beard, I won the role. The next part of my Tinseltown adventure was to meet the ladies who were bringing their stories to the screen.

Five students spent eight weeks learning the craft of screenwriting. They were teamed up with media students, technicians, actors, and other professionals from Ohio and neighboring states. Because of their confinement, they were only able to share their ideas and give direction from inside the prison walls. When the scripts were ready, shooting the films began in different locations around the state with a proxy director.

The subject matter for the films are rooted in the personal stories of the inmates. The film showcasing my acting skills is called FOR THEY KNOW NOT.  It is about a young woman battling heroin addiction. She seeks help but bumps up against a bureaucratic wall. She lives under a bridge and that’s where she encounters a homeless man who offers to share a meal with her.

The other films:

BANG

With no employment and two starving children, a mom is pushed to her breaking point

LOVE OR LOYALTY

On her last day in prison, a woman’s bond with her cellmate is put to the ultimate test

THE DEVASTATING GAME

After years of repeated abuse by her brother, a sister makes the most difficult decision of her life

           TRANS – PARENT      

A young girl’s search for her mother leads to life altering consequences.    

I’ve been to a truckload of church services. But I have never heard testimonials more powerful than those from the women in the screenwriting class. Yes, they had made mistakes. And like me, they have learned to believe in a God of second chances.

The writing program is called PENS TO PICTURES. 

Their mission: Create a platform for the voices of incarcerated women and to champion prison reform.

Along the way the women writing these screenplays are learning new skills and local artists are given an opportunity to hone their craft.

And you’re invited to be part of this important work. Please visit their website www.penstopictures.org and see how your gifts and talents can help this important project.

Everyone wins!

“It would be great if people see the humanity in us and know that everyone has a story.”

Jamie, an inmate and writer/director of TRANSPARENT

“It doesn’t matter where you come from,

All that matters is where you’re going.”

Brian Tracy, author

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POBODY’S NERFECT?

“Value the correction, not the mistake.”

Dr. Haim Ginott, psychologist

Imagine that you’ve been awarded a day long ride in a time machine. You may travel to any destination and attend any event in history. When you arrive, you will not get hurt. You will not get shot at in a war or go down with the ship. Your trip in the time machine will provide you with a safe ringside seat to history in the making. You are guaranteed return to the present in the same condition you left in.

Sound exciting?

While you’re thinking about this opportunity, let me tell you about some the places I would go.

Number one on the list is Jesus. I’ve got a bunch of questions for him. I try to live day by day from lessons based on the events of his life. How incredible it would be to be there.

Next, over fifty years after her death, Eleanor Roosevelt continues to appear on the list of most admired women. An advocate for human rights, devoted to many social causes, she and I share a birthday – October 11th. Other women I would like to shadow for a day include Helen Keller, Erma Bombeck and my Grandma Snider when she was a little girl.

For the serious business of being funny, I would like to appear in a movie with Laurel and Hardy.

After I’ve worked with them, I’ll climb back in the time machine, move ahead a few years to team up with Abbott and Costello for more fun. For a “Shoot ’em up at Dry Gulch Creek” kinda movie –  I would like to work with John Wayne.

“Let’s get those wagons in a circle, pilgrims.”

I’m fascinated with Davy Crockett at the Alamo and George Custer at The Little Big Horn. And I wonder how it would be to chum with Generals Grant, Sherman, and Lee during The Civil War.

Science and technology have created pretty incredible gadgets and gizmos. But I think the chances are slim to none they will create a time machine that can take us back to the events and people I’m talking about. My fantasy will have to remain a fantasy. Even so, you and I own a different kind of time machine.

It is located in a little corner of our brain. All the “Woulda – Coulda – Shouldas and If Onlys are stored there. We can think about them as often as we like, visit our screw up and mistakes, wear out a pair of shoes kicking ourselves in the pants, but it changes nothing.

Forgive yourself.

Get happy.

Move on.

 

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