“Man – despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication,  and many accomplishments – owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.”


I admire people who seem to come out of their Mother’s womb knowing what they want to do with their life. Then they set about to make it happen. They become a nurse, guitar player, plumber or baker – whatever the case may be. It didn’t happen for me that way but in the early 1960s I managed to scratch one possibility off the list.

After two Summers of bailing hay for a dollar twenty-five an hour and vacation on the farm belonging to Aunt Mary and Uncle Ralph, I was more than certain my future vocation would not include sitting behind the steering wheel of a tractor. My father grew up on a farm but for whatever reason, I did not inherit the backbone for plowing the fields, gathering the eggs and milking the cows.

I’m afraid my interest in farming is limited to watching reruns of the television comedy Green Acres.

However, the folks who work in agriculture have my highest respect and gratitude. I am a big fan of food! Eating well and eating often is always at the top of my “To Do” list. And there is plenty of wisdom to be gleaned from the barnyard – virtues like optimism.

Two farmers were talking early one morning.

“How did you do in the storm last night?”

“The good news is I lost my hen house and all my chickens.”

“How can that be good news?”

“Before the wind quit blowing, I had three new cows and a pick up truck.”

“The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.”

Will Rogers, humorist

“I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward.

 I’m not one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow.”

Gordon Ramsay, chef and food critic

“Like sheep that get lost nibbling away at the grass because they never look up,

we often focus so much on ourselves and our problems that we get lost.”

Allen Klein, author


“Never try to teach a pig to sing.

You waste your time and you annoy the pig.”

Robert A. Heinlein, author


“No philosophers so thoroughly comprehend us as dogs and horses.”

Herman Melville, author


“This morning do something different: when you wake up in the morning,

wake your forgotten and forsaken dreams as well,

wake them up like an insisting rooster.”

Mehmet Murat Ildan, author


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of their soul remains unawakened.”

Anatole France, poet


“I dream of a better tomorrow where chickens can cross the road

 without having their motives questioned.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist

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“When tillage begins, other arts follow.

 The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.”

Daniel Webster, statesman

“Know farmers, Know Food

No farmers, No Food.”

Bumper Sticker


“My religion is very simple.

My religion is kindness.”

Dalai Lama


Not long ago I was waiting for a traffic light to change when I noticed the bumper sticker on the car ahead of me. It read, “WAG MORE, BARK LESS.” The advice was worth, at the very least, a grin. But now that I think about it, what we’re really talking about here is a profound bit of wisdom as old as time.

Let me show you what I mean. Hand me that bible. Thank you. Here in the book of Proverbs, we’re told, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

Once upon a time my daughter was a student at The Columbus College Of Art And Design. At one of the galleries I noticed a large poster that had printed in very large letters, “IF YOU WANT TO GET SOMEONE’S ATTENTION, whisper.” That’s right, big letters and big words all except whisper.

This was a clever paraphrase of that passage I showed you from the Bible.

I will admit that there may be times when barking is appropriate. When I took my physical exam way back in the day to enter the Marines, I had a hearing problem in my left ear. After consulting a guidebook and a short conference, doctors decided I was good to go. After all, hearing what the drill Instructors had to say shouldn’t be a problem. They tend to yell a lot at boot camp.

Not many human beings that I know actually have a tale they can wag. However, most people do have a mouth and can easily shape it into a smile. Let that be your wag. Instead of getting loud and crazy about the vicissitudes of life, smile. And, as a wise man once said, “If you see someone without a smile, then give them one of yours.” And who in their right mind is going to argue with Mother Teresa who said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

Instead of barking, another option is laughter. Hand me that Bible one more time, please and thank you. This time the book of Proverbs tells us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” So don’t be afraid to share a good joke with your friends. And even if you end up being the only one laughing at your joke, you’ve still made at least one person happy.

Okay, we’ve been talking about wagging our tail and being kind to all the folks we share the path with. Now we need to talk about being kind to the person looking back at us when we peer into the mirror. I like what fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg had to say on the subject, “You’re always with yourself, so you might as well enjoy the company.”

Be kind to yourself. Bark less at your mistakes today and wag your way to a better day tomorrow.

Dog Tale

“Outside of a dog, man’s best friend is a book,

Inside of a dog its too dark to read.”

Groucho Marx, comedian


I was a Marine. Just a Marine. Not a hero. Not even close. You won’t find my name in the history books. But I did serve. And fifty years later, I’m still moved when I hear the Marine Corps Hymn or see someone in their dress blue uniform. And the older I get it seems my tears come a little faster and the pain goes a little deeper when I hear about a fallen warrior.

“Semper Fidelis” is Latin for always faithful. And it’s the Marine Corps motto. Their mascot is a bulldog named “Chesty” named after the bigger than life Lieutenant General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine in American History. And just how big of a bad ass was Chesty Puller? Surrounded by the Chinese and North Koreans, out numbered 8 to 1 – this was his assessment of the situation,  “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.”

During the first world war the Marines were given the name “Devil Dogs” by the German Soldiers they were fighting. The newspapers in the United States started printing stories about this event in early 1918 and guess what. Today, because of the Marines fierce fighting and the writers good reporting, the Marines are still Devil Dogs.


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The unofficial Postal Service motto is, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Many years ago I took a test to become a postal worker. And guess what. I failed big time. But that setback did not diminish my passion for receiving mail. It started in the marines, long before Skype. All these years later, I still look forward to “mail call.”

Whenever I have the pleasure of meeting a mail carrier, I like to ask, “How many times have you been bitten by a dog?” I read that on an average day in America, twenty-eight mailmen are bitten by dogs. I’m happy to report that our letter carrier, Brian, is still bite free.

In all my years of running it wasn’t until a short time ago that I was actually attacked by a dog. It didn’t look very big until it started chasing me. But it seemed to get bigger every time I looked back to see if it was gaining on me. In time, I was able to outrun the hungry animal. But before I got away he managed to snap off a patch of my sweatpants. I figure better my pants than my leg. Now like Brain our mail carrier, I’m armed with a can of pepper spray. Look out, Fido!

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight,

It’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

Mark Twain, author


“You are the hero of your own journey.”

Joesph Campbell, author

The year was 1961, I was ten years old. And Jerry Lucas was my hero. He played center on The Ohio State University Basketball Team. I practiced basketball sunup till sundown. I wanted to be a super sports star like Mr. Lucas. He was 6 feet 8 inches tall. I wanted to be that tall too, so I ask my mother to pull on my legs as I held on to the staircase banister in the hope that it would stretch my legs and make me taller.

Many years later I had the honor of meeting Jerry Lucas and telling him about my quest to be a sports legend like him. When I explained what I had ask my Mother to do, I looked up at his 6 foot eight inch height as he looked down at my 5 foot ten inch height.

“I see it It didn’t work,” he said.

We both laughed. I shook his hand and thanked him for his inspiration and a head full of happy memories.

Author and speaker Steve Chandler has this advice, “Don’t look at your heroes, look inside your heroes.”

Even more important than talent is the quality of passion. As gifted as he was at the game, if Jerry Lucas didn’t like playing basketball no one would have ever heard of him. And if you don’t have that same kind of passion for what you’re doing then it’s time for some soul searching. What you want to be doing is what you ought to be doing. And you should be doing it with all your heart and soul fueling that passion with determination.

That brings me to another hero from my childhood. Before there was Jerry Lucas in the 60s, there was Chief Don Eagle in the 50s. He a wrestler, an Indian with a genuine Mohawk Haircut. One of his arch rivals was the infamous Gorgeous George. The chief was very clever and fun to watch. But sometimes the villain he was wrestling would appear to be getting the best of him. Now came the part of the match I had been waiting for since the start.

Chief Don Eagle would get mad. And I do mean mad. With the fans cheering him on, including me with a ringside seat in front of the television, he would perform a war dance. At this time, If his opponent had any sense at all, he would jump out of the ring. When the chief caught up with him, it was game over for the villain.

Whether it’s running a marathon race, baking a prize winning cake, or playing the violin, you have to have what the pundits call, “A Fire In The Belly.” And with that fire you give your chosen endeavor your best and leave nothing in the locker room – you’re still a winner no matter what the scoreboard or the judges say.





“There are only two ways to live your life.

One is though nothing is a miracle.

The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist


Thank you. Nice of you to notice my new tee-shirt. And yes, that’s a picture of Albert Einstein on the front. My pal Al was a very smart man. He won the Nobel Prize for physics. When the legendary funny man Charlie Chaplin invited Al to the premiere of his new movie, City Lights, the public cheered for both of them. Later Chaplin said to Einstein, “They cheer me because they all understand me, and they cheer you because no one understands you.”

I will admit when you and I decide to talk science, it won’t be much of a discussion. Science was never be my best subject. Even so, Mr. Einstein did get through to me with some amazing words of wisdom.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

It took me two years to make it through the 4th grade, two attempts to earn my driver’s license, two shots to graduate from college, and two adventures in marriage to finally get it right. Most world champions rarely get it right on the first try. So if it’s Olympic gold or making the perfect omelet, expect a few blunders and flubs. The secret is to enjoy the journey and remember even Einstein went through a bunch of letters before he landed on E = mc2.

“Never lose a holy curiosity.”

When was the last time you took a different route to work? How about listening to a different radio station today? What do you think about trying a Chinese restaurant this weekend instead of pizza?

Check with the librarian and see if the two of you can figure out why the sky is blue. Make a visit to a travel agent and plan an exotic vacation to someplace whose name you can’t pronounce. Pretend you’re Christopher Columbus and go discover something new. You just might end up having a good time.

“Everybody is a genius.

But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I don’t think God put us on this earth to just take up space. Everyone, I believe, has a gift or a talent that needs to be shared with the world. It is up to each individual to find it for him or herself. A tip of the stetson to those folks who seem to come out of the womb knowing they want to be a plumber, guitar player, truck driver, dancer, or brain surgeon and then make it happen. For some the journey may be a bit more complicated. And there is no disgrace in being called a late bloomer.

Have fun learning why you’re a passenger on spaceship Earth. And above all, please be kind to your fellow travelers.






“One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I don’t know.”

Groucho Marx, comedian

You never know what you’re going to discover when you start looking through the branches of your family tree. I found some elephants in mine.

Yes, elephants.

You see actor Wallace Berry is my cousin. He won an Academy award for his role in the 1931 movie, The Champ. For a time, he was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. But his show business career didn’t start in front of the cameras. Along with his brother, young Wallace ran away from home and joined Ringling Brothers Circus. He became an elephant tender. In fact, he came up with the idea for the elephants to march in line trunk to tail.

Not long ago, after battling animal rights protesters for years,  Ringling took the elephants out of their show. And soon after that they called it quits all together.

So the elephants may be gone from the circus but they are still part of my DNA and have a very important role in the way I conduct my life.

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“The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”

Robert Schuller, minister

I’m a marathon runner. A marathon race is 26.2 miles long. Running since 1986, I’ve completed over forty marathons in cities all over the country. But I’ve never run all 26.2 miles at once. No, I’ve run 1 mile 26 times in a row. And then another 365 yards for a grand total of 26.2 miles.

And so it goes with any goal – break it down into bite size chunks and in time, with determination and grit, you’ve eaten the whole elephant and crossed the finish line.

“When you have an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.”

Abraham Lincoln, Sixteenth President of the United States

There are things you can do something about and some things you can never do anything about. So the sooner you figure out which is which, the better off you and whatever elephant you have by the hind legs will be.

We can’t do anything about our age so rather than complain about wrinkles change their name to twinkles and move on. We can’t do anything about the weather because no matter what you say about it, it does what it wants to do. Put on your snowshoes, grab your umbrella, adapt and keep smiling.

And if someone chooses not to love you, it hurts. But you won’t find someone who will love you if you let that elephant drag you and your heart down the road.

“When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.”

African proverb

There is no guarantee how long my life or yours is going to be. So let’s be friends. I’ll bet we’re more alike than different. Peace is a whole lot more fun than war.

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“No matter how you feel…Get up. Dress up. Show up. And never give up.”

Regina Brett, newspaper columnist


How do you start your day?

Let me tell you how I start mine.

The alarm clock goes off at 5AM. Feet hit the floor and I head to the bathroom.  After a short visit to the commode, it’s time to face the mirror. A splash of cold water, fully awake now –  it’s show time! From the pocket of my bathrobe, I pull out a red clown nose.

This is the magic.

Looking into the mirror, the clown looking back at me now, I say out loud.

“Today I’m going to make someone glad they met me.”

It’s only a few minutes after five and I’m about to make what could be the most important decision of the day. In the words of author George Eliot, “Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.”

Yes, this may sound a bit silly. I’ll even admit to weird. But think about it. I’m 65, most likely I have less years in front of me than I do behind. So how do I want to leave the world stage that Shakespeare wrote about. I’ll take my cue from the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet. He said, “My religion is very simple, my religion is kindness.”

I won’t really be wearing that red nose the rest of the day, except in my imagination, where it’s still there and I’m in the center ring at the circus.

Now I will confess, there are some days when this little ritual is harder to perform than others. And I’ll also admit it can sometimes be a bit challenging to choose kindness over telling someone where the nearest lake is you want them to jump in. It comes down to a question, “Do I want to be a cranky old geezer or a zany clown who leaves them laughing?”

My wife and our cat are the first to receive my positive vibrations. And how important is that? What do you want your last words to be to the person and animal you love the most? After all, we’re never certain when we’ll be speaking those last words. Years ago there was a television commercial telling us to never leave home without a certain credit card. I say never leave home without leaving some kind words behind.

Out the door on the way to the car, if I spot a neighbor or two, “Good morning”

On the way to work, if someone makes eye contact at a traffic light they get a smile.

At the preschool where I work the kids and staff get an enthusiastic greeting.

Store clerks, bank tellers and the person who delivers our mail are fair game.

Watch out! You may be next.

At the end of the day, kindness may not have made my bank account any bigger. But for some reason, I feel very rich.


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