“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

*            *            *

“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.


“The only thing that you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist


Let me give you a short tour inside my wallet.  Here we have my driver’s license, insurance cards, family photos, a dollar or two and one of my most prize possessions – a library card.  So, If you ring my doorbell and no one answers, you may want to start your search for me at The Fairfield County District Library 219 North Broad Street Lancaster, Ohio. I’m there nearly every day of the week. And, unless I drop the ball and return a book late, this magic carpet ride is free.

Motivational author and speaker Les Brown offered this advice for those seeking higher enlightenment, “If you’re the smartest person in the room then you need to find another room.”

Thanks for the advice, Les. I found a room where there are several people a lot smarter than I am.

These people call themselves librarians. And just what is a librarian?  I like this definition by author Matt Haig. He said, “Librarians are just like search engines, except they smile and they talk to me and they don’t give me paid – for advertising when they are trying to help. And they have actual hearts.”

I am well aware that hundreds of knowledge seekers like myself travel up and down the same stairwells of the library I visit. And even though the walls are decorated for everyone to see, there is one piece of information posted on the wall that I feel was put there JUST FOR ME. Midway down two flights of stairs from the main lobby to the reference room, someone was kind enough to decorate the wall with this quote from author C.S. Lewis, “You are never too old to set another goal, or to dream a new dream.”

It’s a pretty safe bet that at age sixty-eight I have more years behind me than I do ahead of me. So what. Nothing I can do about the clock or the calendar. But I still know who I am and where I am. And I’m certain there are enough brain cells under my hat and inside my head to keep on learning, exploring, and enjoying this whacked out world we live in.

Now let’s take a trip to the circus. Have you ever watched the performers on a trapeze? You have the catcher on one set of ropes and the flier on another. As they swing back and forth when the catcher is ready to receive the flier he shouts “HEP!” At that instant the flier has to let go of his swing if he is to successfully latch onto the catcher’s arms. The same principal applies to you and me. When the sun rises, let go of yesterday and grab hold of today.

No matter how many candles are on your birthday cake, opportunities to enjoy new adventures are everywhere. What are you waiting for? “HEP”


“We are here and it is now.

Further than that all humane knowledge is moonshine.”

H. L. Mencken, journalist


When the topic of moonshine comes up, the first thing I think of is a still hidden in the backwoods where some good ole boys are cranking out liquor for fun and profit. But there is a second part to the definition. Moonshine not only means, “illicitly distilled or smuggled liquor but it also means foolish talk or ideas.”  So let’s work with the second part of the equation, “foolish talk or ideas.”

I am a runner in my late sixties. And not long ago a friend, also a runner in her late sixties, shared the plans for her 100th birthday party.

“I’m going to host a 5k race,” she said.

“I think that’s a great idea,” was my response.

Then, after we shared some laughter, she had more exciting news for me.

“And for you,” she said, “no entry fee.”

I’m always excited with the prospect of a bargain so I accepted her offer right then and there.

Now that I’ve committed myself to this grand adventure, it’s time to start training.


     *            *            *

Successful people set goals. And that is fine but it is “foolish talk or a bad idea” to wait until you reach that goal to be happy. The super successful folks among us understand the real joy is found in the journey toward reaching that goal. I have a few decades to get ready for that birthday party 5K. So here is what I plan to do. Taking advice from the author Earl Nightingale, I’m going to “live with gratitude and positive expectation.”  And I’m not only going to pay my bills: electric, phone, insurance… I’m also going to pay attention.

Not long ago my wife and I were sitting near a fountain in the town square where we live. It was a beautiful day. Clouds were rolling by in a fantastic blue sky and a gentle breeze made the temperature ideal. I looked around at the folks sitting nearby to see who we were sharing this experience with. I counted twelve people and sadly they were all looking at their phones. I’m in favor of communication. In fact, I have a degree in the subject. But come on folks, real life is out here and not in that tiny piece of technology you hold in your hands. God and nature put on some fantastic shows and like my entry into that race, it’s all free. Pay attention.

Here is another bonus. The is no fee for courtesy and kindness. And the two never go out of fashion. I’m no fortune teller but I’m going predict that by the time that 5K race gets here on my friend’s birthday, courtesy and kindness will still be in fashion. So if you and I cross paths on the running trail, grocery store and all stops in between expect a smile and a kind hello.





“Depending on what they are, our habits will either make us or break us.

We become what we repeatedly do.”

Sean Covey, author


Way back in the day, when I was much younger and not quite as wise as I am now, I would run early in the morning before work on a track field near my home. Like the folks who deliver the mail, it didn’t matter if it was raining or snowing – I got the job done. Wake up, suit up, and get moving. One winter day, after running two miles, I returned home and turned on the radio. The weatherman’s teeth were chattering as he informed us listeners that the current temperature was seventeen below zero. And that was the day, with my wife’s encouragement, I made friends with a treadmill.

Legendary Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi liked to remind his players that you win football games with fundamentals. His team had lost the NFL Championship game to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1960. The following Spring, on the first day of training camp, he stood before his players and, holding the ball in his hand, he said, “Gentleman, this is a football.” You can’t get anymore fundamental than that. And starting there, his team would become the best in the league at all the basic skills of football. The next time around, playing for the championship, Green Bay beat the New York Giants 37 to 0.

“Runners,” now imagine me pointing to a machine with a large belt, plugged into the wall with handles leading up to a panel of bells and whistles, “This is a treadmill and when it moves it makes your feet go forward or you fly off the back, most likely without a happy landing.”

Remember, we’re talking fundamentals.

The treadmill got its start around 1817. It was used as a torture device to reform stubborn and idle convicts. Times have changed and the motivation to climb on a treadmill is now fitness. But the concept is the same –  forward motion. And it works. 50 million hamsters can’t be wrong. No excuse, if you want to be a runner then you have to run. And a treadmill cancels out any other plans the weatherman might have.

Now that we’ve given the treadmill the recognition it deserves, let’s talk about some other habits of a winner. How much time do you devote each day to reading and what kind of books are you using to fill your mind? Who are the people you’re spending time with?  Where do you go? What do you do when you get there? It all adds up. Save the time and money on a trip to the fortune teller. In a few years you’ll be the sum total of these habits and people.

It’s a great idea to take inventory every now and then. Is what you’re doing moving you down the road to success or up the creek of despair?






“Tis a lesson you should heed:

Try, try, try again.

If at first you don’t succeed,

Try, try, try again.”

Thomas H Palmer, author

Most teachers I know agree that the biggest obstacle to learning is the fear of failure. Somehow you have to get the idea across that it’s okay to make a mistake. If you put history under the microscope, you’ll see that most inventions didn’t work on the first try. And most gold medal winners didn’t become champions without a few setbacks and strikeouts.

I’m an educational aide in the city schools where I live. And I think at least one teacher I work with may have a solution to this problem. On her classroom wall, where every student can see it, is a poster called, The Power of Yet.


I can’t do this YET.

This doesn’t work YET.

I don’t know YET.

It doesn’t make sense YET.

I don’t get it YET.

I’m not good at this YET.

The actor Micky Rooney said, “You always pass failure on your way to success.” And to that let me add, “Why not enjoy the journey.”


*            *            *

I had a short and sometimes painful career as an amateur boxer.  My interest in the sport waned when George Foreman retired.  But I still enjoy watching the greats of the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s on You Tube. For all the punches they took to the head, these guys offer some great insight on The Power of Yet.

Joe Louis was The Heavyweight Boxing Champion from 1937 to 1949. He defended his title a record 25 times. He had this to say about the path to success. “There is no such thing as a natural boxer. A natural dancer has to practice hard.  A natural painter has to paint all the time.  Even a natural fool has to work at it.”

In 1952 Floyd Patterson won a gold medal at the Olympics. Four years later he became Heavyweight Champion. After losing it in 1959, the following year he became the first boxer to regain the title.  Floyd observed, “I’ve learned so much, so very much about myself in defeat. I’ve learned very little to nothing in victory.”

At the age of 45 George Foreman won the Heavyweight Championship 20 years after losing it. The man he took it away from was 19 years younger. George said, “The world is full of people who want to play it safe, people who have tremendous potential but never use it. Somewhere deep inside them, they know they could do more in life, be more, and have more – if only they were willing to take a few risks.”


*            *            *

And let’s not forget about the musician lost in New York City.

He stopped a passerby and asked, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

The answer he got was, “Practice, Practice, Practice.”


*            *            *



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.


*            *            *

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.





“Always be yourself unless you can be a dinosaur,

then always be a dinosaur.”


     I work as a Substitute Educational Assistant in the city schools where I live. Whenever I report for work I’ll say “Good Morning” to the people I pass on the way to the classroom. And just about everyone I encounter will respond with, “Who Are You Today?” They want to know who I’m replacing. And it’s always fun to tell them I’m Betty, Susan, or Phyllis – whatever the case may be.

     Most of my assignments have been with Special Needs Children. I’m suppose to be helping them. But the truth is they are the real teachers. I’m talking about lessons in courage, confidence, and commitment – all the things that make a great athlete. So let’s take that same question, “Who Are You Today?” and apply it to running in a marathon race.

“I Yam What I Yam.”

Popeye The Sailor Man


     Popeye got it right when he made this statement. The most important part of any race starts long before you even lace up your running shoes. Even more important than eating spinach to build strong muscles is knowing that what you believe is what you become. You have to take charge of that little voice inside your head. Teach it to say, “I am strong. I am powerful. I can do this. I am a winner.”


“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with dirty feet.”

Mahatma Gandhi, lawyer, politician and activist


     Sadly, there will never be a shortage of critics. People will be jealous that you’re even attempting to take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles. And they will be more than happy to tell you why you shouldn’t even try. These people are not your friends. Your real friends will say,”Yes you can.” and they will be there cheering you on every step of the way.


“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.”

Helen Keller, author


You can learn a lot about winning from a spider. Yes, I said spider. And the spider I’m talking about is The Itsy Bitsy Spider from the nursery rhyme. Remember every time the rain washed him out of the water spout, he made a comeback. So if you run a less than perfect race, sign up and try again. Never leave home without your inner spider.


“Everything you tell yourself matters.

It can feel like a punch or a hug – your choice.”



     The biggest race we’re all part of is the human race. Before leaving the starting line, “Who are you today?” is a great question to ask yourself first thing in the morning. At the end of the day, asking, “Who were you today?” is an even better question. I hope you can answer, My mission was peace and love. I did my best. I had a great time. If I fell short, tomorrow is another day. I will try again.



“The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery even when they have to take a detour.”

Sir James Jeans, physicist and astronomer


At age 35, I had no plans to ever run 26.2 miles in a marathon race.

Now, here I am, a senior citizen, telling you I’ve run that far in races over forty times and I’m getting ready to do it again.

What happened?

This tale begins in 1971.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was nineteen years old, on a ship off the coast of Vietnam. After eighteen months in the service, I was more than certain that I was not meant to be all the things Marines are famous for.

But what was my future?

I discovered what I believed the answer was in a book called, The Lunacy Boom by William Zinsser.

It was about all the zany things going on in America. Included was a story about a Clown College operated by Ringling Brothers Circus. I could feel it in my bones, this was my destiny. In a few short weeks they promised to teach all the skills required to perform in their famous three-ring circus. I sent for an application. But before I could experience the thrill of performing in The Greatest Show On Earth, there were some things in my way.

I still had another eighteen months of service ahead of me. Then I learned out of thousands that applied each year, Clown College only accepted 80 students. I considered my options.

With an honorable discharge from the Marines, I was entitled to money for a college education.

So the first stop on my way to Clown College was Ohio University then look out Ringling Brothers – here I come. It took a while but in time I earned a degree. Along the way came marriage, fatherhood, divorce, financial setbacks, and a whole lot of depression. I applied to Clown College year after year. And year after year they turned me down.

I started making regular visits to counseling in an effort to get my head screwed on straight. It was not easy. For a short time, I was on medication. Following the advice of a psychiatrist, I laced up my first good pair of running shoes. A whole new world began to open up for me. I felt better. I made some great friends. I helped some worthy charities. And with a stack of finisher medals earned some bragging rights.

This long detour has been a real treat. I’m happy but I still want to be a circus clown. Ringling Brothers is out of business. So after I finish The Boston Marathon, I’ll trade my running shoes for a red nose and some grease paint. I’ll start looking for another circus. I hear there are some great clown schools in New York City.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.”

George Eliot, novelist and poet