THE NOT SO NEW KID IN CLASS

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

 C. S. Lewis, author and poet

Ohio University, Fall 1973

The first class I signed up for was creative writing. It was also the first class I failed. But I was determined to be called a writer so a year later I took that same class with the same instructor. This time I crossed the finish line with a B. I pressed on and in time earned a degree in communication. What followed was a less than stellar career with the government. Now fast forward forty years.

 Ohio University, Fall 2013

When I found out that, after age 60, you can take classes free at any state university in Ohio I bought a new box of crayons, grabbed my Snoopy lunch box and got on the school bus. Wow! As a wise man said long ago, “The only place change is not guaranteed is a vending machine.” Forty years ago we worked with pencils, pens, and typewriters. Now there were computers everywhere. And in 1973 if you wanted to call someone, you got in line at a telephone booth. Now everyone was talking on a cell phone or bouncing their thumbs off a gizmo. My biggest concern was how this senior citizen would get along with students slightly younger than my children and slightly older than my grandchildren. It became apparent very soon that I had wasted time thinking about it. The years between us quickly melted away and the party got going.

I had a boat load of fun in a class celebrating the history of television and film comedy. What could be more fun than going to school with my life long role models, Laurel and Hardy, The Three Stooges, Martin and Lewis, Abbott and Costello and a whole crew of other zany folks! I studied play writing and enjoyed making a fool of myself in an acting class. After a semester in a painting studio, I had three projects featured in the student art show. But my crowning achievement came in writing class. It was there I put the finishing touches on Buddy Bloom Wildflower, (A Tale of Struggle and Celebration) This book teaches the value of adversity, the joy of friendship and the celebration of life.

While enjoying the excitement of being the not so new kid in class I made a few mistakes with the balance in my piggy bank. Discovering I needed to go back to work, I was told that one of the best part-time jobs for seniors was working in the schools as an educational assistant. So if you’re looking for me now, you’ll find me in yet another classroom – much of the time working with special needs children.

There is still plenty to learn and lots of adventure waiting for this not so new kid in the giant classroom called life. And I intend to enjoy every minute.

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A REALLY BIG QUESTION

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”

Helen Keller, author

 

For my own amusement and sometimes to annoy the neighbors, I play the drums.

I pretend to be Ringo Starr, the famous drummer for The Beatles.

In the 1950s and 60s the highlight of any career in show business was an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. If you landed a spot on his television program you were now a certified star.

Ed was a writer by trade and had no talent for singing or dancing. But it was his show and he brought in acts from all over the world. He had a stiff cardboard appearance and walked and moved like his coat still had a hanger in it. Everyone made fun of him. He would announce the acts for what he called “his really big show” only the word show came out sounding like shoe.

Along with 70 million other people I was watching THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW in February 1964 when The Beatles took the stage for the first time in the USA. They start singing with a tune called All My Loving followed by Till There Was You. Then came a song called She Loves You. It starts this way –

She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah

 She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah

 She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah

 The song was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  When all was said and done they wrote over 300 songs together.

Paul reported that when he and John finished writing She Loves You they sang it for Paul’s father. He liked the tune with one exception. He suggested John and Paul change all the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Yes Yes Yes.

They decided not to take his advice, The Beatles recorded the tune with all the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in place and the recording like most of their songs became a hit all over the world.

So now I have a really big shoe or show business question for you.

And the act I’m referring to is your life.

What are some things you’re saying Yeah Yeah Yeah to?

Whatever goal you choose for yourself, as long as its legal and doesn’t hurt anyone, I’m your biggest cheerleader.

Here is some really big advice to go along with that really big question.

Be it astronaut, school teacher, or the person who delivers the mail – there is one quality that applies to everyone.

The Golden Rule, “Do unto to others as you would be done by.”

Now if you want to attack me at my weakest point on this rule just mention the word telemarketer. I confess I need to work a little harder on being golden with these folks.

As long as we’re talking about it, I could probably do a little better with the nut case drivers slowing down my commute too.

Now might be the perfect time to take my own advice.

Be kind to everyone.

Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

THE FIRST TIME

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Will Rogers, humorist

 

With seven letters or less on a personalized license plate, you can tell everyone on the highway who you are or what you are. I recently shared the road with these folks.

JESTER

BKEEPER

FATGUY

IBJEFF

IMAHIT

IMLOST

SAXGUY

2THDOC

4MYKIDS

Some drivers use their license plates to offer advice.

TRYGOD

BEHAVE

GOFISHN

2ZLIMIT

LIFTWTS

BAFAMLY

Some drivers use their license plates to ask a question.

RUJELUS

YB BROKE

WHATNOW

Some drivers use their license plates to tell you how they feel.

DONOK

IMBLSD

INFOCUS

Be on the look out for this plate.

MK BLEV

That’s me and the MK BLEV stands for make-believe. It’s a tribute to walt disney who said,

“If you can dream it, you can do it.’

If you don’t have a personalized license, no problem. Your smile described by Webster’s Dictionary as, “A facial expression in which the eyes brighten and the corners of the mouth curve slightly upward,” is always available for making a first impression.

When it comes to smiles, no one in my memory could beat Mrs. Keller. She was a teacher at the elementary school I attended. She was smiling the first time I saw her. She was smiling the second time I saw her. She was smiling every time I saw her. I don’t think her face knew any other position. I saw her at the grocery store twenty-five years after my first encounter with her and guess what, she was still smiling. She had given up teaching school but she was still teaching everyone how to wear their face. I thanked her for the special gift she was continuing to give the world.

License plates are a great way to introduce yourself, but the great thing about a smile is that you can take it with you everywhere you go. A few short years after that reunion with Mrs. Keller, I met her niece. She was smiling too! What a gene pool that family swims in. If you’re not smiling, you need to jump in too. True, you may not always feel like smiling – smile anyway. The very funny Phyllis Diller offered this advice, “If you want to wake up with a smile on your face – go to sleep with a coat hanger in your mouth.”

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”

William Arthur Ward

A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.

Dennis Waitley

“…I will forget my complaint, I will change my expression, and smile.”

Job 9:27

 

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com

 

 

WHAT’S IN YOUR SUITCASE?

“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you”?

William Arthur Ward, writer

 

After six weeks in a cooking class at The Ohio State University, my crowning achievement was to walk away knowing I could bake a batch of date nut bars.

“Care to try one? No? Okay, maybe later.”

Even though, for reasons I haven’t figured out yet, I didn’t learn how to cook like Betty Crocker and Sara Lee, I did enjoy the class. While exploring the pages of a cookbook, I ran across some quotations.

I guess you would call them food for thought. My favorite was this:

“Our days are identical suitcases, all the same size, but some people pack more into them than others.”

While enjoying my next meal in a restaurant, I began to ponder what was in my suitcase.

Before deciding, I took another look at the quote, “Our days are identical suitcases…” it began. It made no mention of how many days (suitcases) we will have. No guarantees. No one knows when they’re packing and unpacking for the last time. If I were taking a vacation, I said to myself, and could only take one suitcase instead of 20 – I know I would spend considerable time figuring out what to take and what to leave behind.

Dreams, goals, time with friends and family – those are in there right beside clean underwear and a toothbrush. When it comes to words, I hope my suitcase holds plenty of thank yous and most important, I love yous. A sense of humor is essential no matter what kind of traveling you’re doing. I put it next to forgiveness. After looking at the quote again, I realized there are some items in my suitcase that I really don’t need. They are worry, resentment, anger, and guilt.

At this point I should have been ready to close the lid and get on with the rest of the day, but something inside me wouldn’t let it rest. I decided to take a survey among friends, family, and coworkers. I handed out 25 questionnaires with the quote and asked people to tell me what it meant to them – what was in their suitcase and what was missing.

Five people didn’t have time in their suitcase to answer. Twenty-four hours didn’t seem long enough but that is all we get in a day. Of the 20 who did respond, most had trouble getting the lid shut and fun seemed to be the first thing tossed out.

Work, school, and other obligations certainly have their place. I vote for a little less anxiety and a little more joy. Come on folks, not all the news is bad. It’s not a round trip ticket we’ve been given.

Smell the roses.

What’s in your suitcase?

 

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:24

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com

RAINBOWS AND AN ORDER OF FRIES

“One cannot get through life without pain… What we can do is choose how to use the pain life presents us.”

Dr. Bernie Siegel, author

 

One day last Spring, some friends and I visited the Columbus Zoo. As we started our tour, a light rain began falling. We saw two mother kangaroos gently stroking their pouches. One kangaroo turned to the other and said, I sure wish it would stop raining so the children could play outside.”

But seriously folks…

The Bible tells us that it will rain on the just and the unjust alike. Some families seem to get more than their share of rain, especially when it comes to sick children. The Bible also tells God gives us rainbows. What it doesn’t tell us is that sometimes those rainbows start out playing football. At least in this story they do.

Second on my list of favorite football players is my nephew, Jason. He played tackle at The Navy Academy, was captain of the team, and won the “Silver Helmet” award for most valuable player his senior year.

First on the list is Fred Hill, a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. He long ago hung up his football jersey but not before tackling a challenge much bigger than the NFL.

In 1974, while he was pursuing his passion for professional football, it was discovered that his daughter, Kim, was suffering with leukemia. During her long stay at the hospital, Mr. Hill and his family spent many sleepless nights at her bedside and ate countless meals out of vending machines. He saw many other families with sick children struggling with the same needs. Through the efforts of some caring people, the Hills ordeal had a “Rainbow Beginning” I said “Beginning” because the rainbow’s color has not faded in over 40 years.

The beginning of the rainbow started with the news that Kim Hill no longer had leukemia. Out of gratitude, her father, along with his teammates, Kim’s doctor and the McDonald’s restaurants in Philadelphia area opened the first “Ronald McDonald House.”

This home away from home for families who have children being treated in hospitals, provides them a place to eat, sleep, wash clothes, and share their struggles. Since that first house opened with only six rooms, there are now 350 houses in 60 countries with hundreds of rooms. Financed mostly through donations and staffed mainly by volunteers, it is truly as described, “THE HOUSE THAT LOVE BUILT.”

The nearly six years I worked as a volunteer changed my life. Like the other volunteers, I couldn’t do anything about the rain. But like Fred Hill, I found a way to be part of a rainbow offering hope, comfort, and encouragement.

 

“I have set my rainbow in the clouds…”

Genesis 9:13

Visit me at http://www.buddybloomwildflower.com

 

HALFWAY THERE

“I don’t need anyone to make a fool out of me. “I’m doing all right by myself.”

Groucho Marx

 

Starting college as a theatre major, I won a leading role in a play called, The Girls in 509.” I was thrilled my “show biz ship” had come in! I was going to be a star. I didn’t just learn my lines. I lived them. I breathed them. I had them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I took them to bed, the bathroom, and all stops in between. I was ready.

The days of rehearsal seemed to sprout wings and fly. The night before our opening, an invited audience from the Boy’s Industrial School. Tough crowd. If I could make these kids laugh, I knew I could do the same for the general public the following night.

The curtain went up. Everything was going great. The audience was laughing in all the right places.

I was ready to give them a passing grade until we came to one scene near the end of the play. What I was saying was not supposed to be funny, but the audience was laughing anyway. Why? I didn’t have a clue. When the action shifted to another part of the stage, the mystery was solved. The actress beside me whispered, “You zipper is down.” OOPS!

Prior to this scene, I had only one minute for a costume change. The pants I was changing into were too long. The legs were hemmed. As I was pulling them on my toe got caught in the hem, tearing it apart. Trying to make a quick repair by tucking them under, I forgot to pull up my zipper.

I haven’t been cast in a play for a while, but that hasn’t stopped me from playing the part of a fool on a regular basis. Have you ever flashed a big smile at that special someone only to discover later broccoli, and a long list of other items from the menu were stuck in your teeth. I have. OOPS!

One night in desperation I dialed the phone.

A female voice said, “Hello.”

I said, “This is Jerry Snider. I live at 1867 Covington Court – Apartment 37. My furnace is making a weird sound. Karep…karep…karep…chah…chah…chah… it’s not putting out any heat. Can you send someone over before it explodes?”

The kind lady told me she was sorry about my furnace, hoped it would not explode and regretted not being able to send someone over. That was because I had dialed the wrong number for apartment maintenance. I had dialed a private number. OOPS

If you’re human. Every now and then you will slip, stumble, and spill. You’re going to laugh about it later. Why wait? Laugh about it now. Don’t worry about the people laughing at you. Tomorrow it’s their turn to fumble.

Comedian Victor Borge said, “The shortest distance between two people is laughter.”

If you can laugh at yourself, you’re half was there.

 

Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com

 

 

TRAVEL TIP

“Don’t carry a grudge.

While you’re carrying the grudge the other guy’s out dancing.”

Buddy Hackett, comedian

 

Permit me to quote my 12th grade English teacher, Mrs. Schiff, who one afternoon made this promise to our class.

“You will be tricked, trapped, and bamboozled.”

Forty-six years after graduating from high school, I’ll be the first to tell you Mrs. Schiff was right.

I did get tricked.

I did get trapped.

I did get bamboozled.

Not just once but a whole bunch of times.

Life is not fair. Read the paper, watch television, or listen to the radio news – it’s no secret that we humans are pretty good at doing some terrible things to each other. You might as well paint a target on the seat of your pants because people are going to kick you in the pants. Mrs. Schiff told us the truth, but I’m only going to give her a grade of B- because she didn’t tell the whole truth.

Forgiveness is necessary every time you get tricked, trapped, and bamboozled. That’s the part she left out. Maybe she didn’t tell us that part because the lesson had to be learned at the famous “School of Hard Knocks.”

I have been hurt and needed to forgive people.

I have also been the one who did the hurting and needed to be forgiven.

Reminding myself of the “Need to Be” has made the “Need To” easier.

Forgiveness in no way justifies the cruel things people do to each other. You may never get the answer to, “Why me?” or “Why this?”

You will, however, always have the answer to, “What now?”

Hate or heal.

During the early stages of World War II, the Japanese invaded the Philippine Islands. At a place called The Bataan Peninsula, they took 76,000 Philippine and American prisoners. During what became known as, “The Bataan Death March” the Japanese tortured these men in unspeakable ways. Over a third of them never survived the ordeal.

I know of two who did. A friend told me that his father had been one of the soldiers who had endured this living Hell. Although he lived to be 65, a day never passed that he didn’t vocalize his hate for the Japanese. Until his last breath, bitterness ruled his day.

On the other hand, I read in the newspaper about another man who lived through that same Hell. In what had to be the ultimate act of forgiveness, he was now the proud owner of a Toyota dealership – selling cars made by the Japanese.

Now here’s a travel tip for your lie’s journey. The luggage labeled hate, resentment, and anger is too heavy to carry. Do whatever it takes, be it help from a social worker or group – leave it behind. Take along the suitcase marked FORGIVENESS and you stand a much better chance of enjoying the trip.

 

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will forgive you.”

 Matthew 6:14

 Visit me at www.buddybloomwildflower.com