“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 pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.”

Helen Keller, author and political activist


July 20, 1969

I was seventeen and Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon.

January 11, 2017

It’s been reported that a modern cell phone now has more computing power than the rocket that got him there.

As I consider this miracle, I’m also thinking about a telephone conversation I had with my four-year old grandson. He’s learned the names of all the planets. And in a picture sent to me he looks every bit like the astronaut in a costume and helmet. At the end of our phone chat he signed off by saying, “Good bye, Grandpa. See you tomorrow on Mars.”

Think about it.

It’s possible.

Maybe not tomorrow – but soon.

Journalist Stephen Petranek, author of How We’ll Live On Mars, thinks we have the nuts, bolts, and willpower to arrive there within the next twenty years. He says, “The achievement will make dreamy science fiction like Star Wars and Star Trek begin to look real…it will, for better or worse, create a wave of fortune seekers to rival those of the California Gold Rush.”


Ten…nine…eight…seven…six… five…


Before we blast off for Mars, I have other frontiers to conquer.

My last birthday cake only had 65 candles – I’m still young and full of beans.


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Before October 11, 2036 (my 85th birthday)

Bean Town Or Bust!

I am going to run in the Boston Marathon.

I am going to run in the New York Marathon.

I am going to run up the Rocky Steps in Philadelphia.

“Until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t going to have a life.”

Rocky Balboa, boxer

Whenever you tell someone you’ve run a marathon race, in my case forty or so since 1986, the next question is, “Have you run in the Boston Marathon?”

My answer is no. And if the follow-up question is, “Why not?” I tell them because I have not yet qualified to run in it.

A marathon race is 26.2 miles long and my fastest race to the finish line was 3 hours and 37 minutes.

That was in 1989. I was 38 years old.

Now, at age 65, in order to be accepted into the Boston Marathon I am required to finish another marathon in less than 4 hours and 15 mins. That’s a 9 minute and 45 second per mile pace.

I have work to do.

Most of it from the neck up – it all starts with attitude.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

Henry Ford, American Industrialist

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31


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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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“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.”

Abraham Lincoln,  16th President of the United States

March, 1995

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Roland Redmon both said, “I’ll be back.”

Chances are you’ve heard of Arnold but you may not have heard about Roland.

Arnold made his promise in a movie called, The Terminator.

 Roland made his promise from a hospital room.

I met Roland and his family when I joined a group called, Team in Training. They raise money for Leukemia research and patient aid. As part of this program, athletes are introduced to one of their patients and run a 26.2 mile marathon in their honor.

Roland told me his hero was Arnold Schwarzenegger. My home town of Columbus, Ohio is not only home to a great marathon race but each Spring a fitness expo and bodybuilding championship hosted by Arnold. When I tracked down the promoters of the event, they requested a letter detailing Roland’s struggle. It would be forwarded to Arnold.

Roland’s mother wrote:

“Dear Arnold,

My son Roland is a great fan of yours. He thinks you’re the greatest.

You don’t know it but you helped him through a difficult time in his young life. He had surgery on December 25, 1991, and was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He started high dose intensive chemotherapy on New Year’s eve. He was the first child at Children’s Hospital in Columbus to receive high dose chemo. He spent the next six months in the hospital except for a few home visits. He had all kinds of life threatening side effects and lots of uncertainty about the outcome. He spent a lot of time in protective isolation with me at his side. He got visits from his Daddy, Brother (Danny) and Sister (Rusti). He watched a lot of movies and most of them were yours. He always said he was going to come through all of this and be strong like you. He would even do muscle poses in bed for me and the nurses.

There is one incident that everyone still talks about. He had a pair of sunglasses like the ones in “Terminator 1 and 2 that you wore. I had to go out of his isolation room and talk to one of his nurses about his lab work. He was laying in bed watching “Terminator” when I left the room. We were at the nurse’s station when his door opened. He stood there with his sunglasses on and said, “I’ll be back.” we all lost it laughing, but then panicked because the kid had gotten out of bed and moved three IV poles with nine pumps of fluid all by himself.

Then there was a period of two weeks where we had to call him, “Uncle Bob” because you were called that once in “Terminator 2.’ He used to wear his sunglasses in bed even when it was dark. That’s how he lost them because they accidentally got thrown down the laundry shoot during the night. He was awful upset and cried for days.

We would really love to meet you. He said he was going to be like you and fight. He did and he won. He is now six years old and considered cured after three years of treatment. Christmas is even more special to all of us now.

I would like to thank you for helping us. I have always been a fan of you and your movies. I wish you a lifetime of happiness and success in all that you do. Enjoy your family because they’re special.

We enjoy and treasure every little thing now.


Tammy Redmon”

In the Spring of 1995, Roland Redmond met Arnold Schwarzenegger. A picture of them together hangs in the Redmon home. All the doctors and nurses who treated Roland did a wonderful job. As a role model, so did Arnold. By imitating Arnold’s muscle man behavior in standing up to adversity, Roland proved what any psychologist will tell you. – the most important part of reaching your goal is believing you can.

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“All I can say about life is, Oh God, enjoy it.”

Bob Newhart, comedian and actor


It’s Summer 1962 – I’m eleven years old.

A young couple, about to be married, were buying a house directly across the street from where my family lived. The groom politely asked if he could use our telephone. I remember he was very tall like Jerry Lucas the basketball player for Ohio State who was my hero at the time. My brother John also noticed the resemblance. We were introduced to the man. He looked happy. I don’t remember his name.

What I do remember, as if it just happened yesterday, was my mother calling me to the kitchen. She had a newspaper spread out on the table. Pointing to a picture of a mangled semi-truck and car –  she asked, “Do you remember that nice man that used the phone a few days ago?”

I nodded my head indicating I did.

“He was killed in this crash.

She was crying now.

I sat quietly with her for a short time then returned my attention to the television in another room.

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I have a long list of things to thank my Mother for. At the top of the list are the gift of life, marrying my Father and sharing that newspaper story about the terrible accident that took away happily ever after from our new neighbors. With 65 years in the rear view mirror of my life I’m ever mindful of how blessed the road has been for me. With the passing of time, even the most difficult and devastating events have turned out to be preparation for bigger and better things.

I’m still here.

Forward march!

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Imagine there is a bank account each morning with $86,400.

It carries over no balance from day-to-day.

Every evening the bank deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day.

What would you do?

Draw out every cent, of course?

Each of us has such a bank.

It’s name is time.

Every morning, it credits you with 86,000 seconds.

Every night it writes off as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to a good purpose.

It carries over no balance.

It allows no over draft.

Each day it opens a new account for you.

Each night it burns the remains of the day.

If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.

There is no drawing against “tomorrow.”

You must live in the present on today’s deposits.

Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness and success.

The clock is running.

Make the most of today.”


*            *            *

And about those days when it’s not going so great. I believe that even in our darkest moments we are not here to be punished. We are here to serve. Someone needs your smile and encouragement today. Make it your business to find them.

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