Category - Musings and Ramblings

This is where I put things that have no real category; just stuff for me

My Daughter’s Teachings
Time To Talk Beer
Why do we forget the bad…
Can you help find a balance between ME and WE?
Click Like…Just Do It, Now!
A List of Things Men Must Know
Divorced Dads: It’s time to get your swagger back
The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear
The Curse of Our Thumbs

My Daughter’s Teachings


Preface:  As many of you know I had a stillborn daughter 11 years ago today.  I am not writing this to look for sympathy, or validation, but to simply express how I feel.  I am not really even sure how I feel but have had a swell of emotion today that has not been present in my soul and in my tears for many years.  I am certain I am being directed to take the swirl of thoughts in my head and work on organizing them.  I thank anyone reading this for their patience with my clumsy words as I struggle to express my feelings.  I hope however, that some comfort or tidbit will reach you where ever you are in your day.

Happy Birthday Margaret,

I visited your grave today, as I do every year.  It is almost embarrassing that I only go once each year.  Your tiny body is only a few miles away yet I busy myself with the mundane tasks that fill my day.  I get it, there is no real part of you that is in the ground, that thought is silly.  You are infinitely far away yet permanently close to me.  Perhaps it is my under developed sense of the universe that keeps me tethered to what I can see and touch.  I do know this, it is hard to walk up to your marker, the only real thing that ties you to this mortal plane, and look at the state of things.  Your name could not be read, covered with dirt, weeds wandering aimlessly across the smooth granite, almost as if they don’t care.  I apologize for not being a better steward of your home.

As I scratch and wipe at the words etched so professionally across the slab tears well up.  Eleven years ago I wiped those same tears away.  Hell, they are streaming even as I write.  I am not sure if it is simple OCD that makes me struggle to see the disarray or if I detest what it represents to me.  Fists full of grass are no match for my persistence, the dirt is fine, almost like powdered sugar.  It brushes away with ease, the hard part is getting it out of the porous carvings.  I think it makes me cry because there is such a strong tie to the event of your birth and death.  It feels like a teaching moment, you remind me that you can clear away the dirt, I can scratch and yank at my past sins and failures, they will come out, they can be wiped away if I try.  It strikes me that once a year I come and reset the grave site yet I rarely reset my own life, my own heart.  I smiled in wonder, a perfect little soul, whom I never watched draw breath, is teaching me.  It’s a wonder I have made it this far in life.

Don’t get me wrong, I think of that unimaginable day more often than I should.  Sadly, or thankfully, time begins to dull the sharp edges and the pain becomes something akin to a bruise, not a knife.  I search the deep recesses of my mind for details, they too are harder and harder to pinpoint.  But what is not hard to pinpoint is the emotions that come with the loss.  I am grateful you were born, I remember holding you and being so proud of how perfect you were.  You were perfect, never a single sin, never a bad thought, never a harsh word that you can’t take back.  You had only ever felt love, I cling to the notion that there was no pain in your death.  You only ever found nourishment from you mothers love.  You only ever heard my voice sing to you, never yell or be a clumsy parent.  There is my next lesson.

I always wondered what stamp you would leave on this world.  You would have been a fierce voice I am sure.  You would have told me to be kinder to people less fortunate.  You probably would have said, “Dad, don’t yell at that guy who cut you off, he maybe just lost someone special and is not thinking about driving”.  Margaret, I still cause pain, I still fail, but you certainly showed me how silly my anger is.  Your lesson in love showed me how to be a better father.  It took a long time to sink in, it is still a daily crap-shoot, but it is near the front of my mind all of the time.

Random thought – Singing Children of the Heavenly Father at your burial is still the most beautiful song I have heard.  Thank-you for sending that music past my ears right to my heart.

I know I am going on, but this is my mess flowing onto the paper and I have sat on these thoughts for years.  It seems I am compelled to write them down.

I do believe you ushered in some major changes in so many lives.  I can say with no hesitation that my need to know my son Nathaniel surfaced and never went back down after our day together.  You did not allow me to justify being away from his life.  You showed me how much not getting to know someone hurts, it hurt him and it hurt me.  I could never reconcile that.  You probably already know this, but I still had many demons and battles of my own to fight before I got the courage to be a man and bring your brother into the fold.  I don’t regret taking that step for a second and, in a strange way, feel like getting to know him was your doing.  I do regret that it took so long.  The message was in a language I could not decipher,  it was just love.  I don’t know if you orchestrated it, volunteered to come and help, or the spirit or the universe or whatever flows through us knew I needed to be moved to the right place.  Sorry honey, I didn’t get it at first.

On this day that will rank among the most intense in my life, I look back and smile.  I don’t think it is possible to really quantify pain or attempt to rank the supposed  greatest moments in your life; we are all on our own journey.   Every moment builds you and defines you.  Let me tell you what I do know Margaret,  I have become more empathetic to other’s pain.  I understand how much it hurts, I didn’t even get to know you and I was stunted.   I try to imagine losing an older child after they have laughed under your roof, sat on your lap, and looked into your eyes for many years,  I cannot fathom it.  I don’t think I feel my pain to any greater or lesser degree than anyone else, but I am sure I feel it when others struggle with grief.  I look at the body of a small child washed up on the shore of Greece, the bloody toddler clinging to life in Libya, the starving child staring at me on the TV and feel that enormous wrong.  Honey, I am a better human now.  I care for people, not just ones I know or who look like me or pray like me, or believe in my dogma; humans.

I am glad you came into my life.  I am sure the lessons that others gleaned from your brief appearance are different from mine, that is what is amazing about being visited by perfect grace and love.   I remember sitting with the doctors discussing the possible reason that you were not allowed to join us, they simply said, “I have no explanation, she appears to be perfect”.  You were  perfect and always will be…happy birthday.

Time To Talk Beer


So this blog is a really fun way to pass along stuff I find interesting, fun, and helpful.  Lately I have spent a great deal of time writing about eating right and getting in shape.  I still say EAT RIGHT AND GET IN SHAPE.  However, I have neglected one of my favorite topics, beer!  Let’s take a big step back and peek into my only vice shall we.

Live Global, Dial Local, Drink Around Here

I may have that saying wrong but I am certain there is local beer near you (thus the term local).  No matter where you live there is a brewery somewhere close by.  I have a warm spot for Schell’s in New Ulm. schell's beer I also and new warm spot – The Mankato Brewery.  My apologies to those who do not live here, I get that this blog should be big picture and not about what happens in my little village, but you can figure it out.  Try, just try to put yourself at your locally brewery and open your mind up to the experiences that come with small breweries.  Let this be an example of how things can go.

Beer Flights

beer2I just read an article on Esquire or some equally as snooty site about craft beer.  I often scoff at the fashion advice and “trend of the day” writing but, this guy was spot on.  I witnessed it first hand.  He made an impassioned plea to quit asking for samples.  His point was simply that time is wasted and there is a basic truth is being ignored.  It is beer!  You cannot tell from a sip, buy the damn beer and drink it.  If you don’t really like it, don’t buy it again.   You don’t see people asking to sample the steak, or have a thimble of scotch.   Back to my observation.  This cozy brewery offers 4 – 6oz samples with a cool little carrier for $6.00.  You just got your samples.  I am sure it is a break even at best for the home-town-hop-team.  The idea is for the common slob to try a mitt-full of beer and look like you are not a knuckle-dragging mouth breather.  Here is what is sitting in my craw:

…. this woman and her friend in front of me, IN FRONT OF ME, insisted on little sample cups of beer  and stood there chatting:

“oh, did you try the blah blah blah nonsense?”

“no I didn’t, what is it like?”

“I don’t know, they say it is an amber beer, it looks brown to me?”

“oh really, I am a mouth breather, what does that mean?”

“it means people hate us.”

This crap went on for, what seemed like eternity.  Meanwhile, in the real world, a line of us were growing impatient waiting to BUY BEER and support these blokes.   Finally I was overcome with common sense, mixed with  testosterone, and stepped between them and ordered a beer.  No one cheered, no one even gave me the nod, but I knew deep down they muttered the word hero.    On a side note, I saw the aforementioned crazy woman ranting about her beer later as she stormed off to the biffy.  I hate to say it, but I knew that would happen.  You can lead them to the beer but cannot make them emotionally stable.

The point of that story is DON’T BE THAT PERSON!  Have  tiny bid of common sense and spend a few bucks.  If you are too cheap to buy a beer, don’t waste the precious time of a small business.  Go to Sam’s Club and get the 72 pack of whatever water/beer is on sale, go home, and bathe in it.  Get out of the way.

The Cool Stuff

Here is what is almost a fun as drinking beer, looking at swag.  These small breweries often have the best stuff;  hats, glasses, live music, space for events, stainless steel things, and fun people.  Saturday was the third trip to this establishment for me.  I have not had a bad day gathered about the bar yet.  The beer is cold and fresh.  The staff members who pour my libation have been unreasonably pleasant and patient.  I think they need to be patient.  One day a group of men were there on bikes.  These are vintage bicycles, not motorcycles, bikes.  They ride bikes all over the state and visit beer.  That my not be exactly the goal of this rag-tag bunch of oddities, but I am certain is was crazy old dudes on bikes.  The bar keep gladly explained the mission and hopes of the brewery for, what was probably, the 50th time that day.  Gladly they marshaled on, preaching about beer and, well beer.  Hopefully these men left with a smile on their face.

mankato brewery

The really cool thing about a business entrenched in a local market is the humanity they bring to the ecosystem.  The brewery is open to hosting events and fundraisers.  My most recent visit was a local Pride group raising money for the upcoming parade.  The brewery had a stage, power, tables, and a tolerant spirit that bodes well the future of the business.  It is important to be part of something bigger than money and a product.  I will stack up local businesses like this against corporate events any day of the week.  I may be off topic, but you can do more with less, when the people who are making the world a better place live right in the very world they serve.

Back On Topic

I would be remiss if I did not mention the beer.  I always struggle with this part since I am not a beer judge.  I know what I like and what I mostly like.  I have read all sorts of beer reviews that have categories and grading scales and science behind them.  I am not quite at that level.  I went to a winery in California called Concannon a few years ago.  It was quaint and perfect when you drove up.  I was with a guy who had never really consumed wine that was not in a box or refrigerated.  It was a lucky day for all of us when we stumbled up to the tasting table and started a conversation with the wine dude.  This guy explained the history of the place and gave his background.  He was a retired high-power lineman from Montana.  He was the Glen Campbell song!  When my co-worker opened a vein and confessed his fears about looking foolish at the winery his words were met with kind understanding.  This old guy simply said that there are four kinds of wine:  red, white, good and bad.  If you find something you like, drink it.  Simple and true, loved it!  That is how I feel about the beer I drink.  My favorites are Haymaker and Duly Noted.  Both are pale ales, my current beer of choice.  I like my beer like my women, cold and bitter.  I also had a porter and some more traditional ales.  All was well,  I was drinking beer and listening to live music.  Two tipsy thumbs up to the day.

You may not like all of the beers they sell.  Just buy one and drink it.  After you are done, buy something else…  please.

The next beer message will brought to you by the good people at HOME BREW!Home Brew

Let’s Go!


Why do we forget the bad…


The human affliction is an amazing thing.   I am not sure why, but our past either is demon from one the seven levels of hell or it was the most epic event ever.  Is it not possible to just remember a picnic as a place where you had some food?  Was it really a chance meeting with Robert Plant during a whiffle ball tournament while wearing a burka.  I want to know if any of us had a regular up bringing?  I want to know why we generally forget the bad and look fondly at history stripping away the reality?

Part I: That wasn’t so bad…

The blog is going to be multi-part.  I struggle with the key points because there is so much material here.  So for now, “take a bad song and make it better” goes first.

I talked to a friend the other day who had a rough experience.  A trip that was supposed to help drive business, re-connect with people, and explore life ended up being a let down.  The seminar was not epic, friends that should have re-connected were human after all, and the social events were too much chaos.  Early poll results showed a disappointed voter base on many fronts.  Weeks later there was new energy that came from memories, came from new information, came from getting a better understanding of the soul.  The point is why, or how does time twist memories?  Do we need to defend our fragile ego or maybe we have a need to explain things in a format that matches our expectation?

The checklist

Everyone has their own mental checklist:

Old boyfriend – he was a psycho but we had fun times

Old girlfriend – she stole all of my best vinyl but she was a great lover

First apartment – the heat didn’t work but damn did we live large

Even that little stock picture of photo shopped attractive kids shows it.  The women probably hate that dude, he probably hit on both of them and mooched off of them.  But they will look at that stupid selfie one day and ask “what ever happened to Zippy Johnson, he was so fun”.

I bet you a run through your photo albums would make my point.

A rough version of a conclusion

I think that idea is universal.  We need to survive, justify, grow, learn, advance and protect ourselves.

A number of studies were cited in an article by the BBC News regarding this topic.  The article titled, Why good memories are less likely to fade, discusses at length the human mechanism that helps us survive.

Dr Tim Dalgleish, a clinical psychologist from the University of Cambridge, tries to help those with serious depression to access positive memories.   People need good memories and will often go to great lengths to manufacture them.

I am certain there is always clarity that comes with time.  The saying goes something like time heals all wounds.  Tell that to the guy mauled by a bear.  We look back at the process and find that one little gem that popped out of seminar was germane to a current event.  We pick out the memory tied to endorphins released by laughter.  Your right brain has battled to find an answer and there it was the entire time, in the wee recesses of your bad memory.  The emotional connection is tied to everything.  Not so manly to talk about the emotional part (which is a lie – emotions are insanely sexy and manly).  We strip away facts and remember the way we felt, or even wish we felt.

I suppose if you are a pre-disposed optimist this process is inevitable.  You look for the good and try to grow from it.  I don’t know a lot of pessimists, maybe I am surrounded by them, but,  ironically my optimism has reframed them  as positive people in my mind.  I surmise many of those people will likely fixate on the crappy stuff.  I am not writing to them, they would not be able to see past my rambling writing style, it pisses them off.

I know this is one small example but it does intrigue me.  I am glad for this example because it gives me hope that we can become better people.  I usually write to men.  I have been told that I need to include women.  We all know that all of my writing includes women.  I am technically writing to men, but most women want men to be better people.  I am guessing that most women want to understand men better too.  Ladies, you are welcome.  I won’t tell anyone if you are reading this, you are still right, and we are still wrong.  I think that is probably a falsehood too but that is also another topic.   We will delve into a  discussion on people who see every event as a bad memory.  I am not too excited about that since I don’t have a frame of reference and I am naive.  So in the mean time… Let’s Go!



Can you help find a balance between ME and WE?


Life is a Balancing Act

So, I have this amazing conundrum in my life.  We all deal with it on a variety of levels and we all see it in other people, but tend to ignore it in our own world.  The issue is the delicate balance between what we want and our responsibility to others.  This is universal dilemma.  We want kids and want to give our lives to them, but at what cost?  We get married and approach things as a team, where does the “I” fit in the world of  “we”?  We pay taxes for roads but hate to pay taxes.  You get the idea.  What about me?!   It seems the older we get, the less in touch with ourselves we become.  Society gets in the way.

“Dude, you are just being selfish.”

When you’re an adult, you have to drop the selfish kid act.  It’s just too simplistic when you just look to meet needs, focus on what feels good, and all that crap; the greater good and what not.  I agree with this, to a degree.  Part of the premise of a society, or a relationship, is group values and group benefits as a method to make life better.

Maybe we need to make a society with benefits.  The benefits part should be pleasurable, right?  I am glad for fire trucks and roads, god bless society, but have we lost something?  Have we lost the benefits?  What would they be?

“Dude, you have needs just like anyone else.”

When you become a “mature” adult you don’t lose your sex drive, you don’t lose your dreams, you don’t lose that dudeness that makes you unique.  So how can a society exist without individuals who fill a variety of roles and have goals and dreams?  A stained glass window has thousands of little glass nubs that each have an individual role.  The entire window is amazing.  Without the parts there is no window, while the parts have limited value without the whole.  I’m rambling.  Society has rules that make the window keep out the elements while beautifully refracting sunlight.  I hate all the rules.

“Dude, you are the biggest rule follower I know.”

I confess.  My entire life I have been a rule follower to a fault.  But now, in my 40s, I suddenly find myself faced with a strange sort of bucket list.  I want to get in a fight, get a tattoo, express road rage, and even order food not on the menu.  I don’t believe this is simply a midlife phase.  I think it is a repressed part of me that has always been there.  I realize that I will probably never get a tattoo (I have discovered they are made with needles, and that is just plain stupid).   But maybe I can cross a few other, less painful, badass things off my list.

There is core need for expression that humans have, that humans need to express.  It is there for all of us, we just deal with it in different time frames and on different levels.  Don’t tell me you don’t have a little part of you that would move to Aruba under an assumed name and start over if you could pull it off.  This is what I speak of.

Back to the original point.  Damn.  How do you find balance?

I don’t have an answer  to this, quite frankly.  I wish I did.  My research has shown that republicans will blame Obama.  Democrats will cite my lack of compassion.  NRA guys will recommend that I buy a gun and ignore all other amendments.  Artistic types will offer expression as an escape.  That is the core of my blog: blend this shit,  add a pinch of who knows, and eventually find the truth.

I doubt the comment section will add insight.  Let’s be honest, people.  Most comments are a combination of ignorance and safely anonymous vitriol.  Go ahead and comment.  Prove me wrong.  I dare you.

So, back to the point.  I am going to go to school, study legitimate resources (don’t be shocked… not Facebook or the omnipresent Google) and try to find that elusive truth.  I have come to the conclusion that educated folks seem to help more that opinionated folks.  Perhaps a book, perhaps a blog.  Maybe a beer with strangers?

I will keep y’all posted on what transpires.  Psst…. Let’s go!

Click Like…Just Do It, Now!

like jesusThis is an old saw of mine but, the other day on Facebook…

Facebook is supposed to be a  little snapshot into our lives,  a fun way to keep in touch.  I have recently been informed I need to Click Like if my parents beat me and now I am awesome!  Click Like if I drank from a hose or rode in the back of a truck and lived.   Not to be a stickler for detail but how in the hell do you click like if you got cholera from some asbestos infused goo that was impregnated in the 20 year old hose… and died.

Clicking Like gives you freedom!  I no longer have to think about the danger of riding in an open bed of a pick-up flying down a gravel road at 60 mph.   As a kid I worked on farms every summer.  I recall our employer was heading to the farm with a pile of us in the bed paying $2.00 an hour, so clearly time was of the essence.  We flew down the highway, byway, and gravel road to ensure the weeds were eradicated.  We were damn lucky that we didn’t fly out of that truck with our little lunch box and water bottle in tow.

As a sixth grader I had a classmate who was rushing lunch out to his dad on the tractor.  He got run over because it was too hard to stop the tractor so the child could hand him his food.  Time was of the essence.  Can I Click Like and fix the catastrophic injuries Kelly suffered?

Don’t panic, we are still able to use our mouse to make life better.   I can Click Like to do something for Jesus (apparently the Son of God can be bribed with likes).  I can Click Like if I love my kids.  RELIEF!  Now I don’t have to waste my precious internet time telling them in person.  I can Click Like because I have a great kid, or mom, or goiter, or something so I am off the hook with pick-up truck guilt.  I am sure we are fine and able to live a guilt free life.

I also am sure of this, just because you got beat by an adult with a belt doesn’t mean you turned out great.  What that means is your parents were perhaps not evolved enough to communicate or teach without violence.  We don’t even know how it is even possible to use your tanned hide as a gauge to measure future greatness.  You are probably an ass.  I may be generalizing but come on people, come on.  That same logic a few generations ago would have been something like this…  Chisel Like into your stone tablet if you drown your sister to save your family from the witch she had become.  Grow up.  Just Grow.  Do something other than wax nostalgically about barbaric ignorance.

I think the kid who drank from the hose turned out ok by accident or on purpose.  I think the kid in the truck was able to Click Like later in life due to the patience of a teacher worked with him.  The truth is we survived because we are unbelievably complex emotional machines.  We can be Martha Stewart in the kitchen and still pound a beer at the bar.  We learned from our past, we read a book, we watched more than one news channel and we want to move the next level.  We are destined for the place we are destined to end up (sorry for that).  Don’t get hung up on it, try some new things, embrace the chaos and kick some ass in personClick Like if you are going to shut your laptop and live your life.

PS – I am no Jesus expert but my upbringing taught me that prayers and actions seem to have more of an impact than clicking.

Let’s go!

A List of Things Men Must Know

 Things Men Must Know

A List of Things Men Must Know

I generally dislike obligatory lists of lists – but there is a need here to have a core description of gentlemanly things all men must know.  This really isn’t a list, just thoughts disguised as a list.   Listen, you don’t have to believe me, go look at anybody that is successful or tall or who is able to communicate with women; they have a rudimentary grasp on these things.    No list is complete, this one is not either so please sit back,  gloss this over, and help me add to it.

Sartorial Splendor

Every man needs to know how to iron a shirt and tie a tie.  This is listed first because it is a mandatory item.  The dry cleaner is always anhow to tie a tie option when you need a pressed look.  It will cost a couple bucks and planning is required.  What if you end up in a hotel with a wrinkled shirt or at home preparing for a last minute meeting?  Get out the iron and fix that shirt.  The tie is just as important.  If you have a zipper tie or a clip on tie that is just fine, if you are ten.  It is not hard to learn and is a staple of your wardrobe (once I figure out how, I will add video evidence).  The other simple thing that is a must are well polished shoes.  Again I will beg off the details on how to polish them, but you can be sure I will cover that topic soon.

Epicurean Delight

Dude needs to cook.  This blog littered with recipes that are easy and can make you look suave.  Guys that cook are sexy, that martiniis the word on the street.  Breakfast should be more than eggs and bacon.  An omelet is so easy and it has great curb appeal.  Manage the grill, cook a steak, make any food that does not come in a can or a box.  The bottom line is a cooking class may be in your best interest.  I am a Midwest guy, raised on casserole (or as we simple folk call it, hot dish).  Hot Dish will do in a pinch, much like spaghetti or chili, any dolt can make it.  Get to a couple go-to meals and you will be ahead of the game.

This category includes some drinks.  We have already discussed the whiskey play.  You also need to know how to make a martini.  The “drink it” section will be your friend , I promise.  In the mean time a classic shaken martini with olives is the rule to live by.  Splurge on the vodka for this one (2 oz. Ketel One mixed with 1/2 oz. dry vermouth shaken over ice poured into chilled glass with two olives).  There is a direct correlation between the quality of the Vodka and the suffering of the people who make it.  Swarthy Polish people make Belvedere, they have suffered and the Vodka is righteous.  For the same reason I generally avoid Grey Goose, the French, come on.  You can use any crap in a Bloody Mary or a Screwdriver because the mix is so strong, but the Martini gives you no where to hide.  That reminds me, Bloody Mary recipes are coming!

Train The Brain

It may seem like a small thing but you need to get your mind around communication.  Every man needs to be able to have a conversation with a child.  It is a great exercise in joy and patience to talk to children on their level.  Nothing moves the fairer sex more than seeing a man and a young one in a deep conversation.  Don’t do it to just look good, do it because it is tonic for your soul.  On that same bent, have a book handy to read.  You can use the Kindle, an app on your phone, or even read an old-fashioned paper book.  This can help you build that organ you need to use more, the brain.  Not just the brain stem that demands food, sleep, sex and wants you to fight.  It builds the advanced frontal lobes.  It helps you communicate with that delicate child.

Get Past Your Past

If you ever want to be a whole person you will have to eventually realize that you can neither ignore your past nor can you change it.  It is stuff you did.  Sure you can spin it and justify your behavior but, eventually you have to face the fact, it is the path you took.  Every man needs to respect that past and grow from it.  Even if that past is littered with figurative, or literal, skeletons you must reflect and grow.  I realize this is along way from getting a good knot in a tie but, that tie looks better on a self-aware neck.  I have said it before and I will say it again – every man needs to talk to someone smarter than them about emotions.  Many of us did not even know we had emotions let alone recognize experiencing them as manly.

And Of Course

•travel   •get a firm handshake   •listen to classical music (not The Rolling Stones – Mozart)   •Have ten different music mixes on your Spotify   •volunteer for something   •go to the gym (you will thank me)   •look people in the eye   •be a gentleman (especially with women)   •put your phone away when you are engaged with someone   •build a fire  •do something outdoors  •laugh   •learn to tell a joke   •no really laugh (don’t take yourself so seriously)  •and find a passion  (scratch and claw and dig to find something that moves you) Perhaps the list should just be that last bullet point.  Everything else will become a detail if you find your passion. That is all for now Let’s Go!

Divorced Dads: It’s time to get your swagger back

Get your swagger back after divorce
Source: Tapiture

Many of you are just like me. You used to be somebody.  You were a kick-ass dude with his life tightly pulled together.  Of course,  we all know you are still freakin’ awesome. But now, it’s more like the watered-down divorced kind of awesome.  The after divorce kind of awesome.  And that doesn’t feel the same at all.  You work hard, fall behind, miss out on great events, and you doubt yourself.  Divorce is a crazy thing for everyone. Everyone. I know because I have firsthand knowledge.  It’s my story too.

There is an endless stream of shows, articles, books, and resources to help newly-divorced women learn to cope without a man (as if they need the help).  I’m sure you’ve also heard people yammer on about the virtues of putting the kids first.  BTW… if I had a dollar for every clichéd “I am doing it for my kids” line of BS I would be a sitting on a giant pile of cash instead of this office chair.  But there is deafening silence when you bring up a discussion about how Dad should deal with the mess that’s left behind after divorce.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

It’s time to recognize that it is not a sign of weakness to want to be a man.  I am not talking about chopping-wood-in-your-flannel-shirt-while-drinking-whiskey man.  I am talking about a man who is part of the experience.  A man who has a heart and a soul, a man who doesn’t have to measure his worth in machismo.  Don’t misunderstand, it is bad ass to chop wood while drinking whiskey– but it’s so much more than that.  You are not a criminal if you fight to be a great dad.   You are not the bad guy if you fight for more time with your children.  You simply need to GET YOUR SWAGGER BACK.

Here is a cursory list of things you can do to get your emotional swagger back. 

Go to a counselor

This step was critical for me.  I waited until I was in a really bad place before I went to a professional.  Do not delay this step!  Most psychologists are wicked smart about what you are going through.  You would not sit at home and stew about your car not running, you would go to a mechanic.  Dr. Perrin was my mechanic.  I don’t think there was any magic, he just showed me a path.  Maybe he just listened with no pre-conceived notions about me.  Maybe he was a safe place for me to be honest.  Whatever it was I cannot stress this enough.

Show your kids the real you

You can shed a tear at your kids first dance because that is major life event.  Your kids need to know you are fully engaged on many levels.  It is very hard to understand what is going on in their minds.  They are generally younger than you (right) and don’t have much life experience with emotions.  Hell, as grown men we have not generally been given permission to even have emotions let alone understand them.  It is critical that they hear from you about life.  Not to preach or even teach but to remind them, even subconsciously, that you care and are interested.  There could be terribly inaccurate information pouring into their brains daily from well intended people about your relationship with them.  They are smart, they know what you say and what you DO.

Don’t forget all this stuff!

Or course you can hit the gym and regain your body which helps your confidence and all that goes with that.  You can be super effective at work and solidify one part of your life.  You can get a grip on your budget (or at least try).  Don’t forget to read a book, a non-fiction book.  Build some great play-lists on Spotify and shut off the TV.  And… you can share a beer with your inner most doubts, in your garage, and explain why you can’t hang out anymore. Send that stupid inner voice packing and be awesome again.  

This is the first of many posts that point toward potential fixes.  Life goes on after divorce.  It can be better than ever, but it does take time and effort.  I am not a PhD in “manology” nor do I have a team of psychologists backing my research.  My degree in divorce is from the school of hard knocks.  I am a divorced dad who struggled mightily with my place in the world and still do.  I am a regular working guy trying to make ends meet and reset myself.  Most importantly I am currently busting my ass to get to a great place.

There will be no vitriol and hate, no low-hanging fruit pointed at former spouses or blaming the system.  This is a place to grow, think, love, and come up with some cool shit.  Stay tuned for a long-running dialog on being somewhere between functional and a rock star after divorce.   Jump on and come along for the ride.

Let’s Go!

The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear

The $100 Freaking Four-Foot “Hunka Love” Teddy Bear

I just saw a Valentine’s Day commercial that made me freeze in my tracks.  While I’m not going to dive into the commercially made-up holiday that is Valentines Day, I do think this advertisement deserves a little discussion.

A beautiful woman gets a teddy bear for Valentine’s Day from a great looking man.  A FOUR-FOOT TALL FREAKING TEDDY BEAR.  She is sooooo happy and the look in her eyes clearly demonstrates that she is in an amorous state based on her feelings towards “Captain Thoughtful” and this amazing romantic gesture.

Oh wait,  it gets worse.  Then, they show a hottie in a spaghetti-strap tank top turning up her nose at a box of chocolates because you, the stupid man, are trying to get her fat.  How dare you give her chocolate?  How insensitive.  Don’t you know that her silicone is very new and there could be a dangerous reaction?  Dude, you are an ass.

Flowers – Ha!  DEAD in a week, just like your love life.  Clearly, no woman wants flowers because if they don’t last forever they’re no good.  Isn’t that why people don’t want pets or kids?  No woman wants anything that doesn’t live forever.  Insert perfect gift NOW.

Vermont Teddy Bear HunkaThe four-foot teddy bear will, and I quote, “…take care of her when you are not around.”  What?  Is this stuffed menace also anatomically correct?  Is it a twisted, yet erotic, combination of Ted and Chuckie?  I mean, I like a teddy bear as much as the next guy, but for $100 this fluffy guy should do something to earn his keep.   Surrogate Phallic Teddy never fails, and you Zippy, fail all the time.

I wonder how long the relationship will last?  Sure ,Teddy never comes home drunk or gets fired for hitting on the bosses wife.  Sure ,Teddy never says anything stupid in front of that special someone’s parents.  And of course you would not catch fur ball “accidentally” locking the cat out of the bedroom.   The good news is that I think that will wear off FAST.

There will come a day when Teddy does not take out the garbage or will not be around for the toilet seat blame-game.  He will be laying there like a dolt in the corner when one of her friends was passive aggressive on facebook and she needs to talk about the two-faced bitch.  And Teddy, flawless Teddy will commit the ultimate sin by not noticing the new haircut.  BOOM! You’re back in, my friend.  You take the fall for the seat indiscretion, you call out the former friend, and swoon over the cut.  Back in.

I realize there is no perfect gift.  I have some very real and irrational fears about this 99.99 “Act Now” parasite, but there is great hope in it as well.  Sometimes it takes great evil to see great good (or at least average good).  Eventually when Teddy lets her down, she’ll realize that you are not a giant buffoon.  She will realize that you are just a flawed monkey.  Her monkey.  Had you bought her flowers or some transitory junk there would have never been such an epiphany.  It took the $100 Fur Ball of Evil to teach her that.

My final advice is to never buy a human-sized beanbag.   Maybe buy her flowers?  Doesn’t sound like much advice, but it is.  You can do so much more by being home now and then, noticing her haircut (and lie about it if you don’t like it – bonus advice!), be anatomically correct yourself (even if not perfect) and see how that works out.  Plus, that hundred bucks could buy some pretty damn good scotch.

Of course don’t take my word for it, buy the bear, and then let me know how it works out.  That’s why I have a comment section.

Let’s Go!

The Curse of Our Thumbs

opposable thumbs - good or bad?

The Curse of Our Thumbs

A giant evolutionary step in humans becoming the dominant species on the earth really has to be the opposable thumb (I say that with a wink and a nod to those who think there was no such thing as evolution).  For the sake of this little ditty, let’s agree it was an evolutionary thing.  I think we need to pare out some grand themes, it is a blog not a treatise on the evolution of man.

Save the comments.  I know there are many things that could be the defining moment.  For example,  fire and the wheel are arguments that could be pointed my way.  I love fire, it cooks my food and warms the cockles of my heart.  The wheel, what can a guy say?  I love my car, so I assume we can all be thankful for those two big steps.  I am certain that had Grog had no thumb, he makes no wheel (Boom! – Trump card).  Our thumbs open doors, literally.  Grog sports a flipper or a gnarled claw and we are a footnote in a journal written by alien archaeologists as they visit a planet with no intelligent life.

There are people, like Roger Waters, who is not a fan of our evolution.

“Then some damn fool invents the wheel –  Listen to the whitewalls squeal –  You spend all day looking for a parking spot – Nothing for the heart, nothing for the pot.”  — Roger Waters (from the song Me or Him on RADIO K.A.O.S.).

I would guess that there is probably someone out there who hates fire.  Ice man?  Maybe Smokey the Bear?  I don’t know it is hard to picture a real human who does not benefit from being warm.  Dang, I am rambling again… but I was looking for a reason to quote Roger.

My point is this:  Our supposed greatest physical asset has become one of our greatest enemies.  Yes, we can still open doors, build fires, and make tires, all thanks to Mr. Thumb.  That said, I also must scold our flexible digit because he has stunted us in our emotional growth and intellectual growth.  I think it is fair to say the thumb has become self-aware.

Our thumb is why don’t we talk anymore.   Seriously… We don’t have to!  Our thumbs are in cahoots with the cell phone companies that have dumbed us down to WTF, LOL, LMFAO and MUSE (OK… I made that one up).  A cool thing about talking is inflection.  Other things that I thoroughly enjoy are sarcasm, compassion, pace, timbre, poetic license, and just good ol’ slang.  The thumb is inflectionless, has no sense of humor, doesn’t give more than grunts and pokes.  It’s in direct opposition with so many of life’s simple pleasures.

Please understand that I love my thumb.  This is source of great conflict that only my mother, my therapist, and god understand.  Had I been born a few decades ago we would have hitch hiked across America.  I was raised on The Fonz who, if we are not too cool to admit, moved the thumb back into our collective conscience.  Yes, the thumb told the lions to finish off gladiators and the thumb let us know if the movie was going to be good (or at least artsy).  From that standpoint I am certain that the thumb has done me a solid.  But now… oh lord… now the thumb has forsaken me.  I will see you later becomes a vague reference to Saved By The Bell and now my friend thinks they will see Slater later.  Spell check and typos have teamed up with blunt words to make me look like an ass.  There I said it.

While our thumbs don’t totally suck, I believe they have ruined our front-brains.  We can still fight, forage for food, rut, and cry like a baby when that fight gets us punched in the face but we cannot clearly elucidate a point regarding love.  We cannot affirm our fellow man, we can barely arrange place to meet when we sell some crap on Craigslist.

But it’s not hopeless.  It is not too late to reclaim our relationships, let our other fingers do some of the work, and even, dare I say, use our mouths.  Let’s talk, grab some coffee and remind our thumbs of their place.  To quote the Fonz, Aaayyyy.

Let’s Go!

SIDE NOTE:  No real thumbs are quoted here to protect the innocent.

“hey just checking if we are going out tonight” — The Thumb
“why r u bailing on me” — some alleged friend’s thumb
“no I have to stop somewhere and wanted to check on your schedule” — first thumb
“Oh, I see I am just an event on the schedule DON’T BOTHER” — second overly-sensitive odd thumb


I attended the Pathfinder Awards ceremony on MLK Jr. Day. It is an event that recognized people in my home town who display a willingness to include, grow, and make Mankato a better place for all people. It was very well done and all of the recipients were gracious and worthy. A young high school girl who set up a prom for developmentally disabled children in her school, a teacher who built a science curriculum for student who struggle learning English, and a business who works with local refugees to employee these individuals displaced from their countries all shone brightly. The amazing thing is that none of them are public speakers, none are charismatic leaders, none have access to key legislation, they are just doing.

The keynote was delivered by Rev. Dr. James Washington. His resume is amazing and intimidating. He probably knows more about human rights than all of the rest of us combined. He changed his presentation after seeing the things being done at a grass-roots level. While he could have quoted his books, dropped names, or even talked down to us, he chose another path. He simply focused on making a difference in a little way every single day. He burst into song, he referenced people in the room and he was engaging.

He talked about his goal of eliminating racism and sexism and ageism and homophobia was unrealistic. He reminded us, through self deprecating comments, that we can only leave the world a better place.

Don’t be silent, don’t accept the status quo, make a difference on action at a time. His call to action including a statement that our instant media generation often forgets. His call to action was so simple yet so far off our radar that I had to pause and reflect on my plans. I consider myself open and caring and willing to grow. He said “first seek to understand, then seek to be understood”. Bam. There it is. We post on Facebook, we dogmatically lecture others, we think we are explaining. We are assuming that our audience it at the same level emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. We assume they have the same life experiences and are starting from the same place. I was embarrassed for myself.  We will discuss this at length another day.

Time to move forward with this information. Time to be the change. Time to be better. Time to make it better.

Let’s go!


Copyright © 2014. Created by Meks. Powered by WordPress.