Blog post 302 another tragic story

yesterday we had a tragic story of a good backing up and killing a mentally handicapped girl.

Today a story of family friends

(Names changed)

Mike was a nineteen year old young man.  He was in the Army Reserves- and committed suicide.  It was a deep shock to his family.  They did a lot of introspection- what went wrong; why didn’t they see his symptoms and problems.

This caused a great deal of angst for James and Tara his parents.  Eventually James and Tara separated and divorced.  Subjectively Tara both blamed herself and James for Mike’s death.  It was very hard on them.

While death of a child is tragic enough death of a child who seemed to he normal can be even more tragic.

while one cannot understand fully what is going on in a troubled child’s mind these parents ended up blaming themselves and the other spouse.

the lesson I got out of this is that life goes on.  While grieving is normal at some point you have to reach the last stage in the grieving process – which is acceptance.In there grief they neglected their other children and built a wall between each spouse.

Maybe Shakespeare said it best as what is done cannot be undone. You cannot dwell on an event to the exclusion of the rest of life.

what do you think?

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Blog post 301 Tragic Mistakes

Tragic Mistakes

i was reminded the other day of Tragic Mistakes.  In particular for one of those mistakes a man in our small South Dakota town accidentally ran over a mentally restarted girl.

This man was well known in town – pillar of the community of you will.  He WAS the town Santa Claus.  He was a business owner and a fine Christian.  Backing out of the Dairy Queen, somehow this girl was behind his car and didn’t move out of the way.  He didn’t realize he had hit her until it was too late.

He was devastated.  The mother of the girl did understand and the man compensated the mother and family “over and above”.

But for the rest of his days he carried this burden.  I’m sure that a Day didn’t go by without thinking about it.

Im not sure I can add much that I would have said to him.  The accident happened; the girl died; it was an accident – not intentional.

Im not sure if we have things like this in our lives – where a tragic event occurred.  At some point with God’s help we somehow have to get over it.

what do you think?


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Blog Post #300 Changing your mind and ambition

A William James quote:  “The greatest discovery of my age is that men can change their circumstances by changing the attitude of their mind.”

And a quote from Donald Mitchell: “Ambition is the spur that makes man struggle with destiny.  It is heaven’s own incentive to make purpose great and achievement greater.

Let’s think about ambition and changing our minds together today.

We can be complacent – going day-after-day in the same fashion.  One foot in front of the other. Or we can be ambitious. We can look for opportunities and see where we might fit in.  

But, ambition requires us to change our minds to match the opportunities.

I was teaching high school math in Keokuk Iowa.  We had two children. My ambition came mostly from needs than just ambition.  We ran out of money before we ran out of the month. The last week of the month was “hold on, payday is coming”!!!  

So, how could a high school teacher make more money?  I could moonlight – take a second job. I could work in the summers.  I did like having my evenings at home with my family (Steve was two years old when I left Keokuk, and Becky was a baby).  

With my education, I (probably incorrectly) figured the next move on the education payroll was to be a principal (or, as assistant principal).  We saved and I started a master’s program in educational administration. I remember taking school law, school finance and a school psychology classes.  With this limited background, I opened my placement file and started to look for openings for assistant principals that might left me by without a full degree.  I found and applied for a position in Emmons MN – a small town near Albert Lea. I even got an interview – but no job. But, in that looking around, others found me in the placement files – most notably my undergraduate and master’s institution, Winona State University.  The chair of math called me in early August and ask if I would be interested in a one-year collegiate teaching position. I said ‘yes’.

I could have stayed a high school math teacher the rest of my life, but I have ambition (and financial need) to find something else that could make our lives better.  I changed my mind and focused on higher paying jobs and was ambitious to start a master’s program in educational administration.

Then more ambition, apply for a position in computing education – without a computing major?  Sure!! Move across the country to Oregon for a position? Sure!! Move back to the midwest for another position? Sure!!!  I kept moving up. Would I serve as acting Dean? Sure!!! Would I go back to school for a doctorate? Sure!!

Yes, I had to change my attitude many times and my ambition seemed to grow each time I moved up.  Where the promotion from instructor to assistant professor to associate professor to full professor would generally take 15 to 21 years (seven years at each step along the way), I went to full professor in 12 years (through the grateful patronage of a mentor).  I moved to a private institution, got great experiences (and a lot of money) and now am retired (with a great financial plan).

Where can changing YOUR attitude and having ambition get you to?  Do you have plans? Do you have a vision? Where can you go? How can you get there?

What do you think?  Can you do that? What do you want to do today?  Can you approach it with gusto and make it happen?  YES YOU CAN!!!

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #299 Build that runway!!

Build that Runway!!!

A quote attributed to Amelia Earhart: “Some of us have great runways already built for us.  If you have one – take off! But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.”

Most of you know that Amelia Earhart was a pioneer in aviation – and a great pioneer in women in aviation.  She never returned from a flight around the world. Some have speculated that her plane landed in some island and either crashed, the natives kept her there, or she decided to stay there.

But, back to her quote:

In my life, I had a runway that existed for me.  I got a great education, went to an existing university (University of Nebraska) and got a doctorate (PhD); got great positions and excelled.  The important part of my life – was not just having the runway, but TAKING OFF on the runway. I had opportunities and tried to make the most of my God given talents and the situation I was in.  

In today’s blog, I want to talk about building a runway.

At Dakota State University in 1984, the South Dakota Board of Regents changed the mission of Dakota State to be one of information systems and technology.  Yes, I was in the right place at the right time, and yes, I had some of the skills. I remember being at a working lunch with about five people (including the acting president of the university) and crafting a curriculum.  And, yes, I do fondly remember actually writing the curriculum on the back of napkins!!! It was truly from scratch – but based on knowledge and experience. While that current has been modified since then, many parts still exist.  We set up courses in programming, systems analysis, databases, project management, management information systems in businesses, and a capstone ‘put-it-all-together’ course. That with a solid business core and a solid general education core become one of the premier programs in the United States.  It also gave me an impetus to move out to stretch, to grow outside of my comfort zone.

This was building a runway that many have followed.  With my Facebook friends, I count many that are very successful.  At least four of my former students have gone on for doctorate degrees and are teaching at various institutions around the United States.  (If you will, the many graduates and students that I interacted with are kicking back into the system huge tax amounts – for schools, for governments.  But, beyond that they are kicking back into the community as boy and girl scout leaders, even politicians, a few judges, attorneys, CIO (Chief Information Officers) and more.  If you will, I might be at the tip of an iceberg with thousands that benefitted from my teaching. Now, understand that I am not bragging – these students did it themselves – with their God given talents too.  They got up in the morning, faced the day and achieved. But, I had at least a small part in motivating and encouraging them.

I hope my efforts will continue for many years to come, even though many will not know my name – but the leaders that these former students have become will touch the next generations, who will impact generations after them.

So a sleepy, teacher education institution became a high tech campus with great success – and I was part of that.

So, what do you think?  Can you picture yourself on the tip of an iceberg – encouraging others to reach out, build their own runways and make this world a better place?  I encourage you to invest in others!!

What do you think?  Can you do that? What do you want to do today?  Can you approach it with gusto and make it happen?  YES YOU CAN!!!

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #298 Morning Wishes

Blog Post #298 Morning Wishes

I did a blog recently on starting your morning.  Here are some additional morning thoughts (from:

1) Great attitude is like a perfect cup of coffee – don’t start you day without it. Good morning.

2) Good thoughts precede great deeds. Great deeds precede success. Have a great day.

3) Success comes to those who have the willpower to win over their snooze buttons. Wishing you an awesome morning.

4) This message is to remind you that you are beautiful, talented and one of a kind. No one can stop you from doing anything that is on your mind. Good morning.

5) Don’t wake up with the regret of what you couldn’t accomplish yesterday. Wake up while thinking about what you will be able to achieve today. Good morning.

Let’s look at the last two – with the last one first.

Don’t think about yesterday – it is gone – it is in the past.  Yes, you might have missed something yesterday, but forget about it – turn your face to the new day and start it with positive thoughts and actions!!!


Then the fourth one:

Yes – we are unique.  In each of us in our own ways we ARE beautiful, talented and definitely one of a kind.  You may not be the smartest, the fastest, the most knowledgeable – but YOU ARE YOU!! What are thinking about doing today?  Put it in your brain, make it solid – and go for it. When your mind and your body align, you CAN move mountains.


What do you think?  What is on your mind?  What do you want to do today?  Can you approach it with gusto and make it happen?  YES YOU CAN!!!

Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #296 Advice

Yes, I give advice here.  I find things that have worked for me (or for others) and am glad to share them.  Sometimes I find quotes and/or Biblical verses that inspire, correct, guide or admonish you.

Today is no exception.

The advice is:  You make your own life!!

That’s it – ultimately you make your own decisions and you make your own life.  

Your parents may direct you when you are younger – either overtly or subtly.  They might say ‘Go into this major field’ (overt) or ‘I think this major field would be a good choice’ (or even ‘this major field was great for my friend <name>’).

That is advice – we can act on the advice – or we can ignore the advice – or we can incorporate some of the advice into our lives.  

As you get married your spouse may give advice.  And again this can be overt or subtle. Things like “Dear, it would be great is you <did this advice>”; or the subtle “I see <name> did great in <this area / major / advice>.” (which implies it would be good for you.

BUT – you are not like somebody else.  In High School, a distance cousin was head-and-shoulders over me in terms of grades.  In college I was way ahead of him in terms of grades. From high school (where honestly, I didn’t really care) to college (where I was in charge of my life), things really switched around.

Three days ago, I attended a five-and-six year old soccer game where my granddaughters played.  One of the granddaughters did pretty much what she was directed to do by the coach and by her mother / grandmother.  The other one did pretty much what she wanted to do – ignored the coach, didn’t do a great job on the field. Mom and grandma urged the second girl to play harder, to go to the ball, to kick it towards the goal – but she did her own thing.  If one was to guess from age five, she will never play in the Olympics on the women’s soccer team. Is that bad? Could and should she be learned about teamwork, paying attention to a coach, and doing some good actions? Absolutely. But, maybe at age five she had made an internal decision that soccer isn’t ‘her thing’.

How about you?  Are you following somebody else’s advice?  Not that advice is bad, but you do make your own life.  You can incorporate some advice about how to get promoted and how to make more money (if that is your goal) or how to have a better marriage – or you can ignore the advice – your choice.  

In some families, the son takes after the father.  If the grandfather / father were lawyers, the son is expected to be a lawyer as well.  But, what if the son doesn’t want to be a lawyer but a salesman? You make your own life.  

So what do you think?  Are you making your own life or is somebody’s advice holding you back?   Is that important to you?  

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #295 Mentoring

Yesterday I did my weekly mentoring session.

I’m a mentor for a 6th grade student at the nearby Middle School.  His mother requested a mentor for him. Seemingly his father is out of the picture (divorced probably) and she thought an adult male role model would be good for him.

It isn’t a hard assignment.  We spend about an hour together once a week.  I have done some structured activities (moebius strips, wuzzles, logic problems), some games (connect four, Apples to Apples, Yahtzee), and some physical things (he loved to shoot baskets).  We talk a little. Sometimes I try to get some life lessons and suggestions, but I try not to be too philosophical.

Last week I learned that he and his family are moving to Washington State.  Something about more of his mother’s family are there and it might be a new start for them.  Subconsciously I think I will miss him – although we will have about six more times together.  I’m getting to know him and becoming comfortable with him and he with me.

Although he didn’t tell me (the middle school program coordinator did), he misses his real father.  As a man who grew up in a solid nuclear family home – and only one person in terms of fairly closely related ever divorced, the idea of a split family is not as close as it must be to this young man.  Maybe he will get the idea that if marriage doesn’t work out, you just call it quits and move on.

As a mentor, I can communicate verbally and non-verbally.  He can see me as a caring adult (or caring ‘foster grandparent’).  My actions of just showing up every week should tell him that I think he is important and has value in my life (and that I care about him).  To have an adult that is not a parent spend an hour with any sixth grader one-on-one is almost unheard of.

Thinking of myself – do I have anybody who spends an hour with me one-on-one other than my wife or a relative?

Maybe we all need mentors to be role models for us, to listen to us, and just to show up on a regular basis.  Such mentors directly or indirectly say “You are important to me”.

I had many mentors in my life – mostly teachers who cared to talk to me one-on-one, to be around and to be role models.  They gave of themselves – and now it is time for me to give back to others.

So what do you think?  Is such giving back as a mentor important to you?  Can you think of how some of your mentors have helped you through life?

Go for it!! Have a great day!!


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Blog Post #294 Cure for Loneliness

Are you lonely?

Shaunti Feldhahn has these two thought, that I am borrowing today.

1:  Build a community.
2:  Ask for help

Let’s look at those.

Build a Community:

When I was a professor, I had a community.  I didn’t need to build it, the student, administration, professors, and all built it for me.  When I walked into a class on the first day, the community was there. The students had registered for my class section.  Some had picked my section because the time was right for them; some had looked at various reviews that suggested I was a fair and honest professor; others had talked to their friends who had taken my class before and strongly endorsed my class / section.

I had other communities.  In Hamden, I had two (three?) symphony orchestras for communities:  Hamden Symphony, Cheshire Symphony (and on occasion Quinnipiac University Symphony).  I had the Pep Band community; the Sig Ep community; the St. Rita community.

In Leander, my communities are less with my retirement.  The university community is smaller as I only see those that have befriended me on Facebook.  I’m kind of leaving the Band of the Hills community; I like the Brushy Creek Brass Band group – but that is a sporadic community for May and October.  I have a men’s group through Gateway Church that is a community and another at St. Vincent de Paul church. I’m in a Stephen Ministry community. I’m in the Vista Ridge HOA community. Not quite the same involvement as my Hamden Communities.  

I’ve been in a lot of online communities.  Facebook is one community that I appreciate – with college friends (both from my attendance and my teaching); and more.  I was in a great Twitter community with transgender friends until that caused angst in my family.

I know I need to cultivate a new and larger community.  I can do that be stretching my neck out – being more open than I have been in the past year.

Ask for help:

Going along with the first suggestion (build a community) is being able to ask for help.  If I do leave the Band of the Hills, is there a music community that I can join (or start)?  Is there a work community? More interaction with the Leander Middle School people? Go to games and events?  Get to know more of the faculty and students.

I’ve asked our daughter for help and am planning on attending a BSF group tonight for a new community.  Let’s see if that can blossom into more friends and a close environment.

Build a community / join communities / be an active and vital part of those communities

Ask others, reach out, as for help – be a friend

So how about you?  Are you reaching out and building or joining communities?

What do you think?

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #293 Insecurity

Are you insecure?  Do you think you are less than others?

How about this quote:

“There will always be someone willing to hurt you, put you down, gossip about you, belittle your accomplishments and judge your soul. It is a fact that we all must face. However, if you realize that God is a best friend that stands beside you when others cast stones you will never be afraid, never feel worthless and never feel alone.”

A friend shared this thought with me the other day:  “Eat Nutritious, Lift Heavy, Cuddle Often, Laugh a lot, Work Hard, Enjoy Life”

I like that.

I know that sometimes I am too worried about what other might think of me.  I know I try not to judge – but know that others might be more into judging me that I am of them.

I have to accept who I am.  No more (and be overly proud) or too less (and be insecure).  But this quote states that God is with me – as a best friend that stands beside me.

From Romans 8: 31:  “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us,who can be against us?”

And farther down in the same chapter:

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If I take that as true, then I am something – in God – I am more than a conqueror.  Whatever somebody else says, they don’t recognize that I am under God’s umbrella.

Maybe I’m not as fast or smart or good looking or <whatever> than another person, but that’s okay.  I am who I am – and frail and failing as I am, I’m able to say that God is for me – so who cares what else is going on – God is WITH me!!!  And … nothing can separate me from God.

So, how is your insecurity?  Can you put yourself under God’s protection?

What do you think?

Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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Blog Post #292 From a friend

A friend shared this thought with me the other day:  “Eat Nutritious, Lift Heavy, Cuddle Often, Laugh a lot, Work Hard, Enjoy Life”

I like that:

  • Eat nutritious – not junk food, not sugar laden sodas or nutrition-less white bread / white flour.  Eat your vegetables; avoid needless carbohydrates.
  • Lift heavy – do your part.  We willing to share in the work with others.  Share in team successes
  • Cuddle Often – ‘love makes the world go round’ – be willing to share your love – and to receive other’s love.  Human touch also helps us heal
  • Laugh a lot – laughter has been described as the ‘best medicine’.  Laughing helps us to stay stable and focus on what is important. There was a business / self-improvement book a few years back “Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it is all small stuff)”
  • Work Hard – happiness can come with accomplishing tasks.  Make a list to complete, and then take pleasure to cross off tasks when you accomplish them
  • Enjoy Life – all of the previous list is pointing to being happy in yourself.  Take time to enjoy life – taking time to ‘Smell the Roses”.

How about you – are you enjoying life?  How might you rate yourself on the previous list?

Life is too short – make the most of it!!


Go for it!! Have a great day!!



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