Nine Lives?

April 8th, 2013 § Comments § permalink

Red Angus CowAccording to my calculations, I’ve used up three of my nine lives. Those are just the ones I know about.

In 1981, there was an explosion during a live fire training exercise and the two guys standing on either side of me ended up in the hospital. I was untouched.

In 1992, I was on a sailboat that crashed into hidden rocks on the Alaskan coastline. We abandoned the vessel and were safely rescued. It was expensive, but unlike many, the six of us on-board survived.

Two days ago, while helping a friend on his ranch, I was charged by an overprotective cow and knocked down. It happened very quickly and I was completely unprepared. While my friend Rick was trying to tag a newborn calf, the mama cow got a little obnoxious. I was standing about 15 feet away, and a little behind Rick, when suddenly this 1500 beast was upon me.

I whacked her once across the face with the cow-whacker I had in my hand, but I still found myself on the ground. My friend was quick and he chased the cow away before she stomped me into human hamburger.

At the time, I was neither scared, nor did I feel any pain. I knew it was a dangerous situation, but it took a few hours before the real danger dawned on me. These cows look docile from a distance as they casually graze in pastures, but they can be quite dangerous.

I thanked Rick for saving my life, and as the day progressed, I grew more and more humble. I knew, without a doubt, my kids almost watched their Dad get stomped.

Also as the day grew longer, my chest and thigh began to hurt. By the next morning, my chest was very sore – and then I coughed and I felt as if my ribs were broken. As a former hockey player, I’ve been hit before, but nothing compared to what I felt yesterday.

But today is a new day, and the pain has subsided. I still can’t cough, laugh, blow my nose, or strain – but I’m going to live.

Not counting the close calls I don’t know about, I suppose I have about 5 or six lives to go.

My wife prayed a special prayer for protection that morning, and obviously that prayer was answered!

Dead Wrong?

March 15th, 2013 § Comments § permalink

KindnessA few years ago I was facing some great pressure to succeed. Some of it was external, but much of it came out of my own brokenness, desire to not fail, and personal ambition. On top of that, I was burned out and running on empty. I knew what had to be done, but I didn’t have what it took to get it done.

Though I had a great team, I was losing them. Partly because I was driving them away, and partly because they could see the end coming – even if I couldn’t. And then I made a huge blunder. It was a calculated risk, but it was the wrong choice. In my desire to finish what we started, I pressured a good friend to be someone he wasn’t. I loved him (still do) and needed him (still do), but I hurt him badly. In the process, I lost the trust and respect of the others also.

The project collapsed, I was transferred, and we all went our separate ways. Unfortunately, we never held a formal postmortem and some of our greatest successes, as well as our mistakes and failures, vanished into the ether – never to be seen again.

On my next job, not realizing it at the time, I carried much of the same enthusiasm, ambition, and burn out. Within a couple of years, I not only failed, but I was asked to leave. Thus began a long solo journey into introspective confusion.

In the last year things have begun to make sense. I realize how driven I was, how obnoxious I was in that ambition, and how impatient I became when people didn’t catch the vision in my soul.

When I my Dad was teaching me to drive, and explaining the right-of-way rules and laws, he used to talk about being “Dead Right.” In other words, I may have the right-of-way, but I could end up being dead right. I now see that as the perfect metaphor for the past six-plus years of my life – if not my entire life.

Passion, Purpose, and Pressure

December 27th, 2012 § Comments § permalink

life its all trial errorLearning what doesn’t work, is the work of a lifetime, but often we approach it by trying to figure out what does work for us. It’s a trial and error process for most – often discouraging, and occasionally rewarding. Most of us stumble through this process and grab the first things that work for us. This works for many people. It doesn’t work well for everyone.

My first round of success in emergency services was fun, rewarding, and quite successful. Yet, at some point I grew restless and bored. I dreamed of bigger things and a life beyond the streets. It was a trip to Mexico that my eyes were opened. When I saw the needs there, especially in EMS, I realized, for the first time, there were bigger fish to fry. The effort I put into improving EMS in the US might create small, incremental changes and result in some quality improvements, but that same amount of effort would greatly reduce mortality and morbidity in developing nations.

As I processed through this reality, I also began to process through some failures in my life. I realized that drinking and partying were not working for me. Bingo! Just like that, I realized one thing that didn’t work. Unfortunately, it took about 15 years to pull out of that trap I’d fallen into. As I found serenity and spiritual alignment, I put less value on a medical approach to lifesaving and more on the eternal spiritual values. This process helped me to better clarify my life’s purposes and passions – and yet, the pressures of life continued to press from all angles.

“We’re told we need…”

We’re told we need money, housing, and food to survive – and beyond that, society tells us we need a big house, nice car, and an impressive job in order to acquire the “success” label. It’s easy to want society’s accolades, affirmations, and adorations – and yet, for some, these trappings are a dead-end.Trial & Error

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have the house, car, and financially successful career, but sometimes the constraints are not worth the benefits. Sometimes there are things far more important than social affirmation. For me, I’ve clearly found that family works very well for me – and I’m unwilling to sacrifice them for the sake of anyone, anything, or any job.

Four years ago some people tried to bully me into putting more emphasis on my career and less on my family. I said no and was fired for it. A year and a half ago I lost a management promotion because my family had needs that were greater than the pressures my boss was putting on me. Six months ago, I walked away from that same job because it was killing me and killing my family. Of course this means we’re losing our house, have no income, and have zero financial security. Now what?

Over the course of the last several months I have received greater clarity on my purpose and passion.

I have a passion for helping men be better men; to enable fathers to be better fathers; and to strengthen families and marriages. From my observations, men have struggled since the women’s movement gained traction 40 years ago. Women needed to stand up and be heard, but one of the unintended consequences is that men, generally, were left confused and disoriented.  In the meantime, they forgot to step up and be true to their roles as husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, and manly men. Just because we better understand the needs of women, it doesn’t mean we have to diminish our own selves.

Men without a purpose, do not engage with life, with their wives, with their families, or in their careers. Too many men lose their families because they don’t stay in the battle. These men are broken, scared, and have forgotten how to be men. They are broken. Broken men reproduce themselves through broken children.

Because of the peace and joy I’ve found through repairing my brokenness, I’d like to help other men find the same serenity. this is my passion, purpose, and calling.

Interestingly, or unfortunately, there are a lot of pressures that seem to keep me from pursuing this passion. A month ago, I began writing a book. In this day and this economy, it takes more than just putting words on the screen – it’s about building an audience and publishing network. More than personal creativity, art, and sharing – there are technical distractions.

But, bigger than this are the personal, social, and familial distractions. Family needs come before the creation of art and the saving of others. If I don’t put my family above my personal passions, than I am still failing – again. This passion, like my earlier passions can never supersede my personal serenity – or my family’s.

Sometimes, like today, I wake up ready to write – but before I know it, other people’s priorities and needs have swept over me and I don’t get to write. That’s OK – it will work out.

“What does it benefit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”

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