Monday, November 25, 2013

Giving Thanks For Not Having Regrets

During the Thanksgiving season, social media has been buzzing with everyone listing things they’re thankful for (odd, I know). I almost jumped on the wagon, but I thought it was a bit silly because I’m thankful for pretty much everything. That led me to thinking about the evil twin of thankfulness; regret. What most people think they regret turns out to be something they’re later thankful for.

The majority of my regrets are short-term and usually food related (“Why did I eat all that pizza and 12 volcano wings?”) or laziness related (“Did I just waste 5 hours watching a Cake Boss marathon instead of working out?”). I remember my father explaining why I needed to learn history in grade school. He said it’s so we learn from our past. I don’t always learn from my past, but I definitely wouldn’t change it because it made me who I am today, and I’m quite happy in the present.

We all have those time machine fantasies. If you could go back in the past, what would you do differently? (For the purpose of this blog, this time machine only goes backwards... like hindsight, ironically) I always try to think how far back I could go and tweak things without changing the present too much. I normally can’t go very far. If I did better in high school, I wouldn’t have joined the Air Force and seen everything I have. Had we divorced earlier; I wouldn’t have mybeautiful, goofy daughter. Being unceremoniously dumped over the summer me led me to someone even better.

Forget dwelling on the past and trying to figure out what you would change. Concentrate on the present and the positive results all those “mistakes” and “mishaps” produced. Use that time machine for something more useful like getting rich on sports betting or killing Hitler…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Want You to Want Me

 When I was a wee lad, we had some sort of a secret Santa exchange in elementary school. As we excitedly opened our gifts I was rather disappointed to find mine was modeling clay. I observed all the other kids happily playing with cheap plastic toys and doo dads, and promptly went into a hissy fit. I wish I could remember everything, but I distinctly recall saying something to the effect of: “I always get clay. My mom gave me clay, my grandparents gave me clay, all I ever get for a presents is clay”. Either out of sympathy, pity, or most likely, to get me to shut up, one of the kids offered to exchange their Hotwheels car for the clay. I gladly accepted and went off to play with my prized toy. A few minutes later, I noticed about half the class was over by the other kid, making cool things with the clay. I immediately felt like an ass (or a heel, because I think “ass” was still a cuss word back then) for the drama filled performance I did in order to give up something I didn’t realize I wanted for something I really didn’t.

 What are the lessons from this, and what does it have to do with this post? A couple. First is to give things a chance before you give up on them (which has little to do with this post). The second (which does) is that manipulating people to get what you want usually winds up with you regretting the decision

 I knew I had a talent for manipulation at an early age. I was very intelligent (says so right here) and though not the most social, I was charismatic when I needed to be. I pretty much used it at every opportunity (don’t worry, karma has caught up with me, my kids are pretty good themselves). It wasn’t really until I joined the Air Force that I learned manipulating people usually produces only short-term results. When you lead people, you want to them to do things because they want to, not because they have to. This was further reinforced when I became a parent. I was (and still am) determined to have my kids do things not out of fear of punishment, but out of a desire to do so.

 I can (and still do) manipulate people and situations, but I try to be in the “only use my powers for good” category now. I'm excellent in debates and I have no regrets talking a maître D into giving me a nicer table or convincing that cop that just a warning would be a prudent thing to do. I also will do it if I believe the outcome is what is supposed to happen (oh the hypocrite I am… I hate it when others do “what’s best for me”). I’m still selfish from time to time, but normally it at least benefits all parties involved.

 One category I’ve purposely withheld my magic is dating. I convinced my Ex for years to stay together and, like my opening story, what I got in return was something I didn’t really want. I don’t want that again for me, or my significant other. If I were interested in flings and one night stands, I could be quite the Player (not only that, but I’m a single dad with full-time teens so my bachelor pad isn’t the place for seduction). My dating goal is not manipulation and sex, it’s a relationship. My free time is limited and I’m not getting any younger, so games are not on the agenda (even though I’d probably be pretty good at it).
I want someone to want me. Not some façade that I created to make them want me. Eventually the real you will surface. If you’re a fake, then all you’ll have is fake relationship. This works both ways. Not only will you be happier if someone is willingly with you, but in return, they will be happier because they know they’re with you because they want to be.

At times I’ve been tempted to change myself. To be the person I think the other wants. Recently I almost caved and my best friend convinced me to continue to be myself and keep doing things I’d normally do, not things I think I should do. It may confuse others; thinking I should be playing the game. It could cost me a lot of time invested and potential relationships, but I have the confidence that it’ll lead to something I didn’t realize was what I’ve always wanted.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why I Love Football

I’ve been trying to think of some less serious, thought provoking subjects that have dominated this blog. Then it hit me… like a linebacker!

I’ve always loved football to some degree my entire life. When I was younger I was more attracted to the uniforms. I remember I liked the Jets and Bengals because of their cool helmets (I’ve since become much much wiser… The Buccaneers now have the coolest helmets). My Dad wasn’t a huge football fan, but he’d watch the occasional game and we always went to SuperBowl parties every year. I vaguely recall the1982 Bengals/49ers superbowl (told you their helmets were cool) but the first one I really remember was the 1985/86 Bears/Patriots superbowl. I thought the Superbowl Shuffle was the greatest song to ever hit the airwaves and was introduced to the wonderful world of sports betting when one of my Dad’s friends bet me a dollar that the Fridge wouldn’t score a touchdown (He did, and it was a good thing because I don’t think I had a dollar).

Stood outside for hours in the rain to get this. Yes, it was worth it

As I learned more about the game, I went from a Broncos fan as a kid, to a rabid-bleed-Orange and Blue Bronco-Maniac as an adult. I know everything I know about football plays and strategy from Joe Montana Football and Madden video games (TECMO Bowl doesn’t count… there’s no strategy involved in TECMO Bowl). I know way too many things about players and statistics thanks to Fantasy Football. My children are trained to avoid bothering me on Football Sundays, and are forbidden to speak during Broncos games. There have only been a select few things or people important enough to drag me from a Denver Broncos game in my lifetime.

I could babble on for hours (days… years…), telling you stories and how big of a Broncos fan I am (I refuse to buy a Peyton Manning jersey because I have a jersey curse when it comes to Broncos Quarterbacks) but I’ll break it down using the internet’s favorite blogging tool… the “5 things” list!

1. Instant conversation starter

Everyone's family when you wear a jersey

Everyone that knows me has seen me in at least one of my Broncos jerseys (yes, I have more than one). I try to limit my jersey wearing to gameday or special events (BBQs, etc). I’ve even worn it on a couple dates (one was the Pro-Bowl, and the other was an impromptu last minute thing following a Broncos game). One of the reasons I wear the jerseys is that I’m proud of my team (rabid fan, remember?) but a secondary, and more interesting reason is that it’s guaranteed to strike up at least three conversations with complete strangers. People will ask about the game that week, declare their own rivalry (usually Raiders fans),Tell me they’re from Colorado too, or tell me their own football stories. It’s simply amazing that wearing an NFL shirt or hat can cause others to strike up a conversation with a random person they otherwise would have walked right past.

2. The Anticipation of Gameday

Football is fairly unique among other professional sports in that each team only plays once a week. Add the fact that there are only 16 games in a season (“ONLY?!” says the Football Widow…) and each game becomes a pivotal matchup that can make or break a season. The NFL has an amazing job of making each week an event leading up to Sundays (we’ll just pretend Thursday Night football doesn’t exist).
You start with the high or low on Sunday (or Monday) immediately following the game. You get the interviews with the players. ESPN breaks down the games and shows theSportscenter Top Ten plays (Da da-da, da da-da). Monday mornings are complete waste of productivity as everyone discusses the games and consoles the fans of losing teams ("Let me take this meeting, Tom. We all saw the Raiders game yesterday”). You find out who got hurt, and hope your star running back is going to be able to play on those sprained ankles. The other team starts talking smack. Your team talks even more smack.

By Friday, water coolers are surrounded by bold predictions (the Lions are going to the Super bowl) and even bolder wagers (if the Patriots win, you gotta wear this “I love Tom Brady” shirt). Saturday is a blur as your rush to get everything you were supposed to do over the two-day weekend accomplished in one.

Then finally Sunday comes. You scramble to get everything ready, come home from church, if that’s your thing, get your beer and favorite dip ready, and sit in your favorite chairadjusted in the lucky position that it’s been since the ’98 Super bowl win. You turn on the wide-screen, the announcers hype up the game, and… find out they’re showing the local 49ers/Jaguars game because you now live in Northern California, so you scramble to find your keys so you can drive down to the local sports bar in hopes that they have the Sunday ticket and a spot at the bar so you can watch the Broncos game on the tiny television with no sound on the other side of the room.

3. Fantasy Football

Whoever came up with the concept of Fantasy Football was a genius. Though some purists say it ruins the game, it’s just made me love and respect it that much more.

The concept of Fantasy Football is simple. Every season you (the owner) pick real life NFL players to be on your “Fantasy Team” and whenever they catch balls, score a touchdown, etc, you get points for your team. Back in the day, before Al Gore invented the Internet, we used to have to wait to get the Monday paper and crunch all the stats by hand (USA Today was the standard), but now you can get live stats and see the results instantly. This is why your boyfriend is constantly checking his phone during your Sunday night date. Relax, it’s not another girl (unless she’s playing against him, talking smack).

There are many variations, but usually you join 9 to 11 other owners to create a League. No one can have the same player on their teams (i.e. only one person gets Peyton Manning, etc) and you go head to head with different team each week. The winner of the season wins the league and whatever prize you have set up (Money…a trophy…pride). What does it have to do with enjoying real football? Plenty.

Thanks to fantasy football, I watch games I normally wouldn’t be interested in (Why am I watching the Browns game? I have their wide receiver). I follow players from team to team. I get share a beer with a random guy in the bar who also owns Adrian Peterson in his league. I test my loyalties when I’m using the Chief’s Defense against the Broncos this week. I am suddenly concerned when my player’s father passes away and wonder if it’ll affect his game.

Okay, maybe it sometimes makes me obsess a little too much about football…

4. Brings people together

I mentioned how complete strangers become instant friends (or enemies) simply because of my jersey. Well, that guy is coming to my Super bowl party now.

Football brings people together. On any given Sunday, people are hosting parties, tailgates, or gathering at sports bar. A lot of times, the game is only secondary to the fun and comradery.  If you ever have the chance to tailgate before any sort of football game, be it NFL, College, or even high school, I highly recommend it. It’s a block-party in a stadium parking lot. People share food and games, and everyone’s invited, no matter what team you’re cheering for. Even if you have no interest in the game, you can’t help but feel the energy.

5. The Game (duh)

Football is a game like no other. Every series is a mini-crisis that can only be resolved by gaining 10 yards. Each touchdown is an event in itself. Comebacks can and do happen, no matter what the score. It synergizes a high level of strategy with brute force and power. The intellects will appreciate the subtle details and shifts of each play; the back and forth chess match between offense and defense. Others will get a rise out of the bone crunching hits, the athleticism, and the supreme physical effort involved in gaining a mere yard. Fans will take it all in with paint on their face and cheese on their head.

See, Football is no mere sport. It’s whatever you make it. It’s a game. It’s a lifestyle. It’s three hours of not caring about taxes, rent, or your mother-in-law’s upcoming visit. It makes strangers friends and equalizes nerds and jocks. If you think I’m wrong, and think it’s just a stupid game, go to a bar, restaurant  or your friend’s house during the game. Watch the magic happen and see the happiness it brings to everyone in the building. You can’t help but feel the love…
… until the stupid kicker misses the game winning field goal.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You can do eeet!!

So far this blog has been a resounding success. Well, maybe not in page-views and web traffic, but it has succeeded in the two primary goals I wanted to achieve. It managed to drive my friend to resume her blog, and it's encouraged me to resume writing consistently. I'm hoping to get to work on a few writing projects that have sat on the backburner, and to increase my audience in the near future. It all boils down to motivation.

Motivation is a peculiar creature. There are so many different sources of it, and an equal amount of responses to it. I'm not going to list all the different types of motivation. What motivates one person to put in 110% may cause another to sit on the sidelines with their arms crossed. I'll let down the curtain (just this once... :-P ) and explain some sources of motivation for me.


Wait, what? If I wind up disappointed, doesn't that mean my motivation wasn't there? Yes it does, but it's not about my disappointment. That fear of disappointing others is what drives me to do many things. I have a helper attitude. I want to be dependable and not let others down.  I don't want something I'm responsible for to be a disappointment for others. I guess it's a bit of personal pride as well, but it really boils down to the satisfaction of knowing others can count on me.


I am extremely competitive in nature. Even though I'm far from the best at many things, it doesn't stop me from giving my all. I can't throw a fight no matter how stacked the odds. One thing, though, is that I am never competitive at the expense of others (maybe at times I should be... the subject of another blog, lol). If I'm going to succeed at something; it's because I did everything I could control, not because I shot down others.

I was only 3 hours behind first place!

Seeing a finished product

I'm a very creative person. One of the reasons why is that I enjoy seeing the fruits of my labor. Finishing that novel or seeing and tasting that new recipe is my carrot on a stick.  This doesn't always mean a physical product, but I am far more motivated when I can see the results of what I'm doing. This is sometimes a hard thing to do in the Military, especially now that I'm "upper management". I still find ways to make it work, even though now instead of seeing fixed equipment,  it involves paperwork, putting people in for awards, etc. While I do enjoy hearing praise and compliments for my work (who doesn't) that's not my primary motivation for getting it done. I just want to able to pat myself on the back and say to myself "I did that".


I thrive in chaos. If there is a crisis going on and a figurative fire needs putting out, that's when I shine. Deadlines are my friend (though I'm more likely to wait till the 11th hours). I am a problem solver, and what better time to solve problems than when everything is on the line?  Some of it is from my military background, but when people are milling around, not knowing what to do, I step in and take control. Once the crisis is over, I'll fade back into the background.

Somehow I don't think you're going to embarrass me. I got that covered.

Fear and threats
 This last one is actually anti-motivational for me. The more you threaten me, the more I'm going to resist doing whatever it is you want me to. I'll either flat out refuse to do it, find a way out of it, or I'll do it in a way that is so smart assed and bare bones that you'll never ask me to do it again. I do things because I want to do them, not because you have a gun to my head. I'm afraid of very few things (except snakes... why does it have to be snakes...), and public humiliation has almost zero effect on me (I'm not afraid to make an ass of myself... and that's BEFORE drinking that beer).  Don't tell me what I can't do. That'll only motivate me to prove you wrong.

One thing I struggle with is self-motivation. If I have a goal, competition, or group that needs me, I'm there. If it's just me on a Saturday morning and the laundry needs folding; unless I'm totally out of underwear, it's probably going to lose out to Netflix. It's a good thing I'm a fairly social person now, but if I were the last man on earth, those dishes will just have to clean themselves.

It's good to look at yourself and figure out what motivates you (or doesn't). Everyone has motivations. Once you figure it out, you can guide yourself towards those motivations and use them to make you more productive (and happy) in life.