Category Archives: heritage

Why You Should Take Your Kids Fishing!

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across an old picture of a bass that one of my kids caught. Check out the expressions on my boy’s faces. I loved taking them fishing. My dad took me fishing. His dad took him fishing. I am sure that for generations along our family line, the dads have been taking their kids and grandkids fishing.

catch a fish

family fishing
Taking your kids fishing is awesome. It is an experience or sum of many experiences that sometimes have little to do with actually catching fish. There are boat trailers that lose an axle or have a flat tire. There is always the pressure of backing a trailer down a busy boat ramp with multiple “experts” and old timers watching and judging. There are plugs that are sometimes remembered only when the boat is quickly filling up with water.

There is bait to buy and keep alive. There are licenses and boat regulations to consider. There is bad weather, hot sun and early morning departures which impact your whole day.

There are boat batteries that run down and motors that won’t start. There are snacks, gas, and ice to buy. There are fishing lines that break and hooks that end up in fingers and ears. There are rods and reels that fall into the water and stringers of fish that drift away because nobody tied them to the boat. There are anchors that have the same fate…a well meaning toss over board with no rope attached to the boat. There are tangles and knots. There are long hot hours that go by without any bites except from mosquitoes. There are snakes and gators that keep you on your toes.

There is all of this and finally a nibble…and if the fish gods are smiling on you, your child lands a fish. Life is good again…or so it seems to the younger ones. For those older and more mature anglers, they know that life has been good all along.

hf70 As with fishing, life is much less about the end result than it is about the journey. Going fishing is all about teaching your children how to solve problems without them even realizing they are growing…it’s about them learning that having fun does not always mean things won’t go wrong. Going fishing is about spending time talking with your kids while you are waiting for the fish to bite or for someone to tow you in. Going fishing is about introducing your children to the wonders of nature. Going fishing is how you make a miserable outing into something that your kids will treasure forever.

Don’t rob your kids of these experiences. Even in the bible it tells us while raising kids we are not to spare the rod…and,  I might add, nor the reel and a box full of tackle. Do all that it takes to make a fishing trip possible. You may or may not catch a fish but there is no question that your misery will pay you back to the positive down the road.

 HighFive Your Life Principle: Go fishing with your kids. Enjoy what others may call misery and make memories that will last through the generations.

Tell a Story

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Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Your 40th High School Reunion

“The good old days are now.”
Tom Clancy

class reunion 40 078

There are a variety of reasons why most of us don’t attend high school reunions. Most of them are just excuses that wilt away after the first few minutes of arriving. You soon realize that nobody else remembers names well either and that looking at name tags is only socially awkward for a moment and can be minimized by wearing dark sunglasses. You also realize that the relentless process of aging is a common challenge that nobody avoids. Yes, there are excuses for not attending but there are more compelling (yet sometimes subtle) reasons that make attending your reunions every now and then a must.

After just attending my 40th High School reunion, allow me to suggest five reasons why you should attend yours.

Reason One
These Are Your True Friends

These are the friends that you grew up with…that you probably knew in grade school…that came over for dinner and spent the night at your home. These are friends whose parents you admired, respected and sometimes feared but who you knew really did love you. These are the friends with whom you discovered and did many things for the first time…your first time driving…your first date…your first kiss. You played sports with them and took tests with them. Though you may have not seen them for decades, the memories of your youth are a huge part of what makes you who you are and so your bond with these friends extends beyond the years. It is the basis for true friendship and true kinship. A great reason to go to your reunion is that a few hours of fellowship with each other is all that is needed to remind you that you were lucky to have grown up together. That is worth the effort to be there.

Reason Two
We Are Mortal

class reunion 40 163

One of the most sobering parts of the reunion was a poster that was painstakingly made with great love and care that showed our classmates who are deceased. On the poster among other classmates, was a beautiful girl who was one of my first heart-throbs, the funniest guy in the class, a fellow football player, a great grade school friend, a guy I had just spoken to recently…it is impossible that these classmates are no longer alive and yet they are gone. This poster will never shrink and will only grow over time. A great reason to go to your reunion is to renew friendships with awesome people there is no promise you will ever see again.

Reason Three
Your Friends Need You and You Need Them

I had a different feeling at the conclusion of the reunion than at the beginning. In the natural process of catching up on everyone’s life you haven’t seen in many years, what should be obvious to all of us began to sink in. Life is tough and each of us goes through trials that challenge us to the very core. There was not enough time at our reunion to share all of our burdens but I became more sensitive to the deeper emotions of our classmates as the hours went by. Underneath the laughter and smiles there was in many cases, sadness and despair. Health challenges..the death of a loved one…a child in trouble. A long drawn out discussion was not needed. Sometimes a longer than normal hug communicated compassion and shared burdens. A kind word…an understanding look…even shared silence lifted spirits. Sitting on a football bleacher a moment of faith was shared with me… sitting on folding chairs moments of empathy between old friends closed the decades of being apart. A great reason to go to your reunion is to make it not about you but about your friends and to be there for them and to share in life’s burdens with them. I was lifted by the strong shoulders of my classmates.

Reason Four
Laughter Is Just Plain Good for Your Soul

You cannot go to a reunion and not spend most of your time laughing. It is impossible. There are just too many sports blunders and school bloopers to keep one from slapping his knees and wrenching his gut. Even though our memories may have faded, there are just too many people with partial recollections to stop the stories from coming. They may not be accurate but they sure are funny….at least to us. I am convinced that there is something therapeutic to remember and laugh. It is good for the soul and is another great reason for going to your reunion.

Reason Five
We Are at the Age When Our Ability to Change the World Is Near It’s Peak

I was so impressed by my classmates that came. We had people from all different vocations and backgrounds. The one thing we had in common was almost 60 years of wisdom. We are at an age and stage in life where some of our best work still lies ahead of us and we are in a position to achieve it. Whether through helping with grand kids or working with charities or as volunteers, we now know the ropes…we know how to get things done. While at the reunion, I heard of dreams and aspirations regarding making this world a better place that reminded me of what is most important. Your 40th reunion will be full of people who care and who have the talent and resources to make the world better. Attending my 40th class reunion reminded me that people are good and that there is great cause for hope in our future.

I am sure there are many more excuses to skip your next reunion than there are reasons to attend….but the reasons  to go are more compelling. May I recommend that you let your hair down (if you have any), relax and unwind. You will have a good time and be a blessing to your friends and they to you if you just go. The good ol days can be now also.

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I Am Glad My Mom Was Not A Paramecium

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.”
Pablo Picasso
 paramecium mom

 

I am glad that my mom was not a paramecium because…well…I would have been one too. Since they mostly just split to make more, I wouldn’t have had a father either. And on those heartbreaking days when I just needed a hug, her numerous little cilia just wouldn’t be long enough to really reach around me.

I am glad my mom was not a flea. I love dogs but not that fond of drinking blood. I love to jump but would rather drive a jeep. I don’t think mom and I would have had that much of a relationship. I mean, if I got on a rabbit and she stayed on the dog, when would we have ever met again?

I am glad that mom was not a sparrow. I would have loved to fly but I never really got into sunflower seeds…and even though the Lord notices a sparrow when he falls, I wouldn’t really have had any knees to bend down on to learn to say my prayers.

I am glad my mom was not a salmon. I like the water but not really the ocean that much…too many predators. At least, I would have had a dad but then both of them would have died at about the time I would have been born…and so many brothers and sisters…I never would have known them all.

I am glad that mom was not an elephant. She would have protected me for sure but I am not sure that I would have liked the gentle nudge of her huge feet…and she would not have been happy with her big ears and teeth in the family photo. I would have never been picked up to cry on her shoulder or felt the gentle pat on my back that all would be okay.

My mom carefully selected the right mate and honored him his whole life. She has nurtured and protected me and my siblings since birth. She has provided shade from the constant and sometimes brutal challenges of the world. She has cried with us and laughed with us and encouraged us. She alone has been the stake in the ground that has prevented the vicious storms and whirlwinds of life from scattering us abroad. She has been the home to come home to. She has been mom.

I am glad that mom was not a paramecium but if she had been, I would have gladly swum the swampy waters with her. She makes any world she lives in a better place…a piece of heaven…a home.

Happy Mothers Day Mom!

Old Letters…Forever Thoughts

Doc - Apr 4, 2015, 7-006
My father has been gone for almost ten years. As I was cleaning my desk this morning, I found an old letter he wrote to me when I was home from college, almost 40 years ago. The salutation, “Dear Gary Son”, struck an emotional chord. The first line, “It is nice to have you here”, further melted my emotions. It would be nice to have him here with me today.

This Easter season, I am reminded that the possibility exists that we may see each other again and that he may once again tell me that it is nice to have me with him. Mine is a hope and a faith that calms my soul and enriches my life with purpose. I do not have hope and faith because I seek to be calmed or to have my life enriched with purpose. Instead, those feelings are a direct consequence of the quiet testimony that is in my heart that Jesus did live and that his mission was divine.

I believe that one day I will be able to say, “It is nice to be with you too Dad.”

Old letters…forever thoughts…

Happy Easter!

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Cowboy for an Evening…Kowboy Forever

“What people don’t understand is this is something that we only have in America. There is no other country in the world where the ordinary citizen can go out and enjoy hunting and fishing. There’s no other nation in the world where that happens. And it’s very much a part of our heritage.”
Norman Schwarzkopf

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I grew up in Kissimmee, Florida home of the Silver Spurs Rodeo. The rodeo was so important to the community that school was canceled for a day and there was a parade down main street. I remember as a youth working the stands hawking cokes. Since it was the biggest arena in the area, it also doubled as the football field for the Osceola High School Kowboys. Each season after the July rodeo, they would reseed the field to try and get it ready for football season which started in September.

At our home games we all knew we were in the rodeo arena. We came in and out of the chutes where the cowboys walked. It was part of our culture and we loved it. In those days, it was not unusual for a pickup truck to come to high school with a rifle in a rack in the back window. Life was simple.

I now live in Tangerine, Florida which is about an hour away from Kissimmee. My 40 year high school reunion is coming up which is hard to believe. When my wife and I received an invitation to go to the rodeo this year and attend a private party it was an instant yes from both of us. Even though we rarely go “out on the town”, we both thought this would be fun. So fun that the day before the event, we went down to the local feed store (and leather shop) to buy some boots. Once I got started, I could not stop myself. I bought everything cowboy I could find. The most fun was that my wife went along with it and let me buy her every cowboy bling thing there was. New belts and pants and boots and shirts and….well, if they would have had chaps and a cap gun I probably would have bought them.

Friday night we loaded up in our jacked up black Ford pickup and drove to Kissimmee. First we texted a picture of us to our grown kids who couldn’t believe that we were actually going out to have some fun. “Smokin!” was the comment made from my kids about the way my wife was dressed and I couldn’t have agreed more. I made sure we didn’t have any tags showing from all of our new clothes.

Since we are both recovering from old age related foot problems, we were able to park in the handicapped area which may have taken a little of our cowboy shine off but we let that go because it was about a half mile closer than where everyone else was parking…and hopefully nobody noticed us struggling to get in and out of our lifted vehicle which was left over from when it used to be driven by the kids several years ago. It would have been easier to get up on one of the horses!

The sight of the line of cars arriving to see the event, the big Ferris wheel at the accompanying fair, the sign of horses and horse trailers everywhere, instantly took me back to the Kissimmee memories of my youth. Once inside the building, we found the party and it was like a high school reunion. Yes… maybe we had over blinged for even Kissimmee but it was so wonderful to be “coming home”.

We had a marvelous evening at the rodeo and enjoyed catching up with so many old friends. The bull riding and calf roping and clowns in barrels brought back so many great memories. The complex is named Osceola Heritage Park and it lived up to its name. The rodeo and the whole agricultural and cattle industry that was so important to this area before tourism took over is still strong and thriving. It is sometimes overshadowed by the bling of the major tourist attractions in the area but it is there and it is a rich heritage that I was reminded, I can call my own.

I bought new leather stuff and was a cowboy for the evening but last night I was reminded that I will be a Kowboy forever. Heritage is a wonderful thing and nice to come home to if you are lucky enough to have that opportunity.

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