Rule #54: Boys will be Boys

Rule #54: Boys will be Boys

As the father of 2 wonderful girls and the grandfather of the awesome Hailey  I am a strong supporter of the #metoo movement, and societal protections that give those who need it most a voice.  There is never an excuse for behavior which abuses, and using power to take advantage of others. I think the pendulum of fairness was way off, and this recent increase awareness has helped many people who where damage find strength, support and acceptance. It has been long overdue and needs to continue.

As the father of 4 wonderful boys I have been assessing what I have taught my boys, and if my approach would be modified in the light of this new awareness. I was bothered by a new PSA from the Joyful Heart foundation, which does good work in the areas of cultural change- it is a good organization that is positive force. Its latest PSA has male celebrities saying ” boys will be boys” and ends the the words ENOUGH and the call to change the culture.

I raised my boys with the words ” boys will be boys” used often. When they fought among themselves I did not intervene to settle arguments, but rather allowed them to work out their issues, sometimes physically, between themselves.

No, I did not throw a knife in the fight and encourage it, but rather taught them to learn to work as brothers and resolve issues. Sometimes that pushed each other and teased each other. I always tried to avoid things escalating too far, but I did let them resolve their own problems. My belief was that I would not be able to be there all the time, and that if I didn’t want them to be completely dependent on me I needed to give them room.

Andrew had a incident at the catholic grade school at age 10 which stands out. I had gotten a call from the Principal, a Sister of mercy, to tell me Andrew was in a fight in the school yard and she asked me to stop and see her. The Sister told me that she had watched Andrew be harassed by a smaller boy for several weeks, with the child teasing and poking at him. She said that a apparently the kid has taken a kick ball and hit Andrew in the back of the head, which Andrew responded by picking the kid up and slamming him hard against the fence screaming to leave him alone. The kid was scared and ran to the teachers for help. Which brought them to Sister.

I asked Sister what needed to be done. She told me Andrew was a good, kind kid and he needed to learn to stand up for himself. She told me she was punishing the other boy with detention, and letting Andrew go with a warning. She added that when the other kid complained she said ” I know what you are doing, and the next time I’m not going to help you”. She said ” boys will be boys”, and told me that this was a lesson for Andrew that he had to stand up to this type of abuse.

Was Sister wrong?  I don’t think so. Part of raising boys is to teach them to stand up for themselves and to defend others. Not raising boys to be bullies or violent but to raise them to be men who can survive what life throws at them.

The whole “boys will be boys’ thing has me thinking about Sister and what it means to be father of boys and the lessons you need to teach. The objective is not to take the boy out of the boy, but to find the man within the boy.

I think it comes down to really only three things that define a man’s character

First Responsibility.

A boy has to learn that they are responsible for their decisions and the consequences of their actions. That making good decisions lead to good consequences, and bad decisions lead to bad consequences.

When one of the boys had a problem in  school with missing home work, or failing a test I never intervened or appealed on their behalf unless the full story was not being told. Matthew will confirm dozens and dozens of detentions he endured for missing assignments, that I never appealed or argued with the school.  Even with Abby when she was given detention for chewing gum ( that I gave her for anxiety on test days) I told her to serve the detention because it was the rule. Yes, I told the school it was my fault but she accepted the consequences.

Learning you are responsible for your own actions and decisions is key part of character.

Second Respect.

In 2019 I find a decreasing amount of respect for everything. Respect of God, country, women and parents all seem to have become optional. Its an arrogance that children have that they are the center of the universe, and their happiness is the only thing that needs to be respected.

Its important that boys learn that their respect comes from the respect of others. Getting this “respect concept” into a boy’s mind is hard, and I think a lot of parents are just too busy to focus on it. Slowly the boys have learned that they can  talk to parents with an attitude of entitlement, that since there is no God there is no reason to think anyone is more important then they are, and that the country is run by fools. Its hard for the boy to accept that maybe they aren’t the most important thing on the planet unless a parent is there to say they are not.

Changing this comes by living by example. Talking about higher purpose in life, that its our obligation to serve others and not just ourselves. Simple things like opening the car door for a woman, or bringing the garbage can up for an elderly neighbor sends a message that our role in life is not always to be get the biggest piece of chicken on the table.

Its enforcing quick, and clear consequences for lack of respect. Talking back to a parent or defying a rule should be treated as serious issues which have punishments from grounding to loss of all screens ( very effective ). Boys, even the really good ones, are not born with the concept of respect it has to be learned by behavior and response. Excusing disrespect builds long term problems when authority, women and the country as a Boy tries to figure out a world with no rules.

My simple parenting rule was if the boy isn’t listening add more structure to his life. The simpler and clearer the rules, the clearer the need for respect will become.  This does not happen by accident a parent has to teach it, and if it is missed long term problems developed. I can’t help believe that if Max Weinstein had smacked young Harvey in the head and taken away his TV the first time he was rude to a woman he would have headed in a different course. Someone needed to teach him about appropriate behavior. He didn’t become the narcissistic rapist by himself, a lot of people ignored behavior to create this monster.

Finally the role of father.

I believe there is an critical role a boy should learn as head of the family. Not head in the concept of CEO or General, but head of the family as leader and protector. This seems very sexiest, but I think the lack of teaching this important role has lead to many of the problems that exist today.

The boy needs to learn that a Man solves problems, and that with his partner ( man or woman) sets rules and the course of the family through life. That as a father he has a moral responsibility to care for his partner and children. That the role of father is one that comes with it tremendous obligations, and for him to forego these will destroy the family.

If the boy doesn’t understand this role he will fail as a father. I look at things like Andrew making decisions about doing extra work to save for a vacation, as him having understood the role of father.  He understands he has moral obligation to protect and provide for Ashleigh and Hailey, and bucks stops with him, that he has keep his family focused.

This doesn’t mean that my daughter-in-law could not do this all herself,  she certainly has the intelligence and work ethic to do so. But the family works so much better with Man accepting his role as father. It allows Ashleigh to have a partner and not another child. Him succeeding as a father stands out as what I view as my most important contribution to the world.

I think the phrase “boys will be boys” in not insulting and that accepting that boys will be aggressive, stupid and clumsy at times is not bad. Accepting that the will make mistakes when they are small, be corrected and move on to being men is part of the process. Sister was right we need boys who can handle themselves in this world, that can be strong and have character.

Boys will be boys. But every father has the obligation to know that Boys will be Men, and we need them to be the best men possible.

The Me Too movement is right that we can do better. We need to raise better men, while not losing the boy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule #151: Respect Alcohol

Rule #151: Respect Alcohol

When I returned from a great trip to New Orleans last year I was amazed that everyone in that city isn’t a raging alcoholic and morbidly obese. As I sat at the Bourbon Street Oyster House Bar I realized that at 9 pm on a Sunday night I was the only sober person in the place. New Orleans has always been one of my favorite cities and except for a repeat of the Eagles they are my choice for winning the Superbowl this year.

The trip made me think about my experiences with alcohol and what I have learned about its pluses or minus.

In full disclosure I have never been a big drinker, although have been drunk a couple times in  my life. My roommate in college, Phil, will quickly tell you of my 21st birthday party where a few  bottles of old English 800 ( I DO NOT RECOMMEND) had me promising him, the world and God that I would never, ever drink again if the room would stop spinning.

Unfortunately for the makers of OE800 developing both Barrett’s esophagus and Type 1 LADA diabetes has forced me to limit my drinking to the occasional drink. So I look at alcohol from the perspective of man forced to limit his consumption in order to achieve my end goal of immortality.

I think drinking can be a wonderful thing, and very occasionally drinking to excess can be fun as well.

As the saying goes no great story in life starts with a salad.

Drinking helps relax the nerves, and let down some of the inhibitions that limit us because of our fears. Drinking can be down right awesome if you know how to do it right. Do it wrong and you ruin your life and the lives of people around you, and take you from life of the party to party pooper in two tequila shots. Its dangerous dance, and like other dangerous things like firearms and motorcycles needs to be respected. Alcohol can and will kill you if you don’t use it in an intelligent way. Sadly alcohol does not improve your higher level reasoning skills so most of this has to be prep work and not spur of the moment reactions.

Step 1 is to no spontaneous drinking

If you go out for dinner or meet up with friends this is an “unplanned” event and requires you to either abstain from alcohol completely or stay with in a HARD limit of 1 or 2 drinks depending on your size. These spontaneous events should be treated consistently, no exceptions- you didn’t prepare you don’t drink.

Step 2 is to know your end game

How am I getting home? I know that there is going to be a chance that I should not drive and I need to prepare ahead of time so that driving isn’t even an option. Three clear choices work-  uber, reliable sober friend driving or plan to stay over at drinking site. These are not just options – they are the ONLY options. No other solutions ever work and don’t plan to use some other way. No driving and planning to use Uber if you drink, take the keys out of the equation and prepare as if you just sold your car that afternoon. Before you take the first sip this should be all decided.

Step 3 this is a marathon and not a sprint

The idea of binge drinking always seem stupid to me, a rookie mistake that screams to the world that you are an idiot. No one wants to be the first drunk person at a party, if you want to be the “entertainment” just put on floppy shoes and a  rubber nose and go all in for the look.  The sophisticated drinker keeps at a pace just a little slower than the room in general, sort of like hanging back in the marathon letting the inexperience ones burn themselves out first. This gives you the opportunity to make fun of the clowns when they show up and allows you to remain safe even when having too much to drink

Step 4 know the difference between buzzed and stupid

When your body is feeling the first effects of the drink its time to put on the brakes. The art, even on events that you plan to drink, is to avoid the hangovers and the praying to the porcelain gods.  You want all the good effects of drink without the negatives.

You will fail at this at least a couple times. When you do learn from it. Simple lessons like ” tequila is not my drink” and ” when I am slurring words its not a good sign” should be the hard lessons learned about this line. For Bobbi it was always when she started to curse like a sailor,  for me it is when I become overly talkative and my right eye droops. Everyone has tells…learn yours and stop when they start to appear.

Finding that nice paced buzz line will be a mark of maturity, it will be that James Bond sophistication  and not that Foster Brooks stumble ( google it kids).

Step 5 be with friends

Drinking is suppose to be enjoyed, and if its beyond that one or two night, it should be done with people that you like and trust. Think of it as a group that you would be cool with in boxers and tee shirt- people that enhance your life.

Never drink with the angry drunks, you all know who they are  ( because we all have one or two people in our lives that do this). They are the people that after the 3rd Bud lite hate their wife, their boss and life in general. They use drinking as an excuse for complaining, and seem to be looking for an argument or fight.  Drink with friends not assholes.

As the Eagles enter this years playoffs I wanted to remind my kids with the proper respect of alcohol they can process even more fun. Its all in the prep work.

GO ..E-A-G-L-E-S!!

 

 

 

 

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Rule # 2019: A Pirate looks at 59

Rule # 2019: A Pirate looks at 59

In the final days of the year I find myself not doing as much assessment of the last year as prep work for the year to come.
This will be my final year in my 50’s, the decade my father had always told me that it would be my best. He had given me insight not to fear my fifties but to embrace them as a years of success. That advice helped me look into the challenges of the decade and always see the clear sky ahead. It was simple “Don Hill’ wisdom but so accurate.

This blog was designed to be a map that plots the course to my children when they need advice and I am no longer around to dispense it. ( you know in 40 or 50 years)
As all good cartographers know the challenge is to take the information from the past and build a more accurate view of the seas, to build on what my Dad had given to me.

Yes, the 50’s are the best years so far but I think the decade especially good because its a decade that you final realize that you are a Pirate. Jimmy Buffett has the song a “Pirate looks at forty” that painted a sad look at the future when “The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder”. He was wrong, he wrote it when he was 40 and had no idea about what 50’s would be for him. ( I’m sorry Jimmy no one bats 1000)

To me being a Pirate is when you realize that the rules are there to be broken, and life is given to us as a gift to be seized. As a Pirate you realize that we all captain of our own fate and that every ship that approaches is an opportunity and every island a place to relax and bury some treasure and drink some rum. Pirates understand that life is fleeting and they may find themselves at the short end of a rope any day, so time is not to be wasted. It is powerful to understand that we are mortal and this will all end one day, it can give you a sense of dread and depression or inspire you to get the most of what life offers. I highly recommend the second choice.

And being a Pirate you get to swagger a bit in life. Not the drunken Captain Sparrow walk, but to walk through life as man that has seen a few battles and survived them in spite of the odds. Its confidence to know that things are going to be throw in you path daily to slow you down, but know most of them disappear with a stern stare and a loud ” Arrrgh” in their direction. And the few that don’t like bad hips give you the limp of character that defines a life that is truly lived.

I have been surprised by the joys of pirating. Yes there has been financial success, but more importantly great adventures. The move to Florida, the selling of the businesses, the starting of new ones, the joy of a new knee and the deepening of love of my family became part of the journey. Who knew how wonderful the feeling of talking to your 2 yr old (gifted) granddaughter would be, and how you would understand what it meant to have your “heart melt”.

As a Pirate you also quickly realize that you depend on you shipmates and sailing alone is neither fun or safe. You learn to value friends, and truly value the good ones because they are rare. You can’t be a good Pirate alone.

So as I embark on this journey that leads to my next decade I do it with the sails full, the sky clear and the perfect beautiful pirate wench at my side. 2019 is going to be we a hell of a year… Arrgh..

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Rule # 250: You need a “go to drink”

Rule #250: You need a “go to drink”

I’ve never been much of a drinker, I can count on one hand the number of times in my life that I’ve over indulged.
It never made sense to me why people enjoyed the process of drinking until they could not remember what happened, maybe I have been fortunate enough not to have a lot of things I am trying to forget. I’ve always been happy with the gentle buzz of the third drink, and rarely felt the need to test my alcohol tolerance level. ( which is extremely low for a guy as big as me)

I’ve always respected the people that that have made a decision not not use alcohol or drugs, not because I felt it was a better choice, just that it was the harder choice. Socially and in business there is tremendous pressure to be part of the group. The art of remaining sober in a group of drinkers is a difficult one, being engaged without the rum and coke can be become a balancing act. Being in the group but not part of the group.

A simple technique is to avoid being pulled in to the drinking is by being the designated driver. People seem to accept that being responsible is both understandable and to be admired. But since the invention of Uber and Lyft the technique is getting more push back. The need for designated drivers have decreased and the opportunity to drink more increased.

So how do you manage this world of being buzzed and not blitzed?

I have found the secret lies in having a go to drink..something that is your regular ” I’m at a party” go to order.

If you have a go to, you have clearly experimented enough to know the drink will impact you. I have had learned this lesson the hard way drinking a new tequila based drink about 18 years ago, which led to me falling into a Christmas Tree. Its been roughly 6,600 days since that night and I can still taste that drink. I learned tequila was not my friend.

I made the conscious decision after that holiday fall to find a drink that would allow me to look engaged but in control. I experimented with dark liquors, but found them to give me headaches even with a small amount consumed – its a shame because I really like the thought of being a Glenlivet drinker into my 60’s appealed to me in that “Humphrey Bogart” sort of way. But alas my body did not cooperate with my will and the dream of nursing a good single malt evaporated.

I then thought wine. My mission was to become a student of wine and find a go to type, winery and vintage that you could depend on. Unfortunately for me wine has always been linked to food, I love good cab with a steak and developed favorite for different meals. But bellying up to the hotel bar and ordering a good Duckhorn never felt it fit the moment. I will still enjoy a good meal, and good wine with friends, but its more meal oriented.

Andrew has done a good job of finding a hobby to link to a drink, craft brewing. It allows him to enjoy a craft brew and discuss his hobby. To me that seemed like a good strategy, make the drink about more than a drink and you have both a go to drink and a story. Trust me we all need stories.
Only problem with Andrew’s strategy is that it takes too much work. He has found enjoyment in it and that is great, for me it required too much of a commitment to get good at it- but I admire the strategy.

Being an entrepreneur at heart I found a guy with a liquor who’s story I liked. When I found Omasspirits.com I found a great story and a great liquor. I love maraschino cherries and here a liquor made by a grandmother fell into my lap. For a few dollars I could have a drink, a good investment and a good story. I was on to something..

Which lead to the LSU Punch.

1 1/2 oz Oma’s
2 oz ginger beer
2 oz lemonade
garnish with cherry and lemon wedge

This allowed me to tell three stories…the original about Oma’s grand-mom creator, A link to my time in Bermuda ( ginger beer) and a story about our business and personal involvement in New Orleans. I was much more interested in the stories than the alcohol, and the fact that most of them were true and it was a good drink was just a bonus.

When the Ye Mystic Krewe of Neptune picked it as this year’s drink winner was just another bonus, and yet another story.
It took me nearly 60 years to get here but I found a drink.

What I urge you all to do is not to take drinking lightly. Find a responsible way to participate but with an intelligent choice. Yes you can indulge in the chocolate or key lime martini from time to time, because they are desserts. But they are not a go to drink.
You need to find something that tells something about you, a reason why its your drink. If you can’t find a good story make one up, everyone will be drinking they won’t notice.
If you can’t come up with good story, call me and we will make one up together.

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Rule #382: The Sisyphus Rule

Rule #382: The Sisyphus Rule

Life is hard.
Life is unfair.
Life is wonderful.

When Zeus enchanted the rock that King Sisyphus was pushing he knew that the King would be doomed to an eternity of frustration. He set an eternal existence which would leave the King in deep despair.

I think about Sisyphus a lot as I have gotten older. Much of what life is amounts to little more than boulder pushing – work, chores, eat, sleep …repeat. So much of what we deal with everyday becomes a process of existence and and not achievement. It is the mundane that fills most of our lives.

I see that boulder pushing become more obvious when our lives take us to be caregivers of love ones with diseases/ conditions that are in themselves constantly deteriorating and ultimately fatal. Life has set the unreasonable expectation of the caregiver to get to that to rock pushing everyday. Visits without improvement, slow roll backs every day. The hope of reaching the top of that hill every night being crushed as that stone rolls over it into the pit of despair. It can be a soul crushing Sisyphean existence.

I think about that King and having an eternity to think about what hes was doing.

And I think he was Happy.

Albert Camus thought about him too in the “Myth of Sisyphus”. He saw him as a happy man.

I think in dealing with a hopeless situation when all your actions by definition of a progress disease will end in failure it is possible to be a “Happy Sisphus”.

Insane you say? Maybe, but maybe there is more going on here than rock pushing.

Camus compared the situation to the famous lover Don Juan. He said “There is no noble love but that which recognizes itself to be both short-lived and exceptional.”

I love that quote and remember it now even 40 years after I first read it. To truly love someone requires an effort to be “exceptional”, which by the nature of it being exceptional is short lived. As I watch my wife and sister-in-law struggle with their mother’s Lewy Bodies, I see that type of noble love with each daily fight with that rock. Its about achieving in one’s existence through exceptional love. Oh, its hard. Its fucking hard. But the love that it demonstrates is exceptional. I saw it with my sister Donna in how she cared for my parents in their last struggles and the love that she developed and showed in the process defined her. It is something that in my opinion defines the best of what we are as human beings, loving beings.

I think the process is more about how it changes us than how it helps the impaired love one. It makes us better.

King Sisyphus was a SOB fighter. The Gods punished him with the rock pushing because he tried to stop death by putting death in chains. This pissed off both death and the Gods.

In a lot of ways I see caregivers as the SOBs ( certainly Sandy, Bobbi and Donna) trying to cheat death like our friend Sisyphus- they know that death will eventually escape ( it sort of has to, to make life work) but they are SOBs and going to chain up death for as long as they can.

That fight. That ” Rocky Balboa” fighter that fights knowing that he will eventually lose to Apollo is inspiring to the human spirit. I’m from Philly so I watched the movie 8,000 time, yet each time I watch is I’m emotionally cheering Rocky hoping that he will someone how win. He doesn’t. Yet I am not sad for Rocky. I think he was happy.

Like Rocky Sandy and Bobbi are fighting unwinnable fights against a damn big rock. They will lose, but in it they will win.

Their fights are against fear and things that take their mother’s dignity way. There fights are hopeless, yet noble and define the human spirit.

I write this blog as a map for my children to follow at times when they are lost. And I know with certainty that they will find themselves as caregivers against one of these rocks, hopefully it will not be me. But its critical to their emotional survival that they understand like Sisyphus that although it might not seem it on the darkest days there is nobility and honor in the process. And there is true love.

I love you both and am proud of you.

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Rule #177: The Santa Rule

Rule #177: The Santa Rule

I’m a fan of Santa. Not that I want the focus on Christmas to be gifts, I just love the concept of Santa.

The dude is a really cool guy. A toy shop, a race of Elves at his command, flying reindeer and magic powers- what’s not to like. The guy rocks. He is also a snappy dresser for us plus size guys.

What I liked best about the jolly guy is the power he gave me over my toddler children to influence their behavior. Just invoking his name anytime between Thanksgiving and New Years would reset behaviors of any child whining, expose any lies, and basically check any negative thing. It was truly magical.

I took full advantage of it! It was a season of easy disapline that made the holiday an especially happy one.

The only negative was that as my children grew they stopped believing. Imagine the power we would have over negative people if there were consequesnce dispensed by a chubby magical entity that could envoke as much fear as joy.

I encounter adult people during the year who say cruel things to each other, do evil things just to get personal gain and generally behave badly. Unfortunely these things aren’t illegal and they are basically just the function of people behaving badly. It is sad to say but some people just choose to be assholes. ( I tried to find a more polite word for it but asshole is the only one that really works)

Fortunately I am not completely powerless without St Nick. My kids have the fear of my death and me haunting them ( which I will do for any that are pissing me off ). As I get older and closer to death I intend to use this power more. Yes they may not even believe in God or an afterlife, but do they really want to take that chance? I would be a pretty pissed off ghost.

What we need is a Santa for Adults. Something that just by the envoking of his name behavior instantly changes

Imagine being able to simply yell out to the guy that cut you off in traffic  “ you better watch out” and have the behavior stop. Or say “ he sees you” to the woman that was rude to you at the grocery store and her instantly reflect on her behavior and apologize.  I generally think assholes know when they are being assholes, just without Santa in their lives there is no direct consequence. They need to lose things that they want.

It sad but the holiday seems to have the opposite effect on assholes , they seem to just love hurting other people- maybe because life hasn’t given them enough Barbie Princess Castles or Red Ryder B.B. guns. They are mad at life, have little hope and want to hurt others happiness. We need an Adult Santa to give them something to hope for , and something to take away from them when they are bad.

Yes we have heaven and hell- but assholes are pretty short- term thinkers. They need the immediate reinforcement of Adult Santa to keep in line.

I propose a kickstarter project to set up a second “North Pole Workshop” maybe at the South Pole using magical penguins to help deliver new BMWs and the like. I think with the right magical entity we may really be able to keep the adult assholes in line.

So.. “ you better watch out”…,

 

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Good Dog

GOOD DOG

Nittany

2006 -2017

 

Life is Hard, I say that a lot in this blog. But one of the gifts God gives us to make life a little less hard is the companionship of animals. In our family that companionship has come from Dogs. It is one reason this blog is named 2catule, the Hills have always been Dog people. Not that there is anything wrong with being a Cat person, ok to be honest there is but I will leave it as we are just Dog People.

There are all types of Dogs in the world. Some hyper and friendly like Piper ( our other lab), some nervous and scared, and some lazy and  still others cool. Generally the Dogs are more a reflection of the families they become part of rather than any inbreed trait.  The dogs reflect how they are treated by their owners and become the animal their lives lead them to become.

Occasionally, there is a special Dog. One that changes you more than you change her. Nittany was that type of Dog. From the moment we picked her up from a breeder near her name sake Nittany Mountain, she was kind and loving. She filled a gap in our family, and helped bring kids from both Bobbi’s and my first marriages into a common love of truly special dog. She was the consistency that gave our entire family a common place to love. She helped us truly become a family. Andrew was 17 and getting ready for college, Collin was 9  and just finding who he was, when she entered out lives…but we all experience the joy of Nittany. a dog that made you love her by her sweet personality.

No matter what happened Nittany was a consistent source of comfort and love for our family. She was in the bed of someone who was sick, or there to wag her tail and lay her head on your lap if you failed a test or were teased in school. She never judged, and never wavered from her consistent loving devotion of our family. She had the ability to seek out the family member that needed her most and stay close to them. She has an emotional radar to be there when you need her, and to give you space when you needed time for yourself.  We all learned a lot from her on how to give emotional support to one another.

When we first got Nittany Bobbi’s plan was to have her live mainly in the garage, which shifted to included the kitchen and dining room within a week, and our bedrooms soon after.  That was Nittany, she had her own plan and by her simple loving nature seemed to find a way throughout our hearts and home.

Each of the 7 AuPairs that lived with while we had Nittany in our lives tried to smuggle her to their home countries at one time or another. Even after we brought home our rescue 5 years ago, Piper, Nittany remained the lead dog at the house. As Matthew put it tonight I may have a 2cat rule, but our home was always a 1Dogrule house- and Nittany set the rule. Piper is special in her own way, and has twice the energy that Nittany had even as a puppy. But she is lost today as we all are, looking for Nittany to lead the way to the beds or food bowl.

Nittany’s last year was a hard one. She developed complications from diabetes which required insulin and eventually lead to her complete blindness. I am convinced she did this when I developed LADA diabetes so I would be alone in my insulin dependency.

We did not realize how blind she had become until we moved to Florida and began to walk straight into the pool. Never a complainer as she went slowly blind she memorized our old house and hid her special needs. Even when facing a new dark house she learned the turns and steps quickly, and would wait by the elevator every morning and night for a quick ride to her bed or food bowl. This old blind dog rolled with the punches that our move and busy lives gave her and remained her cheerful, tail wagging self to her last breath.

Piper has the tendency to run away when ever an open door presents itself. We quickly learned that when she ran if we took Nittany on a leash she would lead us to her. She always knew where our family was, blind and old, she could see better than all of us. She knew her family and always knew how to find us.

Nittany’s  changed our hearts, our lives and our family and will always remain an important part of who we are. She taught us to comfort, to love and to find each other. She will be missed, but always be with us.

She truly was a Good Dog.

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule # 97: NEVER live in Florida!

Rule # 97: NEVER live in Florida!

I hate Florida. The bugs, the heat and tourist. To me the entire state is scrub pines, sweat and hurricanes. In fact I have said recently that I hoped that the new Trump boarder wall would use the Florida- Georgia line as its starting point. I’ve told all my kids I would NEVER, EVER move to Florida.

Then why the hell are we moving to St Petersburg this June?

Yes, the obvious answer of becoming clinically insane has not been ruled out. But, the motivation starts with lots more than the move, its starts with embracing change.

In May 2008 Bobbi and I launched Signature Captive Solutions. In the 9 years since we have many adventures and developed strong partnerships with people like Halls.  Today as we sell our companies  (Blackmoor, SFB, Patriot and Preferred) we do so knowing that our 40+ colleagues are the key to our success, and without their efforts and commitment we are nothing. The right People are everything.

We choose this time to sell because our resources could not keep up with our growth- we needed a bigger park to play. We choose these people because they want to build rather than cut, and would give our employees better benefits at lower costs- Acrisure Holdings was the right company. Being in this industry for +35 yrs this is the first company I’ve met that is as concerned with its people as much as their bottom-line.

This change allowed Bobbi and I to the luxury of picking where we want to live- after much reflection we chose St Petersburg.

But why the hell Florida, you ask?

Bobbi’s Mom and Dad love it there and her Mom is there now most of the time, Matthew just moved there and Collin is starting College there. So, the important element of FAMILY was going to be present. Being close to her Mom was one of the criteria that we set up when making a decision.

We looked at lots of places- Lake Norman, Cincinnati, Atlanta and finding a great high school for Abby was essential – we found one that she loves, the Cantebury school which is a faith based school with a strong Arts and Science programs. It offers small classes and lots of individual teaching- its the right fit. Having Abby have a great high school experience was a critical part of the decision.

We have built a strong network of friends we don’t want to lose. Buying a 7000+ sf house, on the bay/ dock, with a great pool in a great vacation spot seemed like enough of a lure to welcome our friends and family to stay with us. “Living our lives like we are on vacation” became a goal. We want to build new friendships but not lose the great ones we have. So, we found a house that would be as welcoming to our friends as it is to us. We hope to have the opportunity to build great adventures with  dear friends adding us to their vacation plans. And of course Rachel, Andrew, Ashleigh and Hailey will be regular VIPs to our home- we want to make it easy for them to be there often. ( Hailey think Disney World!)

The final decision came down to comfort level. We knew that staying in Pennsylvania was the easy, safe choice- and that the sale of the business gave me the opportunity not to work. But choosing easy has never been our style, its just not who we are- we live a “reality show life”, that is sometimes a little “Survivor” and sometimes a little “Kardashians” but never, never dull. Deciding to move to a new state, without friends in town and taking on new challenges with an exciting great company would push us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes your life needs a kick start . Facing the sloped end of my 50’s scared the crap out of me, I want to live my life as a 38 year old not a 78 year old.  So we chose hard, risky and exciting- lets hope it is the road less traveled, that will be all the difference.

So, here I sit planning my apology to my old college friend Jeff “Florida” Wisor whom I once told that Florida was the arm pit of the country. I am filling out my Publix store card application thinking of exactly how do I admit I was so wrong to so many people. How does one offer an apology to an entire State?

Yes, I still hate the humid hot summers and will always hate the cockroaches even if they name them cute things like palmetto bugs. But I do have to admit that this is both the most scary and exciting thing I have ever done, and at 57 I feel that I am raging against the night. I plan to be working very hard, enjoying every blessing this world has given me and building even stronger friendships.

The future is Bright especially in the Sunshine State.

( I still hate Florida State…Go PSU)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule #102: $300 charge for Vomiting in the Cab

Rule #102: $300 charge for Vomiting in the Cab

I was in Fort Myers Florida yesterday and had the pleasure of being transported from the hotel to the airport in a taxi with 2  8 x 10 signs posted to both back windows that read:

$300 Charge for Vomiting in the Cab

My two questions were when did these signs become necessary, and am I sitting in the place that caused the need for the signs?

The cab driver assured me that this was not due to his cab, but he was required by the Fort Myers government to display the signs because of an incident where the cab driver demanded a payment of $300 to clean up the cab when one of his customers had blown groceries all over his cab. Surprisingly the incident did not occur because the passenger has Ebola or food poisoning,  but because he had drank too much at the bar that he was picked up from. Go figure.

I imagined our hero cab driver, already just trying to eke out a living in the face of unregulated Uber drivers, explaining the fairness of the passenger paying for the mess he made tossing his cookies in his van. And the passenger’s lawyers arguing that because “vomiting charges” were not clearly in writing his client could not be possibly expected to pay for damage he cause. After all his client was denied the right to read a full disclosure of possible charges then how could he have possibly known that he would be responsible to clean up the mess.

This is what is wrong with our society- we don’t want to be accountable for our own mistakes, and we are constantly seeking others to blame for our own stupidity. We avoid responsible and hire lawyers to shift to others what is clearly their own.

I asked the cabbie why there were no signs needed in the cab for penalties for urinating or defecating in the cab, and why was there no charge if I decided to break one of the window.  He reply was a truthful but painful…”not yet”

The culture that we have developed that requires full written disclosure to buy a sugary drink from a convenience store is out of control.  We need to be taxed to keep us from drinking, because we may hurt ourselves.

We now believe it is the government’s role to help us from the evil people that may want us to clean up our own barf. We aren’t going to accept a D in chemistry because no one explained fully to us that we actually had to attend class. Nothing is our fault because we have to live our lives believing that everyone is a complete moron and without  someone telling us not to do it we ‘d be lighting ourselves on fire and drinking bleach.   No one is responsible for anything because there are no consequences to our actions.

Part of being an functioning adult is to know that if you broke it you brought it.
It requires that we be able to function effectively without needing  someone to tell us to clean up our own messes.

We can do better. Clean up your own vomit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rule # 92: Live deliberately- snowshoe rule

 

Rule #92: Live deliberately-snowshoe rule

“The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave witb the song still inside them”

Thereau, Walden

I think about that book and the that wonderful quote often. You will find yourself as you approach 60 thinking about it a great deal as well. It sums up the experience, the essence of life’s quest.

Two books to read in your youth are Walden and A Pilgrams Progress, very different books. But they both point to the importance of finding purpose in our lives. Sometime late at night in your late 50’s you will think of these books and ask yourself “does my life have purpose?”, “did I do things that allows me to sing the song God gave me?”

There are only two decisons you make in life that will allow you to answer YES to those questions with certainty.

The first is to choose to look at life as a gift or a burden.

We are all faced snowshoeing through the blizzard of challenges in life. There will be periods of white outs where we are completely blinding us to where we are headed. Some of us will choose to curse the storm and damn God for putting us in it rather than Aruba. These people will sit down, refusing to move.. Dying pissed off and angry at God. Its a cold and bitter way to live,

Others will choose a path, and make a decision to walking towards the warmth of a cabin with a warm fire and brandy. It comes down to believing that the cabin is  there or not, and it requires movement to get there. Movement is life. Staying still will lead to a frozen heart.

The certainties are that there will be a storm, and that none of us know for certain if the cabin even exists.

The second decision is who we choose to travel with in our life.

Some of us are loners and trust no one. They choose  lives of self reliance where they charge into the storm, trusting in no one and nothing but themselves.  A few make it to the cabin, but they drink alone.

Others find a leader who’s guide rope they can grab on to when they can see nothing in front of them. It could be family, friends, church, work… Often a spouse or partner. Choicing the right rope is everthing.

There are many that lead in circles. Others that lead you off the steepest ice clifts. Finding the right guiderope to hold on to, and being able to trust that they care as much about you as themselves is the key. They may not know where they are going ( because honestly none of us do) but they do care about you. Choosing the right rope will make all the difference.

Some times we grab on to the wrong rope, and only deep in the storm we realize that we are only being lead, and not care for by our guiderope puller. Letting go of that rope can be the scarest thing that we do in our lives..  But the most important. Choicing the right rope will determine not only if we survive, but if we have a chance to be happy doing so.

We also pull our own ropes with other people following us. Our childern, friends and co- workers watch our rope course in complete trust in us because their course will be changed with our rope change. Choose wisely.

Enjoy the blizzard…stay warm and keep moving.

 

 

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