Author Archives: LifeStrategy101

About LifeStrategy101

Circling on the big blue marble learning about life.

Who Made Who?

“Video games she play me
Face it on the level but it take you every time on a one on one
Feel it runnin’ down your spine
Nothin’ gonna save your one last dime
’cause it own you
Through and through”

In 1986, Stephen King adapted his short story, Trucks, into a B grade movie called Maximum Overdrive. It only rated 2 1/2 out of 5 star and it was one of the 7,000 movies Emilio Estevez starred in during the great 80’s.  Although it didn’t get great ratings, I loved it.  SPOILER ALERT:  How cool would it be to fight all our motorized and electric appliances that had been possessed by aliens?  It would make the zombie apocalypse look like a day at the spa.  What was even better than the movie was the hard rockin’ sound of AC/DC belting out a killer soundtrack.  Ahhh…the ’80s!  (I do NOT miss them…maybe the hair…)

IMDB labels the movie as American action-disaster-horror-science fiction film.  Note the word “FICTION”

“The data bank know my number
Says I gotta pay
’cause I made the grade last year
Feel it when I turn the screw
Kick you round the world
There ain’t a thing that it can’t do
Do to you, yeah”

I was at lunch yesterday with my step-son (after church boys day out), and was in the middle of sending a text to my daughter when our food arrived.  I said “just a sec” and kept on pecking away.  He cleared his throat, once, twice, then asked me politely to look at him.  He was waiting to say the blessing.  WOW…did I feel like a horses behind!  So I put my phone on airplane mode (easier that cycling off and on), and we prayed.  I spent the rest of lunch fully engaged with him and we laughed and cut up.  All my kids are AWESOME!

Image

 

As we left the restaurant, I really looked around.  It amazed me at the number of people with their heads down, completely absorbed in their smart phones.  Entire families were heads down stumbling through the shopping plaza.  

“Who made who, who made you
Who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who, who made you
If you made them and they made you
Who pick up the bill and who made who
Who made who
Who turned the screw
Yeah”

 

It’s not fiction, people.  Technology now OWNS us.  We really have built our own “prisons of the mind”.  Technology is a fabulous thing that was suppose to make our lives better. (I’m still waiting on the hover car).  Instead we’ve become a slave to convenience.  I’m the first one to admit I’m guilty of this.  Saturday night, I’m watching a movie with my wife, and I keep refreshing ESPN.com on my phone to get the latest score.  I “sacrificed” football to watch a movie with her, but did I really sacrifice?  

I’m carrying my phone in my hand 18 hours a day to make sure I don’t miss an email from my boss.  I can’t even have lunch with a 10 year old, uninterrupted by the call of instant access to everyone and EVERYTHING!

The question is, what do we do about it?

“Satellite send me picture
Get it in the eye
Take it to the wire
Spinnin’ like a dynamo
Feel it goin’ round and round
Runnin’ outta chips
You got no line in an eight bit town
So don’t look down, no”

It’s easy to say, just unplug!  It’s like telling an overweight person, just eat less, or an alcoholic, don’t drink any more.  It’s not simple.  The demon was insidious, slowly creeping on us over the last few years.  Invasion of the Body Snatchers has NOTHING on iOS!   If I even forget my phone, even for a quick run to the store to get gas for the mower, I get twitchy and start feeling phantom vibrations on my hip.  When I do a training run, I do it with my phone in my hand.  It’s flat out an addiction.  

“Who made who, who made you
Who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who, who made you
If you made them and they made you
Who pick up the bill and who made who
Ain’t nobody told you
Who made who
Who made you
Who made who
Who made who
Yeah
Nobody told you”

Getting emails 24/7 was suppose to HELP us, not dominate us.   And it’s getting worse.  Now we have smart glasses and smart watches.  Pretty soon I’ll be getting a pair of smart underwear with 25 distinctive notification sounds.  

My generation remembers a life without “smart” technology.  I got my first computer as a senior in high school…TRASH 80.  (who remembers that one?).  But my kids have never known a life without being connected to the information grid.  They’ve never touched an encyclopedia.  

But I have hope.

I asked my lunch partner yesterday, who has more than his share of gadgets, how he is able to avoid the temptation of his games while we are out.

He said he loves spending time with me more than playing Minecraft.  Ouch!

I think I’ll just take a(nother) lesson from a 10 year old.  

 

*Lyrics from AC/DC “Who Made Who” – Writer(s): Brian Johnson, Malcolm Mitchell Young, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Angus Mckinnon Young

Copyright: J Albert And Son Pty Ltd.

 

 

 

15 Tips for Flying

I’ve learned several lessons about airline travel in the past few years.  My job requires me to travel, not extensively, but enough that I have gotten quite good at the process.  In no particular order:

  1. If the cost to upgrade to first class is $50 or less, and the flight is over 90 minutes (and you can afford it), DO IT!  The extra leg and butt room make it a small price to pay.
  2. Check your main bag if you are travelling for more than one day.  There’s nothing worse than trying to navigate through a crowded airport with a bag in tow.  I tried it both ways and I prefer not to deal with keeping up with it.  Plus, you can bring gallons and gallons of hair care projects instead of 3 oz.
  3. Make sure you ID has not expired!!!!  It’s not impossible to get through security with an expired license, but it’s much easier when it’s still valid.
  4. Unless you are going directly to a meeting, dress comfortably.  I’m all about wearing flip-flops, shorts, and a T-shirt.  I look more like an overweight homeless beach bum than a business person.
  5. Before you go through security, empty your pockets.  I put all my change and keys in my backpack as soon as I get out of my vehicle.  I also wear slip on/off shoes and keep my belt in my backpack until I get past security.  I’m all about the hassle we are put through by TSA, to keep our flights safe.  Be extra nice to these folks.
  6. Bring a backpack or other SMALL carry-on that will fit underneath the seat in front of you.  Requirement – an actual book made of paper (instead of glass, plastic, and electronic components).  It takes 10-15 minutes to get in the air and the same to get down, when use of portable electronic devices, including cell phones, pagers (pagers?), laptops, iPads, iPods, portable televisions, electronic readers, blenders, remote control helicopters, is prohibited.   That’s too much time to sit idle.  I also suggest you bring a notebook and a writing tool.  Great ideas strike in high altitude.  Wet wipes, tissue, magazines, pain relievers, are some other items you might consider.
  7. Don’t recline your seat.  It only feels like 1/8th of an inch to you, but like 2 feet to the person behind you.
  8. EARPLUGS are a must.  If there’s a crying baby on the plane, he WILL be sitting behind you.  Nothing against crying babies.  I am one from time to time.
  9. Use the bathroom every chance you get in the airport.  The john on the plane is only large enough for children under 5.
  10. If you’re staying in a hotel, don’t pack shampoo, conditioner, or soap.  I have my preferred brands, but even the cheaper hotels include those in the rooms, and I can survive a few days using Breck.
  11. Granola is my friend.  Airport food is not as expensive as theme park food, but it’s not the best value.  I keep a few granola bars in my backpack.
  12. Keep and frequently use hand sanitizer.  You can’t help but brush against surfaces that 1,000’s of hands have touched within the last hour.  I’m don’t suffer from mysophobia, but I am a proponent of good hygiene.
  13. Pack light.  Often you can wear the same pair of pants or socks twice.  Extra under garments are fine.
  14. Don’t get an airport massage.  That’s all I’ve got to say about that.
  15. Be extra courteous to EVERYONE you meet.  The person standing at the gate isn’t responsible for a flight cancellation. I’ve watched people get U-G-L-Y with these people.  At the check-in desk in Phoenix, a customer service person was apologizing for the long lines.  I told her it was no problem at all.  She looked up and smiled at my wife and I.  She then told us of a man earlier in the day, that yelled at her because he was going to miss his flight.  He said he was a surgeon and if she were on his table, he’d let her die.  WHAT?  I was dumbfounded.  She said it’s like that every day.  WOW.  What’s the deal with that?   Since she told me, there’s a special place in my heart for people that work in the airline industry.  I can understand why some seem a little callous, but that doesn’t stop me from showing my appreciation.

I’ve love to hear YOUR flying tips!

Cowards

This morning I posted about a personal experience with domestic violence.  When I posted, I made the disclaimer I would remove the post in a few hours because of both the personal nature and the people involved.  I don’t claim to be much of a writer, so when the blog recorded 497 views in 2 hours, I was more than shocked.  Is there really that much violence out there?

I’ve already written that I grew up in a violent home.  Each incident was preceded by copious amounts of alcohol.  I heard from my aunt that my grandfather was occasionally abusive toward my grandmother, but he changed after they had grandchildren.

Even though I have a horrible temper, I’ve never come close to hitting a woman.  My mom told me countless times growing up that I was NEVER EVER EVER to lay hands on a woman.  As I child, I asked if I could defend myself if a girl hit me first, and I was adamantly told “NO!”  Those words have stayed with me and are ingrained into my fiber.  Thank you, mom.

When Christy and I married, she got to witness a few of my anger episodes, which consisted of yelling and throwing things.  I can’t remember what sparked any of them, but I do remember the day she drew the line in the sand.  She said “If this keeps on, we will not be married.”  My wife is the love of my life.  I took her words seriously and sat down with a counselor to talk about my anger.  

If I loved my wife, more than I love myself, as I claimed, I had to sacrifice my right to be angry.  It was that simple.  When I looked at it from that standpoint, it was an easy choice.   And it is a sacrifice I gladly make, every single day.  But as bad as my anger was, it was neither physical, nor verbally, abusive toward her.  I had a fail-safe switch, that forced me to get in the car and drive to the church down the road whenever I felt I was losing control.  There’s something about sitting at a house of worship, even in the parking lot, that grounded my emotions.  

I can only look at the world from one perspective, and that’s mine.  I haven’t had the experiences or influences of other people.  I had a tough childhood, but I didn’t bring the baggage with me.  Anger is something I grasp.  Violence is not.

I do not, nor will I ever, understand a man hitting a woman.  It is wrong on every level.  A man should protect his wife from all harm.  Domestic violence is that insidious demon lurking behind closed doors.  It’s something no one likes to talk about.  It’s embarrassing for the woman who doesn’t want the world to know that man she loves is hurting her.  It goes unreported and unchecked.

I wish I had answers.  I only have questions.

One in four women have experience domestic abuse in their lifetime according to The Domestic Violence Resource Center.   One in four.  I don’t understand.  The more I read about the topic, the more I believe that number is low. 

A friend of mine sent me this video from Pastor Mark Driscoll and he screams “How dare you!!!” multiple times.  I agree.

There is no provocation or excuse that justifies the cowardly act of domestic violence.

Guys, if you’re doing this, seek help…http://www.4angertherapy.com.  Admitting you need help makes you more of a man.  I’d rather my wife think I’m her “Knight in Shining Armor” than the dragon any day.

Ladies, if this is happening to you, seek help…National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or http://www.womenslaw.org.  

Image

 

 

 

 

 

 

House Rules

Image

One of the hardest parts of parenting is being consistent.  After a tough day at work, one might find themselves either too exhausted to battle wills with or very short with a child.   I sat down early one Saturday morning and wrote out a list of House Rules that apply to everyone in the household, and made a copy for everyone and placed a copy on the fridge for everyone’s viewing pleasure.  I’ve had to add some addenda over time.

House-of-Holmes Rules

  1. Every person in the house will show respect to every other person in the house.  We take turns.  We are courteous.  We say please, excuse me, and thank you.
  2. Every person in the house will stand up and greet visitors to our home.  Hugs not required to be given to strangers (ADDENDUM –  or the UPS man.)
  3. No running in the house unless it is on fire or there is a need for a tourniquet.  (ADDENDUM – SPEED WALKING IS THE SAME AS RUNNING) (ADDENDUM – SKIPPING IS THE SAME AS RUNNING IN THE HOUSE)
  4. No more animals.  (ADDENDUM – Yes, a hamster counts as an animal) (ADDENDUM – I mean it!)
  5. Dirty dishes belong in the dishwasher (ADDENDUM – if the dishes in the dish washer are clean, please don’t put your dirty dish in.  Empty the dishwasher first).
  6. If you are going to be gone for more than one night, make your bed.
  7. Dirty clothes left in the bathroom will be donated to Goodwill.  (ADDENDUM – No, I will not replace your missing basketball shorts).
  8. Honesty is the ONLY policy.  Consequences for violating this rule triple that of anything else.  Once trust is lost, it’s hard to find.
  9. Indoor voices are for indoors.  Outdoor voices are for outdoors.  (ADDENDUM – use a headset when using any device that makes noise) (ADDENDUM – all noise making toys will be sent to the grandparent’s home that purchased them)
  10. You have no right to privacy when you live in this house or you are supported by my paycheck.  you will be given privacy out of courtesy in many cases, but never believe it is a right. I am ALWAYS watching you.
  11. Homework before TV (ADDENDUM – homework before everything)
  12. Kitchen closes at 9 PM (ADDENDUM – does not apply when having overnight guests)
  13. No negotiating on the rules after one has been broken.  If you want to talk about one, talk about it beforehand and never when there’s emotion involved.
  14. Do something nice whenever possible.
  15. Everyone in the house goes to church.
  16. You are required to laugh, love, hug, & communicate.

After implementing these, life in the house became much less stressful and I highly recommend parents (and children) come up with their own list of house expectations.

Be awesome!

Not in a Hurry

I found out that I’m dying.  How’s that for an opening line?  I found this out about 40 years ago, when my great grandmother, Emma, passed away and I attended my very first funeral.  At 5 years old, I quickly caught on that dying was not a great thing.  It was the first time I had seen my mom cry and it scared me.  I associated death as a bad thing at that point.

Over the next few years, I lost several more relatives, including my 16 year old cousin Carla when I was 10.  She had kidney disease and the doctors told her parents that she wouldn’t live to see her 16th birthday.  She proved them wrong by passing away early in the morning the very day she turned 16.  That death still hurts me 35 years later.  Carla was my baby sitter and best friend, if you can consider your cousin your friend.  As an only child, I would beg my mom to let her come over during the summer when I wasn’t staying with my grandparents.  She taught me how to play Monopoly, as well as how to properly pronounce it.  It’s funny that I can still here her voice just as if I had heard her on the phone 10 minutes ago.

I’ve since lost most of my family including my parents and all grandparents.

It was an odd, almost surreal, feeling when I became the patriarch of my family line.  There was no family member left to turn to for advice or  to share my childhood memories with.  Almost out of instinct, I still pick up the phone to call my grandmother, who passed from this world over 10 years ago, whenever I get the urge to speak to her.  And I’m consumed with grief when I realize, after the clock tics a few times, that she’s not here anymore.  Why do I do that?

Strangely enough, I’m prepared for my own death.  Notice I didn’t say I’m in a HURRY for it, but just prepared.  My wife hates it when I talk about it because she’s 10 years younger and odds are she will outlive me by at least 15 years and who would want a life without me in it, right?  I have no fear of death…maybe a little fear surrounding HOW I will die, but not death itself.  It’s a road we will all cross to our judgement.  I don’t fear judgement, but that’s a conversation for another time.

That being said, I don’t think I’m ready to die just yet.  If I look at my grandfather’s and grandmother’s siblings age when they died, I can expect I will live to be in my late 80’s.  My grandfather and all but one of his siblings died in their 90’s.  At 45, I’m thinking I’m right at the half way point in my life.  That might be a little audacious to think because I’m 75 pounds overweight, but I’m working on that.

I’m not ready to die just yet because I’m not finished living out the purpose God put me here for.  I have paintings to paint, hugs to give, books to write, friends to make, jokes to laugh at, babies to hold, photos to take, advice to give, questions to ask, teams to coach…I could go on and on.

There’s little chance I’m going to change the world with any of the above, but at a minimum, I’ll leave a ripple, maybe even a wave.  Traditional thinking would say, at 45 “your chances are fading.” I would offer an alternate and less jaded opinion that says I have more to offer in the way of “wisdom” now that ever before.  Why would I have started writing about a life yet lived?  I’ve built quite a resume of life exposure over the last 45 years that will benefit someone along my path.

And in the end, like the boy throwing the starfish back into the ocean, if help one person along this journey, I’ve change that person’s world.  That’s my life purpose and I firmly believe we all share that same mission – to change the world by helping those we come in contact with.  It could be something as simple as a smile to someone having a bad day, or putting dent in your bank account to help that young couple at church that just lost both their jobs and found out they are having a baby.  You can find a way to make one person’s world better without looking far.

So until my work is finished, I’ll stand by my statement…I’m prepared, but not in a hurry, to die.

Be awesome.Image

Rich Kid, Poor Kid

My wife and I picked up my step-son from his grandparents’ house after school on Thursday.  As is my habit, I asked him about his day.  He huffed and started telling us that a kid at school had called him poor and was trying to keep his classmates from sitting with him (like a modern version of the cooties).  The frustration was very evident in his voice.  At ten years of age, he wasn’t properly equipped to defend his parents’ financial position.  Digging deeper, I asked him what had prompted this hubbub.  It was a paper bag.  Because Carter takes his lunch to school in a paper bag, he is being labeled poor.  What has happened to society?  

Friday night after soccer, he wanted one of his teammates to spend the night.  I had earlier overhead his friend attempting to make other arrangements.  Rather than have anyone feel left out, I made the executive decision to let 2 of his teammates come over for an all night battle to save the universe by way of the Xbox.  

Mark has been to our home several times.  But this was Jeremy’s first visit and after exploring our home, he exclaimed to me in amazement, with Carter present, “Y’all must be rich!”  I’m not sure what Jeremy’s family’s financial situation is, but it must not be the best for him to consider us “rich.”  We are by no means wealthy by most people’s standards.  Comfortable maybe, but not rich.

In just over 24 hours, my stepson had been called poor and rich.

Sunday night, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with him and asked him to talk about both incidents.  He was still angry at being called poor.  “Why does that make you angry?” I asked.  “Because I have a computer, a cell phone, and an iTouch” he replied.  I continued, “Do you think having those things makes you rich?”   He paused.  I think he wanted to answer “yes” but something told him it wasn’t the RIGHT answer.

I then asked if he thought we were rich.  “No” he answered.  

“What makes someone rich?”

Another long pause.

“Lots of money?” he guessed.

Before I answered I had to think carefully, because this was a critical learning moment.  What does make someone rich?

“Being rich is having God, family and friends in your life.”  It was the best I could come up with and the longer I dwelt upon it, it really is the right age appropriate answer.

I hugged him goodnight and as I was walking out the door, he said “Chris, if that’s what rich is, I’m really really rich.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself.

Image