Tuesday, February 26, 2013


There is an old adage that goes this way: "The only people who like change are wet babies." True as that may be, I believe all of us welcome change to some degree. Permit me to explain: those of us who happen to be driving an older car with high mileage would welcome the chance to drive a newer car with lower mileage. Those of us who shelved dreams as we became adults (art, travel, music, sports, drama) might give a lot to recapture some of those pursuits in earnest now. For some of us, a change, a permanent change, from the jobs (and the pay) that mark our lives as moderately, but not wildly, successful, would be a pleasant surprise. And then there are some of us who would embrace a change of the most basic sort: a new body -- one that's not fallen prey to overeating, under-exercising, and the deceptive lure of the television set.

I make the case it is not change we rebel against; rather, it is the way change occurs. A change thrust upon us without any input is bound to generate some real pushback. Just think back to when you determined your child's bedtime. You dictated to him or her that 8 p.m. was bedtime, and there was likely zero discussion. Your child resisted because they had no input. They resisted, but they lost.

A change in something seen as traditional will probably meet resistance too. Just think about the reception you'd receive if, instead of the time-honored Thanksgiving turkey with all the trimmings, your family would sate their howling appetites with grilled hot dogs and beans. The family may like grilled hot dogs and beans, but you changed a tradition that was important to the family, and that was a no-no.

Men, we face changes in our lives every day. Our children grow. Our job duties fluctuate. Our health declines. Our buddies die. The man who can deal with life's changes in a reasonable way will have a considerable advantage over the man who can't.

When I think of it, I may not have wanted my young son to leave that August day for first grade; I may not have wanted my daughter to spend the night away from home on her first sleepover, but looking back, there really is no other way for life to move forward. It's called change and because of it we're the family we are today.

Maybe here, once again, we can learn something from our ancient brethren across the pond, the Greeks. It was Heraclitus who is said to have said, "Nothing endures but change."

So as you can see, it's all good. Just be sure to enjoy it while you can, tomorrow it may change.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


If I asked if you had any regrets you might recall an instance of too many libations, words spoken in anger to a loved one, a less-than-inspired performance on the job, or any combination thereof. For a good many of us our teenage years are when momentary lapses in common sense and sound judgment led to events that have stayed with us for the rest of our lives.

The things we do that lead to regret are often a mixed bag. How about the thrill of flying down the open road coupled with the regret of getting a speeding ticket? The regret was magnified tenfold when we faced dad or mom, as they opened up the next car insurance bill. To be sure, we wrestled with the consequences of our actions, at least until another dumb challenge found us gunning it through an intersection once the light turned green.

Some of us carry regrets linked to drinking. We didn't start out trying to get blind, falling-down drunk, but we got there soon enough. And what about that peculiar mental state when we felt bionic, indestructible and possessed of exceptionally good looks? You know, ten feet tall, bullet-proof, and God's gift to the ladies. For a time, in our minds at least, we were all these things. To those around us, however, we were somehow less than suave, debonair and entirely charming. This hit home when we were reminded by those true friends we had who wondered if we really intended to make a consistent fool of ourselves.

Regret is characterized by feelings of sadness, repentance or disappointment over something that has happened or been done. For me there was one regret I had that went far beyond mere feelings; it manifested itself as a dark shadow hanging over me. It was something I kept hidden, something I never told others, for fear to speak it would bring condemnation.

Perhaps you too have such a regret -- something you lug round that rises to the surface at inopportune times -- like at three in the morning when sleep eludes you.

There came a time in my life when I had to face down my regret. I spoke it aloud to a friend, putting it out there. To my surprise I wasn't condemned or even banished for my longstanding offense. In fact, the man I spoke my regret to found it interesting I even regretted that specific deed. He told me what I did was nothing to regret. In fact, he had done the same thing.

Was that ever a freeing revelation!

I have found that since that discussion I no longer spring awake at three in the morning with feelings of sadness, repentance or disappointment.

Instead, now at three in the morning all I'm doing is keeping my wife up with my snoring. Perhaps there will come a time when I regret that.

But not yet.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Adventure

When I was dating my wife I decided I wanted to impress her, so I made reservations at the best restaurant in town. Not being from the area, I went online to investigate the comments, ratings and recommendations made about this establishment. After so doing, I was confident I had made the right decision. Calling for reservations seemed to confirm my pick, as it was nearly impossible to find a time I could reserve a table for two. I had the lady write my reservation down, securing the most romantic table in the place.

It was only after I had made the reservation that I remembered to see if she was even available that day. Well, as luck would have it, she was. I told her we were going to dinner, and she should dress up. As for the destination, that would be a surprise.

When the day came for the big date, I washed and vacuumed the car, picked up my suit from the cleaners, and spit polished my shoes. I was feeling a little bit like James Bond heading to the casino, when I pulled up in front of her building.

She looked stunning as she met me. I did manage to tell her that -- always a good thing.

I opened her car door, and we headed to the restaurant.

Or so I thought.

As it had been awhile since making the reservation, and because I didn't look at the map before I left, I totally forgot how to get there. I knew the general direction and some key landmarks, but that was about it.

In other words, I was lost.

When we passed the same intersection the third time, she asked where we were headed. Being a man on a mission, I was not going to admit we were lost, so I told her we were on an "adventure."

Well, we did make the dinner reservations; she was impressed, and she eventually became my wife.

Since then, we have had many big adventures. Sometimes they start with a wrong turn and a fresh discovery along the road. Sometimes they begin when I turn the controls over to her, and I just go along for the ride. Yes, many a serendipitous discovery has resulted from our adventures.

The best part of the adventure is the time we spend together -- talking, laughing, learning more about each other. As we do this, we find out just how good a partner each of us is for the other.

That has been our greatest discovery, knowing that wherever we are is where the adventure begins.

The rest of the story: She did buy me a GPS for a wedding present.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Redirect Feminine Ire (i.e. How to Stop Getting Nagged)

There was a man I once knew who had married a wonderful woman. That woman, however, for him had become, over time, an insufferable, nagging shrew. For this unfortunate gentleman there appeared to be no end to her persistent reminders of tasks unfinished, jobs forsaken or failed promises. More than once I marveled at the sandpaper texture of her voice, as she used it to knock the rough edges off the man ("cretin" was a word I heard once) she had married. Unsavory innuendos and harsh threats had become for her second nature, and she seemed to take special relish in pointing out this poor chap's every flaw to anyone within earshot. On more than one occasion, the miserable bloke confided to me the situation had grown intolerable, but he was at a total loss to know what to do to regain the sweet bride he had married.

So what caused this wonderful, sweet woman to turn into a God-awful shrew?

As the man was desperate to find some answers, we set about to determine the problem. There was for him most definitely a listening issue, and he was quick to admit it. When I asked him how their conversations went -- particularly when she was requesting something -- he had to confess his attentiveness was less than what it should be. He cited numerous examples where, in an effort to get her to the point, he would rush her along, glossing over most of what she said, eager to be free of this unwanted intrusion. The problem here (you can probably see it already) was that he half-heard most of what his wife was saying, mis-heard the rest, and soon forgot most all of it 15 minutes later.

Can I get an "Amen," brother?

Now if that dear, sweet woman in your life has some nagging tendencies (i.e. she's an overachiever when it comes to asking for something), there's a way to fix it. In fact, there is a guaranteed cure!

It will involve time and effort, but the rewards are worth the effort -- if you take the time -- that is.

It's really very simple. Here you go: listen closely, resist the urge to rebut on every other point, and check (better yet, slay) your ego at the door.

Listening involves a few easy steps:

1. Look at her. Maintain eye contact. Let nothing distract you. I repeat: let nothing distract you.
2. Do not judge, dismiss, belittle. Let her speak and finish what she has to say.
3. Restate what she says or asks. Be clear on what is being said or requested.
4. Follow through with what you said you would do.

Once you put your ego in check and you're listening, really listening, (i.e. not just giving her your best impersonation of listening), you may find what she had to say was, well, something worth listening to in the first place.

And, if not, at least with some practice, you'll only have to hear it once.