The Death of Goliath

Although I wasn’t around back when the epic battle involving David and Goliath took place, it’s still my favorite biblical showdown. Goliath was a feared warrior who towered over everyone around him. David, who was much shorter, came to the battle armed only with a slingshot and few stones. We all know how the story goes and ends; the stone shot out of David’s slingshot strikes Goliath right between the eyes and the giant falls dead.

So, what does the encounter between David and Goliath have to do with the story I want to tell you? Well, at the end of January in Cary, North Carolina, a giant the magnitude of Goliath fell dead when the Cary Towne Center mall closed. Not just a part of the mall, the entire mall…all 1,004,210 square feet of it. Now while were many factors that lead to the mall’s demise, including an economic drop in sales for retailers and the increasing popularity of online shopping together with the effects of the horrible pandemic, it was still a sad tragedy on January 31, 2021, when the mall closed its doors for good. While I wasn’t born in North Carolina or was a “Caryite” (a term given to those who were born in Cary or live in that bustling city), my daughter and I had many happy memories of our trips to Cary Towne Center to do some occasional shopping or ride the indoor carousel. We also had a few “Dad/Daughter” dates when we grabbed dinner in the food court and had foot races through the busy mall. A few months before the mall closed, we went there for a final evening out and were both saddened by all the stores that had gone dark, and how empty this once crowded noisy mall had become.

I should point out that while Cary Towne Center was closing as a mall, the structure and property (87 total acres) on which the mall stands was purchased by Epic Games, another Cary based business, and will be converted into Epic Games new headquarters. So, the future for the area the mall stands on is very bright. But, back to my story…

On the weekend that Cary Towne Center was set to close, I set out for one final visit to see how it looked before its closure. The first shock for me was the ease of finding an open parking space. During the mall’s heyday, you were lucky to find a parking spot anywhere close to an entrance, and it was a pretty good hike from the parking spots that were further away.

Once inside, the next shock I experienced was the eerie silence of the empty building. Belk’s department store and Dave and Busters were the only businesses left open; all the other stores were closed and shuttered or were only open so that the tenants could finish emptying out their space. It was also a big shock to see that the hallway that used to lead to the wing of the mall where the old Sears and JCP Penney stores used to be was now completely blocked off. The eerie silence continued to follow me as I walked through another wing of the mall that had not been blocked off. And as I was snapping pictures of the vacant stores, a flood of memories returned to my heart of all the laughter and hustle and bustle that once filled every corner of the mall, but was now gone. The silence, as they say, was deafening.

As I walked out of Cary Town Center for the last time, I noticed two girls in the parking lot who were hugging each other. I asked them if they were okay, and one replied saying, “Yeah, we’re fine, but we grew up coming to this mall almost every weekend and a part of us is dying now that it’s closing.” I looked back at the huge hulking structure, and had to agree with them; in reflecting on the good times I had over the years visiting Cary Towne Center, a part of me died with its closing as well.

A few days after my visit, Cary Towne Center closed its doors forever. Goliath was officially dead.

I’m still alive….

Long before this lovely pandemic started, Don Vaughan, who is one of my writing mentors and the founder of the Triangle Association of Freelancers that I’m a member of, said to me in an email, “Mike, you’ve been unusually quiet. Is everything okay?” At first, I didn’t think much of it since I grew up largely being an introvert, but then it hit me full force that I was being quiet…unusually quiet. As the time being shut in due to the pandemic dragged on, I found myself withdrawing from everything and in the process, totally forgot about those that mattered most in my life: my family, friends, and me. Above all, I lost the inspiration to write…but I’m happy to say, that ended today.

Shortly before my dear friend Heather Kolsara went up to heaven last year, I was able to spend a few final days with her, and she had one dying wish for me that went “You’ve cared for others, but now you need to live your life and do what you love to do, which is to write. And after you’ve written something, write some more.” The greatest sadness hearing her say such a thing was knowing she would never be able to read anything I would write…at least not here on earth.

It’s still hard to believe that after returning from a business trip last March, I was told to go to the office, grab my laptop, and set up a home office for a few weeks. I still work from home and do love the shorter commute to work these days, but really miss the daily interaction with others, so when I’m able to ask friends how they are doing, get a smile at the basic reply of, “Yes, I’m still alive!” Pretty simple huh? But aren’t those the greatest words we can proudly say to someone these days?  That while we’ve all suffered from the distancing isolation and have had to take drastic measures to ensure our health and well being, we can still proclaim, “Yes, I’m still alive!” to a friend, even from a six foot distance?  Heck, I don’t care if they say that talking to yourself is a sign of insanity because I say those words to myself every morning! I had a minor health scare recently (I’m doing just fine now) that put me in the ER needing a fluid boost to make me well.  As I lay in the hospital bed with an IV drip in my arm, I said those four simple words to myself. While the fluid boost did make me feel better, saying those words gave me an extra boost realizing I still had life in me. Life is amazing, and while we have it, life should be enjoyed like a party I say!

So dear friends, I encourage you, no matter where you may be, no matter what you may be doing, no matter how busy you are, take a second and say those four simple words to yourself. Your outlook on life will change and you’ll feel so much better when you do. And oh yeah, to all of you, I’m glad YOU’RE still alive, and once we are fully able to, am all for getting together over a friendly cup of coffee anytime! 🙂

Because she needed something to read…

Lately I haven’t done a lot of writing. Now, now, I know, you can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t write, right? And as I look back at the blogs I’ve put on here, they all have the same theme…an excuse. Excuses like, “life got in the way” and “I got a new job and had to work my behind off to make sure I don’t get fired” and “well, I don’t know what to write and even if I did, would it make sense?” Of course when it came to excuses, I have two people in my life with a zero tolerance for excuses: my dad, who always said, “the best excuse is no excuse”, and my daughter who when I used to drive her to work, would hop in the car and ask me if I had written something and when I would say I hadn’t, would ask me point blank, “why not?!”

Don’t get me wrong, those two keep me in check, but the final “kick in the pants” admonishment to write something happened last Saturday when I was safe social distance visiting my dearest friend Donna who simply said, “I’m tired of being cooped up because of this virus! I need you to write something, so I’ll have something to read!” All of a sudden, I had a reason to write; and it wasn’t because I suddenly had the best topic to write about, it was just because a reader told me to write something so they could read it.

I’m like Donna and have just had my fill of being house bound during this epidemic, but the great thing is that since our movements have been restricted, it’s also given us the perfect opportunity to take a moment and sit back with a cup of coffee (oh c’mon, y’all know I’m a caffeine addict so I have to work reference to a cup o’ joe in every blog post! 😀 ) and get back to doing the things we do best and that maybe we couldn’t do before the blasted virus came along since our lives were moving at a million miles an hour. Doing this simple post helped me realize what I like to do, and that is write.

So here you have it Donna, I’ve finally written you something to read…hope you enjoy reading it!



I once dressed a dead guy…

My dear friend and fellow blog writer, Katie Martin recently challenged me; and everyone else reading her blog to write something about themselves that is totally out of the box; be it something funny, or deadly serious. I accepted the challenge (cue music from Mission Impossible) and started thinking (and yes, no need to remind me, the concept of me thinking will either bring on fits of unending laughter or will have you running to the closest coffee pot to brew a batch of Death Wish Coffee®) of an out of the box story of my own life (then I realized I plenty of ’em!). It was then that I remembered a story from my college days that is undoubtedly the most hilarious thing that could have happened to me; so, grab a cup o’ joe, or your favourite adult beverage, and get ready for a giggle or two.

Follow me if you will and step on the Tardis to go back in time to the late 80’s in Toronto. Die Hard, Beetlejuice and A Fish Called Wanda were big at the box office, and everyone was listening to Enya and Robert Palmer and fists flew beating the air every time U2 sung “Pride (In the Name of Love)”, and at the time I was working for a menswear store called Tip Top Tailors while finishing up my final year of college. It all happened on one of those rare days that I had no classes and was picking up a few extra daytime hours that the store manager told me I had laboured long enough selling sweaters and shirts and ties that I was now officially permitted to sell suits. Someone just throw a gold medal around my neck, start playing the theme to “Chariots of Fire” and slow the picture down frame by frame as I enjoyed every second of my victory lap to the back of the store where only the experienced sales slaves are allowed to go to sell the finest clothes and double-breasted suits that the store had to offer. (Yes, I said “double-breasted suits”, this was the height of the 80’s after all!) What happened next had me totally convinced that the retail gods also felt my time had come and decided to smile down on me. The retail gods also showed me what an incredible sense of humor they had…

Two ladies, a mother and daughter of Italian decent walked into the store and right back to the suit section. The mother had a thick Italian accent and could have easily passed le parrainfor the Godfather’s wife, and because of her mother’s accent, the daughter, Grace was more or less her mother’s translator. I gave them the traditional two minutes to walk around and then armed with all the sales scripts memorized in my head, decided it was suit sale time!

They both smiled and giggled as I asked the myriad of open-ended questions that all retail folks are told to ask. The mother smiled and pushed Grace towards me to work out the sale. Our conversation almost read like a comedy script (and please pardon the occasional bit of broken-Italian…it makes the story SO much funnier)

Me: “Is the gentleman who will be wearing the suit with you today?”

Grace: “No. The suit is for my dad, but he won’t be here.”

Me: “Okay, what size of suit will he need?”

Grace: “We looked at one of his other suits, and he wore a size 48.”

Brief intermission here: now, I don’t know anything about women’s clothing, but can tell you pretty confidently being a menswear salesman, that any guy who wears a size 48 suit is not just big…he’s HUGE!!! So, in my mind, I started to draw up a picture of this guy. I’ll betcha his name was Vito, and any guy who is this big is probably a big-wig in the construction industry. Intermission over, back to the conversation…

Me: “What color suit can I show you? We have a large selection…black, blue, pinstripe, gray three-piece…?”

“Gray three-piece!!!” Grace and her mom exclaimed in unison together.

Me: “Um…okay…er, how about a shirt and tie?”

Grace (after getting the nod of approval from her mom): “Yes. A shirt and tie would be nice.”

Me: What size of a shirt will he need?”

Grace: “Ummm…a size 18.”

Brief intermission again…a size 18??!! This guy must be HUGE and in addition to his name possibly being Vito, and possibly being a big wig in the construction industry must have had a LOT of money and live in Woodbridge (a section of town just outside Toronto where some very wealthy Italians live since Grace and her mom were very well dressed) Back to the conversation…and here is where the wheels fall off the wagon and the laughter begins…

Me: “Okay, we got the suit, we got the shirt, we got the tie…now, will the suit need alterations? The pants aren’t hemmed.”

Grace: “No.”

Me (sensing danger): “No?”

The mother, who had been silent up until this point laughed out loud and came forward, put her arm around me and after leading me to the register, placed a hand on my shoulder, and in her best broken Italian English with the most incredible amount of love and compassion said, “Mike, you’ve a-done a marvelous job and made something that me and Grace dreaded doing today so much easier. You see, my husband’s a-only gonna wear da suit once. You see, he’s a-dead.” Instantly I went silent, unable to say a word, or even express my sorrow. Fortunately, as I wrapped the suit up and handed it to the mother, she gave me a kiss on the cheek and a wink that she understood.

About a week later during my typical Saturday morning shift, as I walked the back of the store hunting for my next double-breasted suit sale (yes, I did say “double-breasted suit” again, after all, this is the height of the 80’s!!), the store manager came running up to me and said, “you have a customer at the front of the store who wants to see you like, now!” After a huge eye roll, I started to the front of store muttering “what now?” under my breath. A smile filled my face seeing that it was Grace and her mother! Not wasting a 1second, the mother (who then told me her name was Carmen) walked up to me and gave me the biggest hug and said “Mike, I tell-a you, Vito went to God lookin’ like a million-a bucks!” I then asked if they could answer a few questions. They agreed wholeheartedly. Here’s the final funny script…

Me: “So, Vito was his name?”

Grace: “Yes.”

Hmmm…funny, the Godfather’s name was Vito.

Me (to the mother): “Your name is Carmen?”

Carmen: “Yes.”

Hmmm…funny, the Godfather’s wife’s name was Carmen.

Me: “What did Vito do for a living before he passed?”

Grace: “He owned a custom home construction company and was called the ‘Godfather of Custom Homes.'”

Hmmm…I thought he owned a construction company and was the big-wig of it!

Me: “You don’t happen to live in Woodbridge do you?”

Grace: “We do! And daddy built us the biggest home at the end of the cul-de-sac!”

Hmm…I thought they would have lived in Woodbridge.

Me: “One final question, Vito was a big man stature wise, right?”

Carmen: “Oh yes dear, he was. I mean-a you saw da size of his-a suit, he was-a HUGE!!!”

Hmmm….yep…question answered.

Of course, I didn’t have to question if Vito was a rich man because as Carmen and Grace gave me another appreciative hug and kiss on the cheek and made their way out of the store, Carmen pressed a $100 bill in my hand and said with a wink as she walked away, “You unique. After all, you-a dressed a dead man!”

Yep, my all-time out-of-the-box story is that I dressed a dead man.

And it’s the funniest damn thing that’s ever happened to me!

(If you want to read and follow Katie Martin’s awesomely funny and sensible blog, here it is:….and be sure to follow my blog as well! 🙂








Baby Steps…


I’ve come to the conclusion that life is not about big, huge, massive leaps, it’s about baby steps. My last blog was back in February, and while the deadline driven, “let’s-charge-ahead” part of me said “Geez Rumble, what is it with you?”; the other more thought driven “let’s-take-a-good-long-look-at-you” part of me said, “it’s taken you baby steps to get to where you are, and to get to where you want to go, all you have to do is take another baby step.” So yes, at the end of the day, it’s all about baby steps…and I’m about to take another and write this post.

Mind you, I do have an excuse why my blogging stopped for a bit. See, I got bit in the britches by my other new-found passion, acting. In February, I returned to the form of acting that got me started in the first place, in a murder mystery. I really enjoyed murder mystery acting. Heck, I even wrote one of my own a few years back. The new troupe that I had the fortune to join was based in Holly Springs, North Carolina. We were great…in fact, we were awesome…we sold out all three shows we performed. I totally stepped out of my box on this one; I grew a beard and let my hair grow out (boy, how my mom would have loved my long golden locks again!) I was a crazy version of King Lear and an even nuttier version of Burger King all rolled into one. I even sang the famous disco song “YMCA” to a skull. Yes folks, you read right…to a skull. Cripes, even my daughter howled laughing at my craziness. All was truly well with the world.

Meanwhile, out in Smithfield, North Carolina (just a hop skip and jump east of Raleigh) Neuse Little Theatre was holding auditions for a play that I absolutely love…Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. I had the amazing opportunity to play the role of Reverend Tooker in Theatre In The Park’s production of the play in 2012. I wanted to take a swing at the role again, but alas was in final rehearsals for the murder mystery. Shortly after the murder mystery was finished and I was House Manager for a show at Theatre In The Park, I got an email from the great Tony Pender who was the director of Neuse Little Theatre’s production of Cat asking if I would be interested in taking on the role of Gooper. The show was opening in less than a month, which gave me less time to learn lines, but I was feeling up to the challenge. Through the grace of God and a couple of weeks of little sleep (who needs sleep anyway??!!) I got the lines down and had an amazing time doing the show. Leave it to me to cause some moments; on the first Saturday night show in the final scene, I fell off the stage. Yep, my feet left the stage. My stage children came running at me and brushed by me enough to make me lose my footing. Fortunately, the curtain behind me became a parachute and dropped me on the stage stairs. When one of the patrons shook my hand after the show, he asked me if I’d share whatever bourbon I drank with him because, in his words, “one moment you were on the stage, the next moment you were gone, and then the next moment you were back.” Gotta love theatre folk! The next Saturday in the same final scene, as I went put the glass stopper in a wine decanter, I had a “I-don’t-know-my-own-strength” moment, and broke it. Yep, put the stopper in the bottle and watched as the neck of the decanter shattered into glass dust. Fortunately, the decanter was owned by my cast mate Darius, who as I told him how sorry I was to break his decanter, smiled and said, “No, thank you! I’ve been trying to get rid of that darned thing for some time now!” Once again I say it, gotta love theatre folk!

And as always happens, now that I’m in an acting break, my writing arm has started quivering again, and the mind bending “what do I blog about?” question came back to my brain. Then, it hit me…baby steps. Don’t take a big leap, start out with a baby step instead, or as my dear mom used to say when teaching me to walk, “Left foot…right foot…left foot…right foot…”

So, I just put my left foot out…now where’s my right foot…

2016 stunk!

Yeah, you read right…2016 stunk! In fact, 2016 stunk like a great big pail of poop! (and that’s pretty descriptive isn’t it?) For me, it all went downhill once David Bowie and Alan Rickman passed away, and by the time Prince, George Cohen and George Michael headed up to join the heavenly concert in the sky, I was really done and waiting for 12:01 on January 1, 2017 to officially kick 2016 off into the abyss never to be seen again.

The tough part about 2016 is how I had goals in my head; goals that just never became reality, and the real tough part is, I have no one to blame but myself. I looked at my blog here and checked out the last post I made before this one…it was on January 5, 2016. Pretty pitiful for a guy who claims to call himself a writer. In that post, I outlined how I had a mission statement for 2016 that was to “Drink Coffee & Make Stuff Up.” 1Well okay, I did achieve half that mission statement by drinking a whole lot of coffee, but I failed pretty miserably at the “Make Stuff Up” part. I did do some writing for my buddy Alex’s company website which did make me feel a whole lot better, but I just didn’t write quite as much as I had planned back on January 5, 2016. I had great intentions but was taking huge leaping steps thinking I’d reach my personal goal in a hurry. The only goal I met that way was tripping over my own feet. But, isn’t that the great thing about getting to the end of a year? You can look back at the year and give yourself a pat on the back for the successes, and then own up and kick yourself in the behind for all the things you messed up on. I hate resolutions and have all but given up on them, but I will say that making a resolution holds you accountable as to whether or not you achieve it. If you meet your resolution, you totally rock; if you don’t, that’s okay, just make a resolution to carry through on the resolution you made.  Did that make sense? If it did, lemme know, because it confused me! 🙂

The great thing about 2017 is that it presents a new book to write in. The pages are completely blank and ready to be written on with things and memories and events that will transpire for us to look back on when December 31, 2017, rolls around. And while my plan is still to “Drink Coffee and Make Stuff Up”, I’m going to add “Baby Steps” to the end of that statement which will make it read “Drink Coffee & Make Stuff Up while taking Baby Steps.” My goal of writing more seems a whole lot easier now! I’ll keep drinking coffee (no shocker there since just about everyone knows you don’t want to see me until I’ve had my first cup!) and make stuff up (which I do pretty well after that all important first cup of coffee!) while taking smaller, more manageable baby steps to reach that goal so I don’t go tripping over my two left feet.

I’ll end this post with a graphic of a quote from the late great Walt Disney that should get you pretty fired up for 2017…


Now go get ’em!!! 🙂


My Mission Statement…

So, I took a couple of days off to recharge and get ready for the long road ahead in 2016.  As tough of a year as it was, 2015 didn’t end too badly. I started New Year’s Eve by giving a final pint of blood (and of course getting oh, about a half dozen Krispy Kremes and several cups of coffee back in return to get my caffeine and sugar levels back to their normal crazy levels!) then got a phone call I truly didn’t expect…from my sister. We literally talked about any and everything, and then about what our New Year’s Eve plans were. I had an invite to go downtown, but was sort of in favor of just chillin’ at my place. As we said our goodbyes, my incredible sister said seven words that just ended the year right; she said, “Mike, go on out, you deserve it!” My sister rocks, seriously folks, she does. I took her advice and headed downtown; besides, my buddy Ira was emceeing First Night Raleigh and it was great just to get the invite. Yeah sure, it was New Year’s Eve, but I had never seen that many people in downtown Raleigh before, like ever. I had a VIP Pass and believe me, I took advantage of it and roamed everywhere that normal people couldn’t. I stood backstage and then stood right next to the coveted acorn and watched them hoist it and drop it at midnight. While people hugged and screamed with the start of the new year, I simply lifted my head to the sky and smiled as 2015 disappeared into the dark night sky beyond the boom of fireworks that ushered in 2016.

Then, New Year’s Day, after I returned late from a shift at the store, I sat in front of my laptop and did something I didn’t do all through the month of December, nothing. I sat stone faced, my fingers arched over the keyboard, and nothing. Not a darn thing came out. Half of me ached to write something since I had just finished up the most successful month of blogging every day that I had ever had; but the other half of me said, “Not now, go to bed and think. Your blog readers will still be there when you get back.” My warm bed delivered the final knockout punch. The battle was over right then and there. Bed, One. Mike, No score.

January 2nd was a strange day. Sure, it was a Saturday so I wouldn’t be at the office, but I wasn’t scheduled at the store either. I had the whole day off. Cripes, I didn’t get out of my PJ’s until late in the afternoon when I went to pick my daughter up. So I brewed a big pot of Blueberry Muffin flavored coffee (big shocker I know) and sat around watching cartoons (another big shocker I know) It was then that my mind starting thinking, “Okay Rumble, what now? What’s your theme for 2016 gonna 1be?!” It was then that my simple little mind which thrives on pictures, found the perfect one. So, here it is; Ta Da; my official personal Mission Statement for 2016. I figured since every decent company has a mission statement, I should have a personal one as well. I’ve read that mission statements should be simple and state or demonstrate what a company or entity will do. I’ve also read that the mission statement should have a goal which is easily attainable. Well, based on that, I am pleased to report that even though the end of the year is still over eleven months away, I’m well on the road to attaining my personal mission statement since mine states two very simple things that I can do very well: Drink Coffee & Make Stuff Up. The other great and awesome thing about these two elements is that they work hand in hand…at least with me they do. I drink coffee. I make stuff up. Mission Accomplished.

Truthfully in fact, that is my goal for 2016. To Write. My call to action to write is also pretty simple, I’m running out of excuses not to. Last year, Don Vaughan, one of my greatest writing mentors, and the founder of the Triangle Area Association of Freelancers, literally tossed an envelope of MAD magazines at me and said, “Write something and send it in!” His reply when I told him that MAD was way out of my league was simple and blunt when he said, “Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose!” And whenever I see Carol Winstead Wood, sister of the great Raleigh actor, Ira David Wood III, the first thing she says to me is, “How’s your writing? What are you writing?” So, as you can see, my mission statement was already being crafted long before I saw the cool Mission Statement picture!

That’s my challenge to all of you: write your own Mission Statement for 2016 and get crackin’ on it! And heck, if you need help, hit me up and I’ll help you…after all, I’m good at drinking coffee and making stuff up! 🙂

My word.

The other day I broke down. No, I didn’t break down and drink decaf or anything silly like that, but I decided to try one of those crazy Facebook thingys called “Your Word for 2016.” Usually, I don’t do them because it’s just Facebook’s way of seeing your information, but this one seemed interesting so I gave it a try.

I didn’t have to answer fifty billion questions or give the exact time my daughter was born, all I did was enter my name and it spat back my so-called word for 2016. The word I was first given was Innovation. When I posted it to my page, one of my friends commented that it would be true innovation for me to invent a larger coffee cup, or an IV with a timer so that the coffee would start to brew and drip straight into my arm before the alarm goes off. That would be pure genius, and heck, I’d love to be the inventor for that, but the actual meaning of the word that the program gave was this:

Innovation. You will find inner peace and harmony. It will support you in your daily struggles and situations that may appear hopeless. This word will always show you the silver lining so that you won’t ever need to worry. It was chosen for you specifically, embrace it!

At first I thought this was the nuttiest thing I had ever heard in my entire life! This had nothing to do with innovation! Wikipedia defines innovation as: the process of making changes to something established by introducing something better, and as a consequence, new.

After a few minutes of utter confusion at the word, I did what I do best and put on a fresh pot of coffee, and I went all daring and tried a new flavor of coffee I picked up at the store one evening, Blueberry Muffin Coffee. Once my thinking cap was properly caffeinated, I took a look at the word again. This time it made a bit more sense. When you are struggling in a situation that appears hopeless, what do you do? You do everything to change that situation so that it isn’t hopeless anymore, and since innovation is the process of making changes to something to make something new, it makes sense that you want to innovate yourself to change and get out of a rut. And what happens when you get out of a difficult rut? You find inner peace and harmony! Blueberry Muffin 810186179-9Coffee, folks, Blueberry Muffin flavored Coffee. It’s what got my mind thinking straight…and made my apartment smell pretty fruity! 🙂

That fruity Blueberry Muffin coffee also made the second part of the definition seem right as well. When you’re changing and making plans to fix and innovate something within yourself, you always look for the silver lining, that little something that helps you carry on. It’s very easy to stop doing something because you no longer see the point, but when you hit that point, don’t give up, look for the silver lining. It’s there, you just don’t see it because the thought of failure takes over. And like the last two words say, embrace it! When you move through a struggle, give yourself credit when you innovate yourself. You put up with a lot to achieve it, so embrace the “new you.”

The one word that stuck with me in that whole definition was the word hopeless. On its own, it’s well, nothing more than a hopeless word. It offers nothing; it’s a dead word. I hate it. Here comes the genius, so have another swig of your coffee or favorite adult drink, and get ready for this: take the word hopeless, and drop the less; what do you get? Yep, that’s right, hope; and that’s a completely different word that inspires you to go on because now you have a new weapon, hope. I used to counsel many people who told me their situation was impossible. I simply told them take the word impossible, and drop the im; and then look at the word again. The new word takes on a completely different meaning as well since now getting through a situation is possible when you take the im out of it. Kinda like the word hopeless, you just take a few measly letters out and it takes on a whole new meaning!

Like a lot of other people, tomorrow at midnight I will be happily kicking 2015 off the closest cliff and laugh hysterically as it drops down into the abyss along with all the previous years. So yes, permit me to just go ahead and wish you a year of innovation in 2016, and heck, just go ahead and embrace yourself even if you aren’t struggling. Goodness knows the whole world could use a big hug with so much nonsense going on in it today!

And yes, although I’m sure there are larger coffee cups and timed coffee IV bags already created, maybe I’ll innovate them, and get a billion gazillion bucks for doing so…and then, I’ll invite all of you to come visit me on the island of Bermuda, which I will buy and own using that billion gazillion bucks. And Blueberry Muffin Coffee folks, my empire will have lots and lots and lots of Blueberry Muffin Coffee!!


We all need them. They help us get through this strange and silly game called life. They give us company. They help us when we’re down; they cheer for us when we’re flying high. They tell us when we’re good; they’ll tell us when we’re bad. They’re simply called our friends. Some have many friends, some have only a few friends. The great thing about friends is that even when you think you’re completely alone, they come out of nowhere, just at the right time.

Back when I graduated college and went to work at an advertising agency, I thought I had found the best friends in the world. I was largely an introverted kid so finding a group of friends who hung out with me at the after work socials and took me out every Friday night was like a new toy; I liked it, and didn’t want to give it up. As my popularity at the agency began to take off, everyone just loved me. I was an easy target for anyone who needed a drinking buddy. The Friday afternoons sitting in my office uncorking a bottle of wine we’d received from one of the TV or radio stations became a weekly thing; followed by more drinking at the pub crawls we did once it was quitting time, the world was spinning out of control and quite frankly it was fun. I had these great friends who enjoyed going everywhere with me. My poor parents had put up with more than their fair share of seeing their son become a drunken slob. One Saturday morning, as I sat at the kitchen table trying to get over the Friday night hangover, my dad, in a last attempt to snap me out of it, sat down next to me, looked me straight in the eyes and said, “you show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you are.” My chest hurt as those word became branded forever on my soul since I knew if I did show my dad who my friends were, he’d tell me what I really was…and I knew I wouldn’t like it. A few weeks later, I would experience the full impact of those words when the bottom dropped out, and reality paid me a visit, I got the “golden handshake.” Then those friends suddenly vanished. No one wanted to be around the guy who just got busted for being too much of the party animal. I stopped by the old bars I hung out at with my friends, they wanted nothing to do with me, I had officially become the Invisible Man. Suddenly though, two friends appeared out of nowhere who not only did things with me, but helped me as I went through the brutal withdrawal of drugs and alcohol, and believe me, it was brutal. It was my parents. They never complained. They never gave up. They never turned their backs on me. Heck, they even encouraged me to buy a car…while I was unemployed. “You can do it!” they said. “You can get through this!” they said. It took a year for the recovery to comp1lete; but during the ordeal, I realized who my true friends were, and who the fake were as well.

Fast forward to today. If my dad came to me and said “show me who your friends are”, I’d have absolutely no problem showing him. It was funny, just this past July when I called him on his birthday, he said “The people who gave me the nicest wishes were all your Facebook friends. They’re a nice bunch!” I’ve just experienced a life changing situation that showed me how incredibly lucky to have the friends that I do. Friends who found out simply asked, “How can I help?” and that’s the nice thing about it; my new place is furnished and decorated with things that came from friends. Real friends. The kind of friends a guy can be real thankful he has. And I’m thankful for every last one of you!

I can’t move….I’m not going to make it…

I wrote this one a few years back when submitting stories for a book dedicated to back pain. Never got published, so here it is to share. And yeah, it’s what I get for being a daredevil!! 🙂

The water a couple of feet above me looked so calm and peaceful especially with the afternoon sun piercing down into the water creating kaleidoscope images that looked like they were painted across the face of the lake. I was however, unable to move having just landed in the water after jumping from a perch on a rock face some fifty feet up. “You came down straight as an arrow”, my brother-in-law Peter, who was cliff jumping with me would later say; but when I splashed down, my body curved underwater a little bit. In a split second, a cross-current took hold of me and violently snapped my body straight causing every single muscle in my back from my neck clear on down to my waist to lock up. It was in that moment of unbearable pain that I cast my eyes up towards the surface of the water which seemed so far away, and my mouth fell open and I silently uttered the words, “I can’t move…I’m not going to make it!”

I floated motionless and helpless, suspended in place by the very water I had just jumped into.  I felt the very breath of life leave me for a minute or two before my brain finally took charge of my body and instructed my arms and legs to move and get me out of the water. The pain climbing this wall of water to the surface above me was so intense I could feel my muscles screaming in pain as I moved them, and as it became harder to breathe and capture air, my lungs felt as though they were going to explode.  As the noise of the boats and the people jumping from the rocks into the water and those cheering them became louder, my brain pushed my body harder to make that final push to break the surface which looked like a sheet of glass. A rush of wind and fresh air filled my lungs as my head finally cut through the water and bobbed like a float at the end of a fishing pole as the boat my family was on approached me.  From the look on all of their faces, they all realized something was terribly wrong.

“Are you okay?” my panicked mother said. “Something’s wrong with my back, I, I can’t move it and I’m starting to feel cold” was my stuttered reply. “Well, we need to get you out of the water while you’re still somewhat mobile” Peter said; and with that he reached over the side of the boat, grabbed both of my arms and pulled me up out of the water and into the boat. The pain was so excruciating that I thought I was going to pass out, but it felt good to lay flat on a towel on the floor of the boat rather than at the bottom of the lake.

Once back at the cottage we were vacationing at, I was immediately rushed into my bedroom where a pain relief gel was put on my back. It smelled horrible and felt white hot as it sunk into my back to loosen my tight muscles, but was well worth it for the relief it provided. I also felt a bit more relieved when Peter came in the room and said that after he jumped off that very same spot, his toes tingled a bit from the force of hitting the water from such a height.

The trip back to Toronto, between sitting up and lying down in the car and the frequent stops because of the back spasms that constantly attacked me, was the longest I had ever experienced.  Like I felt that I would never get out of the water; I felt like the trip home would never end. When we did get home, it was the first time I never had to help empty the car. I was told to go lie down and rest my back.

A few weeks before this event, I had been to see my friend, Richard who is a shiatsu therapist. He was really great for working the kinks and stress knots out of a back. During the massage, he commented how straight my spine was. I now dreaded the phone call I would have to make to set up an appointment to get his opinion now that I had the accident.

As I walked into his office on the day of the appointment, he could see the pain creased across my face and took me straight into the therapy room. “Yep, you’ve really done it this time. Your spine feels full of knots and is no longer straight. No straight spine for you!” he joked as he massaged and worked on the painful pressure  points on my back, “it’s a good thing you came in when you did; at least I can work at relaxing your muscles so you won’t be in too much pain. You’ll be stuck with some pain for the rest of your life though.”

After a few visits, the pain did diminish a bit; but to this day, I still feel some pain especially when the weather is cold and rainy. Fortunately it is a minor pain and is more or less just a cruel reminder of what happened when I tried to be a “silly daredevil” as my mom called me. 

The year after the accident, while on vacation at the cottage, Peter and I did return to the same spot…and yes, since we both were branded with the title “silly daredevil”, we did go jumping. This time however, we jumped from rocks that were much closer to the water.  As we stood on a rock with only a drop of a couple of feet to the water below, we looked up to the perch where we jumped off and hurt ourselves the year earlier. Peter’s toes tingled and my back tingled from my neck clear on down to my waist. We both agreed we weren’t enough of a “silly daredevil” to dare going up and jumping from that spot ever again!