What’s on your page?

It’s hard to believe that the first quarter of the year is over! It seemed like we had just ushered in 2022 and were happy to see 2021 go into the past where it belongs, excited for what the new year would bring. Now while I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions as they are already long forgotten by the middle of February, I do like the beginning of a new year as it affords us the opportunity to close the book on an old year and open up a brand new one to write a whole new life story. So my question to you is this: “What’s on your page?” Is your page full of written words, or are you still struggling to find the right words? Well, don’t wait…start writing, because one thing I have learned this year already is that there is a very simple way to fend off that ugly thing called “writer’s block”…and I’m gonna tell you how.

I just finished up a four-week class called “Playwrighting for Beginners” that was taught by the extremely talented, and extremely animated Ian Finley. At the beginning of the first class, Ian shared the simplest and easiest way to write so that we could call ourselves writers. He challenged us to write for ten minutes every night for a week. That’s it, that’s all. He even said that what we wrote didn’t have to make sense and that we didn’t have to show it to anyone. Guess what? IT WORKED!!! I challenged myself to write for ten minutes every night. Heck, I even gave my senseless writing the title “Senseless Writing”! But the jubilation and success I felt just putting words on a page and turning out piles of pages was so incredible that I even found myself writing for longer than 10 minutes!

So, now I circle back around to my earlier question, “What’s on your page?” Is it full of writing (even if it’s senseless writing!) or is your page still blank as you look for the right words to say? I’ll be honest, the latter is what kept my blog from having more content than it does; I was always looking for the right words, and not just letting my thoughts fly. So, I challenge you to sit down and write for ten minutes every night and see how your pile of papers will grow. Remember, the best stories start with one word followed by a bunch of other words. Heck, what you write doesn’t even have to make sense and you don’t have to share it with anyone, just so long as you are making the papers pile up! And if you find yourself writing for longer than ten minutes, that is totally okay so long as you are writing your story and not leaving your page blank!

A good swift kick in the pants

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Well, for those of us who are gifted (or cursed maybe!) with a vivid imagination, you’re probably getting a whole bunch of painful visuals in your head for the term “a good swift kick in the pants”, but I’m thinking of it on a softer, more constructive level. Ever had someone kick you in the pants with a thought that changed how you look at a situation in your life? I did recently and the kick in the pants I got was a lot less painful, and a whole lot more constructive than I could have ever imagined.

Over this past Thanksgiving holiday, I met my buddy Alex for morning coffee while everyone else was out managing the madness of the Black Friday traffic. During the course of our conversation, Alex, who has always been a fan of my writing since I used to write blogs for his company’s website, asked me, “have you written anything lately?” Right then and there, I felt a soft kick in the pants. “I haven’t, pal. Life has been keeping me busy lately.” He shook his head in agreement since life has been keeping him busy as well. ” I love your writing, man”, he said, about to kick me in the pants harder, “and I can’t keep saying how good your writing is if you don’t write something new for me to read!” He made me promise that day to write something. I did manage to get an idea in my head, but then, life got crazy and I never did publish it.

Our schedules happened to align and we met for lunch today. Now even though Alex is a born Canadian just like me, he did get a bit direct and asked me the question, “So, did you write something?” I tried to hide it behind the excuse, “I have the story in my head, but just need to move it from between my ears to my blog page…” Then Alex, being a technical guru, spoke a reminder into his phone to ask me tomorrow if I published the blog. So Alex ol’ buddy, you can just go ahead and check off that “Make sure Mike published that blog post” box. And for my dear friend Donna who has said to me “If you don’t write, I can’t read it!”, you now have something to read! 🙂

All of this reminded me of this quote here by Albert Schweitzer that another dear friend of mine shared on her social media page of how our own inner fire can, for whatever reason, flicker out and that all it takes is someone else special to us to rekindle our light and inner spirit and rejuvenate us back to where we need to be, or in my case, get me inspired and fired up to get back to something I love to do!

Do you have someone in your life that gives you the proverbial kick in the pants every once in a while? If you do, consider yourself not just lucky, but blessed…very blessed because it is those people that will be there for you when your inner fire goes out and do everything they can to rekindle that flame. I am blessed that I have Alex and Donna, my daughter and an entire writing group that makes sure my writing flame never goes out.

Now I just need to keep writing because even a virtual kick in the pants can hurt after a while!

The Sounds of Silence

Yes, it’s one of the musically iconic and popular songs by Simon & Garfunkel, but the sounds of silence are something we can all take the time to listen to, and appreciate. I experienced the sounds of silence this week…and they were wonderful.

I took the week off of work to burn off some PTO and was dog/housesitting for some dear friends of mine who live in a new subdivision that is being built in Holly Springs, North Carolina. They have this amazing screened-in porch they named “The Carolina Room” with a small deck next to it that I was able to sit in and have my morning cup of coffee while putting my thoughts to writing. The most amazing thing about sitting out there is the one and the only thing I heard: the sounds of nature. There were no car horns, no noisy neighbors, no hustle and bustle, no nothing…just the sounds of nature. After being in a noisy, bustling city for so long, it took me a day or two to adjust, and then I discovered something; that for a city boy who lives and works in a busy city, the few days of peace and quiet was just what I needed, and once I took the time to breathe and take it all in, I found myself missing the noise and activity a whole lot less.

Isn’t it sad that with so much going on in our lives, especially in the covid-affected world that we live in that we miss taking the time to appreciate the quiet of nature? Even as I sit here on the porch writing this, it’s raining outside and it doesn’t bother me one single bit.

So, if you have the opportunity to escape to a place where you can experience the sounds of silence, even for a day, take it! You won’t be disappointed, and when you have to return to the hustle and bustle of your life, just the peace and sounds of silence you were able to take in, will give you the shot of strength that you need to deal with what life sends your way!

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 CoffeeÂŽ) 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: https://midwaymindsetblog.com)….and be sure to follow my blog as well! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby Steps…

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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…

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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! 🙂