Stop and Smell the Bacon!

By: Kevin Kilgarriff

For as long as most of us can remember, people have been using the phrase “Stop and smell the roses” to tell someone that they need to slow down and enjoy the life around them.  But if you ask me, roses don’t smell all that great!

 

roses

Meh!

They smell ok.  Pleasant even!  But do they smell good enough to get their own phrase?  I don’t think so.  There are lots of other smells that would have more appeal.

I mean really, how often do you even see roses?  If someone’s not buying them for you (mental note: buy flowers for wife) chances are that you aren’t going to happen upon them in your everyday travels.  So why is this antiquated phrase still in use?  It makes no sense and I think that it needs to be replaced with something more pertinent or pleasant.  Maybe something like…

Stop and smell the cookies?

Stop and smell the brownies?

Stop and smell the chain steakhouse?

drakkar

 Stop and smell the 90’s?

Or Bacon!  YES!  Bacon!

alg-bacon-footloose-jpg

“I do give off a rather pleasant aroma.”

Not that Bacon!  THIS bacon!

improvKitchen_howToCookBacon_00

 It’s like a plate full of odoriferous excellence.

Do you realize how many people would actually stop to enjoy the life around them if they actually thought there would be a chance to smell bacon?   Roses don’t quite have the same allure as something like bacon, and I’m sure life gets the shaft as a result of it.

But how would the simple act of stopping to smell the bacon make life better?  Well, our sense of smell is such a huge part of our life and yet, just like the poor roses, it gets neglected.   People go throughout their day actually smelling things left and right and barely even noticing.  Not only are they not stopping to smell the roses, they aren’t even realizing the scent of the roses ever even entered the air around them.  They’rerushing through life with blinders on, and they might as well add nose plugs to that.

Take a moment and think about all of the things that you could possibly get a whiff of at any moment of the day.   Food.  Soaps.  Perfumes and colognes.   That new car smell.   Old car fumes.  Chocolate.  An old book.  A charcoal barbecue heating up.  Fireplaces!  There’s too many even to list!  I’d have to start categorizing them, and the list of categories would get too long!

And not all of the smells are even that good!  Our noses are constantly warning us to get out of different places by alerting us when something, or someone, stinks.  And honestly, they’re the ones that we really notice!  Rotten food.  Garbage.  Feet.  Dirty laundry.  Sewage.  Sweaty people.  Freshly christened bathrooms.  Our sense of smell will even protect us and let us know when something’s burning or there’s a gas leak.  All of these things you’d rather not be around, and it’s your superior sniffers that lets you know about it.

I’m really amazed by the fact that our noses can get a whiff of something and quickly send a signal to our brains to tell us whether or not we like it.  And I’m even more amazed by the associations that can accompany those signals.

Have you ever walked into a house and smelled meatballs on the stove and were immediately transported in your mind back to when you were a child and your mother was cooking dinner?  And I think I can speak for anyone from Northeast Philly when I say that if you think about the Nabisco factory on Roosevelt Boulevard, you can literally remember the smell of the cookies that were baking as you drove by.

Nabsico

 The only place in town that actually smelled good.

Sometimes people even experience phantom smells, or Phantosmia.  This olfactory hallucination occurs when you happen to smell something for a brief instant when there is no possible reason that you should be.  For instance, you’re sitting in your house alone with the windows closed and nothing in the oven and you catch a whiff of a cake in the oven.  Or you’re sitting in your office and you begin to smell the scent of fresh cut grass.

Often people will immediately have a memory associated with the phantom smell.  Some people believe that the spirit of a loved one is around them when this happens.  And medical professionals believe that some phantom smells are a sign of serious medical conditions.  Regardless of the reason, it’s pretty astonishing to experience this.

Our sense of smell plays such an important part in lives that businesses will count on itto get you to buy from them. The smell of coffee will make you want to buy one.  The smell of cookies might draw you into a store.  Disney actually invented a device, theSmellitzer, to incorporate scents into their rides to make them more realistic.

In the end, the aromas that we encounter every day help us to experience the world that we live in.  We owe it to ourselves to notice them and enjoy the fact that we can experience them in the first place.  Because not everyone can!

Anosmia is the inability to perceive odor, and more than 2 million people in the United States suffer from it.  This means that they can’t smell fresh cut grass.  They can’t smell chicken casserole wafting out of the oven.  They can’t smell the Thanksgiving turkey or the pine needles from the Christmas tree.  They can’t even experience the way a winter day smells just before it’s going to snow  They can’t experience any of the olfactory brilliance that many of us enjoy each day

sad face

 “I’ll never be able to smell my own farts!”

Now at the same time, they’ll never have to worry about sitting next to someone on the plain that smokes a pack a day.  And they’ll never have to complain about the fake flowery smell coming from the bathroom after their aunt just used it.  So that’s a plus for the Anosmiatic portion of the population!

But hopefully that helps you realize that the sense of smell that helps us experience the world is truly a gift, and that we need to treat it as such and take full advantage of it.  Stop right now and take a deep breathe through your nose.  Do you smell anything?  Maybe you do, maybe you don’t, depending on where you are.  Maybe right now dinner is in the oven and you can’t wait to sit down to the table.  Or maybe the trashcan is overflowing and you’re too lazy to get up and empty it…even though it reeks of day old Buffalo wings.

Regardless of what smells good to you and what smells like crap (assuming crap isn’t one of the things that smells good to you…freak), smells are a major part of nearly everyone’s life.  And you literally need to stop and smell…something.  Anything.  Everything!  Take a deep breath and take it all in.  Take notice of everything around you and all of the pieces that are making it up.

Our lives are truly comprised of thousands of tiny miracles, and they combine to form an amazing symphony of awesomeness.  Every time you fail to notice, it’s a slap in the symphonic face of nature.  Make the best of every moment by truly living in them and appreciating what they’re made of.  And don’t forget that you aren’t just visiting that moment.  You’re part of it.  So sit back and feel that moment and every part of it.  Because if you don’t…well then you just stink.

The Elasticity Clause

Resolutions for the Weak-Willed

If you haven’t already broken at least one of your New Years resolutions, history tells us that you soon will.  But New Year’s Resolutions aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.   Every year you put together a list of things that you’d like to accomplish in the next 12 months.

NYE List

Found it!  Ok, time to do some editing.”

You’re never going to smoke again.  No more Judge Judy (who hasn’t been there?!)  You decide that you’re going to lose 10 pounds, and you’re serious this time!  If you add up all of the pounds that I’ve resolved to lose over the years, it would outweigh the Eagles Defensive Line.

corey simon

And I’m talking about back when they had Corey Simon!

There’s a host of other items that wind up on people’s list each year.  Find a better job.  Spend more time with your family.  Learn a new language.  Finally save enough for retirement.  The list goes on!  And everyone’s list is different.  But with practically every list in existence, across the country and around the world, they all have one thing in common – at least one of those promises will be broken.  Have you ever had someone approach you and say that they’ve just accomplished the final goal they’d set for themselves that year?

It’s never happened to me and I’ve never done it myself.  Less than half of all people hold true to their New Year’s Resolutions.  For most, failure is inevitable.  This is especially so with the diet, traditionally the number one resolution.  I probably break this one by 2pm on the 2nd of January on any given year.  That tub of Edy’s Double Fudge Brownie just stares me down with conviction every time I open the freezer.  I don’t stand a chance.  That crap is GOOD!  It doesn’t help that I open the freezer just to look at it every once in a while.  But that’s neither here nor there.

Edys double fudge brownie

You’re thinking about going out to get ice cream now, aren’t you?

The Clause!

Alas, my weak-willed friends, you need not worry!  I’ve found a loophole in the New Year’s Resolution Rule Book.  There’s even a name for it.  In fact I just made it up.  It’s called The Elasticity Clause.

In short, the Elasticity Clause states a simple truth.  Resolutions can happen whenever the hell you want them to!

New Year’s Day is only one day in the year.  It happens to be the first day, and that makes it a prime target for the listing of resolutions.  It also sucks for the other 364 days of the year that get neglected when it comes to resolutions.

May-2014-PDF-Calendar-Letter-Format-US-Holidays

What about May? May likes resolutions too!  Poor little month.

But resolutions don’t only have to be made on the first of the year.  You can stretch that date out as far as it will go until it runs right into the back of the last day of the year.  When it comes to resolutions, January 1st is elastic.  January 1st can be any day of the year that you want it to be.

As humans, we don’t like to be told what to do, and the world has told us that this is the time when we start anew, even if you’re not ready.  The problem lies with the amount of pressure we put on ourselves to follow through on these resolutions.  The Elasticity Clause gives you the flexibility to make these resolutions any time you want.

When I was twenty years old, my resolution was to quit smoking.  I lasted less than a week.  When I was twenty-one years old I tried again.  I lasted maybe a day.  When I was twenty-two years old, I bagged the “quit smoking” resolution altogether, knowing full well that I’d be lighting up before it even struck midnight is Des Moines.

smoking

“This is my last one, I swear!”

Two months later, I started dating the woman that I’d later marry.  Within a few months I had smoked my last smoke.  Why the sudden change of heart?  I had been given true motivation.  (I was worried that she’d break up with me if I didn’t quit) And it wasn’t on January 1st.  It wasn’t even the first day of summer.  Hell, I don’t even remember what day it was!  But I know that I didn’t need the first day of anything to decide that it was the first day that I’d be cigarette free.

That’s the beauty of the Elasticity Clause.  You can stretch New Years out to any point in the year.  You make that resolution when you’re good and ready.  You can decide today that you’re ready to find a new job.  You can decide next week that it’s time to re-do the bathroom.  You could even decide right this second that it’s time to start cutting yourself a break sometimes and not beat yourself up because you had trouble breaking some habit that you’ve had for maybe fifteen or twenty years.

You can do what you want, when you want.  You are your own person.  Screw January 1st!  What does it know?  Nothing!  It’s a lazy bum that takes off from work every single year.  Who feels like starting a diet on January 1st?  You’re hungover and all you really want is a large Wawa coffeeand some greasy food.  You probably don’t even feel like getting up off of the couch for it!  You don’t feel like eating fruit.  And you sure as hell don’t feel like going to the gym!  So right off the bat you’re feeling like a failure.  And you don’t need to!  You’re not a failure.  Far from it!  You recognized that you have something you’d like to change about yourself.  And that makes you successful already!  Making that change isn’t going to happen overnight.  But deciding to make that change can happen in an instant.  And in that instant, you just improved your life.

Hangover Pic

“We gotta’ find Doug so that we can get to the gym!”

So if you made a list filled with lofty resolutions that can change your life for the better, and broke half of those resolutions before Chris Christie had his first bear claw of the year, don’t beat yourself up.  You can resolve to change yourself at any moment in time.

chris-christie-eating

 Nom, Nom, Nom!

This isn’t to say that you should tear up that list of resolutions and toss it in the circular file.  The traditional New Year’s Resolution does have plenty of merit.  And if you can do it, awesome!  Otherwise, hold on to that paper and hold true to as many of them as you can.  One of them may change your life.  But if at some point next week you light up that smoke or take a bite out of that donut, don’t be upset.  You just weren’t ready.  You’ve only been practicing for when you are.  Maybe that moment when you take that bite will be when you decide that you’re ready!  It can be anytime!

Just remember the Elasticity Clause.  Because sometime down the road your mind will tell you that it’s time.  And instead of saying, “I’ll wait until next year.”  You can say, “It is next year!”

The Tiniest of Dancers

By Kevin Kilgarriff

Ali

Synchronicity is defined as a meaningful coincidence. An event that holds more meaning to those involved than your average coincidence might hold. People point towards synchronicities as a sign that there is a higher power driving our existence.  I had heard of the term when I was younger, and even may have experienced it on some small level. But in 2003, I would experience it in a way that I could never have imagined.

My wife and I had been married for almost two years and were in family planning mode.  Many months had gone by while trying to start a family and the monthly news that she wasn’t pregnant was beginning to become frustrating. That news finally changed one morning, and the events became etched in my mind forever.

We stood there in the bedroom embracing. Our smiles stretched across our faces. We knew our lives would never be the same. Our celebration, however, had to be short lived. Life still had to go on and we both had to get to work. I left the house and pulled my car out onto the main road. I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face or the happiness from my heart. Nor did I want to. I wanted to scream out in joy and felt like singing a song.  So I quickly turned on the radio.

The first song I heard was Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. As I sang the chorus, I thought, “That’s awesome! If it’s a girl, that’ll be my song for her!” I spent the next few minutes belting out the lyrics in my best high-pitched Elton impersonation. Little did I know of the significance that moment would have for me in just a few short months.

In October, my wife went into early labor. Our daughter was born 11 weeks premature. She weighed just 2 lbs. 7 ounces and could fit into the palms of our hands while they were still held together.  It was both one of the most glorious and most shocking moments of my life.  I was coming to grips with the fact that nearly two and a half months sooner than expected, I was a father.  I was so happy that I never really stopped to think what the ramifications could be of her being born so early. There were numerous health concerns. Among others, her lungs weren’t fully developed, and brain activity is sometimes an issue with premature babies. But in my mind, she just had a long road ahead of her. I don’t recall anything but joy from those earliest moments of her life.

She was immediately placed into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and hooked up to God knows how many wires and machines. If she had been anyone else’s baby and I had walked in to see her, I would have thought that she barely had a chance.  But she was my daughter. I knew she’d be fine.

As the day went on, my wife was moved to a room that she’d spend the next three nights in, and I would need to leave to pick some things up for her from home. She wasn’t due for another 11 weeks and we hadn’t even toured the hospital yet. Much less considered what we might pack into our “Go Bag” for when she went into labor. So I hopped in the car for the trip home.

It’s about a 20-minute ride from the hospital to our house. I spent most of that time on my mobile phone calling friends and family to share the news, still beaming from ear to ear. I was about a mile and a half from home when I hung up the phone for the last time. I drove along in silence for a quarter mile or so and then decided to turn on the radio. Can you guess the first song that I heard? That’s right, Elton John’s Tiny Dancer. As soon as I heard the notes coming from my speakers, my wide eyes turned to the radio in amazement. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It’s certainly possible that I had heard that song in the months since finding out my wife was pregnant. But if I did, I don’t remember it. And none of those times would have been as meaningful as this.

The song that was to be forever tied to the day I found out I was going to be a father has now inexplicably bookended the experience for me. Not only that, it did so with inexplicable timing. Anything could have changed that night that would have changed the experience. I could have left the hospital earlier or later. I could have hung up the phone and turned on the radio earlier in my ride. I could have never decided to turn on the radio at all! But I did. I turned it on at that very moment. And at that very moment, the song that held the most meaning for me with regards to my current situation was playing. It is to this day truly the most meaningful coincidence I have ever experienced.

That was a life-altering moment for me, and it opened up my eyes to the possibility that the universe has connections operating in unseen ways. Connections that help to weave a web of love and life that makes our existence in this world worth experiencing. It made me realize that life is truly more complex than I could have ever imagined. I was now looking at the world differently and I realized that we are indeed meant to waltz through life. Synchronicity is a sign that the world is engaged in a well-timed dance. Realizing this changed how I viewed the world. In the past, I was wearing blinders. And thanks to that synchronistic moment, I would be able to help my daughter see the world the way it was meant to be seen.

And in case you’re wondering, my daughter spent the next seven weeks in the NICU, fighting hard every step of the way and finally coming home when she was just under 4 lbs. She never had any ill effects from being born premature. She’s perfectly healthy and is actually an A student. And to add perhaps even more meaning to this incredible coincidence, she is one of the tinier kids in her class, and she is indeed…a dancer.

Originally Published in the January 2014 Edition of Transformation Magazine (www.transformationmag.com).

Company Loves Misery: The Importance of Positive Thinking

By Kevin Kilgarriff

Another one in the books!  The 2013 Holiday Season is drawing to a close.  Soon the presents will be put away.  No more “very special episodes” of your favorite TV shows.  And within six months or so the all of the decorations will finally be down.

28-Christmas-illuminations

Well it takes a while to clean up when Christmas throws up on your house.

Soon magical feeling that you get this time of year will probably be replaced by stress, anxiety, and staring in the mirror at your gut and wondering what the hell happened to the “mid-year” you that was well on its way to meeting the 2013 goal of getting in shape.

It’s time to start writing out those New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s time to look at that list and think, “Hmmm….this looks familiar.”  And it’s time to sit and wonder how long it’ll be until we break those resolutions.

There’s one resolution, though, that we should try our best to hold onto for as long as possible.  It’s a resolution that would the basis for making all other resolutions easier to keep.  It should be your number one resolution every year – Stay Positive!

Positive thoughts are a huge reason for success in any life.  Ask any person you consider to be successful for advice and I guarantee you that one of the phrases they spout out at you is “Stay Positive”.

Why then, is it so easy for us to be negative?!

On Christmas night I sat around the table with family sharing stories and some laughs.  And as I drove home that night, I looked back and realized that about 75% of those stories were about terribly, horrible things that happened to people we knew.   Stories of people dying, going into comas, losing limbs.  Extreme stuff!   We all had terrible stories to share about people.  Myself included!

I also noticed that some, but not all, of these stories did have silver linings.  Some of the people involved in these stories did have amazing outlooks on life and didn’t see their situation as a negative.  But instead they viewed it as just another hurdle in life, which is amazing way to go through life!  And an amazing way to pass on a positive to other people.

But, why do we talk about these things?  Why take one of the most joyous occasions of the year and bring it down with talk about people who have it worse than we do?

Oh!  Did just hit the nail on the head?  Yes, I think I did.  I think that we generally like to remind ourselves that we could have it a lot worse.  And in doing so we appreciate what we do have.

Silver Linings

But that’s where we’re wrong.  It might remind us of how good we have it.  But it’s best to really focus on the positives of those situations.   Talk about the person in the wheelchair that doesn’t let it keep him from seeing people who live in second floor apartments.  Or about the one that can still hit homeruns and triples playing softball with one arm.   Or THIS GUY, who was shot by robbers and survived an 18 hour surgery because of his positive outlook.  And to some extent on Christmas night, we were doing it right.  Because for all we know, we could find ourselves the main character of a similar story that someone else is telling next Christmas.

If that happens, do you want it to be a positive story or a negative story?  Do you want a group of people to sit around a table and talk about what a bad turn of events you experienced?  Or do you want them to use you as a beacon of light and marvel and how well you’re handling what most people would view as a terrible situation?

There’s even science behind it!  Listen to Dan Gilbert talk about why Positive Thinking is the Secret to Happiness.

We have absolutely no idea what the next day, or even the next second, will bring.  Staying positive now will help us to be positive about anything that we’re faced with in the future.  There’s always a silver lining.  And if you can’t find it, keep looking!  It will make itself clear when you’re ready.

Pat Riley once said, “If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.”

And if you don’t know who Pat Riley is, well all he did was use that very attitude to coach five teamsto NBA Championships.

And we’ve heard everyone from Bing Crosby to Paul McCartney sing about Accentuating the Positive, and Eliminating the Negative.  But if Aretha Franklin sings about it, then there mustsomething to it!

Have you ever heard anyway achieve great things in life by Negative Thinking?  NO!  Positive thinking!  Positive topics!  Positive spins on what would otherwise be viewed as a terrible situation!  THAT is the way to have positive outcomes on the things you encounter in life.  Practice it!

The next time you get together with friends or family, remember this.  Remember to accentuate the positive.  Remember to eliminate the negative.  Don’t sit around all night talking about how bad other people have it in life just to remind yourself of how good you have.  Talk about how great people are at having a positive outlook on life and remind yourself that you should be doing the same.  Misery loves company.  But company doesn’t need to love misery.

“Not in OUR House!” – Does On Field Violence Make it OK in the Stands?

By Kevin Kilgarriff

 

I’ve always been a pretty typical football fan.  Which is to say that I prefer that my Sundays look like this…

120203112840-dudes-watching-football-story-top

“Dude, we are totally doing this every Sunday for the rest of our lives!”

But I’m also a husband and a father.  Which means that normally my Sundays look something more like this…

raking leaves

“Just eight more piles and then maybe I catch the end of the game…if it goes into overtime.”

Football is an amazing game to watch.  Each week 32 teams face off against each other in the types of battles that 73% of the men in the country only wish they could take part.  55% of the women in the country watch too!  It closes the gender gap!  So what if some of those girls are only watching to make their boyfriends think they’re a cool girlfriend, only to turn the tables after they’re married?

girl-watching-football

“Sure sweetie!  This is exactly what marriage is going to be like for us!  Of course we’ll always watch the games together!”

Regardless of who’s watching and why, the fact is that these guys go out there and beat the crap out of each other for 60 minutes.  Slamming each other into the ground.  Trying to tear each other’s heads off.  And sometimes nearly succeeding.   And sometimes, in between all of this, we get to see some spectacular plays

 

 

Injuries will sometimes occur, and sometimes they’re pretty harsh.  Concussions run rampant.  Neck injuries aren’t uncommon.  And the scene below is one that we’ll often see when a player is lying flat on his back with a trainer looking over him.

kneeling

When their heads are bowed down, they can’t even see what color the other jerseys are, which is why is doesn’t matter.

What that image portrays is players from different teams realizing it’s a human being lying on the ground over there, not a just a competitor or a teammate.  There’s usually a hush that falls upon the crowd too.  Everyone is silent waiting to see if this man, who was just playing the game of football, is ok.  It is only a game right?  It would be terrible to see someone sustain a life changing or life threatening injury because of a game.

And then cheers erupt from the crowd when the person is carted off of the field, usually to show their support.

NS_10IRVINTIGHT_2628643

Sorry, Michael Irvin.  We thought you were Santa Clause.

Players do the same. Players from both teams walk over and offer and handshake to show their respect for their teammate or competitor.

Football is certainly a big money business.  But is it worth the risk of brain injury or paralysis?  Wellopinions differ on that.  But regardless, at the end of every game, you’re going to see one thing always happen.   At the end of each game, the players meet at midfield shaking hands.

Despite the fact that these men are viciously fighting it out on the field, they’re meeting after the game and chatting.  They’re hugging.  They’re wishing each other good luck in the rest of the season.

These guys know each other!  Former teammates.  Former roommates.  They went to college together.  They train together in the off-season.  They’re friends!  Sometimes they’re even family!

So when these men are battling it out on the field, and risking injury, they’re still doing it with a sense of respect.  They aren’t trying to hurt each other (usually).  But they know there is a risk of it.

So then what is the difference between being on the field and being in the stands?  Well in some cases the difference is greater than you’d think.  Many times fans don’t show the same kind of respect to opposing fans that the players show to each other.  It seems more and more frequent that we’re hearing about fights breaking out between hometown fans and the fans of visiting teams.  And it’s often ending with the visiting fans ending up badly hurt.

While the men on the field realize it’s a game, and respect each other.  The fans take it to a much higher level.  Some fans live and die by “their” team.  They don’t play for the team.  They don’t work for the team.  They just live in the city that the team represents.  They have followed that team all of their lives.  For them, when that team loses, it’s personal.  And if a fan of another team comes into “their” stadium, and God forbid wearing another team’s jersey, well things just might get ugly.

Why do we do this?  Will it really change anything for me if the Eagles don’t make the playoffs this year?  No, it won’t!  And that’s not just because I’m used to them not making the playoffs.  If they win the Super Bowl (not likely) it won’t change my life at all either.  I can be happy or sad about how they do on any given Sunday.  But it’s entertainment!  It’s not going to have any direct effect on my life…unless I allow it to.

I’ll still have to get up and go to work the next morning.  I’ll still have my family with me to live my life with.  I’ll still need to put out the trash.  And I’ll still need to shovel the snow from the front drive (and that will still suck!).  None of that will change if “my” team wins or loses.

So why then do people decide that violence is an acceptable way to show support?  The guy in the video below a woman!  He punched a WOMAN!  What is wrong with people?!

Yes, I know that we typically see stories the day after these incidents condemning their actions, blah, blah, blah.  Well guess what, a story that runs after the fact does nothing for the person that just paid good money to support their team and got pummeled in return.  This needs to be something that is stopped before it happens.

Here’s another fight that occurred at a 49ers – Raiders game.

I’m sure that guy framed his mug shot for posterity.  Enjoy not watching the game!

And maybe the NFL’s rules for getting back to a game will help.  They’re now requiring a 4 hour online class on fan conduct for them to be able to enter a stadium again.

That may help solve the problem.  And I’m not even sure if it’s the NFL’s problem to solve.  But certainly one thing would help to end it.  Curbing alcohol consumption at the games.  I would have to imagine that if you looked into every instance of fan violence most of them, if not all, would be fueled by alcohol.  Fans are tailgating for hours before the game and then grabbing more beers when they get inside the stadium.   By the time these incidents occur, these guys are more than half in the bag.  They’re heads are in the bottom of the bag and only their feet are sticking out of the top.

Now will we ever see the NFL stop tailgating or beer sales?  No.  Nor should we!  It’s a big part of the celebration of Football, and I get that!  If I go to a game, I’m going to tailgate!  But people need to be responsible for their own actions.  If you become an idiot when you drink, then don’t drink.  If you can’t go to a football game without it ending with you pouring a beer on a fan because she’s wearing a Redskins Jersey stay home!

The bottom line is that people need to stop being idiots.  Have you ever seen someone beat the crap out of a fellow moviegoer because they felt that George Clooney should have gotten the girl in the end?  No, because George Clooney always gets the girl in the end.  But also because it’s just entertainment.

Clooney

“That’s right, I always get the girl.  “Hi, I’m George Clooney” is my best pick up line.”

The same goes for football.  It’s just entertainment, and taking it any further than that is too far.  Life is more important than the outcome of a football game and people also deserve respect for having the courage to walk into another stadium to root for their team, or their family member!  Cut the crap and act like adults.

But, I’ll tell you what, let’s end this thing on a happy note.  Here’s the famous NFL Bad Lip Reading video.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch.  I accept you.  Enjoy!

 

A Word of Warning for Expectant Fathers

By Kevin Kilgarriff

 

AUTHORS NOTE: Throwback Thursday!  Here’s an article that I wrote about 8 years ago when I had two whole years of experience as a father under my belt.  But I look back on it now and I still think it holds true.  And it also goes along with the the them of this blog.  Enjoy!

A Word of Warning for Expectant Fathers

By: Kevin Kilgarriff

I’m about to do what I swore I would never ever do in my entire life. I’m going to dish out advice on being a new father. When my wife was pregnant, Dad’s were always “enlightening” me on the intricacies of fatherhood. “You just wait,” they’d tell me. “Wait until you have to get up in the middle of the night! Wait until you have to change a dirty diaper.” “Just wait until you get spit up on.” “Just wait until you have zero freedom left. You can’t go anywhere or do anything!” “Kiss your social life goodbye!”

I wondered why someone would fill my head with all of these thoughts. Were they trying to scare me? Warn me? Make me even just a little bit more nervous than I already was about becoming a father? Yes, yes and yes. You’ll find that there are always dads out there with all different viewpoints on fatherhood. Some are happy when other guys are going to have babies, simply because that’s one more person that has to go through what they’re going through. Some don’t want to have to see others go through what they’re already going through and do what they can to “let you know what you’re in for.” “I wish someone had warned me,” is what I heard most often. And others are well, just sick and sadistic people that just like to watch you squirm. But then there are those that just get it. They understand the gift that is fatherhood and are happy to see other men get the opportunity to experience it. I like to think that I fall within this category.

I’m here to tell you that, regardless of their motives, they’re all correct…to an extent. I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night…a lot! I’ve changed more than my share of dirty diapers – some of them VERY dirty. I’ve been spit up on – some of it VERY Smelly! I don’t have much of a social life. I can’t really even afford to!

All of their predictions came true, and then some. And I wouldn’t change a single thing for all of the money in the world. Sure, I’m not the happiest camper in the world when my daughter starts crying thirty-five minutes before my alarm’s set to go off. Of course I want her to sleep as late as possible! But that crying means that we have a wonderful daughter in our lives. And diapers do stink. They reek! They’re messy and now that she’s getting older and bigger, she doesn’t make it easy for us to get the job done. But, I’ll change diapers as much as I need to if it means not having to accept the alternative – never having had any diapers to change at all. And my social life? It’s not as bad as it seems. It’s true that we don’t get out nearly as much as we used to. But that’s something that happens when you decide to have children. It’s why babysitters were invented. But, if you think you’re going to start a family and not have any responsibility towards them on Friday and Saturday night, you’re sorely mistaken. The truth is that every one of the dads that told me to “just wait” should’ve been telling that I shouldn’t want to wait!

I spent four months at home with my daughter after I lost my job during the slow economy. Now, I had always expected that she would just naturally gravitate towards her mommy. She’d be a Mommy’s girl. I’d always be her Dad and I’d always do my part in terms of parental duties. But, I never thought that she’d be Daddy’s Little Girl for at least a few more years. But those four months at home were the best four months of my life, to date. Her and I bonded like I’d never thought possible. I was bringing smiles to her face just by walking in the room. She was reaching for me to pick her up! We played on the floor and she slept on my chest. It was an amazing feeling. One that I never thought I’d have the chance to experience. It had gotten to the point that my wife was actually feeling left out because our daughter was gravitating towards me! She was the one the baby was supposed to gravitate towards, right? That’s what I said!

Well, eventually I did claw my way back into the working world, and five months later Baby and Mommy are inseparable once again. But I’ll always remember that for those four short months I had it great.

My daughter and I are still close as can be and it’s clear that she loves her Daddy. The way her face lights up and she runs to me when I get home from work just melts my heart. We still play on the floor and I fly her around the house in my arms. She may spend as much time as possible crawling under my wife’s feet. But she’s got a big spot in her heart for Daddy.

I was still wondering, though, what those Dad’s were thinking when they were warning me. When it hit me. This is what Dad’s do, right? They were doing the same things that I’m doing…and loving it as much as me! These were not men who were tired of changing diapers or waking up in the middle of the night. These were men who love their children and are thankful for every minute they get to spend with them. They weren’t warning me. They were just preparing me. Maybe guys just find it easier to talk about the hard stuff than they do to talk about the sappy stuff. Although, I do remember one guy telling me how much I’m going to love my baby. How I’ll want to call out of work every time I see her in the morning. He’ll remain nameless for fear that his friends won’t let him live it down. But he was right. He was so right!

So to any expectant fathers out there. Just wait. Just wait until you have to get up in the middle of the night. Wait until you have start changing dirty diapers. Wait until your baby spits up all over you. Wait until you have no freedom left to speak of. Wait for it, and then embrace it. You’re going to love it! Take advantage of every moment you can. Because they’re sometimes too few and far between. Just remember that Fatherhood is one of the greatest gifts a man can ask for. Sometimes we just don’t like to admit it in public.

7 Things I Learned on Vacation (that I probably should have been able to learn for free)

By Kevin Kilgarriff

 

Life is full of reminders.  Some are gentle.  Some are pretty harsh.  Sometimes we notice them and hear what life is trying to tell us.  And yet other times we need to be figuratively slapped upside the head by a  giant mouse to even realize that life was in the room trying to have a conversation with us in the first place.  Enter the Family Vacation!

My family and I recently took a trip to the most magical place on Earth.   And no, Michael Jackson fans, I’m not talking about the Neverland Ranch.  I’m talking about Walt Disney World!

It’s hard to go wrong with a vacation to Disney.  The temps were in the low 80’s and we didn’t have a drop of rain.   Now keep in mind that we were travelling from Pennsylvania, in December.  So right away we were coming out ahead.  PA in December isn’t exactly like a scene out of Fargo.  But it’s not exactly sunbathing weather either.

fargo03

Oh Yah? I hear that Florida is wonderful this time of year, no?

Add to this the fact that not one, but two, snowstorms hit PA while we were away and what you’ve got there is an awesomely timed vacation.  Thank you Mother Nature!  You rock!

So while I was escaping reality and being hated by the rest of the world

Why-everyone-hates-Florida

See that red blotch shaped like Florida?  That’s where I was.

…I was also relaxing enough to actually listen to what life had likely been trying to tell me every day since my last vacation.  Looking back on the trip, here are Seven (ish) things that I learned while on vacation (that I should’ve remembered sooner…and for free.)

7 Things I Learned on Vacation

1)      All the world’s a stage –

Disney considers any place on their property that a guest can see to be “Onstage”.   Anything that guests can’t see is considered “offstage”.  And if you’re Onstage, you need to be in character.  Whether you’re dressed up as Mickey, dressed up as a Town Crier, or dressed up as a cashier selling Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bars, if you’re onstage you need to be in character.  And you need to be on your game.  That’s why they call all of their employees Cast Members, because they’re part of the overall show while they’re Onstage.  And that’s why you never see a cast member slouching or with a frown.  They’re playing the part of being nice and helpful.

In real life, it’s hard to always be that nice.  But we should realize that all of the world is a stage.  Someone is always watching, whether we realize it or not.  I’ve always tried to live by the idea that if I wouldn’t want to read about it on tomorrow’s newspaper headline, don’t do it.  Ok, well I’ve alwaysmeant to live by that rule.  I’ve done a LOT of really stupid things in my life, and if social media was around when I was in college…well let’s just say you’d know a lot more about me than you’d probably like to.  Living by the newspaper headline rule is hard!

Regardless (not irregardless or irregardlessly!), we need be careful out there!   If you don’t want people getting a bad impression of you, don’t give them a reason to have one.

2)      It’s always possible to be nice to people.

Disney is famous for its customer service and friendliness.  I actually witnessed a cast member sit down with a guest while waiting in line for the Haunted Mansion and help him do his taxes.  I was very surprised that this person was apparently a Certified Public Accountant AND still found time to walk around dressed as Pluto.  And it was tax season!

Ok, well that didn’t really happen.  But there would have been time for that to happen while waiting in that line.  Trust me.

But in all seriousness, they’re so nice!  You’d be hard pressed to find a cast member without a smile on their face or a kind hello for anyone they see.  And if you ask someone there for help, you actually get help!  And if they can’t help, they find someone who can.

It doesn’t end with the cast members.  The guests are nice too!  Well, most time at least.  Reaching 100% participation is difficult.  But there are a lot of happy people there.  I don’t know if they’re happy to be in Disney, happy to be on vacation, or just happy that they’re kids have no earthly reason to say “I’m bored”.  Whatever the reason, all of the guests actually follow theGolden Rule –  “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.”  And I refuse to believe that all of these people are actually that nice!  It’s just not possible.  And yet, there they are somehow smiling and holding doors and generally acting like they enjoy life.

What if they actually carried that behavior home with them?  What an amazing concept!  If we acted the way we do on vacation, every day of our lives, it would be like every day is a vacation.  Why let work, home or school piss us off so much that it completely ruins our day when we have the ability to say, “Screw you bad mood!  I’m going to be nice today!”  Take that thought and run with it.  You’ll be glad that you did.

3)      Sometimes you have to do a little work to get the best point of view

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I snapped this photo while I was in Disney.  It’s a pretty awesome view and the sky looks amazing.  But I had to work for it!  I had to walk up four stories to the top of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.  No, this wasn’t exactly majorly difficult.  But I did have to do it with a daughter that could care less about anything I tried to point out to her about “how people used to live.”  Try doing THAT and see if you think it’s difficult.

It was, however, a reminder that sometimes the best point of view isn’t just naturally right in front of us.  Sometimes we have to work at finding it.  Sometimes we have to think about things and do a serious self-evaluation to determine whether we’re looking at things correctly.  Our vision can be clouded by our emotions and it’s up to us to determine whether we’re making it impossible to see the forest through the trees.

4)      It’s always ok to be a kid, no matter how old you are!

If you observe any random family that’s on vacation, there’s one thing that is often going to be part of the overall picture.  The parents have big smiles on their faces and they’re allowing themselves to be a kid again.  They’re allowing themselves to experience the vacation and not just make it about doing something nice for the kids.  And that’s an important part of life.  We need to allow ourselves to let go and have fun.  We need to feel small again and gaze at the wonder of what’s possible in this world.

I know there are some parents reading this saying, “He must not have any kids” or “He’s a few cards short of a deck.”  Well, first of all I do have a daughter.  And I won’t argue the second point.  But I’m still right about this one!  It IS possible to let go, have fun and still keep the kids happy.  It may take some rearranging of your thoughts and maybe having to climb a little higher in your mind to get the best point of view.  But you can be a kid again, and I highly recommend it.

4a)  Life goes on without me…

During the days leading up to my vacation work was crazy.  I spent half of my time doing my job and the other half trying to set everything up so that someone else could step in and do my job while I was away.  And for the first few days of vacation, I kept checking emails on my phone to make sure that everything was going fine and checking to see if anyone had any questions that only I could answer.  And surprise, surprise…there weren’t!  My work was getting done…and I wasn’t even there!  Amazing!

The fact is that, in life, we aren’t nearly as important as we think we are.  That’s not to say that we’re not important.  We’re incredibly important.  But seriously, the human race as a whole has a pretty gigantically inflated ego.  I’m talking “C-Lo Green’s head” inflated!  It’s pretty huge.  Right now at this point in history, we’re the predominant species on this planet.  But we’re not the only species.  And it’s a very simple fact that without any of the other species on this planet we could potentially be pretty screwed.  This planet is chocked full of symbiotic relationships.  If a species were to suddenly disappear off of the face of the earth, there’s another species that would end up being affected, and maybe eventually wiped out because it depended on that now defunct species.  And then another species would be screwed because that species is gone.  And so on and so on until the human race is wiped clear off of the earth because there aren’t any dust mites left on the planet causing a chain reaction that wiped out our food supply.  It’s a horrid story that I’d just as soon not have to experience.

4b) …but life is still better and easier for others with me.

A funny thing happened when I got back from vacation.  I found out that I was welcomed back with open arms!  Sure all of my work got done without me.  But they were happy to have me take my work off of their hands when I got back.  Because no matter how well anyone else can do it, the fact that I’m there doing it makes other people’s jobs easier, and even possible.

We’re all important to someone in some way.  Whether it’s at work, at home, at the grocery store or anywhere you might be during your day, we’re all important to someone.  Just like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life, if you weren’t alive then someone’s life would be changed for the worse.  Everyone is a major part of someone’s universe.  Everyone has someone that is happy to see them after they’ve been away.  Everyone makes a positive difference in this world.  Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that the world would be better off without you.  You’re flat out wrong.

5a) Good things come to those who wait…and wait…and wait…

If you’ve ever been to Disney, then you know a thing or two about waiting in line.  It’s rare that you can walk up to a ride there and get right on without have to wait at least 20 minutes.

smallworldline

“I think I see the front of the line…Nope, nope.  It’s just a door to the next section of the line.  We still have 50 minutes left.”

But Disney recognizes this and they make every effort to make that wait enjoyable.  The entire ride, from the start of the line to the moment you step off, is themed.  Sometimes the line is every bit as impressive as the ride itself.  They set up the story that the ride is telling and hopefully put you inside the story itself.  But if you don’t pay attention, or stand there complaining about the wait, you’ll miss half of the attraction.  Sometimes the line can really be considered part of that ride and waiting in line can be just as enjoyable.

Just as in life, if we stand around wondering when something good is going to happen to us, we’re missing half of the ride.  Life isn’t a series of big moments.  It’ mostly a series of small moments with some big ones peppered in here and there.  And the small moments outweigh the big ones by a hell of a lot.  But we typically find ourselves focusing on those big moments and not paying attention to, or even enjoying, the small ones.  We need soak in the parts of life that we encounter every day and realize that every part of our life was designed as “part of the ride”, from the moment we get in line to the moment we disembark.  Don’t find yourself missing half of the ride!  Pay attention to the life around you!

5b) …but waiting isn’t always necessary.

Sure even with the way Disney Imagineers designed their rides so that the lines are more enjoyable than you might expect, it’s so easy to stand there wishing the line went quicker.  You inevitably wish that you could get to other rides sooner and have other experiences.  Enter theFastPass!  Disney allows you to get Fast Passes for certain rides.  The Fast Pass ticket will tell you to return at a certain time and you’ll end up waiting in a much shorter line.  If you use them wisely, you can get in probably twice as many rides while you’re there.

So how do FastPasses equate to real life?  We’ve got our own FastPasses, that’s for sure.  And I’m not talking short cuts or cheats.  I’m talking about taking action and taking control of your life.  Because sometimes waiting around for something to happen can become paralyzing and you’ll end up never doing anything because you’re waiting for life to come to you.  But if you grab hold of that fast pass, you can make things happen.  You can take action and be the cause instead of the effect.  Make your own big moments.  You still get to enjoy the waits in between.  But the waits will be shorter.  Plus, knowing that you made the big moments happen will make them that much more enjoyable.

7)      Sometimes you just need to kick back and relax –

Vacations can get pretty hectic.  Sometimes you’re spending every moment of every day trying to fit in different activities.  Otherwise, you’re thinking about how long you have until you need to be at the next activity.  Or whether or not you’re going to have any time in between to fit in that visit to the Sea & Air Museum (Hint: you don’t… because the rest of your family doesn’t want to).

But sometimes you just need to chill out.  Sit by the pool.  Lay on the beach.  Hang out on the balcony, drink a beer and enjoy the breeze (you have time for that right?).  If you don’t do this, your vacation is going suck.  No matter how many things you fit in, you’re never going to feel like you actually were on vacation.  How many times have you come home from vacation and said these words… “I need a vacation from my vacation!”

The same goes for the rest of your life.  Most of your time is probably spent running from activity to activity, thinking about how much time you have to get to the next activity and whether or not you’re going to have time to get to sit down and watch any of the games on Sunday (Hint: you probably don’t…but you should!).

If you don’t take that time to kick back and relax and do something for yourself, your life is going to suck!  Certainly you’ll fit in plenty of activities.  But if you don’t sit back and take it all in and enjoy the world around you, then you’re never going to feel like you actually lived.  You’re going to look back and say “where did my life go?”  Do yourself a favor and have a good answer when you ask yourself that question.

In the end, it cost me some good money to be reminded of these things.  And by no means am I saying that you need to hop on a flight to Orlando to be reminded of them yourselves.  I’m saying that we shouldn’t need to spend any money to be reminded of these things.

These reminders are all around us every day.  You don’t need to go away on vacation.  Just take a vacation in your mind every once in a while.  The results could be extraordinary!