Wow, You Really Do Get Older

Last week was a tough week for me; it was as if I crossed some invisible threshold into the world of the elderly. Due to my own lack of self care, I got a glimpse of what the future may look like if I don’t make some life/nutritional changes…it is not pretty…so I am implementing those needed changes.

It is funny how when you are younger, you obviously know that, if you don’t die along the way, you will get older. You understand it intellectually….but not really so much emotionally.  Thirty years ago, when my son was 5 years old, we went to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Amusement Center south of San Francisco, California and we dressed up in old American western clothes. We had this photo taken….


Notice that my son is holding the whiskey and I am holding the rifle and there is a deck of cards on the table. We practiced his “snear” before the camera went off.

When that little boy turned 21, we were up in Virginia City, Nevada and came across another one of those photo studios. “Hey, let’s do that again,” I told him. However, this time I was holding the whiskey and he was holding the rifle…my attempt at some sort of message, I guess.


Well, there is some clear evidence for you about the aging process.  These two pictures are very dear to me for many reasons. I have always been thankful that we took those two photos-plus they were fun days all around.

Now that little boy is about the age I was in the first photo and he has a beautiful wife and three beautiful children, including his son who is maybe a year or so older than what his father was when we had that first photo taken. So, off to the annual fair we went today in search of another old time photo place.  We tried to get the youngin’ to snear like his old man did, but he is just too  tenderhearted.


How lucky am I to have lived these past 30 years!  Now I guess the goal should be to try to get a 4th generation picture taken, but we might have to marry the boy off sooner than he might like!  By the way, we passed the whisky bottle to the youngin’…it causes us intestinal distress!

Back to the first paragraph…I guess, as it has been said before, it is o.k. to get older, just don’t become “old.” Keep your youthful spirit and everything will work out just fine.



A nice place to be on a Sunday afternoon

The Sacramento River begins at the base of Mt. Shasta and eventually pours into the San Francisco Bay. Underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, fish like shad and salmon will swim twice in their lifetime-once to head out to the Pacific Ocean and once back to the inland rivers to spawn. It is an amazing thing to see. In some swimming holes in Northern California you can swim with 20, 30 salmon. Kind of a spritual thing, really, seeing the cycle of life that we all are apart of.

Headed out for a couple of hours to see how the boat was running yesterday and did a little shad fishing. These fish are not that big, but are strong fighters from their ocean muscles!

In America there are two things that men tend to brag about and overestimate the size of …the 2nd thing being a fish that they caught.

Here’s a silly, little video of yesterday’s afternoon on the Sacramento River with one of my son-in-laws.

Audio Version: Storyteller and Dreamer

My good friend in Wales suggested that I should record some of my essays, stories and general ramblings that are posted on my Blog. I have learned to take his suggestions seriously, so this is my first attempt at such a thing. I just plugged in a microphone in my Iphone, closed the bedroom door (except for Gracie pushing it open constantly with her nose) and went for it. It is unedited, but hey who cares? It is all just for fun. Thank you Mark for suggesting it. Next time you are the 2nd voice!

Are you awake?

Usually when I have a strange dream, I wake up but make myself go back to sleep.  In the morning I can’t remember it very well.  So this early morning, I decided to get up at 1:30 a.m. and write down the details.  It seemed what a reflective writer would do and since I am trying to improve my storytelling abilities, I knew I had to write it down. But, I was exhausted too, so I wrote it as a story to try to keep myself awake.  A disclaimer: I am not responsible for my dream’s imagery – I so hope.

“Storyteller, Storyteller?

“What Sleepy Head?”

“Are you awake?”

“I am now”

“Storyteller, I had a strange dream.”

“You are going to tell it to me, aren’t you?”

“I was being chased all throughout a house and people were trying to hide me”

“Who was chasing you?”

“The authority.”

“Oh, my…. The authority can be quite mean when they catch you.”

“Yes, I was very afraid and as I was running I overheard an old woman say to my young woman… ‘Come with me tonight and we will lay with many men’ ”

“Hmmm, sounds like my kind of a woman.”

“Storyteller, I am being serious here…and my young woman knew she had to keep hiding me from authority so she played along and said ‘OK'”

“Are you sure she was just playing along, Droopy Eyes?”

“I think so…any way, I jumped out of hiding and said accusatory things to both of them. Then the old woman laid down and raised her skirt and showed me her womanhood and tried to seduce me and I said ‘Your place is old and crusty.”

“Let me guess, Tired Eyes,that did not go over very well.”

“You are wise Storyteller. That is why I come to you with this dream.”

“Well in this case, you could have come to  a rock and it would have told you the old woman would not want to be told her womanhood is old and crusty…but since it is the middle of the night, I will accept your compliment just the same.”

“Whatever….then the authority started closing in on me and just as they almost got me…I saw Him.”

“Who him?”

“Not him, …Him.”

“Oh, thanks for clarifying.”

“Storyteller, Him looks different in print. That is why I am writing….Him was hiding too and had been for a long, long time. Him was the Healer, the one true Healer.”

“Nodding Off, was he made of corn?”

“Yes! How did you know? He was made of corn and he was thin and strong and old and ….. then suddenly, me and young woman spirit were in another place where a young dark skinned boy, …dark from the desert sun, was next to an old truck…and I said ‘Him has told me to tell you that he is alive and well.’ The boy’s face lit up. ”

“Did Crusty follow you? I would like to meet her. I am old too.  Maybe I could loosen her up some, if you know what I mean.”

“Please Storyteller, I am very tired and can hardly stay awake to tell you this dream. I feel sleep clawing at my eyes trying to shut them. If I go back to sleep I won’t remember all this in the morning. Why is that?”

“Well Barely Awake, because the deep lessons of the dream world are not for the awaken  ones. The Dream Keepers know that the awaken ones will not hold these lessons to their hearts and minds and care for them long enough for them to grow into wisdom….and so the lessons will be lost forever.”

“I am really sleepy Storyteller. Should I continue? Yes, I should….the boy exclaimed, ‘You saw Him?!’ And I blurted out proudly ‘Yes! He spoke to me.’ I knew immediately my pride had betrayed the trust Him put in me to protect his location from the authority. And then, an older, darken from the sun, man appeared next to the boy and he knew I shouldn’t have said anything too. He asked me, ‘What did he look like?’ I replied, ‘He is made of corn and he has the most compassionate, deep brown eyes with wrinkles on his face-but he is not old in our way of being old- and he is adored by all. He does not see himself as a teacher, but he teaches as naturally as the wind blows.’ The older man said back to me, ‘Yes, that is Him.’ …Storyteller?”


“As I am telling you this dream in the middle of the night with eyes so heavy I can barely open them, I see a shadow coming up behind me…a shadow of a man. He is tall. Who is he?”

“He is a Dream Keeper. He wants to take you back so your dream will crumble like sand, never to be put back together again, never remembered.”

“Can I go back to sleep now? I am so tired.”

“Yes, you can because I will care for your dream now until you wake up in the morning. By the way, since you typed this on your IPhone at two in the morning without wearing your reading glasses, you will be embarrassed with all the typos  and errors you have posted for the world to see…but that is ok, dreams are messy.”

“Thank you Storyteller. I must sleep now.”

“Goodnight Dreamer …hey, did you happen to get that old woman’s Facebook page? Dreamer? Dreamer, are you awake? Dreamer?….”

Hardwired To Fail (Phoenix) #poetry #graphicdesign

I really, really like this blog. Amazing combination of words and pictures. It would be very easy to write an interesting song just from studying his art. Take some time and browse his past posts.



what are we

but feeble beings

hardwired to fail

and rise again


not once

not twice

but every time



a little less feeble


after all


what are we

but feeble beings

hardwired to fail…


phoenix – red: hardwired to fail

sketch version – phoenix



View original post

And what might this be young man?

Legend has it that John Lennon wrote Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds after seeing a picture his young son, Julian, had drawn for his classmate, Lucy.

My daughter’s best friend has a daughter in elementary school. This child’s friend is a little boy in her class and just like Julian did…he recently drew a picture for her.

Not sure what the song title should be???



I have been teaching a leadership class for many years now.  Because of the nature of the class, I try to keep the enrollment number low so that I can get to know each student better.  We look at leadership from many different angles, not just theory. If you’ve been following this blog, you probably are not surprised when I say that I use a very nontraditional approach to the subject matter. Basically, I believe good leadership starts with being able to lead yourself and leadership gone bad is often the failure of personal leadership.  What does that have to do with the title of this blog…playfulness?  I think it is very, very important to keep that quality of playfulness about ourselves.  We followers like to know that our leaders can have simple fun and light moments.

You ever give a present to an infant or toddler and watch them get more enjoyment out the box it came in?  Do you remember the joy of getting a large cardboard box, like something a television or an appliance came in, and cutting a hole in it so you could crawl in like it was your new home?  Or, remember getting a long cardboard tube which could first be used as some sort of sound amplifier, and then a battle sword, and then a severely bent in half cardboard tube?   When I was a kid, we would put a string on a broomstick and put it between our legs while we “rode” our “horse” out in the fields behind my aunt’s house.  We’d play for hours.  It reminds me of watching a small group of children make up a game out of a few random items – complete with unwritten, but well understood rules?  As adults we seem to lose those  abilities along the path to living a “responsible” life. Perhaps, we just lose our playfulness

For last week’s leadership class, I brought a soccer (futbol) ball, hula hoops, teenage mutant ninja turtle masks, swimming googles, a plastic baseball and bat, a deck of cards, and wands that made bubbles from soapy water to the leadership class. We headed out to the green, open playing fields on our campus.  The assignment: all items must be used to create a new game that required two teams to interact with each other.

They stared blankly as they tried to figure it out.  Slowly ideas started to surface from the two groups, but you could see them really struggling with the idea…a task they used to be able to accomplish easily as 5 year olds. Finally, after about 30 minutes, they came together and shared their ideas and they came up with the silliest little game that required silly actions… and they began to play the game.  Guess what?  It wasn’t long before they were all laughing, everyone was smiling…and refining  the rules as the game proceeded. In some ways, it was like a celebration of being human.  The best part – at the end of the game, the score was tied and the deck of cards had to used as a tie breaker. Many other students walked by watching this group be playful. My students loved their new game and their new experience. It was wonderful to watch.

Those chickens I have been blogging about have introduced a new sense of playfulness in my own life.  This morning I sat on a log in their chicken run holding a bag of chicken treats that must be something like chicken cocaine.  They LOVE this stuff and I give it to them once in awhile for training purposes.  This morning, one of the chickens flew up and sat on my shoulder, as if I was a B-rated pirate who couldn’t afford a parrot.  When she flapped her wings, it tickled my ear and neck.  I laughed and that felt good…a morning laugh…being playful with a chicken.  That moment, alone, was worth all the expenses of raising and protecting those chicks.

With that same attitude of playfulness, I found a shirt at the country feed store that I just had to have.  I went home, put it on, threw on a ball cap, grabbed a couple of ladies – one for each arm – and took a picture.  I showed it to my boss, an academia kind of good man, and he said good naturedly, “I can’t believe that guy works for me!”  Yes, he does boss…just being playful!