Notes to Grandchildren – July 1, 2020 (Do Good)

28 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

It wouldn’t surprise me if before this month is done we’re back to sheltering-in-place.  COVID-19 numbers appear to be increasing.  I fail to comprehend the cavalier attitude that people are adopting regarding this virus.

We all have a job to do.  John Donne wrote “No man is an island.”  We shall sink or swim together.

This premise underlies our response to COVID-19.  It also supports the racial, religious, economic, political, and sexual issues that our paramount today.  Sadly, this is not a utopia.  I’m not sure that I’d enjoy living in a utopia.  We grow, develop, and succeed through challenges.  I can’t imagine many challenges in a utopia.

You have a job to do as do we all.  Do good.

Let your actions proclaim your ability to confront fear, uncertainly, and intimidation (courage); to be righteous (justice); to be sound-minded (temperance); and to discern the appropriate course of action for the situation at the appropriate time (prudence).

Always work at doing good.  You will find peace … and this planet will be a better place.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 30, 2020 (Obstacles)

27 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

Obstacles abound.  They always get in our way.  They thwart our progress.  They slow goal attainment.

Obstacles serve an important function.  They help us grow.  They require us to seek options and alternatives.  Obstacles aid in growth and building character.

Murphy’s Law provides “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”   Those are obstacles.

Throughout the books written by Richard Marcinko, he is always waiting for Mr. Murphy of Murphy’s Law fame to arrive.  Richard Marcinko stresses flexible thinking.

Don’t get locked in to one way of thinking!

Winning is wonderful.  If you overcome obstacles to do it.  It you’re not challenged what’s the value of the victory?  (It irritates me when colleges in the Bowl Division play teams in the Championship Division.  The goal for the Bowl Division team is the earn an easy victory and pad their statistics when the team from the Championship Division receives a boatload of money.  What’s the value of the victory?)

Take a waste paper basket and a ball.  Stand beside the waste paper basket and drop the ball into the basket.  The ball goes into the basket every time.  Success! Take a step away from the waste paper basket and toss the ball.  The ball may not go in the basket every time. As you step farther and farther away from the basket your chance of success diminishes; however, the reward or satisfaction of tossing the ball into the basket increases because you’re overcoming an obstacle.

Which life do you prefer?  One of easy, yet meaningless, successes or one that is more challenging?



P.S.  Take every obstacle seriously.  In 2007, the University of Michigan, a Division IA nka as Bowl Division, football team played Appalachian State, a Division I-AA which was outside the Championship Division, football team.  It was supposed to be a run-away for the University of Michigan.  Appalachian State won 34-32.  This defeat continues to haunt the University of Michigan football program.

Notes to Grandchildren – June 29, 2020 (Excuses)

26 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

I had fun yesterday playing Dungeons and Dragons with you.  The saga of Zook Raulnor, the forest gnome, continues … barely.  Incidentally, there will be no gnome tossing!

I told another resident at The Oaks that she should write a book.  The title could be Excuses for a Lifetime.  She has an excuse for every situation:

  • too hot
  • too cold
  • too windy
  • it’s outside of Findlay
  • too old
  • too young
  • not enough people
  • too many people
  • it’s raining
  • too much gossip
  • not enough gossip
  • too loud
  • too quiet
  • I can only play rhythm guitar
  • not enough students
  • too many students
  • not enough time
  • too hard
  • too easy
  • I can’t practice; I must perform for others
  • I was an only child
  • I have a short attention span
  • no one would buy my book

and on and on and on.  It’s pathetic. Enough already!

Don’t become like the resident at The Oaks.  They are difficult to listen to.  Every conversation contains excuses why something can’t be done.  No interest in self-improvement exists.

Don’t become an excuse-aholic.  Change is possible if you want to change.  It takes effort.  It looks like work.  Change must be a priority.  Set goals.  Just small goals will do.  Goals that are easily achievable will do.  Keep working.  Achieve that goal and set another.  Tell yourself that you can do it.  Challenge yourself.  Keep going.  Don’t quit.

No excuses.

See your yourself as successful, and you will be.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 28, 2020 (Mistakes)

25 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

Mistakes abound.  We all make them.  No one is perfect.

I’ve lived the life of trying to be perfect.  Everyday I failed.  Everyday I beat myself up because of my failures.  I could never forgive myself for my shortcomings.  It didn’t help being reminded of my failures.  Some still haunt me.

I have medical problems because of having this goal of trying to be perfect.

Don’t live that life.

We can’t avoid mistakes.  We can, however, learn from them.

Learn to forgive yourself.

If you associate with people who frequently point out your failures, perhaps they are not your friends.

I recall attending church and hearing sermons on forgiveness.  I believed those sermons until I heard the leaders of the church gossiping about the failures of others.  That’s inconsistent.  Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”  I knew into which category the church leaders fell; avoid that category.

Learn from mistakes not only yours but also those mistakes made by others.

Forgive yourself.

Keep trying.

Focus of what’s within your control — your thoughts, your perceptions, and your actions.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 27, 2020 (Bullying)

23 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

I had fun yesterday at Fossil Park.  I’m glad we could go.  You discovered some interesting specimens.

I regret not stopping at Diana’s garage sale after picking up the tickets for The Lions Club chicken dinner.  However, I’m curious: Why the tantrum and pouting if things don’t go exactly as you want?  If that’s how you handle minor setbacks what will happen when a significant setback occurs?

How you handle adversity says plenty about you.

There will always be those small-minded people who bully others.  I’ve had my share.  My name. (The simple future of fink?) My weight.  My clothes. (I’m not a dedicated follower of fashion.)  My lack of athletic ability. (I didn’t play sports.)  My medical condition. (Legg–Calvé–Perthes.) Bullies love to pick on those regularly.  Bullies always find something to poke fun at. Somehow I knew any sign of anger or depression or whatever would only provoke more bullying.  I refused to give them the satisfaction.  I suffered in silence.  I kept to myself.  I became my own best friend.  I didn’t need others.  (Could that be why I waited 50 years to attend a class reunion?)

You wear your heart on your sleeve.  The slightest affront creates tears and screams and anger and then silence.  Those responses will only serve as fuel for bullies.  Tomorrow the bullies will want to create an even greater response.  They don’t care about your feelings.

Yesterday, I left your house angry.  I can’t understand a meltdown over not going to a garage sale.  It turned into a long evening of meditation.


It also applies when stressed or angry.  I’m better now. 

Your Grandfather worries about you.  You must learn to handle setbacks without falling apart.  Please try.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 26, 2020 (Habits)

22 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

Habits get us through life.  We fall into a routine.  We repeat behaviors.

A friend in college had a habit.  Whenever he removed an item from his backpack, he would turn 360 degrees before putting it on his desk.  (Maybe this was a compulsion or an obsession.)  Why?  I have no idea.  He did it with everything.

Grandfather has created an exercise habit.  I get prompted to ride the exercise bike or do Tai Chi or dance with the Five Animals.  I perform.  I get rewarded.  (I’m moving better than some of my compatriots and stand straighter.)

50th Class Reunion

(I don’t remember being the tallest one in the class.  I was many things, but height was never one of them.)

Habits may be good or bad.  Society has imposes rules.  Ultimately, the decision rests with you.

Habits affect thinking as well.  We get conditioned.  When confronted with problem “x,” we do behavior “y.”  Sometimes this habit proves counterproductive.  For example, it may make us feel better but it fails to address the underlying problem.

Try something different.  Do the opposite.

Remember your behavior rests completely within your control.  After all your behavior derives from your thoughts and perceptions.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 25, 2020 (Listening)

21 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

Remember Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  The Fifth Habit has always held special significance to me: “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.”

People value a good listener.  Be one.

Too often those who pretend to listen rush to advise, provide a solution, recite a dogma, recommend a course of action, or impose a result.

Frequently, the speaker just wants to be heard, to exorcise those persistent spirits, and to vent.  Sadly our society opts for the quick fix, the instant remedy, the rote solution.

Learn to be an effective listener.

Sometimes the speaker seeks understanding and empathy.  Nothing more.

Each of us are masters of our own life.  Don’t violate that sovereignty.  Speakers will ask for advice if that’s what they want.

Stephen Covey wrote, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Listen to understand.  Many problems would cease to be problems IF people would listen.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 24, 2020 (First Rate Mind)

20 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

When did we change?  When did we become armed camps?  When did we become divided?  When did we begin believing that compromise was a bad concept?

I read The Courier daily.  The letters to the Editor shock me.  Two camps exist.  Both believe that it is their way or the highway.  It’s depressing!

Strive to be a first-rate mind as described by F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, “the true test of a first-rate mind is the ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.”  Few people can do this today.  Be the exception.

Always ask yourself as I do:

  1. Is there any reason to fight about this?
  2. Is arguing going to help solve anything?

Often it is much ado about nothing.  Why waste your time and energy.

Remember “you don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited.” (unknown author).




Stop this insane cycle of needing to convince others to join one side or be the enemy.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 23, 2020 (Climb the Corporate Ladder)

19 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet there is a soliloquy by Prince Hamlet that begins “To be or not to be, that is the question.”

We get wrapped up in being.  We climb the corporate ladder.  We seek adoration.  We covet praise.

Grandfather tried to play the game.  I unsuccessfully tried to climb the corporate ladder.  As an attorney I just couldn’t perform for the money; I had to do good.  If there wasn’t a benefit at the end for my client, I failed.  Perhaps that’s why LegalShield appeals; it’s a win-win situation.

As a teacher, I couldn’t leave the classroom.  I had to inspire, motivate, encourage, challenge, and share.  Too often the purpose of education becomes lost in administrative trivia and the drive for status — chair, department head, dean, provost, whatever.

It’s taken a long time to realize the time wasted in comparing my life to others.  That’s beyond my control.  It’s what others expect of me.

To be?  Definitely.  Be within your own paradigm.  Keep control.

As Grandfather reflects on 70+ years, there are too many successes to label this life a failure.

Sometime, read “Gentle Spirits” by Melanie Korach in her book Life Lines.  It’s on page 63.



Notes to Grandchildren – June 22, 2020 (Push Yourself)

18 Jul

Dear Grandchildren,

Mistakes are a part of life.  We must learn from them.

Too many people get trapped in a cycle.  They may say one thing but continue to act the same way.  Then they are surprised that the results are the same.

Break the cycle.  Learn.  Change your behavior.  Strive for success.  Adapt.  Don’t use others as your measuring stick.  There will always be child prodigies just like there will always be late bloomers.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.

You are your own measuring stick.  Push yourself.  Set a new goal.  Pick yourself up and try again.  Never stop trying.

Your great grandfather fed his English shepherds every morning.  At one time he would walk from his house to the barn, about 60 yards, to do this.


He could walk pretty well and had good stamina.  He was active.  Then he started backing his pickup from the garage to the barn to feed the dogs.  He spent more time watching old westerns on television and sitting in his La-Z-Boy recliner.  Soon his mobility and stamina declined.  Before he died, he couldn’t walk 10 yards without being winded.

Too many people follow your great grandfather’s example and stop pushing themselves both physically and mentally.  Don’t fall into that trap.

Act ⇒ Mistakes ⇒ Learn ⇒ Modify Act (Repeat)

Keep trying.

Push yourself.

Never give up!