Gratitude Challenge, Day 43 of 100 “The Big Send”

Today I’m grateful for the little things that we can do to make a difference. Yesterday, 145,000 of my best friends, including my Toastmaster friend Lisa Fairchild, and I participated in the Vote Forward “BIG SEND.” https://votefwd.org/ Together, we mailed a over 15 million hand written notes encouraging potential voters to vote. Why did we do this? Speaking for myself, while I’m obviously happier when the candidate that I vote for wins, I handle losses better if I know there was a big turnout. With a big turnout, there’s usually a mandate. On the other hand, when I come out on the short end of an election that has a low turnout, I have an empty feeling. With all of the rhetoric surrounding the November 3 election, my desire is to have as many people as humanly possible vote.

Who did I sent the letters to? I sent 40 to potential voters in Georgia and 20 each to potential voters in Florida, Texas, and Ohio. The message was non-partisan:

“I vote because I want to have a say in what happens in our country, our state, and our communities. Whether I’m happy with the results or not, I’m comforted knowing that I exercised my right to vote for my beliefs.”

Will this help my candidate win? I don’t know. What I do know is that there’s a role for all of us to play in our democracy, many of them can be done from the comfort of our homes. For that I’m grateful.

What are you passionate about? What little thing can you do to make a difference? Please write your ideas in the comment section and help us find that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 42 of 100. “Another Night of Baseball Tension”

I keep saying, the greatness of baseball is not excitement it’s in tension. It was tension, that made the American League Championship Series great. With the Tampa Bay Rays winning the first three games, there wasn’t a lot to talk about. When the Astros won Game 5, and then made a series out of it by winning Games 5 and 6, forcing tonight’s Game 7, the tension kept building.

When the Rays built an early lead that became 4-0, tonight’s game became a microcosm of the series. It was the tension in tonight’s winner take all game that more than made up for the lack of excitement.

  • Nick Anderson induced a double play ground ball from Yuli Gurriel, who was up with two men on in the 7th.
  • Carlos Correa knocked in two runs in the 8th to make the game 4-2. Pete Fairbanks struck Alex Bergman with the tying run at first to get out of the inning.
  • With Gurreil on base in the 9th, Josh Redick and Adelmys Diaz represented the possible tying runs.

There’s something about the Houston Astros that made me think that Redick or Diaz would get the big hits that would turn the game around. Sort of like the way the Astros always got the big hit against the A’s. It didn’t happen because the tension left the building for good when Diaz’s fly ball landed in Manuel Margot’s glove for the final out.

Now that the tension is gone from the Astro-Rays series, it will present itself tomorrow in Texas when the Braves and Dodgers play their own game 7. While we’re watching, let’s embrace the tension and come to terms with the fact that it’s not baseballs job to overwhelm us with excitement.

As always please leave comments about what you’re grateful for and help us find that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 41 of 100. “The Blessing of Being a Work in Progress”

Wow! My last gratitude challenge post was September 18! The intention was to post one every single day for 100 days. While that didn’t happen, today I’m grateful that we’re all works in progress. What a blessing! No matter the journey, if we trip up, we can pick ourselves up and get back into it. This happened when I completed my degree from the University of San Francisco at age 34 after dropping out of community college at age 20. At least five times, I’ve motivated myself to lose weight. Things would go well until I gained the weight back. The bottom line is we can always forgive ourselves and re-enter the journey. I bet you’ve also stepped away from something and then come back to complete it.

The month that’s passed since my last post has been eventful. There have been some frightening events, incredible support from family and friends, along with some well timed miracles that my family and I will always be grateful for.

Please share with us what you’re grateful for. Is there a journey that you’re on that’s progressing well? Is there anything you’ve stepped away from that you need to get back into? Please leave your comments below and let’s honor the fact that we’re all works in progress.

As always, let’s keep looking for that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 40 of 100 “A Bright Sunshiny Day”

To paraphrase Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now, the smoke is gone.” While I hear the air might be smokey again tomorrow, today was a great day to walk. I did the one hour loop that took me through the Safeway Shopping Center, down Island Drive, past the Harbor Bay Club and then on to the trail by the Bay to the Ferry Terminal and back to our house.

I passed the time listening to Jon Miller and Steve Young on KNBR podcasts, struck by the fact that as tough as times are right now, the technology at our fingertips make our lives so much more convenient and interesting.

For over 40 years, I’ve spent my days driving from client to client enjoying the entertainment of the radio. I’ve gone from listening Gene Nelson or Frank Dill, to The Razor & Mr. T, and beyond, wishing that I had a nickel for everytime I pulled up to a client’s office, forced to miss the best part. It could be a Willie Mays interview or Ralph Barbieri going off on a rant. Now days, unless it’s a sporting event, I don’t think I listen to anything live. If the phone rings when Murph and Mac are talking to Marcus Thompson, no problem. I can take the call and pick up the interview where I left off. If I’m motivated, I can practice my Duolingo Italian or listen to a book on tape.

What do you have at our fingertips there is so much to be grateful for. Today it’s blue skies and entertaining podcasts. Maybe tomorrow I’ll find Ella Fitzgearald on my iPhone singing, “Blue skies, smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies do I see.”

What’s making your life better? What are you grateful for today? Please write your comments below and let’s keep looking for that shining needle of common ground in that haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 39 of 100, “Vote Forward”

I’m grateful today because I found another productive activity that keeps during the pandemic. Vote Forward is an organiztion of volunteers who write handwritten notes to potential voters in swing states, encouraging them to get out and vote. We’re asked to write a handwritten non partisan message describing why we choose to vote. My message is, “I vote because it allows me to have a say in what happens in our Country, our State, and Community. Sometimes, I’m happy with the results, sometimes I’m not. I’m always comforted by the fact that I exercised my right to vote my beliefs.” The volunteers are asked to mail the letters on October 27th, one week before the election. We provide the stamps and paper, those of us who would like to, are invited to donate Vote Forward.

Why am I doing this? I’m doing this for my mental health. With all the anxiety that’s dominating our day to day lives, the best way to relieve the anxiety is to do something productive. I orginally signed up to mail 20 handwritten notes. Since I found that I’m comfortable doing five per day and get great satisfaction writing them, I’ll re-up and sign up for 20 more next week. Here’s a video with that gives more details. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7Vkzb_Dm2M. Give it a try. I think you’ll get the same satisfaction that I did.

What productive things are you doing during the pandemic? Maybe you’re doing something that others would find interesting and want to join in. Please write them in the comment section so that we can find that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratutude Day 38 of 100, “The Privlidge of Staying in When the Air is Bad”

As nwas starting to wake up this morning, seeing that it was still dark, I thought it was about 5:00 AM. I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the clock and saw it was 6:45. I ate breakfast, got some work done and this is what the front courtyard looked like at 9:45 AM.

Days of fires have become weeks of fires as new fires continue to start. This is another night where I feel some guilt with my gratitude. I saw the bad air and had the privlidge of deciding not to leave the house. I had the privlidge of being safe in the house with a full refridgerator and devices that allowed me to do my work, communicate with friends, family, and clients with the bonus of being entertain myself.

It’s tough out there and I’m grateful for the essential workers who are making our communities work as well as they’re working. Our mailman got to our house at about noon, having to deal with this all day. Tomorrow is grocery day and Lucky’s will be stocked up with everything we need.

For those of us who are healthy and safe, please count your blessings. For those of you on the front lines, keeping us safe and making sure we have what we need, I send you my gratitude. I hope you know how appreciated you are.

Whatever life brings you tomorrow, please find things that make you grateful. I’d delighted if you would take some time to write your comments below. Let me know what you’re grateful for so we can find that shining needle of common ground in that haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 37 of 100, “An Afternoon With Tom Seaver on YouTube”

After three days journaling personal gratitude, today I’m back to the public gratitude. This afternoon, I opened up Uncle YouTube and watched Game 4 of the 1969 World Series. The game had everything:

Seaver took a 3-hit shut and 1-0 lead into the 9th inning. After getting the 1st out, he gave up a single to Frank Robinson. Gil Hodges left him in He gave up another single to Boog Powell. Gil Hodges left him in. Art Shamsky made a great play on a line drive by Brooks Robinson allowing F. Robinson to score on the Sac Fly. Gil Hodges left him in. Seaver got out of the inning and pitched the 10th, all with Tug MaGraw throwing and available in the bullpen. The Mets scored in the 10th to give Seaver the win.

Earl Weaver got ejected, the first manager to get ejected from a World Series game since 1934.

Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle were on the NBC pre and post game shows with Jim Simpson. The red double breasted blazers they wore are going to give me nightmares.

Curt Gowdy and Lindsey Nelson were the broadcasters.

There were political overtones as an anti-Vietnam war organization called for a general strike and asked that the American Flag at Shea Stadium be lowered to half mast. New York Mayor John Lindsay wanted to do it, Baseball Commisioner Bowie Keuhn ordered the flag not to be lowered. https://vietnamtheartofwar.com/1969/10/15/15-october-1969-moratorium-to-end-the-war-in-vietnam-demonstrations-around-the-world/#:~:text=In%20New%20York%20City%2C%20the,be%20flown%20at%20full%20mast.

A lot of shots of the young and beautiful Nancy Seaver. Gowdy called them a handsome young couple. The handsome couple were together 51 years later when Tom passed away last week.

I remember it like it was yesterday. A 7th grader at Lincoln School, I was the only one pulling for the Orioles. I was convinced that they were going to sweep, particularly after they beat up on Seaver in Game One. The Mets won Game 2 and didn’t look back. In those days, all World Series Games were played during the day, 12:30 PM Eastern 9:30 AM Pacific. Some nice teachers would have a TV in the room and let us watch. I remember Mrs. Heston let me leave her class and visit a classroom that had a TV. One of the other kids said, “hey, why does he get to watch the game and we don’t?” Mrs Heston said, well, ” Steven is the most interested in baseball.” Nobody could argue with that point. My friends and I would also sneak transtor radios into school. As I think back to those days, I think we had it better with the day games than the kids today who have to deal with the night games. With the day baseball, even if we were in the classrom, someone always new the score. Now, with the 8:15 EST start times most kids on the East Coast are asleep when the game ends.

As with all of social media, there are some downsides to YouTube. That said, YouTube worked well on a day when it was to hot and smokey to go outside. Tomorrow I’m going to watch Lou Brock take on the Yankees in the 1964 World Series.

What are you grateful for today. Please write your comments below and help us find that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge Day 36 of 100. “Ways Facebook has Enhanced my life.”

This is the post that Art sent me today.

“I am doing a challenge to name my favorite 13 athletes of all time. One athlete per day over 13 Days. No explanation, no reviews, just a photo. I’d rather see sports than politics on Facebook. Every day I will ask someone else to do the same. Today is day 1 for me.”

The key sentence is that many of us posting photos of athletes, would rather see more sports politics on Facebok. This makes me grateful for two things.

The first, is the obvious. Politics on Facebook is driving me nutts. The next person whose mind is changed by a Facebook post will be the first. While I have my candidate of choice this year, the photo of Barry shooting the jumper is more attractive mine or any other politician standing behind a podium. The photo I posted today of Willie Mays soothes my soul more than a photo of anyone running for office.

Second, I’m grateful that Facebook keeps me in contact with people like Art. About 30 years ago, Art & I were members of the Jaycees and became close friends. Life took us in different directions before we connected last year on Facebook. We talked on the phone once and have stayed in contact through our posts. Art has no idea what my political beliefs are and I don’t know his. The fact is, I don’t think it would matter one way or another if we found out we were on opposite ends of the spectrum. We have our common ground through Jaycees and sports.

How has social media been good for you? Who are you pleased to have reconnected with?Have you attempted to or been able to keep your sanity while seeing all of the Facebook brawls? Please write your comments about social media below and also leave your comments on what you’re grateful for. Let’s keep looking for that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 35 of 100. “I Got to See Tom Seaver Pitch”

Today the baseball world lost Tom Seaver.  I’m grateful that I was able to watch his whole career and damn feel old!  In the late 1960s and 70s, Seaver was one of the handful of pitchers who were bigger than life.  He joined the sad sack New York Mets in 1967 and within two years, he helped the Miricle Mets win the World Series.  When they beat the Frank/Brooks Robinson Baltimore Orioles 4 games to 1, I learned for the first time that great pitching would dominate a great hitting team.  Tom Terrific helped the Mets go to the World Series one more time, 1973 when they came up on the short end of the great pitching of the Oakland A’s.

Seaver pitched in a time when the criteria for judging the effectiveness of a pitcher was understood by all. The numbers below are only part of it:

  • Pitchers took the mound with the goal of completing and winning the game. Seaver completed 231 games and won 311.
  • Great pitchers would win 20 games in a season.  Seaver did that five times and led the league three times.  In the strike shortened 1981 season, he went 14-2.
  • Great pitchers had Earned Run Averages under three.  Seaver’s was career total was 2.86 and he led the league three times.  In 1971, it was 1.76
  • He struck out 3,640 hitters and led the league five times.
  • One No-hitter

We’re never going to see the likes of Seaver again.  Twenty first Century ball players are judged by mathamatical formulas developed by graduates from Ivy League schools or MIT as is the case of Farhan Zaidi of the Giants.  They’er using analytics that some say are taking the fun and the life out of the game.  Since modern pitchers aren’t expected to go more than five innings, young pitchers are never going to develop the stamina and skill to get stronger as the game goes on or the capicity to out think the batters when they go through the lineup for the third.

Tom, I know you’ve been battling dementia and you’re in a better place now.  Just know that the Tom Seaver I remember is the youthful looking guy with that high pitched laugh, wearing the Met’s pinstripes, with that dirt spot on your right knee that came from pushing off the mound.

What are you grateful for today?  Please leave your comments and help us find that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.

Gratitude Challenge, Day 34 of 100. “My Audible Book Account”

About six months ago, at the suggestion of my Toastmasters friend Ron, I ordered “Team of Rivals,”  by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I love history and would love to learn more about Lincoln so when Ron told me that it was 800 pages, I took it as a challenge.  The book came, I saw it was only 750 pages, I was pleased and got started.  What a challenge!  Kearns- Goodwin wrote the book in dialogue that you would have heard in the 19th century.  I was spending so much time re-reading that it wore me out.  Finally, on Sunday, I put it down and ordered the Audible version.  While that version is still long; over 26 chapters in 41 hours, I think I can actually get through this one.  Audible to the rescue!!!

So friends, tonight while I express my gratitude toward the Aldible option, please comment on something that you’re grateful for.  As we close in on six months of the Covid19 restrictions, times are tough and there’s a lot of anxiety.  Lets concentrate on what we’re grateful for and keep searching for that shining needle of common ground in that scary haystack of fear.