April Showers


Success is prodigious, but less than the final project is simply tenacious drive. There's a Chinese proverb that says "Fall down seven times, get up 8", which ironically is a lucky number in their culture. Chop wood, haul water, and my personal favorite that has become my own mantra......."To do great things, one must DO". It's no different than when Grandpa wiped your eyes, brushed the dirt off your knees and urged you to get back on the bicycle, the pony, or smiled and put the hammer or paint brush back in your hand. It's not just try, try again, but it's necessary to keep trying and more importantly not be afraid or embarrassed to embrace the action and learn from each attempt. Herein lies the gift.

If you learn more with your left brain formal education or right brain trial and error, each attempt adds to the conceptual store house of knowledge that propels your successes. For most of us it takes a combination of both. If you're lucky, you understand the importance of each to create great balance.

As a child, I was given the gift of music.

With a healthy balance of natural talent and pragmatic study, left and right, I learned that many small components of chords, runs and riffs came together as one cohesive product.............a song.

These same components became the foundation and therefore the combinations were endless. Wether your forte is sports, computers, engine repair or cooking, the puzzle-like building blocks all have a relative connection that create a real life intelligence that can be parlayed into any situation or task.

When you finally experience the epiphany of the connection of all things, the universe is yours.

The fear falls away. Each step forward becomes more than just two steps back, but proper momentum that becomes exponential. This driving force takes on an energy of its own. Frequently this momentum can drive you even when your legs won't and your creativity and desire need a recharge. It's simply investing in yourself and coasting on the interest when your personal bank seems momentarily dry. The patience to drive forward, aligned with the pride of a job well done form the basis for EQ..........emotional intelligence. In our ever changing, less personally connected, yet more inter-connected techno world, EQ often becomes the all important missing component in personal success and feeling of accomplishment.

About the time that I was starting to ask myself, "What was I thinking trying to live in and through an extensive renovation", Spring hit and the added element of yard work jumped into the mix.

It feels like both a blessing and a curse. The diversion is a nice, but the added responsibility is almost too much. Trying to balance a full time job, full time indoor renovation, and 3 or so large projects outside, just gave me a full time pain in my multi-tasking butt.

I am a good old Sagittarius. I need sunshine and any time that I can get outside, commune with Mother Earth, soak up some rays and play in the dirt...............I'm in. So, every year when the winter blues fade away and the first hearty little buds shoot up from the ground, I find a new energy that recharges me and gives me renewed hope and purpose. The first project is putting out a few pots of plants, generally built around some hearty little pansies that always remind me of my Grandma Braun. They inspire me while I plan this years horticultural road map, cleaning up the remains of last years failures and nurturing the budding successes creeping up from previous years and decades of tender loving care. It's like a living, ever changing painting to be endlessly interpreted.

Last year I added some flagstone in the backyard for a quick attempt to give myself a sidewalk.

It never really took the shape that I had envisioned and had decided over the Winter to replace the basic brick side walk in the front of the house with the more free flowing flagstone for a larger landing and walkway.

The brick will be flip-flopped to the back to become a cohesive utilitarian sidewalk from its matching brick patio to the garage.

Part of the delay in moving the rock was my multiple minor injuries that have been slowing my superman status down and have co-joined as a choir of pains singing............The Old Gray Mule Ain't What He Use To Be.

So, in an effort to come to the realization that it's not always necessary to move a piano alone, I enlisted the help of friend's kids. 18 year old's with muscle, great attitudes and the willingness to be bought or atleast rented for the day, can be just the B12 shot in the arm that moves any project forward.

The interior is being battled by my friend Joe and Catrena's son Mack. I've known Joe since 2nd grade and his wife since Jr. high and their almost 35 year marriage has produced a couple of great young men and one that I have had the pleasure of working with through this process. He's awesome, and I'm proud to say that good people have equally good kids. Mack will be a subject and story of His own and I will be honored to take the time later to sing his praises and hopefully be the man I would be proud to know by helping mentor and propel his talents and success. I want to be someone that uses information and experience as a tool and not a weapon to help give a deserving person a better chance for success and stability. If He knows it or not, I will be looking over His shoulder for the rest of my life in an effort to help build a future that I would want and He deserves.

But, for this project, I needed less finesse and a little more 18 year old muscle and "can do" innocence. For this I needed another friend's kids. Thank God I have ideas, a checkbook,, and my friends have progeny. I feel like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes....................."I'm older and have more insurance", which is ironic, as Cole is my other lifetime friends, Larry and Tricia's son................., and Larry is my insurance man.

By the way, if you can't give your friends your business...............maybe you need to re-evaluate your friendship. Just sayin' !, and helping their kids make a buck is your business!

So Cole, along with his friend Ross, became my muscle for the day, as middle-aged ME, lamented my youthful vigor yet quietly celebrated giving orders, and pushed my chest out a bit every time one of the amazing young men said "Yes sir".. It's wonderful to see young people be respectful, hard working and gracious for an opportunity, especially when you have some small stake in their development. It's our time. It's our turn. It's our responsibility. It takes a village and all of our kids are truly "all of our kids". It's important to use information as a tool and not a weapon. Just as we were, they are sponges soaking up information. Be mindful of what you say and do, and be as willing to share failures as equally as successes. It makes you human and honest. Isn't that what we all want?

A week before, Ross and Cole had helped me do some clean up, and later, after a good dose of cortisone in my shoulder, I enlisted the help of Cole to help me do a little outside project to give me some much needed " 'Spring' in my STEPS".

The week before the flagstone had been stacked in the front of the house and its empty space had been grass seeded and a few well place box woods. planted to give the edge of the bricked patio some some formality and purpose. I had decided to put a more "perennial" situation out back, as the production of the French Doors and gazebo off the south of the house would create a different focus and attention that would require more annual work there. Pick your battles. You can't treat 2 suburban acres in the same way that one might take care of a tightly manicured urban environment, unless your have staff:)

Bricks were removed, and with about a grand worth of previously purchased man handled flagstone, $85 of leveling sand, $115 of filler gray haydite, $265 in a new focal tree and plants, weed preventer, fertilizer and A C-note fore help, I got a new more Dave look for the front entrance.

A few tweaks and finishing size and scale appropriate changes have since been made and the process moves forward, but there's momentum. Forward movement always propels your life. It's WHY we get up every morning and WHY we lay our head down peacefully at night after a job well done. We have purpose. That's WHY.

Today was Mother's Day and I miss Mom. I never thought I would be here. Be here again. Be here without Her. Be here with the regrets. Be here with not only the memories, but the hopes for the future that may very well be where I find my end. It's overwhelming. But maybe the gift is finding where your past meets your future. Realizing that where you started was meant to be and it had power.to propel your purpose in this life for full circle completion.

It just goes to prove that you can't necessarily set the parameters of your life, just maybe jiggle the joystick in the pac-man journey along the way. We are daily manipulated by the who, what, where, when of our lives, but only we can offer up our own personal, ever changing variable of WHY?