March 30, 2012

LIFE BONFIRE: Sharing the Experience
from Another Perspective

This might be the most narcissistic realization. Of. My. Life.

I waited until this post – my swan song on “Fire and Motion” – to allow someone else write and/or share on my blog. How egotistical and self-centered am I?

For the last four years – 162 blog posts – I have been the lone contributor to this hedonistic purging of words, thoughts, ideas and bullsh. It’s so disappointing and gross to think about.

What was possibly going through my head? “I have the laptop and you’ll listen to every damn word I say?”

Well, the vanity stops here...

Even though this is my final post on “Fire and Motion,” I’ve asked three other people to write it. These three people (right) were an integral part my “Life Bonfire,” and I begged them to share their thoughts and feelings about that night. They obliged.

The reason why I’m kicking myself about not having a “guest blogger” before this – these accounts are AWESOME! TK and our friends, Dave and Kimbra, do an amazing job of capturing the essence of that night around the fire. I love how each one of them describes the exact same event in their own wonderfully great way.

I can’t stress enough how grateful I am to each one of them for playing a role in this amazing journey.

Sure, we were burning my “crap,” but that was just the catalyst. Kimbra put it best in her narrative: “...it was as if the embers landed between us and sparked conversations that could not have been created any other way.”

– – –

You’ve Got to Keep the Fire Burning
by Tanya Myers (a.k.a. TK)

Even though Drew had written blog posts, and often mentioned his "burn box,” I did not realize how heavily it had weighed on him until the fire was roaring and the first conversation started. I saw a seriousness come over Drew as he began to take things out of the box and put them in the fire.

One of first things that he pulled out of the box were the many, many brochures from his failed business (e-Partners in Giving). There was real sadness in me as he set them on the fire. The words in my head were frantic...

”Wait, that dream can't be over...not yet!”

“We can give it one more shot!”

I began to tear up a little as Drew kept adding more brochures to the fire. The flames even started to fizzle out, because the brochures were literally smothering the fire.

As I started to write this recap, I realized those brochures were smothering us too.

The many boxes that sat at the back of the garage whispered to us every time we were in there: “psst...failed business...psst...broken dreams.”

As Dave and I worked really hard to keep the fire going, Drew – ever the coach –told us how to do it....how to keep it burning. And that is really a metaphor for life. We have to get rid of the crap to keep the fire burning. And sometimes we need the help of friends and family to keep it alive.

Now I can walk in the garage and listen to other things that speak to me: upholstery projects to be finished, bikes that need riding, things to be donated or pitched. (Trust me, my garage is not somewhere you want to enter in the dark – or the daylight for that matter.)

For me, the best part of the evening was the conversation and being with dear friends. Someone would make a point, and then the others would think about it and apply it to their own lives. There were many moments of peaceful silence as we all contemplated our emotions and took a deeper look at what we were hanging onto and why. We were able to just sit and think about life, instead of being too busy living it.

The memories of this evening will stay with me for a while, and if not, we took a few photos...something to hold onto so we won't forget. (Of course!)

– – –

Looking At the Fire From the Ashes
by Dave Quinn

Drew’s “Life Bonfire” proved to be much more intriguing than I thought it would be. I really figured I would just be there to cheer him on and enjoy a free weekend on the Brazos River with my family. But as we prepared for the bonfire, I felt myself slipping into a ruminating state. The simple act of talking about our pasts allowed my memories from long ago to crawl out into the open.

As Drew began to toss various items into the fire, and our discussion began in earnest, I was struck by an interesting thought: Just seven months ago, I had witnessed thousands of people lose everything they owned in a devastating fire. Here, Drew was freely tossing his past into the flames. He had a chance to carefully select, say goodbye and come to grips with letting go of his stuff.

Those who lose their belongings in a disaster are not given this kind of opportunity – to pick and choose between mementos to save and crap to get rid of.

I know ceremoniously tossing my “precious keepsakes” into a bonfire is a better option, because having them taken by a natural disaster would be a depraved act of thievery. But how many people spend a lifetime boxing up and storing random items from their past? (Only to have their children or grandchildren sort through it at the worst possible time in their lives.) People, who are unwilling to let go of their life “road-markers,” force their family to make decisions they’re too afraid or too lazy to make themselves.

While I would never suggest losing everything in a fire is a great way to reduce clutter, having everything you think is important ripped from you does force you to refocus on the truly important things in your life – family and friends. I appreciate Drew allowing us to be a part of his interesting adventure. I look forward to bonfire part deux. My box of "to burn'” is already beginning.

– – –

Getting Down to Heart of the Matter
by Kimbra Quinn

As we gathered around the fire to say goodbye to Drew’s treasures, I felt like we should sing a round of “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”

It was the perfect Texas night – an incredible night sky, the Brazos River meandering its way through the countryside and century old oak trees, with twisted branches, that left plenty of room for the stories that they had witnessed. The perfect setting only served as the backdrop for the true perfection of the night.

As Drew tossed each of his prized processions into the fire, it was as if the embers landed between us and sparked conversations that could not have been created any other way. We talked about the moments in life that have brought us to this point. We talked about past loves, life events, hopes and dreams. We talked about life’s experiences, our thoughts and feelings. We talked about the people.

Somehow, Drew’s bonfire harnessed our collective pasts and gave us a moment in time. It branded the experience and our friendship forever in my heart. I guess I could have scooped up some of the ashes as a reminder, but that would have been contrary to the point, right? After all, the ashes would not have told my children how blessed I felt to share in Drew’s history, his life. That will be up to me to do as I teach them the importance creating memories and sharing our lives with others.

That night, I thought about my treasures, and I thought about the things that I have gotten rid of over the years – like the boxes of home decorating magazines from days of wanting to be an interior designer. I thought about the cigar box of full of letters from my high school boyfriend and binder after binder of research papers from graduate school. All part of my story, but not necessary to have in my hand to remember how they changed my life.

I am the sum of those experiences. Therefore, when I am no longer on this earth, my hopes, dreams, values, morals, and my very being will live on through my children and those I love because I have invested in their lives. They won’t need a token to remember how I made them feel.

I can’t wait to have a “Life Bonfire!” I think it will be liberating. (A little like what I imagine burning a bra might feel like!) It will be more than burning things, but creating an opportunity for others to share in my life. It will create an experience that seals the meaning of friendship into our soul. And, so much more fun than throwing things in the trash!

Thanks, Drew! I am honored to have been a part of your life bonfire not only from “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” but also from way down deep in my heart!

– – –

EDITOR’S NOTE: As mentioned above, this is the last blog post on “Fire and Motion.” It’s time to start Defining Audacity.

Thanks for all your support to this point of my “blogging career” – I appreciate you reading my blog more than you’ll ever know. (Feel free to check out definingaudacity.com NOW – just realize there is no fresh content and still a little construction going on until April 2.)

March 28, 2012

PERFECT WORLD: Nothing says parenthood like a leaking bag of throw-up and a little blood

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm in the process of launching my new blog, "Defining Audacity." For the next week, I'll be re-posting some
of my favorite untimely blog posts from "Fire & Motion." This post originally ran in September 2008. "Defining Audacity" officially launches on April 1.

– – –

I am ready to be a father.

I know there are a lot of people reading this blog who think that statement is…
a.) Scary
b.) Humorous
c.) Unimaginable
d.) All of the Above
The reason why I say that….you have no idea how many people have told me – with a devilish smirk and a slow shake of the head – “I can’t WAIT until you have kids.”

I think I’ve heard that statement around 86 times – each reference with the same underlying meaning: “Don’t worry, Drew. When you’re a dad, you’ll get yours!”

Well, I’m ready to get mine.

Tanya and I have started seriously trying. (“Seriously” consists of ovulation tests, prenatal vitamins, and her screaming “hurry up and put the dog outside.”)

We’ve also been talking about the possibility of adoption. Because of our ages, our desire for a large family, and our intense desire to give back, this is a tremendous option. (Tanya’s involvement in CASA – a national child advocate program – has also helped open our eyes to the lives we can touch through this process.)

In a perfect world, we would get pregnant right now, have a summer baby, start seriously looking into adoption – possibly pull the trigger this time next year, conceive another child a year later, and have a BIG, loving family in less than three years.

WOW!

“Drew, are you really sure you’re ready for that?”

It’s funny you ask.

This weekend, I received a sneak peek into my “perfect world.” I spent two days with my business partner, her husband, and their children. (Three boys – ages 4, 6 and 8.) We made a marathon trip to Oklahoma to watch TCU play the Sooners.

It was towards the end of the trip when someone made a slap-across-the-face comment to me. I think I was staring blankly at the three little boys running around their uncle’s living room like they were on fire.

“Don’t worry. If you spread them out a little bit better than we did, it’s not as overwhelming.”

Ummmm….remember earlier in the post…have baby, adopt, have another baby, adopt…BIG family…not spread out?

SLAP! SLAP!

I think I’ll be OK, though. This weekend was a good test. Here were some of the highlights (Not to brag, but I think I scored a C+ ... which IS passing):

TEST 1:
The six-year-old got carsick 40 minutes outside of Fort Worth.

THE PLAY-BY-PLAY:
• “Daddy can we pull over?”

• He threw up in a grocery sack just as we pulled into a Braum’s parking lot.

• The bag had hole in it and started to leak before he could make it outside the van.

• The oldest kept talking in third-person and reminding himself not to look.

• The youngest, very aware of where we were, kept asking for ice cream in the middle of the chaos.

• The sick child had to be stripped down, and he rode the rest of the trip in the seat right behind me with no shirt, a package of Wet Wipes, and a new plastic bag.

• There were no more incidents.

MY PERSPECTIVE:
The site and smell of throw-up didn’t make me hurl … I think anytime someone speaks in third-person it’s hilarious (especially when that person is eight years old) … the fact that there were no other incidents was HUGE – especially because of the new seating arrangement in the van.

g g g

TEST 2:
The youngest decided to head-butt the sidewalk.

THE PLAY-BY-PLAY:
• He actually tripped over the curb in a dimly lit parking lot and smashed his face pretty good.

• After the initial shock wore off, he realized he was injured and wanted everyone else to know it, too.

• His sweet aunt ran to his rescue.

• Even though he looked like he was in a car wreck, he was bouncing off the walls the next morning.

MY PERSPECTIVE:
I saw him face plant, and while his aunt was loving him up, I just kept telling him to “shake it off” . . . when I saw the blood, I decided to let a “real adult” handle the situation . . . I also learned that kids are pretty resilient.

g g g

TEST 3:
On our way home, we had to stop for a bathroom break 6 minutes into the trip. (That is no lie and/or exaggeration . . . 360 seconds from leaving the house.)

THE PLAY-BY-PLAY:
• As we’re pulling out of the driveway: “Did everyone use the bathroom?” . . . “Let’s see if we can make it all the way to Fort Worth without stopping!”

• Six minutes later: “Daddy, I need to use the restroom” . . . “I thought you went right before we left” . . . “I went pee pee, but I held my poo poo.”

• As they’re getting out of the car, the youngest says, “I need to go poo poo, too.”

MY PERSPECTIVE:
It really wasn’t that big of deal, we had to stop anyway because in the hustle and bustle of packing up and leaving, their mother left her keys at the house. A family member was in route to deliver them . . . It made me wonder, though: Would they have continued to “hold their poo poo” all the way home OR would we have stopped a few minutes later anyway? . . . I think kids just know when to take advantage of an opportunity.

Other minor tests included a running request/inquiry to play with my cell phone, the peaks and valleys of sugar highs, and the fact that watching cartoons and playing Wii trumps Sportscenter on Sunday morning.

Here are some other things that I simply learned:

• Kids don’t sleep in – even if the adults tailgated for over five hours the day before and finally went to bed around 1 a.m.

• If you give a child under 10 years old the choice of where to eat – it’s going to be McDonald’s.

• Chocolate milk is VERY popular with young kids. (Temperature of the milk is not important.)

• If you don’t want kids to climb on the furniture – don’t buy it.

• There is always A LOT of hustle and bustle when there are kids involved.

When I told their parents that I was going to blog about me tagging along on their weekend family get-away, I saw both of them cringe.

ME: “Are you worried?”

MOM: “I just don’t want people to think we’re a crazy family.”

I wasn’t going to use the adjective “crazy” – I think “perfect” is a lot more fitting.


March 26, 2012

'Treasures' Stoke Fire, Night to Remember


I did it – I burned my “treasures.”

Expired driver’s licenses...gone.

Newspaper articles with my byline...gone.

My high school diploma...gone.

Sitting around a fire pit – under a blanket of the brightest Texas stars that I can remember– I created one of the most profound memories of my life. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments – filled with so much emotion, reflection and hope.

Reminder: I came up with this “Life Bonfire” to simply purge some of the personal “crap” that I felt compelled to hold on to all these years.

I NEVER dreamt it would turn into such an amazing journey. It was so extraordinary, I almost don’t know where to start.

How about the beginning? Makes sense, right?

Last Friday, I loaded up a box of my keepsakes and headed out to my parents’ house. They live in the country, and I thought it would be the perfect backdrop for this personal exploration. I also invited a couple close friends to be part of the adventure.

After dinner, and the kids were tucked into bed, we poured some adult beverages, put on some Texas Country Music and lit the fire. It was not an A&M-inspired inferno, just an above-average campfire. (“Bonfire” was definitely a stretch.) I lit a cigar and started to stoke the blaze with my memories.

– – –

If I had to describe how I felt before my “Life Bonfire,” I would say anxiety outweighed all the other emotions.

If I had to describe my emotions as I started to toss things into the flames: Reflective and alive.

If I had to describe my state of mind afterwards: At peace and inspired. (Not to mention intoxicated – the Jameson really helped me battle the sentimental hoarder who lives inside me.)

The best part of the evening was the conversations sparked by the fire (pun intended). The wonderfully great part was the fact that the dialogue was NOT all about me and my “crap.” I’d throw something in the fire, and someone would share about a particular moment in his or her life, tell a story about a similar keepsake or simply offer a judicious nugget for the group to chew on.

It wasn’t forced or scripted conversation – just insightful and fun. There were a lot of laughs – and not a single tear. More often than not, someone would share something profound and we’d just tuck our lips, nod our heads, and expel a barely audible, “Hmmm.”

I wanted to share some of the commentary, because it definitely does the best job of capturing the essence of the evening:

• We gave our opinion on why we thought people hold on to these "treasures." TK offered the most weighty perspective: “I just think a lot of people are scared they’re going to be forgotten.” WOW!

• We also decided that our “crap” simply helps us remember – it's a trigger mechanism. Maybe it doesn't enhance a memory, but it does remind you to stop and reflect.

• Our friends, who live in Bastrop, brought a unique perspective to the conversation. Last summer, their community – which is located just east of Austin – was devastated by some of the worst wildfires in the history of the state. More than 1,600 families lost everything in the fires – and here I was, actually burning my stuff on purpose.

It made me feel a little guilty, but it reminded me of something I wrote in my initial post: “I want to take the inevitable into my own hands...” More than anything, it made me sad for those families. They didn’t get the opportunity to “say goodbye” to their “treasures.” I feel fortunate that I did.

• You have no idea how much I appreciated the comments I received following my initial post. They were so enlightening and thought-provoking. We discussed these comments at length around the fire. It was neat to get everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but it was even more interesting to discuss them as my mementos turned to ashes in front of us. (If you haven’t already read these comments, I encourage you to scan them. If you shared a comment...thank you!)

• We all agreed that there is a fine line between being a sentimental hoarder (keeping anything and everything) and being flippant and/or reckless (“BURN IT ALL!”)

That’s a great bridge to this necessary point of clarification: I did NOT burn everything. (I’m sorry if I gave ANY indication that I was jumping off the deep end and torching every keepsake in my possession.) Before I loaded up my box and took it out to the country, I scanned through all my “junk” and made a judgment call.

Here’s an example of three things that were NEVER considered for the burn pile:


Book of poems and short stories
from my high school creative writing class


High school letters & patches
(why they were never put on a jacket is beyond me)


The board game I created when I asked TK to marry me


I received some great advice about handling similar “treasures” in the future: Use one box and only keep the best of the best. If your box gets full, don’t start another box – decide if that keepsake is more important/sentimental than a particular item already in the box and replace it if it is. LOVE IT! (Thanks, Nina)

The items pictured above will definitely be the first things in my new “treasure chest.”

There were also three items that snuck into the burn pile and were rescued at the last minute. For some reason, I unfolded each one of these keepsakes right before I tossed them into the fire. After reading them, I decided I couldn’t let them go:

• A note from my mom. It simply said:

“Dad said this morning that the day you were born goes down as one of the best days of his life...mine too. ILY, Mom.”

– – –

• A letter I wrote to my extended family about the love between my grandparents (I wrote it from the perspective of my grandfather):

Excerpt: “Not everyone can understand exactly what it’s like when my wife, my soul-mate, my best friend takes hold of my hand...”

– – –

• A poem about my high school friends (I promise I wasn’t a HUGE dork growing up):

Excerpt: “A friend will be beside you and do whatever he can...To put a smile on your face and warmth in your heart....A friend does not care if you belch or you fart.”

These three "treasures" exemplified love and gratitude to me – two things I’m convinced have the power to change the world. I wanted to save these mementos to help drive home that point to my son.

They will also find a new home in my “treasure chest.”

– – –

The last thing I burned on Friday night was my infamous high school diploma.

I was really OK with it – and I wasn’t 100 percent sure that I would be. I think it was because of the strong opinions I received either way about putting it in the fire.

Confession: The expired driver’s licenses were harder for me to let go of. I’m not sure if it was because of the photos, the uniqueness of each one OR the fact every single person sitting around the fire said: “I still have one my grandparents’ licenses.”

It forced me to quickly ask myself these questions again: Should I hold on to this and share it with Crash when he's older? Will he care?

Then I smiled and tossed each ID into the fire – one at a time.

As each one melted in front of me, I smiled even more and made a personal vow to myself:

“I will leave plenty of ‘treasures’ for my kids to cherish, but they will be a lot more impactful than a laminated piece of paper with an awkward, deer-in-the-headlights photo on it.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three blog posts revolving around my “Life Bonfire.” For my next post, I’ve asked TK and my friends to share their written perspective from the experience.

LOVIN' THE DOG DAYS OF MY LIFE

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm in the process of launching my new blog, "Defining Audacity." For the next week, I'll be re-posting some
of my favorite untimely blog posts from "Fire & Motion." This post originally ran in September 2008. "Defining Audacity" officially launches on April 1.

– – –


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CAPTAIN AUGUSTUS McCRAE!


That’s right…my puppy is one year old today (Sept. 22, 2008).

I thought this would be a tremendous opportunity to dedicate a blog post just to him.

First, I want to share a montage of photos that help capture his neurotic first year of life. To make the gallery a little more interesting, I added insets to each picture. The insets depict random items that he has eaten over the last year.

Again, these are items he has actually consumed. I did NOT include things he has chewed up. Here are some of those items:

• 10 water bottles
• 2 pair of shoes
(still wearable)
• 1 window ledge
• 2 baseboards
• 2 Texas Rangers caps
(one able to be repaired)
• 1 bra
• 6 pairs of panties
(including a pair of Tanya’s mom’s underwear)
• 4 rolls of toilet paper
• 1 two-by-four

Here is the photo gallery, with his random fare, and a little commentary on each one:
(WARNING: Since we are talking about unorthodox items in his stomach, there is some discriptive discussion about how they got out.)



I recently finished the book
“Marley and Me.” It is a tremendous story by John Grogan. The subtitle of his bestseller is: “Life and Love With the World’s Worst Dog.”

After seeing the photo gallery, you probably think I can relate.

Well ... you’re right.

There are times when I think Gus is the most idiotic, stubborn, destructive, and annoying dog in the history of canines.

But there is one part of the book that I can relate to a lot more.

During a tough visit to the vet’s office late in Marley's wonderful life, John (the author) leaned down and said:

“I know you’ve heard me call you the worst dog in the world, but it’s not true. You’re a great dog, Marley. I probably didn’t tell you that enough, but you are a great dog. I love you.”

Gus is the poster dog for neurotic pets, but I wouldn’t have him any other way.

I love him.

He's a GREAT dog.

So now that we've gotten the "bad" things out of the way, let's focus on the good.

They always say when you scold your dog, you should reward them with twice as much affection when they do something right. I had 17 photos depicting his "bad dog eating habits"… here are 38 “atta boys” or “good boys” to show you how Gus has changed my life by grabbing a piece of my heart.

1. I love the fact he slept on my chest the first night he stayed at the house.

2. I love the fact he knows what to do when I say, “kennel up.”

3. I love how he goes into full-body wiggle after he gets a bath.

4. I love that he understands the concept of ringing the bell on our back door when he wants and/or needs to go outside.

5. I love how he looks up

at me with his tongue hanging out during a run – it’s like he’s asking, “How am I doing, daddy?”

6. I love the fact that he is starting to understand “heal”
(with the help of
a choke collar AND the threat of getting a shock collar.)


7. I love how he has four main places where he likes to sleep at night –
I also love the fact that one of those four places is NOT our bed.

8. I love the fact that he has already experimented with drugs.
(See “Ritalin” slide)

9. I love the fact that he is infatuated with women’s underwear.

10. I love the fact that he can hang with me on runs up to six miles.

11. I love how he can catch a Frisbee in his mouth.

12. I love how I always know where he is when we’re at the dog park – in the shade or next to a cute girl.

13. I love how he’ll lay across my lap with his front legs while I’m sitting in front of the computer.
(He just likes 30-second scratches from time to time over the course of the day.)

14. I love how everyone at the vet’s office knows him.
(Because he’s been there so many times; some friends and family members refer to him as the Millionaire Dollar Puppy.)

15. I love how he can sense when we’re about leave the house without him
(He actually pouts and gives you a look, “are you guys sure I can’t go.”)

16. I love watching him stick his head out the car window.
(You can tell he genuinely loves it.)

17. I love how he rolls around on the ground – like he’s on fire – when I start putting on my running shoes.

18. I love he can play fetch (until he gets distracted by a bee or the wind).

19. I love the fact that he only pooped in the house about five times before he realized he was supposed to go outside. (I can’t say we’ve had the same success when he’s spending the night with his cousin, Maverick, or at my parents.)

20. I love the fact that his favorite food is bacon.

21. I love how he gets a “farm hangover.” (After running himself ragged at my parent’s house, he goes into a coma for the next 36 hours.)

22. I love that he gets his feelings hurt when I don’t take him on a run. (He’s usually waiting for me by the door when I get back – his leash close by.)

23. I love the look he gives me when I let him have a raw-hide chew treat. (“Are you sure, daddy?”)

24. I love the fact he knows how to sit, shake hands, and lay down on command.

25. I love how his name, Captain Augustus McCrae, has so many different variations: Gus, Augustus, Gussy, Gusser, Gussaroo, Gustovo, Dumb Ass, etc.

26. I love the fact that he has NEVER met a stranger. (He will greet anyone with a friendly crotch sniff or toe lick.)

27. I love how he finally learned how to lift his leg and pee like a boy dog.

28. I love how he licks the dirty dish dishes as we load them in the dishwasher. (I also love that he knows, understands and respects when the dishes are clean.)

29. I love when I say “sit” you can actually see his wheels turning in his head before he actually sits down.

30. I love he comes running when he hears the icemaker. (He LOVES ice – he thinks they’re frozen rocks.)

31. I love the fact that our mailman, FedEx guy, UPS driver, and meter readers are VERY aware that he lives here.

32. I love he puts his face right in front of the air condition vent when we’re riding in the truck.

33. I love how he ALWAYS keeps me or Tanya company when we’re making dinner. He NEVER leaves our side when we’re handling food in the kitchen.

34. I love it when he lets me scratch his belly.

35. I love it when people stop us on the street and say, “He’s such a beautiful dog.”

36. I love how he uses his nose to flip my arm away from the keyboard when he wants some attention. (It’s like he’s saying, “Daddy, you’ve been working too much. Let’s play.”)

37. I love how he doesn’t care that I had a bad day.

38. I love to see his tail wag. (“Money will buy you a fine dog, but only love can make it wag its tail.”)

I love you, Gusser.

Happy Birthday. (Only two more years – 14 puppy years – until we can share a Shiner Bock.)

March 21, 2012

It's 5:45 in the morning...
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR NEIGHBOR IS?

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm in the process of launching my new blog, "Defining Audacity." For the next week and a half, I'll be re-posting some of my favorite untimely blog posts from "Fire & Motion." This post originally ran in October 2009. "Defining Audacity" officially launches on April 1.

– – –

I want to share an e-mail that I recently sent to one of my neighbors. This is in response to a letter she shoved underneath my front door. I won't bore you with her whole letter – which was rather lengthy – but here are the highlights:

• Captain Augustus McCrae (my pooch) woke her up at 5:30 in the morning
• She marched an entire city block – at 5:45 a.m. – to tell me that he woke her up
• I wasn't home to hear her complain
• I'm rude
• She's going to call the city

Here was my response (this is straight from the heart):

Melissa,

My name is Drew Myers and I live at 2509 Honeysuckle. I got your note about my dog raising hell at 5:30 in the morning, and I wanted to drop you a line.

I tried to give you a call, but your line as been busy all evening. (Ironically enough...we had one of your “For Sale By Owner” sheets for a family friend who was interested in your house. I thought your name looked familiar. Your phone number and this e-mail address were listed on the sheet. Lucky for me.)

Anyway...I’m terribly sorry about Gus (my dog).
I HATE the fact he woke you up. I had a business meeting out of town this morning and was going to be gone all day. Instead of leaving him kenneled in the house – like we normally do – I HAD to give him access to the backyard.

Again, I’m very sorry about that.

I did want to address one thing that you implied in your letter....this does NOT happen all the time. Ninety-five percent of the time we are either home OR Gus is in his kennel. Does Gus Bark from time to time? Yes...he’s a dog. That’s one of the reasons why we have him. When people are lurking around our house at 5:45 in the morning...I’m glad he goes crazy.

Anyway...sorry again. If you DO feel inclined to call the city about this isolated incident make sure you give them my cell phone so they can get me anytime (817) 909-XXXX. (If you would like to call and discuss further– don’t hesitate to drop me a line as well.)

NOTE: If for some reason that happens again, just yell and tell him to shut the hell up. (That’s what I do to other peoples’ dogs – including yours.)

Take care,

Drew

March 20, 2012

Burn Notice: Personal Effects Going Up in Smoke

This Friday, I’m going to burn my high school diploma.

The wonderfully great part of that story – it’s only the start of something much, much bigger: A “Life Bonfire” – my opportunity to purge some of the personal “crap” that I’ve felt compelled to hold on to all these years.

I’m going to torch personal effects like...

• Honors and awards

• Projects

• Random keepsakes

Rationale: I’m going to burn anything that I don’t want to burden others with when I’m gone – high school diploma included.

I got this idea when my great aunt passed away several years ago.

When she died, my mom was responsible for handling all the stuff she left behind. She shared keepsakes with other members of our family, donated some items to charitable causes and sold the rest in an estate sale.

But there were a handful of things – personal, one-of-a kind items – that fell into a unique category. These were keepsakes that only had three logical destinations: A box in a loved one’s attic, in the landfill or on the wall of an Applebee’s.

I asked my mom for some examples of these personal treasures she found at my great aunt's house:

• An autograph book from when my great aunt was in the 7th grade. My mom said it was a popular keepsake for teenage girls, where their friends could write sweet notes to you and/or about that person.

• My great aunt's certificate for Junior Red Cross training. It was probably 85 to 90 years old.

Both very personal items that immediately did not have any relevance or significance with my great aunt gone. I'll admit, it’s a little sad to think about, but it’s part of life, right?

I discovered a long time ago that the picture below is not practical...


...so my solution: "Life Bonfire."

I’ve been thinking about this ceremonial blaze since I walked through my great aunt’s house one last time. That was my opportunity to pick out anything and everything that I wanted to hold on to.

There wasn’t anything.

That might sound harsh and cold, but a 7th-grade autograph book and/or a random certificate weren’t going to enhance the incredible memories I had of my mom's aunt, who was like a third grandmother to me.

The wonderfully great memories I had were enough for me.

Not to mention, I had my own junk that I'd been accumulating for 35+ years.

But that did NOT keep my mom from gently persuading.

“Don’t you want this?”

“How about that?”

Then she mentioned the fire.

"You know whatever we can't rid of, we're probably going to have to burn," she said.

I think it was mainly a take-something-please tactic, but my mom's plea simply made me shift my focus and perspective to my life...to my keepsakes...to my personal “treasures.”

As we drove home that night, I started thinking normal, healthy, every-day thoughts. You know... “What if we were killed in a car accident tonight and someone had to go through all our crap?”

"I don’t want somebody else burning my stuff," I thought to myself. "More importantly, I don’t want it to end up in some box in Crash’s closest so his kids’ kids can donate it to the landfill someday."

“Now who was Drew again, Grandpa Crasher?”

“Why is his mouth open in all these pictures? He looks silly!”

At this point of the post, I think it’s important to share this quick note: I’m not dying and I don’t plan on dying anytime soon. (I’ve got too much to do.) I simply thought a “Life Bonfire” was a chance to reminisce one last time and purge. Take the inevitable into my own hands and live out the Neil Young creed: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

So, that’s what I’m doing.

This Friday night, I’m going to pour me a glass of Jameson, fire up a cigar and stoke a blazing bonfire with some of my "treasures." I might share a story about each item before it's turned to ashes, or I might just tuck my lips, nod my head and sigh as I give it toss into the flames.

I wanted to share some of the things I'm letting go of. Here are some of the general items:

School Projects

Old newspaper articles that I wrote during and after college


Internship Projects


Photos


Certificates and Awards


Race Numbers

Stuff from Former Jobs



Printed Collateral from e-Partners in Giving,
the failed company I started in 2008


Some of the items are a little more unique and personal (Confession: A little harder to part with):

A Letter of Recommendation



My first newspaper story – EVER.
(from Journalism I in ninth grade)



Cartoons and doodles from junior high



My self portrait from my college photography class



My Infamous High School Diploma


FINAL THOUGHTS: I had a couple people read through this before I hit "Publish Post." I had an uneasy feeling. Something didn't feel right.

One of my friends said, "As an outsider, it might sound a little harsh."

That's the last thing I want to come across.

I want to stress how interesting and emotional this personal experiment has been. I've experienced a wave of emotions – from sadness to confusion. I've also debated whether I should actually go through with it.

A countless number of questions have surfaced, like:

• Should I hold on to this stuff and share it with Crash when he's older? Will he care?

• Is getting rid of your parents' and/or grandparents' "treasures" just part of life? Am I denying my grandchildren this opportunity?

• Am I being insensitive and/or hyper-cynical?

• Will I regret this in 10 or 15 years?

• Should I just put this "crap" back in the attic and shut the hell up?

Please know...I'm not discounting these incredible memories – just the trivial symbols associated with them.

My high school graduation was one of the best days of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday. It represented an incredible journey and tremendous hope of things to come. It was a springboard to independence – the first step towards my future and destiny. I remember never feeling more confident, alive and excited. IN. MY. LIFE.

I don't need a piece of paper to enhance that memory.

I'm really curious how other's feel about this. Please share. (And keep the fire extinguisher close by.)

March 19, 2012

Have You Excepted Jesus? Apparently I Have

Is it weird that I cringe every time someone rings our doorbell?

Part of it has to do with Cpt. Augustus McCrae going ape crazy nuts, which sends Crash into a fit of terror. It's nothing short of awesome (insert sarcasm).

The other part of my apprehension revolves around the fact that I probably don't know the person standing on my front porch. (If I do know them, they're more apt to just walk in. They know Gus is all bark and all crotch sniff.)

Saturday, we got some unexpected visitors.

Cue the Hell Hound!

Cue the shrieks of fright!

I raced to the door – mainly to calm down Gus. There were two gentlemen standing confidently on my front porch, unfazed by the madness they initiated.

"What's up, guys," I asked, peaking my head out the door and trying to keep Gus from acting like he was going to eat them in one bite.

"We're from a local church. Can we ask you a couple of questions?" They were unfazed that my dog was trying to go through me AND the plate-glass door to get to them.

WHY NOT!

"Sure," I said. "I haven't had adult contact in 48 hours...whatcha got?"

They asked my name. I said Greg Jones (my college roommate).

They asked my age. I said 25 (my standard answer since I turned 32).

They asked if I have a church home. "Yes."

I watched as they wrote down my answers on a semi-formal form produced by the church.

"When you die, will you go to heaven?"

"Yes."

Then, they asked the million dollar question: "How do you know?"

"I've accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior."

They expressed their approval of my answer – knowing their door-to-door discipleship could be saved for another house. Then one of the nice gentlemen started writing my answer down on the form.

"Except Jesus..."

I started to correct him, but I stopped myself.

"It doesn't matter," I thought to myself. "You don't have to be a good speller to get to heaven."

Thanks goodnes!


March 17, 2012

Chalk It Up: Stick People & Cuss Words Be Damned

"Chalking" has significantly evolved since I was a kid. It's come so far that there is an actual term for it..."chalking."

We used to write on the sidewalk and driveway with "chalk rock," and our masterpieces would stay there until the spring monsoons. It was almost like we etched our "art" into the pavement – and it definitely took more than a light rain to clear our canvas.

And let's quickly define "masterpiece" – it was usually a couple stick people with an occasional cuss word.

Things have definitely changed.

Now they have special chalk that comes in more colors than a box of Crayons, and it seems like it washes away if the humidity gets above 85 percent. It's pretty remarkable.

Have you seen the street artists who have taken this medium to another level? It's AWESOME! (Definitely no stick people and f bombs.)



Despite their greatness, these examples were NOT the reason for this post. (Confession: I only added these pictures so I could pin them on Pinterest – and hopefully drive traffic to my blog.)

I wanted to use this post to share a neat idea that we "borrowed" from our neighbors. They capture life's little moments with a camera and a little chalk on the sidewalk. (They're really smart people, but I'm thinking they swiped the idea from somebody, too.)

I'll admit...the photos turn out pretty cute. So, again, like any good neighbor...we stole it. When Crash turned two, TK put her unbeknownst art skills to work on our front porch, and we got this wonderfully great picture of our son.


Confession: I was a little jealous. (Reminder: Chalk rocks and "suck it.")

Sooooo...the next time my neighbors were doing one of their special photo shoots – a tribute to Baby Nell turning 4 months old – I asked if I could get my picture taken.

They obliged, creating a special tribute to my youthfulness – on their driveway.

Needless to say, my "chalking" envy was squashed forever.

March 14, 2012

Spring Break Delirium

After three days without mommy, glad to see that I'm not the ONLY delirious one in the house.

Spring Break 2012, baby!!!!!!!

March 13, 2012

Confessions of a Recovering Introvert


A lot of people would say that I toe the line between confident and cocky.

I'm OK with that, but it's important that these same people know and understand that it's not the whole story. I've actually worked my whole life to "coach up" a shy little boy.

The image above was a fifth-grade art project. I distinctively remember my parents asking my teacher why I was looking down. She replied: "He always has his head down."

So, maybe I've continuously over-compensated since the fifth grade, but that bashful and unsure little boy has always been lurking. Even today, I have to do everything in my power to keep him from storming the castle.

Sometimes friends, family and "fans" provide necessary reinforcement – a shot of confidence that squashes any doubt and/or uncertainty that I've allowed to creep in.

I wanted to share an e-mail that I received from my friend Paige. She is one of my "Live the List" adoptees. She sent me this message after reading one of my blog posts.
As a word of encouragement, I think you're doing the right thing in life. A lot of excuse makers in the world. People need mentors.

My father-in-law works for the city of Irving. Loves his job. It doesn't provide much but they get by...barely. Six kids. In drawers around the house you will find novels and/or short stories he's written. Often Barry thinks of giving up cartooning/illustration as it provides no stable/primary income. I tell him that my children will not find his work hidden in drawers some day because he gave up on what he loved.

My mom went to Trimble Tech, which is a vocational school, because she wanted to do cosmetology. Her GUIDANCE COUNSELOR basically told her she would be better off as a secretary. My mom is a secretary. I'm sure she is a good one. But I think her real talent is cosmetology, never fully developed. My mom also believes she has no talent.

My uncle is a GREAT western, bronze sculptor. Mountain men, Indians, wildlife. It is very expensive to get them cast in bronze, so most of his stuff was just wax as he worked on them. He moved to Houston to (give up himself) take care of his ailing uncle and aunt. They could not understand why he wasted time doing the sculptures when he had a good job. He kept them in their back add-on. One weekend when he was out of town, my aunt turned off the window unit to the room. Years of work melted, along with part of his soul. Has not done art since.

Like your blog said, it is sad to watch people never find their potential and their gifts and live in complacency. Looking forward to the website. Write your book.

While the entire e-mail is wonderfully great and powerful, the last three words were inspiring.

Write. Your. Book.

Thank you, Paige.

Sincerely,
A recovering introvert

March 10, 2012

MOM: 'Live Every Minute'

Just received a wonderfully great text message from my mom. Just ANOTHER reminder that things move fast...
"Reality Check...Driving to Wichita Falls and saw signboard for MSU. Dad said: 'Wasn't it about 20 years ago we were driving up here with Drew to checkout Midwestern.' "
My mom responded "No way!" Then, she thought about it.

The rest of her text message:
"Then I realized it was ONLY 19 1/2 years ago. Live every minute...it goes by way too fast. Kiss C-Man for me. ILY"
As the dad of an up-and-coming two year old, my response was short and sweet: "I already know. TRUST ME!"
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