Tag Archives: friends

Food for Thought: Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

caddy-shack

Last week I decided to do something that I normally don’t voluntarily do; I went golfing after work.  Okay, so it wasn’t the golfing part or the work part that is out of the ordinary.  Instead, I actually had to pair up with two guys I didn’t know in order play.

Few things get me out of my comfort zone more than golfing with strangers.  I don’t make friends with other guys very easily.  There are a number of reasons for that which I won’t get into here but the fact remains.  It is even more intimidating for me on the golf course because quite frankly, I am terrible.  Even though I am not one of those Type A competitive people, I do hate embarrassing myself on the golf course.  This was one reason why I started taking lessons this past Spring.  I am sad to report my game is still languishing.  I can hit really well in my lesson but once I am out on the driving range or course it is like I become someone else.  I am the Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde of golfing perhaps.

Rodney Dangerfield as Al Czervik in a scene from the motion picture Caddyshack. --- DATE TAKEN: Rec'd 10/04  No Byline   Warner Home Video        HO      - handout   ORG XMIT: ZX26917

My natural instinct in a situation like this is to be really quiet, not say much and do my best to avoid embarrassing myself with my mouth as well as my golf game.  I often don’t have any sense how the things I say sound to other people who don’t live in my head.  Thus, people often think I am upset, sad, lonely etc., based on how my face looks (resting bitch face is my problem) or how my voice sounds when I say stuff.  Most of the time I think I am being funny, at least a little bit.  It isn’t a shocker to say it takes a little time to get used to me and understand my sense of humor.

This time however, I knew I needed to step outside my comfort zone at least a little bit.  I am new to Nashville and when you get to be as old as I am, it becomes much more difficult to make friends and I need some golf friends.  Don’t get me wrong I still wasn’t Chatty Cathy or anything on the course but I made a solid effort to talk to them and ask questions etc.  By the end of the round (we were only able to get in nine holes) things on my end were starting to feel a lot more comfortable.  My golfing was still terrible especially from the tee box but it was just nice to get out there.

What I hate most about these situations is the fear of rejection (if I am being honest.)  I don’t have the time or desire to go into where that stems from but the fear is very real.  If I don’t step out of my mv5bmtcwmtq4oda1ml5bml5banbnxkftztcwmza0ndy2mq-_v1_cr030250141_al_ux477_cr00477268_al_comfort zone in this situation 99 times out of 100 I simply walk away and say goodbye to these two guys.  I knew I couldn’t do that this time.  Even if I never saw these guys again I at least needed to make an effort.  When our round was finished I handed them each a business card and made what was a passable joke about my golf game and offered to play golf with them again if they needed someone to tag along.

Now maybe they will call me and maybe they won’t.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter.  It felt good (and horrifying) to step out and make more of an effort to meet people than I am usually comfortable doing.  I have been around enough guys in my 40 years to know I am not the only one who struggles with this.  I only hope that by sharing this one experience with you, it will help you make the effort to get out of your comfort zone, whatever that is.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Devotional Tuesday – Where Everybody Knows Your Name

cheers-tv-show

“Show me your friends and I will show you your future.”

Cheers is one of my all time favorite television shows.  I liked the show more after Diane’s character left but it is also hard to beat the early episodes when “Coach” was still around.  I still remember watching the last couple of episodes with a bunch of my high school friends.  Not all shows go out on top or with good endings but I think the finale to Cheers was perfect.  If you are interested in watching the entire show you can find it streaming on Netflix.

Today’s post comes courtesy of C3 Journey.  Obviously as you read this Jim Crumbly (the author) isn’t so much a fan of the show.  Nor is he much of a fan of television in general.  However, his overall point is accurate: who you call your friends will often times determine your future.  I see it all the time.

I am not sure I totally agree 100% with Jim’s views on Television but then again 80% of my television watching now involves Baby TV, Doc McStuffins or My Little Pony.  I guess that means I am turning into a child?  Anyway, there is a lot of food for thought and I hope you will spend some time thinking about who you are currently surrounding yourself with.  I now turn it over to Jim…

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Jim Rohn

From 1982 to 1993 the TV show Cheers was a top rated sitcom and a cultural phenomenon. The initial storyline held that the bartender, a recovering alcoholic and womanizer, Sam Malone, had the hots for the highly educated and snobby Diane Chambers. The remaining ensemble…an angry waitress with out of control kids, an insecure know it all Postman, a bumbling bartender and the likable “Norm” who was trying to drown out an unhappy marriage and unsatisfied life…rounded out the cast. None of their lives worked but everybody knew their name and somehow, that made it okay.

I remember reading an article “way back” about the influence that TV had over our personal choices. One of the examples that the writer gave was a close friend of hers, with many personality traits similar to the fictional Diane Chambers, had taken it upon herself to find her own “Sam Malone.” The results? Exactly what you would expect. The friend found herself deeply disappointed in her “Sam’s” ability to commit and ended up hurt and alone. (Editor’s Note: Who thinks this is good advice by the way?)

What does this have to do with Rohn’s quote?

If you don’t like how your life works; if you don’t like the state of your marriage…career…health…kids…then take a look at who you are spending time with. Considering that the average American spends over 5 hours per day watching TV  and that most characters from TV shows are dysfunctional, immature and selfish is it no wonder that many of our lives reflect this same dysfunction, immaturity and selfishness?

You are more influenced by TV, Facebook and other distractions than you could imagine. Due to its need to rest, your mind has a finite ability to focus each day. If your focus is on mindless “entertainment” then this focus is who/what you become. Add to this the negative attitudes of people you work with and the end result is life without hope of change.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.  Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

If you struggle with a mindset of negativity and offense then consider that what you fix your thoughts on is simply a reflection of what you have seen and heard. Paul encouraged the Philippians to put into practice what they had heard him say and saw him doing. Seeing and doing begins with hanging.

You can’t easily change where you work but you can change who you spend time with and, more importantly, you can change how you spend the limited time you have for yourself.

  • Hang with God’s through His word….
  • Spend time in worshipful prayer…
  • Invest time in friends who are positive and whose lives work…
  • Turn off the boob tube…

Control who you hang with and regain control over who you are.

Tell us if you agree or not!

Do You Know Your Whiskey? Every Man Should Know These 10

whiskeybarrels

Most of you probably enjoy a few fingers of whiskey from time to time.  If not, it is never too late to start, responsibly of course! Personally, few things are as enjoyable for me as sipping on a nice whiskey while smoking a good cigar.  Doing both of those things doesn’t happen often but when it does I really try to enjoy it and soak up the experience.

There was a time when I was pretty uneducated in the different types of whiskeys and there is a decent chance some of you might be as well so I thought we would discuss it in some detail.  I am sure most of you know that Scotch, is indeed, a whiskey.  You probably also know that bourbon doesn’t have to come from Kentucky to be bourbon (although scotch does need to be made in Scotland to be scotch.)

Once you get past those basics the amount of diversity found in whiskey can be a bit confusing.  If you are like me, you have no doubt pretended to know the difference between rye whiskey and single malt scotch when out with your buddies.

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Here is a quick review of the basics

Scotch
Distilled from a mash of water, yeast, and malted barley and aged in oak barrels for at least three years.  Scotch can be one of two types. It can be a blend of whiskey from different distilleries or it can be made by just one distillery.  If it is made by one distillery it is called “single malt.”  As mentioned above, in order to earn the name scotch, it must be made in Scotland.  If you are looking for a good blend you can try Johnnie Walker Blue.  However, if you have been paying attention then you know single malt is all the rage these days.

Like anything that is “the rage” it tends to drive prices up so be careful what you pick up.  Just because it is expensive doesn’t guarantee quality.  A reasonably priced single malt is the Balvenie Double Wood 12 Year.  You can usually find it for around $50.

Bourbon
Typically made from corn and aged in new oak barrels.  While Kentucky still has the reputation for making some of the best 6a00d8341d4d7c53ef0111683a7f04970c-500wibourbon in the world, there are a ton of small craft distilleries that make excellent bourbon.  I like bourbon because it still is a great value.  I am a huge fan of Makers Mark which you can get for $20 – $30 a bottle.  Blanton’s Bourbon Single Barrel is also good, starting at around $40/bottle.

Rye
Similar to bourbon, except of course that it is made mostly with rye and not corn.  Rye whiskey’s popularity took a dive after the Prohibition Era but in recent years has made a comeback.  I am not a big fan of rye whiskey but I am told that Sazerac makes a good one for about $27.  If you want something a little more serious in the rye category you can check out Woodford Reserve for about $40 per bottle.

Now that we have that covered let’s talk about 10 of the very best whiskeys out there.  Some of the prices aren’t for the faint of heart but I promise you these are all amazing.

Elijah Craig Bourbon.  Every year Heaven Hill releases a special limited edition bottling of this wonderful whiskey.  It is aged 20 years and takes on some amazing and robust flavors. $175

The Macallan 15.  Just last weekend I had the chance to enjoy a few fingers of this amazing single malt scotch.  You will find notes of rich chocolate, with a hint of orange, rose, cinnamon and raisin.  Pair it with a nice cigar and you can’t go wrong.  $110 – $130 per bottle.

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Highland Park 18 Year Old.  Another single malt scotch many people consider this the best in the world (not sure I agree but it is certainly good.) You will find notes of oak (duh!), smoke and sweetness in this whiskey. $120.

Spice Tree.  Some of the snobbier whiskey drinkers turn their noses up to blended scotch.  Don’t be like them.  Compass Box makes a great one that includes notes of spices and vanilla.  $60.

Lagavulin Single Malt 16 Year Old. This classic single malt starts smoky but ends with vanilla and caramel notes with a dry finish. $70.

draper

Redbreast 12 Year Old. We can’t leave off our Irish friends of course!  This is an excellent Irish whiskey that many people consider the only Irish whiskey worth drinking.  You will find strong notes of dark fruit. The finish is long and creamy with custard and spice.  Order online and you can find this between $40 – $50 a bottle.

Four Roses Single Barrel. Yes, yes I know.  Pappy Van Winkle tends to be the single barrel of choice these days.  Avoid the trendy pick and stick with Four Roses. This one also has dark fruit notes with a sweet cocoa, maple and spicy finish. $50.

Lot No. 40 Canadian.  If you can’t leave off Irish whiskey than you certainly can’t forget our neighbors to the north.  This is considered the best Canadian whiskey out there.  I don’t drink enough to say one way or the other on this one.  This is strong rye whiskey that has won many awards. $60

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Yamazaki Single Malt 18 Year Old.  Japanese whiskey is one of the most underrated whiskeys out there.  If you are looking to try something new I highly recommend this.  A few years ago someone gave me a bottle of this for free because they didn’t think it would be any good (they never even tried it!)  Lucky for me.  It combines wonderful flavors of apple and smoke.  This one can be expensive but I have found it for as little as $200 bottle.

Which whiskeys have we left off the list?  Tell us in the comments!

Tell us if you agree or not!

 

 

 

How Can You Tell If Someone Needs Help?

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Earlier this week we discussed the difficulties that men have when it comes to asking for help.  If you read the blog then you know one of the examples we looked at was Junior Seau.  At the time I wrote the post I had yet to pick up my copy of the GQ this month.  I was surprised to find an article about Junior in its pages.  If you are a man there might be a lot of emotions that run through your body as you read it.  Two of the most prominent should be sadness and anger.

I was sad and angry for several reasons.  First, the man died way too young and still had so much to offer people.  Up until the point when he passed away he was an inspiring man.  Someone who had made it out of the slums of San Diego to an ocean front view and a lively foundation to help kids just like him escape poverty.  Second, there were people (especially men) who thought something wasn’t right and suspected something bad might or could happen.  I wouldn’t say they did nothing but at least from the article it certainly sounds like they could have done more.  If you ask your friend if they are okay and they say yes, but you know they are lying why would you just drop it?  Why wouldn’t you follow-up with them?  Organize other friends to intervene and talk openly with him about what is going on.

I would be the first to agree that Junior had to want help.  According to the story he asked for it but it doesn’t seem his friends offered any solutions.  When a person’s life is on the line sometimes we have to be more concerned about their health and safety than fearing we might offend them or lose their friendship.  Maybe they were afraid Junior would stop paying for things when they went out?  Who knows.  Regardless of the reasons more should have been done (again at least based on what was in the magazine.)

“He made terrible business decisions. He abused pills. He drank. He gambled away terrifying sums. It was clear to those who knew him well that he was struggling, but no one foresaw his suicide on the morning of May 2, 2012.” 

A  real friend doesn’t let that other bullshit stand in the way of getting things done and trying to help his friends.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” Proverbs 17:17  A true friend will accept whatever adversity comes his way if it means he is looking out for a friend.  The challenge is trying to decide when a friend needs help, even more as men because we aren’t likely to come out and say “Bro I am really having a hard time and need help.”

I am not a professional when it comes to dealing with issues such as depression, suicidal thoughts and similar afflictions.  Anyone who is dealing with those and similar issues is strongly encouraged to seek professional help.  However, as a caring and compassionate person it is important we try to figure out what are some of the indicators that a person (especially a guy) is in trouble without him telling us.  As a lawyer, lay pastor and friend I have had plenty of opportunities to minister to and give counsel to many men over the course of my life.  While I haven’t seen it all, I have seen a lot.  I can say without a doubt what follows are the key things I have missed, overlooked or caught just in time when men I have cared about were in a bad spot.

1. Withdraws From Life or Activity

“But after retiring as a very wealthy man in 2010—he earned more than $50 million over the course of his long career—he began to behave uncharacteristically.  He withdrew from family and friends.”

It is human nature that we live our life in certain patterns.  Back in high school I used to work at Tom Thumb (which we lovingly called “The Finger”.)  After only a short time working there it was easy to see that my “regulars” always came in and bought the same thing every day.  It got to the point when I would see them pull up and I would have their lottery ticket and pack of smokes ready for them.  They always acted surprised that I knew what they would be purchasing, as if they had no idea they had bought the same thing every day for the last 6 months.  The truth is we often don’t realize the patterns we create in our daily lives.  It is done subconsciously because despite a desire for spontaneity we also find comfort in doing the same thing, the same way day in and day out.

Perhaps one of the most, if not THE most obvious signs that a guy is struggling with something in his life is when he withdraws from his normal patterns in life.  If he regularly attends church (other examples, softball, bowling, poker night or golfing) and then suddenly he hasn’t shown up in two or three weeks in a row something is almost guaranteed to not be right.  It might not be as serious as depression or suicide but it is a safe bet something is has gone haywire in his life.

We as men withdraw because we don’t want other men to know we are struggling and sure as hell don’t want to let them think we have a weakness or aren’t perfect.  Also, we have the idea in our heads if we show up to softball every guy is going to just figure out what happened or where we screwed up and then we have to add being embarrassed to the list.

One of my mentors as a young man was Joe Warfield who we loving referred to as “Pops.”  Sadly he passed away a few years ago after losing a long time battle with cancer.  Pops used to always refer to this as “going off into the weeds” and it is an abt description.  The idea being once a man gets too far into the weeds you can’t see him anymore as the weeds completely hide him.  I have seen it happen so many times and I am telling you the first sign is ALWAYS a withdrawal from normal activities but especially withdrawing from doing things with his guys friends.  This is why it is essential a man has guy friends he can hang out with.  Guys will hold other guys accountable in a way that women just can’t.

2. Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse – Other Addictive Behaviors

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying some beer or having a scotch and cigar.  Nor is there much harm in heading to the track to bet on the ponies.  That isn’t what I am trying to say.  However, many people (not just men) try to use alcohol, drugs and other addictive behavior (i.e. gambling) as a way to escape the pressure they feel in their heads.  Men chase that high from  those activities as a brief and enjoyable break from the stress, depression or other problems plaguing us.  However, most of the times those very things that give us a “break” come back and haunt us making our complicated situation now untenable and usually with few alternatives for a way out.

“We landed in Vegas one time and immediately, within hours, he won 800-something thousand dollars.  I said, “Let’s go home, surf, chill, pay some bills.” But after dinner a whale-watcher [a casino handler charged with roping in big-money gamblers] comes up to the room. Not even two hours later, he comes back up and hits the table with a glass and starts cussing.  He had lost it all. He’s lying on his bed looking at the ceiling, and I go, “Buddy, you gotta stop this, man.” He goes, “We got this. We’ll get ’em tomorrow.” The next morning the whale-watchers show up. June got another half-million dollars, and he goes back down and loses the whole thing.”

You don’t need to blow that kind of money that quickly for your friends to be concerned.  Clearly this is an unlikely situation for most anyone who reads this blog.  It just illustrates not only a potential addiction problem but also that your friend has quit caring what happens to him (i.e. his money.)  I doubt you have many friends that make the kind of cheddar where they can walk away from dropping $1000 (or whatever amount) and NOT care.  Which leads into our third point.

3. Careless or Reckless Behaviorjunior-seau-gq-magazine-september-2013-sports-05

Granted drug and alcohol abuse could fit into this section but there are other signs your friend might be in trouble even without the drug and alcohol abuse or gambling.  I am not talking about a friend suddenly deciding he wants to go skydiving when he has never done so in the past.  Unless of course he wants to go alone and without a parachute.  That should probably tell you something is not quite kosher.

Several months before he ultimately killed himself Seau drove off a seaside cliff and somehow managed to survive the crash.  He claimed he fell asleep at the wheel and drove off by accident but to do so without cranking the wheel intentionally is just not possible at that part on the highway.

I have had several friends who, when struggling with depression and other things have behaved in extremely careless ways.  One friend in particular purposely would drive recklessly just hoping he would get into an accident whereby he would be killed.  He purposely didn’t wear a seatbelt while doing so and often had been drinking too much.  How he never died in a crash and rarely even managed to get into an accident is a miracle (and I don’t use that phrase lightly.)  Another friend started picking fights with the wrong kind of guys when we would be out somewhere.  Eventually one night while out alone he finally picked the right guy and almost had his head caved in.  He was in a coma for two days, broke an arm, a few ribs and a lot of brain cells.  When his friends (including me) found out we got him help – once he finally was released from the hospital.  He didn’t like it and cursed us out like a sailor for forcing him to get help but it was the right call.  He managed to pull his life together, got married and even has a few kids and has stayed on the straight and narrow ever since.  Fortunately, both of those stories have a happy ending but many more do not.

4. Sometimes You Just Know

Sometimes you just know that something isn’t right.  You might not be able to point at any particular set of circumstances or activity but there is just something in your gut that tells a person their friend is in some kind of trouble.  Don’t ignore that feeling.  If you have it, it likely means you are on to something, especially if that feeling doesn’t go away.

So if you have that feeling what should you do?  First, be sure you are taking time to really observe your friend’s behavior.  I don’t mean stalking them I simply mean try to be more observant about the things they say and what they do when you hang out.  If they are the kind of person who returns calls or texts, are they doing that?  Or have they stopped?  Or has it been infrequent with no real reason for the delays.  Second, you have to discuss your concern with them and don’t simply take “everything is fine” for an answer right away.  Finally, I know I mentioned it before but you can’t be afraid to upset your friend with your concern.  If you have to be a jack ass and really force them to open up to you about their life than do that.  True friendships with deep roots can survive any storm and getting in a friends face about their behavior is the kind of thing that a friend is supposed to do.

We are our brother’s keeper and it is important we take that role seriously.  Everyone needs a hand up at some point in their life even if they never realize it.

Here is hoping you have a great weekend!  Until Monday make it a better day!

Andrew

Leave A Legacy

“The things you do for yourself are gone when you are gone,

but the things you do for others remains as your legacy”

– Kalu Kalu

There is no greater accomplishment for men than to leave a positive impression on younger generations after our time on this earth has ended.  The definition of legacy is: something handed down from an ancestor, predecessor or someone in the past.  I have had a number of guy friends who have recently become fathers and even more current fathers who will soon be new fathers all over again.  It got me thinking again about the importance of family and leaving a positive example for your kids and your grandkids to not only follow but to improve upon.

I actually started to write a blog related to that topic and then realized it was sounding an awful lot like one I wrote back in July for a different blog.  For the few of you who have already read what follows I do apologize but I think it is a pretty good piece and I have a bunch of new followers that perhaps haven’t seen it.  I promise something fresh for tomorrow and Wednesday!

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A few weekends ago Sharlay and I were in upstate New York attending the funeral for her cousin Tyrone Fields who passed away at the way too early age of 48. Tyrone had been diagnosed with cancer and despite receiving treatments it kept coming back. Eventually there was just nothing more the doctors could do. I know everyone (including my wife and I) were hoping for a miraculous healing. Unfortunately, despite a ton of prayers, that never transpired.

To say I didn’t know Tyrone well is to say I didn’t know him at all. The first and only time I met him was about four weeks before he passed away. He was in good spirits and it was clear even from the short time we were there how much he loved his cousin Sharlay. It was truly an honor to meet Tyrone in-spite of the circumstances and it is a day I will never forget.

 At the time of his passing, Tyrone was a minister in training at Friendship Baptist Church in Liberty, NY under the mentoring of Pastor Harry Brown, Jr. From all accounts Tyrone loved serving God and was passionate about seeing the lost come back to Christ.

 This had not always been the case and from what Sharlay and the family have shared, Tyrone made a lot of poor decisions when he was younger. The details of those decisions I am not privy to nor are they important. The bottom line is we all make mistakes, many of those we end up regretting and some have significant consequences to us and to others. It is how we learn and grow from them that define us.

 Tyrone did not let his past decisions determine his future. Tyrone eventually found his way back to God and turned away from the things he had engaged in as a young man. Regardless of how you might feel about God, Jesus or Christianity, there is no doubt that God touched Tyrone’s life in a very meaningful way. Tyrone became resolute to leave a positive legacy for his many children (and especially his sons) and the rest of his family and friends. He had an unwavering commitment to bring the Gospel to the same men he used to run with. He was determined to turn young men, who were following the same path he followed, away from that lifestyle. He purposed in his life to live for the God he served and to let everyone around him know the power of God and His ability to change any life from bad to good. He didn’t hide from his past but rather used it to his advantage to reach men who might normally be out of reach.

 His funeral was truly a celebration of his life and all the positive things he accomplished. Everyone loved Tyrone. My wife claimed it was the most fun she ever had at a funeral. It was hard to argue the point. As hard as Tyrone might have lived as a young man, he loved his family, friends and God even harder. That was something that was clearly evident at his funeral. People spoke about how he had personally changed their lives for the better. Whether it was helping them find a job, get into school or simply encouraging them through difficult times, Tyrone was a powerfully positive force in people’s lives. What an amazing legacy to leave behind. His legacy is a shining city on a hill and a torch to light the way for future generations of his family.

Tyrone left an enduring legacy. His life is a testimony to the power of God and the ability of anyone to turn their life around. It will be important that his family carries on his legacy so that Tyrone’s efforts are not in vain.

 We can never be certain how long we have on this earth to impart such a legacy. Tyrone only had 48 years. Thankfully he turned his life around before he ran out of time. The resonating effects of that decision were powerfully evident at his funeral.

I can only hope that when I die I have left a legacy that will be celebrated like Tyrone’s was. It certainly gave me pause to reflect on my own life and the legacy I have created in my 37 years on this earth. I hope that this blog might also make you stop and bildeconsider your own.

 This blog is dedicated to the memory of, Gary Tyrone Fields (B. June 1965 D. June 2013) a man after God’s own heart.

Until tomorrow, make it a better day!

Andrew