My Dad’s Super Cool Military Photo

My Dad’s Super Cool Military Photo

My Dad celebrated his 83rd birthday this week. He showed me some of his old military photos. He was stationed in Germany, fighting the Cold War in 1953-1954. Look at this cool photo. I couldn’t help but share:

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Who are all those people? From left to right:

3 Star general McAuliffe, Commanding General 7th Army Germany

John Sleyak, Under Secretary of Army

Corporal Charles R. Sasse, “Dad,” 4th m.p. Company 4th infantry division

4 Star General William M. Hoge, Allied Commander in Chief of the United States Army Europe

My Dad thinks this was a photo taken for Stars and Stripes and later given to him by the publication. If you zoom in, you can see “Sasse” on his jacket.

Last weekend when I was at the PNC Park enjoying the Pirates game, my dad called after he discovered that 61 years ago that day, on July 4, 1954, he was on the Rhine River in Germany taking in the sights and sounds of the Rhine River Valley. Just weeks ago, I got to do the same thing with my family. It was awesome to see a little of what my Dad experienced in Germany back in the 50s.

(I have another really amazing photo of my Dad holding a bazooka, of which he never fired. I’ll save it for another day.)

 

“These Celebrities Changed our Lives Forever.” Really?

A week or two ago I saw this headline: These Celebrities Changed our Lives Forever.

Really?

If that’s true, shame on us. But please let this be hyperbole.

I glanced through the “A” list of Hollywood big shots who wouldn’t have even made the “C” list of people who have changed my life forever.

Media has the biggest ego of them all. It’s as if they exist for the people can be happy. It’s as if they speak and we, in a collective gasp, can awaken from our effortless slumber to once again feel alive again.

Well here’s the shocking truth about celebrity: they, those A-listers, need us. We don’t need them.

Some of the masses might act as if their life means nothing unless they are sitting in front of the TV or reading the latest gossip blog, but everyone knows the secret – celebrity is a hollow shell, propped up by an endless cycle of ads and media conventions which tell us all how terrible our lives our. If only we could own the car that celebrity A has! If only we could live in the house that celebrity B has. If only we could have the problems of celebrity C.

So let’s be very clear here. Some celebrities may have moved us, but they haven’t changed us. Some actors are remarkably talented, and they have the means to, for an hour or two, delve deep into our hearts and make us think about the larger issues of humanity. But they don’t change us. Two dimensional celebrity figures do not have the power to change us.

But three-dimensional humans do have the capacity to change others.

My wife changed me.

The birth of each of my kids changed me.

My parents changed me.

My pastor changed me.

My friends have changed me.

These are the true celebrities in our lives, not worthy of worship, but worthy of a hearty “thanks” for what they have done for us. How they have molded us, moved us, and forced us to challenge everything we know about ourselves.

So, sorry Hollywood promotion blah-blah blog, I won’t fall for your trap. But I will turn off the TV and spend some more time with the people in my life.

Here’s hoping others follow suit.

A Post for my Daughter

My second daughter turns eighteen today. What are all the realizations that a parent has when this happens? Disbelief? Where did the years go? How did I get so old? How could my little pumpkin suddenly be an adult? All of these realizations and much more are what I’m dealing with tonight – mixed with a few tears – knowing that in a few short months she’ll be off to college and no longer living at home with us. (Okay, I’m tearing up a little bit right now as I write this. I’m that way. I’m a sentimental kind of guy, and it’s how I try to write my stories too.)

I remember in the late 90s we were in the house of some friends who had, at that time, three teens. We had two children at the time age 5 and a new born. I still remember what my friends said that night – time goes so fast – the teenage years are the best – but they are gone in a second – enjoy every moment. At that point, some days I couldn’t wait for the teen years to arrive fast enough.

Well, they did, and now that newborn is 18 and ready to see what the world has to offer. I’m not sure that I’m ready to see what the world has to offer without her at home, but that’s the lot of a parent – love, prepare, teach, learn, and kiss them goodbye.

It’s been so fun having her int he same school where I teach. What a privilege, actually. She has all the same interests as myself. She played on the softball team for four years. The team that I coach. She loves theatre, and has been part of my drama group – The RLT Players – all four years of its existence. She auditioned and got one of the lead roles in the musical I’m producing this semester. She’s a talented actress who has grown SO much over these past four years.

I’m so proud of her. So on this 18th birthday of hers, I’m happy to wish her all the best and all my love as she gets ready to experience all world has to offer.

Gracie, this post is for you! I love you.

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The Struggle of Living in the Moment

Deadlines. Vacation plans. Plane tickets. Meetings. Schedules. Events.

We all have a life list which looks something like that.

An indie author might have another list that looks like this:

Final revision, send to editor, pitch writing, release date, text formatting, contact Beta readers, etc …

I am constantly striving for something; I always have several dates in mind and a variety of projects which need to fit into my self-imposed indie world.

With so much going on between work and writing and family and summer plans, the NOW can easily get overlooked, and that’s a shame. Perhaps I’m the worst offender at this. Here I am at the moment writing a blog post about living in the moment but is my typing actually negating my words?

I remember a professor of mine being ask once if he was looking forward to some up and coming event in the future. I can’t remember the nature of the specifics, but I do very clearly remember what his reply was. “No, I don’t want to wish my life away.”

I have thought of that often all of these years. How many times have you heard, “Oh, it’s only Monday”, “I can’t wait for the weekend”, “summer can’t come fast enough”.

There is nothing inherently wrong with looking forward to or planning for future events. It’s a important and necessary part of modern life.

But if we are constantly looking into the future, perhaps we are missing the important items right in front of our nose.

I need to take my own advice sometimes and unplug. Do something fun with the family. Do something out of the ordinary. Talk to the neighbors. Enjoy the sunshine.

I’m fortunate enough to live just a stone’s throw away from the ocean. Sometimes I need to go sit and just ponder the ocean because someday I won’t be living here. I need to enjoy it while I can.

No matter where you live, you most likely have an ‘ocean’ in your life which one day won’t be there. How can you enjoy it today? How can we all succeed in living in the moment?