Blind Spots

We all have blind spots.  I certainly have mine.  Sometimes when I recognize them I feel like an idiot.  Perhaps it’s humbling to recognize my liabilities and limitations.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  I guess.  Just sayin…


It Was The Heat of the Moment~

I don’t know how it is in your neck of the woods.  But here in the Midwest it’s hot as all get out.

I did a double-header baseball game on Sunday for instance.  The first game started at 10am.  I was the home plate umpire for the first game and it was blazing then.  By the time we did the second game, as I patrolled the bases at each half inning I either drank or poured water on my head and body.  I soaked my cap in cold water and within a half hour it was dry. 

Before the game was over my partner who was behind the plate passed out from the heat and had to be rushed to the hospital by an ambulance.  Before the medics arrived he had a puluse but was totally unconcious.  His doctor told him he was very close to having a heat stroke.  I saw him hydrate a lot too though not quite as radically as I was. 

Though I did not pass out myself, I did feel weak and nauseous a couple times.  There were also players who told me later that they too felt sickness at some points of the game.

I say that to encourage you all to be careful in this heat.  Wear the proper clothing and keep yourself hydrated.  Pay attention to signs of heat exaustion or worse.  If you know of any loved ones who don’t have air conditioning, check on them and better yet invite them over for some air time relief.

And my GOD please parents don’t leave your kids and pets in the car while you run in the store or wherever to take care of your business.  This same tragedy happens every year where kids die while abandoned in their parent’s or someone else’s vehicle and it just doesn’t make any sense for it to continue!

Be smart people and don’t sleep on the heat.  It can overtake you quickly.

Scary Stuff!

Men who have abused women reveal to Oprah Winfrey why they did it.

This article is a real eye opener for me.  I have never been a fan of men who are abusive to their women in relationships.  Most every woman who is a family member or friend of mine has been physically abused by at least one man, more often more than one.   A friend of mine recently told me recently of a guy who has been getting beat by his wife regularly for years. 

Both physical and very/emotional abuse are damaging.  To hear these men open up and explain their angry reactions in jealous fits of control gone wild is chilling.  Some describe how they can’t communicate effectively while even another talks about all but blacking out when he becomes abusive.  As hurtful is it is to read, I am glad they are talking at least.  This is definitely something that needs to be talked about but it rarely is seriously and openly.  Like race it’s a social ta-bu. 

And just think, in Afghanistan they created a law to allow their men to rape their wives.

A Mother’s Work and Wisdom Pays Off


 The Real Hustle and Flow Serve

Mom and her late husband George moved into a cozy apartment complex in Inglewood, California in the late 80’s.  Like most complexes in the area, it’s gated with secured underground garages.  With her keen eye for decore and artistic woman’s touch, I’m sure its the nicest apartment in the building.  The moving in price for this little hacienda?  $750 per month. 

For years the rent remained the same.  Mom and George knew the owners – a couple who owns several properties and a couple charter schools.  George, who was a CPA did their taxes so there was a working relationship between the two parties.

There is another reason my mom became a favored tenant.  She cleans not just her own apartment military style, she also polices the building for trash and debris.  She sweeps from street corner to street corner, and takes a water hose to the building a couple times a week.  It’s just how she is.  She enjoys a clean environment and it’s good exercise she told me.

Obviously being in one place for 20 years, there has been some change with the other tenants.  Some of the newer neighbors don’t value cleanliness and mom caught one lady dumping trash on the property.  That led to this exchange:

Mom:  Are you going to pick that up? 

Neighbor lady:  And who are you? 

Mom: “Uhh, I’m your neighbor.” 

Since that incident, mom has run into this person several times but the lady avoids eye or any other contact with mom and refuses to speak.

George passed a couple years ago.  And because the rent remained the same mom was able to manipulate some figures and survive on her income alone.  But a couple months ago the notice came that the rent was indeed finally increasing by $190.  Shocked, stunned and fearful mom went to the office to talk about the rent.  It seems that an advisor told the owners that they should be charging a lot more for the property in terms of the area and the value.  I would agree that the two bed room two bath place is worth more than $750 a month.  Still that was only logistics.  An increase that drastic would really strain mom’s finances.  She needed an edge.  Something to ease this potential monkey of her back.  While sitting before the owner’s wife, she thought about the services she was already providing in and around the building for over 20 years, thought quickly and blurted out, “You need a building manager?”  She pointed out that she has been doing the work of one anyway without benefit, and would probably do the same even if the rent increase still went into effect.  Perhaps she could continue to service the area for the difference in exchange for keeping the rent the same.  After consultation, they decided it was a go.  Mom could do what she was already doing and keep her rent cost down.  The owners would continue to have a person who looks after the place, an already loyal tennant who is heavily invested in the community.  A true win win.  Mom truly demonstrated the virtues of servant-hood and her giving efforts paid off financially for her in the long run.

Her last words on the subject?  “Next time I run into that littering neighbor and she ask who I am, I’ll look her straight in the face and say, ‘I’m the manager bitch!”

That’s my mom, a true treasure!

Encouragement, And Words that add Life

Proverbs 12:25

  Worry weighs a person down;
  an encouraging word cheers a person up.

My regular readers may remember when I officiated some basketball games and had this inward moral conflict going on inside me as to whether to take this extra money the tournament director tried to pay me.  I decided to give the money back but he let me keep it.  Read here if you didn’t see it.

Anyway that school had a tournament again this past weekend and I made my first return there since then.  I saw that same director who greeted me with a smile and said, “Man I am sure glad to see you.!”  I said, “Why do you say that?”  He said, “Because you are an excellent official, and a great person.”  Later on he joked with me about not wanting to take his money, and we had a laugh about it.  Needless to say he didn’t forget that incident and it made an impression on him.

I bring this up not to pay myself on the back.  Just last Thursday a parent greeted me on the floor after a championship game of 6th graders ended in an exciting buzzer beating finish.  I thought it was his kid that hit the shot and as he walked towards me with a half cocked grin,  I stopped, held out my hand to shake his and asked, “Was that your kid who hit the shot?”  He said, “No…  and you suck!”  There are times I literally leave a gym depressed and weighed down after having every single thing I call or don’t call loudly second guessed and throughout the course of a game been called everything BUT a child of God.  Sure some parents and coaches really know the game and some don’t know Sugar Honey Ice Tea!

The point of this post is just to say that Saturday I was really having a challenging day from an emotional perspective.  No matter what I try to be a top notch professional and have a positive attitude with the students I ref.  But I thought it would be a long day mentally and a part of me wanted to be someplace else.

Hearing the tournament director’s encouraging words really did a service to my spirit however.  For one I know that he is hard on officials.   I have read his emails to others criticizing officials who are lazy or those who may seem incompetent.  Bad officiating is bad for business as teams don’t want to pay to get in tournament if the refs are horrible.  Win or lose, coaches and parents will talk about who they think called a consistent game.  So I have a pretty decent reputation for handling myself a certain way.  That aside the fact that a guy took the time to say something good and meaningful to me pushed me to the point where I was able to manage the thing that was bothering me and really step my game up even more.

The world is really hurting out there.  And flowers are often needed when one is living, not at the funeral.  If you have something good to say about someone out there – something that you really mean from your heart that will add life, by all means say it.  You never know the effect it can have.  And you never know what someone is going through at the time you say it.


Good Reading/Listening

There are times when I have conversations with my sons about life, or certain mysteries or share wisdom from observations I’ve gathered over my years.  I communicate in a way that they can understand and relate it back to their journey so that they can have a reference and a light towards the path they will chose.  There are times when after listening to me explain a thing to them they say something like, “Wow daddy.  I know what your talking about and I have always thought of it or wondered it but couldn’t explain it.  You hit it on the head.  Now it makes sense to me.”  It is at those times when I know my sons really look up to me for having a certain amount of wisdom.  They find me totally relatable and relevant, even necessary. 

This is the exact same feeling I get when I listen to the words of Sidney Poitier.  In his first book, “The Measure of a Man,” he talked about not only his life which is fascinating to say the least, but also his beliefs and how he’s come to realize the mysteries, the pleasures, the heartaches, the lessons of life.  This is a truly wise man who has a lot to share.

This sharing continues with his second book,  “Life Beyond Measure, Letters To My Great-Granddaughter.”  In it he writes a series of letters to his great-granddaughter telling the story of his life and the lessons he’s learned – indeed the lessons he is still learning and those questions he may never be able to answer.

This book is not about his movies nor his career though he mentioned it very briefly at times in some form or context.  Instead, Poitier takes a critical look at his life and honestly shares the greatest faults, pains, failures, triumphs and treasures from a man who couldn’t read when he came to America from Cat Island, Bahamas.  In a kaleidoscope of subject matters such as family, faith, traditions, fear, doubt, desperation, god, addictions, science, technology etc.,  Poitier deeply examines the issues of life and does not tell his great-granddaughter what to do, but instead gives her a window to forsee what her journey may be like – and gives her the freedom to decide for herself how she will view each of these subject matters.

I don’t want to say too much about this book.  It’s difficult to put my words together in a way to give justice to what I am receiving in my spirit as I listed to every word.  I will say that I am truly enriched and there has been an illumination on things deep in my soul that were hidden, or dismissed because I couldn’t dig them all out by myself.  Now I am able to at least tap upon a little.  Additionally,  my own level of sense of honor and integrity have increased since I started the book.  There are already things I do differently, certain standards I don’t allow myself to accept, little foxes if you will that I am weeding out – things that only I know about.  What a role model.  I am so thankful that he shared with all of us what he’s shared with his family. 

I suggest this book as well as his first to anyone on the learning path. 

As much as I love to read the words on the printed page, hearing Poitier speak in his own words, with his majestic teaching voice full of compassion and adventure gives the experience that much more.