A Life Well-Lived

What’s brewing?

Well…this week my family and I lost the strongest woman I’ve ever known. She was an amazing lady. She was one person that you just thought would keep right on trucking through life.

My Granny.

However, she passed on this past Friday and we laid her to rest today. I wrote this eulogy for her. I thought I’d share it here with you all. She meant a lot to me and to my family. And this may show you what kind of lady she was.

How do you highlight any one or even just a few things about a life that has been lived this well? I could talk for days on the memories that this wonderful lady has given me. As I know you could too. I mean it’s really hard to point out stuff when she has touched so many lives in so many ways. I think we can all agree she did it so naturally. It was one thing I admired most about her.

To a couple she was momma, to some she was Granny, others knew her as Josephine, and still some others knew her simply as Jo. And that Arby’s cashier on Beachfront drive in Panama City also knew her…well…she knew that Granny wanted her food and should have had it well before she got it.

But no matter how you knew her, you knew she was special.

I have been lucky enough to know her my entire life. She’s my Granny. And she’s special.

You see what made Granny so likeable is that she believed in what she believed in. She believed her coffee should always be hot, that good credit was better than money, that a car with 100000 miles was no longer any good, and that when the stripe ran in January there was no better time to fish. Just throw on those camouflage overalls, get a stringer and a fishing pole. No better bait to use than a little green jig on weighted hook. She always told you like it was and you knew where she stood. If not, just ask her again because she didn’t mind telling you.

However, don’t tell her she can’t do something because, not only will she do it, she’ll probably do it better than you. I’ve seen this lady slide down a 100′ slide because some thought she was too old. She knew how to fish and fish well. She knew how hunt too. She’s climbed into tree stands that I’ve thought were pretty sketchy looking. She could shoot any deer rifle you put in her hands. Just ask her. Well, except for that 30 off 6 she had. She once unloaded that weapon trying to get a nice buck. Shots were firing off in all directions, the deer didn’t know what to do. It stood there until she was done and then just walked away. As mad as she was for not getting that deer, I bet she was laughing at herself and wondering what John was going to say about it.

She loved nature! She loved to fish, and hunt more than any grandmother I’ve ever known. She just loved to be outdoors all the time. I know that we grandkids, took a many a walk through her fields finding arrowheads and Indian money and learning the difference between a white oak tree and a maple tree. I still don’t know much about the trees, but I really loved those arrowheads. But most importantly those moments.

She had such a way of showing love. Sometimes it was hard love. Get up and suck it up. But most of the time it was soft, caring, with warm hugs. It was easy to feel comfortable with her around. She was a “let the kids, be kids” kind of grandparent. But straighten you up when you got out of line. Just like with her fishing, she knew just the right amount of slack to give you. But she also knew when to set the hook! And believe me, there was no greater fear than the words, “straighten up or you’re about to go get me a switch off the tree to whoop your butt with!” That big weeping willow in her front yard. Man…me and that tree. If I wasn’t getting a switch from it, I was running my big wheel into it.

Now I don’t ever remember having to get a switch, but it was one heck of a threat.

I know that for now there will be an emptiness where my Granny has been. There won’t ever be another like her in my life. However, I believe the void can be helped with something my youngest son Easton told us the other day when we were trying to explain this all to him.

After crying for a bit, he said “she’s not going anywhere. She will still be here. She’s still in our hearts and her spirit will always be with us.”

You see those things that Granny taught us: love, family, strong-will, the outdoors, fishing, hunting, arrowheads, and yes even the difference in the trees. Those are the things that made her who she was. I was taught those things not only by her, but by my mom. And I’ve taught those very things to my children. And because of that, Easton is absolutely right. She will always be here. Her spirit will always be around because of me and you passing along those wonderful things that made her who she was. She survives through us and through them!

Thank you, Granny. I love you!

Have a great cup of coffee today…or two!!


Keepin’ it Fun!!

What’s Brewing?! 

I know this is a tough subject and I will probably get some criticism. I guess it’s good that I have such a small readership…haha.

My youngest daughter is in her second year of basketball and lovin’ it. She’s pretty good for her age (8). And the league she is in is very well organized and established. They are still young, but they have gone through their rough patches and have done a good job fixing and filling gaps. I know this because I coached in this league with my oldest daughter when she was the age my youngest daughter is now (7-9). I am familiar with how the league is run and who is running it. They are a very smart, kind, and kid-focused group of people.  

With that being said, there is still a flaw in the league. And I’m not sure how or even if it can be fixed. The flaw is not league wide. It doesn’t happen in every location and in every game.  

However, it is a sensitive topic to the league and myself. And it can be addressed behind closed doors.  


Now I am not knocking referees by any means…well…okay, I am knocking a few. But I believe it’s a good argument. I umpired for 11 years TSSAA middle school and high school baseball and softball. I knew that my job was to keep safety first, maintain sportsmanship, and keep the game fair for both teams within the rules that govern the sport. My job was not to see one player dominating a game and take him/her out because of it.

For those of you that know me, know that I am not win, win coach when it comes to kids. It’s a learning process. The success of my players is not judged by winning a single game. It is judged by a season long battle with fundamentals, work, and trying the hard things over and over to make them easier. This will eventually lead into winning. <— This is a whole different post that I’ll brew up a different time.

I am going to try and quickly give you a scenario of why I am writing this. It’s similar to other happenings in the past and across leagues.

Scene: Saturday morning. 7-9 Girls Basketball  

Team A and Team B are battling in a close well fought match. Team A has a pretty aggressive player. I’ll call her PAP. She is ball hungry. She usually knows where the ball and is a key player offensively and defensively. She doesn’t shoot well nor dribbles well. But she is usually where the action is happening mostly because she is causing it and this is happening the whole game.  

Now the first half and half of the second half of this game went just like any other game. Girls walking with the ball, 9,000 shots taken and few going in, and the refs letting the girls play at their pace. When the girls walked too far they called it. A step or two, or three they let be. They called shooting fouls only when the shooter was clearly fouled by the defender. No reach in calls unless they totally blocked the ball carrier and body contact was made. This is the typical way 7-9 girls’ games are called in the league and I am 100% for it. If a referee called every single thing that could be called, then there would be no point in playing. Most of these girls are first year players and are learning all the basics.  

Again, this is how the game was called until around the 10th minute of the second half. At this point, the game was close 2pt difference at the most. Both teams were sensing the end of the game and ramped up the pace. Now, PAP only had 1 foul up to this time.  

Where things got finicky was about the 3:30 mark. PAP is no longer allowed to play. She fouled out. Fouled out! In the course of 6 to 7 minutes she accumulated 4 fouls (4 times more fouls than she had in the first 30 minutes of the game). Were they fouls, probably. However, nothing unlike what was happening the whole game. Heck, all 11 players on the court and benches could have easily fouled out in the first half if we were calling everything.  

Now to me, this one referee (there were two, but only one is in question) took control of the game and forced a 9-year-old girl to sit down. Literally! PAP you are not allowed to play anymore.  

I umpired for 11 years TSSAA. I knew that my job was to keep safety first, maintain sportsmanship, and keep the game fair for both teams within the rules that govern the sport. My job is not to see one player dominating a game and take him/her out because of it. And to me, this referee did that. And did that to a 9-year-old.  

When spoken to about this, the league is somewhat apologetic, but mostly defensive of their refs. And I totally understand that. And I also understand how awesome it is to sacrifice your time for children in the league and how hard it is to find those that are willing to do that. So, I am not saying this ref should never be used again. Maybe just remind the ref why he is there.  

But the players were put aside in this game. The referee controlled the outcome. Not necessarily in the score column, but in the mind of that 9-year-old. She did nothing any different in the second half than in the first half, yet she was penalized. Hopefully, she will continue to play the way she has been playing. 

And hopefully the league will have a meeting to remind those helping just what it is they are there for. Which is to keep safety first, maintain sportsmanship, and keep things fair. But most of all, at this age especially, keep it fun and let them play! 

Thanks for reading.  

Have a great cup of coffee today…or two!

Reflection, Baseball, and Goals


Ahhhh mid-February. Snow and snow days, love and chocolate, baseball (softball) signups and Major League Spring Training! I absolutely love this time of year. Being a former English teacher and now a construction business owner, I am as glued to the weather report as any kid in school hoping to get a small breather from the classroom or the jobsite (actually now I don’t like days off as much). As a married man, Valentine’s Day is a chance to rekindle the flame that the long, cold holidays may have blown out. And as a long-time baseball player and fan, it’s time for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training.
This is when I get happy.
Although the ground may be covered in a white blanket of snow (or a soggy mess from rain), I can smell the fresh cut grass of a well-kept ball field, and feel the warm breeze carrying the dirt that’s been kicked up by a Pete Rose-like head first dive into third base. I can hardly contain the urge to go out and buy a pouch of chewing tobacco. A habit I have only from now through May. And to keep the feeling alive through the bad weather, I have Bull Durham streaming constantly throughout the month. Yes, being a catcher myself, I do wish I could’ve been Crash Davis. He might actually be on my list of all-time greats that I’ve ever watched play the position. I know what you’re thinking: “He never played in the pros?” Well, my answer to you is yes he did. He clearly states that “it was the greatest 21 days of his life.”


I’m just playing. He obviously is a character in a movie and not the player Johnny Bench was, or Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, and Roy Campanella. That is not a list of my top five…well at least not in that order…sort of.
For some reason in my excitement of the new season coming, I find myself reflecting. This year more than any other, I feel the need to look closely at who I am, what I have done over the last year and what can I do to better myself as a father, husband, teacher, business owner, and overall person. Just like all the teams in the game have a chance to start over every year, I feel I should be able to reset the win/loss column too.
I recently read an excerpt from a book, “Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind,” about learning through reflection. Although this is a book on education, it can easily be used in life. It states that, “reflecting on experiences encourages insight and complex learning.” Through reflecting we can apply what we learned from prior experiences to things we have yet to do and possibly avoid making the same mistakes over again. We must “mentally wander through where we have been and to try to make some sense out of it.” Find positives that happened in the past year and build on their enjoyment. Don’t focus on the negatives unless you can learn from them and better yourself. Set goals that can be accomplished quickly and build on those accomplishments to help succeed in longer term goals.
Through my reflecting, I created a list of goals this year for the first time. It’s not because I have nothing to do on my rain outs. Believe me, as a business owner I have more than enough. It’s because I know that, though it’s gloomy outside, spring is right around the corner. And not because the yankee groundhog said it was (I know he saw his shadow. But that’s only been 39% correct…look it up), but because baseball is close. Youth baseball/softball signups are going on all over right now. In another couple weeks they will be practicing and the pros will be playing games, and hot dogs and cracker jacks will be wanted like never before. All the teams will be equal until the first pitch is thrown. Just like through reflecting my record is 0-0, and I am setting my line up and putting my best pitcher on the mound. Who knows, maybe by the all-star break I will have knocked out some non-believers and accomplished some of those goals.


Meaning and Purpose = Achievement

It’s a new year! Everyone has their resolutions set and in full swing. I have a few myself. Some of them are the usual for everyone such as eating better, be more active (working out, get back in shape), be more organized, etc.
If I am honest, I really have a huge list. A result of putting off and procrastinating. I hope to implement them throughout the year. A couple of those include reading more (with a purpose and meaning), write more (with a purpose and meaning), and reflect more (with a purpose and meaning).
Of course the key is to do all these things with a purpose and meaning. Without a purpose, what’s the point. Without meaning, it will not ever be personal and therefore easier for me to procrastinate over it. And I have found that if I procrastinate over things, then they will start bogging down all my other daily routines and I will never get going on anything unless I take care of the others first.
The old “don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what can be done today” kind of thing.
Everything rests on this one thing. If I just do what I need and want to do right then, then everything else on the list will get done.
I put that into practice a while back when we were moving into a new house. There was a lot of work and even when we moved in, there was still a lot of work. I made everything a priority. It was very important that we moved in when we had planned to move in. And in order for that to happen, I had to prioritize everyday and stick to it. I gave everything a purpose. And because of that, I was able to get things done.
Giving it a purpose makes it a priority.
Don’t just work out to look good. Work out because you are in a battle with age and you need to counter the process. Don’t just eat better to lose weight. Eat better to counter diabetes and other health issues that are caused by unhealthy eating. Looking and feeling better need to be the bonus not the reason.
I know I’ll stick to most of my resolutions this year because they have a purpose and meaning in my life already. Writing this morning with my first (second and third) cup of coffee is a priority and it’s working.
Here’s to a year of opportunity, good surprises, and lots of love…because it’s a priority.
But first…more coffee.

random things

As I sit here past my bedtime, I can’t help but feel satisfied with some of my decisions lately. I resigned from teaching to help my father with his business and things are going pretty good there. Although I miss the classroom dearly, I am making better money and have more time to my family. Can’t ask for much more than that. 

I was really scared about this decision because I would be giving up money that would be in the bank every 20th day of the each month (though not very much money. But I didn’t get into teaching for the money). With my father’s business comes uncertainty. It’s dependent on weather, and a good building economy. Which, besides the afternoon showers and the humidity, has not been too bad. I’ve made pretty good money over the last two months and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down…knock on wood. 

The best part is the time with family. People don’t realize the amount of time teachers put into their work. It’s a 60-70 hour work week minimum. I am not joking. It’s tough tackling the multiple responsibilities of a teacher and then come home and take on the responsibilities of a father with 4 children (and all the kids are in completely different parts in their lives). 

It’s been a tough transition, but one that has been worth it so far. And I know I will eventually be a teacher again. It may be a couple years down the road, but I’ll be back in the classroom. I do love to teach. 

I need a cup of coffee. Or maybe just go to bed so morning will come on and then I can have my cup…   😉

Weird thoughts

As I was driving in to work this morning, my mind drifted to “The Jetsons.” Don’t ask me why. It just happened. While thinking of that wonderful and often forgotten cartoon from my childhood, I started thinking of why were their cities built above the ground? I don’t ever remember an episode where the ground in which their homes and businesses were built on was shown. Was it not livable? Or is that where they sent prisoners to “Narfel the Garfunk?”(a la Coneheads).
I also couldn’t think of a single a single character with a beard, which is sad. I believe Mr. Spacely had a stache, but that was it.
I don’t know, but this unknown bit of information bothered me this morning. I believe I’ll be looking it up when I get a chance.
In the meantime if you know the answer to my question, feel free to send it my way. Thank you. And as always #beardup!

Whimsical Whiskers and fancy-filled follicles it’s No-Shave November!

Those of you that know me, know that I’ve been growing a beard for a year now. In fact, I’m growing all the hair on my head out longer than ever. It has been a magnificent undertaking. The patience one has to have to grow and maintain a beard is remarkable.


So to those that are going through it right now for No-shave November or Movember, I know how you feel and my hat’s off to you.

No-shave November is in full swing. And those that are participating are finally beyond the scratch-my-skin off stage and for some they are finally beyond the awkward-looking stage. Either way whimsical whiskers are flowing in full form on men’s faces and women’s legs.

So why are so many foregoing shaving for thirty days again?


For some reason the real meaning behind No-Shave November gets lost in all the fancy-filled follicles. For those that are unsure, here it is: Cancer Awareness. The goal is to take the money that you would have used for shaving or any other type of grooming your hair away and donate it to support cancer prevention, research, and education. If anybody asks you why you are growing out hair everywhere, you can take that opportunity to discuss cancer awareness and possibly get more people on board.

So if you’re in full beardup mode and want to donate there are plenty of options. However, I suggest going to no-shave.org. This is a non-profit organization started in 2009 by eight children in honor of their father who passed away from colon cancer. There are many cancer organizations to which you can donate at this site including the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

The New “New Year”

October 22, 2015

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

― Albert Camus

I love this time of year; the weather and the colors changing all around me; beards are growing in full force; the smell of fresh baked holiday bread. Even coffee smells and tastes better this time of year! Plus, the anticipation of the holidays. Yep…that’s what I said the “anticipation.” Being a father of four, the holidays can be quite stressful; fun, but stressful. Therefore, I enjoy the anticipation of them more than the holidays themselves. By the time they are over, I’m kind of glad they are. I wish, though, that the time leading up to them would slow down. The smells of this season are so warming to the mind and heart. I don’t know if it’s the smells themselves or if it is just knowing what these smells bring: the holidays.

“Aprils have never meant much to me, autumns seem that season of beginning, spring.”

― Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

I also believe that October is the beginning of the new year; the time to shed all that unnecessary baggage. This, to me, is the best time to change things in your life. Shake all those dead leaves off and move toward the things you desire most. It’s not too cold outside to start exercising. This, after all, is what most people want in the new year. Honestly, the weather (at least here in Tennessee) is perfect for you to begin any kind of home workout. If it’s an indoor workout, open the windows and let the cool morning or evening breeze blow through the house while you sweat. Then step outside for that nice refreshing autumn air to fill your lungs.

This is the best time to start a budget.

Excuse me…did I say budget?

Well, yes I did. And I mean it too. This is the best time. If you struggle with money around Christmas, how about starting a budget 2 months in advance to help you focus on what you are spending. That way when “Black Friday” or “Cyber Monday” rolls around, you can be prepared. It will help you be more vigilant over your bank account. If your bank account is looking good, then you’ll be looking and feeling good no matter how many times you went back for seconds at all those Christmas dinners. With the extra money you can make sure to buy more of those much needed beard care products. And you’ll probably not need all those resolutions because you’ve accomplished everything already. So take all that extra money and have a great new year. Or at least on hell of a New Year’s Eve!!!

Please leave a comment below or if for some reason you have a question, feel free to ask!

Get out and enjoy the fall! And don’t forget to #beardup!

Beards and Coffee!


Coffee keeps you warm even in an icestorm!

Today, while I was having my morning cup (pot) of coffee, I realized something. A sort of epiphany! (It’s more of a random thought, but epiphany sounds better)

Beards are warm and inviting, yet very manly.

Coffee is warm and inviting, yet very manly. <— that is if you drink it black because any other way makes it sweet and weak and less manly.

Thus Beards and Black Coffee compliment one another very well.

Yea…I smiled after the thought.

The reason for this out of no where epiphany is that I’ve been growing a beard now for about 2 months. I love it. I have a greater sense of confidence with it. I like grooming it too. I love how it feels and smells when I’m grooming it. It may seem weird to some and I’m betting that those who think it weird, do not have a beard. I’m sad for you if you’re a guy and that’s the case. My advice to you is to be a man and grow one then judge. However, if you did decide to grow one, I’m sure you’d get the same feelings for it that all of us have that sport one.

What things do you think compliment one another?

Have a great rest of the day and may your next cup of coffee be eye-opening!

Thirsty-Quote Thursday

“A person cannot truly improve, if he does not help others to improve.”
-Charles Dickens

I love this guy!!! Sadly, I did not allow myself to be introduced to him until later in life. I was the kind of person that felt reading and studying took up way too much of my “valuable” time. In junior high and high school, heck even my first two attempts at college, I was a terrible student. I tried to live in the present as much as possible. I’m not saying that living in the present is a bad thing, but only living in the present with no direction for the future is destructive.
It took me getting married and having 3 kids with one on the way to get my direction. I guess I was forced…by choice. <—Yep, that’s possible. I chose the family life with all its responsibilities, thus forcing myself to find a direction.

Sorry. I didn’t mean for this to be about my past. However, it does connect…listen, or watch, wait…just read on.
I believe that raising and helping my children grow their talents allowed me to improve as a student. A student in school, a student in parenting, a student in husbandry—Didn’t realize that was an actual term, but not the one I needed—being a husband(best I could come up with), and a student in Life. There, connected!!
This brings me to good Ol’ Charlie.
I believe the word “improve” in Dickens’ quote is a combination of two definitions (which I pulled from Dictionary.com). The obvious one: “to make or become better; to make something better in quality or condition, or become better.” This to me is what everyone sees on the surface when reading the quote. And it is what I think the quote truly means.
However, I don’t think that’s where it stops. With all great quotes, there is always something deeper. Though this ain’t much deeper, you do have to ponder a bit. I think the words also mean to “use something well; to make good use of something.”
This interpretation rings way more truer to me than the previous one. The meaining (to me): If I am constantly striving to improve something then I will ultimately see improvements in my improving.
I know, I know. Hang in there. Let me explain.
It’s like reading and writing. The more practice you put into it, the better you become at those skills. Plus, the better your brain becomes at processing those skills more efficiently. The same can be said for “improving.” The more I help to improve my children’s attitudes, talents, grammar, habits, and life, the more I will see improvements in those areas. Plus, the better my improving skills become, thus making me more efficient in helping my children improve. It’s cyclical!!
Dickens was definitely a great student of Life. From what I know of him, his writings, and his life (which is not enough), he was an excellent educationalist. He improved himself by candidly showing others how to improve no matter what their surroundings. Therefore, he continued to get better at improving.
I know. You’re probably thinking that I have way overanalyzed this quote, but through that analysis I have gained so much. I guess you could say I have improved.
Or it could just be the coffee! 😉

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this quote and/or my brief analysis, or any other quote.

Have a great day and may your next cup of coffee (or tea) be eye-opening!