Giving Life To Our Dreams – Thoughts To My Boys

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(I saw a documentary today about Coach Valvano and it seemed more than appropriate to re-post these thoughts I shared before about this marvelous man and his legacy.)

6/19/16

“When you have a dream and you love each other and keep believing in a dream, you can accomplish miracles!” – Jim Valvano talking about the 1983 North Carolina Championship Basketball Team

It’s no secret that I’m a diehard fan of Coach “V” as one would surmise from my repeated use of the quotes from and references to him.   Maybe one would think it’s because I was witness to the sports miracle that was accomplished when he led his 1983 NC State basketball team on the most unlikely and magical run to the NCAA tournament finals where they upset a vastly more talented Houston team (two future NBA hall of gamers) in the greatest upset in tournament history.

Now come on, it’s just sports which certainly produces so many amazing storylines and admittedly, this one is certainly more memorable by how it remains as part of our sport’s culture to this day as an inspiration to underdogs and afterthoughts in not just sports, but all areas of society.  But sports moments are just that, snapshots of a particular portal of competitive endeavors that we get reminded of, generally when the appropriate circumstances warrants its introduction into our psyche in some manner and degree.

Still in its overall affect, did it inspire me to change the way I approach life?  Well, I am certain it did in the lessons I’ve used to guide and motivate my children when challenged and by extension, what I’m authoring now.  Or, did it help to improve the treatment of something like cancer for countless patients afflicted with the disease?  Well we know it did by the growth and contributions of the “Jimmy V Foundation” that he created after his life was ruthlessly assaulted, and before it was taken, by cancer.  But here’s what has to be recognized:  had that 1983 sports storyline not been created, it’s likely the birth of the “legend” and fame of “Coach V” would not have emerged to give birth to his organization when it was established and its astronautical growth thereafter.  That foundation came about too late to save his life or my parents lives, but in a miraculous twist to his legacy, the byproduct of its research and the evolution of cancer treatment saved his daughter’s life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer years later.

I ponder this quote by Thurl Bailey, a player from that 1983 team, in reflecting back on his former coach as one of the most beautiful expressions of praise that any man could ever hope to be described or remembered for by those who reflect upon their knowledge of that existence.  “Everything he accomplished and everything he was as a person is the essence of the man!”.  If only I should be so fortunate to be honored with similar accounting of my days here in my particular universe but hey, I’m still making a conscious effort and I’m constantly an evolving work in progress.

So in my mind it’s about the collective and enduring power of the man who turned out to be more than just a basketball coach beyond that victory in 1983.  It’s exponentially about his words, the way he lived, the people he touched and inspired, and his final acts before he died that profoundly separated himself to be among the upper echelon of immensely extraordinary humans that I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

Now back to “Coach V’s” influence; you have to remember that he was diagnosed with terminal cancer leading to an abundance of tumors that spread throughout his body but still his final goal remained to his dying day, as reflected in a note he wrote to himself that was accidentally found by his wife in the pocket of his dry cleaning was, to “beat cancer”!  He did that, maybe not in his own individual quest but for the thousands of others he impacted through the man he was, whose lives he affected during his lifetime, and whose lives he SAVED through the work of the “V Foundation” including his daughter as noted above.  I mean it’s one thing to give birth to a child but what greater accomplishment can be achieved by a parent than being personally responsible for saving his/her physical life and in a way, gifting them with another?

What a legacy (or maybe that’s just me)!  I can say I was blessed to watch that championship game and the ones that were televised during that magical run when I was so much younger and not insulated from its impact, due to the abundance of information available these days that leads to an overindulgence of stimulation that can negate our awareness of what’s happening right in front of our eyes.  But goodness gracious sakes alive, I’m so much older and I needed someone like “Coach V” back then and still need my memory of him morphing into something greater than that one tournament to keep my eyes on the prizes that continue to happen in front of these eyes!  Otherwise I might have gone crazy or emotionally diluted by too many of the things introduced in my life that could have overwhelmed that vision.

I may f’ing hate cancer for taking both my parents but my hope and faith in life’s possibilities, probabilities, and likelihoods is still strong by how they fought it, and through “Coach V’s” efforts that have carried on well beyond each of their passings, because I’m still here to better my existence to honor them.  It’s because of my hope and faith in most things that I still battle to garner every ounce I can from the things that feed my optimism for each day I have been given while I step over or around the pratfalls that produce disillusion and negativity because, they too often introduce themselves to try to steal life’s basic, simple, elegance that I choose to believe in.

So God gave me another day to persevere in how I want to live it and I thank Him because it allows me to build on “the essence of the man” I want to be.  A work in progress?  Yep, but my destiny at least has a better direction from those that have and continue to inspire me like my parents, “Coach V”, and anyone who makes a contribution towards whatever remarkable conclusion I systematically strive to achieve.

So I’ll end with one last quote because it’s a favorite and one I use as a reminder of how I want to see what’s ahead of me:  “We will never have a perfect world, but it’s not romantic or naive to work toward a better one.” – Steven Pinker

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Searching For Happiness – Thoughts To Sons

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We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. – Fredirich Koenig

All Your Dreams – Message To Christian

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(National Signing Day 11/14/18)

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. – Carl Sagan

Remember Son, a dream come true is rarely ever an ending but oftentimes, the first steps of your next dreams waiting to be realized and come true as well. – Joe Dico

Do Something Magnificent Today – Message To My Sons

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“That some achieve great success, is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.” – Abraham Lincoln

On this day 506 years ago, Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were revealed by the Pope. 

Now I don’t expect something even close to that magnificent masterpiece of human creation by the legendary artist but I hope it inspires you to do something of simple greatness of your own design today.  I mean if he could paint and bring something so beautiful into existence while in the most uncomfortable positions for @ 5 years, it would seem it should be simple for you to add something positive in not only your, but other’s own lives. 

If you can’t think of something new to achieve, just do something extraordinary with one thing  that you do on a daily basis.  In many ways, there’s a simple magnificence to doing purposeful things which you can be proud of but as usual, that’s just me thinking again for you guys but why not give it a try!😘

Obstacles – Thoughts To My Sons

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“Obstacles cannot crush me.  Every obstacle yields to stern resolve.  He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

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(1st CIF baseball championship in school history after 100 years leading to another following year.)

 

When Cliches Have Meaning – Message To My Sons

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“From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.” – Arthur Ashe

I’m not a big fan of cliches.  They are used too frequently without thought and just products of repetitive statements we use during complex situations that certainly require something of more value and sentiment to the recipient.

I was thinking of one in particular.  “I’m here for you” or “I’m there for you”.  I get the basic gist of it – a simple offering of support and maybe a little more but what should it mean?  I guess I could devote a great deal of analysis to these statements but my evaluation is centered around what I’ve meant when saying it in the past compared to now, and what it’s meant when offered in my direction.

Thinking of when I used to say it, I pretty much meant it literally.  I’d be “here” for someone but they’d have to generally come to where I was if they needed something important.  I was “there” for someone but not really.  I was usually at a safe distance so that I would be unable or unwilling to get “there”.  Not always and maybe not intentionally but in thinking back, too frequently.

In addition, I find little comfort when someone says “I’m there for you” when going through tough times.  I really don’t need a congregation of people at where I’m at since I already know how I got “there” and don’t like where “there” is at.  I may not expect the answers but it won’t help me to have company “there”.  What is needed is a temporary escape from “there” and maybe another mind and set of eyes to show me a possible way to get out of “there” because a cascade of thoughts and emotions sometimes complicates the recognition of the simplest and most logical solutions.

I know, this sounds like a bad comedy bit but here’s the point.  Now when I say “I’m here for you”, it means that when called upon, I will be “there with you.”  I understand that trying to provide a quick solution to a complex dilemma generally leads down a more complex path or at times, proving to be more destructive.  I do know that taking someone from where they may be (figuratively and/or literally), slowing things down, maybe mixing a genuine hug and reason to smile, and letting them be heard so that they can hear themselves on the outside of their mind provides a good starting point to get out of “there”.  This then challenges the best parts of myself by seeing what that person (not me) is capable of doing and offering small guidance about what might be done to slowly take their initial steps somewhere else.  Importantly they will know that if needed, I will support and help them up (not carry) when they stumble and fall.  More importantly I will reinforce them on the best direction because it’s their obligation to “make it happen” for themselves.

This is a lot of words but a simple point I hope you recognize.  By who you are, you have the best potential to be difference makers.  By virtue of how you were raised and the nature of your character, personality, compassion, morality, and fundamental beliefs, you can provide so much of the best part of who you are to others.  I’m not just talking about the obvious targets like girlfriends or family but also friends and acquaintances who are reluctant to demonstrate the hidden cracks on their hearts and souls.

How often do we ask “what’s wrong” and get a response like “I’m fine” or “okay” (save that discussion for another day) and settle for it when we know things are absolutely the opposite. I won’t ask “what you are waiting for” but more “why are you waiting”?  You are no longer the “innocents” of my generation but increasingly responsible and accountable for your generation.  If you want a perfect world, time to start perfecting the world around you and see if it can be expanded a bit at a time through your own acts of kindness based on your own goodness.

I’ll end with the words of a U2 song.  “A broken (or injured) heart is an open heart” so if you recognize it, maybe that’s the time you could really be “there” to help it heal – this is separate and apart from romantic relationships but on a more profound scale.  Simple gestures might just lead to small miracles. Either way, I’ve been “here for you”, will be “there with you”, and help you get away from “there”, and always will!  It’s not hard to find me, you know?

So think about what you say to someone and the actual real meaning behind it and then, give more meaning afterwards to what you just said because one day you may be the one person they need to rely on!  It may be a heavier burden than anticipated but sometimes, affirmations that evidence your character may also call upon untempered accountability so that the perfect world you’re looking for might reveal itself beyond your horizons.

Dad

 

The Making Of A Dad – Thoughts To My Sons

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After watching my dad love me, I hoped one day I’d love my own child too;

When I asked for a child, He decided to give me two;

When I held my sons the first time, I still can’t hold them enough;

I once helped them take their first steps, now they’re faster than me;

When I prayed they’d be healthy, the Lord decided to make them athletes too;

I prayed that they’d be safe, now they stick up for others;

I wanted them to be kind, and now they’re full of compassion;

I hoped that they’d listen to me, now I listen to them;

I shared with them my thoughts, now they think for themselves;

I gave them my best guidance, now they’ve learned to lead others;

I’ve taught them about life, now they know how beautiful it can be;

They’ve changed the world I lived in, now they’re changing their own;

I’ve seen them grow older every day, now it seems they’ve grown up too fast;

And though they know I love them, I doubt they’ll ever know how much;

I was able to give them life, they were able to give me the best of everything;

I see why I wanted to be like my dad, I only wished he was here to see how I did;

I’ve been blessed with two sons, but the miracle was the father they made me;

God rewarded my wish to be a dad like mine, and I know one day my sons will be even better ones. – Joe Dico

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