Monday, November 28, 2011

My 1st Time on Stage—When I was six years old I was asked by my Mom who was asked by someone else to be in our Presbyterian Church Easter program. To ease the pain of having to do it she said that my sister Marilyn would also be in the “performance”. She was only four but my Mom felt that we would come through in front of the whole church. We had to memorize the part about how “Christ is risen”. “He is risen indeed.” I had my part down. My sister was supposed to start and then I would go after her. She however got stage fright. What did people expect? She was only four years old. She went for what gave her the most comfort in her life. She started sucking her thumb. The audience started laughing. I waited a minute or so which seemed much longer at the time. I got mad at my sister for refusing to start; I hit her in the arm and walked off the stage. Members of the church were appalled. This was not good Christian behavior. My family must settle disagreements using force. Most of the men in the audience thought it was funny. For me it took forty years before I ever performed on stage again. My sister was braver; she was the lead in “The Diary of Anne Frank” as a junior in high school. We never performed together again after our one show. Our family act bombed the only time we worked together.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recently I started listening to THEMOTH.ORG. It is storytelling started in New York City and now they travel around the country doing MOTH competitions. It is excellent. I feel that stories connect me to my soul and being human. Recently I heard a story there by a woman who when she was a child loved to play cards with her father. He was a very competitive amateur tennis player who hated to lose. He wouldn’t ease up on his daughter and allow her to win. When they played she would lose regularly, start to cry and leave the room only to return a few minutes later begging to play again. This whole process toughened her up. Her mom didn’t work outside the home but was Harvard bright and intelligent. She drank and struggled with her demons. The girl moved to Montana and got married and was trying to decide on her a career path. Her brother suggested that she should go to a casino and play cards to help her relax. There as an adult she realized that she was beating all the competition by combining the gifts that she got from both of her parents. She used the competitive spirit of her father with the intelligence of her mom. She is now a very successful professional poker player and her name is Annie Duke
The story made me think about my own parents and the gifts that I have gotten from them. My Mom is left handed, creative, intuitive, optimistic, persistent, and compassionate. She is very much an introvert and is comfortable being by herself. My father on the other hand was an outgoing extrovert salesman. He sold International Harvester Farm Equipment and was one of the best salesmen in the country with his company. He was much more a logical realist who at times battled pessimism but had a great sense of humor. I find that I have the qualities of both my parents and I am happiest in life when I embrace them both. I like creating ideas and presenting them. It gives me a sense of peace when I do. I would challenge you to think about your parents and the gifts that you got from them. It might be a life changing experience like it was for Annie Duke…

Sunday, November 06, 2011

“The booby prize or the yoyo” I never had any children so sometimes my brother or sister would have me babysit for my nephews or nieces. It was in the early 1980’s and I was living in Lemoore, California. I was babysitting my nephew Chad one evening who was four or five at the time. We needed some milk so I decided to take Chad and go on a field trip to the store. At the front of the grocery store was one of the new vending machines that had a crane with a long arm on it. For a quarter you could get three tries to win a toy. Chad wanted me to give it a try. He said “Uncle Jim, I want you to win the yoyo.” I had never done this crane thing but it looked easy enough. The only problem was I barely had enough money to buy the milk and had one quarter more so I decided to go for it. The first two passes I was able to get zero plastic eggs out. I started to question my own sanity. Why had I ever agreed to this? My manual dexterity is awful. I hate most things mechanical especially when trying to win something for a small child. The pressure was on but on the last try I got one of the clear plastic eggs into the arm of the crane. I could see that it wasn’t a yoyo but thought that perhaps Chad would be happy with any prize that I won once he got it. I got it into the shoot to come out of the vending machine. We opened it up and it was a small plastic chicken. I told Chad that it looks like we won the booby prize. Chad who was usually very calm and laid back yelled at the top of his lungs, “I DON’T WANT THE BOOBY PRIZE I WANT THE YOYO!!! He was still upset when his parents came to pick him up. We left the store and I felt both ashamed and guilty for not winning the yoyo. I learned two huge life lessons that night. First don’t set children’s expectations too high and always take more quarters than you think that you’ll need to the grocery store.