Apocalypse or New Beginning?

rabbitWhat if an apocalypse isn’t a disaster or the end of the world?  What if it’s a new beginning?  Like the Big Bang Theory except we simply pass unaware from one universe into another.  Maybe we simply pass through a looking glass in a moment in time into a brand new world in a blink of an eye.  Maybe we do so every day, every second, always.  Could an apocalypse just breed a new set of circumstances; where life’s dynamics change in an instant?

Anytime one can pass through that looking glass into another world.  In the blink of an eye your life is on course, planned almost to the “T”, the next everything’s changed.

Start with the day you were born, how many unexpected circumstances cause a potentially apocalyptic change?

Take a seemingly inert object, a cylindrical piece of glass, a table top separated from its home atop a patio table, being pushed around, scrubbed cleaned and spun back around, destined to return to the patio where it belonged.  Except it shattered.  Its glass shards dove deep into the leg, a loved one’s left leg cutting it to the bone, leaving her helpless.

So a moment in time caused an apocalyptic blip in a world never ending, giving birth every moment to a new life we now live.  Sunspots are blamed for all sorts of atmospheric changes, like global warming, now it’s P.C. to call it climate change, so why not a rabbit hole to life reborn?  If Mother Nature can conjure up a flood or a drought, hurricane, sweeping tornadoes, life is never going to be the same.  You are forced to adapt to something new and different.  People, places, circumstances you know…will change or cease to exist, in an instant.

To me a hospital likens a brand new world.  When you enter into a life threatening situation and your life suddenly spirals out of control you find yourself relegated to a new beginning.  Your life is now in the hands of paramedics, doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff. All these people appear to you in “scrubs”.  If there’s significance to colors, it escapes me.  I have yet to see a candy-striper.

Certainly everything life threatening now appears to be in slow motion.  Life is now uncertain, so answers are drawn, deliberate and studied.  No one answer is beyond reproach or certainty. Life in this new world is all about adjusting to whatever comes their way.   Life is resurrected, sutured, stapled, stitched, sewn, connected by drips, drains, inserted, injected, measured and clipped. Good fortune is you get the best of the best. A plastic surgeon with precision hands to go with her accent. Five hours later, an eternity to some, you’re reborn.

Every day I learn to appreciate God ’s creation more, men and women able to adapt, invent and create a brand new world.

When the Cheshire cat says, “If you don’t know what road you’re on, any road will do.” In a blink of an eye, the life you knew is gone.

Thoughts from May 25th 2011

Nothing Ventured! (slide show)

Hi MomNothing ventured.
Nothing gained.
Yes. That’s you.
That was me,
At 18 too.
I’m unknown.
I’m unread.
Nothing here.
Nothing said.
I’m granite.
You’re Atlantic.
In New York,
You pick your fork.
In Des Moines,
You pick your employment line.
Don’t tell me the ice is melting,
When the snow is pelting,
When you haven’t felt the cold,
When you’re too young, to feel old.
Don’t tell me we need an open door.
We’re already poor.
Show me you’re real,
Or I’ll show you the door.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Broken Ice (slide show)

bow glacier falls hike_upper falls 6

While I write off key,
Chords to the music,
Are washing over me.
Each note in concert,
Broken ice,
On a windblown lake,
Surrendering to the sun.
A starburst of shattered sea.
Frozen chimes, every key,
A new discovery.
Music in step.
A part of my soul,
Playing over again,
Feeding a waterfall,
Touching blue skies.
A crescendo washing over me.
Driving memories.
And new discoveries.
Out of step,
Out of key.
Perfection.
Nature’s harmony.
Play broken ice for me.
While I write off key.
Each chord floating gently,
Over me.

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Tears Come Easy

Super moon Tampa in the backfground 3Tears come easy when you are tough.
Weakness hides behind a smile.
Tears come when they are most unwanted.
Sometimes they come when least expected.
Tears can bring joy, relief and hope.
Peace can only come in grief’s wake.
Mourning’s tide washes into a new day.
Tears sweeten the bitter memories of you.
Mine are forgiving tears.
Forgiven, not forgotten.
As another blue moon rises,
Tonight begs me, say goodbye.

I Deserve You

liar
I left my soul open,
With every word spoken,
Lips left love unspoken.
Now I’m broken.
I deserve you.

You’re the wave,
That rolled over me.
More than a tsunami.
Swept deep inside of me.
Tears hide the rain.
Hide the pain.

Your lies echo in my head.
Like a book often read,
I can’t put down.
I’m you’re circus clown.
I own… this.

I left my soul open,
With every word spoken,
Lips left love unspoken.
Now I’m broken.
I deserve you.

I’m all in.
Every sin.
I can’t imagine.
Was there a beginning?
Is there’s an end?

Missing a place,
A place inside of you.
A place inside of me.
I’m lost.
There’s no you.
There’s no me,

It’s hard to get close,
To be so far apart.
So alone, so often.
Your touch. A spark.
A light that fades to dark.

I left my soul open,
With every word spoken,
Lips left love unspoken.
Now I’m broken.
I deserve you.

Dedicated to CG 1966

Eyes wide open… Reflections II

My Cody Bear


In the darkest hours of night, when sleep should prevail, without prejudice, without mercy, questions pour into my head. I lie awake and I wonder…
Have I lived well enough to make many friends and fewer enemies?
Do I have the courage to cherish my friends and to vanquish my enemies?
Have I spread enough smiles?
Have I shared enough hugs?
Have I planted enough kisses?
Have I caused enough laughter to earn reciprocity?
Have I studied enough history?
Have I been engaged enough in current affairs?
Have I earned a degree in knowledge?
Is knowledge a benefit?
Is knowledge the revelation of truths, or is knowledge the realizations of falsehoods?
Have I learned from every victory and every folly?
If so, am I a benefactor; more important, am I a teacher?
Today, in this world that reports the past in real-time; in time to worry for our future?
I only see and images of life, albeit in real-time, can I relate?
Have I focused long enough on the anguished faces, I cannot truly see?
Have I listened hard enough to the desperate voices, I truly cannot hear?
Have I seen enough of their pain, I truly cannot feel?
Have I felt their hunger, I cannot feed?
Have I shared in their grief, I cannot quell?
Have I touched enough people?
Has cuddling become a lost art?
If you learn my darkest secret, will you forgive me?
Will I forgive myself?
Did I stop smoking soon enough to live forever?
How much double churned ice cream is too much?
Will I die and when?
Will it be too soon!  Of course!
Would I fight for my life to the very end?
Out of fear?
Out of courage?
For you?
Will I let go?
Can I fall away?
Will you miss me if I’m gone?
Will you miss me when you are alone?
Will you miss me when you are among friends.
Will you still be laughing and smiling?
And for how long?  Don’t tell me.
My dog is asleep at my feet.
He has all the answers.
He won’t say, but I finally get it.
It’s not about me.
So now, I can close my eyes…

These reflections are more important to me, now then ever beforre. I hope you are asking yourself the same questions.

All the best!!!

Note: My Big guy, my Cody Bear, passed away in 2017.

Lonely Man, You Know Who I Am

picasabackground
Lonely man, you know who I am. 

You’re a labor of love, hand and glove. 
If you ever want to shoot for the moon,
You’ll need to bring your own silver spoon. 

Your drink is empty, nothing’s on the table.  
Miguel your waiter, sells only by the label. 
So you dance to music that never ends,
And toast bartender Mike, your new best friend. 

You’re anybody who has a story.
You’re the blood and guts, but no glory. 
You’re the play that’s no longer afloat. 
You’re the poem, you never wrote.

Lonely man, you know who I am.  
You’re a labor of love, hand and glove.
Johnny Cochran’s not your deal.
You’ll never win on your appeal. 

You’re the crowd in every room. 
The conversation that always spells doom. 
You’re the fly that’s always unzipped,
The greeting card, that’s always skipped. 

You’ve become the sweat on everyone’s brow. 
You’re the answer to, “No, not now!” 
You’re the best friend you’ll never have. 
You’re the rub, without the salve.

Lonely man, you know who I am. 
Labor of love, fit hand and glove. 
Win the lottery prize in your office pool? 
What are the odds you’ve played the fool!

You’re someone’s smile, without a face. 
You’re the awkward in an embrace.
You’re the gaze behind an empty stare. 
You’re the voice that isn’t there. 

You’re the cold pavement under bare feet. 
You’re the toothless grin that never eats.
So when you dare ask for a slice of life,
You’re the one to brandish a knife. 

And when your chapter is finally read,
You already know what’s been said.
Lonely man, you know who I am, 
Dance to music that never ends.

I originally wrote Lonely Man for a Montel Williams Poetry Contest for MS charity because I have a sister with MS. I think “Lonely Man” epitomizes how many of us feel from time to time. At the same time it pokes some fun at those same self-effacing feelings.

If I Could Write You a Song

 

IMAG0144If I could write you a song,
I’d be asking you to sing along.
Lyrics without the music,
They just don’t belong.
Like this plane I’m sitting on.
Going nowhere, I’ve always been,
Into the setting sun, away from you,
Away from you.

If I could write you a song,
There’s no now, there’s no then,
My life’s not taking off.
There’s no place I’m landing soon,
So much for life’s baggage when,
I can’t even carry a tune.
No place I’m going soon.

If I could write you a song,
The music would be all wrong.
In this lonely hotel room.
Trying to forget, drinking wine.
Thin walls, thin lives, keeping time.
Keeping me away from you.
I need to be moving on.
Always away from you.

If I could write you a song,
The lyrics would be too long.
City streets, no place to turn around.
Can’t keep these feet on the ground.
In time, it’s always back to you.
If I could write what’s wrong,
This song would never end.
I’d be on my way back to you,
Back to you…

++
Saturday, August 18, 2012

Where Am I?


Reflections of life,
Right beside me.
See the light.
So much is right,
So much is wrong,
Lost lives live long.
I don’t belong.
Not a hair out of place.
A smile without a face,
A kiss without an embrace.
Love without a place.
Eyes that only see,
Behind closed doors.
Where there’s no more.
No less.
Loneliness.
No. Alone.
Reflections of life,
See the light.
Life’s right,
Beside me!

Laugh All You Can

20140725_101755Laugh all you can.
What comes after,
Life, laughter and tears.
A waterfall.
Descending into the past.
Let’s you down.
A moment in time, gone.
Deep, quiet and alone.
Waiting to wipe away,
Tears that will come.
And the promise,
Laughter comes after,
Like a waterfall,
A crescendo of life,
Laughter and my tears.
Never ending.
Never done.

If I Was An Artist

Dad at play 5 (2)
If I was an artist…
Father, patriarch, Dad.
And if I could paint,
Mature, senior citizen, old man.
I would paint the portrait of a man,
Provider, benefactor, success.
Each word to describe him,
Contrary, obstinate, cussed,
Would be a different stroke from my brush,
Non-conformist, contestant, maverick.
Each phrase a different shade,
Creative, inventive, colorful.
From the palette of his life,
Environmentalist, naturalist, crusader.
I would present him his portrait,
Integrity, honesty, candid,
With pride, his life a work of art.

Shadows Stay or Go

Bow Glacier Falls Misty Rainbow
Shadows clouding my mind,
Like the shade shelters the sun.
Flying blind.
Not lingering.
Not hiding.
Imagining thoughts,
Where thoughts have never been.

Shapes of you,
Like a kaleidoscope.
Completely turned around.
Then, hoping you were gone.
Now, I’m missing you.
Chasing shadows again.
Imagining thoughts,
Where thoughts have never been.

Master of Ceremony

Originally written after a trip to NYC in 2007
Updated 10-09-2012

Idea Capitalists

You live for the moment,
In that New York state of mind,
On every street corner,
In every pizza place,
You’re just another slice in time.
 
In the midst of the masses,
Sits a beggar, a mere ghost,
Imitating a man.
An unfortunate icon of the city,
Short of shoes, sitting on lifeless wheels,
His tin cup, barely clutching his hand.
 
You…, you have a place to be,
Master of Ceremony,
Your parade marches on…
Past his dimming, glassy eyes,
Eyes you will never meet.
You sail past his hopes
Hopes you can never sink.
Past his tin cup, from which,
You will never drink.
 
Originally written after a trip to NYC in 2007
Updated 10-09-2012

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When Time Misses You

Image result for when blackbirds sing bring rain
Wake to the song blackbirds sing.
A promise rain will bring.
When sleep escapes,
Dreams are washed away.
A child’s cry takes its toll,
Grips your soul.
A tiny hand upon your face,
Gateway to the human race.
To find her smile,
May take a while.
When time misses you.

There’s no time,
Where sadness lives,
You can’t ask.
You can’t pray.
You have to say,
Take it away!

Pockets full of gold.
Leaves you old.
Brings you to your knees.
Nonsense money,
Opens all the doors.
No excuses anymore.
Open the book.
Read between the lines.
To find her smile,
May take a while.
When time misses you.

There’s no time,
Where sadness lives.
You can’t ask.
You can’t pray.
You have to say,
Take it away!

Jo Dee Messina’s “Bring on the Rain” gained popularity in the early 2000s, becoming her fifth No. 1 hit in March of 2002, after being released in September of 2001 as a single from her Burn album.

I Die a Little Bit

When she cries,
I die a little bit,
More.
Can’t explain it.
Tears in her sleep.
She’s so lost, so deep.
Reaching for her smile,
I can’t breathe.
Touches my heart.
A work of art.
Touches my soul.
A rare gift for a man,
A man facing a ghost.
A man I fear the most.
So alone with each other.
So alone apart.
When she cries,
I die a little bit,
More.

Wrong Turn

20130816_184911Driving into the afternoon sun.
Blinded by the warmth of one.
Darkness opened my eyes.
There are boundless skies.
Beyond the clouds.
Caverns and shrouds.
Tastes to savor.
Souls to save,
Save my own.

Poetry, beauty, romance, love

“Poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for…” Robin Williams

I can’t imagine if you couple Robin Williams comedic genius with his poetry, how amazing his poetry would be.

I’ve always been ashamed of my attempt to write poetry.  I actually feel a little more alive now because of the inspiring words of Robin Williams. The juxtaposition is sad.

We need to advance medicine to cure depression and other nervous system related diseases to preserve the genius Robin Williams espoused.

Along that vein, there was a movie in 2016 called Collateral Beauty with Will Smith, that will pull on all of your heart strings. Excellent!

robin williams poetry

Let’s Dance the Tide Away!

Beach Cate sailboatsPast my time.
Past my prime!
To live another day.
To hold your hand,
In mine.
A tiny gesture,
By any measure.
A titan and a mouse.
A castle from a grain of sand.
The sea under your feet,
Washes away yesterdays.
Leaving footprints that dance,
And disappear,
In your wake.
You’ll be forever tomorrow.
I’ll be forever yesterday.
To live another day.
For now, let’s dance,
The tide away.

How Do You Spend a Trillion Dollars a Year and Not Cure Cancer?

Murders by guns are minuscule compared to deaths by cancer. Where are our priorities?

Idea Capitalists

How do you spend a trillion dollars a year, over 6 trillion dollars in less than 6 years, and not cure cancer?

Murder by guns vs. cancer, a look at our current death toll in this country (based on trends – not actual numbers).   —> Always current Mortality statistics for USA

Cancer kills one in four Americans, making it the second-most common cause of death after heart disease. That’s nearly half-a-million Americans dying from cancer each year. More than 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed annually.

The average health care spending on a cancer patient is around $20,000 annually on treatment.  All told, more than $125 billion is spent on cancer care per year, just in the United States.  Yet, in 2013, the U.S. government funded a mere $4.8 billion.

Why are we not a nation cancer free?  Where are our priorities?  What are we thinking?

This is getting personal.  I have three sisters.  My youngest…

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Choices

I have to breathe.
That’s on me.
My back’s against the wall.
I’ll take the fall,
For leaving you,
All alone.
Choices.
I can leave.
My reprieve.
That last pour,
And out the door.
That last kiss,
That I’ll miss.
Choices.
That last glance,
Left to chance.
Step into the rain.
Walk out on the pain.
For loving you,
On my own,
All alone.
Choices.
I can’t replace,
What love can’t embrace,
A journey still undone.
I can lift you up,
Or I can run,
Leave love undone.
Choices.
I have to breathe.
That’s on me.
My back’s against the wall.
I’ll take the fall.
For leaving you,
All alone.
Choices.

Just Imagine Who We Could Be

Imagine if you could truly love me.
Look into my eyes, not away.
Imagine the love there could be.
If we were in step, not a step away.
If words didn’t matter.
Not hurled in the pain I’m in.
Not spattered.
In vain.
If I could close my eyes.
Bring back yesterday.
I would,
If I could.
Yesterday I could breath.
Today pressed lips,
Suffocate my soul.
Frequent sips,
From my glass of despair.
Pour the sadness,
Repeat the madness.
Just imagine.
If you could look at me.
The love there could be.
Imagine who we could be.

When You Can’t Love Enough

Embrace the emptiness.
It’s all around you.
It fills the room.
And leaves you foolish,
And afraid.
Uncertain for the first time,
Not the last.
Sadness all of a sudden,
Surrounds you,
All around you.
You can’t love enough!

You can’t embrace,
What’s already broken.
Pick up the pieces,
Already there.
Words unspoken,
We still share.
Hope.
Anguish.
Tears.
Anger.
Despair.
Us.
When love’s not enough,

I’m still here.
I’ll be there.
Find your way back,
Back to me.

All You Had To Do

Quiet smile stuttered,
Words worn thin.
Spinning me out of control.
Away from you.
Wearing away my soul.
Quiet ears shuttered,
The storm came in.
Wave upon wave,
Smiling on my rain.
You’re so right,
You’re wrong.
Quiet eyes fluttered.
Shadows can’t hide sin.
Closing in on me,
Can’t you see?
Blind to my pain.
Hear the ripple in the room.
That is you stirring me.
Spinning me out of control.
Wearing away my soul.
When all you had to do,
Was love me.

There’s Always Somehow

Time for a chew toy

R.I.P. Cody Bear

It’s too often now,
Sleep won’t allow.
Living life,
Eyes wide open into the night.
And Cody’s forever stare.
Dawn brings to light.
The day in spite.
Sins forgiven.
Love lifts the soul,
The dice will roll.
And steals the past.
Each day maybe the last.
Let’s give a hug,
To those we love,
For each moment we share,
There’s always somehow.
There’s always Cody Bear.
R.I.P.

Mouth Full of Soap

ivory_soap_barYou’re doin’ the dishes,
And followin’ Mom’s wishes.
Since you could step on a stool,
You know the golden rule.
You know Momma’s no fool.

Your washin’, she’s dryin’.
The kids in the kitchen
They haven’t stopped cryin’.
It’ no use in bitchin’.

If you wanted to eat,
And a place to sleep,
You better be sweet,
And learn how to sweep.

If you wanna play games,
And have some fun,
You have to wait,
Until the dishes are done.

Grab a mop, lend a hand,
There’s five more brats,
And there all the same brand.
If you look to the right,
And you look to the left,
Chances are there’s a siblin’ in sight.

She’s cookin’ in the kitchen.
She’s doing the wash.
She’s mendin’ your stichin’,
While she boilin’ the sauce.

She’s swathin’ a path,
While you’re takin’ a bath.
And she hasn’t stopped yet,
And you ain’t even wet.

When you go to school,
Lunch is in a bag, not cool.
Peanut butter and jelly,
Still fills your belly.

If you mutter a sound,
That isn’t profound,
Shutter to think,
Your head’s in the sink.

If she hasn’t heard,
It’s not a word,
It isn’t part of her lingo,.
Not even at Church bingo
You better run, you dope,
Or taste her favorite soap.

 

I Can’t See Your Eyes

You’re just a dream I had.
On an empty night.
Far from yesterday.
Far from the light.
Far from today.

I can’t see your eyes,
In mine.
I can’t taste your lips,
On mine.

I’m going to lose you.
Another chink in my armor.
Another day away from you.
My anchor.
One day closer,
To losing you.

I can’t see your eyes,
In mine.
I can’t taste your lips,
On mine.

You’re the ship that never sailed.
I’m  that sinking feeling,
I’ve failed!

I’m drifting out to sea.
Your love’s slipping.
Slipping away from me.

I can’t see your eyes,
In mine.
I can’t taste your lips,
On mine.

You’re just a dream I had.
On an empty night.
Far from yesterday.
Far from the light.
Far from today.

I can’t wake to another day,
Without you.
I’m drifting away
No tomorrows.
Just a dream away.

Life is the Noose

Untethered

Tethered in time,
The curtains rise.
Your cast in a role.
A roll of the dice.
Bound by a lifeline,
Twists and turns.
Twisted in knots,
Life is the noose.
So many loves,
So many lives.
Love set me loose,
I’m begging you!
So many thrills.
So many spills.
Life is the noose.
So many tries,
So many fails.
Love set me loose,
I’m begging you!
Heart strings pulled.
Love hangs by a thread.
I can’t breathe.
Love can’t be dead.
Love set me free.
Life is a noose.
Love set me loose,
I’m begging you!
Go to black.
Curtain closes.

Me

When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on. ~ Thomas Jefferson.

You Wake to Her Breathing

robin williams poetry

Dedicated to Robin Williams.

When reality escapes you,
Late at night,
And you don’t feel right.
You wake in the dark to her breathing.
To know she’ll never be leaving.
Someone’s there, someone who cares.
You can close your eyes,
And dream the dreams,
No one else can share.
Morning face in the mirror,
A familiar one.
Your hands on the razor,
There’s a job to be done.
You’re one in million,
But you’re not the only one.
‘Til she reaches for you,
And she touches you,
Upon the rising sun.
Point the car down the highway,
There’s work to be done.
You face each day,
The same old way.
Lift the phone off the receiver,
Makin’ someone a believer.
You sell your soul to be with her.
One more day, one more day!
And when your day is done,
Your pals are lookin’ for fun.
You steer your head clear,
Towards her waiting arms,
And the setting sun, the setting sun.
You know you’ll never be a genius,
But you’re sure,
Nothing will ever come between us,
Because she’s the only one,
The only one.

Me

Two Faces

Sunrise Bar Harbor

Sunrise Bar Harbor

Two faces.
One and the same,
One’s for fame.
One’s for shame.
One plays a part,
One pulls us apart.

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Your reflection tells it all.
The pain on your face,
Still leaves a trace.
One turns a blind eye,
One lives a lie.

Two faces,
One hides the strain.
One feels the pain.
One will let it ride,
One will run and hide,

From the fear within.
One will grin.
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Your reflection tells it all.
One draws me in,
One makes me sin.
One makes me shout.
One leaves me out.

Two faces
Words, one will fear.
Words, no one will hear.
One leaves me out in the rain.
One leaves me all your pain.
One life’s open behind closed doors.
One can’t take life anymore!

Mirror, mirror on the wall,
I’m happy to take the fall.
Still here to pick-up the pieces.
Still here when love’s not that easy.
Still here when life’s wiped your smile away.
Too late to love you any other way.

Sunset Gulf of Mexico

Your World’s Too Connected

social-media sites logo

Your world’s too connected,
For an original thought.
You’re a poet, a writer, a pundit, beware,
Your words of wisdom, already shared.
You may as well be down under,
Or over the moon.
Your words aren’t your own,
And they can’t come too soon!
The world’s all a Twitter,
And your yesterday’s news.
Your 140 characters,
Have already been read!

Eyes wide open… Reflections

Cody Bear

Cody Bear

Cody Bear is gone, but the questions remain…
In the darkest hours of the night, when sleep should prevail, without prejudice, without mercy, questions pour into my head.  I lie awake and I wonder…
Have I lived well enough to make many friends and fewer enemies?
Do I have the courage to cherish my friends and to vanquish my enemies?
Have I spread enough smiles?
Have I shared enough hugs?
Have I planted enough kisses?
Have I caused enough laughter to earn reciprocity?
Have I studied enough history?
Have I been engaged enough in current affairs?
Have I earned a degree in knowledge?
Is knowledge a benefit?
Is knowledge the revelation of truths, or is knowledge the realizations of falsehoods?
Have I learned from every victory and every folly?
If so, am I a benefactor; more important, am I a teacher?
Today, in this world that reports the past in real-time; in time to worry for our future?
I only see and images of life, albeit in real-time, can I relate?
Have I focused long enough on the anguished faces, I cannot truly see?
Have I listened hard enough to the desperate voices, I truly cannot hear?
Have I seen enough of their pain, I truly cannot feel?
Have I felt their hunger, I cannot feed?
Have I shared in their grief, I cannot quell?
Have I touched enough people? Has cuddling become a lost art?
If you learn my darkest secret, will you forgive me?
Will I forgive myself?
Did I stop smoking soon enough to live forever?
How much double churned ice cream is too much?
Will I die and when?
Will it be too soon!  Of course!
Would I fight for my life to the very end?
Out of fear?
Out of courage?
For you?
Will I let go?
Can I fall away?
Will you miss me if I’m gone?
Will you miss me when you are alone?
Will you miss me when you are among friends.
Will you still be laughing and smiling?
And for how long?  Don’t tell me.
My dog is asleep at my feet.
He has all the answers.
He won’t say, but I finally get it.
It’s not about me.
So now, I can close my eyes…

Shattered Glass

Pins and needles,
Are what you need.
Walking on the edge,
Stepping off the ledge.
Shattered glass,
Will only make you bleed.
Drugs are smiling,
When you should.
Pop those pills.
Swallow that pain.
Happiness kills.
What’s real remains.
The doctor going to make you,
Do what the doctor says,
The doctor’s going to take you,
Because of what you said.
Smile for the camera.
You’re going to make your bed.
Smile for the nurse.
Careful what you said.
The bad news,
The good news.
They can’t live,
If you’re dead.
Pins and needles,
Are what you need.
Walking on the edge,
Stepping off the ledge.
Shattered glass,
Will only make you bleed.

Me 09/14/2017

Rev. 10/08/2017

Your Soul is Your Flame

20170525_203751
A sunset should never steal your smile,
You are the woman who has given birth,
To many sunrises, to many beautiful sunsets.
You have breathed life into beautiful souls,
So that life never grows old.
God has filled your soul with the gift of life.
I will chase your smiles forever.
Forever, I may find them.
So that our love never grows old.
Your soul is your flame.
Your smile is your claim to fame.
Light up my life. 
Burn bright for me.
I will catch your smiles.
Whenever they are fleeting.
So look into my eyes,
Look no further.
Leave your fear at life’s altar.
Our love will never falter.
Your soul is your flame.
Your smile is your claim to fame.
Light up my life. 
Burn bright for me.

How Much Can My Heart Hold

How much can my heart hold,
Until my blood runs cold?
Fills my heart with sadness,
How can I stop all the madness.
I’m not gonna bend.
I’m not gonna break.
Longer I’m here,
Later I’ll fold.
Never too late,
To break the mold.

I’m gonna forget I’m getting old.
I’m gonna live forever.
Love you forever.
Kiss the cross,
On a mountain high.
Cross bridges,
Climb ridges.
Never rest until I’m on top!
And the sun sets before me.

How much can my heart hold,
Until my blood runs cold?
Breaks my heart,
Why we are apart.
I will pick up the pieces.
For all the Theresa’s (sic).
I’m gonna live forever.
Love you forever.

Kiss the cross,
On a mountain high.
Cross bridges,
Climb ridges.
Never rest until I’m on top!
And the sun sets before me.

How much can my heart hold,
Until my blood runs cold?
Fills my heart with sadness,
How can I stop all the madness.
I’m not gonna bend.
I’m not gonna break.
Longer I’m here,
Later I’ll fold.
Never too late,
To break the mold.

In Life, the Most Important Decisions Are Made Alone.

It’s easier to make the tough decisions if you know someone has your back. Loyalty is earned, not deserved.

We are experience!

My experience from a flailing and fledgling salesperson to the owner and CEO of a successful software company, the most important decisions you make, you make alone.

I’m not a life coach.  I’m not a marketing guru. I’m not a motivational speaker or social media guru.

I have nothing to gain by sharing my personal experiences, so I will spare you any hype. I just want to reinforce my own beliefs, that people can make a difference, if they are willing to open their minds and hearts, without prejudice.

Whether you are a family man or woman, a CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation, if people depend on you for guidance, you are held accountable for the success or failure of others.  Therefore, you have to make decisions that affect other people for better or for worse. That is my definition of a leader, plain and simple.  You don’t have to be Bill Gates to shine or suck. Worse, you probably have less to gain by making the tough decisions, at least from a monetary perspective.

Others will pontificate as to what a leader is, what a leader must do and how a leader must act.  I don’t have time for all that and if you’re like me, neither do you.  The best way to describe how to deal with your life’s biggest challenges is to rely on your past experiences and your gut. Do something!

When it comes to crunch time, a leader must decide on their own and act accordingly.  You’ll no doubt, get plenty of advice, but no one is going to know better than you, what to do.  So there is nowhere to turn.  Ultimately you are the most qualified to make a decision that affects you and your loved ones.

You must make the most important decisions in your life, and make those decisions on your own.  Sorry Doctor Phil.  This isn’t a TV show.  This is real life.  The same holds true in business.

When the time comes no one wants to make the important decisions for you.  Don’t get me wrong.  You will get plenty of advice.  “If I were you…” “You should…”  “You could…” “You might…” Later on, after the decision has been made, you will summarily receive the same words, only in different context.  “If it were me…” “I would have…”  I could have…”  “I would have…

I am sure you have heard these expressions as well, “It is lonely at the top.”  It matters less your stature in life.  It matter most, the decisions you make based on the challenges you face.  Trust me, from a person of experience, the most difficult decisions you have ever made and the most important decisions you will ever make, will be your decisions alone.

We are experience.  Small business owners are the lifeblood of free enterprise. Their heart is still beating.  Their soul is intact.  They epitomize what comprises the backbone of our country.  They are the chief cook and bottle washers; the real risk takers.  Small business owners are essential to the future success of the US economy. 

Small business owners are the spine that stands up and remains strong in the face of diversity, against ever increasing government regulations, against subsidies to big union, subsidies to big businesses and big government.  Small businesses must prevail if we are to remain strong and maintain our leadership position in the world economy. 

We need to lift our voice above the fray.  We need to unite. We need to be heard, above the voices of the mainstream media, the politicians, above the voices of divisiveness and hate, above the voices of fear and doubt. It is time to come together.  The future is now.  The future is no longer an individual choice and your choice alone.  We need to unite. Let’s make some noise.  Let’s take a stand.  What are you doing to preserve the American dream?  Email me: ideacapiltalists@gmail.com

 

 

Poetry and Passion

Depression is not easily understood. It’s not an easy topic for discussion. Even when a comedic genius like Robin Williams kills himself, people just shake their heads in disbelief.

Maybe the problem isn’t with the Robin Williams, maybe the problem is with you?

Listen to the whispers. Save the one you love. Just maybe you can manage to save yourself along the way. Live life for poetry and passion. Find the light. Embrace life.

Some impactful Robin Williams quotes:

“Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”

“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy.”

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – there are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for.”

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

robin-williams-dark moments

Mr. Grumpy Pants

IMG_0754

Cody Bear

In a world filled with tragedy and sacrifice, with Islamic terror attacks in San Bernardino, Orlando, Istanbul, Bangladesh and now Nice, I am angry. Like many of you, I feel helpless. I try not to be judgmental. I’m trying to be more retrospective.

I hear every day, of the misery of innocents in Syria, Iraq and beyond, the suffering of so many, by religious persecution and genocide. How do I, should I, shut out the pain and suffering of others, so I might carry on with daily life?

Granted, I am a bit of a news junkie, in particular since 9/11. That day I was informed of the attack, I thought it was a joke. Now I stay informed.

Many who are close to me would advise me to be more laid back, less grumpy, let the planes fly over my house without mooning the passengers. I’m going to try to be more laid back. I may even consider cancelling the order for a 12 ft. sign telling a certain airline to “Get the f*** off my plain.” Yes, I spelled plain correctly, as in my domain.

Unfortunately, I remain a skeptic. For example, I find “Mr. Grumpy Pants” has a reason to remain in character with the decision by Mr. Comey, Director of the FBI to exonerate Hillary Clinton of any purposeful wrong doing in her use of a personal server for email as SOS. He just basically said she and all those associated with her are idiots, but that’s not a crime! Could we be faced with four, even eight more years of Obama!!??

"if you've got a business, you didn't build that"

“if you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that”

Have I grown increasing cynical? Probably. Do I feel less empowered? No. I make my own decisions and draw my own conclusions. Simply put, DC is corrupt and the only remedy is term limits.

I wrote Eyes Wide Open  a few years ago. It was a personal soul searching Q&A. I keep going back to it to find better answers, and disturbingly there are few if any, that I have discovered, only more consternation. I ended my missive by citing my best friend and companion over the past 13 years. Cody, my 13 yr. old chocolate lab passed away recently. I miss him terribly.

Cody epitomized everything that I believe should be right in this world. His life, was a respite fom everything that is wrong with this world. Cody gave me his unconditional love. I gave him mine. We need more relationships like ours. Did I mention I picked up his poop?

 

 

 

Baby Don’t You Cry

When you’re life’s at its peak,

You’ll find bitter cold and snow,

And you’ll cling to the harsh rock,

When you look down below.

 

The door remains open,

When you reach for the sky.

You can always reach for me.

So baby don’t you cry.

 

There’ll be long walks alone,

Breathe the fresh smell of pine.

Forget the bears in the woods,

And you’ll be just fine.

 

Sing a song, sing out loud,

Like I know you would.

You have your smile to protect you,

Like I never could.

 

I’m going to build you a cabin,

In the mountains, so high.

Where no one can touch you

When you reach for the sky.

 

Never mind the trees above you,

Or the jagged rocks below.

I’ll be there to catch you,

If and when you fall.

 

Just remember the door always open,

When you reach for the sky.

You can always reach for me.

So baby don’t you cry.

 

 

Gone

Your smile is someone else’s now.

Your dreams are not my own.

I’ve been so happy, for so long,

Thank God I’m not alone.

Your eyes are gray, not brown today,

Where has my love gone?

Look away, look away.

Love will come another day.

Look away!

Never Let Go

view westnorthwest from the studio before sunsetWhat’s hurting you,
Is hurting me.
That’s just the way,
It has to be.

Those tears rolling,
Down your face,
I can’t catch,
I can’t erase.
I can’t let go.

You’re my sunrise.
I’m your sand.
Walk on me.
I have your hand.

Don’t let go.
You’re my sunset,
I’m your horizon.
Set on me.
Your sun is rising.
I won’t let go.

Never let go.

Idea Capitalist

8/17/2015

The Endangered Species, Entrepreneurs, a.k.a. Small Business Owners

President Obama is disingenuous when he says he is championing small business and the middle class.  Most small business owners are Sole Proprietors, Limited Liability Corps (LLCs) or Sub S Corps.  I own a Sub S Corp.  President Obama knows the challenges I face.  He is counting on you, the voter, to lump small business owners like me into his campaign to denigrate the high income earners in this country.

What he doesn’t want you to know is small business people, like me, often take a lesser salary, but often earn more than his definition of   “rich” because I have to pay taxes on the combined total of my salary and my business earnings.   Both are considered ordinary income.  By ordinary income, I mean income you and I pay taxes on after pre-tax expenses and deductions, like anyone else earning 1099 or W-2 income.

Keep in mind the risk to a small business owner.  If my business loses money, my salary and my business is in jeopardy.  It is a constant challenge to a small business to earn enough money to employ people, to grow and still earn a salary, in that order.  Contrast that with government subsidized businesses like GE and Solyndra.  Imagine if President Obama had the vision to subsidize small businesses to the tune of Solyndra or GE.  Take Solyndra’s $500 million in taxpayer dollars and give it to 500 small businesses, each with 20 employees or the equivalent of 1,000 employees.  Take my company’s track record over the past 2 years and small businesses would have increased employment by 40%.  I have a neighbor down the street who owns a small business, who increased his small business employment by 3-400 percent, without a government subsidy.

I run a small business, going on 25 years.  I pay taxes on my salary as an employee of my business and on the income my small business earns, both as ordinary income.  For many years, my business didn’t earn income.  For many years, my salary was well below the poverty line.  There were many years I was eligible for government assistance and I refused to take it.

How do you put a price on all the sacrifices a small business owner makes?  How do you quantify the years of no or little income you live with while supporting your business and fellow employees.  You pay their salary, you pay suppliers, you continue to pay them while you wait to get paid by your customers.  How do you quantify the debt you assume, including 2nd mortgages, credit cards, personal and bank loans.  How do you quantify the risks you take only to emerge from that debt as a job creator.  Only to be told, “You didn’t build that…,” the government built that.”  You’re branded greedy, uncaring if you are a Christian who believes in the sanctity of life and racist?  Like Mitt Romney I believe a women should have a choice to abort a pregnancy in the case of rape or incest, yet I’m extreme!?

My business is classified as an S Corp.  Today my income tax rate on ordinary income due to the income my small business earns, in an Obama administration, in the next four years, if he is reelected, will be much higher, 35 – 44.5%.   Today it’s 28%.  From that point forward you can make the argument there are tax breaks, subsidies, deductions for both personal and business income.

Argue the advantages and disadvantages until the cows come home.  The bottom line is the effective tax rate.  The effective tax rate for most small businesses will increase from 28% to at least 35% .  That’s huge.  Even more significant, more important and what President Obama doesn’t want you to know is most small businesses reinvest the income they earn from their business back into their business on sales and marketing programs and personnel and consequently accounts receivable to grow.  This practice creates jobs in all segments of the business.  In my case, I reinvested one-half (1/2) my ordinary income in jobs and other current and performing assets, increasing employment (salaries by over 40 percent) in 2012 YTD alone.

If you are the CEO of GE and Obama’s schmoozer-in-chief, your salary, bonuses and investment income is taxed as personal income.  There’s a good bet the CEO of GE paid little or no taxes on millions of dollars in income, certainly not at the same rate myself or other small business people paid.  His company, GE paid no taxes in 2011.  GE’s income was offset by losses, subsidies, tax breaks and expenses, claims I would wager could easily be overturned and taxes, interest and penalties would be significant.  The problem is GE has always had their hand in the government’s pocket.  There’s no secret there’s a love fest going on today between the Obama administration and GE.

What the Obama administration doesn’t want you to know about small business tax rates, is we pay taxes on ordinary income both on our salaries and on the money our business makes.  As a rule of thumb, a small business owner will take one-half (1/2) of their income as salary and they will reinvest the other one-half (½) of their small business income back into their business.  The small business investment I’m talking about isn’t about capital investments in equipment, furniture and other fixed assets.  The investment I’m talking about is in operating income, including people, sales and marketing, accounts receivable which is the fuel the economy needs to grow.  Operating income comes from small business revenues taxed as ordinary income.

In fact, even large corporations in America pay much higher corporate tax rates than most other countries.  Our higher corporate tax rates are supported by the Obama Administration.   A Romney administration would propose to lower corporate tax rates to be more competitive with other countries we compete with for business.  The irony is Obama touts green energy and competing for high tech business but he will do nothing to lower the unfair advantage international competition has because their tax rates are much lower.

Here are the facts…

On taxes, President Barack Obama wants to raise “the top rate to 44.8 percent.”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/may/18/paul-ryan/paul-ryan-says-barack-obama-wants-top-tax-rate-448/

Here’s a potential solution – Fairtax

FairTax - FairTax.org

If I Could Write You a Song



If I could write you a song,
I’d be asking you to sing along.
Lyrics without the music,
They just don’t belong.
Like this plane I’m sitting on.
Going nowhere, I’ve always been,
Into the setting sun, away from you,
Away from you.
 
If I could write you a song,
There’s no now, there’s no then,
My life’s not taking off.
There’s no place I’m landing soon,
So much for life’s baggage when,
I can’t even carry a tune.
No place I’m going soon.
 
If I could write you a song,
The music would be all wrong.
In this lonely hotel room.
Trying to forget, drinking wine.
Thin walls, thin lives, keeping time.
Keeping me away from you.
I need to be moving on.
Always away from you.
 
If I could write you a song,
The lyrics would be too long.
City streets, no place to turn around.
Can’t keep these feet on the ground.
In time, it’s always back to you.
If I could write what’s wrong,
This song would never end.
I’d be on my way back to you,
Back to you…
 
++
Saturday, August 18, 2012

Made in the USA

Who isn’t afraid of failing?!

The Wallenda factor is just a normal fear of falling!  Who isn’t afraid of falling?!

“Just in case you haven’t heard, the Wallenda factor refers to the fear of falling or failing. Shortly after Karl Wallenda fell to his death in 1978 (traversing a 75-foot high wire in downtown San Juan, Puerto Rico), his wife, also an aerialist, discussed that fateful San Juan walk, “perhaps his most dangerous.”  She recalled: “All Karl thought about for three straight months prior to it was falling. It was the first time he’d ever thought about that, and it seemed to me that he put all his energies into not falling rather than walking the tightrope.”

Life is like traversing a tight rope.
If you think you need a safety net,
It won’t be long before you fall. 
Live your life without a safety net,
Or be prepared to live your life
Closer to the ground. 
 
Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist says, “Pessimism is complacency.”   I think generally speaking I would have to say at times I exercised pessimism in certain situations.  I can relate it to looking in the mirror each morning and thinking, “I’m not getting any younger or thinner,  for that matter.”  I’m over that now!

To see the video – just click on the picture

Last year I spoke of challenges.  This year, I believe anything’s possible!  Last year I spoke of good fortunes, we were fortunate enough to have earned another year in business.  I said I was proud of the intellectual property (IP) and talent we had.  This year I am confident our talent pool here is second to none.    Everyone has bought into The Rational Optimist theme, “Everybody is working for everybody else.” Last year I said opportunities present challenges.

We have faced those challenges.  We have conquered many and we are prepared conquer the future.   While politicians in Washington scrum over the economy and jobs,  free market goes out and creates 100 mpg cars, even driverless cars. We need to tell our politicians…anything’s possible.This year we will focus again on making our products easier to use, easier to install and cloud ready.   Inside Integra, we will continue to concentrate on developing and acquiring better tools to do our jobs in a more productive environment.  Last year’s message was, “Attitude is everything.”   

This year we will continue  to encourage a positive attitude in the workplace, with our customers, partners and suppliers.  Everybody is working for everybody else (click on the picture to the left for the video) because again…. anything’s possible.  Finally, last year I predicted growth would be next our greatest challenge and we grew significantly.  We remain well positioned to take advantage of those significant gains in 2012 and beyond.

To see an awesome video – just click on the picture

I’ll leave you with a great video (click on the photo below) and when you feel that wave of pessimism coming on, remember, anything’s possible.

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.” — Aristotle

Hold Me in Your Heart

CaptureWhen I write,

Words may be erased.

When I speak,

Words may be forgotten.

When I hold you in my heart,

We may share an eternity.

 

From the Ground Up!

The oldest living Live Oak in Pinellas County

What does “shovel ready” really mean to a small business owner?  It means building a business from the ground up!

Are you sick of this class warfare?!  Do we want to elect a President that knows more about how to spend OP’s money or one who knows how to cut spending and increase revenues?

I started my own business over 23 years ago and I built it from the ground up.  My business has gone from a one man band to well… suffice it to say,  we have increased full-time employment (FTEs)  significantly, but not by this President’s standards.      

As a community organizer, President Obama certainly can appreciate the value of a grassroots movement.  In other words, contributions made from the ground up can have a very positive effect on the community.  In Obama’s case, that would pertain to social issues and how he was able to help people who were impoverished and disadvantaged.  Admirable, but the money he raised had to come from somewhere, most likely charitable contributions and local, state and federal government tax revenues which to a significant percentage, come from small businesses.  So get behind us!

In my case, contributions to my small business came in the form of personal sacrifices; from my personal savings; taking no salary for some time, taking less salary for some time and mind you, no vacations for many years.  I had to continue to pay my bills, feed my family and keep a roof over our heads.  When my saving ran out I took a second mortgage on my house.

I chose to go it on my own.  I took all my savings, borrowed from family, friends my home and started my own business.  My kids saw me on weekends.

The President refers to Middle American’s like it doesn’t include small business owners.  I’m a small business owner and a 99%er unless you add what my business earns and reinvests in the business.  The President knows how small businesses earn income and chooses to ignore it.  Small business people “pay it forward.”  Our income goes back into our business, meaning jobs and if for no other reason, in today’s economy, it’s grow or die! 

I’m offended by the President’s misguided belief that wealthy Americans are the problem in this divide between Republicans and Democrats. 

At the end of the day I’m “bone tired” and the threats of higher taxes, more regulation and Obamacare chill me to the bone.  Most wealthy Americans are hard-working, who have their own plan on how to spread the wealth around.  I have much more faith in free enterprise.

President Obama just doesn’t get it!  How could he?  He’s never walked in a small business owner’s shoes.  Mr. President, walk in my shoes and the shoes of millions of small business owners.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Believe in yourself
  2. Take a huge chance.
  3. Put your own money behind it.
  4. Believe you can do better.
  5. Commit yourself, your family and your friends to get behind you.
  6. Repeat Numbers 1 –5.

Free enterprise comes from the ground up.  Powerful stuff! 

 I think Mitt Romney knows how to cut spending and raise revenues.  Romney-Rubio would be my ticket to defeat Obama.  Say yes to R&R!

 

Leave it at the Door

Leave it at the Door

They should change the expression from the Holiday Blues to the Holiday Reds

Tis the season we all go a little crazy spending money.  Debt can pile up.  It can pile up for your Company, too.  The expression, “those that help, help themselves.” is never more of a challenge than it is right now.

As a business owner, I’m here to say, “We’re all in this together.” There’s no one, no one, who will be more disappointed than myself, if I cannot compensate you fairly, provide great benefits and a bonus for this year. 

So it’s worth sharing just a few observations from a guy that’s been doing this a while…

·        The longer it takes to deliver our products and services, the less likely we are to get paid.  Customers go out of business, get sold, or change suppliers.  We need to deliver.

·        We carry a large sum in Accounts Receivable each month – that’s money our customers owe us.  Imagine the possibilities for all of you if we could cut our delivery time by one-third or in half?

·        These are competitive times.  We are good, we are very good, but we still have a great deal of competition.  That means we need “great references.”  Great references come from great products and great service.  Great products and great service have to come from you.

·        The longer we stay in business, now 20 plus years (imagine… some of you were still in diapers) providing our customers with great products and service, the more opportunities will present themselves.

Imagine… some of you were still in diapers.

So what it all comes down to, everyone depends (not for diapers) on you.  So when it is all said and done and with the all the best of intentions, “Look to yourself , look to your fellow professionals and then ask yourself, “What can I do to produce opportunities?”  Then go do it. 

No one needs you to be looking at your watch.  You don’t need someone to tell you just to show up and get less done.   And everyone is entitled to take time to commiserate, socialize and share their personal lives here at work.  It’s a healthy work environment.  Still you want your time to be well spent.  BTW no one wants you to bring your personal problems to work.  In a work environment that delivers great products and great service, no one needs to hear you’re less fortunate than the next person.  So take care of your personal lives and your personal problems first.  If you do, you will receive more support from your co-workers and from me.  There’s more willingness to help those trying to help themselves. 

You can’t get better at what you do if you’re too stressed, too tired or too sick to help yourself and your company professionally.  Help yourself personally first and second professionally.  For all of us here the best medicine is a healthy, happy and productive you. 

We all have the tendency to have good days and bad, lick our wounds, get down in the mouth and to think no one cares.  If you know me, you know I care.  I truly care!  I do, but I don’t employ a priest, a doctor or a shrink.  If you need professional help, go get it.   If you’re a part of the company, you’re a part of my family. 

Family pulls together and as my Dad would always say after I have had a bad day, “Just leave it at the door.”

Express “yourself.” Leave your comments, share or spread the word click on the Stumble Upon button below. Subscribe or come back often to visit.

Threadbare – Not just a pretty face – Reg update

Reg Update – Resume

Reg’s story Threadbare – Not just a pretty face.

Jobs in the retail profession and clothing business remain scarce in Atlanta.  I recently spoke to Reg who was taking an OSHA class for his not so temporary job.  He had taken a “temporary” supervisory job in construction to help with the Lepper household cash flow.  That was almost three years ago.  It requires a hard hat and steel toed boots.  Hartmarx evidently, doesn’t sell steel toed boots.  He bought the boots from Wal-Mart – $19 bucks.

There are blisters on every toe.  He’s up at 5 AM.  It takes an hour  to get to the job site.

It’s 6:45 PM,  so he’s just getting home now.

I hear some of our Congressmen and women are complaining about the hours they’re spending away from home and now they are complaining about how much they make.  They’re getting a steady paycheck and Cadillac benefits.

They won’t pull this economy up by it’s boot straps.  Reg and people like him will.

Maybe they need a swift kick in the keester from those boots I’m talkin’ about.

Maybe they should just go home and be with their family?

Meantime, Reg has been and is actively looking for work.  Sending out his (click on the link to Reg’s “resume“) doing  job interviews, volunteering his time for Career Ministry and consulting their members regarding many aspects of their search for new opportunities and careers.

Threadbare – Not Just Another Pretty Face

“When you bust through all the layers of brevity and you have shaken all the hands of hope, you can begin to share the depths of depression joblessness can bring.”

This pretty much sums it up if you are over 50 and looking for employment.

Reg – Not Just Another Pretty Face.

When I decided to do this story about my good friend, Reg Lepper I thought maybe it would help him by building on the social networking he had already begun on LinkedIn and Facebook.

As I began learning more from him about his 27 plus year career at Hartmarx, known for its Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman suits, and for making President Obama’s inauguration tuxedo and topcoat, I realized the complex struggle he and his cadre of sales professionals and the plant workers endured.

The company and its United States subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in January, 2009. Workers threatened to occupy Hartmarx’s plant if the company’s creditor, Wells Fargo Bank, attempted to lay off workers and liquidate the company’s assets.

In August 2009, Emerisque Brands UK and its partner SKNL North America completed their purchase of Hartmarx.While Reg survived the bankruptcy of Hartmarx, the acquisition, ultimately of a foreign owned conglomerate based in India, many of his friends and fellow employees lost their jobs.

Not to be outdone Reg took it upon himself to write an impassioned plea, (click on the link “a letter to the President”) a letter to the President of the United States, Barrack Obama, the beneficiary of the afore-mentioned Hart Schaffner & Marx suits.  Fifteen (15) months after the acquisition Reg, too lost his job.

Like many who are unemployed, Reg wants to work.  He wants to support his family.  Like millions of Americans, there have been forks in the road and to make ends meet, he needs a job.  Reg is, as I describe him on LinkedIn.com business social networking site.

Reg’s now been unemployed for 7 months.  Not for lack of trying.  Reg has employed every means of looking for work.  Shunned by “head hunters” most likely due to his age, Reg is 64.  I can personally vouch for the fact he doesn’t behave or look a day over 30… OK so he looks a bit older, but he’s a firm believer in exercise, has been a long time distance runner.  Now his knees are telling him he needs to go shopping for a good bike – cheap!

That aside, Reg has been and is actively looking for work.  Sending out his (click on the link to Reg’s “resume“) resume doing  job interviews, volunteering his time for Career Ministry and consulting their members regarding many aspects of their search for new opportunities and careers.

Reg isn’t alone.  This is a nationwide plight affecting thousands of households across America.  If you are over 50 and unemployed in today’s economy, you could be facing many challenges including a mortgage underwater.  In such cases, how can you move to accept a job offer across the country?  What if you took a second mortgage out to pay for your kid’s tuition?  What if your kid is living at home because he or she can’t find a job or can’t afford to make ends meet on their own?

So is Reg’s story only about being a high income earner and over 50 an age related layoff?  I began to see there are many other dynamics in play.  Those dynamics include government and politics; how an increase in payroll taxes on corporate America has impacted US manufacturing jobs; and the shift in manufacturing jobs overseas.

Add TARP and “too big to fail”. i.e., Wells Fargo into the picture.  Let’s not forget the unions. Hoping to save their jobs and start a national movement, Hartmarx workers were pressuring Wells Fargo, the company’s main creditor, to approve the sale of Hartmarx to a buyer that would keep it alive instead of liquidating it and most likely putting its celebrated labels on suits made overseas, The New York Times’s Steve Greenhouse reported.tty face.

While I’m not going to rehash all the events which took place and detail the timeline I think it is interesting to point out there were a number of high profile players involved in the decline of the 124 year old company.

While researching this debacle 9 out of every 10 – news articles or posts reference corporate greed or the big bad bank, in this case Wells Fargo, as the culprit.

“That begs the question, “who buys Hartmarx suits?”

The answer is, “Wall Street bankers.”  OK, so who is demonizing Wall Street?  Obama and his posse, including Dick Durbin, Chuck Shumer and Barney Frank those who were championing the case for Hartmarx and union labor against Wells Fargo.

As reported by Progress Illinois:   The news of a potential liquidation (of Hartmarx) caused workers, union leaders, and members of Congress to spring into action to aid the company, which employs 3,000 people nationwide, including 1,000 in Illinois.  Rep. Phil Hare, who spent 13 years as a Hartmarx employee, described himself as “livid” at the bank, which accepted $25 billion in federal bailout funds. He went on to enlist the help of Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Rep.  Jan Schakowsky, whose great-aunt found a job with Hartmarx after emigrating from Russia, called Wells Fargo CEO John Strumpf and urged him to keep the company running.  Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, meanwhile, sent a letter to Strumpf threatening to sever the state’s business with the bank if Hartmarx was ultimately liquidated.

Days after suit maker Hartmarx was sold to Emerisque and its Indian partner S Kumars Nationwide Ltd, SKNL a textile giant three US plants of the clothier have been shut down resulting in the loss of over 500 jobs.  Not a peep out of President Obama, then or now and the Hartmarx factory making his suits in Des Plaines… still open.

Obama, proudly flashing the Hartmarx label

While they may have saved some jobs, politicians and union bosses who should know better and who have voted consistently for more government and more spending weren’t helping the cause.  They may have acted like they are helping Hartmarx employees but their votes for higher taxes and more spending were helping to drive manufacturing jobs overseas.

Reg, on the other hand took it upon himself to champion the cause for Hartmarx workers.  He wrote a letter to the President and stirred the political “hornet’s nest” to get politicians pontificating and deserves a lot of credit for saving US worker’s jobs.

Let it be stated, from all accounts, Emerisque, a British private equity firm working with SKNL, has been doing all it can do to promote and keep the US plants open. In fact, Bud” McCullar, a partner at Emerisque called Reg and commented on how much he cared about the company and fellow employees.  Here’s a quote from Mr. McCullar on Reg’s LinkedIn profile.

“Reg is the consummate seller for an ever evolving apparel and consumer products segments.  From presenting to closing, ever the professional.”

There’s a great book called Built to Last written by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras.  A very dear friend of mine recommended the book to me.   She has been fighting breast cancer for the past 10 years or more.  Apparently she, too, is “built to last.”  Thank God.

The authors define their choice of successful companies’ continued success to be built on “core values” and continued innovation by trying many things through change and recognizing and staying with what works.

If you are the management (CEO) of a company large or small it is your job to see to it you take care of the bottom line and all that goes with it.  That would be principally “cash  flow” management.  Too often, cash flow management is lost on CEOs who are paid for short term gains which inevitably cause long term pain.

That’s why small business is the backbone (more than 70 percent) of the US economy.  For small business cash flow is king.  Our only short term goal is to stay in business, cash flow and grow.

Maybe if more corporate giants and Wall Street bankers had stuck to their core values we wouldn’t be in as big a mess as we are now in today?  Case in point, the merger and acquisition (M&A) frenzy in the 90’s.  Corporate giants, including banks, joined in the M&A rush, to the extent some industry experts were predicting there would only be 3-4 large bank holding companies left in America.

Hartmarx too, jumped into the fray with an acquisition in late 1996.  They added two more in 1998.  In late summer 1999,they added another.  Maybe these acquisitions were good for the company.  I’m not here to judge.  What’s intriguing about the acquisitions is the correlation with offshoring.

In the 1990’s Hartmarx began the offshoring of production facilities to control costs. During that period, they closed ten domestic factories and shifted production to the Far East, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Someone should have written a book titled Built to “Be” Last – The Decline in Manufacuring Jobs in America – as American manufacturing companies began moving production overseas.

Now here’s the strongest argument yet to keep as to why there are fewer and fewer manufacturing jobs here in America.  If it were not for payroll taxes many more manufacturing jobs in America would have been saved.

While everybody was pointing fingers, blaming everyone but themselves for plant closings and lost jobs, you need not look further than, “it’s payroll taxes… (I’ll let you finish the sentence).”  Granted corporate greed is a factor here.  The problem is many large corporations are multi-national and feel the pressure from foreign competitors not burdened with the higher payroll taxes on workers.

Our government raised payroll taxes in April 1983.  The illustration here shows the investment US corporations began to make overseas according to PoliticalCalculations.com as “unintended consequences” of the payroll tax increase.

If you are a “for profit” company and it is your job to increase shareholder value, you are going to look for ways to lower your costs.  Increasing the payroll taxes on American workers was a major impetus to shift American manufacturing overseas.

We vote to place politicians in office to spend our tax dollars wisely.  They don’t.  On the other hand, we vote with our investment dollars to allow corporate “greed” to profit on the backs of American workers.  They do.

It’s time politicians wake up and reverse the course of lost manufacturing jobs by eliminating payroll taxes and adopting  the FairTax – see www.Fairtax.org.

Ultimately it is up to us as individuals to make the right choices.  This debt crisis is our wake-up call.  Let’s get back to our core values.  If you ask Reg it’s about God, family the desire to contribute his tremendous talent and work ethic to a company and a country “built to last.”

Made in the USA doesn’t have to be about politics or unions.  My good buddy Reg and many of those that have suffered the “unintended consequences” of increases in payroll taxes and lost  manufacturing jobs, will find no comfort here.

For more on Reg click here resume.

Was it so long ago?

Who amongst us never experienced the thrills and spills learning to ride a bike? You may still remember the cement sidewalk in front of you, rushing closer and closer until you kissed its rough surface with your face, your hands or your knee. Then, finally you were able to roll over those cracks (the one’s that broke your mother’s back) spinning freely, and spoiling gravity’s hold upon you. It is your first freedom ride, a ride outside your parent’s grasp, still sharing a rewarding moment in time with Dad, Mom or both.

If you never tried cycling, you’re never too old to acquire some pedal power, whether it be a beach cruiser or a sleek racing bike. You are just a few bumps and bruises away from one of the best of times life affords us.

Many of us have always had a bike. We will take it for a casual spin, but the bike spends more time resting in a corner or hanging from the ceiling of the garage. At the opposite end of the spectrum there are a select few who have become elite cyclists, who have made a profession out of cycling. The most famous of all cycle races, the Tour de France is in its 4th day of 21 days of speed and endurance racing.

A growing number of us have taken up cycling as a sport, like tennis or golf. We may ride 4-5 times weekly on local bike paths or the more serious among us, cycle on the roadways, preferably in bike lanes, where afforded us. The more serious riders may have taken to Event riding, from charity rides, like bikeMS, a weekend ride; to endurance rides, like Ride the Rockies, a seven day ride through mountainous terrain. Club rides are also popular, for the social aspect and riders gather based on skill level and ride in numbers before or after work hours and weekends.

Where the rubber meets the road, there are always conflicts of interest. Those of us who are more taken to automobiles than bikes may not appreciate the sight of spandex in its many shapes and sizes, slowing or getting in the way of our progress. Some cyclists are rude and blatantly disobey the rules of the road. Some are ignorant or unaware. Some are just plain day-dreaming or not paying attention, as they should, in traffic, where the same rules apply for both cyclists and automobiles. Subsequently the same applies to motorists. One might suggest, the same personalities whether on a bike or in an automobile act in much the same way.

Cyclist or motorist, let’s reflect back on our childhood memories; those precious moments we share in common, when we first learned to ride a bicycle; then try to getting along. It could be, “just like getting back on a bike”.

Share the road.

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