Celebrating Volunteerism

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash

The motivation behind this week’s blog comes from my time spent this past weekend with JROTC cadets across the midwest states of Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri. [I promise to keep it short in the interest of everyone’s much needed Spring Break!] By definition, volunteerism is the use or involvement of volunteer labor, especially in community services. It may be a large assumption on my part, but many of the special programs, school functions, charitable and non-charitable community events we have grown to love and enjoy, would falter without volunteers.

“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
― Abraham Lincoln

This is probably a little more information than you’d like as a reader, but my wife and I once had to volunteer for our child to attend school. At the time I thought it was absurd to ask a parent to take time out of his or her schedule to volunteer over ten hours a month to the school, while managing a career, and raising two additional children. Little did I know then, that today, I’d hold that year in high regard, thankful my daughter had an opportunity to attend an extra year of school, without incurring any additional cost.

Imagine if the 10,000 volunteers [estimate from a 2014 article] didn’t show for the Boston Marathon. What if the local Christmas Toy Drive or Salvation Army had nobody to ring a bell. Where would we find ourselves? How would we help others in need? The short answer is…we wouldn’t. We need volunteers more today than we ever have.

I hate to sound like the late night, overpaid celebrity spokesman, but even a little bit of your time goes a long way. Do something memorable. Volunteering in my day consisted of your parents signing up for your favorite holiday party. That is not the case today, in fact, the opportunity is likely 100 times more! Volunteering has a long lasting effect and in some cases might be the therapeutic relief one may need. Even if it entails waking up at 5 a.m. to judge a JROTC Drill competition. There are endless opportunities. A superficial search will yield a handful of options. If you’d like a few pointed recommendations, please feel free to contact me. There is always some way to make our society better, while brightening the day of someone in need or delivering in some impactful way! Happy volunteering and I hope your Spring Break landed you some well deserved time off and family memories

P.S. If you haven’t already, go watch Captain Marvel! It’s terrific!

Race Against Time

Photo by Luis Perez Companc on Unsplash

The rooster crows [no pun intended] and it’s time for another round of….let’s see just how much we can fit in to a short amount of time, hence the motivation for the title.

As I reflect on the years, I constantly wonder where the time went, how my kids grew up so quickly, and how, twenty years after joining the military, I ended up right where I started with respect to training, flavors, and tendencies. I somewhat feel like all I do is race through life, knock down targets, and make quick memories that are sure to last a lifetime. This is all in an effort to get me through to the next opportunity of fellowship, leave [military terminology for vacation], family, and friendly gatherings with other like-minded individuals and loved ones. Time management helps but I like to refer to my pressing need to always do more with less as controlled chaos. It is an orchestrated, precision maneuver to cram everything in like it’s our last. Take no prisoners and row as hard as you can for said amount of days! That’s what it’s like in my household when the whistle blows and it’s time to make memories and honestly to just live life.

This is what we’ve come to accept as normalcy, I guess…

We are going as fast as we can as soon as we can. We’re in a race against time, until we run out of money.


Jack Nicholson

What direction am I headed in you are probably wondering? Well I’m obviously going to encourage others to slow down and enjoy life, but who am I or anyone to judge, especially when tomorrow is never guaranteed. Just because I’m in a race against time doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying life. I’ve just learned how to ingest life at that speed. We never really know what the future holds, so why not do as much as you can. I’m playing through the whistle as my ole high school football coach would say. That’s who I am today and I’ll likely do that for the remainder of my time on earth. There is obviously some risk associated with pushing hard and sacrificing longer than usual hours in a vehicle. I wouldn’t trade it for the world; however, those I’ve drug along may.

When we arrive at our destination it is comical to see the relief in everyone’s eyes, especially when we’ve arrived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in August when the weather is a lovely seventy-five degrees and sunny. We made it everyone yells and oh by the way….the clock is still ticking, so when does our ferry leave for Mackinac Island, what day am I riding Harley Davidson’s with my wife’s uncles, and the kids continuously asking if we are going to watch the weekend firework show and get ice cream.

Photo by Dennis Buchner on Unsplash
Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Paradise, MI, United States

Waking at the butt crack of dawn and driving nearly 900 miles in one day is only one aspect of how I am in a constant race against time.

The other aspect is life in general, outside of leave mode. The first part of this article is just the funnier version. I’ve mentioned no guarantee of tomorrow and to some people that may seem like a bit of an exaggeration. It’s very much true and alive today in my life, as well as the circles I run around in.  We constantly hustle to do more in my household and many others for that fact. Whether it’s in preparation of a kid graduating high school, setting conditions for an upcoming deployment, something on the calendar, or the basic need to get family related events coordinated, arranged, and executed. On any given day its: rise, kill the gym, eat breakfast, work, emails, and workout, lunch, boxing practice, dinner, blog related things [really hard stuff in case you didn’t know], rinse and repeat! I absolutely love it!

Someday I’ll be retired and vow to never again wake at 3 a.m. for a northern vacation. I’ll likely take life at a slower pace, as well as stop occasionally for the night instead of driving straight thru. Sometimes we only have one shot to get it right. Splurge and live. The race against time is here to stay and we as humans will continue to face this challenge. It’s ultimately up to the user to determine how he or she handles it. In Shawshank Redemption, the character’s probably put it best, “get busy living or get busy dying.” As for me, I’m going to stick with “get busy living!”

I wouldn’t know what to do otherwise. I’ve been fortunate to make great memories and I wish all of you reading this today the same good fortunes. Just because my race against time is fast paced and speedy does not mean yours has to be. Determine your pace, but most of all make memories. They are what drives us to the next opportunity. I’d love to read how others race against time and any special memories you and yours made. Please feel free to leave a comment below and share your experiences with others.