November 13, 2012

“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” …words from a stranger

“You’re a good man, Charlie Brown” …growing up, I remember Charlie Brown, and those words. But never did those words have as much meaning (to me) as they did later in life, when I became a dad myself.

I was at the park with my daughter Brianna, she was about three or so. It was time to go, and I remember struggling with her, she didn’t want to leave. I was frustrated and starting to lose my patience, a jogger ran by, and without stopping or skipping a beat, I heard those words…”You’re a good man, Charlie Brown”. I stopped, regained my composure and felt a calm reassurance, that yes…I am a good man!

I carry those words with me to this day, words from a stranger. Took no effort from the jogger, but the little gesture sure made a difference. Tell someone today that they’re doing a good job, or yes they’re a good person. You never know what a difference one small gesture may have!

Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. ~ S.Adams

March 31, 2012

#Twitter ~ Miss me while I’m gone?

A couple of months ago, my Facebook friend, Jon Henry, posted a status update that said; (paraphrasing)  “Keep in touch with your best friend, you never know what tomorrow will bring…” . Jon learned that his best friend’s dad had passed away, Jon felt bad that he could not be there with him. That got me thinking about my best friend, Mike Marko. Mike and I grew up together, I wrote this post about Mike’s dad Sense of Smell and our Memories…Mr. Marko . I contacted Mike, and a week later we were eating a burger and catching up. Years had passed since we’d seen each other, but we vowed to only let days and weeks go by before chatting again, rather than months and years. We’ve kept that promise. Keeping in touch with old friends is important, but that’s not entirely what’s on my mind these days.

After Jon’s post, and after meeting with Mike, I decided I had been spending too much time on the various social media platforms. I decided to shut down for a few days, go dark if you will. It was only going to be for a couple/few days, but my hiatus turned into nearly 30 days, unplugged. Well, not entirely, I would lurk a bit.

Now, the touchy part, my ego. After a week of being gone, why was I not missed? After two weeks, dang?! It was nearly a month before a flag went up and someone was wondering where I was. And you know who was wondering? By coincidence, it was Jon Henry. Then the floodgates opened, and I had to resurface. The time away was nice; In those 30 days, I read as many books as I had in 3 months prior, I met my wife again and spent some valuable time with my daughter. But I missed my online family and friends. So I came back, but better for being gone, more balanced.

So here’s what I’ve been thinking about: What is social media to you, and what are you to social media? My primary platform is twitter, so that’s what I’m focusing on. I’ve been thinking of real life scenarios, where being gone for 30 days wouldn’t cause alarm.

My first thought was your job, gone for a day or two and you’re missed, right?! That’s the thing, I began paying closer attention to the bio’s of my twitter friends. And wouldn’t ya know it! Their jobs are primarily in marketing and social media. Not me, I’m more like the customer who frequents the store; we’re friendly, we know each other by name, but you don’t expect to see me there every day!

How long would it be before you were missed? Or, is there someone you haven’t seen in a while? I went back and checked on a few friends and followers, I was surprised, I bet you would be too!

When you put down the good things you ought to have done, and leave out the bad ones you did do well, that’s Memoirs.  Will Rogers 

March 12, 2012

A Poem to Brianna on her 1st Birthday…

Ten years ago, I received a gift from God

March 12th, 2002, that’s the day I witnessed a miracle…
So Beautiful ~ So True.

On that day, when you left your mommy’s womb…
I wept like a child who’d been sent to his room.

Not tears of pain, nor tears of sorrow…

But tears of Joy, and the excitement of tomorrow.

Years will come and years will go…

As your dad, I love to watch you grow.
Next year you will be two and after that three…
Before I know it, you will be 18 wanting to be free.
On that day, when you want to spread your wings wide…
Always remember, you’ve given your dad so much pride!

I Love YOU Sweetie…Daddy

November 1, 2011

Life Lessons from Poker

In the summer of 2003, I began playing (online) Poker.  It was the summer that a relatively unknown player by the name of Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker.  His victory catapulted poker onto a whole new level of popularity.  The game of choice for most, including myself, was No-Limit Texas Holdem.   Of all the poker I have played, No-Limit Holdem is by far the most challenging.  The game requires discipline, intuition, patience, strategy, skill, and okay (some) luck.

For those not familiar with the game, here’s a quick intro; http://www.texasholdem-poker.com/beginnersintro

In the beginning, I didn’t do very well;  I learned by watching the pro’s on TV and fell into the trap of trying to play like them.  I tried bluffing just for the sake of bluffing, I went all-in when I should have been all-out, I was holding ‘em instead of folding ‘em.  Frustrated, I took a step back, read some books, did some research and learned to trust my gut and intuition.  “Listening to your heart”…Sometimes you just know.

I love the game of poker and the more I play, the more I realize how similar the lessons of poker are to the lessons of life.  Much has been thought about and written about the similarities, here are some of my favorites:

  • If, after the first twenty minutes, you don’t know who the sucker at the table is, it’s you.  ~David Levien and Brian Koppelman, Rounders
  • The commonest mistake in history is underestimating your opponent; it happens at the poker table all the time.  ~David Shoup
  • “How long does it take to learn poker, Dad?” “All your life, son.” ~Michael Pertwee
  • Most of the money you’ll win at poker comes not from the brilliance of your own play, but from the ineptitude of your opponents.  ~Lou Krieger
  • In life’s poker game, the optimist sees the pessimist’s night and raises him the sunrise.  ~Robert Braul
  • Poker reveals to the frank observer something else of import—it will teach him about his own nature. Many bad players do not improve because the cannot bear self-knowledge.  David Mamet
  • Poker is a game of people. That’s the most important lesson you should learn….People…and the strategy you use against them. More than any other game, Poker depends on your understanding your opponent.  Doyle Brunson

One of my strengths at the poker tables is patience.  I really don’t care for single (ring) games of 9-10 players, I mostly enjoy tournament play where upwards of 4,000 players are seated.  I learned that you don’t have to play every hand, you can wait, be patient and pounce when your cards hit.  But, there are periods when the cards you’re getting just suck, so you have to improvise and work a little harder to win.  Such as with life, when your hard work and patience is simply not paying off, you may need to improvise, shift gears, mix up your game!

Do you have any life lessons that a game has taught you?  I’d love to hear them.

“No matter how much you may want to think of Holdém as a card game played by people, in many respects it is even more valid to think of it as a game about people that happens to be played with cards.”

– Phil Hellmuth

October 17, 2011

Corn Maze Through a Child’s Eyes

Fall is a wonderful season ~ Cool fresh air, changing colors, Football and the Apple Orchards, one of our favorites.  This past Sunday, my wife and I went to the Orchard/Cider Mill with our daughter and her girl scout troop.  The weather was perfect…slight breeze, sun was shining and just cool enough to hear a complaint or two about the chill (typically from us adults).

We arrive at the Orchard and the troop leader has it all planned out…corn maze for 45 mins. haunted hayride 20 mins. then cider & doughnuts.  There were 24 girls and 6 adults, we split up the girls in groups of 4 per one adult.  The game of this particular corn maze is not just getting from point A to point B, but also finding objects along the way.  At the beginning of the maze, each girl is given a card with 8 pictures on it, each picture is located within the maze and you cross them off as you find them.

And so our adventure begins!  Corn mazes are carved into fields of cornstalks that are over 7 feet tall.  Getting through them, is actually harder than it appears.  Because you can’t see the whole picture, you just walk around and hope you haven’t been in this spot before.  All too often, you end up back where you were because it’s difficult to distinguish between one wall of cornstalks and another.

Ten maybe Fifteen minutes into our maze, we were turning corners and a little voice behind me says…”Mr. Feskorn, we’ve already been this way” so, we go another direction. Five minutes later, the voice says …”…we’ve been this way too”.   I turn to the little girl, Aswitha, and politely ask “These cornstalks are 7 feet high and they all look alike, how is it that you know we have been here before?”  “Come with me”, she says. “Look, up on that hill” I get down to her 52″ level and look through the stalks. “Do you see it?” she asks. Through the stalks, she pointed at a large maple tree that stood out amongst the apple trees.  She pointed out other things, like a house and a telephone pole that would remind her where she had been.

We made it through the maze in time for the haunted hayride, missed two of the objects but that was okay.  As we were on the hayride, I sat and thought about Aswitha and what her little eyes were seeing that mine were not.  I pondered and was reminded of what it was like to be young again, to see the world differently, to think outside the box because no box has been built yet.  I want to see things like I am 52″ tall again,  take it all in and remember the details of all the things I’ve been missing; things I used to see….just 20 inches ago.  Thank you, Aswitha.

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

October 15, 2011

This Too Shall Pass…

 

At some point or another, we’ve all been there.  Had something happen in our life that we thought we could never overcome.  Whether it’s personal, financial or otherwise, that depleted feeling can consume us.  Having been through a few trial myself, I would repeat these words in my head…”This Too Shall Pass”.  And you know what?  Pass, they do…and getting through them and coming out okay has made me stronger and more resilient than I ever thought I could.

You may have heard of this story before, but it always helps to read it again to remember why…”This Too Shall Pass”.

King Solomon, feeling blue, asked his advisors to find him a ring he had once seen in a dream.

“When I feel satisfied I’m afraid that it won’t last. And when I don’t, I am afraid my sorrow will go on forever. Find me the ring that will ease my suffering.” he demanded.

Solomon sent out all of his advisors, and eventually one of them met an old jeweler who carved into a simple gold band the inscription, “this too shall pass.” When the king received his ring and read the inscription, his sorrows turned to joy and his joy to sorrows, and then both gave way to equanimity.

You see, the great King found himself unable to be content. He felt sorrow when he was happy, and sorrow when he was not, because he was unable to see his way forward. The ring served to cancel out his sorrow. By constantly having something to look forward to, he found himself content. What he previously thought was satisfaction was only a superficial feeling that was brought on by his great wealth, which was only temporary, thus his satisfaction could not last forever. True satisfaction could only be found when he recognized his wealth for what it was.

The idea of this folklore is that everything that is now will whither away and become no more.  To be content we must move past these lows in our life but we must also not get too exuberant in our triumphs.  Finding the right balance is key.  Every moment in our life is temporary, we must understand this and move on accordingly.

Opportunities fly by while we sit regretting the chances we have lost, and the happiness that comes to us we heed not, because of the happiness that is gone.  ~Jerome K. Jerome, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, 1889

September 12, 2011

Why Am I Here…?

September marks my 6 month anniversary of my social media experience.  Well, let’s say 6 month anniversary of being active in social media.  I began facebooking last year after my high school reunion and decided it was a good way to keep in touch with old friends.  I really did not become active with social media until I activated my twitter account earlier this year.  Shortly after, I began this blog.

I have yet to define my goals and have a clear vision of why I am here, maybe writing this well help me on my way.  Initially, I wanted to connect with people in my field of work, floor covering; found some but not many.  My next step was to connect with our customer base, folks in real estate, more specifically the multifamily industry; I’ve connected and learned from so many in this field.

Here’s the thing, I started to wander and connect with folks outside of my professional field…

  • Lolly Daskal ~ My first chat experience on Twitter;  #LeadFromWithin is a group of folks exchanging ideas on how we can lead from our heart.  A Truly inspirational and supportive group.
  • Chris Edmonds – A really hip guy who I met and befriended in the LFW chats – Look for #coolculture hashtag on twitter
  • Ted Coine – A business heretic; I relate with Ted on so many levels.  He’s a down to earth guy with a passion for 21st century leadership.
  • Daniel Newman – A young CEO who co-founded a blog titled 12 Most; I am a groupie at the site
  • Dave Carpenter – His bio reads: Passionate about helping people be the very best they can be.  This man can inspire with a smile!
  • Wayne McEvilly – A classical pianist with a deep intellect who is a truly great person; he reaches out like no other.
  • Kenny Rose – Kenny is probably one of the most, if not the most genuinely likable guys I have had the pleasure of getting to know on twitter.  He is passionate, sincere and authentic…The Real Deal!
  • Tristan Bishop – aka: Knowledgebishop.  Anyone who follows Tristan knows what I mean when I say he has a true gift with words; he is a wordsmith and you will be inspired when you see his content in your stream.
  • Margie Clayman – Margie is a 3rd generation advertising exec.  She also hosts a Saturday night chat called #Tweetdiner.  She is a wonderful host and does her best to involve everyone in her chats…and share the pie too!

This list could go on and on…but meeting all these remarkable people was not what I intended to gain from social media.  How can I monetize these relationships?  I cannot, but what I have gained from them is truly priceless.  I do need to earn a living and I believe that is why I haven’t written a blog post in so long; I sell carpet not words after all.  But I did find this quote….

You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.

- unknown

July 12, 2011

To Thine own Twitter-Self be True…

 Saturday night at #Tweetdiner…this is a nice laid back chat with some great folks I’ve met on twitter.   The topic this past Saturday was valuation of twitter and how to measure what it means to you personally or your business.  Halfway through the chat, I had to leave to tend to some type of craziness at our house…can’t remember exactly but I think our  beagle escaped again to roam the neighborhood to hunt out all the rabbits she didn’t catch on her last venture.  

 When I returned, the chat was coming to a close and the niceties were being exchanged, I always love this part!   I came across a tweet message from Taariq Lewis @taariqlewis addressed to Michele Price @prosperitygal (and a few others) saying that he was now following them.  Trying to be clever, I jumped in and responded to Taariq that he could follow but if he wanted a “sure thing” to follow him back, he should see Ted @tedcoine. 

Now, here’s a little history:  Ted Coine recently wrote an article for the folks over at 12 Most titled “12 Most Compelling Reasons I Follow Everyone Back”  Wow, did he stir up some debate with this one!  If you check out the responses you will see that Michele @prosperitygal does not follow Ted’s policy…no siree!   

I have been following Michele for some time and she wasn’t following me back.  I saw this as an opportunity to get her attention and possibly gain a follow from her…this was her response:

 @JFeskorn ROFLMAO cc @taariqlewis , yeah I am not an auto follow back either, ask @unmarketing abt that crazy practice-great perspective

Michele was now following me back…but at what expense?  See, if you scroll through the responses to Ted’s 12 Most post you will find my response in which I echo Ted’s Follow back policy.  I am so far off  Ted’s radar that this little blip of a comment probably never entered his twitterverse and if it did, I doubt it would have caused him to even shrug.  No harm no foul, right?  Wrong!

I respect Ted immensely, mostly because of his core belief that if you find what you love and work your ass off you can achieve great things.  My little indiscretion has caused me to question my twitter integrity.  This is not an apology to Ted or a confession to Michele, well…yes it is but more importantly it’s a reminder to myself that I need to re-think my objectives and align my values to my core truths.  Okay, I guess I feel better…..kinda :) 

Let personal integrity be your guide. It is the foundation laid by a humans supposed standards at the beginning. At the end of the day, it is the simple truth of what one makes of it. It is a human being’s moral compass. That is what personal integrity means to me.

May 7, 2011

Sense of Smell and our Memories…Mr. Marko

Confession: I smoke cigars. I know, the initial reaction by most is ewww, yuck;  I guess that is why my 9-year-old daughter refers to them as yuckies, I felt the same way when I was her age.  Growing up, my best friends dad, Mr. Marko, was never without his stogie; doing yard work, sitting on the porch with my dad, sitting in his den working on his coin collection, driving us to the movies and on.  Oh, and the Kentucky Derby! Mr. Marko loved horse races and he would have us kids over to join in the fun!  After the race we would each walk away with something; I still have mine, it’s a quarter wrapped in cellophane as my horse placed third in the 1979 Kentucky Derby. Face value = .25 but for me it is a cherished memory of a long ago childhood.

The tangible things, like my quarter, we touch, we see and they help to remind us of our yesterdays, but what about memories triggered by our sense of smell?  As a youth, I really did not enjoy the smell of Mr. Marko’s cigars, I was a kid after all :) Sometime later in life, I really began enjoying the aroma.  I would be on the golf course and a buddy would light up and mmmm, that smell!  I began to realize that there was something more, something inside of me that was happening…a secure calm feel that was not really tied to any of my memories, or were they?  Here’s an excerpt from an article I found:

The Science Behind Sense of Smell and Scent Stimulation When we breathe in an aroma, the particles that make up the aroma are detected by the part of our brain that govern our sense of smell and emotions. Often, this has an instantaneous effect on our moods and emotions. Some experts tell us inhalation is the most direct route between the outside world and our brains.  http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro00/web2/Ito.html

I was truly blessed with a wonderful childhood and the aroma of a cigar only helps to remind me of those days. Do you have a scent that triggers such strong emotions? 

When nothing else subsists from the past, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered· the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls· bearing resiliently, on tiny and almost impalpable drops of their essence, the immense edifice of memory -Marcel ProustThe Remembrance of Things Past

April 16, 2011

Living With Bipolar; the other side…

I’d like to share a story of a good friend of mine, James (for privacy reasons, this is not his real name).  I’m going to go back a few years to when he first began his career in his family’s furniture store.     Fresh out of college was perfect timing, his dad needed help at the business and so began his  career.  James had a good life; good friends, good job, girlfriends, family…everything always seemed to go his way.

10 years into his career James became sales manager at the store and things were going great. He would confide in me that he was getting restless, not with his career but with his single life.  James wanted to settle down and start a family of his own.  Knowing him as I do, I knew it wouldn’t be long before he set out on his quest. He met a beautiful young lady and within a year they were married and soon after they began a family.  Typical with James, things went just as he had planned.

I remember his daughter’s 1st birthday party, he looked very happy.  Sometime later I started noticing changes in James, he appeared withdrawn and preoccupied.  I would ask if everything was okay and his response was alwaysof course, everything’s great!”  Some time later his wife was in the hospital, she had attempted suicide.  I met up with James and he said “I can’t believe it, she finally did it”…Finally did it?!, I said. “You mean, she has tried this before? ‘Oh yeah, a few times but not like this, she swallowed a whole bottle of her prescription meds.’  Okay, at this point I needed to sit down.  By all accounts James and his wife were the picture of happiness.  “Meds? Is she sick James? ‘Yes, she is bipolar.'”

Through the years, James would share stories of what they had gone through.  The down times when she would lay in bed and just cry and talk about not wanting to go on.  The manic times when she wouldn’t sleep for days (and neither would he).  They sought medical help and things got worse before they got better.  Everybody’s chemistry make up is different, so there’s a lot of experimenting in determining the correct medication for a person with bipolar.  There is no cure for bipolar, only treatments.

Several years have gone by and James and his wife are doing okay but he’s still not the same guy I knew.  James told me recently that after his wife’s suicide attempt he became a prisoner to his own fears.  He says he’s afraid to be happy, What if this happens again, what if she gets worse?”

My friend has always been very independent, even through this most difficult part of his life he has tried to go it alone. I am going to introduce James to the wonderful world of social media and the people I have met here.  I know it will help.  John

“Now, why is it that most of us can talk openly about the illnesses of our bodies, but when it comes to our brain and illnesses of the mind we clam up and because we clam up, people with emotional disorders feel ashamed, stigmatized, and don’t seek the help that can make the difference.”  ~Kirk Douglas

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