Sunday, February 20, 2011

Nighttime Mischief

Joshland Note: It's seems appropriate that this is the first post my newly internet-savvy grandma reads on my blog. Now I have my mother, both of my grandparents, many of my extended family, and at least one nun who roll their eyes at my youthful stupidity. Anyways, Welcome to Joshland, Grandma. :-)

There is a great speech from the movie "The Sandlot" - which you are missing out on if you haven't seen it - where 10 year old Scotty Small's mom is encouraging him to go make friends. She says:


"I want you to get out into the fresh air and make some friends. Run around, scrape your knees, get dirty, climb trees, hop fences, get into trouble, for crying out loud. Not too much, but some. You have my permission. How many mothers do you know who say something like that to their sons?"

Checkout the trailer for "The Sandlot" by clicking here!

Aaaaah, I remember when my mother gave me a very similar speech at that age. I'm pretty sure she gave it with the full knowledge I'd get into mischief, but I think she knew I had enough common sense to stay out of big trouble...with the exception of "The Teddy Bear Incident" which you can read by clicking on the link below:

The Teddy Bear Incident

I was lucky enough during my childhood to hang with a Sandlot-esque neighborhood full of kids. From the warm up of late spring to the crisp dusk of late autumn we were outside doing those same things and enjoying every second of it

One particular brand of mischief we partook in was playing games under the cover of darkness. It was a summertime tradition. You see, summertime meant no school and later curfews, which meant more time to make trouble. This nighttime mischief involved 3 stages:

First Stage: Kick the Can

What's safer than two teams running around aimlessly in the dark attempting to kick a tin can placed somewhere in the middle of an unlit yard? How about if both teams are wearing all black except for one guy who insisted tucking his sweatpants into his bright white socks because he didn't want to trip and hurt himself. And NOOOOOOOOOO, it wasn't me! It was this guy I knew..ahem...

I don't know what the real rules of the game were, but sooner or later, the following events would occur:

• We'd get through a few rounds where someone would eventually find the can and kick it. Hence the name...Kick the Can!

• Someone would get frustrated and lie about kicking the can so that everyone would think they were awesome, only to be ridiculed moments later when they couldn't prove their accomplishment. Their punishment for lying was a heavy dose of "snake bites", wedgies, or "purple nurples".

• During the game, various people would be party to full speed collisions. Heads, arms, and legs were smashed together on a regular basis. There was even the occasional groin shot that would draw snickers from the uninjured players while crocodile tears flowed from the recipient. Injuries were a badges of honor, especially when someone fought through the pain and kept playing thanks to the "encouragement" of their friends. In reality, the encouragement was for the greater good of the game more than it was for the injured participant. If someone went home, then the teams would be uneven and THAT would be stupid.

• One of the resident knuckleheads (yes, we had multiples) would find the collisions so amusing that they would convince their teammates to cause more of them by using the "Red Rover" maneuver. This genius move entailed running full bore, hands locked together in a clothesline-like position, and plowing over anything that moved. What about trying to kick the can, you say? Umm, I pretty sure the can was no longer the focus the moment the knuckleheads starting giving the orders. By the end of that round, the yard looked like a battlefield full of wounded soldiers.

Aaaaaaaaaand that usually ended Kick the Can.

Second Stage: Flashlight Tag


The leftovers that survived "Kick the Can" would stick our feet in the middle of a circle and - using the infallible method of "Enie Meanie Miney Moe" or "Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum In A Dish" - we'd pick the poor sucker that was "It" for flashlight tag. Whomever was "It" had the unenviable task of shining the flashlight on one of the other players and "tagging" them by calling out their name before the got to the safety spot. Sadly, once you were "It" you were ALWAYS "It". You see, playing a normal game of tag is hard enough, but when everyone is wearing black and no one admits when they are tagged, it's hard to prove them wrong...unless their white socks were showing. DAMN IT!

Oh, and don't forget to add the collision factor from Kick the Can, but this time it's every one for themselves. I vividly recall a time my night ended early thanks to a collision with a tree and a branch slicing my face open right below my eyeball. That was a neat conversation to have with my mother on the way to receive multiple stitches in the ER.

The squealing of rambunctious kids that echoed like piglets in the dead of night - particularly the tantrum thrown by the chosen "It" guy after 45 minutes of frustration - combined with the supposed "late" hour, prompted our adult neighbors to add to the noise by yelling "Keep the noise down, you damn kids! Have some respect!" Since that NEVER worked (and usually encouraged us to be louder), our parents would then receive phone calls which caused the summertime phenomenon of random porch lights flickering on and off and blood chilling "come home" whistles piercing the night air.

Those flickering lights and screaming threats were a dual signal. If they were from a house filled with kids, then we let them off the hook. If they were from a house inhabited with curmudgeonly fuddy duddies, well then that was like waving a red cape in front of a bunch of miniature bulls.

Final Stage: Ding Dong Ditch

We never destroyed property. We never broke mailboxes, egged houses, or left lit bags of dog shit on doorsteps. At least I was never a part of that. If it had ever happened when I was around, I would have said it was wrong and gone home to tell someone about it. No one deserves that. I don't care how dumb they are.

But, I was all for aggravating a fuddy duddy when they had it coming. We were kids enjoying our nights that never lasted much past 10:30. If you couldn't handle a little extra noise coming from your neighbors yard because their kids were having harmless fun (injuries be damned), then you deserved you a good ding donging.

We were like ninjas. Loud ninjas...one of which had white socks on. We'd ring their doorbell and make a ton of noise from our hiding places at least a dozen times in a row until they'd finally had enough and would come out to curse at us in the night. Then we'd ding dong'em once more and run down the street in plain sight, scattering to our various houses along the way, giggling and smiling the whole time.

This is one of my favorite childhood memories. No worries or fears, just having fun. That's what being a kid is all about, right? There are times when I wonder if I will ever become a curmudgeonly fuddy duddy, but I think that's another reason why I write this blog. So I never turn into one. :-)

Peaceful and Mischievous Things,

Josh

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Moganko CF Project: And So It Begins...


Hello Joshland Readers,

I've been teasing about "big things" coming up in Joshland in 2011. Well, now it's time to get the ball rolling. And I need your help. I'm calling in a favor. I'm calling all cars!

It's one thing for me to talk about my life with CF. My friends, my family, my world. As you saw in my video from last year, they are all very important to me.




But now I'm thinking bigger. I'm want to share the story of the CF Community with the world. How individual and unique our lives are, yet how we all go down a similar path. How it doesn't just affect me, but it affects 70,000 people across the planet. That's not big number in terms of population, but size doesn't mean anything when you have heart and believe in the possibility of amazing things.

I don't have an exact number, but I'm guessing I've personally connected with over 1,000 different people and families with cystic fibrosis. Because of "Breathe" and this blog, thousands have heard of me. I am humbled and proud to be one voice of 70,000 plus.

But what if...just what if...we put all our voices together? What if we put our differences aside and came together as a community? I'm not just talking "CF people" either. I'm also talking about the CF non profits and organizations across the world that I love and am so thankful for. What if...for a moment...instead of lots of separate, yet equally important missions competing with one another...there was just ONE MISSION?

CF AWARENESS.

This quote is the inspiration for the Moganko CF Project:

“It is amazing how much you can accomplish when it doesn't matter who gets the credit.” ~ Harry S. Truman

CF Community: I can't tell you more than that right now, but if you want to help promote CF awareness with Moganko and I leading the charge, then email me and maybe I'll give you a little more info...not too much, but a little bit more. :-)

Email me at welcometojoshland@gmail.com and write "CF Project" in the subject line.

Friends and Family of the CF Community (that includes you non-CF connected blog readers): I'll have something for you to do soon if you are up to the task. Stay tuned for more info...

Why all the secrecy? Let me put it to you this way...

You can't finish a puzzle until you have all the pieces you need flipped up and sorted, right? Well, right now...I'm gathering the pieces. If I get everything in place before I let the cat out of the bag, (and this works the way I hope it will), then everyone involved wins. EVERYONE.

Trust me. Have I ever steered you wrong? I mean when it's important? :-)

Peaceful Things and Lots of Love,

Josh

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I Will Never Get Used To It

Joshland Note: I've written about this before, but something struck my heart recently that made me feel the need to write about it again. Sorry for being redundant...

Webster's dictionary defines a HERO or HEROINE as: a person admired for their achievements and noble qualities; one who shows great courage...

I understand the meaning and how easy it can be to place those virtues on a public figure, but often times we overlook the heroes we have right in front of our faces. I prefer the meaning of the song "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters.

"This song was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential. Not the 'heroes' a lot of teenagers have nowadays and had then, that are people like rock stars, etc. you know, famous people" ~ Dave Grohl lead singer of the Foo Fighters

Please play this video of the acoustic version of "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters while you read this post or play it after you are done.



You see, I've been called a hero and an inspiration all my life. Hell, a few months ago I was called - in a "tongue in cheek", yet somewhat serious manner - the "Tom Cruise of the CF blogging world", which made my wife burst out laughing (who can blame her :-) and forced me to reply: "I'm certainly not Tom Cruise. He has more hair than I do and I don't jump up and down on couches...very often." Thank you for that Iowa CF Mommas. :-) You have a special place in Joshland.

I've never been very good at taking complements. I was talking to my friend Rose from "Breathe" (Ding!) the other day about how to handle all this praise (because she gets it the same response from her singing and from her giving heart) and she laughed while repeating the same words I often hear from my wife, family, and friends:

"You are a big time celebrity and hero in the CF world. Get used to it."

FYI: I WILL NEVER GET USED TO IT.

Your so-called hero/inspiration puts his pants on one leg at time. (Sometimes I do both legs at the same time if I'm in a hurry. Ooooh, I'm magical.) I spend my laundry day in Spongebob pajama pants until my regular clothes are ready to wear. I've locked myself out of the house a few times. Not to mention, I do the same kind of CF stuff that you do. All the meds, appointments, surgeries, and whatnot. I've been through my own journey. Cystic fibrosis is path filled with similarities, but it's always uncharted and always individual and unique. Don't let anyone ever tell you otherwise.

That doesn't make me a hero. That makes me a regular guy who tries really hard every day to be a good person and do the best I can with what I've got in my life. Here's another way to explain it...

There's a cute little story that's been told time and time again and has made its way across the internet, particularly the blogging world. It goes like this:

A little boy was taught by his parents that the key to life is happiness. When he was old enough to go to school, he and his classmates were given an assignment. The assignment was to write down what they wanted to be when they grew up. The little boy gleefully wrote three words:

"To be happy".

His teacher said the little boy didn't understand the assignment, to which little boy replied:

"You don't understand life."

What's my point? Hold your horses, I'm getting there. I'm just taking the scenic route. :-)

The other day I received an email from a Joshland reader. In it, this reader stated that they were an avid follower of my blog and that I give them encouragement through my posts. They also sent me a beautiful poem they wrote in tribute to a friend who passed away from CF.

Needless to say, I was touched by their honesty and their ability to share something so personal with me. As soon as I had a moment, I responded to the reader's email, thanking them for letting me into their world. I felt so honored and I tried to echo those feelings in my response.

I received an wonderful reply in return, which ended with these words:

"Thanks for writing back. To be honest...I didn't see that coming."

Puzzled, I wrote back and asked why they were surprised. They replied:

"I was surprised because I figured you got a lot of emails, and thought mine would just get lost in the shuffle."

That broke my heart.

Yes, sweet reader, I get a lot of emails from this blog. Requests to speak or meet up in person. Sometimes they're warm wishes, personal questions about CF topics, or just an occasional hello. You know what? You are all important to me. You readers are a big part of what makes me happy. I know how I would feel if I was in your position. If I took the time to write someone an email I would certainly hope they would at least take the time to read it and respond. It never ceases to amaze me when I get praised by someone, but it makes me feel so loved and let's me know I'm making people happy. That's how I want others to feel when they speak to me. I want them to feel loved, cared for, validated, respected because that's how I expect to be treated. Like a valued soul.

I want to be that little boy. I want to understand life. I want "to be happy" when I grow up. If I don't treat others the way I would want to be treated, then how can I ever expect to understand life? How can I ever expect to be truly happy?

For me the answer is simple...I can't. And I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would ever want to make others feel sad or guilty or unloved, but it happens every day and it breaks my heart. That's why I'm doubling my efforts to make sure I never make anyone who reads this blog feel that way. EVER. If I do, please, call me out on it, okay?

Oh, and don't forget to look to the people who are closest in your life as role models, heroes, and celebrities: Your family and your friends. A true hero is someone who will be with you no matter what. I can't think of any greater heroes in our lives than the ones we love the most.

To the CF Community: Call me whatever you want. A hero, inspiration, celebrity, whatever, but realize that whatever you call me you should call yourself too because you are my heroes, my inspiration, my celebrities. You work hard to stay healthy, you live your life, and you do the best you can with whatever crosses your path just like I do. You are amazing and I love you.

To my friends and family: I love you all so much. Thank you for supporting me and for being the heroes and inspiration in my life. I am blessed.

All of you are the people that the Foo Fighters sing about. You are "My Heroes". You are my "Tom Cruise". Not that you are Tom Cruise, especially the girls, but that you...nevermind. You get what I mean.

That could have went better. :-P

Peaceful and Heartfelt Things,

Josh

What'd You Think?

One of my favorite things about my blog are the comments I receive on my posts. I am so thankful that you take the time to write them. I may not respond personally to everyone, but make no mistake...I read every single one.

If you'd like to leave a comment, but don't have an account that's listed in the drop down menu, choose the "Name/Url Anonymous" options. Then write your comment, fill in the word verification and click "Post Comment". I will receive an email and post your comment once I've approved it. :-)

Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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