Sunday, November 3, 2013

Competitive Balance

“Happy Anniversary! I hope you lose.”

It would not have surprised me if that is how I was greeted this morning by my lovely wife of 23 years.  After all it is probably fitting that we would spend our anniversary playing each other in fantasy football since competition has been both a key ingredient and bitter salt of our marriage.

It should have been obvious when back in college, she turned me down for a date to attend the UCLA-USC football rivalry game instead that our relationship might be a little bit different.  This rejection only made me immediately smitten.

To say the two of us are not driven or competitive would be a key giveaway that you don’t really know either one of us.  Sure we at times try to cover it up, but our true colors eventually emerge from our pores.  It also can be tough being married to someone who does not want to lose when you can’t stand losing yourself.

That has been our challenge, finding that we can both win and learning to celebrate the victories of the other while not rubbing in the losses has been our single greatest marriage challenge.  Just as I have learned that my wife is regularly going to beat me running a 5K, finding a way to accept that humbling defeat while celebrating her faster time has taught me much about what it takes to be a partner and a spouse.  I have learned that by learning to be a good loser, I am actually a better person.

But that does not mean the competitive fire still does not burn.  Because just as that initial rejection convinced me I only needed to continue to give chase, this passion has been a difference in helping me through some of the most difficult personal and professional times I have experienced.

I will report later how the fantasy football match-up works out.  After all I could end up on the losing end since I named my team “My Wife Beats Me” to symbolize that she went all the way to the fantasy football Super Bowl last year while my team did not.  But the competitive fire hopes I can end my anniversary by saying, “Happy Anniversary, you lost”, but I will be just as happy if instead my wife tells me “Happy Anniversary Loser.”
My wife and I after I "lost" to her in the 2011 Space Coast Half Marathon

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Hall of Fame Todd

Like a lot of little leaguers, I dreamed of playing major league baseball.  In my wildest dreams, I would not only play in the majors, but I would be the first Todd voted into the Hall of Fame.  Those dreams never went beyond high school, but I may have been fortunate to watch the first Todd to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Todd Helton played the same number of seasons as the number he wore, 17, and in what has too often become a rarity, all for one team.  Like other “faces of the franchise”, who spent their whole big league careers playing for one team, Helton is the Rockies since he was on the field for 17 of their 20 years in existence. Like Tony Gywnn with the San Diego Padres, Cal Ripken Jr. with the Baltimore Orioles, and George Brett with the Kansas City Royals, Helton was a stalwart with the team through the many bad seasons and the few highlights of the 2007 World Series and 2009 playoffs.  Statistically he shares numbers with another city icon whose bronze statue stands outside his team’s ballpark.

When Helton collected his 2,500 hit this season he joined Hall of Famer Stan Musial as the only player with 2,500 hits, 550 doubles, 350 home runs and a lifetime average above .315.  Helton also distinguished himself on the defensive side of the ball, compiling a lifetime .996 fielding percentage by making only 79 errors in 20,579 chances and earning three gold gloves.  It was only fitting that in his final home game as my son and I watched he hit a home run and a double since those two marks defined him as a player.  Helton’s final lifetime offensive numbers, .316 batting average (52nd in MLB history), 2519 hits (92nd in MLB history), 592 doubles (16th in MLB history), 369 home runs (74th in MLB history), 1,406 runs batted in (72nd in MLB history), .414 on-base percentage (20th in MLB history) and a .539 slugging percentage (32nd in MBL history).

The sweat had hardly dried from Helton’s uniform after his final game, before the debate about his Hall of Fame credentials began (no debate in my mind).  However, he is definitely the face on the Denver Sports Mt. Rushmore next to John Elway for the Broncos and Joe Sakic of the Avalanche with the Nuggets spot still available.  I may not become that Hall of Fame Todd I dreamed about being as a kid, but I did get the high five the real deal after his final home game.

Helton High Fives Fans After Final Home Game

Friday, October 4, 2013

How Can a Giant Be Fragile?

My son is 6” 2” and 189 lbs at 14 years old.  Rather than him looking up to me, I look up to him in more than one way every day.  He is a giant, but it turns out he is also fragile.

We learned this summer that Jack has a genetic condition tagged on the X chromosome, known as Fragile X syndrome.  Fragile X is tied to neural development thus being linked to autism and mental retardation.  Very early in life Jack was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism that is characterized by difficulties in social interaction, non-verbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Asperger’s is a relatively new diagnosis named after Hans Asperger and first observed by him in 1944.  Fragile X is also fairly new being first identified in the 1970’s.  Both conditions are not something you cure, but rather something that you manage.  Fragile X affects approximately 1 in 4000 males and 1 in 8000 females.

We just think this makes Jack special.  In the most recent issue (October 7, 2013) of Time magazine, Temple Grandin (famous autistic CSU professor) and Richard Panek wrote an article “What’s Right with the Autistic Mind” adapted from their book The Autistic Brain (Haughton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). In the article they state that “by focusing on the deficits, we overlook the strengths of the brains built differently.”

Jack’s stature not only makes him strong, but his brain is an uncanny strength we try to find ways to use every day.  With a near photographic memory, Jack has an uncanny knowledge of history and sports trivia that we are convinced may make him a Jeopardy champion.  His different viewpoint on the world also creates his own brand of comedy that keeps his whole family laughing.

Fortunately, in Colorado we are lucky to have a unique specialty clinic for children and their families affected with Fragile X syndrome, the Fragile X Treatment and Research Center at Children's Hospital Colorado.  With an upcoming appointment with their specialists, our journey with Jack will continue as we enjoy the adventure of living with a fragile giant.

My Fragile Giant and I at Coors Field

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I am Clark Griswold

I am Clark Griswold.  Like an Alcoholics Anonymous confession to start a meeting, knowing you have a problem is half the battle.  Like the father character played by Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Vacation, I am getting ready to take my family on a road trip to California.  Also like Clark I have planned plenty of stops along the way, because as Clark says “getting there is half the fun.”

Watching the film again as trip preparation I realize just as Clark neurotically plans his own cross country odyssey from Chicago to Walley World I too have the same over planning gene (sadly I have also been compared to Julie the Cruise Director on the Love Boat so I would actually prefer the Clark Griswold reference).  While our trip gladly will skip some aspects of the Griswold itinerary like a visit to the St. Louis ghetto and a trip to the relatives to pick up Aunt Etna which leads to a side trip to Phoenix, there are many elements that will be included in our trip including the landscapes of Colorado and Utah (our dog will do better I promise you then Dinky’s fate in the film) and a culmination in a visit to Magic Mountain which played Walley World in the film.  Hopefully our trip does not go off the tracks like the Griswold’s vacation does turning me from the neurotic on the edge suburban Dad to the John Candy security guard kidnapper with a pellet gun at the end.

Even if you don’t have a family road trip planned for the summer, I do recommend the Vacation film as something you should go back and watch.  Whether it be the Christie Brinkley as the siren in the red Ferrari, Anthony Michael Hall as son Rusty before his brat pack days, the uncomfortable relatives led by cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid), and the final scenes at Walley World this movie has all sorts of classic moments.  I had almost forgotten that this movie was a John Hughes film done before he started his classic run of Sixteen Candles, the Breakfast Club, Weird Science, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Some Kind of Wonderful that pretty much documented my growing up in the eighties.  That alone makes it a reason to understand the beginning of that stretch of films that characterized many of my teenage trips to the movies.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Guest Blogger Who Gets It

It has been almost a month since I last posted on this blog as I have struggled to get new posts done.  But one easy way I found to post something new is to use a guest blogger.  In this case I grabbed a post ( my daughter Samantha did earlier this month while on a church mission trip to Oklahoma to help folks clean up after the tornados.  As a proud father, I think she really gets what life is all about.

Hello Colorado! Let me just say we were definitely called here to Oklahoma. Even through the heat, humidity, many sunburns, and major tan lines; we are spreading God’s love and even more important being the heart, hands, and feet of Jesus throughout this week.  After seeing the damage and what the tornado destroyed; God led us down a path to give us a meaningful experience this summer. I don’t think I have truly realized how thankful I am for the blessings I have in my life. This tour has been one of the most meaningful experiences I have ever had and to be able to have the opportunity to come to a place where a disaster has recently happened and serve others and to be able to not just hear a story on TV and think” Wow that is really sad.” To actually seeing it and experience it physically and emotionally; has truly changed who I am.  All week we have been going to El Reno a town in Oklahoma to serve those who were affected by the tornados.  I have had the opportunity of working and helping alongside two elderly sisters who were affected by the tornados that came through. They hadn’t lost as much as others in the neighborhood but they had lost what was their beloved home. They are now left looking at what they could no longer call their home. From packing food from their pantry to packing clothes and dishes they always had a positive attitude.  Even when you could tell that they were overwhelmed with stress, insurance and trying to figure out how to they could be financially stable now and in the future they always had a positive outlook.  Through donations Abiding Hope was able to purchase gift cards to give to families we had connected with. Through those  donations  we had decided to give them two one hundred dollar gift cards to Wal Mart because we saw that they really needed the food and to be able to get the basic needs to get back on their feet. As we gave them the gift cards Michelle the younger sister was shocked and great full for our generosity and time that we had given them for the past few days. She then told her older sister Joyce what we had given to them and began to cry because as much stress she had been through with her sister she couldn’t help to say” Bless your hearts. Thank you so much.” I began to realize that amidst a disaster and how hard it may be to accept help and aid form others, you begin to see that God has a way of surprising you with aid and help when you may need it more than you think. So through this experience and as we wrap up this week I want you all to know that you may have some brand new teens coming home because they have been truly changed by this experience and opportunity. I want to thank you all for giving us donations and praying for us because your prayers have been listened to by keeping us safe and giving us a meaningful week. Hope all is well in Colorado and can’t wait to share more of our stories when we return home.

Samantha Mosher

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Rock'n the Bolder Boulder

Ever since folks starting running with yellow Walkmans on their waist, there has been a debate about whether one should run with music or not.  Critics of running with music say you should stay in tune with your body and not drown out listening to your own breathing.  I am a pro-music person who does not find listening to my gasping to be very therapeutic and I prefer the distraction that music gives me.  A part of my pre-race ritual is to generate a playlist to keep me moving throughout the run.  Today I am getting ready for tomorrow’s Bolder, Boulder, the largest 10K in the country.  While they provide bands along the way, I prefer my own soundtrack.  Here are the songs I picked out for tomorrow’s race:

Before I get started, I will listen to Adele’s “I’ll Be Waiting” during the time in the corral.  Then I will ease into the race with Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” since Memorial Day kicks off the summer.  Hopefully this slower song will help me prevent my usual rabbit start.  The Bolder Boulder course has some challenging early hills so I went to AC/DC's “Thunderstruck", Jack White’s “I’m Shakin’”, Run DMC's “It’s Tricky” and the Beastie Boys' “Intergalactic” to help me with the climbs.  Those hills tend to take a lot out of you so I start to rock even harder to keep my pace going with Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”, AC/DC “Highway to Hell”, and Saliva “Click Click Boom.”  Hopefully the hills won’t trash my legs so I can hit the downhill at Mile 4 fast.  I have songs Bon Jovi “Livin’ on a Prayer”, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson, and “Bust a Move” by Young MC for that portion of the race.  In the challenging last two miles I literally want to dance through some of the last few steps with “Apache” by the Sugarhill Gang and “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince.  As I enter the stadium “Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)” by Bill Conti kicks in for my final sprint to the finish.  If I manage the personal record that I am hoping for then “Don’t Stop the Party” by Pitbull will be how I want to celebrate.  Finally I have “Man Like That” by Gin Wigmore (think Heineken James Bond commercial) to mirror my pride of a strong finish.

I hope these songs help me to set a personal best, since "Go Faster" is one of my New Year’s resolutions ( Even if it doesn’t, it will make for a fun race.  Comment here or send me a message with what some of your favorite running songs are and if I will create a reader’s mix for my next race.