Sunday, December 29, 2019

You're the Inspiration

Peter out
In the "For Lovers Only" era of the 80s, the band Chicago -- an avant-guard rock outfit that initially dabbled in elements of jazz -- became a pop outfit that dabbled in makeout songs.

The band that hit with "I'm a Man" and "25 or 6 to 4" could go to the romantic side with, say "Wishing You Were Here" in the 60s and 70s. But it was cool and different and everybody played it on the radio.

Then their leader Terry Kath killed himself accidentally and, while there were hits, they're not remembered as kindly.

Like the Peter Cetera ballad "You're the Inspiration." Sure it was a huge hit but it was nothing compared to their early work.

However, this post, literally, has nothing to do with Chicago, except for this lead.

It has to do with thanking those who inspired me.

Like John Nash. John wrote a stunningly kind post about me today that I'm not even slightly worthy of, and I am truly humbled by his words.

"He might be a radio guy—and a damned good one at that— but he’s also a writer," John wrote.

I worry about every post. Every tweet. I worry and think my writing has regressed since I joined Hersam Acorn nearly seven years ago. But I appreciate his praise.

But John has inspired me. I wanted to try a Project365 several times and wrote something just about every January 1 with the idea of carrying on. By January 3 or 4 it was over.

So when John -- jokingly, he says -- asked me to join him on the P365 journey, I jumped.

The journey actually began Dec. 30, 2018 -- a year ago tomorrow -- with two posts that gave me just 35 for the year. I'll finish 2019 with 365. That, friends, will be more posts than 2013-2018 combined.

Instead of thinking about hanging a closed sign on Exit 55, I'm fired up to roll into 2020. I'm hoping my writing will be welcomed with the Renegades as well (and I'll be doing some for them).

John gets a chunk of credit for that because we agreed to take this challenge and failing meant letting him down.

John's a good man. A very good man. A man of principle with a fascinating past. A man who has been, sadly, beaten down by the journalism rat race and, perhaps most of all, by a place called Hearst. To be clear, those aren't John's words. They're my thoughts, in the same way I witnessed what Hearst did to a fine reporter named Ryan Lacey. I've watched them do it to others but I won't name names to protect the innocent.

You know, don't give up your sources.

I'll take people like John in my foxhole every day. He's fair and honest, and there's solid respect for not agreeing with each other.

We'll grab Waffle House and/or an adult beverage to toast friendship soon.

Susan also inspires me every day. She's such a survivor, and she pushes me to keep going. A lesser person would explode -- both personally and professionally. And, some days, I don't help things because I'm a protective, reactive jerk. But I'm hard-pressed to find a better mother or friend.

But her kindness inspires me. I marvel at how well-liked she is.

She's also my number one fan. When there was a hiccup with part of yesterday's broadcasts, it was Susan who was listening and told me. Without her, I never would have known.

My friends all inspire me. They inspire me to be better. A better person (I've got a lot of work to do there but we'll come back to that). A better broadcaster. A better writer They push me to be not so nice sometimes but also recoil in horror (justifiably) when I lose my brain.

Just as I did on Chris Erway the other night. I've apologized since and that's all I'm going to say about it. But he inspires me in his work because I don't think I could ever do it, and I admire the life he's built.

Kato -- yes, Kato -- inspires me because he just keeps grinding. Every day. He'll broadcast when he can, but he'll drive his car, work wherever he can, and stick his beliefs, like him or not. He's constantly working on becoming a better official.

How many friends wouldn't flinch when you tell them you have an early flight out of JFK?

"Meet me at 4:15," he'll say. In the morning.

Shawn Sailer and AJ Szymanowski both inspire me. Shawn, without a doubt, always keeps pushing me to write or broadcast. When I get low, he sends a little reminder to keep going. Keep doing the games.

"You're better than (insert name here)," he'll say. "We need you."

AJ? I get the occasional text, looking for some form of "Yoda-like" guidance on broadcasting or roads. And he'll yell at me.

Mick also yells at me if I drop the ball. It's not fun in the process, but it's always coming from the right place.

Mick, like Jon from R-Va, Harold, my cousin Keli, my cousin Kris, and a whole lot of others inspire me for myriad reasons, but they also tell me they read every post. I feel like I'm letting them down when I don't write. I feel like I've failed them all on the podcast front, and I still intend to come back to that.

The same goes with people I've never met in person, like Mike Hirn, Nate Stidham, and road dude Doug Kerr. Then there are long-lost, but Facebook friends like Patrick Urell, who I haven't seen since high school, but he writes occasional notes and tweets to keep me going.

They're inspirations, all.

A special note to Jon who keeps reminding me that life is too short and we're pretty close to getting together next month, if only for a few hours.

I have a family full of inspiration, like my mother who continues to survive at 82, driving herself to dialysis three times a week, and working with me to get to dialysis when traveling. I used to wonder how my sister got out of bed, but she does. In a family that isn't good at expressing love, my admiration for both of these women are boundless and I'm not afraid to admit it.

My niece Kristy and her husband Hector inspire me with their dedication to raising great kids, running a house, and surviving Hector's crazy work/travel schedule. And, generally, to not giving a damn in the process but always making sure the door is open to me.

Of course, there's also Sean, who inspires me to be a better dad, and who I always feel like I've failed. Sean also inspires me to make sure there's always a tomorrow. Not for nothing, but that's a pretty noble inspiration to have.

But Sean also inspires me because, as a kid, he went through the divorce of his parents and came out just fine. If anything, he could be an advocate for talking to kids about surviving.

As always, I can't name everyone when I write a post like this and always feel guilty when I leave someone out (I've failed to mention Paul, my brother, and all of my other nieces and nephews!). These are just some of the people who inspire me with support, work ethic, enthusiasm, goodwill, grace, honesty, and kindness.

This is one of those posts that John Nash might think I've fouled off, and I feel like it might be clunky, but I'll keep swinging away.

As this tonight, actually, marks my 365th straight day with a post.

With two remaining in 2019.

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