Dear friends, family, and readers of my blog who occasionally stop by to see how my journey to a healthier life has progressed,
You may remember how the journey began a little more than three years ago.
It's been quite some time since I've shared with you here. Not because I've given up or quit and not because I haven't had anything to say. Instead, I've been quiet because I wanted to be sure of what I've been experiencing before sharing an exciting new element of my story. I think I've found it... "the healthy edge."
For the details please click here...
Some memories are just tiny pieces of inconsequential experiences. One that comes to mind for me is about my dad and popcorn nights. No kidding!
When I was a kid popcorn didn't come out of a bag, there were no air-poppers, and Jiffy Pop was a luxury invented in 1959 that wouldn't be affordable at our house for at least 5-10 more years. No, popcorn at the Brooks house was made on the stovetop in one of the pots that mom kept for daily use in her kitchen cupboards. Into the pot went some Crisco, a cup of popcorn, and we waited. When the kernels were heard beginning to pop on the inside, the maker began to aggressively shake the pot while it rested on the red hot burner. The anticipation grew. The routine was the same, each and every time.Read more →
I was on my way to bed thinking that I might catch the end of the Mariner's game before falling to sleep. Instead, I stopped at my desk and searched the web for my daughter's weekly column in the WSU Daily Evergreen. It's Mom's Weekend at WSU and Cindy is there with the twins to enjoy some time together. I had a hunch that Abby may have written a special column for her mom this week. I wasn't disappointed. This is what I found.
Writing For Mom: The Only Opinion That Matters.
As a sex and relationship columnist, I have had the opportunity to reflect on the many different relationships in my life and evaluate their importance to me. This week, I had the privilege of reflecting on the most important relationship in my life: the one between me and my mother.Read more →
Beware friends and family... If you think you are going to blush or be shocked, just don't read any farther.
You can't hide pride forever!
It’s been too long. It’s time to let you in on a family secret.
When a man has seven children (four by conception and three by selection) there will be a large variety of reasons to be proud. It could be excellence in sports or academics; it could be generosity or patriotism. A dad with seven children doesn’t have to look very hard to experience opportunities to be proud. Sometimes proud moments appear in places and for reasons that I didn’t see coming. Maybe even a little embarassing. That’s one way a family secret can get started.
I want to share one of those moments with you tonight.Read more →
Last year we found out that my wife Cindy had breast cancer. She faced it head on and made the decision to have the extreme surgery. You were there for us. You prayed for us. The surgery was successful and we began the process of moving on. Almost...
During the surgery, Cindy's lymph nodes were examined and were found to contain cancerous tumors in the form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). We were told that she was fortunate to have caught it early and that it was not in any of her organs or bone - just stage three. No treatment was necessary. Cindy would just have more frequent exams during a period of waiting and watching the (hopefully) slow development and growth of the tumors. Again, you were there for us. You prayed for us. And a year went by without too much concern. Until...Read more →
Childhood Fourth of July's We're Some Of The Best!
Memories come from unexpected places. Something causes us to reflect on times of our past. Something that we experience feels similar to times gone by. This picture, and the memories triggered by the items that are in it, transported me back to my youth like a shot through a time capsule. This grouping of memorabilia was in a display case at Blueberry Hill's Farm and Restaurant in Manson, Washington. I spotted it for the first time when my family and I visited there last year. It was one of many such visits that we make several times each summer for their world-class breakfast. Why I hadn't noticed it previously I don't know, but I recorded it in a picture and saved it for nearly a year. Today is the right time to share the picture and the memories it triggered.Read more →
Late last winter, while visiting with my son Ryan, I learned that my grandson Easton had been invited to be a member of a "select" little league baseball team. He could become a member of Utah's Herriman Mustangs - a hand picked team of nine-year-olds who showed enough potential to move to the next level of competition. Mustang coaches had noticed Easton on his prior season's team and felt that he would be a good addition to the team.
The first conversation was between the coach and Ryan. The next between Ryan and my daughter-in-law Rachel. It would be a bigger sports commitment than Easton or the family had been involved in before. A longer season, more practices, more tournaments, and more games. It would also be more of an investment with more travel, more equipment, and nicer uniforms. It was an opportunity that needed consideration on several levels. Ultimately the decision was to give Easton the option to decide. He considered the opportunity and chose to join the new team of boys - most of which he didn't know. From that day forward, Easton was all in. He listened intently to his coaches, asked for extra batting practice with his dad, and his appetite for a playing catch was never satisfied. It was obvious that Easton was going to do what it took to be a ballplayer. I didn't think that I could be any prouder of him, but I was wrong.Read more →
"I love you.
Don't be afraid.
Give it a try.
You can do it.
Don't give up.
I'm here for you.
I love you." - My dad
Please leave a comment below to share what your dad gave you. Thanks!Read more →
Imagine the gears turning...
"Do you like spiders or webs better?" "What is carpet made of?" "Where did the word mask come from?" "Can I hang a spatula on my toe?" Just some of today's gems from my inquisitive little toddler's mind...never a dull moment!
Alfonso Pompili, Sr. July 31, 1926 - August 25, 2012
- For a father who modeled a committed work ethic and belief in family values.
- For a mother who was always there for her children and never resented a moment of the time it took to raise us.
- For children who have made me incredibly proud of them for their accomplishments and for their differences. And for a wife who loves me for who I am and reminds me of it daily.
- For the unconditional love and trust that comes from grandchildren in ways that you can only understand by experiencing it.
- For second chances and the ability to both accept them and give them.
- For all the positive people in my life who see the glass as half full - looking forward with hope and anticipation.
- For mentors who've believed in me - encouraging me to stretch myself, think differently, and look beyond the obvious to see what others don't.
- For the opportunity and resources to help make a difference in the lives of others.
- For the realization that no matter how difficult the challenges in my life may seem there are people who would exchange them for their own in a heartbeat.
- For a country that enables me to live, learn and love where, what and who I choose - and all the men and women who protect and defend our freedom.
October is breast cancer awareness month. Today, my PEMCO colleages gathered for an hour long program that we call @PEMCO Live. As part of the program, I was asked to talk about the reason we chose to support the Lee Denin Day fight against breast cancer. I was asked to share the story from a man's perspective. It was tougher than I thought it would be, but I was proud to stand up and speak out against a disease that hits to many of our family members... a dissease that has come inside our home. These were my remarks:
One in eight women will have breast cancer within their lifetime. There are 100 new cases diagnosed each week in Washington State alone! Some, those that are the most fortunate of that group, will go into remission. Some are described as having no further evidence of disease. And some will die with it… but not of it. They are the breast cancer survivor’s – the lucky ones.
It's hard to talk about being a breast cancer survivor, because there is still no definitive cure. But one day there will be. Until there is, it’s important that we each find a way to – in my words – “play the ace of human.” It’s the play that trumps depression, sadness, worry, and fatigue. You see, the ace of human is love.
Clearly, I’m not a breast cancer survivor. At least not the way most of us would think of one.
I don’t have firsthand experience about the recommended monthly self-examinations, the annual mammograms, the nervous waiting, the call-backs, the needle-biopsies, the MRI’s, or the ultra-sounds. I haven’t considered the choices between a lumpectomy and the accompanying need for radiation or chemotherapy treatments, versus a single or double mastectomy where I choose to give up a part of my body.
I haven’t made decisions about whether to take a post-recovery drug that lowers my odds of breast cancer recurring but increases the likelihood of contracting uterine cancer or dying without warning due to a 1 in 1000 chance of experiencing a fatal stroke. I haven’t wondered if people would look at me differently and I haven’t had to consider a reconstructive surgeon’s opinion that there is a 50-60% chance that my reconstruction could go horribly wrong.
I haven’t done any of those things. But my wife has done them all.
It was on Tuesday, February 7th. I was here at work and Cindy was at her doctor’s appointment after her second mammogram in as many months. The first wasn’t clear enough and something suspicious had been detected.
It was mid-afternoon before I noticed that I’d received a text message earlier in the day. It was short and to the point. The core of the message said…
“Not quite the results I was hoping for. Don't call me yet, I'm still processing the information. Biopsy on Thursday."
It’s been eight months since that day in February and a lot has happened.
For Cindy all the aforementioned tests and decisions culminated in a bilateral mastectomy. During the surgery a small number of enlarged lymph nodes were removed and tested for indications of breast cancer. The good news is that that the nodes were free of breast cancer.
The bad news is that yet another form of cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – was found. No one ever said that the fight with cancer would be fair.
For me, the day that I received that text message was the day that my priorities in life became instantly clear. I learned that it’s much harder to decide what to make important when things are going good than it is when life throws someone you care about an unexpected curve.
And for us – well we became even more of a team. We attended every appointment, consultation, and procedure together. We discussed every decision… and we considered all the options together.
We were surprised by the outpouring of support from our friends and acknowledged that the thoughtfulness and genuine concern that was shown to us by others truly made a difference.
Today, I’m here to invite you to stand up to breast cancer.
If you or your wife have been personally touched by breast cancer please stand up.
If your mother, daughter, or grandmother has had breast cancer please stand up.
If your sister or aunt has had breast cancer please stand up.
If you have a niece or a cousin who has battled breast cancer please stand up.
If you’ve had a close friend or neighbor who fought breast cancer please stand up.
If there’s someone you know that has encountered breast cancer, please stand up.
According to the National Cancer Institute – and I quote here - "An individual is considered a cancer survivor from the time of diagnosis, through the balance of his or her life. Family members, friends, and caregivers are also impacted by the survivorship experience and are therefore included.”
You don’t fight breast cancer with a pink ribbon alone; you fight it with a team. You are all included in the survivorship experience. Thanks for standing up for the fight against breast cancer.
Thanks for being part of the team and for “Playing the Ace of Human” by sharing what’s in your heart.
Your comments, suggestions, and stories of your personal edge are always welcome in my guest book.
A date to remember
It’s an understatement to say that September 11th means a lot to our country. The horrific terrorizing events of that day in 2001 have captured a place in the hearts and minds of all who experience them, regardless of how or where we heard the news. It’s a day that must never be forgotten. Of that I’m certain most everyone will agree.Yet as important as it is, this isn’t a post about the day that you are remembering. It’s a post about that day but not that date.
Click here to read more.
Yesterday, while thinking about the edge that my mom provided our family, I paused to consider how much she influenced the marketer in me. “Don’t forget to say please and thank you,” she told us, and “always tell the truth” was a value she consistently modeled and expected. Like most mom's, she was a brilliant communications strategist capable of pulling out gems like, "If you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all."
Yes, we marketers can learn a lot if we think back to the lessons our mother’s taught us. I invited the marketing professionals among my Facebook friends to consider and share the marketing lessons that their mother may have taught them.
1. Be polite, friendly, and honest.
There was no shortage of reminders about saying please and thank-you when mom was around. She knew the importance and value of well-mannered requests and in showing respectful appreciation. Misleading, omitting, or altering the truth was simply not tolerated. Like consumers today, mom could always tell if we were anything less than forthright.
2. Keep your room clean.
There were a number of wise submissions from marketers whose mothers kept the environment and safety at the top of their list. “Wipe your feet… Clean your room… Wash your hands… Be home before dark…” As in marketing, it was all about respecting the community, being aware of our surroundings, and doing the right thing.Read more →
Where the beginning Should have began...
If you've been following along for the past five months you know that I've been providing weekly updates about my effort and progress toward a healthier life - a life that weighs at least 100 pounds less than I did last summer. So far, after twenty-two weeks I've released 45.5 pounds and at least six inches in my waist. Averaging approximately ten pounds each month keeps a smile on my face. The interest and support of so many friends and family helps me to hold myself accountable. If you'ld like to look at the journey so far just click on the "Healthy Edge" tab and scan through the weeks that are posted in that section of this blog.
to you dad!
Twenty Five Incomes
Not long ago I recieved the annual statement from the Social Security Adminsistration that recaps all the years that we have paid into the struggling federal retirement system. You know the one – we all get them. They list the years we worked and the amount we paid into the system. It even gives us an estimate of benefit that we will someday hope to collect. Frankly, it’s pretty depressing.
As I looked over the statemeent, I thought about all the different types of work that I’ve done and all the jobs that I’ve held. There were jobs that kids have to make a few bucks in the summer, and jobs that develop into a career. I decided to make a list and see how much I could remember. The first social security payment was in 1968 and the time frame spans over fourty years. No wonder I feel so tired!
I suspect that each of these endeavors could be a story in their own right. Maybe I’ll tackle that someday. For now, this short summary is at least a record for my grandchildren to think about someday. A work ethic is something that is built and developed from a young age. I don’t think we see enough of that anymore. Here’s my list… not necessarily in chronological order.
A fathers edge lasts a lifetime.
When I went to bed last night I planned to wake up, alone at our house on peaceful Lake Chelan, where I would sit down and write a fathers day tribute to my dad, George Wayne Brooks.
I had a vision and a plan for the tribute I would write. I had a few ideas about what I would say and the stories I could tell. But somehow when I woke up this morning I was inspired differently. Brief thoughts -single words and short phrases – of memories and characteristics of the all to short time I had with my father – were flowing into my mind. It seemed more like a poem than an essay. Each thought could easily be the theme of its own story at another time. So I went with the inspiration that was present and shaped the words and phrases into the following poem.
For those who knew him I think it will remind you of who he was. For most of you, who never would have met my dad, please allow me to introduce you to the greatest man I ever knew.
Being a Cougar provides an edge of lifetime value!
Yes my friends, being a Washington State University Cougar is something that lasts a lifetime. It's an edge that every Cougar alum knows about - benefits from - and loves. I can't begin to count the times that a warm and uplifting "Go Cougs!" has been shared between men and women of different generations, different nationalities, different political affiliations, and different religions simply because one person sees the other wearing "the logo" on a hat, jacket or shirt. It happens when you least expect it. For me, most recently, it happened in a 747 at 30,000 feet during a quick hello with the couple who shared my row.
A Stroll Thru the grocery Store...
As I headed off to the local grocery store, I was focused on getting the few things that would make a simple and enjoyable afternoon birthday barbeque. I thought about traditional burgers, considered chicken, and settled on teriyaki pork tenderloin along with a rack of ribs. Sides will include potato salad, a medley of grilled veggies, and strawberry shortcake for desert. Sounds good, is easy to prepare, and will be just fine.
As I walked the aisles of the grocery store I thought about the many backyard barbecues that took place around birthdays while I was growing up. There was something special about them. Something different.
Memories of tension, heros, accomplishment, wonder – and the fair.
When I was nine, John F Kennedy was President of the United States. There were a lot of things about him that made him special. But what I remember most, other than his assassination, is that when I saw him on television I worried about something going on in Cuba – something that my dad said could cause “the end of the world."
From student to teacher
And there she was.
I was in the cab with a coworker when I noticed a familiar face had suddenly appeared on my muted iPhone. We were on our way to dinner at a favorite Chicago restaurant after an afternoon of listening to insurance seminar speakers. It would be easy not to take the call. And if it had been anyone else, I might have let it go to voice mail.
But not this call. This call was different.
Goosebumps? I can show you goosebumps!
My wife Cindy and I are members of a timeshare community in which "points" that we purchace are good for use at various condominium units around the US, Mexico and Canada. We love the flexability and the venues. We've been to Palm Springs, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, and Santa Fe.
All wonderful warm weather locations.Read more →
The making of a sanctuary
Kicking dandelions and more. . .
But this weekend, a little time in right field was a time for me to reflect.
The Fine Print
Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own. Contact me!
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