Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme

Tying together poetry, parenting, and advertising in a neat little package

Archive for the tag “perspective”

On life, death, and all that stuff in-between

It’s interesting how some things come full-circle.

I attended the funeral for the father of my best friend in college this weekend. As I sat there in the very last church pew, I listened as the priest spoke about all the things this father, grandfather, husband, and friend would never do again: tend to his garden, prune his fruit trees, play with his grandchildren.

A sad occasion, obviously…so I surprised myself when this :15 TV commercial featuring The Most Interesting Man in the World popped into my head:

There really is no better time than now to start beefing up your obituary – and as this concept settled into my brain, I began thinking of all the things I’d like to accomplish before I pass.

Not a “bucket list” of what I want to do, necessarily, but what I want to accomplish. And to me, those are two different things.

How will I be remembered? Will I even be?

There are plenty of things I’d like to do: visit a foreign country, sing in a band, resume playing with my indoor soccer league. Things I’d like to accomplish are a bit more difficult, because they require more time and effort and are harder to define in concrete terms: be a good father and husband, make a positive difference to someone through my poetry, land a national animation voiceover gig my kids would be proud of.

These kinds of accomplishments are not the kinds of things you go out and just do, and check off your list. They require time, patience, and wisdom…and although I have plenty of the first two, that last one I have found to be the most elusive.

I try to be a good father and hubby – spending time with the kids, teaching them, supporting them, supporting and loving their mom. I keep working to make inroads to get my children’s writing published, not just because it’s my vocation and I’d like it to be a career, but because I genuinely feel that someone, somewhere might benefit from it. Perhaps that’s unrealistic, perhaps that’s egotistical…I don’t think it is, but it’s what I feel nonetheless.

Working hard and taking chances

My baby!As for that voiceover gig, I’ll keep plugging away with that, too. I’ve voiced enough commercials, corporate videos, and other random projects…so a national animated voiceover project – while still a longshot – is an attainable goal if I don’t give up.

And I don’t!

If I come across an audition for a project that is not right for me (deep movie-trailer voice guy is one of ‘em!), I skip it. But if I see something that I’m not sure if I’m right for – but could be – I’ll probably go for it and see how it sounds. How else does one grow and develop their skills if one doesn’t take chances?

How does one “beef up the obituary” – or the resume, for that matter – without a little extra perspiration?

Whatever you do in life, you’re not going to get any better or go any further if you don’t push yourself. Even if there are a hundred other voice actors competing for the gig, what have you got to lose? Even if your manuscript has received 50 rejection slips from agents and editors, the next one you send to might be the one who loves it! Whether I succeed or fail depends entirely on whether or not I give up, and believe me…I’ve failed so much that success just has to be around the corner!

(At least, that’s what I tell myself.)

TMIMITW took a chance!

Well, actually it wasn’t The Most Interesting Man in the World who took a chance – it was Jonathan Goldsmith, the Jewish, Bronx-raised actor who portrays him.

As I mentioned early in this post, things have a way of coming full-circle sometimes, and this is one of them. As I searched for the commercial online, thinking about those 15 seconds of wisdom the Dos Equis’ copywriters had shared about beefing up one’s obituary, I stumbled upon a recent blog post about how Goldsmith was cast as the company’s Latino pitchman.

If you don’t think you have a chance of scoring a big sale, nailing a big gig, or even winning a lottery…think about the odds that Goldsmith faced as a new York City Jew auditioning against 499 Latinos!

That’s right – out of 500 actors, he was chosen. And if the casting director had picked anyone else, The Most Interesting Man in the World would not be the man we know today.

It pays to take chances. And you only have NOW to take them. Tomorrow might not get here.

Better get busy.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

 

 

 

What to do when you lose your balloon

My heart sank as I watched my 4-year-old’s new blue, Mylar balloon fly out of my truck and up, up into the sky.

He had just gotten it at my chiropractor’s office, and after stopping at a local Dunkin Donuts, I had forgotten it was in my pickup when we came out. All it took was me opening the passenger door, and zoom! – the thing took off like a rocket in the wind and shot skyward.

“That’s my balloon, daddy,” the little dude said, eyes fixated on his rapidly disappearing reward for being a good boy.

“I know,” I said, “I’m so sorry. I’m really, really sorry.”

Then, after a short pause, he said, “I’m gonna miss my blue balloon, daddy.”

ID-10055026 (balloons)“I know you will, Bub.”

“That was a nice balloon.”

“Yes, it was nice.”

“Maybe I’ll get another one sometime?”

I smiled. “Yes, you will. I’ll make sure you get another one.” Then I looked at him once he was sitting in his car seat. “You’re a good little dude, you know.”

He returned my smile with one of his own. “Yeah, I am a good little dude.”

Perspective envy

I wish I had the attitude my son had today. Granted, there are a multitude of instances when he can be a frustratingly demanding little man – like most 4-year-old boys – but there are plenty of times when he has such a good grasp on handling adversity that he makes me wonder if we actually share DNA.

I like that he makes me think.

You see, I’m the type of person who needs things to go the way they’re supposed to go. I wouldn’t say I’m a type-A kind of person, but I do take comfort in consistency, in predictability, in the familiar. If I’m planning a trip to the beach, I don’t want it to rain. If I’m preparing for a project, I don’t want the specs to change.

(This is why I dislike winter so much; in the summer, no one ever has to cancel dinner plans because 12 inches of snow is expected, and no one is ever late to work because they can’t drive faster than 20 mph.)

So when I see this little fellow dealing with life the way he does, he makes me wonder why I can’t be more like him (the thoughtful, pleasant ‘him,’ not the screaming, I-want-it-now ‘him’).

ID-10056952 (soccer ball)Making the best of a situation

It’s one thing to say we must learn to smile in the face of adversity – it’s another to actually be able to do it. When I tore my ACL last year, I tried to be positive even though the negative thoughts deluged my brain:

How am I going to take  care of the kids?
How am I going to help my wife?
How am I going to run my voiceover business?

Over the course of several weeks, I learned how to balance these things, and the injury turned out to not be as earth-shattering as I thought it was when it first happened. I still need surgery (March  28 is the date!) and have no idea how I’ll do anything for 2 weeks following (I’ll be on crutches with no weight-bearing), but I figure I’ll get by. I’m trying not to be as anxious as I was the first time around.

Note that I didn’t say I’m not anxious. I’m still anxious as all get-out…but at least I’m trying not to be.

Putting adversity to good use

As I was thinking about my son and his balloon, and wondering how I might tie the incident in with a blog post, I came across a news article about a Subaru dealer that decided to take advantage of a union protest.

Now, whether you are pro-union or not, you have to admit – what they did is ingenious. Did they think they would get more customers in the door by using the protest sign as advertising? Probably not. Did they think it would make a good chuckle and perhaps get people talking? Most definitely.

Did they expect it to end up on Yahoo! and have their dealership name be spread across the entire country? Doubt it…but now look what happened when they tried to make the best out of a situation!

We all lose our balloons sometime

I’ve recorded auditions and then forgot to email them. I’ve submitted auditions I thought I was perfect for and have gotten completely passed over.

I’ve had multiple plans this winter that had to be cancelled due to weather issues, as mentioned earlier.

I’ve dropped a log on my foot shortly before my indoor soccer season was to begin, so I decided to play goalie, only to snap a tendon in my finger, so I end up on the field, only to tear my ACL, and subsequently find out I won’t be able to play again for a year.

All these things annoy me and can ruin my day if I let them - but if I’m paying attention, they don’t always get the better of me.

A few days ago, my wife crashed her car sliding on some ice in the road (did I mention I hate winter?). She was only going 20 mph, but managed to do $3000+ worth of damage. We now have to find $500 for the insurance deductible, we have to pay for a rental car for possibly two weeks, and we also have to shell out money for two new car seats for the kids, since they can no longer use the ones that were in the accident.

But at least my wife suffered no injuries and is alive and well. At least the kids weren’t in the car at the time. At least we had more family time this weekend because my wife was out of work.

I may lose lots of balloons – literally and figuratively. It’s knowing how to let them go and hold onto what’s important that really matters.

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “The Journey”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI need to thank Laura Purdie Salas for this poem – it was through one of her “15 Words or Less” poetry prompts that I was spurred to write this. Hope you enjoy it!

And for more Poetry Friday links, head over to Karen Edmisten’s Blog With the Shockingly Clever Title!

The Journey (graphic)
(Click to enlarge)

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Did you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it with your friends and followers!

PoetsGarage-badgeTo keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Thanksgiving Day: The one blessing we overlook

This post was originally published on Nov. 20, 2013, and because I am working on a limited schedule this week, I thought it might be appropriate to dust it off and re-post it for any of my followers who hadn’t caught it the first time around. I hope you enjoy your week, whether or not you’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in the U.S., and be grateful…that you have the capacity to be thankful.

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Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. will be here in two days, and everywhere you turn, people are talking, writing, and blogging about all the things they’re thankful for.  I, for one, am growing weary of it.

Now, please don’t get me wrong; it’s good to be grateful.  Indeed, we should be thankful – and display that thankfulness – every day of our lives.  We should reflect upon our blessings on a regular basis and never hesitate to show our appreciation for what we have.

My problem is not so much with the thankfulness; it’s that we’re missing an important reason to be thankful.

The Usual Suspects

Again, please don’t misunderstand me; I’m glad people are thankful for their blessings.  But there are certain blessings that show up on nearly everyone’s lists – our faith(s), our families and friends, our lives, our pets, our homes, our talents.

Some people may be thankful their loved ones made it home safely from being abroad; others may be grateful that they received a year-end bonus, or even have a job at all.

Even the poor and destitute among us may be thankful for things like the warmth of the sun or the kindness of a stranger.

I can say honestly that I am truly, truly, TRULY thankful for all these things…but you probably could have guessed that, even if you had never met me or had never even heard of me or this blog.

These are the blessings that most of humanity celebrates – and the acknowledgement that we should be grateful for these things is rooted in the love, compassion, and empathy that separates our species from the rest of the animal kingdom.

We recognize the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness.

A quick vocabulary lesson

Gratitude and thankfulness are not necessarily interchangeable.

I’m no lexicographer or linguist, but it has always been my understanding that these words had different meanings.  To be thankful means you’re appreciative that something that you wanted came about; to be grateful indicates you are appreciative towards someone or something.

(Any English professors in the house?  Please correct me if I’m wrong!)

The reason it’s important to know the difference is because gratitude is directional; thankfulness is not.  Feed a hungry animal and it may be thankful it received food, but it might not be grateful toward you for feeding it.  I know pet owners will disagree with that – having two dogs and two cats of my own, I’ll admit that some animals probably are grateful to the person taking care of them – but how many of these animals understand what it means to be grateful or thankful?

And therein lies the rationale for my previous statement that our recognition of the importance of both gratitude and thankfulness is one of the important qualities that elevates us above the rest of the animal kingdom.

Little blessings, and the BIG one

As I ponder this, I come to the conclusion that the human condition of feeling gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation is itself a blessing.

Yes, I’m thankful for all those things we talked about earlier.  I’m thankful for my family, our friends, and our pets.  I’m thankful I live in a country that promotes freedom of speech, religion, and personal excellence.  I’m grateful to God and Jesus for their love and sacrifices; I’m grateful to my wife and family for supporting me as a self-employed stay-at-home dad; I’m grateful to Al Gore for creating the internet.

(I’m also thankful - or grateful – to whomever or whatever was responsible for getting my 2-year-old to finally stop waking up at 5am…daylight savings time really screwed up the poor little dude’s internal clock for a couple of weeks!)

But I don’t want to overlook this very important aspect of our humanity; that is, the recognition of the importance of gratitude and thankfulness.

Thankful…for being thankful?

Yes, that is basically what I’m saying.  Chuckle if you’d like.  However, when you actually think about what it means to be thankful for having the comprehension of what gratitude, appreciation, or even indebtedness mean…I hope you will understand why I believe it is so important.

We humans are not simply grateful, or thankful.  We comprehend – and celebrate – the importance of being grateful or thankful.

So this Thanksgiving Day, while we’re giving thanks for all we have, think about why you are thankful.

Think about why you are grateful.

And give thanks that you are.

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Determining the value of a wheel-barrow ride

As loving parents, we strive to provide our kids with not only their basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and such – but also intangibles such as love, happiness, and positive memories. Of course, the term “positive memories” is wide open to interpretation and can mean lots of different things to different people.

Often, those memories aren’t even what we, as parents, think are worth remembering.

Over the weekend, I got to wondering about what memories my 3-year-old son will end up with – and if they’ll be the ones I expect.

The joys of yard work

He’s a hard worker, that one.

He may only be 3, but that doesn’t stop my son from helping me outside. And it’s not just that he wants to help – he actually helps me.  When I’m cutting down branches from overgrown trees, he’ll pull the branches out of my way and toss them in a brush pile I’ve shown him. If I’m splitting firewood, he’ll gather up the small pieces of wood and set them aside for kindling.

This weekend, I was raking leaves (this time of year, it feels like that’s all I do!) and he wanted to help, so I gave him a small rake and let him do his thing. Once I had piled as many leaves  as I could into my wheel-barrow, I would pick him up, set him on top of them, and give him a ride all the way over to our compost pile near the edge of the woods.

To him, this was the most fun thing in the history of fun things…and so I had to do it all afternoon, every time the wheel-barrow was full.  He didn’t realize it, but he was helping me by keeping the leaves from blowing away. I didn’t realize it, but I just might have been giving him a lasting memory.

‘Quality time’ is relative

The reason I say it “might” be a lasting memory is because I have learned – through having two older daughters – that kids remember what they think is important, not you.  What a parent might feel is an earth-shatteringly colossal event may not even appear as a blip on their children’s recollective radar.

I have friends who have taken their one- and two-year-old kids to Disneyland, ice shows, and live children’s theatre performances…and I can’t help but wonder what the kids think. Now, don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with anyone doing any of these things. I just doubt that the kids will have any lasting memory of these experiences either because they’re a) too young to be able to remember them later in life, or b) the events simply won’t have as much impact on the kids as their parents think.

With my two girls (well, ok, technically they’re women now, but don’t remind me), many of the things they recall I barely remember. More than once, I’ve been part of a  conversation that went more or less like this: “Remember the time when mom said ‘blah-de-blah,’ and then you were like, ‘blah-de-blah-de-blah,’ and then she did ‘this’ and you did ‘that’ and then something happened and then something else happened and then you were all like ‘blah-de-blah-de-frickety-blah?!’  That was so funny!!”

And I’m sitting there, staring, wondering where I was when this hilarious incident supposedly occurred.

It may not have been the Ice Capades, but it was certainly memorable…whatever the heck it was.

A matter of perspective

Phil V

Country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar

A few years ago, country singer Phil Vassar and I were talking about kids (he has a couple of girls, too) and what it’s like being a parent trying to keep up with them while time flies by so quickly.  He related a story about how he and his family had an opportunity to meet President George W. Bush while he was still in office.

Phil told me that he was asking the girls a couple of years later what they enjoyed about their visit to the White House – and they didn’t remember any of the supposed ‘highlights.’

He asked if they recalled meeting the president. No.  He asked if they remembered what the White House looked like. Not really. Did they remember anything that happened while they were there?? Wait, one of them said…she thought she did remember something. That was the place that had the tall, fancy vase in the corner with the pink flowers that smelled so nice?

And poor Phil was the one who ended up scratching his head, trying to remember this completely random fact that was his daughter’s most captivating – and possibly only – memory of meeting the President of the United States.

Proof again that what we think is important and what our kids think is important are two totally different thinks.

Wheel-barrows, leaf piles, and fire trucks

When I rake leaves, I don’t just let my little dude ride in the wheel-barrow; I let him jump into the huge piles I create. Yes, it’s more work for me, having to re-rake and re-rake many times over…but it’s fun for him, and I hope it will be something that he remembers when he gets older. I have to admit it’s also fun for me, watching the little nut roll around in the leaves and toss them in the air, laughing hysterically as they fall down around him and on his face.

He also loves trucks – any kind of trucks. If it’s got a motor and wheels, he wants it. He may only be 3, but he knows the difference between a skid steer and a Bobcat, and the difference between a forage harvester and a combine. The day I brought him to the fire station to look at the engines close-up was a day I’ll never forget, mostly because I don’t think he blinked once, the whole time we were there.

Will it be a lasting memory? Who knows…but he enjoyed it, and that was good enough for me.

After all, ultimately it’s not about the memories, but about the experiences themselves.  And rather than second-guess myself, I’ll just enjoy my time with him and his siblings and provide them with as much happiness, support, and love as I can and let them decide what’s worth remembering.

You know, I here there’s a monster truck show coming to town…

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter FacebookPinterest, and SoundCloud!

Poetry Friday: “To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI can’t believe a week has already flown by since my new daughter, Phoebe, arrived. It’s been a busy week, too: getting adjusted to having a baby in the house, helping our 3-year-old to become acclimated to the concept (he’s a great little big brother), plus helping my wife as much as possible while she recovers from her C-section.

All this on top of trying to run my voiceover business while prepping for a big, 5-day-gig as the announcer at the local state fair Labor Day weekend.

Oh, and did I mention that on Wednesday I dropped a 6-foot, 8-inch diameter log on my left big toe, splitting the nail in half?  (Yeah, that was a big, fat ouch, let me tell you). So it’s been a crazy, crazy, crazy busy week.

I’ve had the idea for this poem since she was born, by the way – but considering all of the above, I didn’t have time to put it to paper until last night. Normally, I don’t share first drafts, but this is actually a 3rd-draft, and I’m fairly happy with it…although I’m sure I’ll tinker with it again tomorrow, and the next day, and next week, and…well, you know how poets are.

Gotta run…I hear a baby crying! For more poetry, visit today’s Poetry Friday hostess, Betsy, at I Think In Poems!

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Phoebe - 1  week

Phoebe Kenna-Rose, on her 1-week birthday. And yes, those cheeks ARE exceedingly pinch-able.

“To the Newborn (for Phoebe)”

Little one,
with eyes wide
to a world
you cannot see,
find comfort in the world
you know:
sustenance
in your mother’s breasts,
security
in father’s arms,
peace
in the familiar.

Enjoy the warm sweetness
of milk on your tongue,
smile at dreams only you
can know,
and sleep soundly
safely
as long as you like…

for you, little one,
do not know
this world beyond
your world.
This world that awaits
knows neither
comfort
nor sustenance
nor safety.
But it will,
little one,
soon

be yours.

You do not yet realize
this world
you so depend upon
depends
on you.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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PoetsGarage-badgeDid you like this post? Find something interesting elsewhere in this blog? I really won’t mind at all if you feel compelled to share it!  To keep abreast of all my posts, please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right!  (I usually only post twice a week - on Tues. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day)  Also feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter , Facebook, Pinterest, and SoundCloud!

Slowing down and catching up

This past weekend, my wife, my son, and I attended my wife’s family’s annual 4th of July cookout.  It’s amazing the things you learn and discover when you’re not constantly up each other’s arses on Facebook and Twitter.

ID-10016558 (BBQ)Before I go any further, I should explain something. This is a BIG shindig. Family, extended family, and friends all get together to hang out, have fun, and eat tons of food. I’ve been to more than a few family functions in the past, but this has got to be the biggest one each year.

How big?

There aren’t just hot dogs and hamburgers. There’s also barbecued chicken, pulled pork, hot & sweet sausages, steak tips, chicken wings, and smoked ribs. And those are just the meats.  There’s a pool, a horseshoe pit, a bounce house for the kids, and requisite beer-pong tournament.

This year, they even rented a Porta-potty!

Like I said…it’s a big party. Which is why I found it so surprising – and refreshing, really – to be able to learn so much from my own family members.

Social media ≠ real socializing

While many of the folks in attendance keep up with each other via social media, several don’t. And the ones who do – Yours Truly, included – are not living every moment of our lives to find out what everyone else is doing everyday.

Now and then I’ll see a Facebook post from someone, and perhaps I’ll comment, perhaps not. Often I miss a good deal of what’s going on because, to be honest, I’ve got a lot going on in my own life.

facebookNot to sound selfish or anything, but I’m so preoccupied with my voiceover business, my writing, taking care of my 3-year-old son, taking care of the house/gardening/firewood/landscaping/etc., and trying to be a good husband to my pregnant, ready-to-pop-any-day-now wife…I honestly twitterdon’t have the time to notice that my step-cousin Susie has posted another duck-lip selfpic or that Uncle Fred finally had his bunions removed.

So being able to enjoy true socializing was like a gift. I was able to relax Pinterestand chat with one or two people, snack on some food, and have a drink, then start another conversation with someone else and have some more food.  (Food figures prominently at this soirée – and in my life, for that matter)

soundcloudAnd by engaging in real, old-fashioned human interaction, without the distractions that come with socializing online, I was not only more focused on what people were talking about, I was also able to enjoy it much more. I wasn’t being interrupted by pop-up ads, I wasn’t checking emails and bank accounts while trying to skim through my Facebook news feed, and I wasn’t finding intriguing news stories that pulled my attention away from my work.

I discovered quite a bit, too.

“You did what?  When?  Where?  Wow!”

I learned that my uncle-in-law (not sure if that’s a real designation, but we’ll go with it) purchased and rebuilt a classic motorcycle which he turned into a trike. However, he left the rear wheel of the motorcycle on – meaning the trike actually has three wheels in the back. Which, I suppose, makes it a quad. Kinda, sort of.

I had a chance to catch up with a second cousin who recently graduated college, who told me a 7-year-old boy she was babysitting tried to hit on her. Not hit her…hit on her.  At 7 years old, all I wanted was a new Tonka truck. Apparently they start young, these days.

I also learned that another relative has started a new job that has tremendous perks; that the rules of horseshoes need to be altered slightly if you want the game to end before sunrise; and that Jello shots pack significantly more punch when they’re made entirely with vodka and no water whatsoever.

Oh, and all that cutting, splitting, and stacking cordwood I’ve been doing is paying off, it seems. While standing in my swimming trunks chatting with my wife and her sisters, one of them asked if I had lost weight. I said I didn’t know; it was possible, with all the outdoor work I’ve been doing.

I thanked her, of course – then immediately began to wonder what type of home improvement project is best for one’s abs.

ID-100177455 (floating ring)

Somewhere…an inner tube is calling you.

Relax, recharge, refocus

Could I have learned these things via Facebook or Twitter? Sure - at least some of them. Although my uncle isn’t online, Jello shots are hard to do on Google+, and since I don’t post shirtless photos of myself on Facebook, I doubt anyone would have ever noticed my muscular, chiseled, near-godlike physique.

But having the opportunity to slow down and leave the electronic distractions behind was not only enjoyable, it was necessary. Hopefully you can find the time to slow down and catch up with the people close to you this summer.

Just like the batteries in our devices need to get turned off and recharged now and then, we need that, as well. That’s why, although I’ll be working through this week doing my voiceover work and writing my children’s poetry, I’ll be on a semi-hiatus, so to speak.

I’ll be spending more time readying the nursery for baby #2′s arrival in August and spending more time with my wife over the weekend – just the two of us, with no distractions. I also will not be posting a new blog entry next Monday.

I do have the urge to go out and cut down more trees, though.

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Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links up there on the right! (I usually only post twice a week - on Tue. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  Feel free to visit my voiceover website HERE, and you can also follow me via Twitter or Facebook.

Poetry Friday: “The Trees are Red”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllI was recently talking to a friend who is also a children’s writer about creativity. she writes a lot of nonfiction and historical fiction and had asked if I could give her some pointers on poetic devices and styles to help her write more creatively. As we talked, I realized the biggest difference between poets and other writers.

We see things differently.

That’s not to say we have better perspective, better talent, better anything…we just look at the world in ways other folks don’t. It seems that when poets ask “why,” “how,” and “what if”…we get answers that often surprise even ourselves.

This poem, for example, was inspired by a Facebook photo posted by fellow children’s poet and illustrator, Samuel Kent, aka The Lunchbox Doodler. I got thinking about an “orange sky” and why it might be orange. Then I wondered…if the sky was orange, what colour were the trees and grass? And if they were all different colours…why??

Once I answered that last question, the answer popped in my head and I wrote the poem in about 20 minutes. Hope you like it! And if you still want more, Keri has all the Poetry Friday links!

.

The Trees Are Red

The trees are red.
The grass is blue.
The river is yellow –
The rocks are, too.

The streets are purple
All over town.
Nothing’s the same
Since that rainbow fell down.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

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Poetry Friday: “Can You Saddle Up a Horsefly?”

poetryfridaybutton-fulllAmong the many manuscripts for children’s books that I’ve either completed or am currently working on, is a nature-themed poetry collection. I’m not sure that ‘nature’ is specific enough of a theme to attract the attention of an agent or publisher – these days, everything has to have a ‘theme,’ you know – but for now, it is what it is, and this poem comes from that collection.

I was thinking about bug names and how so many of them could be confused or misconstrued…and after several weeks of writing and revising, I ended up with this! Hope you enjoy it.

Monarch & black-eyed susans

“Can You Saddle Up a Horsefly?”

Are ladybugs all ladies?

Are there gentlemanbugs, too?

Does a praying mantis ever pray?

And if they do, to who?

Why is it every summer, lightning bugs light up the night,
But thunderbugs – they don’t exist! I just don’t think it’s right.

I doubt that dragonflies breathe fire and turn knights into roast.
And what about a butterfly?  Do they taste good on toast?

The June bugs buzz all summer long, not just the month of June;
If mayflies flew in April, would we say they flew too soon?

A yellowjacket’s jacket’s yellow – what about his pants?
And where does one buy uniforms for all the army ants?

We know grasshoppers love to hop, but can they leap or skip?
Can you saddle up a horsefly – then take him on a trip?

A honeybee makes honey; what’s a dung-beetle to make??
It’s questions just like these, at night…

that keep me wide awake.

- © 2013, Matt Forrest Esenwine

Looking for more poetry? Be sure to visit Amy at The Poem Farm for all of today’s Poetry Friday links!

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Did you like this post? Find anything interesting somewhere in this blog? Want to keep abreast of my posts?  Then please consider subscribing via the links over here on the right! (I usually only post twice a week - on Tue. and Fri. - so you won’t be inundated with emails every day!)  You can also follow me via Twitter or on Facebook.

Dear Graduates: of life, men, and the problem with experience

ID-10046308 (graduate cap)This past Sunday was a busy day. Not only was it Father’s Day, but it was also the day of my youngest daughter’s high school graduation.

As I thought about my hopes and dreams for her, I couldn’t help but reflect upon the hopes and dreams I had for myself at that age, and the hopes and dreams my father probably had for his only son. When you’re 18 and graduating, the questions abound. Should I go to college? Should I work? If I go to college, what should I study? If I go to work, what will I do? Should I do what my parents want, or what I want?

In considering all these thoughts, worries, and concerns, something occurred to me:

Maturity changes everything.

Looking back over my post-high school years, I realize now what I did right and where I went wrong. I can also see multiple instances where there was no right or wrong. Life experience may be great, but it’s also a problem.

They say experience is the greatest teacher; unfortunately, it’s all on-the-job training.  You don’t get a probationary period. You don’t get a chance to learn the ropes, then go out and live your life.  We’re all in the position of tackling the world with only as much information and experience as we have at that moment – and it is only after we fail or succeed that we get our report card.  No matter how much we think we know – we never know what we need to know until after the fact.

Life is a perpetual game of trial-and-error, and I doubt most graduates realize how many ‘errors’ they will end up accumulating over the long haul. This very realization is, itself, one of the blessings of maturity.  Once we accept the fact that we don’t know everything, that we will likely fail as often (if not more) than we succeed, and that we need the knowledge, experience, and support of others to get us through…life becomes easier. And harder.

You see, maturity is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, you see things more clearly and understand better how life and the world operate, which allows you to move forward with wisdom and confidence. On the other hand, you see all your past mistakes with laser-pinpoint accuracy - and although it’s helpful, it’s sometimes painful to watch.

Chilli cookoff, apple picking, hair cut October 2010 020The man I’ll never be

I should probably know more about men than I do, considering I call myself one. I don’t know if they have the same doubts, hopes, fears, and insecurities I have…but I’m sure I’m not the only one who believes:

I’ll never be the man my kids think I am, I’ll never be the man my wife deserves,
and I’ll never be the man my father is.

I think it is due to personal inadequacies I have created, based upon the standards I have set for myself…and again, I wonder if other men share this concern. I don’t think I’m a bad person, but could I do better? Could I spend more time with the kids, teach them more, listen to them more? Could I do more for my wife, help her more, support her more? Could I be a harder worker, better-skilled, more involved with the community?

Certainly.

And it’s not like I don’t try to improve myself in these areas. I just keep falling short of those pesky standards I was talking about. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me, but I doubt I’ll ever reach them. I’m willing to accept that. But it won’t keep me from trying.

The big surprise awaiting graduates

Taking into account the experience, wisdom, and surprises that come with the blessing/curse of maturity, my recognition of past failings, and my desire to constantly improve myself, I felt it’s important that graduates know one important thing. Whether they go to college or go to work, stay at home or move away, get married or stay single, there is one truth that is universal. It surprised me years ago, and it still surprises unsuspecting young people.

Ready, graduates? Here it is:

Life is harder than you realize.

Are you surprised? No? Well, you should be. If you don’t think it’s hard, just wait. And if you think it’s hard already, it’s actually harder. I’m not trying to scare you or anything – just helping you to be prepared, based on years of life experience and >ahem< maturity.

Life is fun, life is sad, life is exciting, life is boring, life is anything you make it out to be and will take you anywhere you want to go – but it’s up to you to do the driving. Sometimes, life is, indeed, easy. It will often be hard, too. That should never keep you from enjoying it and getting the most out of it.   Hard work can be enjoyable and rewarding, and so is life. Just remember that

Life is harder than you realize.

If you want to do something you think is difficult, do it anyway. Can’t do it? Figure out a way. Never accept impossibility as an option. The best things in life might be free, but the most rewarding ones usually don’t come without a great deal of work, sweat, and perseverance.

shutterstock_132016772 (woman-youth culture)

Are you ready for what’s ahead?

And by the way, if your personal situation is nice and stress-free, what about your neighbor’s? Are they struggling with some sort of problems? There’s probably something you could do to lighten their load. No, I don’t mean just offering them money or food. That’s easy. I mean taking some time to get to know them and actually lending a real helping hand. Being a true neighbor. True, that might be hard to do, but then again…

Life is harder than you realize.

If life is not hard, then you’re either extremely lucky, or you’re doing it wrong.

So be careful out there.

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