Saturday, March 31, 2012

Update on the Relocation

It's not every day a California family living in the same home for twenty plus years packs their bags in Winter to relocate to the Midwest.  Many of my California friends are still asking, "are you crazy?"

Those who truly know me already know the answer to that question.  How do you think I'm able to write about crazy people in my novel?  The best answer I can give is to share a little bit about my faith.  I truly believe God has a plan for my life.  It's not the one I mapped out years ago.  No, His plan is a little more off the beaten path.  I'm exactly where God wants me.  I'm certain of this because I'm beginning to see a pattern of doors opening and closing in my life.  I'm not on the show, "Let's Make a Deal" where I get to choose between three doors.  God has one door for me.  Sure, I always have a choice to go through it or avoid it, however, my years of experience in opening the wrong doors have changed the way I move forward.   Here's a brief update on my relocation to Iowa:

  1. My family is really happy to be re-united with my wife's large family in Iowa.
  2. Our chihuahua, Roxy, has transformed from being a couch potato to a speed racer.
  3. The family hosting us in Washington, Iowa extended their Winter vacation in Arizona and informed us we can stay in their home until May 1.
  4. The job search continues for my wife and me.
  5. The search for a new place to live also continues.
  6. God has a plan for us.
  7. We only know part of His plan so far.
  8. Spring has arrived and the trees, plants and flowers are all coming back to life.
  9. We've officially met every one of my wife's relatives since we've relocated.
  10. We are super excited about this chapter of our lives.
Have you ever done anything the world thought was crazy?  Please share your story in the comments section.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Are You Living On A Prayer?

I knew my wife's aunt was concerned about me when she walked over to tell me about a factory job that just opened up.  Here she was, mourning the loss of her younger brother on the day of his funeral, and she was taking the time to learn about my job search efforts.  Yes, I'm impressed with my wife's family, and at 90 years young, Inez is still the mother hen.

During my morning prayers, the Bon Jovi song, Livin' on a Prayer, came to mind.  The part of the song I focused on was "Whooah, we're half way there."  I'm in awe at this amazing journey I'm on with my family.  Jesus is so real for me at this stage of my life.  I can almost see His hand reaching down from Heaven as He tells me, "Take my hand, we'll make it - I swear."

My other hand is already permanently attached to my wife and we both realize we are already half way there.  We've been living on prayers are whole lives together.  This new chapter of our lives is incredible.  Stay tuned.  I will be writing more about it as it unfolds before my family and me.

How about you?  Are you living on a prayer today?  Are you half-way there?  Your comments are welcome below.  If you would like to see a video of Bon Jovi's song, click on it below.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Value of Your Moment

I'm thinking of you right now as I write this message.  I wonder how much time will pass before you open it up and connect.    We may only be separated by a couple of hours; or months and years may pass.  I only know we have a bond at the moment you read this.  Your moment is filled with choices and opportunities.  You may gloss over the message and cast it back into the sea, never to visit again.  Or, you may find a connection with my stories and become a regular visitor, reading more notes as they come ashore.

My hope for you is that my daily messages will somehow make a difference in your moment.   Here is my prayer for you:

Gracious and Loving Father, thank you for this moment you have given me right now to write this message; thank you for inspiring me to write every morning when I awake.  I especially thank you for the reader who is reading this prayer at this very moment.  Father, help this person to see the value of this moment.  May this prayer I'm praying right now fill the reader with abundant blessings.  May they experience your love.  May they come to know your Son who is knocking on the door to their heart right now.

Father, I trust you will deliver this message at the perfect time for the person on the other side.  You will use this message for Your glory.  Thank you for allowing me to have this moment to connect with the person who found this message.  May their day be blessed.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Earl With Eyes of Pearl

Earl Welsh
On my wife's side of the family, every relative I've met has the same stunning light blue eyes.  My wife's uncle Earl had an extra sparkle in his eyes the first day I met him.  Not only did he have a sparkle in his eyes of pearl, he had some kind of power and light that emanated from inside his heart.  We said good-bye to Earl this week; he was the last of my wife's uncles to depart this world and now joins my father-in-law and two other brothers on the other side.  His funeral was our first formal family gathering since our relocation to the Midwest.

Earl worked at the power company.  During his eulogy, it was said his job was to keep the lights on.  He did this at home, too, teaching his family the secrets of exuding power and light from within.  The best way to teach your children about faith is to live it every day.  I will never forget how crowded the church was at Earl's funeral.  The audience included every single nephew and niece in this large Irish family and the newest generation of eyes of pearl, Earl's two blue-eyed great-grandchildren.  They were told they would be releasing balloons into Heaven and thought their great-grandfather was also going to Heaven in a balloon.

I picture him waking up in a new place with bright lights we have never seen before, asking, "is this Iowa?"

His Greeter replies, "no Earl, you're not in Iowa anymore, this is Heaven.  Your brothers are waiting.  Follow me."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Fresh Set of Eyes

The other day I lost my cell phone while out on a walk with my dog.  I told my wife I would be back soon when I left the house with our chihuahua.  The weather was perfect so I decided to turn the short walk into a mini work-out.  I removed my shirt and started running, sideways and backwards.  Once I hit the open fields, I bent down to remove Roxy's leash.  Towards the end of the jaunt, I realized my phone fell out of my shorts.  My wife was worried I was MIA, so she called me repeatedly.  After spending an hour searching for the phone, I decided to enlist my wife and son in the search for the phone.

I offered my son a reward and he was determined to find the phone first.  During the search, I thought about all my contacts that would be lost.  I visualized the phone getting chopped up in a riding mower as the three of us combed the fields.  What a relief when my son held up the phone.  I was so happy I doubled his reward.

Sometimes, all that is needed when you are experiencing a challenge, is to bring in a fresh set of eyes.  Have you ever experienced a situation where a fresh set of eyes solved the problem?  Your comments are appreciated.

Monday, March 26, 2012

5 Steps to Overcome Negative Thoughts

The single greatest obstacle to living your dreams is that negative voice in your head that often appears when a great challenge or opportunity is staring you in the face.  It usually starts with an outside voice telling you your dreams are unrealistic or unachievable.  Something happens when your brain hears negative messages from well-meaning people who want to protect you from falling.  The message finds a home inside you and repeats itself until you give up on your goals.  Here's some ideas to help you overcome those negative thoughts preventing you from fulfilling your dreams:

  1. Find a mentor who accomplished the same goal you have and ask him or her to share how they managed to overcome any obstacles.
  2. Join a network or club who share your passion for living their dreams.
  3. Write down all the reasons why your vision for your future is important to you.
  4. Every time you hear that negative voice in your head, read the list you made in #3.
  5. Stop being afraid to fail.  Falling down is part of the process.  This takes away the power of the negative voice in your head.
Most of the perfectionists I know rarely achieve much because they fear risks.  It's pretty much impossible to overcome a challenge without making some mistakes along the way.  The negative voices inside a perfectionist's head cause him or her to freeze.  Have you ever seen a baby who was afraid to learn to walk?  How many times do they fall down before they finally get it?  Babies don't have negative thoughts until they are much older.  Go ahead.  Be a baby.  Tell that negative voice you're done listening.  Practice these five steps and your negative thoughts will fade away.

How do you handle negative thoughts?  Please add your thoughts below.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A New Season of my Life

Winter is officially over, both in nature and in my life.  Just before leaving Ramona, we said good-bye to our beloved Lucky, a rescue pet who brought us years of joy.  Near the end, his frail body kept him from going on hikes or visits to dog beach, something he really enjoyed.  Instead, he slept most hours of the day.  Our chihuahua, Roxy, and our family stayed close to him until the end.

We are in Iowa now.  And we are walking twice a day.  There is a large field nearby and we allow Roxy to go off her leash once we are off the streets.  Roxy can run like no other small dog I've ever seen.  She loves her new environment.  We feel the same way about Iowa.  The plants and trees all seem to be blooming in fast forward speed, just like the clouds that race across the sky.  When we arrived two weeks ago, everything was dead.  Suddenly, color is all around us.  Birds are building nests.  Nature is singing with angelic voices.  Even the owls know when to chime in to the symphony at just the right moment.

I'm ready for Spring.  How about you?  Are you ready to welcome a new season in your life?  Please share your comments below.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Downsizing, the New Family Buzz Word

My wife is the organizer in our family.  When we made the decision to relocate to the Midwest almost one year ago, she immediately went into "downsizing" mode.  My children and I are on the other end of the spectrum.  We like to save things.  Once our home sold, we were all forced to follow my wife's lead and let go of things.  Here's some downsizing ideas we use to simplify our lives:

  1. Utilize free services for letting go of toxic materials in your garage.  This keeps the environment safe.
  2. Go on a one year spending fast.  This is not easy, however, if you only purchase items you need rather than frivolous wants, you will avoid out of control spending.
  3. Make a list of all the recurring bills you have each month and cut out anything you can live without.
  4. Find an accountability partner and call them any time you are tempted to buy something you don't need.  Do the same for your accountability partner when they get the urge to splurge.
  5. Change your routine.  Instead of shopping, replace this activity with a new habit, like exercising.
When I was reserving a moving truck, I went with one that was not big enough to move everything we accumulated for nearly 23 years living in the same house.  We had multiple garage sales and donated many items we did not need.  Friends and family members helped us with our downsizing efforts.  In the end, we left behind all our junk and our friends hauled it off to the dump on our behalf.  We had 2,400 pounds of stuff!  Yes, downsizing is our new buzz word.   Our goal is to be debt free.  Living in the Midwest makes this goal more realistic, however, it's not enough unless we work together as a family to make downsizing a priority.

How are you doing in the downsizing department?  Is there anything in your life you wish to cut back on?  Join me and maybe we can both hold each other accountable.  Your comments are welcome below.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Get Smart

A vision of Maxwell Smart, agent 86 of the Get Smart series from the sixties, popped into my head while waking up.  Maxwell was entering a series of doors to get to his office.  Each door opened, Smart walked through, then the door closed behind him, one at a time, until Smart disappeared in a phone booth.  If you've never seen the show, here's an intro clip...

This clip is similar to my own life;  doors are opening, one at a time, while also closing behind me, one at at time.  I may not have a shoe phone like the one agent Smart has, but I do have a smart phone and my droid helps me thanks to the navigation feature built into it.  This is really coming in handy in my new surroundings in Iowa.

In order to reach my destination, I need to keep going through the doors as they open.  Agent Smart never doubted each door would open at the right time.  I'm the same way.  That's what faith is, trusting there is a higher authority in charge of opening and closing doors.

How are you doing with doors opening and closing in your life?  Have you discovered the doorway that leads to Heaven?  Trust your Creator to lead you to this door.  It's not hard to find if you follow Jesus.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  They will come in and go out, and find pasture. ~ John 10:9

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where in Iowa are the Mulligans?

The state of Iowa is similar in size to a rectangular dish of lasagna.

My California friends keep asking where my new home in Iowa is.  Technically, I'm homeless at the moment.  We are staying in a friend's home until they return from their Winter break in Arizona in about thirty days.  When they return, it's possible we may have a better tan than some of my California friends, thanks to all this great weather.  I've been wearing shorts almost every day since we arrived.

If everything works out in the jobs department, our dream is to live in the Williamsburg area where my wife's family lives.  To get an idea just exactly where Williamsburg is, imagine you are about to cut up your lasagna into thirds vertically and horizontally.  Yes, the state of Iowa is rectangular, just like a dish of lasagna.  If you're like me, you like to eat the center piece first.  While you're looking at the center piece, locate the lower right corner of your slice.  Now you know exactly where we are.  That lower horizontal line in your lasagna is the I-80 which connects Des Moines and Iowa City.  We are 20 miles west of Iowa city.  If you come visit me, I'll cook up some lasagna and give you the center piece.  Are you getting hungry?  If your state were a food, what would it look like and where are you?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Are You Fuming Over Gas Prices?

Driving from California to Iowa in a moving truck while towing a car, I averaged 9 miles per gallon.  The strong tail wind that started in Arizona helped me and the gas prices decreased drastically once I crossed the state lines at the California border.

I habitually grab the regular unleaded when I pump my gas, however, there is an interesting thing about Iowa gas.  Super unleaded is cheaper than regular unleaded.  This has to do with the ethanol used in the higher octane gas.  With Iowa gas prices in the $3.73 range this week, some Iowans are complaining.  My California friends are nervous about approaching the $5.00 per gallon mark.

I'm going to be learning more about the ethanol experiment going on in Iowa and sharing my findings here on a future update.  How are the gas prices in your state?  Do you have any ideas about how to cope with rising gas prices?  Please comment below.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are You a Dream Killer?

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy" ~ Proverbs 13:12

What did you say the last time a loved one shared a dream with you?  Did you support them or shoot them down, advising them to get real?  In most cases, I'm usually the one who supports the dreamer, even if it borders on the impossible.  Dreams are seeds.  When they are planted in fertile soil, they flourish.

I nearly became a dream killer when my wife shared her biggest dream with me.  I sought out evidence to invalidate her wish.  Then, one day I woke up and realized I was the obstacle.  The light bulb inside my brain turned on and I saw a new life for the entire family.  Thank God they waited for me to see the light.

How about you?  Are you a dream killer?  How do you handle people around you who don't believe in your dreams?  Please add your comments below.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What Movie Is Your Life Like?

Marley from the movie, "Marley and Me."
One of my blog friends recently asked me what my favorite movie is.  If you're like me, maybe your favorite movie reflects something about you or about your aspirations.  Currently, my #1 top movie favorite is "Marley and Me."  The main character is a writer who adopts Marley.  Marley reminds me of our precious pet, Lucky, who was put to sleep just before we left California.  We laid Lucky to rest in our back yard with a ceremony similar to the movie scene from "Marley and Me."

"It's a Wonderful Life" also ranks high on my list.  I've been fortunate to have angels in my life who show me how my work is helping others.  The Tom Hanks movie, "Castaway," is also in my top five list.  His sidekick, Wilson, inspired me to create my own Wilson and it has been a big help in my transition to my new life.

Do you have a favorite movie that reflects your own life or your dreams?  Please add your comments below.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"The Wizard of Oz" in Iowa

Friday night my family and I attended a high school production of "The Wizard of Oz," starring our nephew as the wizard and his girlfriend as Dorothy.  The auditorium was sold out.  What a delight to see so much talent.  The crowd was entertained and my family got a chance to see our nephew for the first time doing what he loves.

I give this production five gold stars.  The standing ovation was icing on the cake for a group of students who worked tirelessly to put a play together that rivals professional theater.  You can't beat entertainment like this.  Hats off to all the students and faculty involved.

Do you have any memories from participating in high school plays?  Please add your comments below.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

Wilson Patrick O'Mulligan and pet, Roxy, waking up on St. Patrick's Day
Happy St. Patrick's Day to my friends and family, Happy 19th birthday to my daughter, and Happy 7yr anniversary to my Zoom partners.  Our Chihuahua, Roxy, isn't sure about Wilson's hat.  I think she'll feel better once we give Roxy her St. Patrick's Day sweater.

This is an extra special day because we are celebrating with my wife's siblings and friends.  The town is 100% Irish.  I'm away from my daughter and Zoom partners today, however, I have Wilson (full name: Wilson Patrick O'Mulligan - the O in front of Mulligan is only shown once a year on this special day).

May you enjoy your special day.  My family doesn't like to have their pictures on my blog so Wilson will be standing in and his pictures will be posted here soon.  How will you be spending your St. Patrick's Day?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Iowa Speak

I'm wrapping up my first week in Iowa and doing my best to learn the lingo of the locals.  Here's a few things I learned about Iowa speak.

  1. Dinner:  the meal you eat around noon.
  2. Supper:  the meal you eat at the end of the day.
  3. The Black Diamond:  the road connecting Parnell and Iowa City.
  4. The Burg:  Short for Williamsburg, this may be the town we eventually settle in.
  5. If you're visiting Iowa in the Winter, pack your sunscreen and your shorts.
This is only the tip of the iceberg.  Stay tuned for more.  I'm so happy I was able to find my shorts in time for the 85º day in Washington, Iowa.  By the time I took the picture below, the temperature already dropped one degree.  I emailed it to some friends in San Diego because they didn't believe me when I told them how hot it is.  How is the weather in your location?  Do you have any special jargon you use?  Feel free to share your comments below.

Washington, Iowa @ 5pm on Thursday, 3/15.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Impossible Dream

Four years ago my wife had a dream.  Every day she began her morning prayers with a request for this dream to come true.  I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the reasons why this dream was impossible.  Funny thing about impossible dreams - where there is faith, even impossible dreams are possible.

My wife and I are now living the impossible dream.  God answered her prayers.  I'm a witness to the power of my wife's prayers.  Not only am I a witness, I'm also a beneficiary.  My children are also a part of the impossible dream.

After nearly 23 years of marriage, you would think I know better than to place limits on God's power.  I do believe in the power of love and I'm beginning to grasp the power of faith.  Everything the prophets and the Gospel writers talk about is true.  There is an all-powerful, all-loving God who listens to your every prayer request, no matter how small or insignificant you feel it is.  And He knows the perfect time to answer your prayers.  You are so special in His eyes.  He will move mountains for you so that your dreams can come true.  Don't ever stop believing.  There is no such thing as an impossible dream.

What "impossible" dream did you give to God that He answered?  Please comment below.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Little Love Goes A Long Way

Here's a cute video a friend posted on her Facebook page.  Enjoy. And don't forget to spread a little love today - it goes a long way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


This July, my wife and I will be celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary.  We were married in her hometown of Parnell, Iowa, population 200.  Most of the town is connected to her and she joked to me she had to move away to find a husband who wasn't a blood relative.  The church is gone now.  It was strange to drive by the location where my married life began and see it missing.  It was also the church where I delivered my father-in-law's eulogy to a packed crowd.  My wife's family sat in the front row as I recounted each sibling's favorite memory of their beloved dad.  Seated directly behind them were all of Spike's brothers and sisters, almost mirror images of my white-haired, blue-eyed aunts and uncles on my dad's side of the family.  Among Spike's sisters sat Inez, Spike's school teacher and matriarch of the family.  It was her weekly letters to my wife and me in California that kept us informed about the family in Iowa.  I spoke to the audience as if I had been living next door to them.  What a gift Inez gave us through her detailed letters.

I can't wait to see Inez.  She moved from her home in Waterloo to an assisted living home a stone's throw from my wife's family.  Inez never married.  She was too busy being the mother hen to all the family and played a major role in my wife's life.  She was afraid how she would fit in when she gave up her home in Waterloo but she made new friends quickly and is the life of the party.  I probably embarrassed her a little when I talked about her weekly letters during Spike's eulogy.  The crowd was stunned about Inez's thoughtfulness.  Her letters made me feel a part of the family.

This first week in Iowa is really special.  The icing on the cake will be visiting Inez and her sister Anne at the senior home.  I'm bringing Wilson with me.  And if Inez gives me permission, I will publish a photograph of the two of them to be shared with my blog readers.  It will be a homecoming I will cherish forever.  Wilson agrees.

Do you have a homecoming story to share?  Please comment below.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are We in Heaven?

"Are we in Heaven?" asked one of the ball players in the movie, "Field of Dreams."

"No, you're in Iowa," the character played by Kevin Costner replied.

And so now are the Mulligans.  We have arrived at our own field of dreams.  There are no corn stalks yet.  It's still Winter.  The locals say it's a mild one.  It will be warming up soon.  Spring is in the air.  And it's time to get acclimated.  More to come.  We are busy unpacking.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Blog Vacation Is Over

This is my last vacation post written before leaving California.  The good-byes were difficult.  The one week blog vacation was set up with a week of pre-penned messages so you could read my stories while I was on the road with my family.  Beginning tomorrow, I will be sharing the next chapter of my life with you.

It's time now to create new memories.  St. Patrick's Day is Saturday.  I will be celebrating in a town almost 100% Irish.  It will bring me joy to see my wife re-united with her siblings and to see my youngest son hanging out with his cousins on my wife's side of the family.  And it's time to complete my novel, The Caveman in the Mirror, scheduled for release on St. Patrick's Day, 2013.  The vacation is over.  Time to go to work.

Do you have memories from your last road trip?  Please share below.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Rest in Peace, Lucky

Lucky on a family hike.
Lucky at Dog Beach

Our pet, Lucky, went to sleep the day before we picked up the moving truck.  He was never the same after losing his companion, Lady, one year and 364 days earlier.  He spent the last six months of his life walking around in circles.  His fourteen-year-old body was giving out.  We knew he wasn't strong enough to spend a week confined in a moving truck or handle the cold weather in Iowa.  The best thing to do was let him go to sleep.

The new owners of our California home are dog lovers.  I mentioned to the husband we had a family pet buried in the back yard and we were planning to lay Lucky to rest next to her before moving to Iowa.  The new owner told me he was carrying ashes with him from his pet who passed away before they moved to California.  "I'll bury the ashes next to your pets and there will be a permanent sanctuary for them," he said.

I thought of the movie, "Marley and Me," when my son and I placed Lucky next to Lady.  I remembered all the stages our dogs went through.  Both started as rescue pets.  And both found a way into our hearts.  At first, I didn't think Lucky would be a good fit for our family.  His days spent chained up alone in an unfenced backyard before we adopted him made him afraid of thunderstorms.  Every time we opened the front door, he darted for freedom, spending hours frolicking in the wild shrubbery around our cul-de-sac before we could coax him back home.  He nearly destroyed all our furniture the first week we brought him home, nervously chewing all the cushions while we were away.  Our Sheltie, Lady, took charge and helped Lucky to settle down.  Now they are together after living full lives.  It turns out we were the lucky ones to be blessed with such great companions.  Rest in peace, Lucky.  It's time for you to chase bees in Heaven with Lady at your side.  Thanks for the memories.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sweetheart Dinner Pictures from our Church Fundraiser

It was a lovely evening at Barona Casino.  Guests bid on silent auction items gift-wrapped by loving hands and were entertained by DJ, Chris Bland of Solid Gold.  Memories were captured by photographer, Tim Siegert.  Here are some photos from our night at Barona:

***Reminder*** Please vote today for "the young apprentice."  You can vote once every 24 hrs.  Click here to help her win an $8,000 scholarship.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Are We There Yet?

When my oldest son could barely talk, he discovered Barney.  We were on a road trip to Minnesota to visit relatives and my son listened to Barney over and over during the entire trip from Iowa to Minnesota.  After two hours of torture, my son fell asleep and we turned off the cassette.  Suddenly, he awoke screaming, "Barney, Barney!"

I'm on the road again.  Thank God Barney mysteriously disappeared a long time ago.  This road trip is the longest one I've ever taken.  Even though Barney is long gone, I have a new travel buddy named Wilson.  If he could talk, he'd be asking, "are we there yet?"

I don't know which is more annoying, Barney or the "are we there yet" question.  I will be blogging about this road trip as soon as we get settled in.

What is your favorite (or least favorite) road trip memory?  Please share in the comment section below.  And if you can't get that Barney song out of your head, sorry.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A New Experience

This post was written before I left California.  I knew my internet connection on the road to Iowa would be hit-and-miss, so I penned this before my blog vacation began.  Wherever I am today, I'm in a new place savoring a new experience with my wife, my youngest son, and our attack dog, Roxy, a scrawny Chihuahua we adopted.  I don't know how she will do in the snow but I do know my family is ready for the next chapter of our lives.

Have you ever made a life-changing choice?  Click the comment button to add your thoughts.  I promise to respond once I get settled in.  I'm excited to make new friends while keeping in touch with old friends.  I feel blessed to have so many caring people in my life.

Today is the last day to vote for my young writer friend who is trying to win a free scholarship to a special school for entrepreneurs. Please click the link to vote for her and ask your friends to pitch in.  Thanks.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Choice Between Two Paths

I'm in the middle of my blog vacation and today's post was written just before I departed my hometown of Ramona.  At the time of this writing, I was studying weather patterns and choosing the best road to take to Iowa, my new home.  One road goes through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska.  The northern path cuts through Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska.  One choice avoids most of the snow, however, it's not completely safe as tornadoes are now in season.

My friends say the southern route is the safe choice.  My family wants to see new country in the northern route.  Either road will be an amazing journey and I promise to blog about it once I arrive in Iowa.

What is your favorite cross-country trip memory?  Please comment below.  I will be reading and responding to your comments once I'm in my new home.

***Reminder***  Please vote for "the young apprentice" today.  Click here to help her win a scholarship.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I'm a Believer

R.I.P., Davy Jones of the Monkees.  I will never forget your crazy ways.  This song is a tribute to you and your band.  May God comfort those who mourn your loss.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

On the Road With Wilson

The original Wilson from Cast Away.
Remember Tom Hanks buddy, Wilson, from Cast Away?  I have my own travel companion, also named Wilson.  It's my own creative way to share my blog vacation with my cyberspace friends without violating my pact to keep my family private.  Yes, I'm enjoying my cross-country journey with my wife and youngest son.  No, I won't share pictures of them on the road unless permission is granted due to their desire to remain outside of cyber-space.  Wilson doesn't care.  He's a midsize friend who mostly hangs out inside my tennis bag.  On this road trip, he will be sitting with my family in the front seat of the moving truck.  He will dine with us at meals.  And he will pose for pictures during our 1,800 mile road trip.

Please welcome my travel companion, Wilson.  Here's his first picture, posing outside our California home just before the close of escrow.  You will see him often on our road trip.  My wife says he needs a face.  I will have to work on that on the road.

First picture of my travel buddy, Wilson, outside the balcony of our California home.
What do you think of Wilson?  I'm really happy he has a strap.  Remember, my internet connections are sparse during my blog vacation and I may not be able to respond to any comments until about a week from now.  Thanks for your patience.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Creative Care Package

My tennis buddies delivered a care package, canned creatively.
A big thank you to all my Ramona friends and Zoom partners for the generous farewell gifts.  Helen and I will save the "spirits" for Iowa, however, we will be using the gift cards to fill up the gas tank, pick up some munchies, and eat a few foot-longs.  The address book was a great idea; we are happy to have your addresses so we can keep in touch.

The "creativity award" goes to my tennis buddies who decorated three cans of tennis balls and stuffed them with morsels, must-haves and motor magic.  The cans are marked "Extra-Duty Faith."  Wow!  All of these gifts will help us reach our final destination.

God bless my friends in California.  My family and I will always be connected to you.

For those of you who are joining me in the cause to help my friend, the 7-yr-old apprentice with dreams of winning a scholarship, here is the link to register your vote for her.  Remember, you can vote every 24 hour period thru March 7.  Please encourage your friends.  Here is the link:

Click here to vote for the "young apprentice."

***Please note:  I'm on a blog vacation this week and won't be able to respond to your emails or comments until I arrive in Iowa.  Thank you for your patience.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Blog Vacation Starts Today at 8:08AM

Editor's note:  Beginning today and thru next Friday, March 9, I will be on a blog vacation traveling through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Nebraska with my wife, my youngest son and my travel buddy, Wilson.  All stories appearing this week were written prior to today and will appear daily at 8:08AM.  I will not be able to respond to your comments or emails until I return to cyberspace one week from today.

Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday night was my last tennis session in my hometown.  I got the opportunity to team up with Doug Failla, the local pro.  When your partner is a tennis pro, it means all the balls are going to be it at you.  I was on the hot seat all night and our opponents, Larry and Mike, were relentless.  When we were all at the net, Mike fired a shot that struck me directly on my right breast.  It felt like a bullet.  I had to stop playing for several minutes.  Once I recovered, we went on to close out our victory.  At the end of the match, I received a large autographed poster made out of vinylI told the group I would hang it in the basement of our new place in Iowa and look at it every day for inspiration.  Our team was nicknamed "Smashin' With Passion."  This team lived up to its name.  And now it's time for me to continue that passion that was rekindled on the tennis courts of Ramona.  I will take it and the poster with me.  And I will write with passion.  Some of my stories will be stinging, just like that tennis shot from my buddy, Mike.  That's what passion is.  When you write from the heart, readers feel your emotions.

Thank you, my precious team-mates, Larry, Mike, Doug, Olivier, Chris, Jim, Brooke, Stacey, Shelley, Corri, Tori, Terri, Ninon; my honorary team captain, Elliott, and all the support people including Leland, the nationally ranked tennis player who recently won the Mr. San Diego award for male tennis player of the year.  Our 5th place finish at the national championships is the result of commitment, hard work, and help from Leland as well as professional guidance from Doug Failla, his brother, Greg, and Greg's wife, Katrina, all former high-ranked tennis pros who played on the tour.

I will savor great tennis memories for a life-time.  And I will follow the rising stars in Ramona who will be the tennis stars of the future.  Among them are Doug's son, Christian, Greg and Katrina's four children, and my left-handed nephew, Adam, the only player to make the high school varsity as a freshman.  Adam will be coached by my good friend, Doug, and he will build enough memories to last a life-time.  I know I have.  And I will never forget the great people of Ramona.  They will be in my heart everywhere I go.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Time to Load up the Moving Truck

Yippee!  20% off for AARP members at Budget.
Thanks to an extension request by the buyer's lender, I get an extra 48 hours to load up the moving truck.  This message is short and sweet today.  I'm using my allotted writing time to send out emails to all my friends and family members notifying them of my move to Iowa.

Starting tomorrow, I will be off-line for one week.  All blog stories have been written in advance and will appear every day at 8:08AM, Pacific time, during my absence.  Please be patient when communicating with me.  I do promise to answer all emails and comments once I return to cyberspace.

How do you manage your blog when you're on vacation?  Do you schedule stories at your regular intervals or do you wait to post new stories until after your vacation ends?  Please comment below.

***Reminder*** Don't forget to vote for my young writing friend.  You can vote once every 24 hours.  Click here to vote.