Category Archives: Man Cave

You might be new to the game of fatherhood if…

by Michael Mitchell

I’ve noticed A LOT of groups on Facebook popping up lately around the idea of sharing common experiences about the town you grew up in with other people who also grew up there. My favorite is the “You know you’re from Gotebo if…” I don’t know if I’m more impressed that a town of 247 people has a Facebook group with 48 members in it or that a town that is only .77 square miles actually has a population of 247 people.

Anyhow… I digress. Seeing all of these groups and the things people are saying got me thinking about another shared experience that is fresh and new and really close to home for me right now: fatherhood.

You see, there comes a time in every dad’s life when he realizes he’s the not the guy he used to be. He has left behind the trappings of his youthful days and traded them in for an entirely new set of responsibilities… and with them, joy. A trunk that used to hold a set of golf clubs or his favorite rod and reel is now home to a massive collapsible stroller and other random baby accessories that consume every last square inch of his available cargo capacity.

Continue reading You might be new to the game of fatherhood if…

When Did Pro Athletes Get So Thin-Skinned?

by Rob Lober

Maybe it’s because I’m 29 going on 75, but I just don’t get it.  I don’t understand Twitter.

Lately, I’ve been left scratching my head when it comes to the use of this social media tool by professional athletes.  I know, you’re famous so obviously everyone wants to follow you and read what you have to say about even the most mundane details of your life.  Thanks, I’ll pass.

More and more, athletes are using Twitter not only to let us know what they had for lunch, but to defend themselves against what they see as attacks from the media.

Last week, newly crowned US Open champion Rory McIlroy was playing in the second round of the Irish Open.  McIlroy was struggling and in the mind of BBC commentator Jay Townsend, he was also making some poor decisions.

On the air, Townsend said, “McIlroy’s course management was shocking.  It was some of the worst course management I have ever seen beyond under-10’s boys’ golf competition.”

McIlroy quickly responded via twitter, “shut up – You’re a commentator and a failed golfer, your opinion means nothing!”

Back in May, rumors were running wild about the Lakers interest in NBA All-Star Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic.  Writers for the Orlando Sentinel covered the story and published a series of articles on Howard’s future with the Magic.  The big man took offense, also voicing his displeasure via twitter. Continue reading When Did Pro Athletes Get So Thin-Skinned?

How Five Simple Rules Morphed Into a New Blog

FULL DISCLOSURE: What follows is, in many ways, a bit of shameless self-promotion for a new project I’m working on. You’ve been warned.

A few weeks ago, I posted a list of five rules for dads raising daughters. When I wrote that post, I was simply trying to clarify some of my own thoughts on parenting, fatherhood, and raising little girls – thoughts that had been largely influenced by a number of books (Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker, Bringing Up Girls by James Dobson, The Heart of a Father: How You Can Become a Dad of Destiny by Ken Canfield, and many others) I’d read in the months leading up to and following the birth of my daughter last September.

I had a lot of fun coming up with those five rules (I guess they were more like suggestions than hard fast rules) and when I eventually hit the post button on the blog, I felt like I had a pretty good foundation for my own philosophy of fatherhood.

As someone who uses the written word to cull out meaning from his experiences, seeing my ideas finally crystallized in written form felt really good.

At least at first, I felt what I think was a sense of closure. “Okay,” I thought, “I’ve finally got all of this stuff out of my head and now I can get back to putting my creative energy into blogging about the masculine experience.”  That was all good and well, except for one thing… that’s not really how my mind works.

No sooner had the post been published than I started thinking of other ideas I should have included in my original list of suggestions. In an effort to simply try to clear my mind, the next morning I opened a blank text file on my laptop and started to type. That’s when the ideas started flowing. My fingers couldn’t move fast enough to keep up. Continue reading How Five Simple Rules Morphed Into a New Blog

Picturing America Without The NFL Is Terrifying

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith, left, and NFL football Commissioner Roger Goodell announce the end of the NFL lockout (courtesy cbsnews.com, AP Photo by Carolyn Kaster)

by Rob Loeber

Did you hear that?  That was the sound of a nation letting out a collective sigh of relief.

The NFL will have a season, and all is once again right with the universe.  The lockout is officially over and now you can move forward with important decisions like when to schedule your fantasy draft.

I guess I always believed deep down the owners and players would eventually come to some kind of resolution, but I was starting to have more doubts and I actually began to envision a world with no professional football.  It wasn’t a pretty picture.

Sure, you’d still have college football but that would only account for half of a weekend.  It wouldn’t have been enough.  What would you have done with all that free time on Sunday afternoons and Monday nights?  The hours normally reserved for eating wings, drinking beer, and finding that optimal couch position would have been spent shopping with wives and girlfriends, getting yard work done, or finally fixing that leaking faucet.  It would have been a world with empty sports bars, crowded golf courses, and a lot of men walking around Target in a semi-conscious haze mumbling about missing the second half of a game that wouldn’t even exist.

Instead of rushing home from church to put on your team’s jersey, you’d be talked into brunch or a trip to the in-laws for the afternoon. Continue reading Picturing America Without The NFL Is Terrifying

From a man in transition to a transitioned man

While on vacation last week, the realization finally hit me that over the course of the last year or so I have taken up residence in an entirely new stage of adulthood.

I’m not sure exactly when this realization first dawned on me. Perhaps it was when we were packing the night before we left. As I looked around my living room at all the stuff we were taking with us this year that we didn’t even own this time last year it made my head spin a bit.

  • Diaper bag.
  • Pack ‘N’ Play.
  • Package of diapers.
  • Several jars of baby food.
  • Tons of toys.
  • Three tiny swimsuits.
  • Car seat.
  • Stroller (which ended up being too big to fit in our rented minivan with all of our other stuff).
  • An entire suitcase filled with miniature clothing that did not belong to either my wife or myself.

Perhaps it hit me the next morning while sweating like a nun in a brothel as I tried to get all of that stuff, plus mine and my wife’s belongings, into the back of the minivan. Continue reading From a man in transition to a transitioned man

Brighter Lights In A Small Town

The cast of characters in the hit TV drama, "Friday Night Lights." (courtesy popdose.com)

by Rob Loeber

Recently, I’ve developed an addiction to Friday Night Lights.

The TV drama is set in a small town in West Texas and centers on the life of the high school football coach, his family, and his players.  FNL has its share of soap opera moments and sometimes the storylines stretch the limits of believability, but the captivating thing about the show is how it truly captures life in a small town.  The entire community shuts down on Friday nights to watch its team take the field.  The players are celebrities and the coach is scrutinized for every single decision and play call he makes.  More than anything else, passion for the game of football and pride for the town, come pouring through the screen.

If you get away from the metropolitan areas and keep driving past the suburbs, you can still find the same kind of passion for high school football here in Oklahoma.  There are still sleepy little towns that come alive when the lights come on.

Beggs is one of those towns.  The community of 1,300 people features old houses, weathered trailers, and beat-up trucks driving down poorly paved roads that eventually lead you to the high school football stadium.

“We got a Dairy Queen, we got a stoplight, we got a convenience store, and we got football,” Beggs head coach Bob Craig told me as we stood in the middle of the football field.  “You should see this place on game days.”

Continue reading Brighter Lights In A Small Town

You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

by Rob Loeber

What would you do for a dream?  How far would you go to achieve a lifelong goal?

Those are the questions thousands of athletes ask themselves every single day.  From Alaska to Maine and all points in between, minor league and semi-pro players are making enormous sacrifices to stay on the field, rink, or court.

It must be love for $400 a week. (courtesy urbantulsa.com)

This recession has hit America hard over the last few years, but economic struggles are nothing new for the players who toil in obscurity and put their bodies on the line for very little reward.

The Tulsa Talons play in the Arena Football League and the average Talons’ player takes home $400 per week.  That adds up to $7200 for a complete 18-game season.  These are men with college degrees.  Most of them have families but most of them don’t have second jobs because of the time required for practice, travel, and games.

What would you do for a dream?  Would you walk away from the cushy desk job and the 401k package to throw yourself full-speed at another human being for 400 bucks?

I asked one Talons player why he does it.  “I love football,” he told me.  “I can’t imagine giving this up.”

The Talons players have almost no chance of ever making an NFL roster, but out there on the practice field they were smiling and laughing throughout every drill and after every play.  They looked joyful.  They looked like kids.  How many of us can say our jobs make us feel like kids again?

Continue reading You Can’t Put A Price On Dreams

Where’s The Journalism???

Local sports coverage is slipping in Oklahoma.  As a former member of the Tulsa media, it saddens me to make that statement.  Covering local sports was my passion and my livelihood.  Back then I sensed it, and even more so now, I see the profession slowly dying.

There is no longer an investment being made in real, substantial journalism.  When I tune into local news these days, I cringe because each station’s sportscast is predictable and dull.  Each channel airs a slightly altered version of the same show.

It’s fine to show highlights from the Drillers, Shock, Talons, Barons, OU, OSU, and of course the Thunder.  However, I have a feeling no one is flipping on their TV to see a couple of lousy highlights.  Nobody is sitting at home anxiously awaiting 20 seconds of Redhawks footage.

So why do stations fall into this cookie cutter pattern?  Is it because the anchors and producers are afraid to miss something or is it because they’ve been in the same routine for so long that they’re just too comfy and complacent to think outside the box?  Frankly, I know it’s the latter because I was guilty of it when I sat at the anchor desk.

Continue reading Where’s The Journalism???

Five Rules for Dads Raising Daughters

I’ve been reading a lot of books and blogs lately on fatherhood and raising girls. From what I’ve read, there seems to be at least five common threads (probably more) running through most of the stuff that really speaks to me. Maybe they’re not really rules. Maybe they’re more like tips… tips, hints, suggestions, guidelines, or something like that. Whatever you call them, in no particular order, here are five:

1. Love her mom. Treat her mother with respect, honor, and a big heaping spoonful of public displays of affection. When she grows up, the odds are good she’ll fall in love with someone who treats her much like you treated her mother. Good or bad, that’s just the way it is. I’d prefer good.
Continue reading Five Rules for Dads Raising Daughters

So What If America Isn’t The Best At Everything?

Its Fourth of July weekend and we as Americans have so much to be thankful for in this great country of ours.  Despite our struggles and our differences, we still have our freedom and a way of life that is the envy of the rest of the world.  I for one firmly believe in the concept of American exceptionalism.

But just because we are exceptional as a country, does that mean all of our sports have to be exceptional as well?

Two weeks ago the media was gushing over Rory McIlroy’s performance at the US Open.  The so-called “experts” were heaping praise on McIlroy while simultaneously lamenting the demise of American golf.  “Where is the next great American golfer?” they wondered.  “Is America losing ground to the rest of the world?” was a question of much debate among golf writers and analysts.  Of course those conversations led to “is there an American kid out there who’s going to take over for Tiger?”It was one big pity party.  It couldn’t possibly be that the rest of the world is catching up, could it?  No, no something must be wrong with golf in this country.

If you’ve watched any tennis at Wimbledon over the last couple weeks, the conversation has been exactly the same.  Hosts, reporters, and commentators all emphasizing the downfall of American tennis and wondering if it will ever get back to the level it once was when names like McEnroe, Connors, Evert, Sampras, Agassi, and Williams carried the dialogue.

I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but this doesn’t bother me at all.

Continue reading So What If America Isn’t The Best At Everything?

Chasing My Shadow Purpose

I’ve written recently on Finding Manhood about how temporary and seemingly trivial things have a strange way with interfering with our purpose in life. I don’t know why I’m so interested in the idea of purpose right now, but it’s something that’s been occupying a lot of my thoughts lately.

What is my purpose?

What am I supposed to do with my life? Continue reading Chasing My Shadow Purpose

Humbled Yet Again By The Game I Love

I have played a lot of tennis in my life.  I played in high school and college, even earned my certification as a teaching professional.

I have also watched a lot of tennis in my life.  Have you ever seen tennis on TV and thought to yourself, “I could rally with that guy.”?  Well, you’d be wrong.  You can’t.  I know this because I just played in the US Open National Playoff and it was simply one of the most humbling experiences of my adult life.

The tournament in Norman, Oklahoma was one of 16 sectional tournaments held across the country.  The 16 winners then play in a national tournament with the champion earning a berth into the qualifying draw of the US Open.  Yes, the actual US Open.  You know, New York City, tennis under the lights, Alec Baldwin sitting courtside?  That US Open.

Because it’s a truly open event, many spots in the draw are occupied by chuckleheads like me who tell themselves they can hold their own (even though they can’t) and may just be delusional enough to believe they can win a few matches (even though they won’t).

The other spots are filled by top ranked juniors, big time college players, and guys who have actually been in professional matches.  All of them possess something I do not: real, God-given ability.

When I looked at the draw a week before the tournament, I saw my name paired up against Jackson Withrow.  Jackson is a 19-year old from Omaha, Nebraska and he just happens to be a freak.  He was a top ten player in the Missouri Valley (a five state section), and a nationally ranked junior who was then recruited heavily by some of the biggest tennis powerhouses in the country before settling for a scholarship to Texas A&M.  This was going to be ugly.

Continue reading Humbled Yet Again By The Game I Love

The Gift of Time

The preacher at my church read a few lines from Harry Chapin’s classic, “Cat’s in the Cradle” in his Father’s Day sermon last weekend. Below are the lyrics he read:

My child arrived just the other day,

He came to the world in the usual way.

But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay,

He learned to walk while I was away. Continue reading The Gift of Time

Manhood and Relationships

Note from Editor: Reposted in honor of Father’s Day, 2011

I read the following quote not too long ago in a book about NFL great, Joe Ehrman and I couldn’t agree more with his assessment of what being a real man is all about.

“Masculinity, first and foremost, ought to be defined in terms of relationships. It ought to be taught in terms of the capacity to love and to be loved. If you look over your life at the end of it… life wouldn’t be measured in terms of success based on what you’ve acquired or achieved or what you own. The only thing that’s really going to matter is the relationships that you had. It’s gonna come down to this: What kind of father were you? What kind of husband were you? What kind of coach or teammate were you? What kind of son were you? What kind of brother were you? What kind of friend were you? Success comes in terms of relationships.

And I think the second criterion – the only other criterion for masculinity – is that all of us ought to have some kind of cause, some kind of purpose in our lives that’s bigger than our own individual hopes, dreams, wants, and desires. At the end of our life, we ought to be able to look back over it from our deathbed and know that somehow the world was a better place because we lived, we loved, we were other-centered, other focused.”

Joe Ehrmann (quoted from the book Season of Life by Jeffrey Marx)

Well said mountain of a man sir. Well said.

[michael]

Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues

Most batters don’t even see the fastballs that leave the hands of Owasso’s Dylan Bundy and Broken Arrow’s Archie Bradley.  Most pro scouts were left drooling as they watched Bundy and Bradley mow down the opposition and looked in astonishment at radar guns with readings in the high 90’s.  Most baseball fans will never see talented arms like these come through Oklahoma ever again.

Bundy is the three-time Oklahoma State Baseball Player of the Year. (courtesy bleacherreport.com)

June 6th, 2011 was a historic night in this state as Bundy and Bradley were both selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft.  Bundy, who just days before was named Gatorade National Player of the Year, was taken fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles.  Bradley, fresh off a win in the state championship game, was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the seventh pick.

“Watching the NFL and NBA draft, you see all these guys and the excitement but you don’t fully understand it until you go through it,” said Bradley moments after hearing his name called and donning an Arizona hat. “Going through it right now it’s simply amazing and to be here in this moment with my family, friends and coaches that have helped me to this point, it’s unreal.”

Bundy’s older brother Bobby was drafted by the Orioles in 2008.  Dylan said he can’t wait to play alongside his brother and can’t think of a better place to start his professional career.  “I really can’t because I already know a lot of things the Orioles have to offer and with him right there by my side the whole time will be great.  Secretly, in the back of my head I was like I really want to go to Baltimore to be with my brother, that was my dream and it’s been a dream come true so far.”

Continue reading Homegrown Talent Heading To The Big Leagues

Regret Prevention

A book I was reading the other night contained the following quote from, “Gift from a Hairdryer” by Mary Jean Irion. Although it’s from the perspective of a mom as she combs and blow-dries her seven year old daughter’s hair after bath time, it applies equally to fatherhood:

Comb and dry, comb and dry, Soon I won’t be able to do this any more, you say to yourself, knowing that the little straight bob must inevitably yield to grown-up coiffures and ugly curlers. What will she be like at fourteen? Where will her hair be blowing then? And sixteen and eighteen—you suppose boys will love to watch her hair blow as you do now. And some of them will feel it on their faces, and one of them will marry her, and her hair will be perfect under the veil, and there will be her hair spread out on his pillow… oh, you hate him a little and wonder where he is at this moment and whether he’ll be good to her… they will grow old together… the gold-brown hair will be gray, and you will be gone, and then she will be gone… this very hair that now your fingers smooth…

All the tears of the world swim for a second in your eyes as you snatch the plug out of the socket suddenly and gather her into your arms burying your face in the warm hair as if you could seal this moment against all time.

Needless to say, I immediately put my book down and quietly walked down the hallway to my daughter’s room where she lay sleeping peacefully in her crib. Without turning on the light, I tiptoed into her room and just stood over her crib for a bit. I listened to her breath softly in her sleep. I admired her tiny beauty. I stared down at her pajama pants and t-shirt and wondered to myself how in the world she’d already outgrown her infant onesies. When did that happen?

And how, might I ask, is she already 8 1/2 months old? It seems like just yesterday I was carefully strapping her into her car seat for the first time to take her home from the hospital. And yet here we are, just a few short months from her first birthday.

She’s been crawling for a little over two weeks now and I know that soon that too will be replaced by walking as she continues to grow and develop.

Deep down inside I know these days with her are fleeting, and the fact that there’s nothing I can do to slow them down is a sobering realization. Not a sad realization. Just sobering. Maybe even helpful. Continue reading Regret Prevention

The Rest of My N.U.T.s

Last night I opened what I consider to be one my great guilty pleasures in life, a bag of Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds. If you’ve never had a Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almond, you are missing out my friend. In fact, they are so tasty that they were the one food I chose to bring with me to the hospital for the birth of my daughter. I’d heard horror stories of wives laboring for 12, 15, or 20 hours with very little time between contractions for their poor husbands to leave the room to replenish their empty man stomachs. Although I now admit that I was probably a bit overly concerned about the struggle against hunger that I might face if my wife’s labor left me unable to leave her side for 12-20 hours, I will say that my snack food of choice (if it had been the only thing available to sustain and nourish me) would not have let me down. Those little bite-sized bits of delicious salty almond goodness came through for me in a big way last September.

Understandably, when I think about A) how delicious those almonds are to begin with and B) how I now associate them with one of the most joyful and meaningful experiences of my life, it’s no wonder I harbor such a strong affinity to them these days. The problem is that once I start going on those bad boys, I find my own personal willpower and restraint begins to wane. Continue reading The Rest of My N.U.T.s

Barbershop Theology: Mortality, the Mortician, and Me

It was cold. I remember that.

I had just started my part of the closing routine in Caldwell’s Barber Shop, sweeping clumps of hair, filling the lather machine, and straightening up the magazine tables. I was at the barber shop following a day at school. Mainly, I was just killing time and hoping we could close promptly at 6:00. I was anxious to go home.

The barber shop door opened and I turned to see Mr. Crews entering. I figured he would sit and wait. He would be the final customer of the day.

Mr. Crews owned the funeral home in Apache, Oklahoma. In fact, these many years later, it’s still Crews Funeral Home located in the middle of town. I always thought Mr. Crews was a really nice guy. But the funeral director didn’t sit. He walked over to my dad and said something, Dad nodded his head. Mr. Crews left.

Dad finished the haircut, thanked his customer and said, “thank you, come back.” (He always said that.)

Then Dad unplugged his clippers and wrapped them in a fresh towel. He placed a pair of scissors in his breast pocket, turned off the lights and as I was already moving toward the door. I ran to jump in the pick-up truck. I started the vehicle since the keys were right there in the ignition.

I slid across to the passenger’s side as Dad climbed in behind the steering wheel. We drove all of a half a block and stopped at Crews’ Funeral Home.

“What are you going to do?” I asked, though I could have guessed.

“Just wait in the pick-up,” he said.

“Are you going to cut a dead guy’s hair?” Continue reading Barbershop Theology: Mortality, the Mortician, and Me

N.U.T. #5 – I don’t raise my voice in anger.

A real man rarely raises his voice and when he does, it is never out of anger.

A real man’s influence comes from the gravity of what he has to say and the character he has built over time. He lets his words stand on their own merit without resorting to amplifying his volume and furrowing his eyebrows to get his point across.

A real man knows that to raise his voice in anger, is to lose control of his emotions. When a man loses control of his emotions, his emotions then control him, and a real man is not controlled by his emotions. A real man realizes that screaming or yelling in anger or to get a point across is the vice of the emotionally weak. He is not afraid to express his emotions, but he is not controlled by them. A real man knows that yelling, though somewhat instinctive, is reactive and a real man rarely reacts… a real man acts with intention.

A real man knows that he when he raises his voice, people often tune him out and miss his message. And yet, the opposite happens when his voice is calm, cool, and collected. He finds that other people actually begin to lean in closer to hear what he has to say. They tune into his message and (if what he’s trying to convey has merit) he is able to persuade or influence them appropriately.

A real man sees that yelling as a form of persuasion or influence simply does not work. Not only that, but he also realizes that his yelling gives everyone around him a headache and makes him feel incompetent. Continue reading N.U.T. #5 – I don’t raise my voice in anger.

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: A RE-Purposeful Life

Trailer of trash

Our pile of junk had been sitting in the pasture for seven years.  It was a mixture of plastic, metal, and old wooden posts from a variety of sources around the ranch.  It had evolved over time.  If we needed a certain material for a project, the junk pile would be our first place to look to see what we could use out of it. Once I found an old door that we installed on the goat shed when we created a room addition for our new baby goats.  I still remember the thumbs up my father-in-law gave me when I propped it up for him to see.  Unfortunately,  I noticed the goats and horses spending a lot of time close to the pile, and I worried that one of them would get tangled up in something and hurt.  It was time to take this pile of treasure to the landfill.

We hooked up the trailer and started loading the accumulation of seven years of destruction.  You can learn more about HERO exteriors and understand the best way to Mix the pieces of roofing, gutters, batteries, and brass candlesticks were landscape timbers that had been used for a small round pen built by my father-in-law in 1997, browse this site to learn more about how to keep gutters clean.  Hmmmm. Why had he used landscape timbers for a fence instead of fence posts?  Had they been left by someone else?  I was intrigued.  Even though it was time consuming, I removed only the staples that held the remaining fence in place, put the old fence on the trailer, and set the wood aside.  It took quite a bit of time and effort, but I loved the idea of salvaging one last repurposed item from the pile. Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: A RE-Purposeful Life