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Destruction!

June 24, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

When the going gets tough, the tough get …destructive?

Many of us reach our “stress max” on a daily basis. Whether it is because of work, family, finances or just the everyday struggles that life throws at us, our stress sensors always seem to be blaring loud like an alarm clock.

When this happens, we try to find ways to help us chill out, relax and find the peace and solitude we so desperately seek. Or in other words, escape from the insanity that has surrounded us.

For some, a simple nap, a good book or choice of an adult beverage can do the trick. For others, we may need something more.

Driving to work the other day, I was listening to a local radio show that discussed this very topic and a new business that opened up to help people deal with their stress. I smiled as I listened because I could totally picture myself becoming a regular client, but not because of stress, but rather pure enjoyment.

Now, I will offer this one disclaimer. I have not verified if this is a true business, but they do have a website, but to me, real or not, the concept is a winner in my book! On a side note, I did call the number listed on the website and just got a busy signal.

According to their website, Das Breakroom, a business in Boise, Idaho, offers people the chance to come in and BREAK THINGS. The website states that you need to wear closed toe shoes and only one person is allowed in a break room at a time. You need to be 18 years of age and safety equipment is to be worn at all times.

The prices seem reasonable as they charge anywhere from $3 to $5 per session, which in my book, is a steal, unless of course they only provide a single plate to break!

Like I said, it doesn’t matter if this is a true business or not, just imagine if it were. If someone opened a business like this in Three Rivers, would you go? I am sure many of us would just to check it out and see what it was all about. And let’s be honest, it is fun to break things!

I have a strange obsession with breaking things. It isn’t so much of a stress reliever for me as it is just plain ol’ fun. As a young boy, I loved making things out of blocks, Lego’s and the like, only to have a natural disaster come through and completely obliterate the entire structure. My Grandpa Wellington would always tell me that I was going to grow up to be an architect because of my creations. Maybe he meant wrecking ball operator or explosive detonator?

When I worked retail, one position I held was Merchandise Claims and Control, or in other words, defective merchandise! One of my duties was to completely destroy merchandise that was no longer fit to sell, such as bowling balls in which the finger holes were drilled incorrectly. A friend and fellow co-worker for mine, Bryan, had a great time finding ways to break the many bowling balls that were to be tossed out.

It was a stress reliever, but above all, it was just plain fun.

I still break things to this day and I think it sometimes gets on my wife’s nerves. Instead of simply throwing away a bad light bulb or cracked dish, I like to make sure it is unrecognizable as it goes on its final journey.

Maybe it is just a “boy” thing?

To be a rock star…

June 24, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Have you ever wanted to feel like a rock star? Do you desire the thrill and the rush of having crowds of pumped up fans screaming your name while they wave their hands wildly in the air?

Have you wondered what it would be like to be unable to hear anything around you because the chants and cheers for you were just SO LOUD?

This past week, the energy inside the gymnasium at Eastside Elementary school was electric because a celebrity, of sorts, was in the town and in the building, and the students knew it. Shrieks, screams, and laughter filled the gymnasium

This is the day for which they had been waiting nearly three weeks!

As the guest of honor entered the gym, students mobbed the “star” for hugs and high-fives, and the smiles on their faces stretched from wall to wall.

No, it wasn’t a surprise visit from One Direction or some professional athlete that had the kids so pumped up, but rather a tall, green bird named Slappy!

Slappy is the mascot for the Kalamazoo Wings, the professional hockey team that plays in the ECHL. Slappy is a fan favorite at Wings Stadium and around the Kalamazoo area. You can now add Constantine to that list.

The K-Wings mascot was in town to help the students at Eastside celebrate their success during March Reading Month. When I found out earlier this year that the K-Wings had a reading club for area schools to participate in, I passed the information along to the principal and Media Specialist. Our wonderful Media Specialist, Mrs. Debra Nihart, worked hard, along with the K-Wings organization, to make it the reading program a reality for our students this year.

Each teacher set a goal for their class to meet. If the students met the goal, they each received a FREE ticket to select upcoming K-Wings games. In addition, family members of the students could purchase tickets at a reduced rate as well.

Reading is important, and Mrs. Nihart pulls out all the stops to encourage reading in our school ALL year long, not just March Reading Month, but her efforts are doubled when March rolls around.

In the students’ eyes, Slappy was the big star. It was almost like the Beatles had invaded the school with the rousing welcome Slappy received! In reality, however, and I am sure Slappy would agree, the true stars of the day were the students. They were the ones who read the books and took the tests to meet their goals. They are the ones that the spotlight should shine brightly on!

Do I want the rock star treatment? No thanks. However, I am sure my students would love to see me in a costume of some sort, I would imagine. Seeing the students meet goals and reach for the stars is the only repayment I need or want.

I have come across several articles on the importance of reading, especially for school-aged children and the benefits they can receive from reading just 20 minutes a day. According to readingfoundation.org, just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life.

20 MINUTES A DAY

Read to your children

Twenty minutes a day;

You have the time,

And so do they.

Read while the laundry is in the machine;

Read while dinner cooks;

Tuck a child in the crook of your arm

And reach for the library books.

Hide the remote,

Let the computer games cool,

For one day your child will be off to school;

Remedial? Gifted? You have the choice.

Let them hear their first tales,

In the sound of your voice.

Read in the morning,

Read over noon,

Read by the light of

Goodnight Moon.

Turn the pages together,

Sitting close as you’ll fit,

‘Till a small voice beside you says,

“Hey, don’t quit.”

Author Unknown

Feel good stories.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

All too often the thrill of victory takes precedence over all else. Everyone wants to be known as the winner. Isn’t that why we participate in sports: to destroy the competition and win? Playing for the love of the game doesn’t matter as much as winning. If you don’t win, what is the point of even playing?

Winning is everything!

I know, I know! Winning is important. I get that. But there are times when winning just isn’t as important and should take a back seat to something more important.

Respect.

Humanity.

This past week, two stories caught my eye and restored my faith in an attitude that not only debunks the “winning is everything” motto but also shows that today’s young athletes understand the difference between winning and showing class and professionalism in the face of hardship and tragedy.

The Grandville High School hockey team faced a huge challenge on the ice this past week, but it was not their opponent that had them concerned. Rather, it was the unexpected and shocking death of their captain, 17-year old Ryan Fisher. Fisher, who was recently accepted into West Point, passed away in his sleep from an enlarged heart.

Fisher died last Friday morning, and the team was to play in the state semi-final game against Detroit Catholic Central that night. The team, after talking with Fisher’s parents and at their urging, decided to play that night.

Before the game, Fisher’s father talked to the team in the locker room.

“He just said you came in as a team, you started the season as a team, so many of you grew up together. The best thing to do is move forward and honor him,” said Grandville coach Joel Braezeale.

But it was what the “other” team did that warmed my heart. The Catholic Central fans made posters in support of the Grandville players and, instead of wearing their own school colors, many opted to wear the colors of Grandville.

After the final buzzer sounded and the Grandville Bulldogs were defeated by a score of 3-0, the team gathered together to hug and then knelt in prayer. Seconds later, the entire Catholic Central team surrounded the Bulldogs and prayed with them in a breathtaking show of support.

Pure class.

It should be noted that the students at Catholic Central had gone through a similar situation as a standout football player passed in his sleep last year.

The other story involved two North Dakota wrestlers, Malik Stewart and Mitchell McKee. The two were wrestling against each other in the state title match. McKee won the match and the title, but it was Stewart who gave the crowd a lesson in humanity.

Stewart lost the state championship to McKee, but rather than walk away with a chip on his shoulder and void in his heart, he amazed the crowd with his actions. Stewart walked over the Steve McKee, the father of Mitchell, and embraced him. The elder McKee is battling terminal cancer.

“He won,” said Stewart. “He was pretty proud, and his dad was pretty proud. So I went over there and I shook his hand, embraced him a little bit, and told him to stay strong and everybody loves him.”

Stewart, who lost his own father at the age of seven to a heart attack, shook hands with all of McKee’s coaches as well.

“It was a big match for him, and to be able to hug my dad like that and not be mad and storm off like a lot of kids do,” said McKee. “Really respectful.” Stewart put the feelings of his opponent, the one who just beat him, over his own.

Stewart said that his actions came straight from the heart and that he felt that it was the right thing to do.

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? The right thing to do? Imagine if the “right thing to do” was always the easiest thing to do. It is easy to get caught up in ourselves and our feelings. It is too easy to WIN and forget that the losers have feelings or to lose and become angry.

While it is sad that these stories came about from illness and tragedy, the life lessons we can take from them ….priceless.

The times are changing.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Once upon a time families used to sit down and eat dinner together. Not just sit down, but sit at the table. Talk about their day and enjoy the companionship that is family.

People went to each other’s house to visit, or write letters by hand, and send greeting cards via the United States Postal Service.

And yes, children used to play outside for hours on end, neglecting that thing called the television

Heck, some of us used to leave our doors unlocked and windows open, and not just when were home, but when we ran to the store or to run other errands and even as we slept.

People used to write checks or even paid in cash!

Telephones were objects that were used solely for talking, and that was it. And remember when your phone would just ring? Like with an actual “Brrrrrrriiiinnnnggg”?

Boy, have the times changed.

Families are too busy to sit down and eat together as a family anymore. For some, it is a success when they can come together at least ONCE a week or for others, if they can eat somewhere other than in front of the TV. Lives are busy, children are in sports, band or other activities and parents are working day and night to help provide for the family. These are the times we are living in!

It is nearly impossible to leave doors or windows open anymore, unless you are home, but even then, that can pose a risk at times. Emailing or texting has taken the place of sending a personal, handwritten note or greeting card, which is kind of sad. But at the same time, it is easier and quicker and we just do not have the time anymore to do the things we used too.

Technology, for all of its benefits, has many drawbacks as well. Children would rather have their face in an i-pad or playing video games than go outside in the fresh air and create new and exciting adventures using their imaginations.

Why talk to someone face to face or even voice to voice when you can send a short, abbreviated message to them over your phone?

Some stores have stopped accepting checks as payment and require cash or credit card only. We are still check people as my wife is VERY leery of paying online. After the recent information stealing that occurred this past holiday season, I see her point.

I am sure people WAY back when had these same conversations when the automobile, television and microwave over were invented.

Our way of life changes on a daily basis as we try to stay safe and keep our lives in order. That will be a constant.

And while I am a big supporter of technology (I use computers; I have a cell phone, an ATM card, etc.), for me, my life does not revolve around it.

I totally understand the convenience and thrill of using technology, but it is pretty easy to see, in my opinion anyway, that not all of the innovations regarding technology are necessarily advancements. Yes, everything that comes out is advancement. But I am referring to society and how we act and talk to each other and what we expect from others.

Technology is a great tool and resource, but for me, I guess I am slow to accept it as a new way of life and communication. That may take me some time. A long time at that.

Snow, snow snow.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

With the amount of snow that has fallen so far this winter, the piles of snow that line our roads, driveways and sidewalks has grown from small hills into impressive mountains. Some of those heaps of snow actually towering over the people and vehicles that they surround.

After one of our many snow storms, I actually stopped shoveling the driveway to marvel (and maybe cry a little on the inside) at how high the snow banks were getting. At first, it was amazing to me that the mounds of snow were taller than my four year old. Then they eclipsed my seven-year old.

And while they are not quite as tall as me…yet…shoveling the driveway has become more of a workout than I ever anticipated.

Instead of just tossing snow up on the piles, I now have to hike it up and over because of the height of the snow.

Back when we first bought our house in 2004, a co-worker of my wife’s had a riding lawn mower for sale. Being that our house is on two lots and the yard is the biggest in the neighborhood, why not purchase the riding mower, right?

We did purchase it and then ended up giving it to my father-in-law several weeks later. I wanted a push mower. I grew up using a push mower and that is how you mowed a yard, in my mind. Besides, it would be one of my few sources of exercise, so why not buy one of those instead.

I have had a push mower ever since. And no, I do not question my decision whatsoever.

Later that same year, one of my co-workers informed me that they had a snow blower for sale. I bought it. Snow can be pretty wicked at times, especially the wet and heavy kind, so I liked knowing I had a snow blower in case I needed one.

Winter came and went and I never used it. Believe it or not, I opted to shovel, rather than use the snow blower as again, this is all I knew. Interesting or just plain crazy?

We gave it to my sister-in-law the next year. She has put the machine to good use, especially this year!

One of our old neighbors always asked me if I wanted him to plow out the driveway. Every time my answer would be “no thank you”.

I told him that I did not mind shoveling, and I don’t! Funny thing is, one year; our daycare provider’s husband happened to be in the neighborhood after a particularly heavy snowfall and plowed our drive, without even asking or being asked. They are just those kind of people! When my neighbor saw this, I can only imagine what was going through his mind.

Last Wednesday, upon returning home from school, there was a man cleaning out our neighbor’s driveway. After we were settled inside, I looked out the window and he was doing OUR driveway. A few minutes passed and I decided to go outside and see what was going on.

The man told me that he felt bad because as he was plowing out the other driveway, he was throwing snow into our yard and thought he would help us out a little.

Thanking him, I did mention that the snow didn’t really matter, we can’t escape it! What a nice gesture from a total stranger.

And no, I still do not want a snow blower!

We are now a minivan family.

June 8, 2014 by Mark McGlothlen · Comments Off 

Shortly after my wife and I were married back in 2003, the first thing on our agenda as a newly married couple was to go car shopping. It was time to replace my Mercury Tracer.

I went a little crazy with cars in my early years, thinking I needed a new one every year or so. I purchased one, but I wasn’t sure I liked it, so I traded it in for another. After about a year, that car did not seem to suit me, so on to another one. According to my wife, and there is some truth to the story, a friend of ours told me that my Chevy Crosica was an “old mans” car and that prompted me to trade it in.

As you can imagine, my bottom line suffered a little bit due to my actions. Because of my poor choices, I was bound and determined to drive my next car until it died as it was paid off and I quite enjoyed not having a car payment! But it was time to say goodbye for both economical and safety reasons!

As we walked into the dealership I saw the car that I wanted, pointed it out and said “I want it” before I even drove it. Heck, before I really even looked at it!

I obviously broke a cardinal rule in car shopping, which did not make my wife too happy.

Shopping for a new car can be an exciting, time consuming, frustrating and liberating experience all rolled into one nice package. Of course, in vehicle terms, a package may include heated seats, DVD player, 4-wheel drive and a built in espresso maker/cell phone charger/GPS dashboard unit. You take your pick as to which package suits you best!

I assume that the only people who actually enjoy looking for a new vehicle are those that can stroll into a dealership, point to a brand new “off the line” car, lay down a wad of cash on the salespersons desk and drive off the lot in their shiny new toy.

For the rest of us, it may not always be a certified good time, especially when you buy used, like we do. There can be a lot of haggling when it comes to used cars and fighting for the best deal.

In any event, with the impending birth of our third child coming in the next few months, the time had come for us to begin thinking about our next mode of transportation and start the process of shopping for one that would fit us all comfortably and safely. In other words, for the first time in 10 years, we were on the hunt for a new (used) car.

Figuring out the type of vehicle we wanted was the easy part. Since we are becoming a family of five, a minivan seemed like the most logical choice and it was something that my wife and I both agreed upon, so why tempt fate, right?

Once Christmas was out of the way, my wife hit the internet to search for our perfect van. With a wish list that included low miles and a great price as our top two factors, she hit just about every dealership site in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, to help us narrow our search.

We were under a time crunch, but at the same time, we did not want to just take the first available van that caught our (my) eye. My wife still harbors a little resentment toward me regarding our previous purchase, so I agreed to be more cautious this time!

I know salespeople have a tough job, but we also like our space and to look around. As we pulled into one dealership to just look around, someone was already heading out to our car, and we were still driving around the lot! Not cool in our books.

At another dealership, the salesperson was talking to us about financing options before we even discussed whether we even LIKED the van that he had shown us.

We finally found what we were looking for at about the fifth dealership we went too. The salesperson asked what we were looking for, showed us to where to go and gave us time alone to look them over. I appreciated the very hands off approach that we were given. That might not be a good thing for some, but for us, we loved it. No pressure. When we were ready to talk, he was ready to listen.

For us, it made the whole process a much easier and almost enjoyable thing to go through. A good friend of mine laughed at me when I said that I actually do not mind driving a minivan. In fact, if we had the van during our trip to Florida last year, it would have been a much more comfortable trip!

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