Out On A Limb

The title is where I’m headed today.

For you see, I know quite-near-next-to-nothing about the NFL. And yet, Sunday’s game has left me very troubled in a lot of ways. This is quite an understatement.

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

For me, there are issues involving “the incident” with Richard Sherman that come from a definite rookie angle; but are the topic of much conversation in the Helm’s Household, as well as out of it; for I have texted voraciously with Son #1 and others.

In the spirit of the Leadership Education principle “You, Not Them,” I have a confession to make. It involves a basketball game in 1993 that my brother was coaching.  I was visiting Seattle with my two oldest (and only at the time) sons. My brother invited us to ride the bus to the game, thinking that the boys would love it. They did. (At least on the way there.)

Perhaps the game became rather intense, and perhaps I felt that one of the refs was blind (my brother Tim later confirmed he was, but that is still to this day beside the point) and perhaps I stood to my feet and screamed this fact, until the principal of the school left his post on the other side of the gym; taking his time to get to where I was seated, asking me sincerely if I needed to step outside.  He was absolutely right in what he did, and I was mortified. So was my brother. I remember one of the kids on the bench choosing to seize that momentary awkward silence in which the entire game stopped, and everyone’s eyes were on me by stating, “Geez, lady, you have serious problems. This is only a game!” That bus ride home was awkward at best and I was very alone in my seat near the back.

It is still not one of my finer life moments by any means. And there have been others not related specifically to sports.

I do have a small measure of comfort in the fact that my brother, Tim, (who clearly can no longer defend himself, but could also not deny one thing here in print) has been kicked out of many a game; using up his quota of technical fouls.  His reputation for quietly and professionally goading refs and other coaches lives on in infamy.  Son #3 and I were laughing last evening over the fact that during one particular visit with my brother,while at a high school game, he had mentally uttered to himself, “What the h*ll is your problem?!”

Be that as it may, I believe we are faced with some big ones.

For after Richard Sherman’s “unprofessional outburst” (and it was, there is absolutely no question,) a fire storm within social media venues everywhere ignited.

Sadly, the blaze continues and has burned both bridges and opportunities in its pathway down the slippery slope of things not even pertaining to football.

Leadership Education also encourages knowledge that is both broad as well as deep.  I have zero depth in the world of the brown pigskin ball, other than what my brother Tim, my father, and my BFF Cathy have graciously passed along.  In an effort to understand a wee bit about the game, I read this book,

Tony Dungy

and had many a discussion with Tim about its contents.  It was a wonderful, insightful and eye-opening read and I highly recommend it. Since then, more than once, I have heard a zealous but well-meaning parent declare, “I would never want my child to go into politics! Oh no! A career in sports is where we’ve got them headed!”
I laugh, for I can’t decide which is more fraught with political strife: the career or a professional game!

Somehow, in today’s America, the fan/observer/enthusiast has come to be expert, gospel-truth-providing political pundit; taking the convenient form more often than not, of an anonymous-but-influential package.

Know this: I am not defending poor sportsmanship or unacceptable behavior. But there is plenty of it coming from the 12th man, and they aren’t just Seahawk’s fans.

The 12th man in my book, is the crowd that weighed in and then, from the comfort of their own easy chair, complete with an array of snacks only an arm’s length away; began fueling an age-old fire, that in many arenas is still blazing.

It concerns me that inappropriate behavior somehow managing to be redefined as expert opinion or even “fact” can be manipulated and reworked into equally absolute truth with influence, by those all too quick to seek immunity, safety and absolution behind a keyboard and a screen.

I know from personal experience, being a passionate person who shares opinions and ideologies too freely at times, that there are simply those moments, when after the fact; one wishes they had done things differently.  I can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but I find it horrifying that a gross error of judgment escalates to blanket statements encompassing things one really knows very little about, and never will. And just that quickly, gaining even more followers, also armed with blanket-statements-and-stereotypes-turned-truth, it focuses relentlessly on an individual’s ethnicity and stereotypical prejudice which still, after all these years, slides too easily off both tongue and fingertips…despite yesterday’s holiday being all about honoring the headway this man made for the cause.

Martin Luther King Jr.

Undoubtedly, professional athletes have significant influence over youth in America. Who am I kidding?  They have influence over all of America as a culture!

But do they honestly possess influence at its greatest?  It is my opinion that the answer is no, for real genuine relationship trumps iconic moments of glory every time.

Face-to-face, consistent, accountability is what is life changing in the end. And what kids (mine in particular) see me living, texting, writing, and what their ears hear me saying about and to others, is the greatest influence to abolishing hyped up, misdirected fear there is. Dr. King was all about this particular angle and made staggering headway using it towards fear’s demise.

Fear serves no one well. Responding to inappropriate actions with further inappropriate action, gives way to an even greater foothold where it is concerned. It limits and produces myopic vision that sees snippets and parts rather than the whole.

Fear feeds on opinion rather than fact. It takes root quickly and tenaciously where stereotypes of others based on culture and color are used to qualify those opinions whether they are relevant to occurring actions or not.

The oldest of my children asked me after the principal walked away that day, “Mom, are you in trouble?”

I meekly and humbly replied, “Yes.” It went far deeper than that one word answer.

One of Webster’s definitions of bravery is “showy display, magnificence.” Richard Sherman’s prowess and play are certainly in that category, are they not?

Wisdom, on the other hand, which is defined as: “a wise decision, good sense showing in a way of thinking, judgment or action”, seems to be what is lacking. Not just on the part of the athlete, but a lot of 12th man individuals who continue to weigh in.

Perhaps pursuing impact through relationships with the power of our personal influence in mind would serve to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s dream. A dream, referenced often, and revered much, that involved abolishing fear so that understanding could reign.

Let’s be leaders who stick to the real issues, readily admitting fault when there is a need.

Courage: it “involves qualities of the spirit and personal conduct.”

In the future, even when I “lose it”, have need to apologize and own my errors, may it always be void of color.

A Definite Blessing Through Adversity

Bruce Brown1

The greatest adversity in my life thus far has been the circumstances and aftermath of my brother’s death.

Even the greatest of cliches in life resonates truth when the rubber meets the road.  Adversity builds character, and with it, can unwrap gifts that are incredible.

From the time my brother entered junior high, Bruce Brown began to mold and influence his pliable young life.  The results were much of what you grew to love, admire, and cherish about Tim.

I knew Bruce and his wife, Dana, through my brother.  When he passed, they, along with so many others, supported, encouraged, served, and bolstered me.

They continue to.

Bruce’s legacy within athletics is impressive, illustrious, and chock-full of success.  He is a man who weighs that success in consistent, measured contacts with former students, athletes and coaches. Oh, and there are “cheerleader-loving-sisters-of-former-student-brothers-who-turn-out-amazing” types like me in there, too!

That last post resonated with so many of you!  I smiled at all of the commentary I received in e-mails, comments, and face-to-face.

Bruce is gracious to me and reads the blog.  His wisdom is so faithful to encourage, connect, and uplift others.

It is my privilege to share his words with you here.  Good things do come from adversity, and many of them are true blessings in disguise.

He’s one of them.


“Well said! Listen for truth, separate out the mean spirited or garbage and flush it – keep your focus on the people (like me) where you are making a difference.

WIN – What’s Important Now – move forward and don’t let anyone impact the positive energy.

Secure people solve problems, insecure people create problems when they don’t even exist.

You’re the best!”

I happen to think that he is. Those are some insights to file away; and they are guaranteed to bless during and through adversity!


Irreplaceable Gifts

I was lying on the bed several different evenings over the span of the holidays with Son #5, recapping gifts that have been both given and received. It’s amazing the impact that a few wrapped items regardless of size or value, can bring to an individual.

But what about those gifts, often taken for granted, that are priceless, never have duplicates, and require consistent investment both on the part of the giver as well as receiver?

Yes, I’m talking about legacy and friendship.

I’ve written here before about my friend Cathy’s love for football. But the love for football has deep roots and connections to a lot of life that has been lived over the years, memories that have been made, jokes that are consistently referenced, and finally…regret-free living.  That’s one of life’s best gifts ever, is it not?

You’ve seen this picture several times before.

Kaba Award 3

It represents the last Jamboree in June of 2011 my brother coached.

Kaba Award 31

What hasn’t been highlighted, is the fact that this particular event was an hour away from Newport, and an equal distance from Cathy’s home.

Working full time, having a schedule that reflected that, and a son still in high school; it was a stretch to request that she attend.  Tim asked her to be there.

And she almost said no. But have I mentioned how much she loves football?

As you well know by now, I’m there for two things: the cheerleaders and half-time show.

Tim rode the bus, and my mom and I, who were visiting Seattle at the time, road with Cathy.

Cath and Ter at Newport Jamboree1

She watched each play fervently, texting my brother on the field regularly with her commentary.  ( THAT was appreciated…NOT!)

Afterward, Tim rode with us and we stopped for dinner at his favorite place: Red Robin.

They talked players and plays, plans for the season, and ins and outs of football that I shall never get no matter how many years pass by.

It was late when we were finished.  We said our goodbyes, hugged one another…and that was it for Cath and Tim.


For in September, Tim was gone.

Over the Christmas holidays, Cathy and her kids visited Southern California.  Born and raised here, she returns often, and we have been Disneyland buddies and “family” for over 20 years. Despite the fact that her husband, Dave couldn’t make it at the last minute, she forged ahead, making the drive alone.

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip01

But really, there is so much more to it.

Here we are this last trip.

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip1

I had received a text that we were going to have “Ugly Sweater Day.”

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip09

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip10

Something we pulled off rather well, if I do say so myself.

Park goers had some serious commentary about our group.

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip03

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip04

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip05

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip07

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip08

Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip06

Our group that had individuals in it, who had driven an hour or more to be a part of said day’s festivities.

At a season of the year when time itself becomes a gift and commitments encroach upon structured schedules in every way; priorities must be chosen.

For most of our now very mature adult lives, we have been investing in traditions.


Ugly Sweater Disneyland trip02

(Notice the WET in this shot?)

Those traditions have given way to legacy. A legacy of traditions and events that have woven deep and lasting relationships: relationships that can only become this rich and meaningful with time.

While we were discussing the football Jamboree, Cath said to me ( for about the 100th time), “You have no idea how grateful I am that I overlooked convenience and decided to go.  Because of one decision, I have no regrets.”

Life is rarely convenient, and relationships are forged through adversity; regardless of how big or small.

I’m so grateful that amongst our friends and family we can offer and build into our children true gifts:

Gifts of lifelong relationship coupled with no regrets.

Irreplaceable indeed.

Here’s to many more in 2014.

A Look Back with my Brother, Tim: Merry Christmas!

Holidays are bitter sweet.  I’m becoming quite comfortable with the fact that many aspects of grief honestly last a lifetime.  I received a text yesterday from one of my brother’s dearest friends.  It was short and sweet, offering a toast to him and the annual tradition of decorating their family’s tree to a compilation of Christmas songs he had personally burned on a CD for them.

Family, friendships and traditions are priceless gifts. Enjoy these holiday moments, memories and events; for they are what make up the fabric of our lives thread by precious thread.

This story highlights one of my all-time favorite memories.  The photo says it all!  Perhaps you are familiar with the “Flat Stanley” books.  I think Tim fit the definition of “Flat Santa”, in that the beard was literally wafer thin and non-dimensional in any way.  FYI..the child is my “niece” Amanda, who is now a photographer extraordinaire and has shot so many of the photos of the boys you enjoy here on TommyMom. The quality stinks, but I couldn’t locate the hard copy on such short notice, and took a photo from a frozen DVD frame!  You get the idea, and it was fun to watch.

Merry Christmas, Tim!  I miss you every day.


Tim as Santa with Amanda1

One of my first steady, memorable jobs was working for Ernst Hardware store.  I was a customer service clerk, but I had many small jobs inside of this prestigious title.  I did everything from stocking shelves until 1 a.m. (which fit in perfectly with my college schedule), to unloading pallets of bird seed, to even playing Santa Claus during the holidays- handing out candy to kids!  I must have been convincing, because even my own dog didn’t recognize me.  But the most memorable task I was ever assigned was that of Christmas tree salesman. I will never forget the day my manager took me out into the nursery to give me an orientation for my newly appointed duty for the upcoming 6 weeks.


As the trucks (notice the plurality of that word) began to unload these giant timbers I began to lose sight of the forest for all of the trees that were piling up.  “You have 6 weeks to sell these.” Wow the in-depth strategy and guidance were overwhelming!  I was swimming mentally at the notion that I was charged with getting rid of…er…selling what obviously took 50 years to grow, months to cut, wrap, pile, ship and deliver..in 6 weeks! Add to that, the LOVELY spring-like weather we have in Washington in late November through December, and my hands were all but singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Are you sensing the sarcasm? Because I’m laying it on pretty thick.

Initially, the enthusiasm that I brought to the job, combined with the excitement of families to have their tree early and dive into the holiday spirit propelled sales to a good number.  But as December came, and folks got busy with parties, wrapping, and drinking hot chocolate, no doubt…my little tree farm was not generating great numbers.  I was contemplating hiring someone to start a small forest fire in the nursery so that I could fulfill my task, AND keep my hands warm simultaneously.


Then, it happened.  I was given the “okey dokey” ( technical hardware store code language) by my manager to start giving people deals on the trees.  I actually had the authority to mark the prices down!  After making a few shrewd negotiations with the public, word must have spread like wildfire; much like the one I just mentioned that I had hoped to set days earlier!  People came from miles around to score a deal on a tree!  I actually had workers who had never set foot in the nursery previously, come out just to see what was causing such a stir!  Long story even longer, I was able to sell EVERY tree on that lot.  The best sale I made was to a woman who only had 10 dollars to her name.  She came out to see if I simply had garland she could buy to decorate, or some branches that perhaps had fallen off of some trees that I would be willing to give her.  “Do you have a tree?,” I asked. She hung her head. With a wave of my Sharpie marker clutched within my frozen fingers, I assured her that the noble fir she was admiring had just gone on 10 dollar clearance…including tax!  She kissed me.  No joke.  I appreciated the body heat more than the affection at that moment, but nonetheless…

I was given a certificate of commendation by the corporation for my efforts.  Never before had anyone sold every tree.  To this day, I take pride in that.  It sounds silly, I know.  But it didn’t matter what my title was or how much money I was being paid, or how much recognition I was receiving while I was working.  The pride came from being given a huge task, and tackling it one day, one tree at a time.  In addition, being given the trust and authority to do my job as best as I saw fit, added the fuel needed to keep me going.

During the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, take a moment and hopefully relax.  Take pride in your labor, and the fruit that it brings, one day, one individual, one memory at a time.  Also know, that you have been gifted the trust and the authority to do your jobs the way you see fit.  And doing what you do, matters for others.



Tim Driver: All In All…It’s Just A Wall

Tim at Disneyland1

My “At Risk” stories are often popular at parties, because many people can’t believe they are completely true, due to the “entertainment factor.” I assure you, that not only are these stories true, but often times I probably downplay them a bit, because they were just part of the regular run of the mill events over a 12 year period. While the population was not typically criminal, there were an assortment that deserved an honorary degree in Criminal Injustice-at least that was their opinion. Allow me to hit a few of these highlights, so that you’ll get a taste of “the environment.”

Mike~Tried to rob a bank with a flare gun.  I asked him later on, “So was the plan, ‘Give me all your money, or I’ll signal for help?’ ” He found that amusing.

Eric~ Had a real artistic flair.  In fact, he drew his art (tagging) all over Seattle, to the tune of almost $750,000 in damages.  He got caught when a police officer noticed his binder in my classroom that had the renowned “tag name” on it, in his unique design.  They had been tying to figure out who it was for almost 2 years. I knew he was legendary when I saw his “non-commissioned art work” driving by on the side of a Metro bus.  Admittedly, there was a horribly misplaced sense of pride in me that wanted to yell, “Hey, I KNOW that kid!” -I know, I need help.

Imran~ Here was a kid who looked 25 while being only 14.  He ate and shaved three times daily.  One day when I was complaining about my exorbitant cell phone bill, he assured me that he had a “solution” to that, and could get me SIM cards that were “untraceable.” He actually could…and NO, I didn’t.

Cruz~ A beautiful young lady who actually had done some modeling professionally…but unfortunately, she also liked to “roll people” for their wallets down by the airport, and was involved in a gun ring. It was hard to picture a girl who weighted all of 90 pounds being involved in such a venture, but indeed, it was true.

There was one point where I had 5 students in class at the time who were on electronic surveillance.  (This was not normal..perhaps it was just a fluke year.) I joked about this particular group, that our yearbook could be found hanging on the walls of the local post office.

Since I have talked “out of school” about some of these kids, I have to say that MANY went on to be successful, graduate, and turn away from their short-lived crime sprees.  At least I haven’t seen any on TV for awhile.  (Yes, a couple DID make the news, and one is currently on death row.) I could also tell you their personal circumstances, few of which you would ever believe.

At any rate, you can now better understand my hesitancy, when a downtown administrator asked me to attempt to create some group “community service” opportunities for our program.  Without thinking I shot back, “Would that be called work release?”

I set up two or three kids to tutor elementary students in reading…it was AMAZING the impact it had…on the TUTORS. I specifically chose kids with younger brothers and sisters who I KNEW would be protective of those elementary kids.  They did beautifully. In fact, one girl got a job as a tutor because of that experience.  But many of my kids did not want to tutor reading, as many had not fully mastered the fine art yet themselves.  I needed a plan that would include all of my kids.

One day while driving through town, I noticed the 7-11 had once again been hit by “taggers”- thankfully Eric wasn’t one of them- as he saved his best work for larger venues. I thought perhaps our kids could come down and paint over the huge landscape wall as a service to the community! The owner was more than willing to let us do that, and even supplied the paint, brushes, and a few sandwiches.

I loved the idea for two reasons: First , it got us out of the classroom and working “hands on”, which many of my kids loved.  Second, since it was just one color and up and down, it was an art project i could actually participate in!

We painted the wall.  No big deal.  No runs, no drips. No felonies.

It was the AFTERMATH of the wall project that was more amazing.  Here are some things that came out of it.

Another business in the area, a NAPA Auto Parts Store, asked us to come paint over their tagging, providing food and free hats!

Two kids got jobs with the two stores we painted.

The newspaper came out and did a great front page feature article on our program and our kids.

Finally, one other phenomenon surfaced.  Our kids actually PATROLLED those two walls, making sure that no one tagged them again.  To this day, those walls have not been tagged…and this happened 15 years ago!  I found out why, a month or so after we painted.  One of our kids was scolded by police for beating up a delinquent who was about to paint something on the wall.  Wow.  I admired him for his loyalty to the project, I just redirected his methods a bit.

So is all of this just entertainment value? C’mon, you know me better than that.

Our kids start out as blank walls.  Some of them sadly get “tagged on” by life circumstances, many of which are out of their control.  This leads to poor choices which ARE in their control, but because they see themselves as “defaced” anyway, what difference does it make?

Our educational system makes an attempt to slap a new coat of paint on them, hoping that the public will take it as a kind gesture to minimize the “eyesore” to our schools and communities. But as the “PAINTERS” of these kids, we should and DO become quite protective of them. It is OUR paint job, our time, our pride in helping to beautify something that was previously scoffed at or even worse, ignored, that makes us want to pummel anyone who would try to mess with them.  Whether it be a bully, or the pen stroke of a politician cutting funding, we do down swinging where our kids are concerned.  I feel that tone from you and I am proud of you for your protectiveness.

I know it isn’t glamorous to find yourself covered with paint splotches that never seem to wash off, but consider those as medals in the battle for our young people.

Most importantly, NEVER stop painting.

Thanks for all you do for kids,



In a day and age when coaches, teams and athletes make the news over and over again for  impropriety, abuse, cheating and every sort of disappointing action that the media can somehow manage to scrape up; I’m here to boldly state that there are thousands more who uphold covenants. They’re faithful. Stellar individuals doing hard things, because they were and continue to be, right things.

I could literally write for weeks to acknowledge all of the people leading and supporting teams, who have done good for the sake of blessing our family. Make that months.

But today, I want to acknowledge a few. Why? Certainly not because I care to dwell on death and all of the angst and sorrow that accompanies it.

Rather, it is my hope to encourage and remind that despite media hype and highlighting, and contrary to their focus, there is so much good will and faithfulness within athletic communities. I am living proof.

My brother was on vacation in the 1990s, when he received a call about an entry level coaching opportunity with this team.

Newport Jamboree1

“Sorry folks, I’ve gotta go!”, was what he stated as he was hanging up the phone.  I was baffled as I followed him while he packed and then shortly thereafter to the airport to say goodbye. He literally took the next flight out.

Thus began a commitment that was prioritized for over 20 years. I don’t know who was molded, shaped or changed more…the players that passed through the hallowed halls of Newport High School’s athletic department to be influenced by great principles and examples, or my brother, who, along with others, led with integrity and honor, but was definitely forged in fires of disappointment, loss and staggering repititions of drills, coupled with copious amounts of virtually unnoticed work.

I remember as if it were yesterday, still another vacation years later, when my brother received yet another call of drastically polar news compared to the first I mentioned. One of his players was being accused of murder. I pulled over so that he could get out and throw up on a lawn. My heart broke for him, and as I groped for words of comfort, all I could manage to eek out was a weak question, “What are you going to do?” His responses is one that has carried and will continue to carry me through. “While I simply don’t know, one thing is for certain: you don’t ever leave the team.”

Contemplating this statement today, I totally and completely get it. Two years ago, the coaches and athletic director at Newport High, along with Bruce Brown, my brother’s closest mentor next to our own father, took me in, and ever since have played defense, offense, and remained “tight” even when I thought I was going to “end.” They have honored both my brother and me, and have remained true. Through challenges and ever changing and unfolding events, they, initially being gifts, have become treasures.

Never seeking glory or personal gain, they are always and forever about the greater good of the entire team.  I simply love that. And them.

Here they are in no particular order.

Bruce Brown1

Bruce Brown, Owner of Proactive Coaching 

He faithfully checks in to encourage, reminisce, and uplift.

Tim in box3

The ever-faithful hand of Dan Holden, who guided my brother’s earliest years on that team, experiencing the joy of a state championship win. He wears both the ring and the bracelet crafted by my dear friend Reagan McCune of Love Crazy Designs, that simply states one word to reflect both my brother’s legacy and memory: Driven. Dan is driven. By excellence, commitment, and faithfulness.

Tim in box2

Mike Miller, Currently Head Coach at Newport. Friend, mentor, slack reducer.  Last year, he did both his job and my brother’s for the team. And was awarded the much deserved honor of being Coach of the Year. Fitting on so many levels that simply exceed the field.

Gil, Cath and me1

And…Gil James. Armed with the title “Athletic Director”, he is honestly “Chief Crisis Averter”, “Let’s-Punt-and-Try-This-Instead”, “Jack-of-All-Trades”, “Anticipate-as-Well-as-Put-Out-All-Fires” Man. He’s got your back and gives undying devotion to all who need it. He has served me tirelessly through some pretty cruddy things. And some equally great ones too.

I so desperately wish for him to be my personal assistant, as the man is efficiency in action! So far, he remains immoveable.

What I want you to know today, is that things are not always what they seem, regardless of what makes the headlines.. There are so many who take one for the team, and get back up to do it again. I’m sure you know several personally.

I’m sure there are those looking down, who are very, very happy.

Tim in box1

And for that, I am extremely grateful.



The anniversary of my brother’s death took me by surprise in some ways this year. I had started a series of lighthearted and humorous posts, and I promise to return to those next week, as I have a couple still to share from recent events that will make you feel like Parent of the Year. Promise.

For today and Friday, however, I want to highlight and focus on gifts that have come to me through my brother’s passing. Because of this, it goes without saying that they were definitely unexpected.

As we enter the Fall season with all of its golden splendor, and we begin to focus on themes such as gratitude, thankfulness, and bounty, I want to pause and reflect on things perhaps that we already have; but in our day to day busyness, possibly unintentionally take for granted.

This first one was given to me just days ago by Colleen Corbin, the mother of one of my brother’s players on the Bothell High School softball team.

It is a profound piece that challenges us to be legacy builders, investors in others, and those who strive to give and leave this life our very best.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist and also a psychiatrist.  During Hitler’s rise to power, he and his wife were sent to the Nazi ghetto. From there, he and Tilly were processed through Auschwitz, and  she was sent to Bergen-Belsen where she died.  Viktor was sent to Kaufering, a concentration camp associated with Dachau, where he spent 5 months working as a slave laborer. In March of 1945, he was offered a move to the so-called rest camp of Turkheim, and he accepted.  It was from there that he was liberated along with the rest of the camp by the Americans, in April of that same year.

He is also the author of  “Man’s Search for Meaning”, which talks about his internment, finding positive reasons to live life fully, and immersing one’s self in those thoughts to bring it about.

It is a true gift, and one I will cherish and consider often.

Thank you, Colleen.

The Unfinished
By Viktor E. Frankl

We cannot judge a biography by its length,
Nor by the number of pages in it.
We must judge it by the richness of its contents
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant.

We cannot judge a song by its duration
Nor by the number of its notes
We must judge it by the way it touches and lifts our souls
Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful.

And when something has enriched your life
And when its melody lingers on in your heart
Is it unfinished?
Or is it endless?

Tim in Totem jersey1


Until Friday,


Two Years


Newport helmet

Today marks two years since my brother Tim left this mortal life. Death is not a friend to Western thought or culture. I received a gift recently in the form of words penned by the amazing preacher Charles Spurgeon. Those who know our family, know that my father is also a minister. He taught Tim and me, that the most important and impactive way to share faith, is to live it. Tim did. His legacy continues to both amaze and humble me. On the eve of this day that both rocked and temporarily suspended my world, I share with you some beautiful and most appropriate thoughts. While it has been a trial by fire, by the grace of God, I simply concur.
” Our dear ones were lent to us, and what a blessing they have been to us! The lamps of our house, have they not been the joy of our day? The Master says, “I want them back again;” and we do clutch at them and say, “No, Master thou shalt not have them?” Oh, it must not be so. Our dear ones were never half as much ours as they were Christ’s. We did not make them, but he did; we never sweat a bloody sweat for them, nor had our hands and feet pierced for them, but he did. They were lent to us, but they belonged to him. Your prayer was, “Father, let them be with me where I am,” but Christ’s prayer was, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.” Your prayer pulled one way, and Christ’s pulled another. Be not envious that Christ won the suit.” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Looking Foolish: Guest Post by Tim Driver

It never ceases to amaze me, how relevant my brother’s writings become at the exact appropriate time in my life.  I’m grateful.  I miss him every moment of every day.  His insights through the written word will continue to be a gift, but his legacy is the greatest one of all.

Jackie Robinson 42

Since baseball season has officially started, I thought I would reminisce a bit. So here is a quote to get us going.

” I love to reminisce with people I don’t know…granted, it takes longer.” ~ Steven Wright

I knew I was going to like a particular literature class in college, when on the first day our professor used the example of “suicide squeeze,” to illustrate how critical context is in one’s writing.  He asked a girl in the back of the room is she knew what a suicide squeeze was. Her response brought chaotic laughter. “When your boyfriend walks in the room, and you’re hugging another guy.”

At any rate, the suicide squeeze is one of the most exciting plays in baseball, because it is the ultimate commitment on the part of the hitter and the base runner on third.  If either fails, both fail.  In broader terms, a suicide squeeze is the ultimate sacrifice.  There are other sacrifices in baseball that are less “risky,” where the batter gives himself up (makes an out) in order for another player to advance a base.  The reason the suicide squeeze is so risky is because the runner on third does not wait to see if the batter is successful at bunting the ball before trying to steal home.  He/she trusts that the batter is going to successfully bunt, and therefore risks their base running life in the process.  The reward for a successful suicide squeeze is the highest in the game…a run; but if the play is not executed correctly, it makes both the batter and the runner look absolutely foolish.

Back in my Little League days, I was involved in a sacrifice that probably very few other players will ever have the privilege of experiencing.  Even up through my high school years of playing the game, I never found myself in this unique situation again.  I was playing for the “Dairy Queen” team which meant one thing…free milkshakes for every home run hit.  No, this wasn’t the sacrifice, but may have contributed to it.  I could hit the ball a long way, and in Little League, that equals a lot of home runs and in may case, a lot of milkshakes.  But on one particular day I hit a ball that might still be rolling in country fields somewhere!  Knowing I had a good shot at a large frozen chocolate peanut butter reward, I hoofed it around the bases as fast as I could. Upon hitting second base, I heard a pop.  Thankfully, it wasn’t my knee nor my ankle, but sadly, it was the metal snap on my elastic waisted, Little League issued, polyester game pants!  Perhaps one too many previous home runs and milkshakes had contributed but that was all ice cream under the bridge now.  I could have stopped and called it a ground rule double on account of a Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction”.  I could also have hobbled into third, and faked pulling a “hammie.”  But this was a 1 run game, and I was determined to score, milkshake or not!  Upon crossing home plate, I high fived the on deck hitter, and then bent over to pick up my bat and my pants.  Parents were howling!  But my coach was the first to come up and say, “it doesn’t matter about your pants, you SCORED!”  I took one for the team.

The question that comes from all of this is simply, “What level of sacrifice are we willing to make for kids?”  Just working in education is a sacrifice, and any gesture of self-surrender is welcomed.

But to truly impact kids and the profession of education, some of us need to be willing to suicide squeeze.  We need to risk looking foolish, to go the extra mile in someone else’s shoes, or to give ourselves up so that others can advance. Those who do this will achieve the ultimate pay check, and in the end it will make standing at home plate with one’s pants down pale in comparison.

Thanks for all you do.



Upside Down Leadership?

Last month, Gil James, Athletic Director at Newport High School, invited me to attend the Knights Athletic Booster Association Appreciation Night.

It was a simple, yet profound, thought-provoking evening.

My brother, Tim, was amongst those being honored, and they requested my presence to receive it.

My dear, nearly life-long friend, Cathryn Brown went along.  She’s the definition of a true one; as she has supported me through this entire ordeal with a faithfulness that’s mind boggling.  She and my brother shared a love for the game of football that I’m fairly confident can’t be rivaled anywhere else.

We were greeted by the above photo and promptly dug around in our purses for tissues.

As I’ve said the evening was thought provoking.

We were privileged to be in the company of greatness. Parents, coaches, and teachers who had faithfully, quietly, and consistently given 150% for the sake of kids. It was amazing.

There wasn’t a lot of fanfare; but the stories and expressions of appreciation given were riveting.

When it came time to honor Tim, they had two individuals speak. One was the head coach, the other a student named Isaac Dotson.  Isaac quarterbacked the team and is an accomplished young man.

Here are some of the accolades they gave my brother.

Mike Miller:

“When I came here to coach, I thought this game was about Xs and Os.”  Coach taught me that I was mistaken; as the real objective is the people and the lessons learned.

Tim thrived in a world where there were 150 irons in the fire.  I certainly don’t work that way.  But he had a special way of making you feel as if you were the most important person in the world.  He would pick up the phone just to tell a joke or to give a word of encouragement.  His humor was infectious.”

Isaac Dotson:

“It would be very difficult to express the impact that Coach Driver had on me.  He was never ruffled or worked up…unless it was with referees!

His motto was always: ‘We live to fight another day.’

I never got to tell him what he meant to me and yet every time I take to the field, I play for him.”

What produces a legacy and leadership impact such as this?

The answers don’t always make sense in a world where packed arenas shouting your name and seminars bringing in 6 figures seem to define and smack of success.

No, this particular evening it was evident that much of true leadership is founded on being the servant.  On consistently doing the seemingly mundane; and doing it over and over and over again.

Leadership that impacts is often forged in temporary failure, in reinforcement of valuable lessons, amidst undesirable circumstances.

It’s messy, can include temporary set backs and multiple disappointments.

It doesn’t always involve glory, accolades or trophies.

But given the impact that it ultimately has in the lives of others and for the greater good; it is always worth the sacrifice.

And make no mistake.  Sacrifice is always involved.

Right along with the determination to fight another day:

For what is right, true and good.

It’s called example.  And it always produces a ripple of meaningful legacy.

Thanks again for the reminder, Tim.  I am both honored and proud to be your sister.

Love you.


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