Monday, April 30, 2007


Who are your friends? Do you know? Who lives under your roof or works at your place of business or in your town … and roots for you? Really?

Who knows you well enough to listen to your faults, and has room to understand because maybe similar faults reside within their own organization or mind-body system? In other words … they really understand? Who stands with and accepts you as just you are? Without judgment? Who sees the powerful person you have it within yourself to be? Who encourages you to step beyond your self-imposed limitations into your constructive potential? Who doesn’t rush you in your decision-making processes for the sake of some fad or for the sake of pressing you to develop a sense of urgency? Who encourages you to take basic and fundamental one-day-at-a-time steps? Who makes room for your failures and rejoices in your wins?

And who, if they were asked today, would say that they count you among those who will do the above same things for them?

This morning I decided to walk to Petaluma’s Apple Box restaurant, sit and write this month’s newsletter. It’s a sunny day, the river’s high, a slight northwest breeze is blowing – perfect springtime weather in northern California’s wine country. Lots of stuff has been happening that could be the grist for this month’s article. A few days ago Lisa Ludwigsen, Founder of The School Garden Company and I provided a unique team building program for the Petaluma branch of Frank Howard Allen Realtors. We’re still riding the buzz from that because it was such a success for the organization. You know … the kind of success when a client’s discovery exceeds their own expectations and they want you to come back to work with them again. Additionally, the previous six weeks have provided abundant experiences– four extensive trips supporting: Krakowskie Stowarzyszenie Aikido in Krakow, Poland Top Human Technologies Ltd in Shenzhen and Shanghai, China the University of Nevada undergraduate L.E.A.D. program in Las Vegas; DeSai Learning in Hartford, Connecticut. Plus Allied Ronin hosted a special team effectiveness program for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria here in northern California. On top of it all, a bundle of recently uncovered source material arrived for study and application including: George Leonard’s The Warrior (Esquire 1986) and Don Levin’s The Liberal Arts and the Martial Arts (Association of American Colleges, 1984) and Somatic Elements In Social Conflict (Blackwell Publishing/The Sociological Review, 2007).

So the walk to Petaluma’s Apple Box was awash with thought: what to draw from and how to organize it. I mapped out my plan, settled into it, ordered tea, turned on the computer, and got serious about what to write. Then … things changed.

While I sat gazing out the window, tea in hand, laptop buzzing, and preparing to write, I was unaware that Peter Welker, friend and world-class musician was sneaking up behind me – until his tap hit my shoulder and his familiar greeting sounded in my ears, “Hey man, can I buy you a pastry?”

There is no need to go through the details of our discussion. It is all far too personal to write about at this time, though we spent a good half hour catching up on the past few months of life. Our relationship goes back ten years to the evening when he (a strange face stepping out of a local bookstore) stopped me on the street, introduced himself and said he would be attending a Samurai Game® that I was scheduled to facilitate. I had no idea then who he was nor the caliber of artists he associated with. I had no idea regarding the challenges he was facing or what was going on in his life; and he had no idea regarding similar things about me. But this I will say … his life is much different today – it’s richer, fuller and more alive with bigger and better challenges. And so is mine. I’d like to believe that the event I facilitated helped his life. He’s told me many times it has. But he’s a gracious guy and who knows, maybe he’s just being nice. I do know this though … the times I’ve spent with him over the past ten years has truly helped me – whether it’s been chatting about kids and relationships, or playing chess together or just talking about life’s idiosyncrasies Peter Welker has made a positive difference in my life. So I said, “Sure, I’ll take a poppy-seed muffin.”

Near the end of our talk today, Peter tells me, “Hey man, check this out. I’ve invited Fred Lipsius to play with me June 8th and he’s going to be staying at my place. We’re going to turn the town, maybe the county, upside down with people” I looked at him puzzled. “You don’t know who Fred Lipsius is!,” he laughs … and then pulls a flyer off The Apple Box counter and hands it to me. “Look here … Fred Lipsius … multi Grammy Award winner … former leader of Blood, Sweat and Tears. He wrote the huge hit Spinning Wheel.” I had to grin BIG. First, because the song Spinning Wheel has always been one of my favorites. Second, because I didn’t know until that moment who wrote it or who Fred Lipsius was/is. And third, because Welker – at this stage in his life with all of the challenges of his past - continues to grow and expand and live his dream and play his horn and make thousands of people happy.

When we wrapped up our conversation and he got ready to leave for an appointment, he said, “Hey man, I gotta tell you something else … I’m getting married!” My BIG grin spread completely across my face. Then he added … “You know what else … you’re doing some great things in the world and I’m rooting for you.” I couldn’t say much to that, it was as unexpected as the touch on my shoulder a half hour earlier. But I felt I had to write about it.

True friends. They make all the difference in our world. They show up when least expected, and they don’t quit on you. Who are yours? Do you know? Who roots for you in the quiet moments? Really?

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