April 5, 2008 | Leave a Comment
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to “Sound Authors”. Today is the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. Something that was very important to him was his family. Of course, they’ve carried his legacy down through the years.My next guest is Susan Hetrick. She has a book called “Advice from the Blender: What to Know Before You Blend So Nobody Gets Creamed”. It’s an amusing title, it’s been successful for her, clearly, and it’s a book about how to live with families, how to live with step-families, something that we’re seeing in the world all the time now.Welcome to the show, Susan Hetrick!
Susan Hetrick: All right! Kent, how are you?
Kent: Good! Tell me a little bit about what inspired you to write this book, “Advice from the Blender”.
Susan: Oh, about four years ago, I got married for the second time and he brought two children and a cat and I brought two children and two dogs and a hamster. And we had to figure out how to live together without killing one another. And at the same time, I was in graduate school, pursuing a Master of Divinity degree and one of my classes was a marriage counseling class.We were looking through resources and I could not find very much out there about what to expect when you blend two families. The few books that were available most were over 10 years old. Some were written by people who weren’t even in stepfamilies.And so, I decided that there was a real need out there for a book that actually told it like it was and gave people a better idea, a realistic idea, of what to expect when they enter into a stepfamily situation.
Kent: And what was it like for you? You said you had a hamster?
Kent: Two dogs… That’s a concern to me more than the kids.
Kent: What happened with the cat and the hamster? Were they friends?
Susan: Actually, they ignored one another. We ended up having one of the dogs ate the hamster, so…
Kent: Oh no!
Susan: Oh, yeah. [laughs]
Kent: Well, tell us about your book. What does it help people to do, “Advice from the Blender”?
Susan: Well, it’s a short, easy to read book and it’s about eight chapters long. And what I talk about is various things like having realistic expectations. It’s not going to be like the Brady Bunch. Sad, but true.And one of the things that people need to know is they need to focus on making their marriage strong. That is the number one thing that people forget to do. They get so involved with the kids and life and things like that, that they turn around and wake up one day and go, “Oh, who are you?” So, they need to focus on their marriage.They also need to be a united parenting team. Just because someone is the stepparent doesn’t mean they’re not also raising these kids.
Kent: Give us a couple little tips. Your book is constructed of some quotes, some bullet points with tips. Even at the end, you go into some bible verses and things like that. Give us some tips.
Susan: OK. One would be, for example, with the children. You’re dealing with two sets of kids, both who’ve been through, probably, a divorce with their parents. They’re thrown into this situation of suddenly they have a new stepparent, they have new stepsiblings. And one of the keys is to be united on discipline.One of the great things you could do would be to sit down together. As the parents, sit down together, preferably, before you get married, but if you’re already married, that’s OK. Sit down together and decide what are the behavior expectations for the children in the house and what are the consequences for breaking those rules and then present those to the kids as your house rules.This is really helpful because one, your kids can’t argue with the house. But two, I also brings to mind that yeah, the rules maybe different in Dad’s house as opposed to Mom’s house, but that’s OK. Just because they are different rules doesn’t mean that you can ignore them.
Kent: So, rules setting is really important. And there’s a whole bunch of other tips, very practically, to work through this problem.You advertise the book as being Christian and again, there are Bible verses at the end. How does that play into it for you? You have a Masters of Divinity.
Susan: Right. I have a Masters of Divinity in Counseling and Family Ministry. Obviously, faith is a big, big part of my life. However, even if you’re not a Christian, there’s very practical tips in this book for how to deal with a blending family, from everything to the kids to the ex-spouse to the in-laws and the out-laws.
Kent: So, tell me what is the best thing that two people could do when they say, “OK, let’s get married” and they’re thinking about two children, say they each have two children. What’s the first step for them? Should they write down some lists? Should they talk to the children? Should they meet them slowly? How does that work?
Susan: The key, I think, is time, is give it a lot of time and be very, very patient. Kids really don’t deal with their emotions, strong emotions, all at once. So, you can tell your kids, “Hey, I’m dating this person. He’s very, very special to me and we’re thinking about getting married. I want you to meet him and meet his family and get to know one another.”But then, give it time. I mean, I heard of a family just this last year, his third marriage, her third marriage. They met each other in September and decided to get married on New Year’s Eve. This is four months. They introduced their kids the day before the wedding and said, “Hey, guess what? We’re getting married tomorrow!” My advice is don’t go that route. You’re just setting yourself up for a disaster.So, time is of the essence and so is communication. That is vital. You’ve got to talk about all kinds of things like boundaries in your family. Everything from whether or not you like to sleep with your bedroom door shut or open to who’s allowed in your bedroom at any time of the day. Everything from that to discipline to who takes out the garbage and who cleans the house. All of these things have to be renegotiated.
Kent: Well, we can go to your website at advicefromtheblender.com. You’ve got a blog, free articles and more information about the book.
Kent: It’s been a real pleasure chatting with you. I can definitely say if I ever get in the unfortunate circumstance of getting divorced and then remarried, I will certainly consult your book and your website. Thank you so much for being on the show.[music]
Susan: Thanks, Kent.
Kent: ”Advice from the Blender” by Susan Hetrick. You can get it online at advicefromtheblender.com.My next guest is Emmy Award winning legendary, wonderful composer, Jeff Beal. Come on back, you can’t miss it.
December 29, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to Sound Authors. My next guest on this holiday show is Sally Franz. Did I pronounce that correctly?
Sally Franz: Yes. Hi, how are you?
Kent: Hi, very good. She’s come to talk to us about her new book, “Stressing Down for the Holidays: 25 Tips to Peel You Off the Ceiling”. Give me a little sound clip about that.
Sally: Well basically it’s looking at what our expectations are and what we can really do in this modern era to create family traditions that are not hard on us. A lot of the things that have been passed down generation-to-generation are just not possible with how we live our lives today.
Kent: And I noticed by looking through some of it that you deal with some issues that definitely pop up in my family, and I’m sure in many families. When you say ‘Grinches’, I tend to be Grinch sometimes, and I think all of us have certain aspects of this. Let’s start out by talking about the value of the holidays. New Year’s is coming up and we have resolutions coming up later, but this is the season of family gatherings. Tell me a little bit about how we can have healthy family gatherings.
Sally: First of all, let me just say that anyone listening can get this booklet – it’s actually an e-book – for free if they go to BabyBoomerTalkRadio.com. And when you go to the Boomer Boutique, which is our store, you just scroll down to the bottom, click on the PDF and you can actually be reading along with us as you’re listening, and it’s free. I think the most important thing is to understand what stress is. Stress is the difference between what we wanted and what we got.And if we were expecting ‘Uncle Booze Hound’ to be sober for one hour, and at the end of the holiday dinner, we’re in the kitchen and we’re throwing things in the sink saying, “Why couldn’t those two just stop talking politics for one hour?”, the answer is they would if they could, but they’re not going to. So how are you going to still have a lovely holiday, given that every family has its person that’s nuts?
Kent: Absolutely. So was your family trouble-free as a kid?
Sally: No. We had a mixed family – his, hers and theirs – way before people were doing that. We had a tradition where all five kids had to stand in front of the fireplace, posing as they hung their stocking. And every single picture for 20 years, somebody’s all puffy-eyed from crying – at least one of the kids is miserable Christmas Eve. So there was screaming and yelling, and then the aunts came, and the aunts were saying things like, “shush, quiet, quiet”, to five year olds. I had a twin brother; you can imagine the chaos.I think the key thing is to say, what do we love about the holidays? For instance, if you’re a homemaker, or better yet, you’re the holiday-maker – which could be man or woman – you’re the one in charge of the pageant.If you really love the idea of lit candles and beautiful flowers in the middle of the table and everyone’s sitting around, but you’re kind of fantasizing that it’s some other family; one of the things that you could do is have a buffet dinner, and then ask anyone who’d like to join you for dessert around the table. So it’s only limited to five or ten minutes and that way hopefully they can behave themselves for five or ten minutes, but they may not be able to. But at least you had your moment without actually ruining your dinner.
Kent: And it always seems that these family gatherings can get quite lengthy. What’s your take on… One of my fiance’s pet peeves is that when we visit with family, the women segregate themselves; it’s a societal thing. I’ve tried my hand at getting into the cooking and the dishwashing and do a bit of that, but I feel like an unwelcome participant. The men and women segregate, what do you have to say about that part of the holiday?
Sally: Well of course some of the fun is hanging out with either family, or like you said, all the women may be in the kitchen, and three may be sitting on stools at the kitchen bar, and the others are whipping something up, but it’s a fellowship thing. There was a guy that did a one-man show, ‘The Caveman’, Rob Becker. He talks about a very funny incident where he tries to join the women and he realizes he doesn’t have any of those skills because he’s a guy.The guys are all talking about potato chips, they get down to the last one, and the one guy goes, “You ate the last one; you have to get the next bag.”. And the next guy says, “No, I brought this bag!”. The other guys says, “It’s my house.”, so they argue about who’s going to do it. The women, as they get down low on chips, all walk together over to the chip bag and fill it together, and then walk back to where they were sitting. So when the guy comes in and gets down to the last chip, he goes, “I’m not going to fill it; I just filled the other one.”, and they all look at him like he’s crazy.So the question is if you really do want to participate and you also want the women to know that you don’t think it’s their share, you could make a declaration that after the meal, the men are going to do all the cleaning up, and the women can sit and watch anything they want on the television.
Kent: Exactly. They can turn the football on and fall asleep.
Sally: Yeah, like that’s going to happen. They’ll be watching Martha Stewart or something.
Kent: And then you talk about in the book some of the more difficult things. I’m always thinking on the holidays about certain friends of mine who are alone somewhere in the world on the holiday to people that might have lost their families or never had a family. Talk a little bit about that.
Sally: I think the real key here is how do you cure the ease of the malaise or the stress of the holiday. I think the number one thing – and if you’re not doing this, get going – is to start doing either random acts of kindness or join an organization that is helping people less fortunate.Every synagogue, every church, every curb right now is collecting toys, food and things for needy families. And if you don’t know how to do that just go directly to Salvation Army or directly to Social Services, and they have lists and lists of families that are not going to have a Christmas, that are not going to have a holiday at all, and start giving.I know lots of people, and I’ve done it myself, where I was alone on Thanksgiving, so I just went to the nearest soup kitchen and helped serve. And I could be around people and I could laugh, see smiling faces and I got fed.
Kent Gustavson: It’s true. I’ve done that also on Thanksgiving and it’s a very fun experience. Kind of on the other side of the spectrum, we’ve got families that definitely have each other and are grateful to have each other, but one person comes in and is a ‘Grinch’, and that’s the term you use. Tell me about the old grievances.
Sally: Again, you are not going to cure 30 years or 50 years of dysfunction just because you wish it so. God bless you, but get rid of your magical thinking. Then it’s like triage. What are we going to do to save the day? And one of the things you can do is say – if the Grinch is a political nit-picker – is anyone who wants to talk politics with ‘Uncle Grinch’ can go sit in that corner. The rest of use who want to eat pumpkin pie and go throw snowballs during that kind of climate, we’re going to go do that.I think the most important think is compartmentalizing both the day and the people. The other thing that’s really, really important for the pageant producer; please have other people who are coming – if you don’t have family and you’re single – assigned to these difficult people.So if you have the goth, whacked-out teenager who’s in a mood even before they get in the door, and you’ve got what I call the ‘free-range’ two-year-olds who’s parents say, “We never spank them or correct them; we never say the ‘no’ word.”, and they also never watch them and now it’s your house. So when you have those kinds of things, you say to your sister, “You’re in charge of the two-year-old.”, and your mother, “You’re in charge of the grandchildren.”. You assign them out. Now you did bring up an interesting question, what if you’re the Grinch?
Sally: I do sit down at Christmas time – Christmas is my holiday – and I say “At what point have we stopped giving and it now feels like extortion?”. And some years it’s not until the end that you find out that even though you finished with all your shopping in November, there actually are three more gifts. I just got an email from my ex-husband’s family, and they all said “Well you’re in the Christmas grab bag!”, and that was one of the things I was looking forward to getting out of. It’s just that now I got to go do that.
Kent: There’s a certain stigma attached to a lot of events. I guess we all have the required event and the events that we like. And it’s kind of like taking the sugar to help the medicine go down. Do you have your favorite events on Christmas or on New Year’s?
Sally: You really nailed it. There are some things you really look forward to. I lived in New York City for a while, up on the Upper Eastside, and there was a church – I don’t remember the name – and they would play their organ and bells, on the loudspeaker system, Christmas carols. And it was a tradition, everybody in the neighborhood – and I mean this is New York City and people are coming out of high rise buildings, I was on the 25th floor – all just started gathering and singing to the hymns, to the Christmas carols. And it’s just a magical thing, and nobody organizes it except the people that put the music on, and everybody just gathers. That was very cool.And then I lived in California and one of the big things was to go to sing ‘The Messiah’ with a full orchestra. The guy would hand you the entire ‘Messiah’ music, and I can read about every other note. The altos would sit there and somebody would lead you in singing almost the entire ‘Messiah’. It’s really cool.
Kent: I know for some people that would drive them nuts. My family is Swedish and my sister loves to make these cookies that are just solid butter and sugar, and I can understand how she likes them, but I can’t stand them. And so we always joke about it. She says, “Oh, I made these cookies.”. and I say, “Oh, I hate those cookies.”.
Sally: Are they like apple skivers?
Kent: No, they’re deep-fried. They’re pretty good.
Sally: It sounds wild. Well I think the big this is, again, everybody brings their favorite cookie, and everybody says you don’t have to eat those cookies, I hope. I think one of the most important things is to save the stuff you love. If your family absolutely loves making gingerbread men and decorating them, save that one; but don’t do the one where you have to go ice-skating at the mall or whatever it is. I used to love to carol as a kid. We got together gangs of kids and we’d go door-to-door, and we just loved Christmas carols; we did it for hours. We did it longer than we did trick-or-treating in the same neighborhood.The key thing is the family needs to sit down, or the single person needs to sit down, and make a list of all the things they love. Then, actually do like you do at a job, do a time frame. OK, making sure Christmas cookies that are decorated, and I have that in my book sort of as a joke. It takes like five hours usually and everybody eats them in two seconds, and they didn’t even notice that the little red hats made of hearts; they just chomped right into them. So cut corners, gift bags for gifts not wrapped, pre-made bows. Just make it easy on yourself.
Kent: And what about New Year’s? Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Sally: I sat down one day and I went I don’t keep any of these resolutions. They’re a joke and they’re embarrassing. And then I feel guilty and that’s no way to start the new year. So I like to make a list of New Year’s resolutions that are easy to keep. And actually when you look at it, it gives you so much joy that it would actually be easier to give up the drinking, the smoking, the weight gain, whatever you were trying to get rid of.What if you just made a resolution that you were going to watch a funny video or DVD every single week, at least one where you fell apart on the floor, something like “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” or whatever it is. And then maybe you make another resolution that you’re going to eat some kind of fantastic chocolate at least once a week. And making yourself happy actually makes you a person that has a lot more energy, and that energy you can use to feel better, and usually then you don’t have to go drug yourself.
Kent: Those sound like some pretty good resolutions to a lot of people, I’m sure.
Sally: And the other thing is if you’re not laughing out loud almost to the point where eggnog comes out of your nose, you are not doing the holidays right. Most people don’t laugh that hard, but it could be hysterical.
Kent: Sally Franz’s e-book is available online from her website, it’s called “Stressing Down for the Holidays: 25 Tips to Peel You Off the Ceiling”.
December 3, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: Back to Dr. Kent and friends.
Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to Sound Off Radio. Today, again, is the birthday of Tom Sawyer’s creator, Huck Finn’s imaginator. It’s Mark Twain’s birthday. Although he was the ultimate satirist and consummate writer, he had a dark side. He dealt with very much depression, he lost his wife, he lost his two daughters. He eventually coped in some way by writing but he was a very dark individual despite all of his humor.My next guest is Ron Villano who lost his 17 year old boy in a car accident about eight years ago. Since then, he has devoted his time and energy to helping others and he’s a dynamic inspirational speaker. Welcome to the show.
Ron Villano: Thank you for having me.
Kent: Your new book is called “The Zing”?
Ron: ”The Zing”, and it represents living life two levels above passion.
Kent: So “The Zing” is an especially passionate word.
Kent: OK. What is your life story? What drove you to write “The Zing”? What drove you to this place?
Ron: Well, I think, me included, a lot of people in our society — and I see a lot with my own patients — we’re not living life fully. We’re not enjoying the moment, we’re not extracting all the joy that surrounds us. With so many different tragedies… me living with the tragedy of losing my son, Michael, in July 22, 1998. He was killed by a tractor trailer. It ran into his car and killed him and his friend, Anthony, and that turned my whole world around.I was depressed for many years, and any of your listeners I’m sure if they’ve been through it or if they know of someone who’s been through something like that, most people don’t even come out of it. I’m very fortunate with the work and the blessings that I’ve had, so I’m able now to have a message to let people know that they can go from living life to loving the life they live now.I’m just a walking testimony to this, and it does take a lot of awareness, of understanding that all we have is the moment and understanding, when you have great loss like this, that if my son came back or any of your listeners out there — if they’ve lost someone — if that person was able to come back, I’m almost sure, just like my son, he’ll look at me and say: “Dad, I want you to live. I don’t want you to stay depressed. I don’t want you to be down. I don’t want you to be out of life here. I want you to start enjoying. You’ll see me, I’m here, I’m fine.” So, with that message in my head, it then allows me to feel free, to move on, to move on in life but move on with him, with him in spirit.
Kent: Now, you’re a therapist. How do you connect, in your work, your own feelings to the feelings of your clients? How does that relationship play out for you? You felt this loss, how does that help you work?
Ron: How it helps me is because I’ve done my own personal work so I don’t have any transference and I’m not doing my own counseling in my counseling sessions. How I utilize it is if I feel that it will help the patient, by them understanding that I’ve been to a major tragedy and that I understand what it feels like to go through a major tragedy. However, I don’t know what they’re feeling. But at least, there’s someone on the other side of them who they can look at and say: “Wow! You’re part of this club, which is one of the worst clubs you can be in because the initiation is the worst part of it.”How does that help? It helps. Some people it will help because it’s going to allow them to relate to you and then they’ll be able to speak freely and know that you’re not just another person looking at them and saying: “Gee, you know, you should try to move on, you should try to live.” Well, guess what? If you didn’t lose a child, you have no right to tell me that. It’s easy to say that if you didn’t lose someone.On the other side, if there’s a patient who went through a loss and I feel sharing my story will create more of either a sympathetic response or feeling from them which isn’t good, or if they’re going to some other kind of loss… say they lost a pet or they went through a break up or a divorce or a mother or a father and they’re very down about that.If I say it was my son, that might make them think: “Oh, my God, why am I complaining? I didn’t lose a child.” So, you have to be very careful when you have a patient across from you because it can go either way and you have to be as sure as you can before you bring it up.
Kent: Your book is called “The Zing” and it’s been out on the market for a little while now. It’s called “Embrace the Power of Change to Self-discovery Guide.” What is the difference for you between one-on-one therapy and then going out and speaking to people or writing a book that people are going to pick up and, hopefully, change their own lives? How is that different for you?
Ron: Well, that’s a great question. Let me see, I would say the one-on-one: someone’s coming to me as a professional, they were either referred to me or they heard about me from somewhere else and they’re coming for counseling specifically.You’re in a different seat then. You’re looked at much differently. You’re looked at in almost such a professional level that whatever you say, the people, they hang on to. When you go out and you speak to a crowd, they don’t really know you. There’s really no time for them to get to know you other than what you’re going to present.You just want to be sure that you have a message that’s coming from the heart and the motivation isn’t to make me famous or to get me to sell books. It’s really: I have a message, my son and I, to give out to people. And I think what separates me from many other people who go out and speak is that I really mean that. I really mean that if I touch a person and their life changes even a little bit, then I’m content, I did a great job.
Kent: Tell me about the garage, the dumpster, the battery, the light bulb, you’ve got all these great concepts. Your book itself isn’t about your own personal struggles as much as it’s a guide to help other people and I think it really will. Tell me a little bit about this sort of sub method within the book.
Ron: Well, the garage is the common thread to the book and the garage is something that I came up with. I come from a big Italian family of seven, you know, with very little money. At times, as any of the audience out there know, anyone who’s an Italian, they know that the garage is probably the most important part of the house to the father.We had this big garage we’d go out there with my three brothers, they’re all older than me and bigger than me, and we’d go in the garage, we’d take everything out of the garage, then we’d sweep it with this big brooms, because Italians only use big brooms. We’d get this thing spotless and then, we would put everything back in, just in a different position.So, what did we really do? We didn’t really accomplish anything other than sweeping the floor. Now, the reason why we didn’t throw things out is because of guilt or sentimentality or we’d think, you know: “My Rose has been passed on for a while.” And we would think if we took whatever she gave us out that we will be struck by God, you know, we’d have that guilt feeling. So, we would keep everything in there which means there was no room for something new to go in.Now, think of your mind as a mind’s garage and a lot of the stuff that’s been put in there has been put in there by our parents, teachers, etc. etc., from maybe six months old to about six or seven years old. A lot of stuff we retained from then, so our mind is full of a lot of these things. So, I believe we need to empty out the garage and we need to get rid of stuff that is no longer useful and yet, not condemn who put it there or the reasons it was there because when it was put in it was appropriate information for appropriate time.But we need to get the stuff out and that is so that we could put new stuff into our heads. As we grow, we go through the journey of life, then we’ll be able to enjoy it more because we’ll have more tools, we’ll have more information, we’ll have, you know, a more open mind to things. I think that’s why I love people, especially New Year’s coming in, they all make the resolution and the whole thing that they want to do this, they want to do that and then aren’t able to, after a month or two, not because they don’t want to, it’s because there was no room in the mind’s garage for that new information to stick, so the old stuff backs it out.So through my book, I give this analogy as a common thread as we go through the dumpster and the battery and these old personalities in there to let people know that in order to have change and accept the changes in life, you first need to know who you are and you need to do a personal inventory of what’s in your mind’s garage and start to pull it out and I think it takes a lot of tools to do that. In my book, I give the tools on how to go from one side of the tunnel to another. Actually, one of the chapters is called “The Tunnel”.So, it’s a lot of fun and I made it very simple and the dumpster part is that person that we all know — and we may be one of them – who, when you say: “How’s it going?”, they say: “Terrific!” They never have a problem. However, they’re always willing to help you. So, they’re the dumpster person, always willing to take other people’s stuff in and I feel because they don’t really want to deal with what’s inside of themselves. So, it’s easier to keep taking other people’s stuff in.And a lot of people don’t even know they’re doing that. They don’t even know that they’re just taking stuff in and just avoid their own stuff. They’ll find out later, and anyone who is a professional in my field knows that people who have anxiety and panic attacks and depression and OCD, a lot of times, it’s stuff that they were stuffing in and a lot of things they weren’t aware of that was going on within themselves.So, the dumpster personality is good to know about, but are you one of them or are you one of the people dumping in one? You know, the batteries, the connectives of the cables: “Am I one of those people connecting on to a big kit battery and draining someone or am I the one who’s being drained?” I just put the book out because I thought that people need to know and have an idea of what these different personalities were? I think coming from me, after the great loss of Michael and becoming more aware of my own life, I’m a witness that these tools and understanding this kind of stuff that’s going on out there, you know, different personalities, different stresses of life and understanding it and putting it within myself, has given me the ability to accept change. Now that I accept change, and that’s one of the big things, I’m able to let go of things that I can’t control and attempt to control more things that are in the present moment.
Kent: It’s a beautiful book, it’s called “The Zing”. We can all look for it on ronvillano.com. It’s been a pleasure speaking with you. I think you are really inspiring the world, and I hope we can all embrace the power of change.
Ron: Thank you very much, Dr. Kent.
Kent: My next guest on the show is Marion Orem who gives voice to unique sort of travelers, “RV-ing Women”. We’ll be back with you in a couple of minutes.
November 25, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: …Now, here’s your host, Dr. Kent.
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome to Sound Authors Radio. Today is the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the day of feasting, praying, watching football, reestablishing old connections and making new ones. My guests on the show today are Pat Williams, the Senior Vice-President of the Orlando Magic, inspirational speaker; Lars Clausen, author, activist, and Guinness world record holder in the unicycle; D. Castle-Shepard, military chaplain and author of “Faith in the New Militia”, talking to us about the troops on Thanksgiving; and, Robbie Kumalo with her new children’s music CD “Music Makes Me Happy”, very thankful music.My first guest is Pat Williams, the Senior Vice-President of the Orlando Magic, motivational and inspirational speaker, former baseball player, 23 of his former teams have gone to the NBA playoffs and five have gone to the NBA finals. He’s the parent of 19 children, is that right?
Pat Williams: Kent, I’ve got 19 out of them, you’re right. Fourteen had been adopted lest you think I’m really weird. They are all grown and out of the house, the youngest is about to hit 22 now and the oldest is 35. So we’re now getting into the grandparenting world as well.
Kent: So what’s Thanksgiving like at your house?
Pat: Well, it’s big, it’s big. We’ve got a 16-foot long dining room table. And years ago, I figured out a way to bond in marriage a turkey and a centipede, in that way, every kid got a drumstick. So we have quite a Thanksgiving at our house. And if you want me to tell these jokes a little slower, I will.
Kent: No, I think I got it. So this year on Thanksgiving, where were you?
Pat: We’re always in our home in Winter Park, Florida. Yes, I try and make a vow, and I have to break it occasionally. We don’t go north of Orlando until May. So we try and spend as much time in the winter in Florida as we can.
Kent: Where did you grow up?
Pat: I grew up in Wilmington, Delaware, right near Philadelphia, and went to Wake Forest University to college then on to Indiana University to get my master’s many years ago. So I’m originally from that Delaware Valley Region.
Kent: Tell me a little bit about your experience in sports.
Pat: Well, I spent my entire adult life in sports. I signed the contract with the Phillies Organization right out of college. I was a minor league ball player, spent two years as a catcher in their farm system, and then got into the administrative end of baseball. I spent a total of seven years in the Phillies Organization as a player and a minor league executive, and 39 years ago this past summer, I left baseball to go into the National Basketball Association in the front office, and I have been there ever since. One year with the 76ers, four years with the Chicago Bulls, a year with the Atlanta Hawks, back to Philadelphia for 12 more years and then came to Orlando 21 years ago to help start the magic opposite an expansion team and got sand in my shoes and we’ve never left Florida.
Kent: What made you become an author out of all that sports experience?
Pat: Well, I would say by accident more than anything. The first book I wrote, I was a general manager of the Bulls in Chicago and a young man walked into my office one day to do an interview for a newspaper he was working for in the suburbs of Chicago. He came back later and asks if I would be interested in doing a book, and after I stopped laughing, I said, “Why not?” I never thought to think about. Then a whole year went by, and then the young man came back again and said, “I got a publisher.” So that led to the book I wrote in the fall of 1974 called the “The Gingerbread Man” which was the story of my life up to that point. By the way, that young author has done quite well, his name is Jerry Jenkins. He and Tim LaHaye have co-authored the “Left Behind” series which has sold about 60 million copies over the years. So young Jerry did well for himself.
Kent: They’ve done all right. Why did you choose to inspire other people? You could be completely successful on your life and be happy just doing that. Why do you choose to go out and try to inspire people?
Pat: Well, I think we live here on this earth to make a difference in people’s lives. I’ve always felt that sports was a door opener, with the great interest we have in sports in our country that it does give those of us in the profession a platform, a sphere of influence, so to speak. I think it’s important to use that sphere of influence in a positive way. So anything I can write or say in my speaking or in my books that give people hope or inspiration, give them a focus in life, and give them a nudge or an encouragement to live life at a higher level. I think that’s a high honor very frankly because in the business of sports, the games are soon forgotten, all the events. I can’t remember too much about any of the games that I’ve been involved in for the last 45 years, but the impact on lives I think lasts a lot longer.
Kent: Did you have some people that you looked up to at the very beginning that you wanted to be like?
Pat: I definitely had some role models; there are some important mentors in my life. Like the coaches through my youth and my high school and college. As I got out into the real world as a young executive, Bill Beck, the great baseball promoter took an interest in me and for 25 years, he was a friend and a mentor and an influence. The first owner of the teams I worked for in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Mr. R.E. Littlejohn became really a surrogate father to me. As the years went on, I didn’t do anything in my life without consulting with him and seeking his wisdom and his counsel. So I’ve been very fortunate to have some important people in my life particularly as a young man.
Kent: Let’s talk about your last couple of books. The “Ultimate Coaches Clinic: Career-Enhancing Insights from More Than 1, 000 of America’s Foremost Coaches and Leaders”, and there’s another book called “How to be Like Women Athletes of Influence”.
Kent: Let me just take one at a time. This book “How to be Like Women Athletes of Influence” is the eighth in a series that I’ve done with health communications, “The Chicken Soup for the Soul” publishers and this one features the 32 most impactful women athletes of history. We wrote a chapter on each one of them. I was able to interview 21 of the women, which was a real thrill for me. But in addition to telling their stories in these chapters, at the end of each chapter, we list the life’s lessons so that we can learn from all of these women. Be a Billy Jean King or Nancy Lopez or Mia Hamm. There are life’s lessons for those remarkable women, and we do that, we list them, so the people really can have that and take it away and apply to their lives. So, I think the book is more for, more than just for young women, or young women athletes, I think it touches male and female and it sure touched me in writing the book.The second one that you mentioned, the Ultimate Coaches’ Clinic. About three years ago, my son Bobby who was in baseball at the time, we got an offer to Washington Nationals, as a manager in their farm system. He was 27 years old and.Over the phone he said to me that day: “Dad, what do I do now?” His voice was up about three octaves. [laughs]And I’m sure that’s the question, Kent, that every young man or woman, either their first pastorate, or their high school principal job, or their first head coaching job or whatever the first leadership position is, I’m sure that they have all thought that.About a two and a half year period went by, and I kept asking coaches everywhere I went: tell me the four things you would tell my son. And when they told me I wrote it down and sent Bobby a copy, kept a copy myself, and I started counting and I had hundreds of these. And then I thought you know, that high school in Des Moines, or the girls’ basketball coach up in Hanover, New Hampshire, you know, she’s not going to get to these coaches. I thought I think we’ve got a treasure trove here.So we found a publisher on the West Coast who gears their work toward high school coaches, particularly in — we did the book — I ran the material as the coaches shared it with me. In other words, it’s the raw footage. I really feel it’s a pretty priceless collection. Numbers of these coaches have passed away since I spoke with them. I mined booked from the diseased coaches from Tom Landry to Newt Rockney and many others. I think it’s a real compilation that can be of value.But I’ll tell you this, Kent; it’s far beyond just for coaches because those principles that these guys and these women shared are leadership principles that apply to anybody in a position of leadership, regardless of the field.
Kent: Raising kids. Clearly you have a lot of experience in that as well. And every coach in some way raises children on the field also. I myself was an athlete and had many coaches that shaped my life. In what way can coaches do a better job of encouraging kids to be their best?
Pat: Well, I think, Kent, what I have learned through all this is that as parents or as grandparents, coaches, teachers, pastors, youth workers, if you will view those young people that are in your field of influence, if they are your responsibility as Coach Wooden [sp] would say, “under your supervision.”If you start viewing them as leaders and future leaders that you are investing in, I think it changes the way you coach, teach, parent and pastor. These are future leaders that you are investing in and you are in the leadership development business. I think you will do everything differently. As you view that you are getting these young men and women ready for a life of leadership and you are putting that leadership baton into their hands and you are training the next generation of young leaders.I think it will make a different coach out of you totally.
Kent: So here’s a question for you: I teach at a couple of universities out here in New York and I even in the classes I teach, I have graduate students and college students. There is a great different between all the generations now. There is the Y generation, there’s the younger generation, the YouTube generation. There are the Baby Boomers that are going into retirement. How do you see these generations interacting through sports?
Pat: I think sports frankly Kent, is the generational bonding piece. You know, we have all heard about Dad takes his son to the ballgame and then the son grows up and takes his son to the ballgame, and that whole generational pass down from sports.I now have grandchildren, we’ve already started to take them to their swimming lessons and gymnastics and I can’t wait for our first grandson to get big enough to start playing catch with. I’m eager to take him to ballgames, as my dad did with me. I think sports are the one bonding link, the one adhesive, perhaps, that cuts across all generational gaps and brings us all together as a society. I think that is one of the beauties of sports.
Kent: And it’s also not just for men, which is really shown well by your book. How to be like women athletes and influence.
Pat: Well, the women’s sports movement, Kent, is enormous. I can remember when I was in college in the late 50s; early 60s there was no such thing as intercollegiate sports for women. Back in my high school day they did have women’s/girls’ sports teams, although I’ll tell you this, the basketball team had a line across the middle of the floor. There were three offensive players and three defensive players, and offense and defense could not cross that mid court line. You had to pass it over to the other set of players on your team because if you ran too much as a girl, you might collapse.[laughs]
Pat: And the thought of a woman running marathons… are you kidding me? I ran the Chicago marathon back in early October. Kent, half the field of 35, 000 were women. So, I think that growth of women’s sports is phenomenal and hopefully, these 32 women in the book had to be like women athletes of influence will really reach out and inspire some young ladies who I could be writing about in the 20 or 30 years.
Kent: It’s been a real pleasure speaking with you. Could you tell me where we could find your books?
Pat: Kent, they’re in bookstores obviously. And I always encourage people to visit my website. That’sPatWilliamsMotivate.com, PatWilliamsMotivate.com, and I hope people check that out and I’m sure they will be quite intrigued in learning about these books and I’m so glad we could visit. Thanks so much for thinking of me.
Kent: One more question for you. Do you sit down and watch sports on television on Thanksgiving or do you get out and play them?
Pat: I’ll get out a good couple hour jog that day to work off the turkey and the sweet potatoes. We’ll watch a little football and, of course, the Orlando Magic are big down here in central Florida. We’re not playing that day but we have got home games the next Friday and Saturday right after Thanksgiving. The Magic is a big part of the sports fiber here in the greater Orlando area.
Kent: We’ll certainly be watching. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Pat: Good to talk to you Kent. Thanks a lot.
Kent: The next guest is Lars Claussen, the Guinness world record holder on the unicycle, you can’t miss it.[music]
November 25, 2007 | Leave a Comment
Announcer: Now, back to Dr. Kent and friends.
Dr. Kent Gustavson: Welcome back to Sound Authors Radio. It’s the day after Thanksgiving, we’re full, we’re happy. The next guest is Lars Clausen, the winner of the Book of the Year Award, Benjamin Franklin Award and an IPPY Award from the Independent Publishers Association. The book is called Straight into Gay America and his former book is called One Wheel, Many Spokes. We’d love to chat with him about Thanksgiving.Welcome, Lars.
Lars Clausen: Hi, Kent. Thank you for having me.
Kent: What is Thanksgiving like this year for you and your family?
Lars: Actually in a few hours, I’m going to start driving down from Chelan, Washington where I live down to Southern California to be with my side of the family. For me, this year I’ve had some just great breakthroughs with my family and I’m looking forward to celebrating the lives of my parents.
Kent: You talk about your family in both of your books, what is the importance of family on your great adventures. What do they mean to you in your crazy and great adventures?
Lars: Well, when I uni-cycled through all 50 states and got that Guinness Record, my wife was driving this ancient motor home that kept breaking down and the kids five and seven at that time along with me. What we created out of that experience was a story that we will always remember. Both the heartaches and the joys of half a year on the road together, kids doing homework at night in the motor home, me out uni-cycling 50 or 100 miles a day.We have a story that we take with us and it’s something we talk about regularly and remember. When I was on the Straight into Gay America ride, I was away from my family for five weeks, and I think that really deepen our appreciation of each other. For me, a lot of life is about creating good stories that enliven every day of our lives. So I’m really thankful for these adventures that have made our family a stronger group.
Kent: You used to be a Lutheran pastor and you’re still are in a way, you don’t have a call. What does Thanksgiving mean to you in I guess a religious way?
Lars: I was just thinking about that because I’m not going to preach a Thanksgiving sermon this year like I used to. But I remember, I was always trying to get “out of the box” on Thanksgiving because our media is so full of the stereotypical perfect family imagery that comes across at Thanksgiving.The reality, I think for most of us, is that our experiences are different, even if they’re wonderful, they’re not stereotypical. For a lot of people this is the hardest time of the year, Thanksgiving and Christmas, because we feel like we don’t fit in.So in terms of spirituality, for me I was always remembering that our faith was about love for all people and not about fitting in, not about meeting the stereotype but love, caring, compassion, meeting us right where we are. I work real hard at that because this is a season that sure brings out the “put on your good image”, the “perfect family”.Life is that way for some people, but for the majority of us, there’s just a bunch of different pieces. I think our faith recognizes that and honors us in the midst of whatever we’ve going through. So that would have been my Thanksgiving sermon if I had preached.
Kent: Each major holiday that we have in this country, we always have to remember that there are people out there that don’t have their families and it’s actually one of the saddest days of the year.
Lars: Exactly. And for me, when we talk about faith, specifically the Christian tradition, you get Jesus who is the consummate outsider, the one that doesn’t fit in with all the standards and that’s the guy who comes and talks about love. If we can look at it in that way, boy, there’s enough love, enough care and kindness to share all the way around.
Kent: So what do you think we, as Americans, have to be thankful for?
Lars: We get to be part of this world. One of my favorite people that I ever listened to said: you know, the world’s 15 billion years old, 15 billion years old, and you are what the universe has come to right now.We get to live in this time, no matter what time it is. It’s amazing. Our hearts get to beat today; we don’t know how long that’s going to happen for. We have the entire universe to be thankful for, and the opportunity really to shape what it’s going to look like in the future.That’s kind of a big deal, for my daughter, it is cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. For me, I love turkey, but…
Kent: What kind of cranberry sauce, the really smooth, sweet stuff?
Lars: You know what she likes? She likes the jelly stuff that comes out of a can. My mom makes this great homemade stuff, but Kari Anna wants the can.
Kent: My mother has a soft spot for the really nasty stuff with the ground up orange peels and cranberries.
Lars: That’s what my mom makes, yes.
Kent: Real great. Here’s a question for you. Into The Wild just came out by Jon Krakauer, and the novel was made into a movie and it looks like it will be very interesting. I read that book several years ago and it had the same impact on me that your first book did, One Wheel, Many Spokes but in a different way. What I’d like to ask you is, on Thanksgiving, young people often are really thankful for their lives, but they want to expand.They want to see something. They want to break boundaries to get through it. This fellow in “Into the Wild”, he decided to get rid of all of his identity and go out into the wild and do all of his adventures. Eventually, it caught up with him and he had some trouble.But I felt that when I was young and I wanted to resist and I ran away to the Middle East and tried to change the world. And you’ve done a similar thing, but in your book, what really moves me the first book is that you didn’t quite break with reality like I did. You were still there, you were with your family, you were in this land, you had a goal and a mission, but you still went into the wild, you’re still out there. How would you connect that to Thanksgiving this year?
Lars: Yes, gosh, that’s a great question, Kent. Thank you, I love that “Into the Wild” book as well and I really wanted him to make it in the story, and I think he did. He just ended up in a situation that didn’t work out for him at the end.For myself, stepping out of my expected role or my traditional role has always rewarded me. I haven’t always succeeded but taking a step into the unknown helps me to know myself better, it helps me to appreciate others better. As long as I stand in the standard role, I can count on everything being just the way I expect it, and surprises, they just fit in to that standard pattern. When I get vulnerable and I step outside of that role, the world opens up. So I think we’re particularly open to that when we’re young and the more we can practice that, the better.Practice in a way that if we succeed it’s awesome, and if we fail at that stepping out, we do so in a way that it’s survivable. Yes, I can live with that risk. If it doesn’t work out, I’ll take another one or I’ll step back. But living with risk–if you go back to Thanksgiving–gosh, it’s all about people taking a huge risk coming across the ocean, trying to settle a new land and making it, enough that they could have a meal that they could celebrate. So before the celebration comes, the stepping out and the risk and finding new territory, and at the end of it, sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t but there’s that great squash to be cooked and celebrate it when we do.
Kent: What would be your advice to young–well, it could be your or old people–a lot of people that had been in their career for 30-40 years, they do crazy things because they have this opportunity after they retire or later in life to go out and do crazy things and explore the world. At the same time, kids that are done with college, they’re done with high school or run away from home, what’s your advice to people that want to experience something new and fresh?
Lars: I came out of the Lutheran tradition and one of the things that I love that that Dr. Luther say is that “We’re ultimately free” which means go for it, do anything we want. In his perspective, he said, “We’re also ultimately responsible”. That means, I matter as much as any other creature, any other thing in this planet, but every other thing and every other creature and every other human being on this planet matters just as much as me.So, out of a loser’s perspective–and I really agree with it–for so many comes out of living my freedom but also living my responsibility or my possibility of compassion for other people, caring about them and giving myself, my life in a way that helps other people live their freedom, too. If we can find a match like that, my gosh, amazing things happen. If you look at folks that lead really fulfilling lives, I think it’s this great combination of being free to live out our risks and our dreams and our hopes and finding a way to do it in ways that make other people’s lives better, too.
Kent: So have you found your freedom?
Lars: Some days, yes. Yes, I think that’s a process you get to play for your whole life. There are days when I feel absolutely free and I’m just so thankful I got to live. There are other days that I get in the rot and I wonder what happened. But to think I’m going to have it captured for now and forever, I guess, maybe I’m old enough to think that I appreciate them when they come and when they’re not there, I just start looking at my life again and thinking about and acting out what does it mean to make a life and my dreams again.
Kent: What are you thankful for today?
Lars: Me? Gosh, I’m so thankful I get to work in a job that’s fulfilling to me. I was just talking with some authors today, that’s my job is helping authors get websites and helping to share in their dreams. They work six to eight years in a book and I get to be part of that, when they bring it to the world, that’s huge. And my kids–last night, I was at my son’s soccer meeting, he has states championships coming up, and there were all these wonderful kids there that we’re getting ready for that. These days, yes, I’m right in the middle of my dream, very thankful.
Kent: Lars Clausen is the author of two books, “Straight into Gay America” and “One Wheel Many Spokes”. You can find both of those online, the first is at StraightIntoGayAmerica.com and the second is at OneWheel.org. Lars is also the founder of AmericanAuthor.com and you can call up and speak to him about your writing projects, he’s a great guy to talk to. That’s at AmericaAuthor.com.Thanks so much for being on the show today, Lars.
Lars: Hey, thanks, Kent. Happy Thanksgiving to you and to everybody.
Kent: Happy Thanksgiving.
Lars: All right.
Kent: My next guest is military chaplain D. Castle-Shepard. Don’t miss it.