First Timer At The Grand Ole Opry

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Let me start off by saying that I have not been known as a Country Music fan but that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally listen to it.  I do listen to it more now since living in Nashville.  You just can’t help it.  I mean, this IS the Country Music capital of the world.   You can’t exactly run around the Music City with fingers in your ears.  I have realized now that when scanning radio stations, I don’t always scan past the Country stations.

Last night my wife and I attended the Grand Ole Opry for the first time.  We were not disappointed.

My extent of Country Music growing up was Hee Haw.  I don’t recall ever listening or watching the Grand Ole Opry before last night.

We were close to the stage.  I’m talking like four rows out.  It was awesome to be that close to the various acts.  Last night’s line up included:  Riders In The Sky, Raelynn, T. Graham Brown, Chuck Wicks, Danielle Bradberry, Dailey & Vincent, Bill Anderson and Kelsa Ballerini.  The only people I knew before last night were Bill Anderson and Kelsea Ballerini.

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Kelsea Ballerini performing at the Grand Ole Opry

 

Just a few facts that you should know about attending a performance at the Grand Ole Opry:

  • The show is a LIVE broadcast.  There is a worldwide radio audience listening to the show.
  • Each act performs three songs which is fine for some acts but for some you wish they performed longer.
  • Seating is long “church pew” seats so if you better hope everyone is within the average size.
  • The show isn’t like a concert.  It’s more like watching those old variety television shows in the 70s.
  • The Opry sells concessions but not quite like a movie theatre.  It’s best to get something to eat before the show.
  • Alcoholic beverages are sold but I really don’t think it’s necessary for something like this.
  • There is a 15-minute intermission during the show.   Good luck with going to the bathroom if you are a woman.
  • Traffic after the show is horrible since there are only two ways out of the area.
  • If you see someone you like, get your tickets early.

The Grand Ole Opry started on November 28, 1925 as a one-hour “barn dance” on a local radio station.  The phrase “Grand Ole Opry” began in 1927 when the show followed NBC’s Music Appreciation Hour which was a program of classical music and selections from the opera.  Opry presenter George Hay introduced harmonica player, DeFord Bailey by saying:  “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely form the Grand Opera.  From now on, we will present the Grand Ole Opry.”

The Grand Ole Opry called the historic Ryman Auditorium home until a new 4,000-seat Opry House was built and moved the Opry there in 1974.  The new facility was more modern although they did include a section of the stage from the Ryman to include in the stage of the new Opry House.

Regular performers at the Grand Ole Opry become members from referrals of current Opry members.  Their membership must be maintained throughout their career with a minimum number of performances throughout their career.

The Opry features shows every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from March through November.

More than you wanted to know about the Grand Ole Opry?   Perhaps, but when you’re in Nashville you have to go at least once.  I’m glad we did and I’m thinking we might go back soon.  Sure, there were some acts I really wasn’t interested in but it was all entertaining.

For more information about the Grand Ole Opry or for tickets:  www.opry.com

Son Of A Preacher Man

I grew up as the son of a preacher man.   In the early years of my life, my dad was the man behind the pulpit.

He preached a lot of sermons but the lessons I learned was him.  He wasn’t like other fathers.  Sure, he took time to play basketball or throw the baseball around with me but his priority was the church.

He was born in Gadsden, Alabama but some how migrated to South Georgia where he graduated from Clinch County High School in Homerville, Georgia.  He played football and basketball and you will still find him at the football stadium on Friday night watching his beloved Clinch County Panthers.

When he graduated from high school he left for the United States Air Force.  Later, he and my mother married and I was born while dad was stationed at Dyess Air Force Base near Abilene, Texas.

He was “called” into the ministry when I was a toddler.  Dad was the pastor at many churches in Georgia.  I called Valdosta, Moultrie, Temple, Homeland, Villa Rica and Savannah home over those years I was living at home.

Dad was strict.  He didn’t have any tolerance for any nonsense and I was careful not to cause much trouble.  Strict isn’t always negative.  I have inherited a lot of his characteristics.  When I stand in the mirror I see some of him in me.  Some of the things I see is:

  • Dad was a planner.  He was never one to just do anything without planning.
  • Dad was punctual.  I never recall my dad ever being late for anything.  If nothing else, he would be early.
  • Dad was honest.  I never remember him lying or cheating anyone.
  • Dad had faith in God.  I remember many times he said that we were just going to trust in God.
  • Dad had a unique sense-of-humor.  He wasn’t a cut-up like my mom was but he had his very unique humor.
  • Dad was a hard-worker.  There were many times he worked a job in addition to pastoring a church.  He never complained about it.

 

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Savannah, Georgia (1981)
One thing about my dad was that he was committed to doing what he believed was the right thing to do even if he never got recognized for it.  I remember when we were in Temple, it was a very small church. One Sunday no one showed up for church but Dad still had church with me and my Mom.

I don’t think he was really appreciated for the sacrifices he made.  He made a lot of them.  I never remember him being a selfish man.  He always thought of others before himself.  I would like to be more like him in that way.

 My dad is still a good man.  I still think of him that way even if things are quite as they should be between us.  It has been a rocky road for us but he’s still my dad and always will be.  I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to have been my Dad.It’s tough writing this because it exposes some of my raw emotions.  While most Dads aren’t supposed to show emotions, I remember times that I saw my Dad cry.  I know I have probably been some of his tears.  I am not one that seeks to blame his Dad for things that he did or didn’t do in my childhood for some setback today.  My Dad was just like any other parent, he did the best he knew to do with the time and situation during those years.  I certainly don’t put anything on him.  It was what it was.

The connection a man has with his father shapes his life. Which is why every adult son must choose how that relationship will – or won’t – define him.   His ways prepared my way.  I am who I am because of him.  It was 35 years ago this month when I left home to join the United States Air Force but the lessons he taught me continues to this day.  My work ethic and personality are a lot like his.  Yes, I have tweaked it a lot over the years but he’s still there.  I see him in me when I look in the mirror.

Life isn’t always what we expected and we all make decisions that cause collateral hurts and consequences.  We all have to do the best that we can.  I have made some of those difficult decisions that have disappointed my Dad.   No son intentionally wants to disappoint their dad.  A son always wants to have his dad’s approval.  He wants to know that he made it regardless of how successful he has been on his own.  That approval matters deep inside of us somewhere.

When we’re not reconciled with our fathers, there’s something inside of us that remains restless. We don’t really grow up until we have come to terms with our fathers. Whether we want to admit it or not, we need our fathers to bless us in a way that brings us into adulthood regardless how old we are.

As for me, it doesn’t matter what has happened before.  He’s still my Dad.

All Dressed Up With No Place To Go

milton2Okay, I will admit it.  I have a problem.  I guess I probably inherited this trait from my father.  He was never late or on-time whenever we went somewhere.  He was always early.  I can remember getting to a high school football game two hours before the game started.  We had to kill time somehow before the kickoff.

I really TRY to be better about this.  It’s a hard habit to break.   I just like being early and not have people waiting on me to get somewhere.  I have always been this way.  People in my house will tell you that, unless I am sick, I will be the first one to get ready for anything.

Yes, I would rather be early than late for anything.  I have known people who thought that being “on time” was pulling into the parking lot on the time they are supposed to be somewhere.  If I was a person prone to panic attacks I would have had many of them in my previous life.

I recently signed up for a class and it got off to a bad start for me when the instructor WAITED a few minutes past the start time of the class for any “stragglers” that might arrive.   This is a huge pet peeve.  So what’s the point of being on time for the class?  If you are starting something at a specific time, don’t penalize the people who are there on time and make allowances for “stragglers”.  Why should we enable their lack of ability to be punctual?

When I used to attend high school football games, especially when I was a season ticket holder, I would be very anxious to get to my seat before kickoff.   Even though I had an assigned seat, I was still panicking to get there before the football team charged out onto the field.  I finally realized that they will start the game without me anyway.  Shocker.

Whenever I get ready before anyone else, I try not to hang around or rattle my car keys when others are getting ready.  Doing that only stresses everyone out.  Generally, I will go and take care of chores or write in my blog so I want just sit there making everyone else nervous.

Once in a church summer camp, I got ready and was sitting on my bunk waiting to go to the chapel but it was still a while before it was time to go.   My longtime friend, Gary Lewis, made a comment that I was “all dressed up with no place to go”.   We have laughed about that ever since.  Yes, I have a problem with being early for things.  It’s just what I do.  That’s part of being me.

If someone says I have to be somewhere, my mind already adds an additional 15 minutes to the time.  I try to tell myself that I’m accounting for any delays in traffic, people being ready, etc.  The wheels are always turning even when I am not consciously trying to plan things.  It just happens for me that way.

I think if you are supposed to be somewhere at a certain time that you need to honor that because you have essentially made a promise.  I often hear co-workers excuse their tardiness to work because of the traffic.  Certainly, traffic is difficult but I also ask the question in my head:  “If traffic is always your excuse then why not leave earlier?”

I have noticed over my years in the workplace that tardiness is on the rise.  People are chronically late.  No, I’m not saying we have to be early as in my way of being early but we should be responsible and honor the fact that we have a job to do.  We should be honest with our time.

Benjamin Franklin once said to an employee who was always late, but always had an excuse:  “I have generally found that the man who is good at an excuse is good for nothing else.”   Well, I am not that severe about it but you see his point.

Showing up on time not only shows people that they can depend on you  but it also teaches you that you can depend on yourself.   For me, I always felt like being on time was just simply being respectful of others.  Like I said earlier, I don’t want others to have to wait on me.  Am I always on time?  No certainly not.  I’m human just like everyone else but I always strive to do what I am supposed to do.

No, I’m not saying you should be like me.  I have some kind of OCD thing about this.   In fact, I’m already thinking of an appointment later and figuring how long it will take to get there.  I’m really going to try not to be there too early but we’ll see how it goes.

 

 

Why Are We So Impatient?

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This weekend I took my few items to the self checkout at a local grocery store. Before I could take my receipt and remove my items, a man came up and began his checkout.  I looked back at him and shook my head in disbelief.  It never phased him at all.

I don’t know if you have noticed but we are an impatient bunch in this world.  You will see it even more evident when you drive on the roadways.  People will take chances they shouldn’t or become very frustrated out of simply being impatient.

What is wrong with us?

I feel badly for anyone who is elderly or handicapped because people will almost run over you to get past or get ahead of the slower ones.  What are we in such a hurry for?

We are impatient because we are selfish.  It’s all about us and our own circle of friends.  If you aren’t a part of that circle then you might as well be invisible.  My wife has nearly been stepped on three times in the last few days because people just don’t think or care to acknowledge that someone might be behind them in line.  Yes, I know.   A line of all things!  Why would anyone be in a line?

Many times when I am in a grocery store buying groceries I will say that people act like they are the only ones in the stores.  Watch them and you will see what I’m talking about.  (Don’t get me started on grocery stores.   That is a post for a later time.)  Sometimes I will just stand for a moment and watch the impatience totally amazed at how blatant it is.  I got on an elevator recently and pushed the button to my floor and another person fussed because I was going to stop them from getting to their floor sooner.  Yes, what?  Ten seconds maybe?  I just looked at them and said nothing.

We are impatient because we live in a day where we want things and want it now.  We don’t want to wait on anything or anyone.  Remember in the old days when we had “dial up” internet?   Yeah, we aren’t even satisfied with the high speeds we have today.  We can get instant news, fast food and even pick up our groceries at the store without even getting out of our car.

I am firmly convinced that because of our impatience that this is the reason for anger in our society.  If we don’t get what we want or we have to wait, then we get angry.  We like to say that we are tolerant of others but, in reality, we really aren’t.  We are only tolerant when it is convenient for us or doesn’t go against us.

So how can we deal with impatience?

  • Have reasonable expectations.  If it’s rush hour, leave in time and be prepared to be inconvenienced.
  • Be a good at waiting.  If you find yourself in a line or forced to wait, use that time to be constructive.  Make notes of things you need to do.  If you can look at your smartphone by all means take advantage of the waiting time.  Deleted old emails or photos.
  • Take slow, deep breaths.  This will help slow down your heart rate and allows your body to take a time-out.
  • You are in control.  You have a choice in how you react in every situation.

Above all things remember the old “Golden Rule” and treat others like you would want to be treated.  What?  Think of others?  But I don’t have time for that!  And that, my friends, is impatience.  THINK of others.  We will all have a chance to be patient or need someone else to be patient with us.

 

What Are We Doing With The Dash?

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I just finished reading the obituary for one of my aunts who passed away earlier today.  As most of us do, I looked at the dates of her life.  Date of birth and Date of death.  In the middle is where all of us are at now.  The dash.

What are we doing with the dash?   That’s our present.   We have already been born and we don’t know what the date we will finish with.   We only have right now to live.   Are we making the best of it?

Life is full of unknowns.  We can make plans but somehow something or someone happens that changes the course of what we had thought our life was headed.

When I left home in 1982 just a few weeks after graduation, I would have never imagined I would be doing the job I am doing now in Nashville, Tennessee.

The dash.

Some people live in one place their entire life while others move from place to place.  Life is full of adventures and unexpected happenings along the way.  Time and chance happen to all of us.  Decisions determine the course of our lives but the good and bad ones.  When we make good decisions life seems good and we think everything is right with the world.  When we make bad decisions and think we have really screwed up our lives, we really haven’t.  The important thing is to adjust to the course.  Much like our GPS maps do when we make a wrong turn or going in the wrong direction.  We adjust our course to get on the right road.

It’s easy to get down on ourselves when we think life hasn’t worked out the way we wanted.  We all have dreams but sometimes we never achieve those things we dreamt about.  Does that mean we have wasted our lives?  Absolutely not.  Does that mean we can’t have a happy life?  No, it doesn’t.

Live the dash.   Live right now.

When I left home I was intent on making the military my career but after eight years I made the decision to leave active duty and pursue other things.  I went through several twists and turns before I have ended up here today in Nashville, Tennessee.  I am happier than I could have ever imagined.

It isn’t about a job.  It was certainly not about money or plans.   It is about the dash.  The now.  While I am not particularly fond of working to pay the bills, it is a necessity and someone has to be the responsible one.   But, even in doing this, you can still live a good life.  I don’t like bills, owing the IRS or dealing with incompetent people but I make the choice of whether or not that affects my happiness.

How are you spending your dash? Does your life reflect who you really are? Do you fill the hours in your day with people and things that make you smile? If not, is there one small thing you could change to move in that direction?

You know the date you were born.  Don’t obsessed over the ending date.  Look at the dash.  What are you doing with that?  The dash is what you will be remembered by the most.

 

The Lost Art Of The Inside Voice

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For most people my age, when we were growing up we were taught the difference between our inside voice and outside voice.

Inside voice is when you use a lower volume on your conversations so as to be considerate of others.    Outside voice is one you can use at a higher volume without restrictions of annoying others.

The smartphone has seemingly exceeded any boundaries as people will routinely carry on a conversation without regard to who is around or could be listening.  I have often said that it would be easy to be a private investigator today because you wouldn’t have to necessarily get someone’s phone records, you could just follow them around and eavesdrop on their end of their telephone conversation to get all the information you need.

This mentality even carries over into normal conversations.   When I am at a restaurant or public place, I don’t want to hear someone else’s conversation.  Once we were at a restaurant where it wasn’t difficult to hear the party behind us totally gossip about a party that was late but then when the party showed up they were as nice as could be.  Their loud conversation the rest of the meal drowned out any conversation my wife and I attempt to have.

The problem is that we live in a world where people do not consider others.  Period.  People live in their own world and have the “friends list” mentality where if you are not in my group of friends then you do not exist in my world.

Even in the workplace, people will neighbor and even use their speaker phone because they are too lazy to pick up the headset without regard that other people may be working or doing a task which requires their concentration.

The thing that’s really annoying is that some people who violate the inside voice rules also let the language fly without concern for who is listening.  So there is usually a good chance you’ll hear the F-word or worse being thrown around.  In the old days, men used to be considerate when ladies or preachers were around.  Now, there is no such consideration.  It’s very sad that adults have no thought of manners or consideration of others.

Unless you are in a bar, try to remember there are other people around who may not want to hear your conversation.   I don’t want to hear about office gossip, details of childbirth or any other drama in your life.  Talk to the people you are with and adjust your volume to them.

In today’s sensitive, anger triggered world, you can’t say anything to people or ask them – even politely – to talk lower or they will want to fight your or worse.  The easiest thing is to get away from the inconsiderate person.

Voice Levels:

  • 0 – Silence is Golden – Absolute silence.  No one is talking.  (Like during a movie)
  • 1 – Spy Talk – Whispering, only one person can hear you.
  • 2 – Low Flow – Small group.  Only the people in your group can hear you.
  • 3 – Formal Normal – Normal conversation voice.
  • 4 – Loud Crowd – When public speaking or teaching.  Everyone can hear you.
  • 5 – Out of Control – Anything goes.  No restraint.

Unfortunately sometimes we are just really big kids who need a reminder to use our inside voice.

 

#1 Way To Improve Nashville Traffic

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Since moving to Nashville in 2014, I have heard and read several things about the growth of Nashville and never ending complaints about the traffic.  There have been talks about the “25-year plan” and light rail as well as express buses.   Nashville already has a commuter rail called the Music City Star which I used when I first moved here and lived East of downtown.  Even with the convenience and ease of riding the Music City Star, the traffic for those who do not ride the train to/from that direction is still a pain.  When you travel from points east to downtown you have to deal with 24/40 split and 40/65 split.   Since there is no Interstate by-pass around Nashville, that means everyone has to go there.

So what’s the answer right now for improving Nashville’s traffic headaches?

More roads?   More buses?  Light Rail?

Nope.

The #1 way to improve Nashville traffic is for drivers to obey the traffic laws.   Every driver in Nashville should take a refresher course on traffic rules.  Here are some of the simple things that most Nashville driver’s need to do:

  • Stop At Red Lights – The most elementary rule in driving.  If the light is red you MUST stop!  If you think I’m exaggerating this problem, try driving on one of the streets where traffic exiting the Interstate has a traffic light.
  • Use Your Turn Signal – Unless we live in a city where everyone has ESP, it is a necessity to put yourself out and operate that device on the steering wheel that lets everyone know where you are going.
  • Get Off The Phone – Who are you talking to?  You are in the car and behind the wheel so DRIVE!
  • Be Patient – Gosh people don’t you think ALL of us are trying to get somewhere too?  Impatience is one of the big things Nashville drivers are lacking.

The main thing about driving is to simply do what you are supposed to do.  Simple.  Just obey the rules.  While this wouldn’t solve Nashville’s congestion issues it would make things flow a lot smoother if everyone would cooperate.   Somehow the Music City was deemed the “Friendliest City” in America last year.  I can’t imagine this was based on Nashville drivers.  Maybe they mistook that gesture for meaning they were Number One!

Here is my unofficial ranking of the worst commutes in Nashville:

  1. I-24  between Nashville-Murfreesboro
  2. I-65 between Nashville-Madison-Goodlettsville-Hendersonville
  3. I-65 between Nashville-Brentwood-Franklin
  4. I-40 between Nashville-Donelson-Hermitage
  5. Downtown-Hillsboro Road
  6. Downtown-Lebanon Pike
  7. Downtown-Gallatin Pike
  8. Lower Broadway (anytime)
  9. Downtown-Charlotte Pike
  10. Downtown-Belle Meade

When is rush hour in Nashville?  It seems to start around 2:30 p.m. and starts to thin out around 6:30 p.m. during the week.

Whenever and wherever you travel just remember to be patient and do what you are supposed to do.