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Friday, March 19, 2010

Sad, Madd, Glad--- and Just Plain Ol' Dad

This the final installment of a three part series that began Wednesday and continued yesterday.

  “There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them.”          
 Tom Krause  --- motivational speaker

          Failure is a state of mind.   Some of us may allow an outcome that we have designated as failure to shape our lives and define who we are.  Our failure may make us afraid to move forward in our lives or even give up.  True failure is that which makes us stop trying.

         On October 10, 1988 a concert event for which I thought I had thoroughly planned and in which I had invested several thousand dollars did not turn out as I had expected.   It was not a time for remorse--what was done was done.  I analyzed the "what ifs" of everything that led up to that concert and pondered many what ifs of my future.  It soon became clear to me what I had done wrong.  For one thing I had become too greedy and that greed had made me reckless.

          In July of that same year I had finished up a road tour with the theater company I had managed for nearly ten years.  Each year the tours had gotten shorter and the show dates had gotten fewer.  My wife and I had two kids and the oldest was now of school age.  We decided that this was the time to quit the gypsy life and settle down.  We would use Maryville, Tennessee as our home base and start an entertainment promotion business.  We had plenty of experience and contacts.  We also had a dream that was too big.

          As soon as we got back to Tennessee we started setting up operations.  I put together four simultaneous projects, which as it turns out was a big mistake as we were lacking focus.  I thought I had everything under control and that soon we would be raking in huge sums of money.  We began closing our Canadian bank account and various U.S. accounts and having all of the money transferred to our new business account.  Years of savings--thousands of dollars--were invested in our new projects.  If we had set smaller goals we probably would have slowly built a credible business, but we wanted everything to come quickly and all at once.

          After the concert was over we were left with savings depleted and a debt that was starting to mount.  The other business ventures that we had going at the same time were also not reaping the fortunes we expected and we were unable to adequately keep them going successfully.  One by one, each venture concluded with no profit.  Without any operating capital or incoming cash I was forced to find a job to pay the bills and my wife had two kids to take care of and another on the way.  The entertainment business languished as I worked my regular jobs for a guaranteed income.

          In 1991 I was approached by the company that owned the road show and offered a short tour and then a position of manager of a costume distribution business that they owned in Los Angeles.  My wife and I carefully considered all of the options and finally concluded that this would be a good way to start over.  I accepted the offer and in July we made our move.  The new life looked like it was going to be very good.

         Then an unexpected jolt came into my life.  Less than a year after we had made our move my wife left me with my daughters.  I never saw it coming and still don't really understand it.  All I know is that I was left to take care of daughters ranging in age from ten to three years old.  I somehow managed to keep going.  I struggled with depression, but was mostly too busy to be sad--but often I was sad.  My marital breakup was not a failure, but just a sad event in my life that now I had to move away from.

         In October of 1992 I set up a new account for a customer at my business who had a store by the name of Madd.  The store was a sort of eclectic second hand store in Long Beach.  Since the store had just opened, the owner decided that she wanted to have a grand opening party.  She invited me and I accepted.

         I got a baby-sitter for my daughters on the night of the grand opening party and drove to the party at Madd.  The store was very small and there were so many people there that many of us were on the sidewalk in front of the store.  Since it was October the store was decorated with a Halloween theme.  There was a wide assortment of people in attendance.  Many were arty looking types, some where goths dressed in black, others had tattoos and piercings--nearly everyone was younger than I and much different in appearance.  I looked around for someone with whom I could feel comfortable starting a conversation.

          I noticed a quiet conservative looking man who looked closer to my age standing on the curb and struck up a conversation with him.  At that time I had a tendency to direct conversations to the topic of the situation that I had been experiencing with my divorce and the sadness I had felt.  This man was a good listener and kept up his end of the conversation. 

          Eventually I asked what he did and he told me he was in a band.  My interest in music being what it was, I probed for more information.  He said that he was in a small Christian band that he was sure I had never heard of.  Now my interest was really piqued and I pressed on with my inquiry.  He told me he played saxophone in a band called The Choir.

          I was stunned.   The Choir was among my favorite groups.  I had listened to them for years and owned all their recordings.  The man's name was Dan Michaels.  Now I didn't really care about talking about my problems and wanted to ask him questions about the music business.  He seemed pleased that I knew who he was and was more than happy to continue to indulge my conversation.

        Then at one point Dan directed my attention to another man and led me over to introduce me to him. This man was Gene Eugene, another artist whose work I had followed for years and owned recordings by.  Gene Eugene was a musical genius who wrote songs and performed as a singer and musician.  He also owned a recording studio and had produced some of the finest albums by some of the top Christian rock bands.  Now I was really floored.  We chatted briefly, but it was getting late and I had to get home to my girls.

          I wish I could have visited with these musicians for hours.  And for all I know the guys who Gene was talking to may have been other musicians from other bands that I liked.  I'll never know.   Gene Eugene died  in 2000 leaving a tremendous void in the Christian music scene.  The funky jazz rock albums of Gene Eugene and his group Adam Again are well worth checking out, as are all the various other projects with which he was affiliated.  Likewise, the ethereal soft rock of The Choir is exceptional music well worth a listen.

           That night as I drove home from the party at Madd, I was glad that I had gone and excited about having met Gene and the exceptionally friendly Dan Michaels.   But I needed to get back home to my daughters.  If there was one thing that I really wanted to be successful at it was being a daddy.  The years have been good and I think I did okay.

           Are you familiar with the music of The Choir or Gene Eugene (Adam Again)?     What is your philosophy of failure and success?   Have you had a time in your life when you felt like a failure?  How did you come back from that feeling?     Right now in your life are you failing or succeeding? 

Gene Eugene:    I wrote about him in a post of October 9, 2009


  1. Lee you have had a life certainly of ups and downs yet you have come through it wonderfully.

    I don't know the music of the bands you mention, but I certainly know about being a failure.
    Not to my friends or family......I have always put my family first throughtout my life and are the most important people in the world, but a failure to myself,
    There are things and feelings I want to overcome, but try as I might I cannot, I am a positive person by nature except for this one thing. You see after my late husband went through cancer twice which in the end ended his life three years ago my eldest son was diagnosed with cancer, he is in remission but I have this dreadful fear of the illness. I was called for what we call a cervical smear test last year , the result came back abnormal so had to attend the hopsital for further test. Luckily it came back as just inflamation but have to have a repeat test in April and October, I am terrified as the April date gets nearer and I am failing myself with these thoughts.

    I have really enjoyed your three day post and wish you all the luck in the world.

    Thanks for the information about Nashville. much appreciated.


  2. Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    I have a great interest in travel too!

    I'm on my college computer, so I haven't got much time.
    I'll read your post as soon as I can.

    Best Wishes,

  3. The adventures of your life could fill many books, Lee!
    Sorry for the sadness in your life, but that is awesome you devoted yourself to your three daughters. My husband and I are in charge of our church's single ministry, and one of the singles is a man totally devoted to his teenage daughter, whom he's raised alone since she was two. Their relationship is so touching and special, and I imagine the relationship you have with your daughters is simliar, especially considering your foundation!

  4. It would be such a thrill to meet musicians you admire so much. Glad you had such an opportunity. :)

  5. I hope I'm in a succeeding mode right now!

  6. One of the most important things about failures is knowing that, eventually, you have to let them go. If you don't they'll eat away at you.

    How wonderful that you got to meet those that you admired and liked. We don't always get that opportunity.

    Straight From Hel

  7. Life always has ups and downs. They aren't always the same for each of us, but they are there.

  8. `
    Having read your post here regarding your fear of cancer, two books that I would urge you to read are: "WORLD WITHOUT CANCER" by G. Edward Griffin, and "ALIVE AND WELL" by Dr. Philip Binzel.

    You might be able to borrow the books free through your library's Interlibrary Loan program. Or they can be purchased online at various sites including author Griffin's own website, Reality Zone.

    I have never met these authors and am not associated with them in any way, but I have read their books which are eye-opening and important.

    rLEE-b ~
    You wrote: "Less than a year after we had made our move my wife left me with my daughters. I never saw it coming and still don't really understand it.

    "In 25 percent of marriage breakdowns, writes Margaret Brinig, the man has 'no clue' there is a problem until the woman tells him she wants out."
    ~ page 299; "Taken Into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage, And The Family" by Stephen Baskerville.

    Welcome to the 25% Club, Arlee. You have plenty of company!

    >>[Right now in your life are you failing or succeeding?]<<

    I'm failing. But even the losers get lucky sometimes. ;o) (I just keep reminding myself of that!)

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McMe

  9. Ocean Girl -- Me too and I'm glad for your visit.

    Yvonne--I'll bet no one thinks of you as a failure and don't you be thinking that either. I'm always amazed how your posts touch people all over the world.
    Cancer can be rough. I watched my father die of pancreatic cancer and I know he suffered greatly. I guess God has a reason for our suffering. Take care of yourself and turn your thoughts to that exciting Nashville trip. And make sure you check Stephen's message to you.

    Raghav --Thanks for stopping. Hope you're enjoying your bicycle--it's good exercise.

    Diane -- For every sadness in my life I've had a hundredfold of happiness so I'm not going to complain. Raising my daughters into the lovely women they are now is something for which I am very thankful.

    Jemi -- It was a thrill and the unexpected surprises really enhanced the meetings.

    Alex -- There you go, that's the attitude! Go get 'em.

    Helen -- yes, it's sad when people turn their pain into the focus of their lives. I say take it and turn it into something good. It's our decision whether we want to be happy or not.

    Stephen --- and once again Mc pulls thru with some good info. Thanks for sharing that and hope it is of comfort to someone.
    And don't give us that failing stuff. You write some great material, you're getting by I guess, and you're not homeless (yet, maybe thanks to Nappy). You're pretty successful by a lot of standards I'd say.

  10. Daddy---I'm at work crying... I am so thankful to have a dad like you. I would not change anything about our lives. You did an amazing job and I would not be the who I am today without you. I love you so much and thank you for giving up so much to give us everything you did.

  11. Emilee -- you are always so sweet. As far as I'm concerned I never had to give anything that was that important. Having such wonderful daughters as you and your sisters have been has made my life so wonderful -- you have helped make me who I am as well and I am thankful for that. I love you all.

  12. I'm not familiar with these groups. While I enjoyed Love Song, I lean more toward Hillsong. Steve Green, and Dennis Jernigan music.

    My life is on the upswing after several extremely difficult years.


  13. I have tried three times to make a contributing comment to the conversation. I have stumbled over the opening. My solution is two fold: 1) answer the questions since they are thought provoking and 2) to write a post for sometime next week.

    I am not familiar with The Choir or Gene.

    You have asked a very interesting question, at least for me, when you ask what is your philosophy of failure and sucess.

    If Tom Krause is correct, then their can be no philosophy becasue neither exists. If the next paragraph is correct then failure is reclassified and redefined.

    Failure is very real. There are many areas in which we can very definitely fail in. However, in a a society that refuses to take responsibility, places blame on society, family, environment, circumstances is hard to find anyone any more who has failed.

    Failure is only a bad thing if 1) we fail to recognize our failure; 2) we fail to learn from our failure; 3)we use our failure as an excuse not to get up and try again.

    Failure can be very beneficial and can go along way to developing strong, healthy, and vital character.

    Fortunately failure is desugbed ti be only a temporary teacher leading us to success.

    Which I thought about that earlier also - if there is no failure, then there cannot be any success. By definition success is the opposite of failure.

    There have been times in my life when I have failed. Some of those failures were sin. The way back from failure is admitting it, rather than renaming it and carefully examine the reasons for the failure and or lack of success. Then, make the necessary adjustments, corrections, and/or restitutions and start again.

    Right now in my life I am right where God wants me in order to further develop His characer in my life in order for me to telescopically magnify His character to a watching world.

    Very thougtful provoking article. Thank you.

  14. As always, great post, and thanks for sharing, Lee!

    All I can feel right now is gratitude for the place I'm in. Even failures give me something to learn from and focus on. Gratitude is my main emotion, and I love it. I'm fostering the feeling as I continue to journey on this incredible path I'm on.

  15. Susan -- sounds like you are into the Praise and Worship genre, which I enjoy immensely as well. The groups I mentioned are more Christian alternative rock. Keep look upward!

    Greg -- That was a great comment. You really know how to inject a lot of thoughtfulness into the discussion. I guess my point was not so much to get into the semantics, but long range effect of the terms. One might fail at a task, but I think it is very wrong to get in a mindset of failure and continually hold back personal growth based on negativity of the past. You made some very good points and I agree with what you said. Thanks for a really good comment --- you know, a person could write a book on this topic.

    B.Miller -- An attitude of gratitude. That's the way to be as far as I'm concerned.

  16. Thank you for visiting my blog. I agree we should read the Bible more than once and I like several different translations. You have so many interests. I noticed you like Matthew Ward and The Second Chapter of Acts. I used to have several of their recordings, but got rid of them when I had nowhere to play them. Are you familiar with their Narnia album? It was awesome!

  17. Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm always interested in fans of Lost Dogs and God!

    I'm sorry to hear about your sad circumstances. I don't know how a mother could leave her children...only God knows.

    How awesome that you met Gene! I met Rich Mullins in person about a year before he died. I can't wait to meet up with these cool cats on the other side!

    Debby (Heavenly Humor)

    Let's keep in touch!


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