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There are certain phrases in life you just don’t want to hear. “You have cancer” usually makes the top five of that list. On April 7, 2005 – nine years ago today – my wife and I heard those news as the doctor informed us that she had leukemia.

I had always enjoyed the “Songs in the Key of Life” column that we posted on PopBlerd! A reference to Stevie Wonder’s Grammy award-winning Album of the Year titled “Songs in the Key of Life,” the column would feature one of our writers relating a song to a moment in their life.

I made my “Songs in the Key of Life” debut in September when I used Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” to celebrate my daughter’s fifth birthday.

We all have songs that may pop up on your iTunes playlist and take you back to a moment that either made you smile or made you emotional. We all have songs that we like to put on to take us back to a moment that either made us smile or made us emotional.

Rascal Flatts’ 2005 single “Skin (Sarabeth)” has done that to me for the last nine years.

Fitting that the song was released just months after my wife’s diagnosis, and right before her final round of treatment. I still remember the first time it played on the radio. I tried to shush my sister-in-law, who was visiting from Brazil and understood no English, so I could listen intently to the lyrics.

Sarabeth is scared to death
To hear what the doctor will say
She hasn’t been well, since the day that she fell
And the bruise that just won’t go away

It was late-November when my wife took a tumble, carrying our son, down the concrete stairs of my parent’s porch. Like a good running back she kept our one-month old tightly in her arms, using her left to brace herself for the fall. No damage was done, but a month, and then two months later her wrist was still sore and still bruised.

Not only was her wrist bruised but so were odd parts of her body. Her abdomen, the palm of her hand, I had wondered what I might be doing to her while I slept. Her co-workers jokingly – I hope – said, “I don’t want to know what’s going on with you and Kevin at home.” We waited, and waited, and waited … almost too long.

She began to fill fatigued. She had non-stop headaches. But what first-time mom, with a 5-month old doesn’t feel fatigued or have headaches? Then the pinpoint red dots began to appear on her feet, her shins, before covering her entire leg. Okay, fine, maybe it was time to heed the advice of many of people and visit the doctors.

So she sits and she waits with her mother and dad
And flips through an old magazine
Till the nurse with the smile stands at the door
And says will you please come with me

It was the morning of April 7, 2005 when my wife, 5-month old son and myself sat in the doctor’s office. He ran some blood tests, thought everything sounded odd and sent us on our way. I went back to work, my wife and son back to our rented townhouse just a block from the medical clinic.

I went to work, told my boss that we were waiting and seeing, and introduced myself to our newest employee. Then the phone rang. It was my wife, frantic and almost in tears. My wife never cried, not even during “Old Yeller.” We needed to head straight to the hospital because it might be cancerous. My body trembled. I hung up the phone, stuttered to my boss that I needed to go to the hospital right now, and stumbled out the door. I called my mom and asked if she could drive us to the hospital. I was in no condition to drive my family to the emergency room 20 minutes away.

We sat, and sat, and sat in the ER confused. We were finally told to go up to the seventh floor, and checked into Room 707. Again, we sat, and sat, and sat confused. The nurse asked my wife to undress. She hesitated, confused. They need to run tests, it’s likely that she’d have to stay overnight. Tests? Overnight? Just a hospital gown? Geez! What did we have for dinner?

Sarabeth is scared to death
Cause the doctor just told her the news
Between the red cells and white, something’s not right
But we’re gonna take care of you

Six chances in ten, it won’t come back again
With the therapy we’re gonna try
It’s just been approved, it’s the strongest there is
I think we caught it in time
And Sarabeth closes her eyes

That evening an oncologist came in, excused my confused (using that word a lot, but seriously, we were all confused) dad and brother, and told us the news. She had Acute Myeloid Leukemia aka Cancer, and if not treated immediately, she would have roughly 3-6 months to live. If you’re a fan of the TV show “Scrubs” this is where there’d be a quick flash to my thoughts and a ton of bricks landing on my head.

Yes, they thought they caught it in time, but yes, we waited until the very last minute to come into the hospital. The cancer cells were eating up her blood. In fact, she was so low on blood that they would need to refill her immediately, before starting chemotherapy. So for 24 hours straight she received a refill on blood. Twenty-four hours after that she received 24 hours a day, for seven straight days, chemotherapy treatment that killed the blood – and her body. I’ve never seen anyone go through hell, but this has to be pretty darn close.

Our immediate thought went to our 5-month old. She would need to stop feeding him, and we would need to ween him immediately to the bottle. What would we do with him, with work, with life? It all came to a crashing halt. It didn’t matter.

The morning of April 7 was the last time she would taste fresh air for 30 days.

And she dreams she’s dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

Sara Beth is scared to death
As she sits holding her mom
Cause it would be a mistake for someone to take
A bald headed girl to the prom

For just this morning, right here on her pillow
Was the cruelest of any surprise
And she cried when she gathered it all in her hands
The proof that she couldn’t deny
And Sara Beth closes her eyes

And she dreams she’s dancing
Around and around without any cares
And her very first love is holding her close
And a soft wind is blowing her hair

It’s quarter to seven, that boy’s at the door
And her daddy ushers him in
And when he takes off his cap
They all start to cry
Cause this morning where his hair had all been
Softly she touches just skin

And they go dancing, around and around
Without any cares
And her very first true love is holding her close
And for a moment she isn’t scared.

The rest of the song is less-relateable for us. My wife didn’t dream of dancing (though Brazilian she can hardly bust a move on the dance floor), and she didn’t care about losing her hair. I still remember walking into her room one Sunday morning, and, with two clumps of hair in her hand, stating, “I want this out now.” She was my bald beauty just a couple hours later.

I always knew my wife was tough, preferring a good punch in the arm over a gentle kiss, but this battle just confirmed it. She never worried, never backed down, never got upset or depressed. Even her oncologist admitted that he had dealt with a lot of tough dudes in his time, but none compared to her. That’s my girl!

It helped that we were able to have our son, in his playpen, in the room for the majority of the time. It helped that family and friends would treat her room like the local coffeehouse. My brothers would be playing cards, my dad would be napping in the chair next to my wife’s bed, my mom – who finished runner-up in the MVP race during my wife’s battle (sorry, but when you win the battle you rightfully earn the MVP) because she went above and beyond what any other mother-in-law might have done – feeding my son. My buddy and I watching the NBA playoffs. The cafeteria was our dining hall, the nurses became family. My son learned to walk on the seventh floor, and the nurses called him the “Prince of 7A.”

On the day before her first Mother’s Day my wife was released from the hospital with a BIG smile on her face. Her mom and youngest sister were able to make the trek up from Brazil to be with her.

My wife would have four more week-long stays at the hospital for follow-up treatment. Those were usually followed up with an infection and another week-long stay at the hospital. But in the end she was victorious. So victorious that there was no need for a bone marrow transplant, and so victorious that, despite being told we’d likely not have kids again, we had two more.

There are so many more stories or details I could get into (you’ll have to read past posts for all that), but I won’t bore you with that. I will say that since then I’ve been heavily involved with the American Cancer Society and have listened and shared my story with hundreds of people. There are three things that I consistently tell people that were keys to my wife’s victory: Faith, support and a great sense of humor.

Today is April 7, a day I like to call our “Pause and Reflect Holiday.” A time for my wife, kids and I (and often my mom because she played such an integral   role in this battle) to take an afternoon off to be together. We can all get caught up, stressed and frustrated over financial turmoil, petty family drama, packed schedules and when will they announce the cast of the upcoming Star Wars film, that we need to look back on this date in Johnson 5 history and realize there was a time when time stopped and we didn’t know what tomorrow might bring. I know, we still don’t know, but April 7, 2005 taught me, as tough as it might be, you really have to take life one day at a time. And love … we always need love!

Oh, and if you feel so inclined, help us as we participate in our 10th American Cancer Society’s Relay For Lifeby donating to our ACS RFL team, The Force. Click http://main.acsevents.org/goto/johnson5   to support me in this fight. Thank you!

It’s been a month since I last posted about what I called the “12-Second Debacle”. I have stayed away from any football news since then, turned down requests from my buddy to watch the Seahawks Super Bowl DVD, and told Lukas that if he planned to replay the Super Bowl with his LEGOs he best do it in another room. Yes, I’m over it. Shut up!

Since I have nothing fun to write about, I thought I would give myself a recap of February 2014, so when it’s February 2024 I can look back and think, “Geez, I was so young and stupid then!” I know that’s what I think when I look back at Kevin from February 2004. Kinda that whole Matthew McConaughey Oscar speech thing, except that he sees himself as a hero and I’m a cross between Goofy and Wile E. Coyote.

So future Kevin, here are a bunch of random things that ran through my head as I sat down at 9:30pm on March 6, 2014 to write.

How are you finding the time? Lucky for me someone wanted to speak at tomorrow’s LeTip meeting so instead of coming up with something at the last-minute (and before preparing my third speech in a week) I get to relax. Yes, there are dishes to be done, but the kids are attempting to fall asleep (except for Levi … more on that when I brief you about him) and the noise of running water and banging dishes wouldn’t help accomplish the highlight of my day.

Things have been super busy, as you can expect. Basketball and church on Sunday. Tuesday morning “Boomtown” meeting, Tuesday afternoon LeTip board meeting, Wednesday featured the Chamber luncheon that you run as President, Wednesday night is Youth Group that you run at the church. Thursday morning Toastmasters, and your inspirational speech you teared up on – darn you! And that brings you to Friday morning LeTip, possibly “Coffee with the Mayor” and Saturday’s LEGO club. OK … so that’s the highlight of your week.

Oh yah, don’t forget you did your best attempt at Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars by hosting Sultan’s annual Community Awards Banquet. You can find that performance by clicking here (Thanks TurkPride TV!): Community Awards

UPDATE: Okay, maybe I was more like Seth MacFarlane. One of the attendees from the Awards Banquet came up to me this morning and mentioned a fire department joke I told to introduce one of our fire departments, and how inappropriate the joke was. “What word starts with F and ends with UCK … FIRETRUCK! Geez!” Of course, fire truck is actually two words, but for the sake of the joke. Doesn’t matter. I told him that I wavered on it, took the advice of two people that said to go for it, and, as I told him today, unfortunately that’s what people will remember from it. He agreed. Didn’t bother to compliment the fact that I had a “Go Turks!” chant going to pump up the audience for that evening’s Turks’ basketball playoff game, that I brought up 10 members of the community to do a David Letterman type “Top 10 Reasons I Volunteer”, or that I was able to fly through the event within 1-1/2 hours, an hour faster than last year’s, with more crowd interaction and less butchering and awkward pauses than the prior host (trust me, I was there). When all else fails go with your instincts, and when that fails (as it usually does) go with what your wife says, “Don’t tell the joke!”

Yes, future Kevin we hope that all these networking events will eventually pay off, but you’re really going to have to start ASKING people for their business rather than wearing a Nationwide windbreaker over a Nationwide fleece zip-up, over your dress shirt with the Nationwide lapel pin, over your Nationwide boxers (OK, so I don’t have the boxers – yet), and expect people to just randomly assume you want to do business with them. Yes, the ASK! Followed by the “How Hard Do I Push Them to Do Business With Me?” chat. Followed by the “What If They Reject Me?” feelings. Followed by either the loss, which puts me in a depressed state of mind for 2-3 business days, or the surprised excitement when they actually sign on the dotted line of both the application and their check, and the happy dance that follows as they drive away.

Tell me future Kevin, how’d we do? Did we make it? It’s an extremely tough business, this sales business. A $647 paycheck for the last two weeks of February didn’t help. You attempt to stay positive but when you have a dry spell of a week or more it’s hard to bounce back. It’s not in your make up. So tell me, did we make it?! OK … I’ll wait and see.

Keep positive … stay encouraged … even though you mention to the City that you want to host a flood informational class in their conference room and they steal your idea and present it to the other agents in the area. Theme song for this paragraph, “No Love” by Eminem and Lil’ Wayne.

Speaking of positive (sort of) you’re down to 210-pounds. We’re not sure how you did it, but drinking less pop, and eating less at night are the leaders in the clubhouse. The 210 is the least you’ve weighed in at least 5-7 years. Nice work! You’ve lost 20 pounds in a year!

You rid yourself of Facebook … at least for a day. Let’s see how long it lasts. Future Kevin, do they still have Facebook or did it finally ruin relationships between everyone. Maybe we no longer socialize, or only socialize thru social media.

adam-driver-574332lWhy did you rid yourself of Facebook (probably temporarily, though you’re secretly hoping it lasts forever. Be … strong)? It had become a huge distraction at work. You were either caught up replying to instant messages from friends, or caught up in something you saw on one of the many sports or Star Wars pages you’ve liked. No, there wasn’t stalkerish snooping, but these stories often led to other stories and just like that you were 45 minutes into reading about why some Fanboy thinks that Adam Driver (pictured right) is going to be Jacen Solo. Is he future Kevin? How did Driver do?

And this B.S. about how social media drives business! It ain’t driving my business, or like everything else, I just ain’t that good at it. I would post nearly daily and get nothing. I started to post Motivational Songs of the Day, in hopes of inspiring people with music, along with generating conversation and maybe some views. Ha! Nobody offered to share with me what songs they find motivated, I had two to four people who regularly liked it (my mom, my wife, my sales buddy that helped me come up with the idea, and one other random person), and I averaged about 22 views per post. I don’t know. I’d like it if my insurance agent posted fun, interactive stuff like Motivational Songs of the Day.

If you haven’t gotten a quote from me, or done business with me, why or why not? Please tell me. Please be honest. I thought that the people I supported via the ACS Relay for Life, community events, school, church and more would help support me. That’s why I went out on my own. I thought I’d have enough referrals from people who I work alongside with in all the community events I love doing, that my well wouldn’t run dry. Well … I’m real thirsty boss!

Our basketball team is 3-2. We won three straight and played two nearly flawless games. In one of them I dislocated my ring finger. Ouch! Knuckle was off to one side. Next day the doctor popped it into place. I can’t quite grab my kid when he goes streaking by, but typing no longer causes it to swell up and be sore. First world problems right guys?

My buddy Wes made a copy of the Toni Braxton / Babyface album “Love, Marriage & Divorce”. Like McDonald’s I’m lovin’ it! Nice to have some decent slow jams to sway to. Thanks ‘Face, you’re always so good at doing that for me!

‘Nuff about me, let’s check in with my family.

Lis was so stressed about my lack of production showing up in our bank account that she took on a fourth job working nights at Jack in the Box. Yes, thanks to your support my wife is now working nights at Jack in the Box, along with cleaning two of our friends houses, a condo complex, and raising our three kids. By the way, my wife rocks. Rather than bitch and moan about how I’ve gotten off to a rough and slow start, she took action. There are a lot of wives out there that can take a page out of my wife’s book. Kids out of diapers by two, kids sleeping in their own beds, supporting your husband, maybe not with hugs, kisses and encouraging words, but by taking action and not telling him how you wish he were different. Yes, I take her for granted, but darn I did a great job of picking her!

Speaking of great job, we had a conference with Lukas’s 3rd grade teacher today. He’s doing great. Reading above grade level. Math above grade level. He’s a team player. Loves to help his classmates with problem solving. He’s popular in class, because he likes everyone and not to the point where he’s over-confident or cocky. He works hard. Loves to ask questions. Pretty much everything we don’t see from him at home. Ha! Except that we did have to ask the question, “Does he cry?” For the third year in a row his teacher had to reassure us that, “He’s a sensitive kid.” But his teacher said that when he does get upset (often for something silly like making a mistake in class) that he just asks him to step into the hallway and get himself calmed down. No problem there! Except the teacher confessed that one time he had forgotten that Lukas was in the hallway and they started a birthday party without him. It wasn’t until one of the kids was like, “Uh teacher, Lukas is still in the hallway.” Best part of the conference was that story!

I had to send Lukas into the hallway during basketball this season. He was getting manhandled by kids that were more interested in pushing their way into steals, than actually playing solid defense. He hadn’t dealt with that before and he let it get to him. Next time we faced that team he was breaking ankles, crossing them over, scoring seven points, getting to the free throw line, and doing his best to will his team to victory. Except we loss. First season of basketball though and he led his team in scoring. Very proud!

While Lukas is dreaming of a college career in hoops, Lia is proud to admit that when she grows up she wants to be a “food scanner.” What’s a food scanner? You know those people who check out your food when you leave the grocery store? Yes, they’re called grocery clerks. That’s what my daughter strives to be. I honestly think this one can be whatever she dreams to be. She’s just five so I hope that dream grows bigger, because I have high expectations for her. In the meantime, it’s all “paper or plastic?”

We did finally get her signed up for Kindergarten. Some people wait in line for TVs, DVDs or whatever else you wait in line for on Black Friday. Well this was our Black Friday! Registration started at 9am, Lis was in line by 8:30am. It’s been a long time coming, or so it seems. We felt she was ready last year, but her birthday falls 26 days later, so she’s spent an extra year making us excited for September 2014. She says she’s nervous because she can’t write, or can only spell Lia, Levi, Cat and Dog. I know kids her age that can barely talk and just learned to use the bathroom on their own. She’ll be just fine.

That brings us to Wreck-It-Ralph, the newest nickname for Levi. I call him “Tank” as well, either one goes fine because he’s big and he’s rough and, “I’m going to wreck it!” At least that’s what he does with what seems like everything. We’ve had toys, games, furniture, whatever that has lasted through two kids and nine years, then “Ralph” comes along and it’s destroyed. Drives me nuts! “Take that from him before he … ahh!”

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The thing he does better than all three kids, other than destroy things, is fall asleep. Wow, I’ll race my 2-year-old against your 2-year-old in a “First One to Fall Asleep” contest. He’s out in three minutes flat! It’s amazing! He’s always been able to fall asleep anywhere, and now he does it in a matter of minutes. It makes bedtime so much easier, especially since the ones that had trouble falling asleep are old enough to realize that you don’t need 10 glasses of water or 13 trips to the bathroom. As he closes in on 3-years (March 27) I hope that it continues like that. What an amazing trait to have! I only realized this when I was in my mid-20′s and was falling asleep after two minutes, most of the time after boom-boom. Why does it make me so sleepy?

ChewyBaseball starts soon! Yes! That means it’s fantasy baseball season! Already have one team name that Lukas helped me with. The Walking Carpets! Like our logo?

See you in April for a recap of March!

I wasn’t afraid to share my pride, even though I was in “enemy” territory.

When a silly bet came my way I didn’t totally back down from it, despite the terms not being agreed upon before they were shared with the social media world. (Really? Can you call out someone out on a bet before you even talk to them about the bet you’re placing with them?) More on that in a bit.

I dished it out and when it was dished I took it with grace. I allowed the #GoHawks, and anti-Peyton Manning posts to go untouched on my social media wall. It’s all part of the fun right?

I fought a good fight in the hope that my team would do the same …

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

I had looked forward to this moment for two weeks. I was nervous, and it showed in the two Super Bowl dreams I had the morning of the event. A chubby Russell Wilson in a bright yellow King’s Court shirt. Wes Welker catching the first pass and going 30 yards (but the refs counted it for only nine!). The game being held at an empty warehouse and with no lights! Richard Sherman being nice. It was all part of my pre-Super Bowl slumber.

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Well done parents, well done!

The pre-funk to the event was great! Church was uplifting and Super Bowl (but mostly Seahawk) related. My mom made a sweet looking football-shaped cake. My dad made French toast, and even dyed a couple of slices orange for me! The party guests were arriving and the snack spread was shaping up as one of the best ever!

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Look at Kevin all smiles before the Super Bowl. Little did I know!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

Sure I was rooting for and picking the Broncos. You want to root and cheer for your team. You want to have confidence in your team. But I knew what the Seahawks defense could bring and I was nervous. There was a reason I picked them as my Super Bowl champions in the preseason. They were a complete team.

WEIRD SIDENOTE: I picked the Hawks to defeat the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl. Funny, Seahawks win the Super Bowl, Texans finish with the worst record. Bookends to a season! Nailed it? 

SIDENOTE II: Just to prove that I knew what I was talking about back in September here’s an excerpt from my preseason preview, “But there’s a buzz here in Seattle about this team, and maybe it’s feeding me too. They have a confidence that channels their head coach, Pete Carroll. A swagger that says, “We can’t be beat!” or maybe it says “U Mad Bro?” either way, the Hawks look tough. They upgraded their defensive line with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett. They have the best secondary in the game, and they have a calm and collected quarterback in second-year man Russell Wilson.”

The analysts should-be asking me for advice. These were two teams I had watched all year-long. And not just highlight watch, every down watch. I knew what the Broncos offense could bring. I knew what the ‘Hawks D could do. I knew my distaste about Wilson rolling out of the pocket and almost always finding someone open. This is what scared me most.

I still had confidence that the Broncos would do enough with the ball to put some points on the board. I mean, they averaged 37.9 points per game in the regular season. I know the Seahawks held opponents to 14.4 but there was NO WAY the Broncos were going to be held to that.

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

I wanted it to be a good game. Part of me fretted about it being similar to the Broncos-Seahawks postseason 40-10 debacle. But that wouldn’t happen again!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

What if the score were 20-0 at the end of the first quarter? How would I react? I should’ve watched the game by myself? Nah, this won’t happen. These are the high-flying Broncos. Manning, Demaryius, Orange Julius, Welker, Decker and even Moreno! C’mon Kevin!

And then Super Bowl XLVIII happened.

By far, the most frustrating and UN-fun Super Bowl I have ever watched.

It started with losing the coin toss (darn you Joe Namath!) and bridged over to the first snap of the game when the ball went off Manning’s helmet and into the end-zone for a safety. And 12 seconds into the 48th Super Bowl the fun and excitement was quickly halted.

I clutched my football, rocked back and forth in the middle of the couch like Rain Man watching Jeopardy, shot quick Super Bowl trivia answers back to the people in attendance that weren’t quite sure about the safety and how frequently it happens as the first score (just three years ago … Tom Brady … second time ever).

As it had been in the postseason the Broncos run defense was great. Beast Mode was going nowhere. Down 5-0, we still had a shot, just needed a stop on third down. Nine-yard pass to Golden Tate. Need to get a stop on third down. Six yard pass to Doug Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down. Thirty-seven yard pass to Baldwin. Need to get a stop on third down … screw it. Field goal 8-0.

Early second quarter, down 15-0 (by nightmare of 20-0 was on its way to becoming true) the Broncos looked ugly, but were driving. Then Manning is hit as he tosses the ball, it lingers up in the air and I’m hoping for Knowshon Moreno to just bat it to the grass. Nope, intercepted by Malcolm Smith, taken to the house.

My parent’s house erupted. My dad, who could maybe, maybe name three Seahawks entering the game, started his #GoHawks chant, talked about how Peyton was acting his age, and some other nonsense I zoned out on because well … because it was nonsense. I felt like it was time to leave. I didn’t want to be the downer of the party. I grabbed some snacks and went into the playroom. I needed to cool off and there was no better way to do that than by watching Frozen with my always smiling, always optimistic, 5-year-old daughter. Funny, needed to cool off and the movie of choice was Frozen. Fitting also because the hit songs from the movie are “Let It Go” – which I attempted to do – and “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”  – which I wanted to do.

Later the pundits would say Smith’s Super Bowl MVP was won off of that interception. It kind of put the game away. I can confirm that. I felt put away, even if there was a half of football remaining.

Oh, and a question for the 12′s. How many 12th Men knew who Smith was coming into this game? 10 … 11 … 12. That sounds about right.

The extended break from the second quarter, and the extended halftime allowed me to cool off and remind myself that it’s just a game. I need to stop getting too invested in these players, these teams, these games. It’s not good for my heart, and with each loss it only hurts more. I mean, does Manning really care about me?

I started the second half a little optimistic … and then the Broncos did something odd, blooping the kickoff and allowing the speedy, but fragile, Percy Harvin to catch the ball on the bounce and run it back for a TD. 29-0. Time for more snacks. I jokingly yelled #GoHawks. We were a minute into the third quarter and I was starting to embrace the loss.

Denver never looked comfortable. I had watched all but one of their games this season and there was only one time on Sunday I looked at Manning and the offense and felt they were comfortable. That one time they got the ‘Hawks to jump offsides. The rest of the night they looked out of sorts, like they spent too much time in New York and not enough time studying Omaha.

By early fourth quarter I decided to turn my phone back on. Bring on the trash talk. I received a few texts – funny most came from people I didn’t realize were sports fans until this past week – a few one word posts on my Facebook wall and this picture.

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I found it amusing, but when the image appeared in real-time my buddy said, “Cut the lights!” in reference to last year’s lights going out in New Orleans. I found that more amusing so I made my own meme. See, I’m a good sport.

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It was all reminiscent of the mid-’90s when my brother and I were diehard Phoenix Suns fans living in Seattle SuperSonics territory. After every Suns playoff loss – especially to the hands of the Sonics – our phone wouldn’t stop ringing with trash talk. After the No. 8 seeded Denver Nuggets upset the No. 1 seeded Sonics, my brother and I just stood in the background smiling and saying nothing. Especially when Mutumbo did this.

I’m excited for this city. It’s been a long time coming. I wish it wasn’t at the hands of one of my favorite teams. I wish I could join in the celebration, but really I’m not that excited because of who they dominated. DOMINATED! Why couldn’t it have been the Patriots?! I hate the Patriots!

I’m excited for the few buddies that I know have stuck by this team through the AFC years, Shaun Alexander MVP year, the Shaun Alexander Running out of Bounds Years, and the Legion of Boom / Russell Wilson years.

I think it’s neat for my son to see this team win. He wore his worn-down Marshawn Lynch jersey, the same one he’s had for three years, before a lot of these 12th Men had bought theirs.

I’ll pay off the bet I succumbed to. Yes succumbed. The bet was thrown at me for people to see before I could even counter. Silly me countered the outrageous bet of shaving my oblong head with getting a buzz cut instead. I’ll get my buzz cut with the ‘Hawks jersey. I’ll play the game fairly and won’t be a sore loser. Darnit!

The Bet 

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I’m a man of my words. Stupid words perhaps, but I kept my bet. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was done at the Man Cave, a barber shop for men, with a pool table along with sports and movie memorbilia. Heck, when I was getting my hair washed I got to look at a picture of my two favorite girls from the ’80s – Princess Leia and Daisy Duke. My buddy wasn’t as bad as I thought he might be. He did give me a “Did You Know? That was the longest lead of any Super Bowl … ” I didn’t come here to hear stats I said. The first trim was scary, going from a mop top to a 1/2 an inch in as much time as it took the Broncos to fall behind in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The owner said I was a good sport, and that they wondered if I’d make good on my bet. I even had a blue 12 put on the back of my head. Now one of these pics will be my profile pic for a week. All in good fun, all in good fun!

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The Morning After

Last night I went to sleep with a full tummy and a sore heart (mostly from the loss, though the gobs of shredded beef, bean dip, fried chicken, cake, cookies, pigs-in-a-blanket and chips didn’t help either).

This time there were post-Super Bowl

dreams. Manning was flustered. Out of energy. He gobbled down orange slices to get his energy up. The Manning face looked crazed. I woke up in a heated sweat, and to the sound of my eldest tossing chunks from the top bunk. Luckily his brother had escaped from his bed below a few minutes earlier.

I woke up to 10 more Facebook posts, mostly fake apologies, again most from people I didn’t realize were sports fans.

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Nothing like a little Princess Leia to brighten your post-Super Bowl morning.

And when I came into work and turned on my computer I was greeted by this image of Princess Leia. Way to go Ghosts of Kevin Past, you knew that if I woke up to rotating images from my “Omaha!” folder that the bad memories would come back. This image makes things all better. ;)

What did I learn this weekend?

First, and totally off topic, that Lukas can play ball. He scored seven of his team’s 13 points and introduced us to his crossover, the first time he used it all season. He broke about three ankles, was hammered numerous times, grew frustrated but continued to play better, did his best and tried his hardest to lead his team to its first win, was emotionally upset because of the physical beating he took, and even though we were ousted from the playoffs showed that he might have some future ball in him. Very, very, very proud Dad moment!

I’m thankful for my immediate family and how they’ve taken to my investment in sports. In years past Lukas would have taunted me. Instead he felt bad for me (or was annoyed by my dad) and decided to watch the game in the other room. Afterwards he celebrated, but it wasn’t in a way in which I wanted to sock him in the face. ;)

My daughter could careless. She’s always smiling, always content, the perfect remedy for the destruction of your team. She watched Frozen and her day was made.

Levi is almost three. That’s about it.

When my wife and I first announced our engagement naysayers asked if she was into sports. “Nope. And that’s okay with me. She understands and acknowledges my love for sports, and that’s all I need.” Seriously, if she were a sports fan things would be a little tense in the household. As I sat and wrote this after the game she reminded me, “Ahh you, it’s just sports.” Sometimes it bothers me when people say that, but she’s right. It’s a game, it’s a sport, and I need to be reminded of that.

And that pitchers and catchers report in 9 days, 4 hours.

I can’t seem to break it through my buddy’s skull. No, I will not be rooting for “our” Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII.

“But you live in Seattle!”

It’s nothing against the Seahawks, Richard Sherman, Skittles or the 12th man. I’ve attended at least one regular season game in the last four years, and I have a great time every time. It’s an incredible atmosphere. Russell Wilson is a class act. Marshawn Lynch is a beast. The defense is incredible. I just heart Peyton Manning. Plain and simple.

No, one player doesn’t make a team … unless that one player is your favorite athlete of all-time – sorry Benito Santiago, Tony Gwynn and Kevin Johnson (click on the KJ link to see my favorite dunk of all-time) – and for the last 10 years you’ve watched the majority of his contests despite living in a faraway market.

I thought as a lead up to the Super Bowl I would give 18 reasons why I Heart Peyton Manning. Why 18? Well if you don’t know you’re probably not reading this. Psst Mom … Manning wears No. 18!

In no particular order …

No. 1 – In the Year 2000 … and Four!

It was 2004 and Peyton Manning was in the midst of a record-breaking season. The QB threw 49 touchdowns breaking Dan Marino’s record. More importantly, he was leading my fantasy football team, the Postpartum Blues (known before October 17, 2004 as Knocked Up), to a 12-1 regular season, 14 straight wins (including playoffs) and its second title in four years. Yes, because Manning was my QB I watched a lot of his games and fell in love with the way that he played them. Not only was his high-flying offense fun to watch, but …

No. 2 – “Omaha! Omaha!”

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OK so he hasn’t always barked “Omaha! Omaha!” at the line of scrimmage. There have been plenty of other places and things he’s yelled instead, but the way he barked at the line of scrimmage and moved his players around like they were on a chess board, made me a fan of No. 18. I used to love when they played against the Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis. Manning yelling from the offensive side and Lewis shouting back at him from the defensive side. As I finish my first season as a basketball coach I’ve taught my kids “Omaha!” our basic motion offense. It’s fun to be watching a bunch of 8/9 year olds shouting “Omaha!” as they dribble down the court in ‘Hawks country. Omaha!

No. 3 – Class Act

Speaking of Ray Lewis, it was after last year’s devastating loss (and it was devastating) to the Baltimore Ravens that Manning waited and waited and waited outside the Ravens locker room to congratulate the soon-to-be retired linebacker he had many of confrontations with. That shows class both as an athlete and a person. To be able to congratulate your opponent after a heartbreaking defeat. I know there was this episode with his offensive line (but if anyone has ever played on a team you know this stuff happens, in fact it happened with me last night when I barked to my men’s league team about wanting to switch to man-on-man defense) and calling out his “idiot kicker”, but few players have the class that Manning exudes. Which leads us to …

No. 4 – R-E-S-P-E-C-T

In ESPN’s recent NFL Nation Confidential survey of more than 320 players, Manning was named as the most respected player in the game, earning 86 votes (27-percent). He was also the top vote-getter for the question of “If you had to start a team with one player whom would it be?” earning 62 votes (19-percent). Personally I’d take Andrew Luck, who finished six votes behind Manning, and not just because he’s a younger Manning, but he’s young, smart and has a great arm. Still, the numbers above show how much Manning is respected by his peers.

No. 5 – The Fans Respect Him

It’s not just because Manning has the No. 1 spot on NFLShop.com’s top-selling jerseys, but it’s because ask anyone to say something bad about Manning and they’ll be hard-pressed to pick something bad about him. Maybe they’ll point to his postseason record, his pink spot on his forehead or the cheesy Papa John commercials, but when it comes to the way someone carries himself and plays the game it’s hard not to root for him.

No. 6 – Just Your Average Joe Peyton

I think a reason why fans like him so much is that they find him relatable. Sure he may be all over the television in a variety of commercials, but his commercials often poke fun at himself. It’s something I can relate to. I don’t like talking about myself, but I also don’t mind poking fun at myself. I think he’s comfortable enough (and proven enough) to realize that just because he’s a goofball on TV then it doesn’t mean he’s a goofball in the pocket.

No. 7 – “F.O.Y.P.” and “Football Cops”

Sure those Papa John’s commercials are a little lame, but he and Brother Eli have teamed up for two of the best commercials by athletes in the “Football On Your Phone” and “Football Cops” videos for DirectTV. By the way, if you want to watch a video of all the Peyton and Eli videos check out the column I wrote on PopBlerd!

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No. 8 – He’s Not Heavy … He’s My Brother

Speaking of Eli … Peyton is the middle of three brothers. I’m the oldest of three brothers. If Cooper were to have stayed healthy and made it to the pros he’d probably be my favorite Manning just because I favor the eldest. The continue to root for each other (when they are not playing each other) and support each other throughout their careers. It was kind of nice to see Cooper, Eli and Archie celebrating in Denver when the Broncos won the AFC Championship.

No. 9 – No Tweet, No Facebook, No Problem!

We all know about Archie, Mama Manning and the trio of Manning brothers, but it took me a couple of years to wonder if Peyton was married? He is, and he has twins that are almost three-years old. He keeps his family life private. He’s not on Twitter, he’s not on Facebook and other than the aforementioned commercials you don’t see much of Manning or his private life. In this day and age you have to respect that – a ton! An athlete who lets his play and the talk of his peers speak about the person that he is. What a wonderful role model for our youth. Unless you think this commercial is real …

No. 10 – This Saturday Night Live “United Way” Sketch

Manning’s transition from football to entertainment is nearly flawless. And no better example of that is in this hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch, still one of my all-time favorites.

No. 11 – Charity Work

You all know how I love me some charity work. Did you know that Peyton’s Peyback Foundation has distributed more than $6.5 million in grants since 2002, including $581,000 in May 2013 to 90 youth-based organizations (yes, taken right off the PeyBack website)? You can find out more by clicking here. Did you know that in 2007 the St. Vincent Children’s Hospital was officially renamed the Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital at St. Vincent? Yes, most athletes have their own charities or visit local children hospitals but having one named after you? Kind of impressive. Also impressive is the Manning Passing Academy (though not a charity) that he, Cooper, his dad and Eli put on every year. There are a lot of good college and pro quarterbacks who have visited this camp when they were younger, including Russell Wilson.

No. 12 – Fear the Forehead!

FeartheForeheadFlat_copy__49364.1386025217.720.720Let’s get a little personal. I have a forehead that you can watch a drive-thru movie on. My youngest son was blessed with a giant forehead. Once you get past a certain age you come to terms with your giant forehead and you embrace it. Peyton Manning has one of those foreheads. We FIVE-heads have to stick together!

No. 13 – Giving Me the Something to Root For!

Fantasy football (or sports) can turn your love for teams more into a love for individuals. Guilty! I loved Manning before I had a favorite football team. But watching Manning for a year made me fall for the Colts. It wasn’t just about Manning, but about Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, Edgerrin James, Joseph Addai, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Robert Mathis and Antoine Bethea. The Colts quickly became one of my favorite sports teams – EVER! I’ve been a San Diego Padres fan since 1986. I loved the Phoenix Suns throughout the ’90s and early ’00s. I have liked the Seattle Mariners since our move to this region in ’92. I was never a football fan, not until I started playing fantasy football in the late ’90s. Thus my love for the Colts. And even though Manning is now gone, the Colts have still become the team I root hardest for. Found that out this year when I found myself rooting against Manning and the Broncos, and taking the postseason loss to the Patriots harder than expected. I guess that makes me ColtsStrong!

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No. 14 – My Lone Sports Championship

As cried about in numerous posts, I’ve been a sports fan since the summer of ’86. Before Manning came along I had two teams reach the championship in their respective sports, the ’92-’93 Phoenix Suns  and the 1998 San Diego Padres. Both were defeated! But in 2007 the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Hmm … two seasons after I became a Colts fan, and in the lone Super Bowl to have crappy weather. Do I see a pattern?

NOTE: My BFF, and the dude that brings me to the Seahawks games every year, informed me this week that I’ve already won a championship and he hasn’t – EVER!  His San Francisco Giants were swept back in 1989, the Seahawks lost to the Steelers the Refs back in 2006. I started to feel sorry for him … for a second. I guess if the Seahawks win I’ll feel less upset about it knowing that he’ll have a championship under his belt.

No. 15 – Defeating the Evil Empire

That Super Bowl victory was set up by a 38-34 come-from-behind victory over the New England Patriots. The Patriots had dominated my team. Manning had that gorilla on his back of consistently falling to Tom Brady. It looked grim until it didn’t. I still remember Lukas accidentally hitting the “leap ahead” button on the TiVo and briefly seeing confetti fall to the ground. It gave me hope! Click here for highlights please! (Darn NFL.com not letting me embed the video on my blog!)

No. 16 – He’s Good!

Soon-to-be five MVP awards. Thirteen Pro Bowls. One Super Bowl. One Super Bowl MVP. Most TDs in a season (55). Most yards in a season (5,477). Tied for the most TDs in one game (7). Thirteen of his 15 seasons he’s led his team to at least 10 wins. Thirteen of his 15 years his team’s have played in the postseason. And many more you can find on his Wikipedia page.

No. 17 – He Makes Those Around Him Great!

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A future member of the Hall of Fame, Marvin Harrison holds several NFL records as a wide receiver and is a three-time All-Pro first teamer. Reggie Wayne is a three-time All-Pro receiver. Dallas Clark was an All-Pro tight end for Manning. Edgerrin James earned All-Pro honors four times running for Manning. Bronco receivers Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas have all had career years. Wes Welker set a personal record for TDs with Manning, and he played with Tom Brady. Knowshon Moreno has had his career rejuvenated because of Manning. I’m sure all will thank Manning for the career he has helped them build.

No. 18 – That Comeback!

We’ve all heard about his four neck surgeries and the possibility of Manning not being able to resume his career. Knowing now how well he’s done, it seems like not a big deal, except that it was. At the time I was nervous that the end was coming. I was scared his first game back. I thought one hit and he was broken. Ha! The dude has been incredible since he added a scar to his neck. Incredible!

Super Bowl Prediction

Will I  renege on my preseason prediction of picking the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl? By the way, had them winning over the Texans (2-14), secretly thought it’d be the Broncos but didn’t want to jinx myself and … here we are.

Yes. I would love to see Manning win his second Super Bowl. Plus, as mentioned in prior posts, the Broncos have become my Team 1B. I’ve followed them closely for three years now (yes, I jumped on the Tim Tebow bandwagon) and I look forward to the casual football fans that focus solely on the Legion of Boom to watch Manning do what he does best, and for them to get a view of the talented receiving corp in action (these aren’t just “mediocre” receivers).

Denver is the No. 1 offense, averaging 37.9 points per game (10 more than the second best Philadelphia Eagles). Seattle has faced only one team in the top 10 in offense this year, that being the 10th ranked New Orleans Saints (twice, at home, who they manhandled). Denver’s lowest point total came against San Diego (in a 27-20 loss), when the Chargers ran and ran and ran the ball down the Broncos throat. Something Seattle can do very, very well.

Seattle is the No. 1 defense, allowing just 14.4 points per game. Denver faced three of the top 10 defenses this year, defeating the No. 5 Kansas City Chiefs twice, but losing to the No. 9 Indianapolis Colts and splitting the contests between the No. 10 New England Patriots. Though in both losses to the Colts and Patriots, the Broncos scored an average of 32 points and the Colts/Patriots averaged 36.5, not really a defensive battle. Seattle gave up a season-high 34 points to the Colts (and a similar quarterback), but other than that lapse gave up just 24 points once.

Hmm … seems like a push … Denver may not score their 38 points a game, but it’s likely Seattle won’t be able to hold Denver to just 14 points.

Common opponents? Sure! Both went 4-1 against common opponents, with both losses coming to MY Indianapolis Colts (Colts 34, Seattle 28; Colts 39-Denver 33).

Denver and Seattle defeated Jacksonville (Denver 35-19, Seattle 45-17), the Giants (Denver 41-23, 23-0), Tennessee (Denver 51-28, Seattle 20-13) and Houston (Denver 37, Texans 13, Seattle 23-20).

Hmm … seems like a push … I think this game comes down to not the Seahawks defense or the Broncos offense but the opposite. How well can the Broncos defense play against the Seahawks offense? This should be a fun game, but because of Manning, the Broncos weapons, and me loving the spread offense since the days of the Jerry Rice 49ers, I’m taking the Broncos 31-27. What a surprise eh?

Sorry Josh!

I was trying to come up with a clever or catchy name for my goal post (goal post … ha!) but realized that the last three years I’ve simply went with “Five for (insert year)” so I’m sticking with tradition and simply naming the post, “Five for Twenty-Fourteen: My Goals for 2014″.

See what I did there? Rather than type out the numbers, I made 2014 sound fancier by writing Twenty Fourteen. It’s just those little nuances that make this list a little more special than years past.

But before I get into my list for Twenty-Fourteen (there I did it again!) I’ll write about how I did with last year’s goals. I always dread this part. I get to look back at the goals that I failed to accomplish, see how badly I missed out on those goals, realize that I actually didn’t even try to achieve those goals, feel less-motivated to write down this year’s five goals and end up writing a half-arse post about goals, that usually ends up being my fifth or sixth draft before I finally pull a clean version of Cee-Lo Green and say “Forget You” and submit my post. After all there are about five of you that are still reading this.

Why must I start with last year’s goals? Why can’t I start with this year’s goals? Twenty-Fourteen is supposed to be a better year, why not try something different for a change! Fine! I will!

Here are my five goals for 2014!

To introduce each goal I’m going to use a line from Zig Ziglar, the late, great, motivational speaker that I latched onto this past year in an attempt to help me get out of my rut. It worked, but like everything you have to continue to work on it, so though I listened to Ziglar for a solid two weeks and felt great during those solid two weeks, once he was done, so was I and it was back to Crapsville for me.

As I told you in my Year-in-Review, Twenty-Thirteen (getting old isn’t it?) was an overall lame year. Which led me to this non-Zig Ziglar quote that actually comes from Philippians, yes, from the Bible, that says, “No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it yet, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead.” What a great verse to start off the new year! That’d be Philippians 3:13 for those reading at home.

In sales (and in life) you have to set a lot of goals, and you have to work toward them, this year I hope to do the latter – set goals and then work towards them.

Why set goals? Ziglar says, “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time,” and “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

I have a lot of goals that I want to set for myself and my family this year. I guess you can say the honorable mention for my top five goals are: Write more, and perhaps find a freelance or a larger audience for my writing; to be a successful president for the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce, perhaps with more networking events, and being a face for the business community; I would like to celebrate our 10th anniversay of being Team Force at the Relay For Life of Sky Valley; I would like to consistently hit my premium goals, thus helping my family live more than paycheck-to-paycheck. There are a few others, but those are some that consistently pop into my mind when I think about what I’d like to accomplish in 2014.

Here are the top five that earned their own little “breakout session” with a Zig Ziglar quote to introduce them, starting with …

Going All-In
“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.”

If I haven’t already said it enough, let me say it again. I spent a lot of time last year worrying about making my month that I didn’t do what I set out to do when I took the chance to start my own little agency. I wanted to help people. I wanted to write business. I wanted to make insurance fun. Last year I did none of that. I tried different ways to market myself, but never tried it consistently. If it didn’t work right away, I moved on. If someone thought it was a lame idea, I didn’t try it. If it was three weeks into the month and I was in danger of not making my month, I wouldn’t attempt it. Not many people would take the risk I took (healthy paycheck, regular monthly income, health benefits to starting from scratch) in starting their own business, but I did and I need to remember why I did it, and why I thought I would succeed. I have to stop thinking like every other agent, refill my passion bucket and remember what I had hoped to accomplish when I went out on my own. I want to make insurance fun. I want to be able to help people. I want to succeed. I want to support my family. I don’t want to have a year like last year. So I’m putting all my chips in. It’s this year or bust. I want to know that if I fail, if I succeed that at least I live as I believe. Oh wait … that’s a Sexual Chocolate song. You know what I mean!

Lead Them
“I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in business life if your home life is in shambles.”

My home life isn’t in shambles. Actually it’s the one perk that came out of last year. I really enjoy my little family of five. But like everything else it needs a lot of nurturing and a lot of work. As I mentioned before I spent a lot of time last year trying to improve myself, not just for myself but for my family. I actually stole the “Lead Them” from a Sanctus Real song called “Lead Me” that talks about a husband / father that sees his beautiful family from the outside, but on the inside they are asking him to lead them with strong hands, stand up when they can’t, show them you’re willing to fight and that they are the love of my life. Makes sense, and even though this awful beautiful life seems like it’s running fine, it always needs work. I need to be an example for them. To show them the respect I want to be shown, and that they show to others. To not always say the first thing on my mind, or lash out with not-always-clean words in frustration. To be patient with them as they grow and learn. Respect is the main thing. With three kids it’s hard to maintain an even playing field. They can come out you all at once and mentally and physically drain you that you almost throw in the towel. I was unfortunately blessed with two very stubborn kids (they get that from their mother) so not backing down (or blowing up) after you’ve had a long day at work, and whatever else you’ve gotten yourself involved in, is extremely tough. That’s what I hope to work on this year. Make sense?

Be Positive
“Look back in forgiveness, forward in hope, down in compassion, and up in gratitude.”

Beating a lame horse here (NOTE: no animals were hurt in the writing of this blog) but as mentioned prior, I spent a lot of time worrying, which leads to frustration, which leads to stress, which leads to negativity. To be a success with the aforementioned business and family life, I need to be more positive. I can’t let the kids see me turn negative, because they’ll want to be negative. Actually I need to be more like my half-full daughter, who is constantly smiling, skipping and singing wherever her life leads her. I’m the opposite. A very half-empty kinda dude. It drives Lis nuts. It drives me nuts. Being positive will go a long way to helping me obtain the goals I want to obtain.

Monitor the Stuff I Put Into My Mind and Body
“What you get by achieving your goals is not near as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

Not like that sickos!

OK, so that last quote didn’t really have anything to do with my goal, just a good quote.

This is my tricky way of saying “lose weight”. For three weeks last year I was “clean”. I ate good things. I didn’t eat late at night. I lost some weight. Heck, the last couple of mornings I’ve dropped down to 215 (was up to 218 by the end of the day but still better than the 220 I’ve been stuck at). But I also stayed clear of things that may distract me from work and being a good leader. For instance, Facebook seems so negative (and a waste of time), and often has articles that I may want to read that lead me to more articles that I may want to read and then all of a sudden we’re hours into work and I haven’t accomplished anything! I stayed away from the music that I love, but may not have the lyrics I need to hear to keep my positive thinking. And you know what I felt great! And then I gave in real quick … and then since I screwed up once, I might as well screw up again. What a wonderful mind we have eh? So I’m going to try it again. I’m six weeks in and have not had any pop, any alcohol, any “aggressive sexual content” in the movies we’ve watched, any fast food. It’s all water and maybe a glass of milk. It’s all salad and BLT’s. It’s all TV-14 and inspirational music.

Spend Christmas and New Year’s in Brazil
“If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

It’s been a few years since I’ve had a vacation longer than two business days that didn’t involve a sibling getting married or a baby being born. Last time was spring of 2009 when we went to Brazil. Well, my ultimate financial goal this year is to make enough money that for the final two and a half weeks of the year we are spending it in the warm sun of South America. Lukas and Lia will be out of school. The insurance business drags that time of the year. I need some sunshine, partying and a little time away before 2015 starts. Why not celebrate with my family down south.

There you have it! Check in next year when I recount how awesome I did!

Oh yeah … this year …

2012 Goals:

Celebrate No. 10
Grade: A

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This year Lis and I celebrated Season No. 10 of our marriage. I wanted to make sure we did more than dinner and a movie, with the occasional post-movie Dairy Queen Blizzard (depending on if we can splurge or not). I wanted to make a weekend out of it. We didn’t have the income to afford that trip to Italy we wanted 10 years ago, so instead we spent an evening at the quaint Cascadia Inn in Skykomish, with the next-day hiking trip. Sounds romantic … and it actually was. I was in the midst of the Relay For Life season. I was five months into worrying about my business. Our youngest had just turned two. Skykomish was the perfect place to get away from all of that. Limited cell phone reception, a small quiet town, where we shot pool, ate dinner and did what we did when we were first together, binge snack on frosted donuts and peanuts while watching nonsense on TV. The best part of the weekend was spending some alone time hiking up to a natural hot spring, then relaxing in the hot spring (you can’t see those pictures) while overlooking the snow-capped Cascade Mountain range. Definitely worth the A grade!

The $50k Club
Grade: F

As mentioned last year, this was a “far-fetched” goal. I wanted to write $50,000 in business in one month. Turns out it was way too far-fetched. I didn’t even reach $20k in a month! Moving on …

Eu Quero Falar Portugues
Grade: D

As it became more and more likely that we would not be able to afford a trip to Brazil for this year’s World Cup, my care for obtaining this goal became more and more less likely to happen. Sure, I still know a bit of Portuguese, but not enough to make me unstoppable if we get to Brazil. Merda!

200/200/200
Grade: C+

In my final year of the Relay For Life of Sky Valley’s Event Co-Chair, I wanted to reach the goal of $200k raised and 200 survivors. We fell short of this goal. However, we did raise more than we had the prior year and we set a record with over 150 registered survivors, shattering the prior record by 30. The final 200, was my attempt at getting down to 200-pounds. As mentioned in my Year-in-Review, I started to watch what I ate and was able to level down to 220. You can recap last year’s event here.

Don’t Speak Too Soon!
Grade: B

I did my best to stay off social media, mostly posting pleas for business and stories I wrote for PopBlerd! I did my best in not bugging family and friends about whether or not they planned on showing up to events that I invited them to. When family drama arrived I did my best to keep it between my wife and myself, though when people came for help, support or advice I gave it and it ended up biting me in the butt. Heck, I even started using my own advice of “Say Nothing. Trust No One.” something I plan on continuing to do in 2014.

Oh and do me a favor. Follow my insurance blog at Sky Valley Insurance. I hope to post weekly or bi-weekly.

Are you kidding me?! Unbelievable! Incredible! Amazing! Impossible! Miraculous!

It always bothers me when media, or just people in general, use those superlatives to describe a player, or event.

Well, like it or not, all those words work for Saturday night’s Wild Card weekend comeback victory that saw the Indianapolis Colts overcome a 28-point second half deficit, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 45-44.

It’s no wonder I found myself a little teary-eyed after Andrew Luck recovered a Donald Brown fumble (after it bounced off a lineman’s helmet, hit the surface and landed perfectly into Luck’s arms) and did his best Air Jordan impersonation by slamming the ball into the end zone for a touchdown.

Luck Dive michael-jordan-slam-dunk-929062991

After back-to-back scoring drives by both teams opened the game, the Chiefs took complete control turning Colt turnovers into scores, taking a convincing 38-10 lead early in the third quarter.

It was at this time that the disgruntled Colt fan in me, that had watched them play similar games against the Cardinals and Rams earlier in the season, thought to myself, “Maybe it was time to go home.” Except I realized it was still early in the third quarter, weird stuff happens in sports (and especially the postseason) and I wouldn’t want to be that dude, plus we have Andrew Luck.

Andrew Luck, the calm and collected quarterback that continues to scurry up my Man-Crush list. Good thing it’s not laminated. I live in the Seattle area and I know a lot of people who would swear by Russell Wilson, but there’s a reason Luck was picked No. 1 overall and, despite his three interceptions, proved why there should be little doubt that if you were starting a team you’d pick him as  your quarterback. Wilson is great. He has wonderful poise, never looks to get rattled, and makes plays when you think the play is busted. Luck is the same way – except better.

Not many players can comeback from tossing an interception-turned-field goal, that puts the Colts down 41-28 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter, to two more touchdowns.

If any of you have played sports you know that if you’re down (or even if you’re up by a little) your body goes into a different mode. You’re not thinking or reacting like you did at kickoff. You know you need a big play, but you don’t want to risk the big play. Unless you’re one of those elite players that don’t seem to let things rattle you. Andrew Luck is that elite player (dare I go there and say that my Man-Crush seems to lack this uniqueness?).

It was no wonder that I found myself a little teary-eyed a second time after Luck hit T.Y. Hilton for the go-ahead bomb, with four minutes remaining. “Dad, what does T.Y. stand for?” my 9-year-old son asked after Hilton scorched the Seahawks in their Week 5 win. “Thank You, T.Y. stand for Thank You!” I was thanking him for his play on Saturday.

The teams I root for (Colts and Manning’s current squad, the Broncos) had not won a playoff game since the Colts victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game in 2009. Since then I’ve had the heartbreak of a Super Bowl loss, a last second game-winning field goal Wild Card loss to the Jets, the misery of a 2-14 playoff-less, Manning-less season, the disappointing loss to the Baltimore Ravens and then the misery of last year’s Bronco overtime loss to the Ravens.

It was an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. I was excited after they tied it at 7-7, I was completely frustrated when they went down 31-10, and was about to walk out at 38-10. Then they scored, and scored again, and despite a turnover, scored again and again and then again. And then you find yourself yelling and dancing in your parent’s living room, spiking your son’s blue mini-Spalding football and surprised that your team has made an incredible comeback.

And now – thanks to the Chargers win over Cincinnati – I get the matchup I had hoped for – bring on the Patriots! Why not? You’ve defeated arguably the three best teams in the NFL this season in the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers, why not bring on the fourth with the New England Patriots.

And after Saturday night’s win there’s little doubt that the Colts can come into Foxborough and take out the Patriots. If the defense plays just a bit better, if Luck plays just a bit better (he had three interceptions Saturday, nine in the regular season), then why can’t they. And defeating the Evil Empire for a chance to play in the Super Bowl … Are you kidding me?! Unbelievable! Incredible! Amazing! Impossible! Miraculous!

So this was 2013 eh? They can keep it.

Two years ago I wrote that 2011 was the calm before the storm. Last year sure did its part in being a “storm” as I had perhaps the busiest year of my life. This year? This year was the year after the storm, where you’re picking up all the pieces that were left behind, but you’re also so exhausted from the mess it made. Does that make sense?

Twenty-13 was one of the more exhausting years that I can remember (I know 2008 was not fun, but that was more stress-induced than just exhaustion), and I’m talking physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

I’ve gone back and forth about doing my annual “Year in Review” entry, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to do it! It just makes me upset and really it’s time to move past this last year.

I’m not going to talk about how the year started with my dad calling me and telling me that we’re driving a few hours to help my buddy move into his new house. That, though confused as why he didn’t call me too (though he called my brother, Dad and our other close friend), I was glad that Lis and I helped him as he looked completely dejected. I’m also not going to tell you about how months later when I brought up my curiosity of why he didn’t ask me to help him move he simply said, “You’re lazy.”

I’m not going to tell you about how we ended the year with two cars battling car issues. Luckily my car was an easy fix, so the five of us have been sandwiched into my lil’ Tracker. Fun! Lis and I receive constant back massages courtesy of Levi and Lia’s feet, all while Lukas’s head is perched on our shoulders.

UPDATE: As I’m writing this there is a knock on the door. My dad has arrived like the courier in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation to wish us a belated “Merry Christmas” and tell us that the van is back in commission. As mentioned in prior blogs, it’s nice to have someone handy in your family. Dad is that dude. He may be looking at a belated Christmas bonus here soon. Thanks Dad!

I’m also not going to share my story about how I spent January explaining to AT&T that I really didn’t buy nine iPhone 4′s and that I really didn’t ship them to Syracuse and that I really didn’t accumulate a nearly $6,000 phone bill. Thanks to some help from “Get Jesse” AT&T finally believed my story and, though I was hit again with another three more cell phones, they finally cleared up the identity fraud issues and now the wannabe Kevin Johnson’s will need to know the five ladies on my laminated Celebrity Crush list. Want to see me on the news? Click here.

Dapper Dan and Kevin, reunited post-op!

I don’t think I want to share about how I had to have a hole punched through my nose because of Basil Cell Carcinoma, a popular skin cancer that was eating away my right nostril. I also won’t tell you (or show any pictures) about the large cotton swab that sat on my face for two weeks, and the lump that resembled a piece of ABC (Already Been Chewed, for you newbies) gum that followed the cotton swab. Thank you “Get Jesse” for making sure that was shown to thousands of King5 viewers. It was later sliced off, and my nose looks normal again!

I’m not going to complain about how hard it is to start an insurance agency from scratch and to support a family of five, and a mortgage, on a straight commission check. To all my friends that think just because I’m not on a ladder, not digging ditches, and sitting in a semi-warm office all the time, that I have the easiest job in the world – try it! You’re networking 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You’re working 24 hours a day, seven days a week (seriously, you should see some of my dreams). Every person you are in contact with is a prospect. Every time they walk away without a business card, you lost a possible sale. This job isn’t easy. But it’s been nearly two years and I’m still alive, though there were numerous days this past year that I wondered how long I’d be living. It was exhausting, it was stressful, it was worrisome, it was frustrating, it was a lot of work. I’m so excited for 2014. I’m going with an all-in mentality. I need to get back to the basics. “I make insurance fun!” and “I fight for my clients!” are my mantras for 2014. More on that in my soon-to-be Goal entry.

I also don’t want to tell you about the near fall of Johnsonville. What a cluster-macallit! For the third time in four years a nasty email welcomed me in my inbox. One of my goals last year was to not speak up too soon. So I kept quiet, except that when I kept quiet I ended up being labeled judgmental or a backstabber. Things got so out-of-whack that Lis and I came this close from disconnecting from the family. Except something that came into question (psst…my faith) kicked in and I decided to have a sitdown with my brothers so we could talk about what issues we may have. It turned out to be a total blessing, or what I like to call a “God Thang”. We told each other what bothered us and our spouses. There was a lot of understanding, a lot of misunderstandings and in the end we decided we were going to make this work because, after all, we’re brothers and we stick together, the best we can.

I’m also not going to rant on about how social media is driving us all insane and to death. I was on multiple ends of the whole “Removed me from Facebook?!” drama. My buddy didn’t want me putting pictures of him at a charity event that I organized, so I deleted him from the site. “But don’t do that because then I can’t see what you’re up to.” Okay, so you want to be able to snoop on me, but I can’t snoop on you? “Exactly!” Thankfully my brothers and I decided to agree on not being friends with each other on Facebook. It was causing too much unneeded drama. Bleh! If you want to know what’s going on with my family you’ll have to pick up the phone (or even text) and come visit us.

I don’t want to tell you about I struggled mightily with myself this year. It seems like I spent the entire year trying to improve myself, physically, spiritually, mentally. I had a few bouts of GERD this year, before I eventually decided, “This is dumb. I’m tearing apart my insides for nothing. I need to start eating better!” So I went on a 3-week salad eating binge (interrupted thanks to Thanksgiving, how ironic!), stayed as faraway as possible from pop, and began to walk to work when it wasn’t pouring down rain. It was good and in the end I think I’m a better person, and I look forward to continuing to work hard to make myself a better person.

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I won’t tell you about how, thanks to my faith (and the aforementioned work I put into it), Lis and I were willing to put all the drama aside and ask our family to join us on our waterslide / camping trip. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and the first time the entire family took a road trip together. (Pictured left: For at least one day in July, the light shined bright on Johnsonville.)

I won’t share about how this year’s American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life was a success. How we broke records for the amount of teams, participants, survivors, all numbers I’m very, very proud of. Nor will I share about how my co-chair and I entered with the 501st for Opening Ceremony (see below), accomplishing a lifelong dream! You can read about My Day as a Stormtrooper here.

Nor will I whine about my “passion bucket” running dry. About how, though the RFL was a complete success, I didn’t feel that I gave my 110-percent and that I needed a break from it. It wasn’t just RFL but I didn’t feel the passion I once had for Youth Group, holiday events, and even writing. I think worrying about supporting my family has sucked a lot of that out of me. This is on my list for 2014 … to find that passion and creativity I once had.

I won’t tell you how I was partly sad and partly relieved when our PopBlerd! founder told us that he was shutting down the site for a while. PopBlerd! was one of the highlights of my year. Writing nonsense for the site allowed me to sneak away from reality. It helped with that creativity that I was lacking. But I also felt the need to contribute regularly and with my job and other volunteer activities, I just couldn’t put in the work I wanted to. Here are some of the stories I contributed to PopBlerd! this year: Coming Home: Peyton Manning Makes His Indianapolis Return; a touching tribute to my princess Lia via the song “Cinderella”; my first book review comparing Matthew Berry’s “Fantasy Life” to my own fantasy sports life; The Dos and Don’ts of (Fantasy Football) Draft Season; a look back at Peyton and Eli’s best commercials; my life as a Backstreet Boy … fan! and how I don’t follow sports.

Good stuff? If I was going to do a Year in Review then I may tell you about how Lukas is playing basketball (and I’m coaching … c’mon Kevin, about that “too much on your plate stuff”), and really enjoys playing. 

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I may tell you about how I’ve received numerous compliments on his shot, which, for a 9-year-old, and in his first year playing the sport, makes his basketball-loving dad excited! I won’t tell you about how I’m thankful God wasn’t playing a dirty trick on me and that Lukas has become a lover of sports. That he can look at an offensive formation, and the amount of downs on the TV and explain what and why he thinks the next play will be a pass or run, or by quickly glancing at the score he can tell you that the Packers need to attempt that 2-point conversion, giving the Bears only a chance at a tie and not a win. And I may tell you about how well he does at school and blah blah. ;)

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I’m not going to share with you about my Punky Brewster-like daughter, who continues to combine that deadly mix of cuteness with a wonderful, witty and hilarious sense of humor, that is either going to draw boys in or make them completely afraid of her (I’m praying for the latter). That, though she was rejected for early entry into Kindergarten, she continues to amaze me with her intelligence and utter-stubbornness. Seriously, you put any nearly-5-year-old into a room the size of a closet, with an older bloak with a thick British accent and ask her to do puzzles she’s more than likely going to fail. I had trouble understanding some of the questions he asked her. Barmy, it’s no wonder she was feeling fagged during the chin wag they were having. She was snookered before she got there.

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I’m also not going to talk about our 2-year-old, who for the first two years was the most mellow kid I’ve met, but is also the first of our three to hit the Terrible Two’s right at two! Also unlike his siblings he’s destructive, which fits his “Bull in a China Store” physique. Yes, he looks and acts like a lineman. Like his sister, he has an amusing sense of humor, loves puzzles, loves to be read to, loves Ninja Turtles, Cars and is a complete mama’s boy. He gets up early and needs his food – seriously, the dude can chow down with anyone – but only his mom can pour the cereal. I think he does it to tick me off. Somebody tell him it’s working.

If I were to do a Year in Review I might explain how Lis and I spent our 10th anniversary. How we spent the night in Skykomish and then hiked miles up to a natural hot spring, and spent an hour in peace and quiet, soaking up both the view of the mountains and the hot water. I won’t talk about how my wife has become the only good decision I’ve ever made (we never decided to have kids … natural things happen). That though we have other issues (see above) she continues to stick by me, and with little to zero argument. We have similar beliefs in faith, family, and fantasy football (I’m allowed to play it). She’s been a blessing, and though I’ve taken her for granted numerous, upon numerous, times flying down to Brazil to court her 11 years ago was the best decision I’ve made.

My 2013 Photo of the Year!

My 2013 Photo of the Year!

I also might tell you about the Johnson 5′s first road trip, a jont to Spokane, and how despite getting lost in the middle of farm fields, the kids were awesome and Lukas only puked once! Actually, you can read about that trip here.

I’m sure there is so much more I could not tell you about, but I think that’s good enough for now. It’s a shame. I’ve always loved doing my Year in Reviews, as this blog has become a history book for my little family, but when you’ve had a rough year sometimes it’s best to overlook it.

Oh yah … and the best wide receiver in history commented on a Tweet I sent him. I felt special!

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