Last Update December 31, 2018

I thought it might be helpful to provide a little personal background to put my perspective in context. But then I struggled with how to succinctly do that since I'm still on a journey that began in the 1950s. That's a lot of ground to cover. So I decided it would be easier to take the seat beside you, start the movie, and provide a third person narrative to fill in the gaps. Comfy? OK, roll 'em.

On the steps of my childhood home, circa 1960

On the steps of my childhood home, circa 1960

Carl was born into a loving family. He was the third of three children born to very nurturing parents. His two older sisters decided that since they had finally gotten their little brother, "Brother" would be his name. And so it was. And so it is still, within his immediate family. Add the family dog, a gentle, golden brown french boxer, and you have the picture.

Carl had a classic baby boomer childhood. He was free to disappear for hours on end as long as his homework was finished and he made it to the kitchen table in time for dinner. Friday was an exception to the homework rule, which was unfortunate come Sunday night. He routinely paid for this with late night projects and a very groggy Monday morning, running for the school bus.

His world revolved around the suburban neighborhood where he grew up, and included hours of playing on its playground and in the farmer's field behind the houses across the street. Imagination ruled his world, and he was everything from a cowboy to an army general to a Green Bay Packer. He loved Bart Starr and loved being the quarterback, uniform and all. He rode dirt bikes, played tons of sports, mostly in his neighborhood, some organized, and got deep into music. The trumpet was his "thing" and he performed at every opportunity - concert, jazz, big band, stage band, rock, marching band, church ensembles, weddings. He ran with a pack of great friends who shared his interests. He also had his share of girlfriends, constantly testing his dad's patience by calling home five minutes before his curfew to beg for another half hour. It was tough breaking away, being a teenager and all. He was relentless but his parents were saints. His mom knew what he was up to as a teenager and made sure he knew it. She provided just enough oversight while making sure his dad wasn't "burdened" with all those details. It was better that way for everyone.

At 18, Carl left this world behind forever. He went to college and dove headlong into an intense curriculum of physics and math and the liberal arts. At the beginning of his sophomore year, before classes started, he took a seat with his friend, Scott, on the floor of the emptied out dining hall to watch a showing of "Night of the Living Dead." Ten minutes into the movie, a pair of giggling girls plopped down in front of them. Ten minutes later they jumped up. The cute blonde turned back and asked Carl if he would save their spot. "Sure! What's your name?" "Sarah," she replied. She never made it back that evening, but their paths mysteriously crossed numerous times over the next few weeks and he eventually married that cutie.

Carl's sophomore year was pivotal. He was deeply in love with both Sarah and physics, and he convinced himself that it would be a struggle to make a good living in physics, at least early on. So he decided to make a change. He finished that year and then transferred to complete his third major, civil engineering. The next two years were intense, ending with a diploma, a wedding, a honeymoon, an apartment and a job. Their savings spent, Carl started work with a local engineering firm as Sarah entered her senior year. She graduated a few months later with her economics degree and their real-world, adult life began in earnest.

Carl and Sarah have lived in two apartments, three condos, bought two homes, built another, had three children, and one grandchild. Their children are two girls and a boy, spaced almost identically and in the same birth order as Carl's childhood family. Funny how that happens. The kids are all grown now and on their life paths, playing their part to grow the family with a husband, a fiancee and a wife. Everyone stays in regular contact using technology, including weekly Google hangouts or Skype sessions and an ongoing family text thread expanded now to include all of our growing family members. 

Let's stop the reel here.

The details of my life are not as important as the lessons learned. They will come out over time as the blog progresses. In the meantime, I hope this provides enough background to put my perspective in context. My life journey has taken me to depths and heights, personally and professionally. I've been son, brother, friend, husband, father, student, inventor, builder, musician, engineer, software developer, employee, manager, executive, investor, partner, business owner and coach. I have also been clear, confused, confident, frustrated, scared, elated, happy, sad, exhausted, energized, angry, agitated and peaceful. The lists go on. But through it all, one theme stands out. I've always been happiest when I've been myself, engaged and immersed. It's hard to define, but you know when you're there. And you know when you're not.

On April 18, 2014, I had a profound experience that provided undeniable clarity about this current chapter of my life. Details about that experience can be found here. Suffice it to say that I have not so much given birth to "Be Yourself Blog," as the message to "Be Yourself" has given birth to me, to this chapter of my life. I hope you enjoy your visit and encourage you to return often, comment, and participate in the dialogue. If you'd like to dig a little deeper now and reflect on your purpose, my Know Yourself post may help you connect a few dots.