"No Phone Zone" while Driving. Will You take the Pledge?

As I was eating lunch one day at home, I caught ten minutes of the Oprah Winfrey Show - a show originally shown this past spring. It couldn't have been a more timely or important portion of the show.

Jerry Seinfeld told the audience that he lost a good friend who was using his phone while driving. That really hit me in the gut as I (and many of you I suspect) am guilty of sending sms's/texts or talking on the phone ín my car. I don't do it when my children are in my vehicle although I do make infrequent use of technology when I am alone.

After Jerry's friend died, he immediately stopped using the phone in the car.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, inspiration comes in many forms and this moment inspired me. I pledge to NOT use any handheld phone while driving (NO text /sms or talking) unless it is a blue tooth device where my hands are free.

Frankly, I feel a bit foolish for doing it in the past as my wife always warned me of the dangers. This was my wake-up call.

Will you join me? I implore you to give it a try or pledge with me OR the next time you get in the car could be your last time.

Below is Oprah's "No Phone Zone Day" mission (link is below).

Happy Gswede Sunday!
CHICAGO, IL— In a major new push to slow the growing epidemic of distracted driving, Oprah Winfrey and a national and grassroots coalition including traffic safety organizations, law enforcement agencies, federal and state transportation and highway safety offices, advocacy groups and concerned citizens will join forces Friday, April 30, to mark the first ever National No Phone Zone Day and drive home a simple message: Put down the phone when you're behind the wheel.

No Phone Zone Day will be marked with a special live episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, viewing rallies in five major cities, a sponsored public service announcement campaign to run on television, in print and online, messages on outdoor billboards in markets across the country, social media activity and more calling on drivers to make their cars No Phone Zones.
Putting an end to distracted driving will make America's roads safer for everyone," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "That's why I want drivers across the country to pledge that their vehicle will be a No Phone Zone. Each day we honor that pledge is a safer day on our roadways. Everyone needs play their part to end this deadly epidemic."

A precious friend moment on the beach in Sweden. (picture by Mia)

2010 Video - My Youth Basketball Program

Helping others has been and always will be important to me. It's great to have success in life although the thrill is lessened significantly in my opinion if one doesn't give back to their community, voluteer in some fashion or simply help someone in need.

Being a helping force for mankind doesn't have to be done in grand style - the key is to be consistent with whatever the mission in your heart is. For those who may want to start volunteering or might be looking for ways to make a better impact, I wrote an article (link below) in 2008 called "Giving is More Important than Ever".


One of the ways I give back is through my youth basketball program called "The American Basketball Coach in Sweden".  I founded the program in 2005 and we are looking forward to our 7th year in 2011!

This past May we impacted youth (girls and boys) outside of Stockholm in team strategy and individual instruction. It was a great joy to witness how excited these youth were to learn about basketball from a coach (Steve Freeland from Harrisburg, PA) who has a unique way of teaching.

Please take a moment to view our short video which will give you some insight about the program. For donations, you can email George at Gswede@gmail.com.

Let's all strive to continue the good work we do or if you haven't been enlightened on the subject of giving, 2010 could be the year to start. Whatever you do, remember to be consistent as the benefits for everyone involved are much stronger when there is a consistent pattern.

Happy Gswede Sunday!
2010 "American Basketball Coach in Sweden" - Year 6 Video

Golf this Summer - "3rd Time is the Charm"

It’s rare when my golf game goes exceedingly well although this summer has surpassed my expectations and impressed a few friends.

My first shot off the tee came in early June at an annual golf tournament by a non-profit organization. There were a few good golfers present but many were people who only play in the summer like me. I played solidly all day and held my composure despite a few poorly played holes. I came in 3rd and kept my score near my handicap the entire day.

The second time around was in a club tournament in southern Sweden with a Swedish friend. The competition was “alternate shot”, meaning that my partner and I alternated shots throughout the day.

We didn’t start strongly but found our mojo around the 4th hole. Lady luck was on our side as my partner hit off the tee most of the time which was fortunate as he's better in that role. We came in 3rd place out of 91 pairs!

The third time found me playing with a Norwegian friend who is typically 10-12 strokes better than me. On this day, I beat him (by 5 strokes) marking the first time that has ever happened.

The conditions were VERY TOUGH with strong and diverse wind gusts all day. While walking the course, it was hard to talk due to the wind and my walking cart blew away on more than one occasion! We both thought the day would be super challenging.

Despite the conditions, my third time out was one of my best scores in years. It included a back nine of 3 consecutive pars on holes 10,11, and 12 and a score of 45 - a great nine hole score for me. And to do it in the aforementioned conditions made me feel good.

To give you an idea of how tough it was, consider these two points:

-- On many holes, when the shot called for an 8 or 9 nine iron approach, it was difficult to reach the green with a 5 or 6 iron!

-- My friend mentioned that these conditions would normally take 10 strokes off of one’s handicap. Indeed. His round was 20 strokes above his handicap.

I wondered why I was able to perform so well the third time when the conditions for my first two rounds were more ideal - sunny, no wind and perfect temperatures. In addition, I warmed up for twenty minutes the first two times and had no warm-up the third time.

Golf is funny that way as some days simply shine for no apparent reason. Maybe my concentration and focus were at a high level due to the wind gusts or I need a challenge to bring out the best in my golf game.

Who knows? What I do know is that is was a great day as any day is for me when it includes 18 holes of golf!

Keep in mind that I would not call myself a good golfer although I am a competent golfer which means that I am confident and competent when I compete with players on my level or higher.

My golf weakness is that I often don’t score well due to some bad habits and lack of practice - something many people can relate to. I hope to improve those habits in the future.

The "3rd time was the charm” - a charm I hope will revisit me sooner rather than later.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Horses and the beach in southern Sweden - photo by our friend Mia

An Act of Kindness by a Swede

In my experience, it’s rare when an “Act of Kindness” in the form of helping a stranger occurs in Sweden. In my six years here, nothing like the following has ever happened.

Planning to purchase a TV while on vacation, I did all the proper planning - obtained the address and phone number of the store and had my GPS in my car. What I didn’t know was that the store (and area) was brand new so my GPS couldn’t find the street or any other street nearby.

In addition, I was carrying my old phone which didn’t have Internet access so I couldn’t get directions. I wasted at least 30 minutes trying to find the store on my own.

Being a bit frustrated, I stopped at a gas station and focused on spotting a helpful face. I saw a man going to his car and asked him if he knew where the store was. Luckily, he did and I expected him to tell me so I could write down the directions.

Without blinking an eye, he said, “follow me, I will take you there”. I was shocked as no person in Sweden has ever been so pleasant when I needed help and I've asked many questions to strangers, especially in my early years.

He also mentioned that it would take “ten minutes to get there” which would have been difficult for him to explain and for me to absorb.

Never one to question or not take sincere help when offered, I thanked the man and jumped into my car for the short trip. Once at the store, it was clear the man wasn’t headed in that direction as there were only a handful of large and newly built stores. He turned his car around and I gave him a big wave of thanks. He beeped his horn and his kind act was complete. I was grateful for his guidance as I drove quite a distance to visit this store.

Two lessons from the day stuck with me and may help you as well:

-- Always print or write down directions - I usually print directions even though I have GPS just in case the GPS malfunctions. I have never needed the printed directions previously but there is a first time for everything. This was the time I needed them.

-- Help a stranger when you can - How many times have we been asked directions and simply pointed pointed people in the proper or improper direction? I have. Would it really mess up our day if we took an extra 10 minutes to help someone in need?

I’ve walked strangers to their destination on a few occasions although I can remember other times when I didn’t and could have as I had plenty of time to do so. When I have time, I plan to always help from this day forward.

An “Act of Kindness” is a beautiful thing as it is an invaluable tool in bringing mankind closer together, inspiring one another and connecting in a positive manner. Our complex and diverse world needs all the kindness we can provide.

This man’s eager help was a profound moment for me - one that touched me immensely and I will never forget.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, one of the most precious times in our lives are the small moments we experience.  Make sure to enjoy and learn from them when they occur.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Photo taken by our friend Mia who is a wonderful photogratpher