Love in its Purest Form

Since professional and top amateur athletes tend to get a reputation for selfishness and/or being uneducated, it excites me when I read about a superstar who exemplifies the qualities of a kind, smart and well-round individual.

Most athletes aren’t “dumb jocks” – many simply don’t apply themselves in the real world. They receive more praise/perks/money than the common man thus often choosing to solely concentrate on the actions in their particular sport.

Consequently, far too many go through life with a mind or heart that is seldom used to its potential. In addition, the snowballs of temptation are constant and these men are often not prepared to deal with that precarious avalanche.

I write from experience as I played Divisional 1 Basketball for four years, getting to know some teammates and opposing players quite well during my collegiate days. I met men who had the world as their oyster yet failed to fulfil their dreams due to overconfidence, lack of applying their skills outside of basketball and most importantly, not utilizing the college scholarship as a stepping stone to even higher success.

Since a tiny percentage (3 of 10,000) of high school players will be drafted by a professional NBA team and only 3.1% of these athletes will play college basketball at a NCAA member institution (, a majority of them need to use the advantages of a free university education to secure a future life in the business world. Sadly, many don’t even graduate from college.

Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is a person any mother would be proud to call their son. His basketball prowess aside, here is what the sportswriter Rick Reilly wrote in a recent column:

This is the kind of man Chris Paul is: He was president of his high school class all three years. When Lebron James’ girlfriend had a baby, James made sure Paul was there. He's so humble that if you didn't know who he was, you'd swear he was the pool man.


More from Reilly about Paul’s remarkable display of love:

This kid floors me. Not just with the way he can dominate an NBA playoff game at 6 feet tall in elevator sneakers. Not just for the way he can twist Kobe Bryant into a Crazy Straw. Not just for the way he'd rather pass through a doughnut hole than take the shot himself.

No, what floors me about Chris Paul is his humanity. If strangers had bound my weak-hearted grandfather, beat him for no reason and killed him for the cash in his wallet -- strangers who to this day have not shown a thimbleful of contrition -- I'd want them in prison 100 years after they were in the dirt.

Is there a love purer than what Paul has shown? In every article I have read on similar tragedies, there has never been a person who has displayed so much compassion and humanity for those who killed the person nearest and dearest to them.

Paul’s act should inspire everyone to be kinder, gentler and more loving to those close to us, those not so close to us, those we may not like and those random souls that pass in and out of our lives.

It has inspired me.

Stevie Wonder sang it beautifully in his timely 1977 song, “Love’s in need of Love Today” – I wrote an article about it in 2010. The link and a few lyrics are below:

Hate’s going round
Breaking many hearts
Stop it please
Before its gone too far

The force of evil plans
To make you its possession
And it will if we let it
Destroy ev-er-y-body

We all must take
Precautionary measures
If love and peace
You treasure
Then you’ll hear me when I say

Oh that
Love’s in need of love today


We may never reach the heights of love like a Nelson Mandela or a Chris Paul although I don’t think there are many of us who cannot improve upon the love in our hearts and minds, particularly when it comes to helping the less fortunate in our global world.

The next time you get angry or upset over some minor issue, think of Chris Paul and the love that he displayed after thugs killed his beloved grandfather.

What I have learned from Paul is that there are very few experiences in life that cannot be enhanced with love – even if only in small doses.

Dr. King said it best when talking about greatness, love and one’s soul:

Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.
--Martin Luther King

Happy Gswede Sunday!

An interesting 5 minutes of HAIL in southern Sweden - May 2011

Married Men Behaving Badly

After the lengthy scandal of Tiger Woods along with numerous before him, I thought we might get a break from the sad acts of high profile men. Nope. We got a simultaneous bonus in 2011 – a movie actor and a government official. With the Terminator's recent admission and the IMF Frenchman’s arrest, I felt a compulsion to revisit temptation and the seemingly endless decline of the “Family Man”.

The former Mr. Olympia and Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger recently admitted to fathering a child outside of his marriage over a decade ago. His act was not surprising with his reputation of behaving badly with women. While a man should be innocent until proven guilty, Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s (DSK) life and career have been damaged forever with the rape allegations against him in New York City. His reputation with women is equally as disheartening as The Terminator's. DSK’s lawyers have suggested that if something did occur, it was consensual.

And it’s not only the powerful and privileged few who fall victim to these types of temptations. It occurs far too often in the lives of the common man:

Here’s a brief story of two non-celebrities:

1) A man with children (Mr. X) was unhappy in his marriage and nearly at his boiling point. Instead of confronting his wife about his displeasure, he decided to take the easy route out by having an affair. The unbelievable part of this story is that he knew the husband of his mistress yet decided to still play with fire – occasionally meeting her in his own home!

To make a long story short, the mistress became pregnant yet never delivered the baby. Mr. X is still married to his wife and seems much happier today. He was extremely lucky to get out of that situation relatively unscathed. At least he was smart enough to have “voices of reason” (including me) so our advice may have helped.

2) An acquaintance without children (Mr. Y) was miserable in marriage for a variety of reasons. In addition, he was living in a place where support and/or advice for him were limited at best.

In his unbalanced state of mind, temptation was too strong to resist and he succumbed to the fruit of a younger woman. Unlike the man above, his mistress had the baby and his world was instantly turned upside down. It was only a matter of time before the marriage ended in a bitter fashion.

Some friends lost respect for this man. Before his bad behaviour, I would have never envisioned him in this predicament as he is one of the most likable, smart and interesting guys I have ever been around.

Why is it that some married men give into temptation so easily? I realize that many have made an unwise spousal choice or can't deal effectively with the compromises of marriage although that doesn’t excuse throwing “caution to the wind”.

I’ve not heard of or seen many who had the courage to confront their spouse with their unhappiness instead of cheating. The few close friends who did, had a much better experience than the two aforementioned men. The truth may hurt a spouse although in the end, it usually is respected despite what circumstances may occur after.

We expect this type of bad behaviour on the hit show, “Mad Men” as Don Draper and crew make for good TV. In the real world, emulating the actions of the “Mad Men” posse is a true recipe for disaster.

--Men, we can be better. We should be better.

--Confront your unhappiness with words to your spouse not adultery.

--Work hard on being a good man.

--Men, think of your wife and kids before acting stupidly. Think about the message you are sending to your daughter and/or son.

--Embrace “Integrity” in your life.

--Think before you act.

--Men, stay close to the values taught by your parents.

--For those men or women who desire biblical inspiration, below is one of my favorite quotes – profound advice that I read on a consistent basis.

Run from anything that gives you evil thoughts.....but stay close to anything that makes you want to do right.
- 2 Timothy 2:22 (Living Bible)

--Men, can you honestly call yourself a “Family Man”? Most in my inner circle can which I am grateful for. If you can, are you living up to your expectations? If you can’t, what are you doing about it?

--Are you a “voice of reason” or an enabler to those friends around you who display this bad behaviour?

Finally, you can find my poem on temptation at the link below. The person that inspired it continues to inspire me as he has become a man I am proud of.

Including the word "family" in the original version might have enhanced the poem. If I had, the ending would have flowed like this:

Falling for the flesh
A pattern so hard to fight
If it came back to bite you
Would you then see the light?

Not Flesh

Not Flesh

Not Flesh

Not flesh

Don’t fall for it.

--"Don't Fall for the Flesh"

Over the years, I have called myself a “Family Man” to a select group of friends in order to convey my top priority and promote the values associated with it. At first there was some laughter but it soon became clear that the term was something I was proud to associate myself with.

I don’t want to the see these important words (Family Man) become a running joke although sometimes it seems like they already are.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The "Sea of Temptation" is vast and often filled with serious consequences

My Lakers - Disappointed YET excited about 2012

Here's a moment that put a dagger in my heart. A dear woman friend (Swedish) in the USA who has never critiqued my Los Angeles Lakers wrote:

"They didn't even bother to show up.... Bunch of ??????? (except Fisher);

I purposely left out the derogatory word as it's painful to read. Her "spot on" comment hit me like a ton of bricks. As a die-hard Lakers fan, that was a big dose of reality about their pathetic play.

Another moment that aptly describes this series was early in the 3rd quarter of Game 4. Laker Ron Artest had an open layup that would have cut the lead to 17 points. The momentum was in LA's favor as Dallas came out lazy in the 2nd half after a glorious first half of basketball. Artest missed the terribly easy shot and in an instant, the game was back to a 25 point Dallas lead.

Game and series over.

There was still a glimmer of hope when Artest choked yet his failure exemplified the consistently poor play of the Lakers throughout this series.

Magic Johnson (NBA Hall of Famer) couldn't explain the complete collapse of his beloved team. I can't. I don't think anyone can. There must be some underlying issue as I have never seen any legendary franchise compete this poorly in a playoff series. Is someone in the Laker organization dying and we don't know about it? That might explain a collapse of this proportion.

Whatever the reason, let's not forget that this Dallas team played extraordinary basketball. When two players hit 15 of 16 three-point shots as Jason Terry and Peja Stojakovic did in game 4, it's nearly impossible for an opposing team to get a victory.

For my Lakers to get blown out in this pivotal game 4 is embarrassing. As a fan who has been bleeding Purple and Gold for 32 years, it was painful to witness. It's happened to us before (Memorial Day Massacre) when Boston crushed us in Game 1 of the 1985 NBA finals although it was only one bad game. The Lakers recovered after that terrible defeat and went on to capture the 1985 NBA championship.


Am I angry? A bit.

Am I disappointed? A lot.

Does it hurt? Sure does.

Am I excited for the 2011- 2012 season and beyond? Absolutely!

We have a proud and long history of success - namely 16 NBA titles and we will be back.

Mitch Kupcheck (Lakers GM) will have to make some tough choices in the coming months. In my opinion, every player except Kobe Bryant is expendable. I would love to see them make a serious effort for Dwight Howard of the Orland Magic and we have the players that others teams desire ( Gasol, Odom or Bynum) to make a deal like that happen.

After this disaster, we need new blood and that includes the coach.

Brian Shaw has been a faithful assistant to Phil Jackson for 6 years. In addition, he played on some great Laker teams and was a strong player and leader on and off the court. I hope they are smart enough to give the reins to him.

As for Dallas, the way they are playing gives them a great opportunity to win an NBA title. If they don't get their first championship, the heavy sweep of the Lakers won't mean much. It will just be another playoff failure for this solid organization. I wish them well as I am a fan of their owner, Mark Cuban.

For all the Laker Haters (and there are many), enjoy your time in the sun as it won't be long. The Lakers will rise again and compete for the 2012 NBA championship.

A personal thanks to the greatest coach of all-time, Phil Jackson. He guided this Lakers franchise to 5 thrilling championships in the last decade including last year's stunning victory over Boston - my personal favorite.

Kobe, get re-focused. NBA teams, watch out.

Laker Doubters, I look forward to smiling down on you with the NBA's O'Brien trophy glistening in the air as we hold it up for our 17th NBA title.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant - Great memories and 5 NBA Championships.

A Poem for my Mother

I’ve written several poem and/or letters for my mother over the years. She reminded me recently about one I wrote in high school – words I had forgotten about yet they still touch her heart decades later.

Earlier this week, she received a poem I produced for Mother’s day. Poetry doesn’t come easy for me although I enjoy the challenge and creativity of the process.

These 2011 words give a snapshot of my dear mother and how she raised me. 3 key elements of her parenting style were love, boundaries and discipline. In my opinion, one can’t go wrong with consistency in those areas.

From the moment I became a parent 4 years ago, it was obvious how important her teachings were……..and still are.

Poignant words from a favorite song should remind everyone how crucial it is to speak fondly to or write sincerely about those you care for:

So here's a few words from your kid brother
If you admire somebody you should go ahead and tell um
People never get the flowers while they could smell um
-- Kanye West’s “Big Brother”

Don’t be afraid to tell someone how much you care. Today, not tomorrow.

My poem titled, “The Love of my Mother” is below.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The Love of my Mother

Reflecting on childhood
Do you know what my fondest memory would be?
....Not gifts at Christmas
....Not nice clothes I wore
....Not early sports success
Two words – Love & Security

Is there anything warmer or more endearing
Than a child knowing their world is safe and secure?

With love and protection, I thought my life was the norm
Yet, seeing promising souls begin to disinigrate
Made me wonder, contemplate – now I was torn

What did I have that they lacked?
So I stayed on a focused path
It soon became obvious
As it wasn’t hard to do the math

Two capable parents
Taking their roles seriously
Loving me fiercely
Despite their marriage woes
The focus remained on me

My mother was the catalyst
Promoting education so I wouldn’t lose
On nights I didn’t have homework
She gave me her own; daring me to refuse

Basketball entered my world at 9
I was an instant success!
My mother’s mission didn’t change
Be kind, ambitious, work hard and do your best

A momentary lapse of boredom at 11
Made me the class clown
When mom was called to school one day
All I remember is the frown

Soon thereafter, I got simple advice
Direct words that were crystal clear
“If I ever come back to this school George,
Basketball is over my dear”!

One of many lessons taught early on
By a mother unwilling to waste my or her time
My antics quickly changed
Never again caught in a school bind

A popular high school athlete
Put on a pedestal for my basketball game
Praise and adoration were constant
Life would never be the same

Did my mom gloat, brag or make my ego swell higher?
Au Contraire
She kept educating and teaching
And chasing that goal, she never got tired

Because of her values, discipline and boundaries
Along with her loving care
Never doubted for a minute
That I would have a strong parental flare

Giving me the tools I needed
To be a good man, good husband and wise father of two
Now the ball’s in my court
To follow those lessons through

Even missing her only child in Sweden
Rarely getting to see his face
She keeps her head held high
Handling it magnificently…..with an eloquent grace

Marvelling at how well she taught me
With plenty of obstacles to bear
Never wavering, losing passion or complaining
Only persevering with a steady care

I’ve had an interesting, fun and dynamic life
Expecting no regrets until I die
Maybe her most important lesson lies in the confidence to embrace the bold words…..
I Believe I can Fly.

May 2011 in New England, USA - (Picture by Mia)

2 men who CHOSE UNWISELY in Marriage (Update)

I’ve consistently told people that who you marry is the most important decision you will make in your lifetime.

A key element of the marriage process is choosing a spouse. In my opinion, it’s a choice that if made without careful evaluation of your needs and how that person fits those needs, usually results in an OK life at best or a life of complete misery in the worst case.

In a 2008 article titled “Losing your Life; All at Once or One Day at a Time”, here’s what I wrote about two friends who didn’t choose wisely in marriage:

Two of the most dynamic and appealing men I know are as they say, "caught between a rock and a hard place". Lately, they have been on my mind as they have common ground in life similarities and level of marital suffering.

I have spent quality time (infrequently) with both men and we share a friend dear to all of us. At a point in the near future, I hope they gain the courage and inspiration to change their lives and move forward in a positive and productive manner. My gut feeling is that they are getting little or no advice in order to improve their situation; something many people need, particularly in an unhealthy marriage.

Th update:

Surprising no one and to my expectation, the first man and his wife are no longer together. Even though they have a child, there seems to be an amicable relationship with regards to raising the child in the most positive way. Because of the inauspicious beginning of their relationship, a life together would not have been pleasant; in some ways they were doomed from the start.

I haven’t talked with the second man in quite some time although we exchange emails occasionally. He is making the best of his situation.

During our last email conversation, I could almost feel the pain and frustration through his words. He knows he made an unwise marriage choice yet he is staying positive and doing what is necessary to make it work.

It’s admirable for him to stay with his family and young children as some men would have left the situation years ago. In my opinion, couples with young children should do everything possible to keep the family together as long as doing so is a positive for the children. Sometimes, splitting up is the best thing (like the aforementioned friend) although more often than not, couples need to try harder before ending a relationship.

Another passage from the 2008 article is below:

If asked, my message to them would be:

Although you made the mistake of choosing the wrong life partner, it is never too late to turn that negative into a positive. You are two of the most interesting men I know but you have built yourself a "house of cards", that while still standing, is not far from collapse. You must DO SOMETHING about it with regard to moving your life and the life of your family forward. There are only two paths to take; Attempting to gain your happiness back in marriage OR a journey in the other less favorable direction (divorce) which could actually be the best thing for everyone in the long run. Each day you "dangle in the wind" is another day of lost hope while the abyss gets deeper and deeper.

Are you unhappy in your marriage? If so, what are you doing about it?

If you’re about to be married, have you thought carefully about your choice?

If you want to be married some day, do you know what you are looking for?

Whatever the situation may be, ACT NOW so you’re not stuck in a life of pain or a future marriage that you don’t desire.

My two friends made unwise marriage choices and have paid and will continue to pay the price for it. You don't have to make the same mistake.

Be Wiser.

Be Bold.

Know what you are looking for.


Choose Wisely.

Think about what you really want before it’s too late.

Happy Gswede Sunday!

The Beauty of Spring in Sweden!