What Needs to be Done – by Amy McCurry


 

From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 28, 2016

Upon entering the season of retirement, her life and time naturally aimed their focus on new projects such as volunteering at “The Triangle” in Riverside or caring for small children at MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). Painting old walls, staining a deck and hauling loads of her own dug-up flowers to help plant a fresh garden in a couple’s new home became part of her new rhythm — all the while, maintaining her own home projects. World travel lead to collecting discarded books from local libraries so that on her next trip to Africa, children would benefit. Why? Cindy’s eyes see a world through a lens that constantly asks, “What needs to be done?”

 

I was recently enlightened by a book titled “Spiritual Parenting,” written by Michelle Anthony. Among the 12 applicable and life-shaping principals, I took pause after reading one particular response to life’s situations. As a parent, I realized that topping the list of the most important concepts I could impart upon my children was this question: “What needs to be done?” As Anthony states, “To have them walk into any room, situation or relationship and ask this will change the way they see their world.”

 

I think we all want to teach our children to help out in the home and community while demonstrating polite manners. I personally struggle daily with cultivating this posture of automatically recognizing what needs to be done, but I am determined to set our children onto an intentional path that might guide their lives. Although difficult, once adopted, it’s hard to ignore.

 

I desire my children who live in our blessed community full of opportunity to enter their future experiences — whether they be a Village Hall meeting, a classroom, the local park, or a home — and see immediately what needs to be done. To look at a problem or situation and set the chairs out, refill the coffee, take on that project, make a certain family a meal, donate what is not needed. I so desire for them to take a part in the solution by simply asking this presented question.

 

As with any habit, exercising this concept has the power to transform the attitude of the heart. The benefits of a serving experience lead to an inner peace and a desire to do it again. When taught early, this principle can play out in circumstances for a lifetime. However, it is never too late to see through a new perspective. So, next time you wonder how our community can become be a better place, consider how you can serve in ways you might not have thought of naturally. Try to recognize the minuscule areas of need and ask yourself, “What needs to be done?” And if you feel you are able, do it! Your simple act of service will go farther than you’ll ever know. The collective result is for the greater good.

 

Picture another woman with her children at the checkout of a grocery store. Recognizing there is nobody currently able to attend to this particular aisle, she naturally begins to bag her own groceries and further engages in a genuine discussion with the clerk about the approaching holiday. Later her children randomly ask, “Mom, do you think that lady at the store went to Florida to see her family for Easter?” Something not only got done, but an authentic interest for a stranger developed.

 

That was the gift I learned from my own mom, Laura. After a lifetime of watching her interact in situations with genuine respect and kindness, I find it natural to do the same. And ever since my mother-in-law taught me how to plant my first garden, I have tried to be an active participant in what needs to be done. My hope and prayer is that my children will grow up and integrate these concepts, whether that takes the form of painting a fence, running for a cause or letting a complete stranger know they care. I am ever so grateful to have learned from my “mothers” what it means to engage with our world through this lens.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

What Needs to be Done

The Paparazzi Grandparents


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, April 14, 2016.

 

The musical started 45 minutes earlier and I was going to be lucky to catch the last two songs. My last appointment ran over but I managed to slip in the side door of Walker Elementary gym, just in time to try to catch my daughters eye. I saw the big grin on her face as I stood in the back of the room. She needed to see me there and I didn’t want to let her down. With just two songs remaining, the class sang “You are my Sunshine”. They sang all the songs so well that it’s obvious that the music teacher, Mrs Sciaccotta had worked with her students for weeks. It is an catchy song and even the grandparents were lip syncing the words. And when the final song was performed, it was announced that the paparazzi could step forward and take pictures. The sea of parents and grandparents then rushed to get the best spot to capture those Kodak moments.

 

This scene had reminded me of a popular and hilarious commercial about not being afraid to fight dirty to get the best picture of the kids on stage where finally the auditorium turns into a brawl except for two parents, who with their Nokia Lumina cameraphone, “have the best seats in the house”.

 

In this story, the people with the best seats in the house and the ones fighting for the best pictures are oftentimes the grandparents. They are passionate about their grandchildren and love to be involved. Have you ever noticed how many come to the children’s events? This column is a written as a “shout out” to all the wonderful grandparents!

 

It’s a healthy community when you see young and old living and supporting each other. If you think about it, we’re truly living in great times and are lucky to be a part of a multigenerational community. I think of Mary Brown as an example of a grandparent, who can be seen on any given day pulling a waggon around town with a couple of grandkids in tow or cleaning up Sloan’s Triangle in her spare time, just because it needs to be done. And then there is Uly Backas, an older distinguished man who has been a reader in our schools for so long that he has touched a few generations of children. He’s kind of a celebrity around town too. Whenever I see him walking around, children (young and old) shout out his name, high five him and give him hugs. He is living “the dream” and so are we, and so are our children.

 

It’s not a one way street either. The choir that Mrs. Sciaccotta teaches, routinely performs to the 95 residents at The Birches Assisted Living. The students bring a lot of energy along with their youthful voices that give a breath of fresh air to our neighbors on 55th Street and South Prospect Ave.

 

The tension and pressures of rising property taxes and housing cost sadly force a lot of our older adults to move out of town. But not everyone is leaving and not everyone downsizes. That is the wonderful part about living in Clarendon Hills and that so many older adults want to stay in or close to town so they can be near to family – where they have raised their their own children. We are grateful for that.

 

At the end of a piano recital we recently attended, my mom (Ra-Ra known by the children) found her way to the front of the pack and got just the shot of all shots. All 4 children were sitting on the piano bench grinning from ear to ear and posing for a very proud grandma. And their other grandmother (Nonnie), who hardly ever misses an event, gave them all hugs of approval.

 

Looking back at the musical where I squeaked in at the last moment, that grin I saw might just have been reserved for her grandparent seated in the second row.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Elizabeth and Mrs. Sciaccotta

                                           Elizabeth and Mrs. Sciaccotta

That perfect shot by RaRa

                                        That perfect shot by Ra-Ra

Digging in the Dirt


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 31st, 2016.

It was one of those perfect late-spring days in Clarendon Hills, when the air was cool and the sun was hot. My wife and oldest son were in the backyard gardening. She laid out a colorful Mexican blanket for our baby daughter to rest under the sugar maple, creating an idyllic Norman Rockwell family picture. It was an old tree — its branches were several feet thick and many spanned across the yard, the deck and in between our house and our neighbors’ home.

 

It wasn’t unusual to hear the maple crying out, especially with the harder spring winds. Today, Amy felt a parental tug in her gut to move the children to another lounging area, safe from the 150-year-old tree. She could sense the tree was laboring as the wind blew harder. After settling into the comfortable new spot, there was a loud crack. Two of the heaviest limbs crashed to the ground — right where the children had been just moments before.

 

When I got the call, I could tell from her voice that she was scared, so I rushed home without hesitation. Surveying the tree, the yard and the damage done to our landscaping, I was hugely grateful for the safety of my family. I walked around the damage and up to the deck and into our home. It wasn’t a second later that the rest of tree split, fell and destroyed the deck I had just walked across! Talk about an intense day!

 

Just the night before all of this drama happened, on that very deck, we had popped the cork on a bottle of champagne to mark the completion of landscape plans we had started several years earlier. It was a long journey of hard work that we were thrilled to have completed. But Mother Nature has a voice at the table … and as always, she has the final word.

 

—–

 

I recently spoke with two of our neighbors who know a lot about getting their hands dirty in the yard: Lorna and Robert Galandak. Many will know Lorna as the long-term Admin for CHMS (she recently moved over to HMS). This is a couple who always look happy cutting their grass twice a week and collecting leaves as they fall from the tree. To be honest, they keep their yard so tidy that we neighbors are a little intimidated; it always looks perfect.

 

I asked Lorna and Robert for the secrets for keeping a nice-looking yard. They told me to keep it simple. Grow plants that are easy to keep and need little water. Get out early and get the yard cleaned up, take out plants that died over the winter and use safe products that keep weed seeds from taking root. Robert actually has a secret potion for keeping bugs from eating his plants: dish soap and water. I have a similar home remedy for my vegetable garden: dish soap, boiled chewing tobacco and Listerine. You can almost see the bugs running away!

 

If your family likes digging in the dirt, have you heard about the Richmond Education Gardens and Apiary project? Just West of the police station and public works facility is a space owned by the villages of Westmont and Clarendon Hills (near Richmond Avenue). The gardens are designed to eOKducate our community about our environment and natural and organic gardening. There will be rain gardens, native vegetables, wildflowers, a butterfly garden — even a collection of beehives. This is an exciting project that will benefit our schools and our community.

 

You can support this community effort by inviting friends to attend the fundraiser at Aguamiel Restaurante on Earth Day, April 22. You can buy tickets at Aguamiel (30 S. Prospect Ave.), or call 630-537-1966. The tickets are $40.00 for adults, $8.00 for children. Tickets include a four-course dinner and one beverage of your choice.

 


After that Sugar Maple fell, we fixed the wood deck and put the paver bricks back where they belonged. We planted again, and we sowed more. It was a lot of hard work, but it was worth it. After all, we enjoy our yard mostly because of the effort that we put into it.

 

Ricmond

It’s Never Too Late to Begin Running with a Cause


 

From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 17, 2016.

 

In 2013, Joy had decided that her 25th New York City Marathon would be her last. At 86 years old, she was the oldest competitor in the race. Her body was not what it used to be, her finish times had gone up over the years and her family was urging her to slow down and hang up the shoes. Deep down inside there was a drive to push on and run until she couldn’t run any more. A passionate woman, she always ran for what she believed in and always loved to talk — to meet people. Joy would often tell them that she would run until she dropped, and that she wanted to die one day in her tennis shoes.

 

Where do runners get their motivation? Around our town, a lot of people sure are motivated to run! As soon as the warmer weather turned it seemed as though our whole town was training for something. We see them running by our homes early in the morning and I often see them running by my office in downtown Clarendon Hills in the afternoon. There must be several nearby running clubs because I’ve noticed there are many packs of people running together. Why are all of these people running, and why would you ever want to run a 26.2-mile marathon?!

 

For me, I cycle because I love the friendship of my fellow cyclist buddies … but my deep-down motivation is that I can enjoy more food! Sure, I like to be healthy, but without the exercise I would be back at my football-playing weight in no time!

 

My wife, Amy, was recently motivated to sign up for the Chicago Marathon after learning about a charity you can help by running. She’s really not a long-distance runner, but when she heard of the impact that her running (and raising support) would make on others, she decided she could do it.

 

Running alongside Amy will be over 1,500 other marathon contestants, all serving a charitable organization called World Vision. Team World Vision has the largest number of people running in the Chicago marathon for charitable purposes. They provide clean water to communities in Kenya, Africa, where children need to walk an average of six miles to get water for their families. When wells and pipes are brought in, it helps to keep these children safe and close to home — and also keeps them in school.

 

You will most likely see Amy running by your home and around town, training to raise money to bring water to a child. So cheer her on! Maybe some of those packs of runners are running for a cause, too. If you would like to support Amy, go to her website @ Teamworldvision.com

 

Joy Johnson did finish her 25th New York City Marathon. On mile 20, however, she slipped and tumbled, and the rough pavement did some damage to her face. She got up, received some treatment from the medics and continued on to finish the race. The next day, after talking to Today Show host Al Roker, she went back to her hotel and laid down and never woke again. It’s been said that she still had her running shoes on. Her story is fascinating; after all, she only picked up running after she turned 59 years old, and she ran until the day she died.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 26 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

Running with a cause

Getting Inside of the Mask


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, March 3, 2016.

 

A handful of young men around high-school age sat around the circle while their teacher moderated a difficult issue: being true to themselves. In this exercise, they were each given a mask and asked to write words about how the world sees them on the outside of it. Then they were asked to write on the inside some things they were hiding from the world. The teacher pointed out that many had pain and anger written inside, while on the outside, they had written positive words like “funny” and “smart.”

 

This scene was being played out in a documentary movie called “The Mask You Live In” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Its viewing at Hinsdale Central was part of the Community Speaker Series presented by District 181 Foundation, The Community House and Hinsdale Township High School District 86. Sitting in the front row (and having two boys), I found myself intrigued to hear more about this mask and why our boys learn to keep their feelings inside it.

 

The film points out that boys often hear their role models and coaches using words and phrases that are initially confusing to them but quickly seem culturally commonplace. You’ve heard these phrases before: “Stop acting like a girl,” “mama’s boy,” “man up,” “boys don’t cry,” and of course, “be a man!” They feel the pressure to mask these feelings for fear of being rejected by their peer group, by their teammates and by other students. Boys sometimes turn to violence to prove themselves and become numb to their true selves. The movie depicted this, showing how the process of socialization sometimes goes off the rails.

 

I have often said that my third-grade son’s class has a boy code similar to the movie “Fight Club.” Torturing them wouldn’t reveal any secrets. They are jousting and pounding their way, figuring out the dynamics, the hierarchy, the alpha dogs and how they fit into it all. They run around town like a band of outlaws, playing sports, going to each other’s birthday parties — they are fairly raw and honest with each other at least for now, they haven’t put on the mask.

 

The movie explains, however, that some boys within the group dynamics fall into a false self role to survive — or they can be made to feel outcast for being different. As they get older, they tend to mask, medicate, stop communicating and disconnect from their emotions … and violence becomes the method for conflict resolution.

 

This film helped me reflect on on my upbringing, my values and my role as a dad and husband. Our involvement, especially in the early developing years of our children, makes a tremendous impact on them. We need to model and help them learn a healthy view of equality and differences between men and women. Our language should reflect a culture that values feelings and respect and care for each other. And we need to get underneath the mask and allow our children to be themselves and to thrive.

 

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 25 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

The Mask You Live In

A Lenten Devotional revisited


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 18, 2016.

 

A Lenten Devotional

The Christian church’s Lenten season starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter. I wanted to take the time during Lent to offer a devotional to mark the journey.

I often pray over my children at night, and one of the prayers is that they will become the boy or girl that God has intended them to be — that they live the lives he has in mind for them. This blanket prayer makes me feel safe that God is in control and that he ultimately knows their God-given potential. Whatever hopes and dreams I have for them might be limited to my own mind, but God’s mind has no limits.

God certainly has high hopes for us, right? He knows how we are made, how we are wired and what great potential we have inside of us; especially since he created us in his own image. My thoughts quickly go to the hope that I am around to see these achievements in my children. I think of the old man, Simeon, to whom the Holy Spirit revealed that he would not die before he had seen the Messiah of God. My hope is that like Simeon, I can see the potential reached in my loved ones before I’m gone.

One core principle that my wife, Amy, and I agreed about when we got married was that we would raise our children to know God. Our most cherished verse that we shared together at our wedding over 15 years ago was from Deuteronomy 18, which says:

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.

We’ve learned over the years that the “teaching” doesn’t necessarily mean that we make our children memorize the Old Testament. The ways of the Lord are better learned by example. Life moves very quickly, especially when you are in the thick of raising your children. It seems like yesterday when my children grew out of the diapers stage and into the “homework every night” stage of life. With four children, from first grade to sixth grade, these are the years that I would like to bottle up and store as memories for a rainy day. We try so hard to teach our children in the morning and at bedtime and in between. But sometimes life gets a little too busy, and you just need to teach by example.

Our children watch how we interact with people and if and how we love others. My hope is that the example we lead is a good one to follow and by teaching, they become who they are supposed to be. My prayer is that as they watch and grow, they write the word of God on their hearts and minds.

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 25 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

 

A Lenten Devotional

Three Plays, Three Flags


From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier, February 4, 2016.

 

What happened at Tampa Stadium that afternoon might have been an NFL record. Thankfully, at the time no one thought to research it. They certainly would not want it to happen again.

It was a hot afternoon and the Minnesota Vikings were suffering in the Florida heat at the Buccaneers’ home stadium. The game was beginning to wind down as Minnesota’s offense took the field once again, hoping for a successful drive to save the game. The quarterback gave a hard snap count to try to gain some free yardage by drawing the defense offside. His irregular voice inflection, unfortunately, had a different effect: it pulled his own lineman offside.

As this was a nationally televised game, the offside offender’s name and number appeared on thousands of TV screens across America. #74 knew it and wanted to hide.

Back in the huddle, the quarterback called out a familiar play to his team: a screen pass. The execution of the play took longer than usual to unfold, however … and by the time the pass was thrown, a lineman was looking to get his second block (illegally) down the field. The ref blew the whistle and the same offensive guard who had jumped offside on the previous play got his second infraction. #74 flashed across the TVs again.

The team huddled up once more while the quarterback dictated another play: a roll-out pass. This play is usually successful if the offensive guard pulls out around the end of the line in time to block the uncovered linebacker. If not, the quarterback is a sitting duck for the linebacker to have his way with.

Unfortunately, on this particular play, the blitzing linebacker got there first. The only thing the guard could do to protect his quarterback was grab the shirt of the mammoth linebacker and pull him to the ground. A third yellow flag was thrown — apparently with such great disdain that it sailed straight toward the offender — #74 — and lodged itself in his face mask.

The home team’s crowd loved it … and then they began to cheer even louder. The ashamed #74 thought they were cheering because of the holding call his play had earned. But as he got to his feet, flag still stuck in his helmet, he turned and realized that Mr. Mammoth had gone right over the top of him and sacked the quarterback!

In the life of an offensive lineman, there’s not much worse than three penalties and a sack. But to have them all occur in a row — and broadcasted on national TV — is absolutely unheard of.

114 million viewers watched the Super Bowl last year, and according to U.S. News and World Report, the NFL will mesmerize 184 million this Sunday. 43 million people plan to host a party. Wow! How may ranch dips will we consume? I have no idea, but knowing this community, there will definitely be a high per-capita number of parties and social outlet opportunities. We just love an excuse to get together.

Most of you will go to socialize, but some will actually watch the game. I think almost all of us tune in and are entertained by the commercials. My co-sponsor of last year’s Dancin’ in the Street concerts, Weathertech, will once again have a 30-second ad. The price tag: a mere $4.5 million. Apparently the ads are working; everyone I know loves this local company and swears by their product.

As for me, I secretly swear by the appetizer fest. My family usually attends a gathering where everyone brings a favorite homemade dish. My wife, Amy, makes this cheesy buffalo chicken dip that is to die for! Stuffed jalapenos, figs wrapped in bacon (everything’s better with bacon!) and a plethora of chips, dips and cheeses usually make it to the table. But it’s the slow-cooked/marinated Italian sausage that one of our hosts makes that scores the highest points.

The game certainly has changed over the years. The players are bigger, faster and stronger. The rules have changed too, and for good reason. The debilitating blows to the head delivered from helmet to helmet are not allowed anymore in order to prevent concussions. Hopefully, by now the consumer understands that the referees are not just being hard on the players; they call those penalties for the players’ own safety.

No matter how many yellow flags are thrown this weekend, I doubt that any one player will earn three in a row. That was a once-in-a-lifetime moment of embarrassment, never to be repeated again. Believe me: Minnesota’s #74 — yours truly — would never wish that on anyone!

Enjoy the party!

 

Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad;  a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker.  Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area.  It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings.  He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”. Mike McCurry has been selling real estate in the western suburbs for over 25 years and his office is located at 5 S. Prospect Ave., Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 His blog can be found at mikemccurryhomesblog.wordpress.com 630-325-2800 or visit his website at www.mmccurry.com

Three Plays, Three Flags

Three Plays, Three Flags

Three Plays, Three Flags

Two old football players

                 Two old football players

Arena Football - Chicago Bruisers

    Arena Football – Chicago Bruisers

Indiana Hoosiers!

              Indiana Hoosiers!

Three Plays, Three Flags

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 459 other followers