Audrey’s Christmas Poem.

My family has a wonderful tradition that requires no big purchases.  We have a “Secret Santa Claus” drawing and then either write a story, a poem or make something appropriate for the person we were given.   

Fortunately, I drew my girlfriend Audrey, and it gave me a great opportunity to tell my family how I feel about her, and how the journey has brought us to this place in time... 

You’ll notice my lack of poetry accumen, and hopefully appreciate the feelings expressed... 

Here goes... 




The worlds a funny place,

It giveth, it taketh, and it giveth again

This is how this story begins.


An email in an unlikely place,


find a new mate.”

In a moment of wonder a profile was formed,

before anyone could intervene,

or anyone could be warned.

I was honest and forthright,

and it frightened most away,

so on to Zoosk I moved my info one fateful day.

It didn’t take long, just a day or two,

a beautiful face showed up,

and it belonged to you.

and for all the first dates in your collection,

for all the men who were possible selections,

somehow we both swiped in the right direction.


I’m going on a date, the thought it seemed insane,

It’s too soon, you’re not ready,

the voices in my head proclaimed.

We met at Hines Ward’s Table 86,

I was nervous as could be,

but the very first smile from you is how you stole my heart from me.

We spent that first night talking and listening,

the stories we told left our eyes glistening.

you had my attention

that much is for sure,

a game was on TV and never once did I ask

"what's the score?"


What happens next,

a second date at Mad Mex,

talking some more and building mutual respect.


The third it was magical because of a hat,

who knew headware was were it was at?

Graylin’s Adventure is what it said,

and you proudly placed it on your head.

Not long after that,

right there at the table,

you kissed me a thank you,

my world went unstable.

Again as we parted we kissed goodnight,

and in a moment again, the world was alright.


From there it’s was a blur of dates and travel

and someone who didn’t mind picking up what had unraveled.

Hiking at McConnells Mill,

New Years eve and Hocking Hills,

Checking out DC’s sites,

Momma G and New York’s lights.

State College with Rox and Jim,

New York’s wine country and the Brickhouse Inn.

Cooper’s Rock for the first time,

hanging with the meetup gang was fine,

they rated me with boo’s and dings,

some of them thought I could sing.

The election came and to our surprise,

a hair piece won the biggest prize.

Washington, Jefferson, Kennedy, Lincoln.

What the heck are people thinking.

Off to DC again to March after the inauguration,

what’s the fate of our Great nation?


Our travel didn’t stop there,

soon we hiked in Colorado’s rare air.

Rocky Mountain National Park was delightful, wild and showy,

and on the last day really, really snowy.

Italy sounded like our next great idea,

so on TripAdvisor I would often see you.

You laid out what was a fantastic trip,

squeezing in activities, sites, gelato and too much wine to sip.

Florence, Tuscany, The Amalfi Coast, Capri and it’s Grotto,

oh and I can’t remember if I mentioned the gelato.

All these places with you I’ve gone,

let me say I think we are far from done.


Back to NYC for a show

you know is the next destination we’d go,

and we had Kate and Aly in tow.

A story about Freedom and a revolutionary fight,

“It’s Quiet Uptown” had us sobbing alright.

You held my hand and understood the emotion on display,

and told me gently and firmly “I’ve got you the rest of the way”


Cupid is like Burr,

he aimed his bow and shot it,

and into my chest the arrow went

and my big heart it caught it.

So far we’ve come, so far we’ve gone,

so many miles, and trips and battles won.

I think I said somewhere before that we are far from done...


This family here,

this Christmas Eve,

it’s time for me to tell them,

my heart belongs to this gal here,

her name is Audrey Graylin.





Before she left she said to me,

don’t be afraid,

don’t be scared,

don’t stay alone,

don’t you dare.

Don’t stay bereft,

it doesn’t pay,

it’s not the place I want you to stay.

Look for the “collateral beauty”

this I see as your next duty.

And then I got this email from Match...



Play the Next Point.

Play the next point...

I think that I've always been kind of a "present" person.  I've never been one to let disappointment get me down.  Because of that I have been able to fend off sadness in

The death of a child...

The passing of a parent, then a friend, then a teenage athlete I helped coach.

Life has been difficult, but at every turn, I rose above, lead the way, and anchored some who were less fortunate and needed help with this skill set.

I don't want you to think that,

  1. This was easy for me (or)
  2. I must be a cold hearted fool

Neither are true.  This shit hurts.  Deep.  To the core.  I have been bitter, angry, and sad.  I just don't see how that helps anyone, so I refused to stay there.

Then the unthinkable happened.

My wife Ellen's cancer returned, she was placed on hospice, and died, all in about two months time. 

This was the most severe test of my mindset.  If I continued to be "present", to lead, to anchor, some people might misunderstand.  That doesn't mean it was the wrong thing to do, in fact, it made it more "right", because so many were watching. 



Volleyball has been central in my life for so long.  So many times I watched from the sidelines as Ellen would instruct her athletes.  After a point, whether won or lost, she taught, and then she gave a simple instruction...

"Play the next point!"

Then, while interviewing a few members of the national team for the "Ultimate Trust" special edition of "Five Questions" the mindset came up again...

It totally is the basis of the game, everywhere it is played well.

Learn from each point, no matter the outcome, then...

Play the next point.

And so, here I am.

I have learned the valuable lessons, in triumph and in loss, yes even the most severe loss.  The instruction is still clear, crisp, and poignant...

Be present, be solid, be strong and

Play the next point.


The notion led me to travel to Brazil, alone on my first ever overseas trip, to watch the same National Team play in the Olympics, and more recently to join a whole new group of friends along with my girlfriend Audrey to hike the trails of Rocky Mountain National Park.  There we found stunning beauty at every turn, along every stream and waterfall, over every hill, and once at the very top of Twin Sister's, a panorama like none I have ever seen.  One of our most experience hiker pals Dave termed the hikes "treasure hunts".  Treasure indeed. 

Healing looks like this.  It's a difficult journey to be sure, but it is vastly worthwhile.  So watch.  Learn.  Live.

I can still hear, clearly, the command.

Play the next point.



Special thanks to my friends, Bruce, Rosta, Cathy, Timothy, Dave, and especially Audrey.  You all have shown me a new way of viewing the beauty in the world.  I never doubted it's "presence" I just needed help finding it.  Love you all.  Yinz rock!


Then we drove to Omaha...

Championship point.  This time it's Nebraska's own Jordan Larson Burbach who gets the final kill.  The US Women's National team backs up last years World Championship with a 3-0 sweep of that same Chinese squad and wins the 2015 FIVB Grand Prix title right here, in Omaha Nebraska...

...and we were there!

Wait, what.  Yes we were there.  In the flesh, and some of the best part of the story is how we got there.  So here goes...

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