Christmas Is Up To You

Santa in Hammock

I’m guessing that, with Christmas falling on a Thursday this year, this blog is probably my last in 2014. I’m pretty convinced the world won’t spin off its axis, that it’ll still rain in Seattle and you’ll have watched at least one of the versions of “A Christmas Carol”. (the 1952 Alistair Sim version is really the only version)

So, with that buried deep in my sub-conscious, I’m being more observant of all the things going on around me. I’ve thought about going several directions with this piece and I’ve decided to go in all of them.

Today, I was at the Post Office, trying to get out my parents and sister’s Christmas package in the mail so that it would arrive before the big day. I walked in, saw a HUGE line at the in-person desk (with only two clerks), but there was a six-person wait at the automated machine. No-brainer. I get in the line, waited….and waited for my turn. I was almost there, when the person ahead of me informed me that the machine was full and could no longer do packages.

So, I headed over to the in-person line, which was even longer than when I first arrived. About ten minutes into that, the person who had been in front of me in the other line came over to give me the good news: the machine was working again AND there was no one in line! By the time I had taken care of the postage, I was in and out of there in less than 25 minutes. These days, that’s pretty good.

To my next story.

Without going into the “who”, I saw an acquaintance yesterday that I knew had been having health issues. Here it is, the “happiest time of the year” and she was one of many people having to deal with real life. This particular friend had spent last week getting medical treatments. This week, she was home, but you could just look at her and know things weren’t right.

The other day, I got a call from a friend, going through her first Christmas without her husband of 38 years.

Then there’s the tradition that was rekindled this morning, when I record “A visit with Santa Claus” with my radio buddy Bryon Mengle for his radio station back in Iowa. Something that I wrote and that is most likely heading to next year’s Christmas CD.

That’s another cool tradition. For the 14th year, I’ve put together a compilation of Christmas songs and comedy bits for a CD I call, “Ho Ho Brother.” This year’s edition is “Ho Ho Brother 14.” In all those years, I’ve only used the same version of a song once. Otherwise, every collection is different. I thought, for a while, about just offering it as an audio file, as CD’s are this close to extinction, but I know too many people on my list that still use that technology.

I’m rambling. But where I’m heading with all this is that Christmas happens during life. There will be ups and downs. I’ve got a dad who is failing in health and may not see another Christmas. This is the year to make it count. To enjoy every carol. To watch the amazement of kids when they meet Santa or rip open that present on Christmas Day. To realize that being happy and hopeful and full of dreams is a much-preferred way to live.

As I wrap this up, terrorists from North Korea forced Sony Pictures to stop the release of a movie. A fictional tale of an attempt on the leader of North Korea, but an idea that was crushed by international bullies.

So, what’s next?

I’ll tell you what’s next. Next Wednesday night, millions of kids around the world will find it hard to sleep because they don’t know what Santa will leave for them and what he’ll put in the stockings they left out.  Will he take a bite of that cookie they left on the hearth? And drink the glass of milk?

It’s Christmas. Let it be a magical time for you and yours.

And then, come December 26th, we’ll get back to dealing with all that real world stuff.

Merry Christmas.  See you all next year.

 

Tim Hunter

Random Thankfulness

turkey

It’s the day before we’re supposed to officially be grateful for all we’ve got, but I thought I’d get a head start.

I tend to over think things and so, the first place I go is that “if you talk about all the good things in your life, you’ll make someone having a tough time right now feel worse.”  That is not my intent.  Intention has to count for something, right?  This collection of words is about gratitude.  As we approach a season dripping with “What can I get?”, I’ve already got plenty and I just want to acknowledge it.

I have to start with the fact that my wife and I are in good health and our kids are all doing just fine. Life will never be perfect, but each challenge is an opportunity to grow and help better equip you for the next bump that comes along. They happen.

As recently as yesterday, I found out that we’ll have all the kids with us at Thanksgiving brunch.  We might actually be able to get in a group picture and as you get up in there in years, you know how challenging that can be to have everyone in the same spot at the same time.  This year, Photoshop gets the year off.

I’m waking up every day and doing exactly what I want to do and that’s among the greatest blessings anyone can ask for.  In the almost two months of Tim Hunter Creative Services, I’ve had a steady stream of meetings and projects that pay the bills. You just can’t ask for much more than that.

I find it ironic that a day originally designed to be free of gifts, commercialism and want has been invaded by stores being open and sales that intend to make you want more than what you’ve got.  You can shop any time. In this day and age, wake up at 2am, think “I need that”, go to the computer and order it and it’s there two days later.  Do everything you can to keep Thanksgiving a day of reflection, football, roasting turkey or tofurkey in the oven and just talking with family who won’t always be there.  These are the times we’ll remember in the years ahead.

I’ve been around long enough to realize that “the good old days” are actually right now.  Over time, our selective memories filter out the blemishes and we’ll recall that year back in 2014 when we started making sure that every Thanksgiving Day counted.  When we  remembered all that we have instead of all that we need or want.

The happiest of Thanksgiving to you and your kin.

Tim Hunter

Maybe After All This Time, It’s You

What a difference a couple of years can make.

What a difference a couple of years can make.

Politics is such a touchy subject.

I’ve blogged about this before, at the risk of alienating some friend or relatives.  But that would be OK.  If you are that far off the chart, then we probably should communicate less. For the greater good.

Because, you see, I’m pretty loosey-goosey when it comes to politics and religion.  I have my ideas, my beliefs and they’re all mine.  I continue to search for input and growth, but how I think is entirely up to me.  The same is true for you.

Witness the election results from the past week.  Once again, there was a political swing in this country.  The ones on the losing side discount it or belittle those who voted that way.  The winners gloat, as if they’ve been given permission to revolutionize the planet.

As always, the truth is right there, smack dab in the middle.

When you don’t have an agenda, or a checklist that you measure everything with, you can actually have an open mind.  That gets back to that “thinking for yourself” outlook on life.  It’s a great place to be.

As you saw with the TV political maps, there are red areas of the country and blue areas.  However, they didn’t just print those maps up a couple of hundred years ago.  The reds and blues, much like the website passwords I can never remember, keep changing.  Yes, there are areas that will always be blue or tend to go red.  So let’s remove those from the discussion and focus on the rest of the country.  I’m proud to say, it swings based on how people feel the job is getting done.  There were states that voted Reagan in who elected Barack Obama to be our president.  This last election, there were states that elected Barack Obama who voted out senators and congressmen in his party.

I’ve watched the posts on Facebook.  I live in a fairly liberal, very blue part of the country.  You would have thought Martians had landed and taken over.  Nope, those are Republicans who went back to the basics of the party, rather than the fringe wackjobs that have forced themselves up on the stage in recent years.

Being an “in the middle” guy has its drawbacks.  Because there are a lot of things I don’t like about both of the major parties.  I want our government to help people, but not to create a land of dependency.  I’m glad to give you money to improve our lives, but not to recklessly spend it.

Maybe you’re one of those who fills out your ballot by looking for the D or the R.  You’ll always be red or blue.  But as we go back to the map, you’ll see that the majority of the country went red this time.  A lot of those people were blue just two years ago.  That gives me hope, as people are realizing they have the power to tell our politicians to do their job, or we’ll find someone who can.

While the negative campaign ads drive me nuts, election night results are the payoff.  Vote how you feel the world should be run and then let’s see what the majority thinks.  I’m not always in it, but I’ve been around enough to see the country swing right, then left, then right again and back to left.  It’s healthy.  It’s what a democracy is supposed to do.  Those people who voted differently than you this time are just voting with their hearts and minds.  It’s how they feel.

If you can’t understand how they could possibly go away from the promises and rhetoric of a party, consider just for a moment–instead of them being less qualified to vote on the important issues of the day, maybe it’s you?

Tim Hunter

Put a Little Howl in Halloween

Tim the Hobo

I was actually much happier than the mask would indicate

There are lots of ways to divide people: religion, politics and the holiday some are celebrating this Friday, Halloween.

Most holidays that roll around, people take ‘em or leave ‘me. “It’s St. Patrick’s Day? Wasn’t even on my radar.” “Veterans Day? Better put out the flag.”

But Halloween either makes you smile or cringe. There are some people who just won’t dress up. Something happened in their childhood. Not sure if it was a moldy Snickers bar or they once got lost as a kid at Display & Costume, the idea of putting on a costume just isn’t them.

Then there are those of us who have always dressed up and actually put some thought into what we’ll be this year. The 2014 edition of the Hunters in Disguise will be inspired by the TV show and book series, ‘Outlander.”   I actually bought a kilt, puffy shirt, sword and ordered shoes for the outfit, while Victoria bought a medieval-style dress, so we can look like we just walked off the show. Here’s hoping for everyone’s sake it’s not a drafty night.

Going back to the days when I was growing up, Halloween costumes were a thin material one-piece outfit with a plastic mask that prevented you from breathing easily and could barely see out of. Then, you hit that age where you’re old enough to go out on your own, but you hear the clock ticking and know that you have one, maybe two years left to do this massive candy round-up.

During my kids’ Trick or Treat days, we lived in a pretty cool neighborhood, with nice houses and people who answered the door with treats and something for the parents to drink. After a while, it became quite well-known and groups would actually bus in their kids to give them a safe place to trick or treat. It would mean going through a half-dozen Costco bags of candy, but you got to see a lot of very cute kids enjoying a magical night in the neighborhood.

I do remember one Halloween in particular, when my daughter Christina was around 3 and it was probably 25-degrees outside. With Halloween costumes being more about cuteness than warmth, I remember wrapping her up in a blanket, walking her up to a door and ringing the bell, letting her get her candy and then re-wrapping her until we got to the next porch.

So many Halloweens ago....

So many Halloweens ago….

As adults, I’ve seen ‘em all, including the time KLSY sponsored a Halloween party with round trip airfare for two to Transylvania as the first prize. OMG, were there some great costumes, including a 9-foot alien and a Cleopatra being carried around (but it was really just one person). It was just a year ago that a group of former KLSY-kateers gathered at the Brooks residence for a party, and most dressed up. The Brooks family decorated their “mansion” to the nines.

Maybe it’s the idea that when do something that a child would do—dress up—you’re pausing the whole adult thing for even just a few hours. You get to be silly and have swapped a little bit of dignity for that feeling of being a kid again.

To those who refuse to join in, I understand…but I don’t. It’s your call, but if it’s been quite a few years since you put on a costume, maybe, just one more time—give it a try. I don’t expect you to head out to the most sincere pumpkin patch and hope to catch a glimpse of the Great Pumpkin, but you just might experience a type of fun you haven’t known in years.

Tim & Kristin

Happy Halloween!

Tim Hunter

 

My Favorite Season

I have to say, since giving up the steady 9-5 grind and going out on my own October 1st, it has really been a dream come true.

There’s less stress in my life, I can greet each day as something to look forward to and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of potential out there (by the way, if I actually do scratch my Surface, I bought the extended warranty, so I’ll be fine)

It’s with this unlimited menu of opportunity that I’ve found myself reflecting on some of the more basics things about day-to-day life.  The other day, I just randomly passed along this thought to my wife, Victoria:  Just in case anyone ever asks or it comes up on a game show, my favorite season is fall.

While giving my reflection muscle a work out, it seems the reason is because it’s a season of change.  Winter is when things lie in wait….spring is when promises of a better future are made….summer is when we savor the present….and fall signals change.  I’ve always been big on change.  While it makes a lot of people uncomfortable, change is so refreshingly good for you and presents you with possibilities you didn’t even know existed.

So, it’s not surprising that I chose fall to launch this latest phase of my career.  Aside from the hair falling like leaves from my head, this was the perfect launching time for something new.  So far, it’s been a cornucopia of projects and, over the upcoming weeks, I hope to launch a weekly newsletter–just a brief one–to pass along that week’s golden moment.

Since that newsletter doesn’t exist yet, let me offer up this little tidbit.

Part of my wanting to focus more on the things I do is to give me more time for writing comedy.  It’s a passion and I was finding myself wedging it in when I had “spare time”, which by definition is the hours most people set aside for sleep.

Years ago, a comic friend of mine, Frank King, connected me with another funny fellow named Steve Kelley.  The guy is not only a political cartoon genius, but also manages to create a daily cartoon strip called “Dustin.”  Steve is kind enough to accept my jokes on a daily basis and when he sees one he believes would be a good cartoon, he lets me know, purchases it and creates a visual version of the joke.

Just this week, he grabbed this one from my collection of daily one-liners and turned it into this.

Kelly Cartoon BrokerI will always remember October as the month of my biggest  personal growth ever.   So, when you combine Husky and Seahawks football, baseball playoffs and the World Series, all the leaves turning and the beautiful fall colors, those great wind storms and thunderstorms, a cozy fire in the fireplace and all-new episodes of my favorite TV shows, toss in Halloween and Thanksgiving–the holiday where no gifts are involved and it’s all about food–and what’s not to love about fall!

Oh, did I mention that night we get to turn the clocks back and get an extra hour of sleep?

It’s the season that just keeps on giving.  Happy fall, everyone!

Tim Hunter

 

They Just Don’t Get It

It’s been almost 11 years since I was informed of my retirement from radio.  Since then, I’ve watch group ownerships get bigger, consolidations followed by layoffs and all this, while local radio has devolved into an efficient-as-possible money-making machine.  Phase out the big-name shows, hire green talent to step in, and slowly but surely become less relevant to the audience that grew up with you.

My latest frustration with the world of radio came during the major league baseball playoffs, when I had to be on the road during one of the games.  I surfed up and down my AM and FM dial, past 5 different sports stations and not one was carrying the game.  Or any baseball playoff game for that matter.  Now, I would expect that in a smaller market, but in Seattle–a market with a major league baseball team.  Oh, we want you to be a fan, but ONLY if it’s us.

Radio basically came at me with the question, “So what are you going to do about it?”  What they fail to realize is that today, there ARE options.  I can download an app and play the game on my phone.  Or, if nothing else, you’ve trained me to search for what else is out there.  And lookie-there….satellite!

For a $1.83 upgrade charge, I suddenly had all the games in my car, whenever I need to be on the road.

Yes, I already had satellite in the car.  Got one of those free 3-month trials and fell in love with the static-free, commercial-free offerings.

I had a lot of fun in my radio days, but this incident is another reminder of why it was probably a good thing I got out when I did.  I’m a big believer of “things happen for a reason.”  Sadly, the people running radio these days are doing nothing more than cashing out, and trying to make as much as they can while they can.

Just passing along my latest experience and further proof that they just don’t it.

Tim Hunter

A LONG TIME COMING

And thar he goes!!!

And thar he goes!!!

It finally happened. After just shy of 10 years at Destination Marketing, my work home for the past decade, I left the building for the final time. The next time I’m in the neighborhood, there will be a new door code. I could possibly see some new faces. It will be the site of my former job.

It would be only natural to second-guess myself. To ask, “Why would I give up a job where I get to do some of what I like to do, would start getting six weeks of paid vacation if I stayed a couple of more months, enjoy a good healthcare plan, steady income….?”

The key word in there is “some.”

Destination Marketing was where I eventually landed after my radio career imploded. It was a natural fit for the reinventing of myself as a writing-focused creative guy. Radio was the only thing I had known for 28 years, but advertising had always been a part of that. Talk to this client and write a spot, record this commercial before you go home and so on. As I made myself a new home at an advertising agency, that quickly expanded to TV, print and Internet ads.

DM, as the DM-ers call it, helped me grow into a more media and marketing savvy guy. I don’t know it all, but I’ve picked up a lot of useful information along the way and, what I don’t know, I’ve met people who do. To that end, it was the right time for me to head off and do my own thing.

What I had been doing was putting in my hours at Destination Marketing and then, before and after, doing the things I really love, like comedy, producing videos and voice work. Clients were usually an account director or an account manager away, so I didn’t often get to work with them directly. Having built up a few side clients that really appreciate what I do, I feel like I’m going to work for friends. And I am.

I’ve also had an ever-growing list of things I want to do, but just lacked the time. I have comedy to write, videos to produce and scripts to peddle!  Events to host!  Auctions to auctioneer at!

I have spent most of my life working for someone—Sears, United Airlines, the kitchen at the Terry Hall Dorms, radio stations and, finally, Destination Marketing. During my tenure at DM, I worked with 100 different people over those 10 years. Now, I’m working for me.

I’ve already lined up quite a few meetings, lunches and coffees and want to thank all of those base clients that allow me to get this thing going. It all just seems to be coming together. I don’t know where this path will take me, but since we all only get one shot at this, I’m just making sure to do it my way.

I also have to definitely thank Victoria, my family, all the friends and others who have encouraged me in taking this big step.

So…….Tim Hunter Creative Services, here we go!!!

Tim Hunter