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Life Stages

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 10/21/2022

April's Fool show art April's Fool

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston hypothesizes on what a parenting podcast from him and his wife would sound like. ----- My wife and I sat together at the beach last week laughing as we retold stories and reminded ourselves of the humor of parenting. Especially as Gen X parents. We decided to compose a social media post together. The date was April first, and that date matters. The post read the following: We are frequently asked how we’ve raised four perfect children. Here’s our response: We are excited to announce our new Parenting Podcast called Gen X Parenting Tools. Go check...

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Workplace Veterans show art Workplace Veterans

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston has some observations about the NCAA tournament. The old guys are winning, and he likes that. ----- Someone in my family is not pleased right now. As I write this Wednesday, I don’t know who. Last night the North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team took on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA tournament. My wife is a Carolina grad. I was unaware people could like basketball that much until I met her. My son is a Freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was an avid sports fan moments after his birth. One of them lost last night and is...

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Need A Message show art Need A Message

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam is searching for a message and if he hears one, he WILL obey. ----- I think there is someone or something out there trying to send me a message. A few things have happened lately that seem, well, like there is a message coming or attached but I don’t know what it is. First, storms rolled through a few months ago knocking out the power. Fortunately our house has a generator attached and it kept a few rooms running for a little while. My friends began texting about their power being out. I proudly texted a photo of my comfortable and well-lit kitchen that...

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Tell Them Both I Said Hello show art Tell Them Both I Said Hello

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

There's a grocery store Cam goes to when he's in a hurry. It's NOT the one closest to his house. That one is full of memories. Full of roots. ----- I saw him see me. He turned and headed my way. “Cam,” he said. “How’s you mother?” “Well,” I said. “She passed away two years ago.” I saw you at her funeral, I wanted to say. I remember talking to you. “Oh. Yes. That’s right. I’m sorry. Well then, how’s your father?” “Dad’s wonderful. He plays pickleball five, sometimes six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. He’s eighty-seven but I don’t think he knows it....

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Parent's Weekend show art Parent's Weekend

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On today's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares something he saw last weekend that made him feel a little bit better about things. ----- I'm in Starbucks. It's Saturday. It's Noon. I'm in Tuscaloosa at the corner of Bryant Drive and 8th Avenue. Sororities across the street disgorging young ladies for their morning cups of honey-dew latté with extra chai, extra vanilla essence and a dash of bumble bee eyelashes or something like that. Yoga pants as far as the eye can see. One girl wearing a T-shirt reading Don’t Date Frat Boys. Parents here for fraternity and sorority parent’s weekend. Dads wearing...

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Forgiveness show art Forgiveness

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares a story he's kept quiet for fourteen years. It's time to get it off his chest. ----- I’ve just boarded my flight. I’m headed home. Sitting here, a memory has resurfaced. Many years ago, deplaning in Chicago, I took a call from a young man. He’d studied my work and asked me to mentor him. He wanted to travel and give speeches. He wanted me to refer him when I was too busy, and he’d pay me a commission. He loved my topic and said he could represent me well. I was deeply flattered. He charmed me. A few months later, we sat at my dining room table...

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Squeezed show art Squeezed

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Cam's phone has been ringing. It's a lot of his small business friends and they're experiencing similar things. They're feeling pressure. They're feeling squeezed. ----- When an orange is squeezed, orange juice comes out. We know this. We know that sun and good soil and water and maybe some fertilizer help that orange develop that juice. We know the ingredients, we somewhat control the ingredients, and we know the goodness that comes from a squeezed orange. What happens, though, when you and I are squeezed? What happens when life puts pressure on you and me? What ingredients are we drawing on...

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Lent show art Lent

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Mardi Gras ended Tuesday for Cam. Immediately following Mardi Gras is the beginning of Lent and Cam struggles with what sacrifices he should make. ----- Lent. I struggle with Lent every year. How much suffering is enough to prepare my soul for the Easter arrival of the Lord? Is there enough? Who knows. There’s always someone suffering more; someone taking it to the next level. As a child it was ice cream. I gave up ice cream every year and dutifully reported it to my religion teacher as the assignment instructed. I love ice cream, vanilla especially. In fact, I’ve created an association...

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Dry January show art Dry January

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' it Real, Cam Marston has thoughts about this upcoming weekend. Mardi Gras is on us down here in Mobile, and that leads to some tough decisions. ----- Dry January ended last week. Dry January followed soaking wet, sodden to the bone December. I’ve never done Dry January before and after sodden December, I needed to give it a try. Aside from one small drink to celebrate my daughter’s twenty-first birthday, I drank no alcohol for thirty-one days. I’m not sure I’ve done that since I was a teen. The net result? I lost nine pounds. I slept very well every night for a...

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God Stop show art God Stop

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

What do you call it when your certain plans are suddenly upended? They're changed with no warning? You call it a God-stop. On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam shares his experiences with them.  ----- A friend told me a story about how he had applied for a job a long way from home. His potential new employer had said they were going to make a very attractive offer. My friend and his wife began discussing selling their home and moving their kids to a new school. It was certain to happen and then…it didn’t. The job offer never came. His calls to the new employer to get an answer or a...

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A young man asked "My customers keep telling me I remind them of their children. What should I do?" 

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A young man approached Tuesday after my seminar in Orlando. “I’m twenty-four years old,” he said “and when I’m making sales calls, people say I remind them of their son. How am I supposed to take that?” he asked.

He felt he wasn’t being taken seriously. He worried that he wasn’t doing a good job. And, he felt it was kind of an insulting to say.

I remember being in his shoes. I launched into my career intending to kick tail and take names. I wanted promotions, bonuses, raises, awards, recognition, and celebrity. My job was selling food to restaurants in eastern North Carolina. I went door to door in each town’s restaurant row with Thermoses full of heated samples, a bag of small souffle cups and plastic spoons to offer tastes. I sold cheese sauces, and gravies, corned beef hash, chillies, coffee, and tea. The list goes on.

Today I see the interactions that young man told me about differently. I told him to smile then say, “Tell me about your son.” Listen and smile and ask one follow-up question. “They’re giving you a compliment,” I told him, “It’s not an insult. And people love talking about their children so let ‘em. And then gently guide your conversation back on track.”

Like most people his age, I was in what psychiatrist Carl Jung and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr call the ego-building stages of my life. I was trying to shape how people saw me and how I saw and felt about myself. I was working to build an impressive image and, wow, how I’ve changed.

Sometime after about age thirty-five for most people, image building begins to matter less. You don’t stop doing it, it just matters less. A new search then begins for something to replace that image-building feeling that had been so important. The new search signals a shift in identity, it can arrive as a mid-life crisis, and has been known to reveal, for some, a God-shaped hole in their life.

According to Jung and Rohr, a satisfying replacement to image building can only be found by reversing course. Becoming less noticeable instead of more noticeable. Less image conscious instead of more image conscious. According to Rohr, the first half of life is about building your container of who you are and what you stand for and then filling that container. The second half of a life well lived is about draining that container and then destroying it. A full complete reversal from ego building to ego abandonment.

It’s been this way for eons. The young warriors seek fame and glory. They whoop and holler and conquer. The elders shower them with praise and rewards for their work and their bravery. Conquering is the job of the warriors. Praising is the job of the elders.

“I can tell you take your work seriously,” I said to the young man. “I bet you’re an asset here. Your boss is lucky to have you.” “Well,” he said, “maybe, yeah, I guess.” We shook hands. He walked away smiling from the compliment. I walked away smiling from giving it to him.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.