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Life Stages

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 10/21/2022

Don't Get Sick show art Don't Get Sick

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam has seen much more of the healthcare world these days than he would like. His advice: Stay well. ----- I’ve been given an up a close look at our health care system over the past several months. It’s been, well, disappointing. And this comes after hearing a remarkable speaker discuss the importance of customer service on company culture. I made a reference several months ago to the pain I’ve had. It’s finally been diagnosed as polymyalgia rhumatica, or PMR. It showed up around February first and has been a part of every day since. It’s a sickness...

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He's Not Roscoe show art He's Not Roscoe

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Each spring Cam sits in his morning reading chair and see's a friend just outside the window. But Cam won't give him a name. He absolutely won't. ----- My lizard friend is back again. He shows up on the air conditioner every spring just outside the window. He stays there quite a while each morning, arriving about half an hour after sunrise. I sit each morning in my reading chair and keep an eye out for him. And suddenly, he’s there. I grew up calling these things chameleons. Wikipedia, however, just told me he is a green anole and he is often mistakenly called a chameleon, likely started by...

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Talking in the Locker Room show art Talking in the Locker Room

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's Keepin' It Real, Cam Marston takes a moment to observe the fingerprint of time. And wishes he hadn't. ----- Talking to a naked man is awkward. It’s just…awkward. There are men that have come my gym at the same time every day for decades. And their work in the gym may have kept them alive but it has not kept them from aging. There is nothing firm on them. There’s nothing taut. Age plus gravity has left a sagging fingerprint. And talking to a naked man, especially one with some age on him, is, well, awkward. They’re standing there, towel over their shoulder, not around...

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Persevere show art Persevere

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

On this week's KIR, Cam Marston wonders if he could do the same thing for fifteen years and know, just know in his bones, that it would pay off. ----- I’ve just watched the documentary on Steve Martin called "Steve! A Documentary in Two Pieces." I’ve always liked Steve Martin. What caught my attention the most is that he did his standup act for fifteen years. The vast majority of that time, his audiences were very small. In one video clip, he’s counting the number of people in the room during his act – there were fifteen people there. He got what he thought were big breaks that bombed,...

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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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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.