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Solstice

Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

Release Date: 12/22/2023

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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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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Yesterday was the winter solstice. Brings back memories...

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Yesterday was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. Said another way, there is more darkness on December 21st than any other day. It’s also the day I got engaged many years ago.

The story I like to tell is that my wife, who was then a collegiate volleyball coach, was watching VHS videos of players she was hoping to recruit. I asked her to stop the video and pay attention to me for a moment or two. She reluctantly did with a “this better be good” expression. I asked her to marry me. She considered the proposition. She looked me up and down a few times. She remained quiet for a terribly uncomfortable amount of time and finally said “Ok” and then hit play on the VCR and returned to her work. She’ll deny much of this story, by the way.

It's usually the darkest day of the year that I begin my annual Christmas panic purchases. I fear that I’ve underperformed with the gift giving; that my gifts won’t amount to enough. I blow through my preset budgets and start tossing stuff under the Christmas tree in a panic. My kids never mind this. My wife says you’ve done too much, you’ve gone too far. She’s never returned any of the gifts I get her, by the way. She says “You’ve gone overboard” as she takes her bounty with her to the back of the house.

And I get the same complaints from kids every year. “Dad,” they say, “you’re too hard to buy for.” They’re right. Like most fathers I tend to get myself what I want. Every year I struggle to get my father something and this year he flat our said “I don’t want anything. Nothing. Really. Nothing. I’m trying to get rid of all the stuff I have.” However, I’ll get him something. It’ll may be a new phone charger. The one he has is quite dated. It’s powered by a gerbil on a wheel and takes all night to charge his phone. However, I struggle with the question “Is a phone charger the right gift to give your father?” Seems very impersonable. My grandmother used to give the gifts she received back. She’d say, “I’ve enjoyed it for many months. Thank you very much. Now I’m giving it back to you.” We started buying her gifts with that in mind – what will I want in the spring that I can give her for Christmas?

Incidentally, my wife and I married on the summer solstice. We got engaged on the winter solstice and married on the summer solstice. We realized this years later. So my wedding day was absolutely the longest day of the year. That cannot be denied. It’s all in how you say it.

As 2023 winds to a close, I wish you a happy holiday season and a Merry Christmas. Try to slow down. Find a warm fire and stare into it for a while. Fires make good company. There is stress all over during the holidays, but for a short time, try to sluff it off and sit quietly. I’ll do the same.

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