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Easter in Costa Rica

While I was getting ready for my upcoming trip to Costa Rica, I ran across this journal page of the first two days of a trip down in 2011. After reading it to Diana, she decided to type it for me as a blog post. Hope you enjoy……..

I had planned a trip to my dream place, Costa Rica, in February, but the recession and total lack of funds mandated I put my trip off until April 19th. With my funds still running low, much thought was given just to cancel my mostly medical trip, but Diana was hurting mentally and emotionally as much as my back was hurting, so she demanded some “off time” from the constant mental stress of the restaurant business. I, on the other hand, was beginning my stress of leaving the Broken Spoke in our children’s hands.

Christen Barker

Christen Barker

Ashley Barker Davis, Traci McFall

Ashley Barker Davis, Traci McFall

Nick Barker and the Boys - Git R Done

Nick Barker and the Boys – Git R Done

All my children involved in our restaurant are very capable of doing “EXCELLENT WORK”, but often settle for less and it’s not because they don’t feel “interested” enough in the “success of being superior”; the work of making our food superior, our service superior, and our product superior – your dining experience.
So I began to “worry” the minute the plane tickets were purchased and she began anticipating a time she could VACATE the presence of her stress. We are opposite like that.

The week before we departed, I threatened several times not to leave, mainly because even with us there (at the restaurant) my standards were not often met in the kitchen, on the floor, and just in general. I never think we have a perfect performance day, but I am totally satisfied if I feel everyone has tried to do their very best – all day. And many days I am totally satisfied, but this week before Diana and I were to leave, things seemed askew and off beat. There is a rhythm to what we do and if that teamwork system is not present all chores and duties seem harder.

Not happy Jay

Not happy Jay

So I was worried. Could my children face the daily obstacles that arise in the restaurant business and still provide excellent service and food, for a superior dining experience? And I wondered, “do they understand the importance of not failing or using excuses”? Only time will tell and this week is the time.
Paperwork Must be Readied

Paperwork Must be Readied

All the paperwork and instructions were given to the 3 managers and off we drove to Atlanta for a flight that was $1000 cheaper than leaving from Nashville. The drive to Atlanta was filled with phone calls and texts to and from our managers and five hours into the 5 1/2 hour drive to the airport, we got the call that we did not want. A key employee had quit while we were traveling and I immediately said “we might as well turn around and go home.” Diana just as immediately said no. Explaining, “they will never learn to deal with adversity and realize the responsibility we carry with us daily…. and all nites if we go back.” Mad on the inside, I agreed.

I agreed to stay on course and continue with our trip. Plus, if I would of turned around, I would have been very upset with the “quitter” and I might have acted poorly and done and said things I would surely regret.

Soon our phone would not work and all communications, except the occasional email from an internet cafe, would be the extent of our help and gathering of what new crisis had arisen – or how well things were going.

With Easter a week later than usual, it seems I didn’t realize our dates for this trip were on Easter weekend. I told Diana, “this is the first or second Easter in my life I will not spend in a church and with my family…. and we actually looked at rescheduling the flight but the fee to do so was way to high, so on the plane we got.

A trip that started at 9am Central time would finally end at 4am Costa Rica time, with us finding Easter in Costa Rica means all hotels are full. After searching for an hour, we find a room and got to sleep. The long trip had exacted a toll on my already hurting back and pocketbook. I was not happy and felt the sting of “holiday pricing and demand”.

Morning came and I woke up at 9am and straight to get some coffee I went – ahhhhhh, the Costa Rican smooth yet rich coffee – and then to the pharmacia for a back shot and then to the massage therapist for a deep tissue, therapeutic massage. I did not know I hurt in so many places on my back, but the deep tissue treatment revealed each area with problems. A pain filled hour later, I walked into the streets of Jaco, looking for my wife and located her when she “hootie hooed” me. That’s our concert and public place call we use to locate each other and friends and it works.
Local food was our next craving and Jaco Rustica has the best Costa Rican tipical food and all the locals eat there, as did we. Rice and beans, ensalada (salad), pollo (chicken), carnes (beef), fresh fruit and fruit tea. I have learned to really enjoy this type of light foods and healthy fruits and drinks.

Diana just walked out of the room to the outdoor patio with me a fresh cup of “1820” Costa Rican coffee with azucar (sugar, real unfiltered cane sugar) and leche (milk). It is divine…. and sweet of her. Our dreams of this land always start with this cup of superior coffee and me and her on our veranda with the glow of early morning on our smiling faces. And then we look at each other in the eyes and love flows through the air like the air in a whirlwind. Like right now.
“Thank you baby”, I said with that smile and that look. And the second day began. My back feels much better and Diana is glowing with relaxation. The signs of stress are gone from her skin and grin. Her eyes sparkle with hope filled joy. And we don’t have to say a word as we say “I love you” with our eyes. And I think to myself, “this is the way she should feel everyday. She deserves it.” And I plot in my head how I can provide the times here for this pura vida, the pure simple life.

And I determine, more stress from ambition is required to reach the stress free pura vida of Costa Rica. Every good thing has a cost and yet, on the other hand, every good thing is a reward for the cost one pays. A small cost of time and effort reaps small rewards, while a large cost of time and effort yields great rewards…. for me this has been the case and I see more time and effort required to gain the pura vida of Costa Rica.

Today, massage and up the mountain, to visit and ride the 4 wheeler. We enjoyed the real Costa Rica today. Not the tourist Costa Rica, but the rural small town life.

Checking on our Mountain Lot

Checking on our Mountain Lot

Four Wheeling in the Jungle

Four Wheeling in the Jungle

Relaxing at the Waterfalls

Relaxing at the Waterfalls

During the weekend of Easter, no beer or alcohol is sold on Thursday or Friday. Friday being the most special day of “saints week” for it is the day of “passion”. The passion of Christ.

This is a deeply religious people, Catholics. They are very happy with it as part of their lives and for the life of me, I can not understand why churches from America send “missions” to Costa Rica. Is it to try to change their religion? Aren’t Catholic Christians? These mission trips to Costa Rica should be renamed as vacations to Costa Rica. I guess I will call my trip a mission trip…. on a mission to relax and enjoy and get inexpensive health care and innovative medicine not allowed in the United States because it works too good and it’s non-narcotic, not habit forming. So in America, they can’t use this medicine. One shot eliminates the sale of painkilling repeat sale of medicine. There is no money in a drug that works, or tires that don’t wear out…. or we would have it.

So I am off to that massage that hurts so good for half the price as in America…. it is 9am and Diana sleeps peacefully , still. I have been up since 5:30am, with the sun.



My Dad joined Mom in Heaven just before Christmas Last year so I was reading back to be with with him in Spirit and I thought I should share my Last Years Blog with you

…The twelve days of Christmas…. I declare this the first day. December 13th is the first day. Today! And I declare it so… so I will be blogging for hopefully 12 straight days with my thoughts and what gifts I would give if I were able.

When I found this shot, I had just finished my blog and it immediately struck me and sent me to Christmas past. As I looked through my files of many happy moments, this one stuck with me. So I went back to it and in my mind's eye, I placed dear loved ones who have passed to a better place and I fell into a spell where each filled the chairs and we sat and chatted and I was moved and filled with love and rememberance and it was good.

Hope, first and foremost, that each of you can find and feel the joy of the season. And I hope your New Year is a blessing to many and a smile leaves your eyes with each glance.

Family coming together just makes them SMILE through their eyes until it reaches laughter in the stomach,. LtoR: daughter Christen, sister-in- laws Lindy & Melanie, daughter Ashley.

You know I do get an extra boost of love and affection at Christmas time for some reason. It’s not the buying of goods and gifts, it’s not the parties, it’s not the ceremony and rituals, it’s not anything material.

It is the love of all the things Christmas appears to be, none exist without love. Love is kinda big – a big word – means a lot – says a lot – and hard for many to say – much less do. I can’t tell you how my heart fills and swells with Christmas Love. It’s unexplainable, but it happens to me. And I bet it happens to you too.

Nothing like the love of family and we seem to more of it around Christmas than any other time of the year.

If we could agree that people are kinder, happier, more giving, and more charitable at this time of year, then we can ask ourselves why? Why do we feel more love, why do we seek family and share meals with friends, and family, why do we feel the urge to help the less fortunate, why do we drop money in the Salvation Army bucket… only at Christmas time?

I believe, strangely enough, that it has to do with the energy of masses of people focused on the same thing… the message of Christmas… the message of Love…. And I further believe that we could, as a nation, as a state, as a county, as a city, as a civic group, as a church, as a family, and individually…. focus on love and peace and it would be so. I think Christmas has proven that year after year. Can we not see this?

We have a perfect, tried and true example of what mass focus can mean to the amount of love in our hearts. Is your heart not filled with joy and swelling with the season of Christmas? Well, if it ain’t, focus on love. Take your neighbor some cookies, say “Merry Christmas” to those you meet, put on some Christmas music, and if you are alone, just close your eyes and go back in time in your mind’s eye and see all again as it was… when family was there, and loved ones were there, and love was there… and love will flow your way.

Ya’ll, I love Christmas and yet I feel the pain of those who dread the day because of recently lost loved ones. I am missing my past loved ones, both family and friends. So I go to a time in my mind when we happily frolicked through life and enjoyed Christmas together. And I smile as I stay in that memory all the day long.

Remembering the one we lost, but lives on!

Jack, Jackson and Jay - Generations apart yet together at Christmas.

On the first day of Christmas I give to you…..


so that you may go to that happy place that only you know of…. where your love is stored. Yes, I give you silence and the pathway to your love… so you can share it with others and you can glow as you carry that memory with you.

We must seek out silence, even if it’s just for a moment and if you really want to learn and feel and care… “Never pass up a chance to shut up” …. and listen…. and be silent… and then show your love, not your ass.

If we all concentrated and focused on love like we do at Christmas, what a great life this would be.

So I am thankful that we, as a people, at least take one month out of the year to be giving, caring and loving… My wish is for love to fill your heart as you gather and share meals with family and friends and somehow, someway, we can keep our hearts full the year through….

I will now shut up and go into silence… and go to my happy place with my Momma and my loved ones gone and actively love those still here…. more and more and sometime, someday, we will all have love and peace….. all ways, always.


Bloggin’ Again

… “do the thing and you will have the power”…..Ralph Waldo Emerson.

me and my daddy, Jack

me and my daddy, Jack

Bloggin again…… while not bloggin and only facebooking I wondered why blog? What on earth did I think I was doing? So I went back and read quite a few of my older blogs, having forgotten what each said. I soon knew one reason I wrote was so I could remember…. My memory used to be sharp and detailed but not now. If and when I forget stuff, my blogs have created me a personal library of my memories, lessons, and losses; a journal of thoughts that might not otherwise pass my way again in another time space.

I was comforted to read my words and began to realize what the reason, the thread, of my bloggin was.

And it is this…. I love myself, I love being me, I love sharing me with others, I want to be of service…. To many ….. to teach love, respect and family…. So I blog and try to live a good life. I try to keep it light and positive. As a result I now meet many people that speak to me with a bright faces when speaking to me about reading my blogs; sending me to a peace that passes understanding.

By tryin to do something that hopefully helps others be bigger than their problems, feel and share love more deeply, focus on family, and laugh a little, I have a fulfillment of the heart. The fulfillment one gets from striving to be of assistance and caring and sharing … a result, I am loved by many …. That do and don’t know me…. Because of my sharing of my words and deep inner thoughts with each of you, I am more connected and committed to you… and me.

I can feel the power in the numbers of those who read and enjoy the journeys of Jay. I then go with you, if you take my words with you. We are connected and if I go with you, you then go with me and we have collective goodwill. Lots of folks want me to succeed and do good things and that gives me the Slight Edge… the force of nature that is either with you or against you.

There is a constant energy at work in us all and it is either working for you…. or against you… or put differently… the good forces takes you forward and up and the bad forces take you forward and down…. laws of nature – forces known and unknown, working together to be “Earth”…. As imperfect humans we don’t always recognize the evident. We are all connected and can change the world if we so choose. It happens every day… for profit and charity…for better or worse… the world is changed. I feel a need to do my part…. Blogging is one way I can reach more people, effect more change, and be a peacemaker, a better dad and person.SONY DSC

I love to read other people’s views and philosophies, and life stories. I wanted my life story told as I saw it…. I guess, subconsciously. I believe anyone can learn from my mistakes…. Even me. So I blog… and jog my minds eye open, and look in my heart and see what I can find…. When I find time….or make it.

This is a NEW ERA of blogs. The Jay calendar has begun with the official ending of the Mayan Calendar. Jay Daze ahead and the Jay Calendar says: its always today…. If you are waiting on tomorrow, refer back to the Mayan Calendar…. That says there is no tomorrow as of December something 2012. There is only today and that is the Jay Calendar.

So today I am thankful for today and all the life that lives in this moment and the next. I hope you have a great New Era…. New Year….. today.

Don’t wait till tomorrow to start living your dreams…. There is only today. It is so easy to wait and plan and delay starting on living your dreams…but it is just as easy to start…. I encourage you to take the first step on the path to living your dreams in the NOW…. Today.

In the coming blogs I will try to teach what I know about the Slight Edge… the force of nature, and how you can use it today and every day and anyone can do it.

If I can do it …. You can do it.

Do you want to hear my story?

– It starts out….there I was a red-headed, snaggled toothed, freckled face, crew cut and outta place, insecure kid, being moved from town to town, facing a new bully in each and the pressure of a preacher father’s right hand pushing me to a place I would not achieve…. Ever. But this is what little Jay boy did and learned along the way…..scan0003

My journey in this life has lead me to right here, right now, and nothing I could have done would have put me in a different time or space, because the book of life, as are all books, is written before it is read…. Think about that and now think about how you want the book of your life to read from right now forward…. Write the ending, beginning now…. Is your ending a short story or an adventure of dream seeking and living?

I’m putting a book marker at 2012’s end and 2013’s beginning. And I am gonna check the Jay Calendar each day I have a today and remind myself…. There is only today.

Hope you have a lifetime of great 2days starting…. TODAY! You can do it…. I will help show you how I think and navigate the 2days through helping others get through their 2days.

I leave you with this to take with you…. live fully, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly and happiness will find you…. and take haven there…I said that…from experience. I am happy to say…you can do it..if I can…anyone can.

I hope to see your comments and thoughts on our new blog page and website and may the force go with you…and take you 2 who you wanna be.

12th Day of Christmas…repost

On the 12th Day of Christmas, I give to you…. a big MERRY CHRISTMAS and a list I’ve been checking twice. This list I made for myself some years ago after reading the “Tao of Willie” (great read).

My dear friend NT Clayton, departed this life in January of this year. He kinda reminds me of Willie.

Use this list as you wish, I use it while I wish… for Peace.

I love ya’ll, Jay

12 Things I try to remember and do:

1. Never pass up a chance to shut up!
2. Never be afraid to teach.
3. Find a balance between #1 and #2 and avoid large doses of both.
4. My life is connected to all things… especially me and you.
5. I am not in control, fortunately, so let things happen…. enjoy the sun rising and setting.
6. No matter what you do, be truthful.
7. Always, patience first! Feed the good wolf of my heart.
8. Happiness is now. Understanding NOW is happiness, one moment at a time, happiness is in the way we act, not in the outcome.
9. Meditate, breathe deep, sit still, relax, listen, dream, repeat. And drink lots of water.
10. Creation sets you free. Creation of love and of loving solutions fulfills your deepest instincts to be good. Your actions are your creations.
11. Learn what you already know! Tell your mind what your HEART says. Feed love, starve anger, stop war.
12. Think positive. Trust the wisdom and guidance of your heart. You can do it!

Gotta go now…. it’s Christmas Eve, my favorite day of the year.

Jack H Barker Dad...with Great, Great Grandson ..Silas

Jack H Barker …my Dad…with Great, Great Grandson ..Silas

Wow! I did it! 12 blogs in 12 days and still time left to shop for the one I love…. priceless.


The 11th Day of Christmas

Pen in hand, with no thought in mind, but I start writing anyway. Most of the time when I write these blogs, I know where they are going…if I can figure out how to get there in words. Today, I have no clue what I will say but if I write long enough, I will end up with something…maybe.

No one is up yet and I have gone thru my morning routine of bathroom, coffee, computer, and cig.

First of all, I want each of you 2 know that I love you and appreciate your time you spend with me reading my blogs and visiting me at home and at work. I have met and loved many people in my days, but I can say I have never been treated any better than right here in Pickwick.

Pickwick....and one of those sail boats is ours...I love me some Pickwick

Running a restaurant is the dream of many and the nightmare of a few. There is nothing easy about the restaurant business.

It’s 8 a.m. and Daryl, my main “clean up” guy is reaching through the door to get the keys to begin the opening procedures. It takes 3 hours just to clean bathrooms, mop floors, ice beer and cola machines, run the snake in the sewer, and clean the parking lot.

together we work

Then the cooking begins as all eyes and ovens and fryers are turned on. Raba Baba is my day chef. Raba Baba is Robert Barbour, a renaissance man, and one of the people I always wanted 2 hang out with. He is Lu Anne’s age and 2 years older than me, so in high school he was way, way cooler than I was and his crew, Hillsman Williams, Bill Oates, and Trent Kernodle and a few others were the smartest and the coolest group in school. They played music, hung out in Dr. Jim’s garage, and I never really knew what 2 say to this guy, I was so much in awe.

Robert is a poet, a writer, and an artist, as well as a chef. He can name dishes I cannot say and cook them most excellently. When Raba Baba left Jackson, Tennessee for the Navy and I was attending Texas A & M, we lost track of each other and if we spoke, I don’t remember it. Then came Facebook and there he was and we talked and I invited him over for a few days (70’s style).

Raba Baba

He said, “Do you remember the 1st thing you ever said to me?”

I laughed in my head, I said, “no,” and Raba said, “I won’t ever forget it.”

And he tells me his memory of my 1st words 2 him. Now let me stop right here a minute and tell you when I see friends, they nearly always ask, “Do you remember what you said to me?” (at this or that time).

And I have 2 say no every time. And then they tell me a story of what I said meant to them at that time. It floors me every time that someone has held onto words I have said; loosely without plan or forethought I said something somebody keeps forever. Some say those words I said 2 them were life changing. If floors me every time…because I didn’t know anyone was listening 2 me anyway.

But believe you me, somebody’s hanging on your every word and mine. You never know who thinks you are “cool” and wants to be like you.

me and my son..Nick

I lived my entire life trying to be like my idols and I hang on their every word, so how could I have been so blind, so long to the fact that I might be somebody’s hero, or model or inspiration. I was just going thru life following dreams and chasing women back then. I had no clue anyone cared what I said so I said anything and everything.

Back 2 Raba Baba’s visit and our conversation of my 1st words to him.

I’d just moved to Milan, a little red-headed, freckled face preacher’s kid and the he kinda had a crush on my older sister Lu Anne, so I had seen him around and he knew who I was.

So I walk in the Big Star on Liberty St. and Robert was a sackboy there working. I got what I wanted and checked out and as we visited the past he says, “And I’ll never forget what you said to me. You made me so mad I was speechless. Some little squirt gonna make fun of me.” I interrupted and said, “What did I say?”

Raba said I said, “‘Where’d you get that pink shirt?’, real smart like and man it got under my skin.”

“Your little red-headed peckerwood ass, making fun of my shirt. I thought that shirt was the coolest thing, had those puffy sleeves and long collars.”

And I said, “Yeah, and you had the pink socks to match it.”

What Robert didn’t know was I really wanted 2 know where he got that shirt.

I didn’t have any “cool” clothes when I moved 2 Milan, but everybody there did. And I wanted 2 know where 2 get some so I could be “cool” 2. And maybe hang out with some cool people.

So I had a big belly laugh with Robert when I told him I was serious about wanting 2 know where he got the shirt.

Young and fearless yet nearly speechless, I spoke and somebody held onto it like a thing and floors me to think about it.

You know in your world somebody is hanging on your every word. And now that I see that, I stay in constant hope my words ring true and blow freely without forethought and planning.

And that’s the way this blog began and now I see where it’s going. And I sense you do 2.

Amy Lu was tired yesterday, so she started throwing a little girl fit after her mom, Nana, and Enzi and her had made Christmas cookies. And Ashley hollers out, “Amy Lu, Santa Claus is watching. You better be nice.”

Ya’ll, on the 11th Day I give 2 you the surety that “Somebody is watching,” therefore you are a Hero. Don’t shrug it off. This is a Hero-centered society on all levels. And on one level or another, you are somebody’s hero. And they are watching, just like Santa.

I had a friend I used 2 party with tell me one day, “You know my son thinks you are the greatest and told me he wanted 2 be like you.” My friend’s son was 7 years old. I was floored. I thought how long has this young boy been watching me and listening to me.

Had I already ruined the kid with bad behavior or had I been a positive influence and fun? My life up to that point with these friends flashed before my eyes in an instant and I say quickly, I needed to adjust a few things, mainly cursing, but overall I felt sure my example would not hurt anyone.

As this young kid grew up, he did his own thing and still does. He is brilliant and witty and well schooled and I won’t name him because I love him.

I know folks are watching me now, but for years and years I had no clue anybody cared or watched. I lived freely and partied hard and was good at it.

I study the Book of Love and lived it. And I still am not afraid 2 do things you don’t agree with or say things you don’t believe 2 be true…If I believe it to be true. I believe in watching and caring but I don’t believe in judging and intolerance. I am never afraid to teach and the biggest challenge is what 2 teach and when 2 teach and when 2 shut up.

Watch me but be you. Follow the only good advice I can give you, that is this:

“Do what you want 2 do, that’s what I do.”

costa rica....and me

I don’t know your situation or your list of problems and concerns, but this advice will never fail you. You are special and what you really want to do is special…2 you. I love 2 follow my heart and go with my gut and let the chips fall where they may, in what I do and what I say.

My words may have hurt you in the past and knowing this to be a truth, I sincerely apologize. For those of you who held some of my words dear, I am honored, and for those of you that I have not hurt or helped…you are not missing much. Just remember you’re somebody’s role model or hero, and I sense the ones that want 2 be just like you…are your children, or cousins, or siblings. One doesn’t have 2 look far to see who’s watching and hanging on your every word.

I hope ya’ll know, I am trying to keep my words and subjects light, but I don’t always succeed…and I know that now that I know “somebody’s watching.”

Things are not always the way they appear when we watch life and people, so be careful not to judge those you don’t understand, and be tolerant to those who seem intolerable, be forgiving and a peace maker if you can, and remember there are 2 sides 2 all of us. The Good and the Bad, and we can recognize them the minute they appear in our behavior.

Now that I sense this, I am even watching myself and I’m good with it. Can you stand the sight of yourself?

Merry Christmas Time and remember, Santa’s watching!

Since this post my Dad has Passed to the Other side and sadly the things got no better with Mickey…

The morning sky is dark with rain and gray clouds. Raba Baba is already preparing lunch at the Spoke and one of the grand kids is awake and watching cartoons. Diana has a sinus headache, and just called out from the bedroom for two Ibuprofen. So I take them to her and return to my desk in our den to write my blog.

I’ve already made coffee and let the dog out and checked my Facebook and Twitter. It seems fewer and fewer are reading these blogs and I wonder if they are worth the effort, other than my personal gain I get from writing them. And I do gain a lot, with each blog. See, I never was and still am not a ‘writer’. This is all new to me, but I enjoy this new found hobby… writing.

I don’t read as much as I should and never read fiction stuff. I can’t imagine making up a story, but I have very little trouble putting my thoughts to paper. They come from stuff I already know and remember and feel. Today I feel lots of stuff….. joy and sadness, health and hurt, pressure and no pressure, but most of all I feel loved.

Judie and Ron

Because I was loved as a child and now that I am an adult, my life requires a lot of love to be balanced. I must give it and receive it to be happy. Yesterday was a sad day for our family and for Judie’s family, so we all gathered and gave our love and comfort to Judie and Ron as they prepared to drive to Washington, DC and leave their home and usual Christmas routine to go be with Ron’s Dad and family, for the final time… while Ron’s Dad is still alive.

And we talked and hugged and discussed the situation. When dad got there, I told the group gathered that I had a feeling this was going to be a very special Christmas for their family and how fortunate they were to be together and traveling and seeing the National Christmas Tree and the state trees and our Nation’s Capital all lite up for the world to see. It reminded me how we used to travel every Christmas to Dad’s Mom’s and Dad’s Dad, very seldom having Christmas at home.

At this point in the Burnham families life, there are no grandkids, no married kids, and all the children are grown up. They were so supportive of their Dad that they would not let him go alone on this emergency trip. Ron is a big guy with a big heart and to see him crying, made me cry. I spent the entire day and on into the night with them and watched as family friends called, came by and even their minister; Helen Hamilton took time to sit with Judie and then Ron.

Drew, Cara, Judie, Ron, Barker - The Burnhams

Judie loves so many people, she is in return, loved by many people. Not having a vehicle that all the Burnhams could fit into, they were planning on taking two cars, even though they wished they could all be together in one vehicle. Dad’s wife Mickey, has a van and it is big enough for all of the Burnhams and Dad offered to see if Mickey might let them use her van for the long trip. Dad called and explained the situation to Mickey and she quickly said it would be her pleasure to let them borrow her van.

The whole family was relieved and excited to be able to travel all together, as a family, in one car. There was a collective “thank you” sighed out to Mickey and Dad for arranging a way for them all to be together.

Mickey, if you read this, I want to thank you for this act of family and kindness. Soon after the family found out they would be traveling together, their mood lightened and their hearts were warmed and they were drawn closer to Dad’s wife than ever before. And that’s a good thang. It has not been so. Things have been said, feelings hurt, and estrangement had ruled between Dad’s kids and Mickey.

Last Tuesday, we shared a Christmas dinner with LuAnne and Judie, and me, and Dad and Mickey and Jim, her son. We have not shared a meal together in a long time. That meal did not heal all wounds, but it started the healing and now this act of family will heal more past wounds.

So, on the 10th Day of Christmas I give you ….. Change.

Mickey and Jack on their wedding day

Things change, we change, times change, but love endures all change. My sisters and I faced the change of Dad having a wife that was not our Momma. We didn’t handle it as well as we wished we could and hope that someday this change would feel right to us and Dad.

I hope this is the start of the change we all need… a united family and a Dad not torn between his children and his wife.

Things change, and bad things only last a moment, because things change. And there is no better way to effect change than to love, and forgive, and be patient, and understand. We aren’t the only creatures on the planet… we are all connected. Change then affects us all… because we are all connected.

It’s like the domino effect; one change creates a long line of changes one after another. We all are products of change. We changed from a seed into caring societies, people and families – sons to Daddys, Dad to Granddaddys, and someday grandkids into parents and the chain of change goes on and on.

Change is inevitable and without it, there is no life. My life has changed many, many times and this time, this change may be my last chance to change for the better or… worse. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, only hoped for or dreaded. If we see a tomorrow, expect a change. Is there something you can change that you know you need to change… about yourself or relationships? I sense we all need some change, me especially.

I watch some folks change for the worse, especially when something goes bad in their life. I have watched family members change for the worse, some for the better and some never change cause they are already good as gold.

This Christmas things have changed. Diana still mourns the death of her brother, Ron is saddened with the impending death of his father, our family functions are rearranged, and I have lost too many good friends this year to count. Things change… but love endures and that will never change.

I love ya’ll and hope your changes are for the best and ya’ll hope for me as I continue to change. “I’m just an old chunk of coal, but I’m gonna be a diamond someday”…. And I feel the pressure that effects that change… over time.

It’s Christmas Time, a time that changed the world. One person, with one purpose changed the world… you can too… through Him and His love for you that gives you and me that power… the power to change. The power to change ourselves and then the domino affect starts… changing the world around you …. And me.

“Got any spare change?” somebody needs it if you will give it… this I sense.

I guess you’ve noticed these blogs are getting shorter and shorter as they near the 12th day of my Christmas time. The last few days have really been fast moving at a slow pace. The hustle and bustle of Christmas has set in and blog time has been muscled out by sleep. I woke up this morning around 6:30, got up, walked around, thought of my promise to give you the 12 days, and went back to bed. I was just too tired to tackle the blog and the Facebook and the Twitter and the world; so I chose to sleep.

Now I’m up again and taking my coffee and Diana’s taking phone calls, the restaurant is open, the coffee pot is empty, and here I sit, in a prison I created for myself, by committing to a long term blog. I do this kinda thing to myself all the time and I say to myself, “I will never try to do this kinda thing again”. And then I do.

So now it’s a goal, just to finish these 12 days and when I set a goal and keep my eyes on the goal line, I usually get there. So, on the 9th day I give you…… Goals.

Football is nothing without a goal line, goal post, a goal. Life is that way with me. I have to set goals to move forward in my world. I have many goals, probably too many, and this blog may be one of the too many. But I think not. In the quest of my goal to be a good person, this blog has made me examine myself and my beliefs and habits. I guess if I was asked, “what would you like to have said about you and how would you like to be thought of you when you die?”, I would answer by saying that I hope I was a good father.

If nothing else, a good father. Being a good father is my goal and one simple gauge I use to measure my success at reaching this goal is…. How good I am at loving my children’s mother. I believe no better example can be given them, than the example shown through me loving her.

It is not to our credit or fault if our children “succeed” or excel, or fall down, and deep. As a parent, our only fault would be not to have loved each other. I love looking at my kids, now all grown, and knowing they know love. And each was raised the same, but turned out different individuals.

As a child, being a preacher’s kid, I always felt “pressure”… to be this way, do this, don’t do that, all of it seemed to much as a kid. So I didn’t want my kids to feel any of that kinda pressure, so I let them choose what sport or activity they wanted and helped them with that. And when my son decided not to play sports, I was selfishly saddened, but I supported him in his choices. Odyssey of the Mind, Skills USA National Competition… no touchdowns, but passing the goal line in his chosen dimensions and fields of interest.

my son nick... smart, kind, funny, now grown up.

nick with his momma - they have a special bond

Our rule was simple. You make all A’s and there are no rules. The child made the rules if they made all As. And they did excel. Ashley Salutatorian and National Rotary Scholar winner – her winning essay made her the first person from this part of the country to win this national scholarship. Christen played Lady Tiger Softball and was the editor of the school paper and through her love of art, was nominated for the Governor’s School of Art. She was a member of the National Art Honor Society. Jessica was on the first Tiger Motion Dance Team and was brilliant at learning and performing the routines. All different, all smart, all loved without conditions.

Ashley's Senior pic from the HCB Wall of Fame

Christen on her 19th birthday. She was in her pink hair phase. We also saw green, purple and lots of other colors.

First born daughter Jessica - I was visiting her in Ohio

And their mother? Well she was loved too. And with each passing year, I look back on our love and I see that I sure could have done better some years, at loving their mother. We have many goals, Diana and I, but the number one goal is to love each other and that fulfills a lot of other goals.

We dream of a house in Costa Rica on our mountain top… that is a goal. We dream of selling our restaurant someday and retiring to each other’s love, wherever we are. We dream of spending weeks on end at the cabin on Indian Creek…. kayaking, swimming, spending time in nature with our grandkids. And since these things are goals, I just bet we reach them. I sure hope we do. We work hard every day, doing what we can to make these goals our reality.

Nick, Boo, Max - at the creek - Indian Creek

Montana Lote - Costa Rica

I have many goals. I wish I could share all of them with you, but it would be of no use. So I ask you instead, to examine your goals and identify them and categorize them. Then put the family goals first. Is that where it already was? I sense it was so, cause I know most of the folk who will read this.

So the goal of putting out 12 blogs in 12 days and say something of me and my ideals is weighing heavy on me. You might not understand how serious words are. I do understand this and each word written is history and I want to be able to look back and read these words and feel something real, honest, and true…. so it is a challenge and a risk and revealing and imprisoning. I am captive to my commitment. And I feel the pressure of the next few days. And it’s Christmas time too. So I promise you, I will never commit to the 12 Days of Christmas blog again. This is it. And it’s got to be good and lasting. The words will never go away and I am sensitive to that fact.

You may read these blogs and think, “oh, what a good guy this is” or “this dude is so full of bull” or who really knows what you think? I only know what I think. I sense that others know these same things. Sometimes we just have to relearn what we already know. In my case, I should have known better than to commit to the 12 blogs, but 9 days ago, it seemed like the thing to do. So I said I would do it and I am and this is part of it.

I see my family react to these blogs and so I keep them in mind in nearly every writing. That is one of my goals and I can see the goal post. Christmas of today will never again be the Christmas of back then. No matter how hard we try to make Christmas like it was when “Big Daddy” Ralph Barker gathered his flock and it was absolutely the best day of the year, “Christmas Eve”. All the family and cousins and uncles and it was heaven. That’s what it was and that’s when it will be the same as it used to be… when we all get to heaven.

I can see Big Daddy, with Aunt Willie and Uncle Granville, Uncle Max, Momma and others, with all of us together again. And I can see the Christmas past when I would wake up at Momma Vera’s with my sisters and mom and dad, amazed now at my dad’s commitment of love for his mother (Momma Vera). And to know that now, it is up to me to give my family good memories of Christmas with me as PaPa and Daddy.

This year the kids are coming to our house and wait for ole Santa to show up. And Santa will come see the grand kids at Papa and Nana’s house. Little Amy Lu insists she has to be here, at our house, because we have the chimney for Santa. And Enzi asks, “But how will Santa know we are here and not at our house Papa?” It’s magic, we say, he’s watching… and then we remember when the magic was simply the love of mom and dad. Kids still love the magic of Christmas and I do too, magically different. My goal is to make this Christmas everything they dream of… that’s my dream and my goal. So off to help Santa I must go, to fill each stocking with the joys of Christmas.

me and enzi decorating the tree

lu lu and enzi decorating cookies

santa came! papa and lulu playing....

The goal of this blog began as a goal just to get it done, and have it finished. Then my thoughts reminded me how special this time is for children… my children and grandchildren and all children. My goal is to make sure my grand kids remember Christmas time at Papa Jay’s…. with joy unmatched.

I hope this blog will help you look at your goals for the future and today and may you prioritize them with family foremost, always. My goal is to help you reach your goal. Remember you are going to be a memory someday. How do you want to be remembered? I want to be remembered as a good dad and that means I must be a good husband… cause a good dad loves his children’s Momma madly, if he’s a good dad.
Diana, I love you madly and Merry Christmas my dear. I go shopping just for her every Christmas Eve and it’s still the happiest day of my year… Christmas Eve. She makes my days…. so special. I never know what I will buy her cause all the other gifts are bought first and then we see if any funds are left and I use that little bit and seek out something that might show my love the best. Whatever it is, this year it will not cost much but will mean a lot and my time looking for it is priceless. I love Christmas Eve like a kid, with anticipation of Christmas Day fluttering in my heart.

I hope your goals are in order and that you reach every one of them. And today one of my goals is reached….my blog is done…. and Diana hands me the phone and it’s Judie and she’s crying and packing to leave unexpectedly for Alexandria Virginia to be with Ron’s dad. He is dying fast and requested to see his family… so my goal now is to go comfort Ron and Judie before they depart in the early morning. Things happen… goals change, but the order of my goals stay the same….. Family First.

Pray for them if you pray, hope for them if you hope, and I will hope for you and yours … a “family first” Christmas. However it may turn out, one thing is for sure, it will someday be someone’s memory.

Note: This Day we gather to mourn my Dad’s death…He died last nite…things happen…but the order of my goals remain…Family first…He was a great man and made many a Christmas memory for me and mine

On the 8th day…

I give you music, a song in your heart, in your mind, on the radio, at church, in the shower, when dreaming, and with every mood and situation, I give you a song.

cutting my CD...cause I wanted 2....give u music

Music has always been close 2 my heart, from the 1st lullaby to the last song I ever write. As the Christmas music plays, it’s taken me 2 a time and place in my soul and my whole being feels free from the reality of stuff.

Music is my timeline. When I want to go back, I think of my favorite songs of the past and I can put myself right where I 1st heard the song or liked it or played it over and over. Some songs take me 2 an entire era, others to a specific day. Only old photos come close as a vehicle of choice to travel the past.

Music is much more than a time travel machine. It captures our every mood and excites or soothes us with each new song. It is an art form that is Universal and transcends languages and cultures.

Christmas music is the foundation of Christmas time. Cantatas, old favorites, and every great musician and artist have Christmas songs. They love and feel it too.

Music is made for me and my needs. I even make my own and it is very humbling, yet liberating, and I understand the luck involved in having my music be good or played by someone who might enjoy it.

None the less, I write music, I sing songs, mine and my favs, nearly constantly in my head or aloud.

It’s like the humming we used 2 hear when the elders sat on the porch and hulled peas or the farmer worked in the field…humming a song or even singing aloud…. as they work or ready themselves for work. It sets a mood and elapses time and transforms time…into our time….Thats why I’m singing my song as I go along with whatever deed busies my hands.

Right now, I am humming, “If I Were A Painter,” by Nora Jones, ’cause every time I sense the loneliness that comes from my mother no longer being here it comforts me. “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” is playing in the Broken Spoke and right now I can see her face, when we would sing that song in the car on the way to PaPaw Ralph’s for Christmas Eve. She would look at Daddy and smile with a twinkle in her eye.

This Christmas has taken some strange turns in our family. It’s nearly scary. We don’t even go to Dad’s. Lu will be in Knoxville, Suzie Gran is gone, Keith is gone, and so is a lot of joy 2 many in the families of the world.

Diana’s mom is mourning the death of a son. There will be no presents this year at her family gathering and sandwiches and and cards will replace the annual “Big 2 Do”. I wonder if I will attend, but rather drive to Milan and see The Williams Family. They 2 lost Dr. Phil way 2 early.

When i need an example or simple inspiration of the good in the world I travel 2 see Mrs. Barbara…listen 2 the chatter and laughter…that is music to my ears.

Milan is my hometown and I am singing, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” and I will be…as long as I have a song….and a my truck and some gas money.

remember these silver christmas trees?

So sing your song and spread the joy you get and if you’re sad, as many are this time of year, go listen to somebody sing or a choir or just quietly hum your happy song. I sense you will be lifted and feel better even if you already feel great…..Sing…do you know this one?

“Do you feel what I feel?”

“Do you see what I see?”

“Do you hear what I hear?”……

I hear a song…a song of love…..

“Do you know what I know?…..

“Do you hear what I say?” … and the song says…..pray for peace and happiness for all of mankind, …..especially your neighbor and family…and me, I said that.

I pray you all find a song in your heart so I give you Music!

“Joy To The World,” and that includes you.

Note 2 Readers…as I repost this my Dad lies dying of Cancer in the Hardin County Medical Center…and most likely this will be his last day on Earth…and we will sing Glory to God on the Highest…and Go rest high on that Mt….with the Father Son and Holy Ghost….and momma and Dr. Phil and Momma Vera…I hope and …Sing

Jack H Barker Dad...with Great, Great Grandson ..Silas

Jack H Barker …my Dad…with Great, Great Grandson ..Silas

I woke up and it was 10:30. Man, that’s late for me to sleep but I did it. My old feather pillow, thin from years of supporting my head, was right there looking me in the face. The 840 count fine linen that covered the old blue and white striped, slobber stained, 1960’s feather pillow, was stuck to my face. I must not have moved all night. What a lucky dog I was. I thought.

Some bad luck sent me packing to Costa Rica and there I found my "lucky" again by coming home to my family. Lucky me.

If I could give you anything at all, it would be luck. So on the 7th day I give you LUCK.

The polarity of this dimension always amazes me. Just giving you luck would be giving you nothing. Cause you and I both already have luck. Some folks are lucky, you know these friends and people and I do to. They are just lucky, good stuff and good fortune and good looks just clings to them. These folks are so lucky it sometimes makes me feel unlucky. You know what I mean?

Well, as luck would have it, I am both lucky and unlucky. Who’d a thought it? When I look at my life and I am still alive, I feel very lucky. Just lucky to be alive, realy… AND have someone to love.

Sharing a dream in the jungles of Costa Rica.

I know a lot of you out there feel unlucky, and you are. I have one child that seems to have nothing but bad luck, on the surface. Sometimes you go a lap down in this race of life and you feel you will never catch up. It’s so hard to catch up when everything around you moves so fast. And we must not only catch up, but somehow get ahead. The way life allows this to happen sometimes is with luck; that’s how you catch up….. and hard, smart work. So I wish you luck…. Good luck…. I hope you reach your lucky star. Having had bad luck before, I know how hard it is when you dream and try and do all you can, but as luck would have it, things go bad or don’t end the way we had hoped.

Moving from bad luck to good luck seems as hard as reaching the stars to many of us. It just seems no matter how hard we stretch and reach we get no closer. Well hang in there…. Keep reaching for the stars…. Your lucky star is there, waiting on you to pick it.

I believe in luck and I hope you have a big spell of good luck this New Year. I am hoping I’m a lucky dog this year too. See, I know I am running behind, in bills and the struggles of the commerce side of this world, but I am way ahead in the race for love, peace and happiness in my world. See, I run my life in dimensions. Work is one, home is one, nature is one and spiritual is one… there are others but you don’t get to go there.

I felt lucky so I called a white faced monkey over and asked him to go get me a mango. Instead, he tried to steal my necklace but I got lucky and he only got Diana's earring. Costa Rican Trail Ride

I can nearly control what happens to me spiritually, when with nature, and at home with family, but at work, luck runs that show….lot of times bad luck, or it seems that day. And I think it is common among us, when one area of our life seems unlucky, we label our whole life unlucky…. And it just ain’t so. Look at your life in dimensions. Now tell me you are unlucky. I don’t think you can. Good and bad luck co-exist, luck and absence of luck co-exist. We are so lucky in so many ways there is, by nature, some bad luck in all our lives. It is the polarity of the way of things. You may be experiencing some bad luck now in one dimension of your life or another, but I promise you, if you look into the other dimensions, layers of love and people who love you will appear, and you will see you are also very lucky at this very time….my sensitivity tells me….i am very lucky.

I feel so lucky today to be sitting in our “Anniversary getaway for a night hotel room” with my wife of thirty years and quietly co-existing. She doing her thing (helping me) and me doing mine. We don’t talk as we take our coffee and glow in each other’s comfort. We are opposites, think opposite…. Yet we come together as one, yet not the same. We are lucky, so lucky, that we have four wonderful children that love us and want to be around us, and eight grand kids we adore and a home and a life we live with purpose and meaning, filled with Family and dear friends. How lucky can one be? No luckier than me.

The nature side of things ~ we go there often.

You could be lucky too if you want to and if you do….. stop….. and look at your life…in the dimension…work, home, nature , and spirit….. and what you have that you are truly lucky to have…. Like your life…. And the joys you hold tight in it and you will feel lucky. And the luckier you feel, the luckier you are.

I’m feeling lucky today and I love it that way.

Life is Like a race in Nascar, We may be a lap down to our bills, but we are running hard and the caution comes out…. Somebody’s had some bad luck up ahead and We look around, realize we are running first, in the second layer of cars, as we cross the start/finish line…. And low and behold, We are the “lucky dog” that gets to benefit from another racer’s bad luck, and get a lap back for running hard even while a lap back.

Does this mean We are lucky or someone else simply unlucky? They both exist… pick for yourself. I choose to be lucky and as luck would have it, you are lucky too. And together there is nothing we can’t do. So keep reaching for your lucky star. It’s there, in your reach, if you look in the right spot.

I am sitting at my desk at the Spoke as I pen this and its 12:44am and we are still busy in the Bar. It is such a joy to see everyone so festive and looking good. I love Christmas Time. The ladies were all dressed in Christmas red and tall boots… I love me some boots… any way… as I sip a Modelo, I realize I will have no time tomorrow to write my blog so i sit down and….. write.

Dec 18th is our 30th wedding anniversary (Today). i am very proud Diana….She is my Lady Di. My Princess.My Soul mate. Its hard to believe its been thirty years. Thats more than half my life. And it is good. (Now it has been another year…31 yrs ….this is a copy of last yrs 6th day of Christmas)

Things haven’t always been perfect or even good, but they always seem to end up that way. We dream together and work together and sleep together. I can hardly sleep if she is not there. I cant get a blog done, a project finished, or bill payed without her. I probably depend on her more than i should, but she is always up to the task. She is stout.

I have learned not to speak to her before she has had two cups of coffee each morning, and that suits me. I have learned that her “schedule of the order of the day” is very important to her, and yet i still seem to mess it up each day with an unlisted request or chore. She always fits me in, but not always with joy… none the less she fits my stuff in her schedule. She’s sensitive to my needs.

She loves me when people tell her, “He’s a flirt”, “why does he wear them tight pants and cut-off shirts”, “how do you put up with him?” and on and on.

And on the other hand, the folks that know us envy our marriage or hope 2 imitate it, best they can. We live a simple but exciting life and there is never a dull moment between work and travel and children and grand-children. She has put up with my friends for years that crowded our house, hanging out drinking and smoking and such. She was put through “Woman Hell” by “Men Friends”. She’s stout.

When i went to jail for pot, her family and others tried to get her to leave “that sorry son of a”.. so and so. Instead she stood strong and defended me, and loved me, and cared for my affairs while i was locked down. She is much stronger than me, yet so soft. Soft Hearted 2 Me. and her first kiss sealed the deal for me and her. “The Kiss”

I asked her yesterday “what made you marry me?”. And without hesitation, she said, “It was that first kiss.” So on the sixth day, i give you “The Kiss”.

When you think about it it seems to be a strange way to get to know someone and love someone, but it works. Each of us can tell if a Kiss holds love. Just recently Diana and i have made a new house rule. Before we part ways in the morning, we must engage in a “Romantic Kiss”. A Kiss that says I love u deeply. For years with us it was “you’re not gonna kiss me goodbye?”, and a peck was given and we were gone.

It never seemed insufficient but it never felt real good either, none the less it was a kiss. Now the new “Romantic Kiss” in the morning has often created a situation where we both changed plans for a moment of “quality time”; in each others arms, just standing there swapping love stares into each others eyes. And we no its all we dream of…because it takes us back 2 day 1 all over again. That’s what we need and crave, the feeling of a first kiss every morning. Or at least I do. And She always gives one …or 2 or 3…

The kiss, soft and slow, tender and wet, long and meaningful, forever lingers in my mind each time our lips touch. I swear. Its true. Our lips were made for each other and our love life always responds to a “Romantic kiss”. She will probably be embarased by this post, til I lean over and Kiss her. We are married…Its ok ya’ll. I’ve see a lot of couples quit kissing after they got married…. and then divorced.

I gotta go home now, it is 1:58 AM and when i crawl into the bed she will make a sweet sound of approval and move to cuddle with me and we will and its life at its best as we float into sleeps dreamland.

I encourage you to give your mate or loved one a “Romantic Kiss”. And not just a peck, a first kiss, with meaning and passion and i promise you, you will be able to tell if they love you still, or ever did. And they can tell if you still love them too. My bet is ya’ll all love each other. You might just be lettin 2 much of your bad sensitive side take over….and not Kissin enough…just sayin…I sure love my every Kiss over these 30 years….just like the first one.

Now thats what I am talking about....tell me what I say...Happy Anniversary Diana, I love you and your ....kiss

I wish i could talk to you longer today, but its been a busy day for us today.

We will start by going to the Hardin County Jail and feeding the inmates and officers a delicious catfish, hushpuppie, slaw and french fries lunch at 11:30,

I still have a deep sensitivity for those imprisoned and their families. I feel their pain and each Christmas we try to visit… In the past years, often with all the kids, and try to let inmates know someone is thinking of them and hoping for them and on this day, feeding them the best Catfish in the World. And Diana and I do it together and with joy. It feels so good, but we always come away with teary eyes.”

I still cry when i think of the pain my wife, momma, kids, felt while i was in jail, and they didn’t deserve that pain. Even though the trip to the jail brings back painful memories, we sense the need…. to go, together, and share a little of our time and catfish with these 120 inmates. Christmas in jail?… I just shake my head at the thought of it, They outta let most of em go home and be with their families, for the day… I sense… they might be better inmates and husbands and mothers because of such a courtesy. That aint gonna happen this year, so off we go to jail; the Justice Center and it will be our first visit inside the new Jail.

And then we are on “Anniversary Time”, when we get in the car and see where it goes. And we laugh and talk and shop and eat and love. So if we miss you tomorrow, that means your not in jail, so kiss the one you love…I suggest a “Romantic Kiss”… works for me and Diana… For thirty years, and counting.

I love you Diana, you are my dream wife in my Dream Life, and you make it so Real.

“Now come here and let me kiss you baby…. bye yall

Note….My son Nick typed this for me around 3:30am….and it is his fingers and his love for his daddy that this blog is blogged….thanks Nick…I hope she likes it and gives me a big ole kiss after she reads it and sees it….If not , I’ll just have to go give her one.