Tag Archives: Influence

A Recipe For Success: The Blissful Bite

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Scott Drotar Plate Of Food
I get a lot of enjoyment out of creating a delicious plate of food, and this happiness comes in many forms.

As you have learned over the last year or so, I love to cook. Chances are, if I am home and am not working, I am either preparing food, reading a cookbook or food blog, or watching the “Food Network” (or all three). I get so much happiness out of putting a recipe together and preparing a tasty, new meal, and this happiness comes in many forms. Of course, I get enjoyment out of feasting on all of the tasty food that I make, as I love to eat, but the pleasure I get from cooking goes far beyond that. The mental process of learning how to create and manipulate flavors fascinates me, and this mental “feasting” brings me a whole other type of bliss. I also get a sense of delight from creating a dish and bringing something to life in the kitchen. This act of turning a set of seemingly random ingredients into a delicious meal gives me yet another type of happiness. There is also one other source of joy that my culinary adventures bring me, and this type of happiness is greater than all of the others combined. This form of happiness is what makes me truly love cooking, and it is what will keep me experimenting in the kitchen and playing with flavors for the rest of my life.

Most of the time when I am cooking, I am only making food for myself (and possibly my nurse). While I have a blast doing this, and I get a lot of joy out of my time in the kitchen, cooking for myself is not nearly as fun as preparing a meal for my friends or family. Having others eat and relish in the flavors I put together is the best part of cooking, and it is what brings the most happiness into my life. There are few things I like more than watching someone gleefully savor each and every bite of a meal I created. Watching someone close their eyes as they blissfully take in the tastes and textures dancing on their tastebuds in total contentment (something I like to call “the blissful bite”) brings me more happiness than almost anything else in the world. You would not think that something so external to me, like who is enjoying my food, would play such a large role in determining my level of happiness, but surprisingly it does. Being the introspective person I am, I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about this phenomenon and examining these different types of happiness, and these hours of self-reflection have helped me to better understand what happiness is and how it functions in your life.

As much as I would like to take credit for being the first person to realize that the happiness in your life comes in many shapes and sizes, it turns out that this concept has been around for thousands of years. Aristotle is often cited as the first person to present this concept, and numerous other philosophers and theologians have also discussed this idea over the last several centuries. In Aristotle’s depiction of happiness, he identifies four

Scott Drotar The Blissful Bite
The best part of cooking is watching others enjoy my food, especially when they take “the blissful bite.”

“levels of happiness,” and as you move up through the levels (i.e. from “level 1” to “level 2”) the intensity, or magnitude, of your happiness increases. The first level is the type of enjoyment you get from material objects and such. In my cooking, this is the type of happiness I get from eating the food I make. The second “level of happiness” comes from the feelings of achievement and accomplishment you get from completing a task or project. For me, this is the joy I feel from creating a great meal and applying my knowledge of flavors. The third “level of happiness” is derived from doing things for others or bettering the world around you. When I cook, this is the amazing feeling of euphoria that I get from watching my friends and family enjoy my food (and take “the blissful bite”). The fourth, and final, type of happiness comes from feeling connected to the universe/a higher power, and it is seen as the ultimate “level of happiness” and is what we should all strive for throughout our lives (Unfortunately, I have not quite gotten to the point where my culinary skills are on a “God-like level” yet, so I do not have a cooking example for you, but I will keep working on it.).

Even though it may have been discovered thousands of years ago, as you can see from my examples above, this notion of happiness coming in multiple forms is just as applicable today as it was then. Not only has this concept stood the test of time, but it can also be applied to nearly every person’s life. Think about your feelings during the Holidays. You get less enjoyment out of receiving a gift (“level 1” happiness) than putting up and fully decorating a gorgeous Christmas tree (“level 2” happiness), and then you get even more happiness than that from giving someone else a gift they really wanted (“level 3” happiness). Depending on your personal beliefs, you could even make the case that you get an even greater level of elation from attending “Midnight Mass” or another seasonal, religious service, which would be the highest “level of happiness” there is. We have all experienced these types of feelings, and you cannot deny that the warm, fuzzy, full-bodied bliss you get from giving the perfect present is much more fulfilling than the enjoyment you get from receiving a gift. As the old saying goes, “It is better to give than to receive.” And thanks to Aristotle, now we know why.

Scott Drotar Levels Of Happiness
The different feelings of joy you experience doing various Christmastime activities are a perfect example of the different “levels of happiness.”

If two, drastically different events, like my feelings during cooking and the joys of Christmastime activities, can be explained by this concept, that is good enough to make me a believer. I am certain that as you think about the things that you enjoy doing, that you will find that these “levels of happiness” are present in your life as well. The activities that bring you the most fulfilling feelings of happiness are the the ones where you get to do something for someone else. Whether it is watching them take “the blissful bite,” seeing them open the perfect, Christmas gift, or some other altruistic activity, the things that bring the most joy to your life are those that allow you to bring happiness to others. As you recognize this mind-blowing fact, you realize that helping others is not only the “right” thing to do because it makes their life better, but also because it creates the greatest type of happiness in yours. Once you fully understand and accept this important lesson, not only will you feel a larger sense of enjoyment in your life, but the world as a whole will be a much happier place.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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Discrimination

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As you have probably heard on the national news circuit recently, my home state of Indiana has been quite the topic of conversation lately. For those of you who do not know, on March 26th Indiana passed a piece of legislation called Senate Bill 101 (SB 101), better known as the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” This bill states that “a governmental entity may not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion…” This may not sound so bad, but what this document opens the door for is pretty scary.  It implies that if a business owner does not want to provide his company’s services for a certain group of people because of his religious beliefs, that he does not have to. Believe it or not, a business in my tiny hometown of Walkerton, Indiana, which has a population of only 2,500 people, became the first organization to illustrate the dangers of this legislation. “Memories Pizza,” a small pizza place and one of very few restaurants in my little town, was the first business to openly state that they would deny their catering services to same-sex couples. Whether you agree with same-sex relationships or not, we all can agree that discrimination is bad, and that by allowing companies to deny service to any group of people they choose, we are opening the door for discrimination to occur. As I have been trying to stay up to date on this hot button issue that has been plaguing my hometown, I have been thinking a lot about prejudice and discrimination, and how these despicable parts of human behavior can impact your life.

Scott Drotar Memories Pizza
Memories Pizza, a restaurant in my hometown of Walkerton, Indiana, was the first business to show the dangers of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”

Having been born with a severe, physical disability and having to use a power wheelchair my entire life, I have had to face a fair amount of discrimination. Whether it is a group of teenagers deliberately making fun of my disability at the mall or a business inadvertently not being wheelchair accessible, being singled out and treated differently as a result of something I have absolutely no control over is never easy to deal with. Even though throughout my life I have developed a lot of coping skills to help me manage the negative emotions that arise when these prejudicial situations occur, these feelings of discrimination still have an impact on me. It is not the judgment and discrimination from others that I struggle with however, but rather the feelings of self-discrimination that they create. For example, there are times when I will not go out to do something, because I am worried that I may be viewed or treated differently due to my disability. This self-discrimination is far more dangerous than the judgment of others, because it prevents you from even attempting to experience numerous parts of life. In reality, you could have enjoyed many of these situations without any feelings of discrimination arising, but because of your own fear of these potentially painful emotions, you prevent this from ever happening. As I have matured and learned how to better work through these difficult emotions, I have realized that this self-discrimination is actually what makes acts of prejudice so dangerous, as this is what gives these heinous acts their power.

When I was in my first year of college at Notre Dame, I had to write a term paper on civil rights for my required freshman composition class. As a part of this project, I also had to conduct an interview with someone and include the information I gathered in my paper. To satisfy this criterion I decided to interview a quite well respected professor in the African-American studies department, who I had had for another course the previous semester. During this interview he told me a story from his own life that greatly changed the way that I think about discrimination. Back in the 1970s, when he was 18 years old and was about to graduate from high school, he and his best friend, both of whom were black, decided to enjoy their final Summer of youthful freedom and independence by making a Jack Kerouac-like journey across the country. They spent countless hours planning their way, gathering the supplies they would need, and making all of the other necessary preparations to make their way from the “Deep South” to the California coast, and as the school year was drawing to a close they were merely waiting for graduation so that they could embark on this epic, once in a lifetime journey. Unfortunately though, they never made it to California. In fact, they never even made it out of their hometown. Despite the fact that they had spent a lot of their hard earned money preparing for this trip, devoted an enormous amount of time planning their route, and had been looking forward to their “On The Road” adventure for months, they never even left. They were so concerned, being two African-American, young men, about being discriminated against on their trip that they cancelled the whole thing before even starting.

Even though this was the late-1970s, and a lot of progress had been made in terms of racial equality and civil rights, the powerful effects of discrimination were still a major issue. There were still some people and places where outright discrimination would occur (and sadly, I fear there always will be), and the acts of prejudice and ignorance from these few individuals could be quite upsetting, painful, and at times even dangerous. While these prejudiced people were only a small minority of the general public, and the chances of coming into contact with them was extremely low, the power that these individuals had over their victims was quite large. Despite the fact that these two well-spoken, young men probably would have had no problems with discrimination during their cross-country trip, the anxiety and fear of this happening prevented them from even attempting to live out a dream that they had worked so hard to turn into a reality. This self-imposed discrimination is far more powerful than any form of prejudice that someone else could inject into your life, because it takes complete control over your actions. Whether these feelings of self-discrimination are justified or not, they were powerful enough to stop two young men from seeing the country, as well as keep me from experiencing certain parts of life, and this is what makes them so dangerous. The danger lies in the fact that self-discrimination does not need to have anything “real” attached to it in order to control you. Even though most of the potentially prejudicial situations that you avoid would have been discrimination free, you still do not get to enjoy them because your own self-discrimination and fear prevents it. It is this type of discrimination that you have to learn to control, if you want to stop the prejudices of society from having a major impact on your life.

Scott Drotar Civil Rights
While the “Civil Rights Movement” ended decades ago, even today discrimination is still a major issue in our society.

Just as developing the psychological tools necessary to cope with the prejudices of others is a long and emotionally painful process, learning how to deal with your feelings of self-discrimination is also an extremely difficult task. The first step is being able to recognize these feelings when they arise for what they are. You have to be able to see that your fears are stemming from your own feelings of self-discrimination, and not from something out in the world. The next step is the hard part. You have to be able to realize that your fear and anxiety is coming from possible, yet not necessarily probable, outcomes, and then convince yourself that you have no real reason to believe that you will be discriminated against beyond your own nightmarish thoughts. While this is a very difficult thing to do, if you can make yourself truly believe that your worries about being discriminated against are merely the worst possible outcomes and there is no reason to think they will happen, your feelings of insecurity and anxiety will instantly lose all of their power. Since self-discrimination has nothing “real” attached to it, once you convince yourself that your fears are just highly unlikely possibilities rampaging around your head, this once awful sense of dread ceases to have any meaning. You will immediately be free of your self-discrimination, and you will be overcome by a revitalizing sense of freedom that is beyond words. Now, this is not an easy thing to accomplish, but nothing worth doing ever is, and by learning to deal with your feelings of self-discrimination you open yourself up to a whole, new world of opportunities and experiences to enjoy.

Thanks to the enormous amount of vocal opposition to this unfortunate piece of legislation from all over the country, it seems like this most recent act of outright discrimination in my home state will be eliminated soon. Even though it looks like my hometown and the state of Indiana will survive these sad, despicable acts of public prejudice that have been wreaking havoc recently, the effects of this discrimination will be felt by those mistreated for years to come. Having to face these actual acts of discrimination, only makes your feelings of self-discrimination stronger and more difficult to cope with. In order to effectively manage and get beyond these emotions, you have to recognize that these fears, although extremely terrifying, are only figments of your imagination. They are only as powerful as you allow them to be. Remember that only a very small percentage of the people and places you come into contact with are prejudiced, and the vast majority of the situations you experience are wonderful and discrimination free. Take the time to slow down your thinking, regain control of your brain from your emotions, and see your feelings of self-discrimination for the illusions they are. This will allow you to eliminate these nasty notions from your life, and without these self-imposed obstacles in your way, you will be able to fully enjoy the happy, fulfilling life that you deserve.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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Soak It All In

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Yesterday was one of those perfect, Spring days here in Kansas City. It was about 70° F with a nice, cool breeze that was just strong enough to tickle your face and run through your hair. The sun was playing peekaboo amongst wispy, fluffy clouds, helping you fully appreciate its warmth and brilliance every time it emerged from its hiding place. The plants and trees were all just starting to bud and bloom, creating a cornucopia of different shades of vibrant colors. After spending the last three months in hibernation mode to avoid the cold weather of Winter, waking up to a day like today, where everything is just perfect, was really comforting. I was so elated by this beautiful weather that I actually rearranged my entire day, just so that I could fully appreciate this gift from Mother Nature. Although I did not get everything done that I had planned to, by taking the time to enjoy this gorgeous day I was able to do something just as productive, while also being reminded of an important lesson about life.

Scott Drotar Soak It All In
Yesterday was a beautiful Spring day in Kansas City.

On my calendar, if you look at yesterday you would find things, like “get yearly physical,” “contact clients,” and “website maintenance,” listed on my to-do list. As I went through this list shortly after waking up and seeing what a beautiful day it was, I noticed that everything that I was supposed to accomplish was going to force me to be inside. While I typically view my carefully crafted to-do list as sacred and refuse to deviate from it for any reason, today I decided to make an exception. I rescheduled my physical for another day, pushed website maintenance to later in the week, and made a few other alterations to my daily itinerary, so that I could take advantage of this gorgeous weather. After finishing breakfast and taking care of a few small things on my daily agenda so that I would feel productive (I cannot waste the whole day. Or can I…?), I went outside and enjoyed the weather. I let the sun beam down onto my skin, covering me like a warm blanket. I felt the wind tickling my nose as it whipped through my mustache. I squinted my eyes as I looked across the field by my apartment, so that everything would blur into a big sea of greens and yellows that I could get lost in. I accepted this beautiful gift that I had been given and let its brilliance bring happiness to my life in a way that very few things can.

The way that this incredible weather impacted me and caused me to completely rearrange my entire week reminded me of how important it is to be thankful for the gifts that life gives you. It is crucial to be open to the little things in life, as I have said before, but you must also be humble enough to really appreciate them. You cannot merely acknowledge the fact that it is a beautiful day, go about your business as usual, and still expect to get any amount of happiness or enjoyment from it. You have to take the time to stop for a minute and soak in the full magnificence of this priceless offering that life has presented you. Just like I stopped, closed my eyes, and let my body soak in the warm, energizing beams of sunshine, you have to let yourself soak it all in any time life hands you one of its treasures. You may not get everything done on your daily to-do list and you may have to work a little more later on, but the benefits and happiness you receive by allowing yourself to fully appreciate life’s offerings will definitely be worth it.

When I woke up this morning I had no intentions of writing this post today. I had another article outlined and prepared to be written, but this total turnaround in my plans only better illustrates the benefits of this important life lesson. By taking the time to fully appreciate the gorgeous weather, not only did I get to enjoy a beautiful day and put a lot of happiness into my life, but I also was able to recognize this valuable lesson and share it with you, spreading even more joy and cheer to the world. Whether it is a delightful Spring day or some other gem life gives you, you have to take the time to stop what you are doing and really appreciate it. Soak it all in, and let this priceless treasure fill your body, heart, and soul with all of its magnificence. This will allow you to experience all of the happiness that these gifts can bring to your life. You may not get everything on your to-do list done, but that list will still be there tomorrow, and life’s offerings do not come often or stay very long. Soak it all in like rays of sunshine on a warm day, so you can fill your life with all of the happiness that life can give you.

Did this article leave you wondering something? Are you curious about a certain aspect of my life? Do you want to know my favorite color? Submit your question to “Roll Models Mail Call,” and I will do my best to answer it in a post.

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Roadtrippin’ Through My Mind

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Throughout my entire life, since flying is extremely difficult for people who require the use of a power wheelchair, if I wanted to take a trip or go vacation somewhere, I had to drive. Thankfully, my family has always been able to afford a wheelchair accessible vehicle that allowed us to travel like any other family of five despite my mobility limitations. To take full advantage of this mobility and freedom, during my childhood my siblings, parents, and I went on numerous family road trips all over the United States, and I have continued this custom now that I am an adult living on my own. Having a conversion van that gave me the ability to travel about the country, not only created the opportunity for me to see some amazing things, but it also helped me make some priceless memories with my family on the open road. In appreciation of this privilege I have had to see the world as a physically disabled person, I have decided to share with you five of my most memorable road trip moments, the number of miles driven on these excursions, and what these miles have meant to me.

Dallas — This was my first road trip without my parents. When I was 23 and in my first year of graduate school at the University of Kansas, my brother, sister, and I decided to take a “siblings vacation.” After deliberating for several weeks over where we should go, we decided on Dallas. My brother, who lived with me at the time, and I drove down while my sister flew in from New York, and we stayed right in the middle of downtown “Big D.” We ate great Tex-Mex and Texas style barbecue, went to the aquarium (manatees!), and visited the JFK Museum. It was a wonderful, fun experience with my siblings, but the most vivid memory from this excursion is making the drive home in a blizzard with my brother, and laughing nervously with him as we just hoped to get home. (Roundtrip: 1,038 Miles)

Scott Drotar Niagara Falls
That is a lot of water.

Niagara Falls — This was the first stop on our family vacation when I was 12 (Toronto was the second stop), and it was the first time that I was in awe of something in nature. The only way to truly appreciate the incredible beauty and raw power of “Mother Nature” is to see something like Niagara Falls in person. That is a ton of water coming over that cliff. What made this trip so special for me was that it was extremely wheelchair friendly, especially for a national park. I could get everywhere and see everything without any trouble, and even the famous “Maiden of the Mist” boat tour was totally handicap accessible (although I did need my rain gear). (Roundtrip: 1,032 Miles)

Galveston — This was my first solo vacation, which I made when I was 25. One of the things on my “Bucket List” was to take a trip on my own with just my nurse. After several months of research and planning, I came to realize that a cruise was the best way for me to go about this. It was a controlled environment with its own medical team (just in case), did not require any travel once you got on the boat (simplifying the logistics), and would give me the vacation experience I was looking for. So, I saved some money, talked one of my nurses into a free vacation (not exactly difficult), and we road tripped down to the port of Galveston to go on a week long Caribbean cruise. It was an amazing seven days, and I got to see and do some incredible things, but the most memorable moment was on the drive home when the fuel pump in my van went out in the middle of nowhere. We ended up being stuck in a small hotel room in Texas for two days, but my wheelchair accessible wagon held up after being fixed, and got us safely back to Kansas with a great story to tell. (Roundtrip: 1,614 Miles)

Disneyworld — This is the earliest family vacation that I can really remember. I was about 6 years old, and my family drove the entire 19 hours from Northern Indiana to Florida. I can still remember getting to meet Mickey Mouse for the first time and getting his autograph. As great as the theme park was though, my favorite memory from this trip is waking up as my dad was driving in the middle of the night and staying up with him while the rest of my family slept. That alone time with my dad on the open road was a big deal as a young boy, and remembering that time always makes me smile. (Roundtrip: 2,228 Miles)

Cincinnati — The Summer before I turned 14, my brother and sister both got to attend week long, sleep away camps, which is something that I could not do due to my disability. My parents decided that since my siblings each got a little vacation somewhere, that I should too, so they took me on a trip with just the two of them to Cincinnati for a few days. We window shopped, saw Ken Griffey Jr. play at Cinergy Field, and I got my parents all to myself. As much as I love my brother and sister and the trips we have taken as a family, this road trip will always be special since it was just my parents and me. (Roundtrip: 478 Miles)

Scott Drotar Ocean
Here I am experiencing the beauty of the ocean for the first time.

Every one of these road trips is special in its own way, and they all impacted my life and who I am today. We do not often think about how much our ability to travel impacts our life, but your experiences with the world around you plays a large part in shaping who you are. If not for the freedom to get out into the world (like my conversion van gave me), chances are you would be a very different person. Think about all of the cherished memories you have from your own family vacations and road trips. The moments fighting with siblings in the cramped back seat, and the first time you saw the ocean, breathed in that crisp, sea air, and just gazed out at that endless blue water. These memories are not only sentimental and emotionally special, but they also helped you grow and develop into the incredible person you are. All of the miles you travelled and places you saw had an influence on your life. They helped you bond with your family, learn about the world around you, and taught you many valuable life lessons that you have carried with you ever since. Be sure to acknowledge the effects these moments with your loved ones on the open road made, and also try to continue these fun-filled adventures with your own family. Most of all, remember that your mobility and ability to travel freely is a great privilege, and that there are people who do not have the opportunity to explore the amazing world we live in. Do not take this freedom for granted, and appreciate all of the incredible gifts these trips have given you.

Total Miles Driven: 6,390

Flat Tires Fixed: 3

Gallons of Gas Used: 391

Impact on My Life: Priceless

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A Message From Your Medicine Cabinet (Part 2)

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The American Recall Center, in celebration of “Patient Safety Awareness Week,” is holding a “Medicine Cabinet Clean-Out Challenge.” For this event, they have asked a few “influential bloggers” (their words, not mine) to write an article about responsibly using your medications and sharing some personal experiences. They asked yours truly to participate, and I was more than happy to oblige. I know it is coming a couple days late, but today’s article is the piece I wrote for their “challenge.” I hope you enjoy it, and that it makes you think about your own pharmaceutical use. 

In the first part of this article, you started learning about how important it is to be a responsible consumer when it comes to pharmaceuticals. We are quite fortunate to have so many incredible drugs right at our fingertips, but these life-improving medications can quickly become dangerous, life-threatening poisons if not used in the proper way. When we left off, we had covered the first aspect of being a responsible consumer by discussing how to properly store your medications. You also began reading about the second component of proper drug use, taking your medicines correctly. Due to the powerful, and potentially dangerous, effects that your meds can have on you, it is vital that you take all of your medications properly, because mistakes can be extremely harmful, and sometimes, fatal. This is something that I had to experience firsthand several years ago, and in an effort to drive this point home, I am going to share my story with you today. I will then move on to the final aspect of responsible pharmaceutical use, properly disposing of your medications.

Scott Drotar Patient Safety Awareness Week
The National Patient Safety Foundation celebrates “Patient Safety Awareness Week” every year by trying to educate people on the safe use of medications.

My second experience with taking my medications incorrectly was a much more serious situation than my first, which you read about in part one, and it is the main reason I am so careful with my meds today. About four years ago, my chronic pain got much worse, and I began working with my doctor to try to find a combination of painkillers that would better control my discomfort. Over several weeks and after trying multiple “cocktails” of pain meds, we eventually found a three drug combination that worked well. After a couple weeks of being on this mixture of painkillers, my pain was under control, but some strange things started happening to me. I first started seeing and hearing things that were not there. Initially, it was barely noticeable, but over time these imaginary sights and sounds turned into full fledged hallucinations. Over time it got so bad that I could not always tell what was real and what was not, and I thought I was going crazy. I was obviously terrified by this, and after speaking with my doctor, I thankfully found out that I was not losing my mind, but I was damaging it. It turns out that two of the painkillers he had put me on could have dangerous interactions that cause seizures in certain parts of the brain. In some cases, these seizures can cause audiovisual hallucinations. While I feel fortunate that no permanent damage was done and everything went back to normal after I stopped taking one of the drugs, this was a very dangerous drug interaction that could have had much more dire consequences. Even though my doctor and my pharmacist should have caught this potentially life threatening drug interaction before it ever happened, in the end it is my life and well-being that is at risk, so I am responsible for being knowledgeable about the medications I am taking. And once again, if I had merely taken a few minutes to read about my medications before taking them, I could have avoided this entire situation. I hope this story helps you understand how important it is to be a knowledgeable consumer when it comes to taking your medications, and that it is your responsibility to make sure that you are taking your drugs in a proper and safe manner.

Disposing of Your Medications

In addition to containing the instructions for safe and proper use of your medications, the paperwork that accompanies every medicine you obtain also has pertinent information about how to dispose of your drugs correctly, which is the third aspect of being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer. While we do not often consider how we should dispose of our unused meds as an important part of using our medications, this is a critical aspect of responsible drug use. One of the main reasons we do not think about the process is that you usually take the entire container before drugs expire. Every now and then however, you will find that a drug you rarely take has reached its expiration date, or you will try a prescription medicine that does not work and switch to a different drug before finishing the first, and in these types of situations it is important to make sure that you discard these expired and unneeded medicines in the proper way. Depending on the type of medication being discarded and where you live, the guidelines for how to best dispose of various drugs can differ, so it is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific process in your area. While the rules do differ by region to some extent though, there are some general steps that you can follow to get rid of your unneeded drugs in a responsible and safe way.

Scott Drotar Medication Disposal
Proper medication disposal is an often overlooked aspect of responsible drug use, but it is a critical part of using your medications correctly.

The first step to proper drug disposal is to be aware of your medications’ expiration dates, which can be found on the container’s label and the accompanying paperwork with the drug. Just like food, medicine does go bad after a certain length of time. The shelf life is different for every drug, but most meds that are taken orally and are not refrigerated last at least six months, if not longer. As I said before, since most meds have such a long lifespan, you will usually finish the entire bottle before they go bad, but occasionally you will have drugs that last beyond their expiration date. Once again, just like food that has reached its “use by” date, if a medicine has expired, it should always be discarded. You should never take expired medications, as they often have lost their effectiveness and could be dangerous for consumption. It is always best to properly dispose of the expired drug and get a new, fresh supply. This will not only ensure that you do not take a potentially harmful expired medication, but it will also guarantee that the drugs you take will have the potency and effect that you expect.

Once you have identified that one of your drugs has expired or should otherwise be discarded, the next step is to properly dispose of the medicine. Since depending on where you live the guidelines can differ, before you discard any meds the first thing you should do is talk to your pharmacist or contact your city’s trash service office to learn about any local guidelines for proper drug disposal. For example, I used to live in a city that had a “drug take-back program” that would allow you to bring in any unwanted medication to a certain, pre-designated location, and they would take the drugs and properly dispose of them for you, no questions asked. Once you are aware of any local regulations, the next step is to consult the paperwork that is with the medicine. If there are any specific instructions for discarding the drug, like flushing it down the toilet (never do this unless specifically stated), it will be clearly identified and explained in this documentation. If there are no specific instructions listed, you can safely throw away the unneeded meds in the following manner. Remove the medications from their original containers and put them in a resealable plastic bag. Next, add a large amount of any unappealing, inedible substance (dish soap, kitty litter, coffee grounds, etc.) to the bag and mix it with the unwanted medications. This will make your discarded drugs undesirable to animals and unusable to people who may be dumpster diving. You can then dispose of this sealed bag in any trash can. Following these general rules will ensure that you are doing your part to properly dispose of your unwanted medications, and it will complete the process of being a responsible pharmaceutical consumer.

Scott Drotar Expired Medications
Medicine, just like food, has a shelf life, and it is important to properly dispose of your expired medications.

I will admit, for me personally, this is the part of being a responsible medication consumer that I struggle with most. I do not like wasting anything, whether it be time, food, or medicine. On top of that, I am a bit of a pack rat, and I can always come up with some outlandish, hypothetical reason to hang on to something. These personality traits often make it difficult for me to get myself to throw away unused prescription drugs that I stop taking before I finish them. I always think to myself, “What if I end up trying this medication again in a few months at a higher dose? Why waste such expensive medicine?” Even though I know I should discard the old meds, these thoughts have caused me on occasion to save my unneeded prescription drugs long after I stopped taking them. The funny thing is that I have never had a situation arise where I actually wound up using any medications I have saved “just in case,” and I always end up throwing these drugs away a year later anyway, when they finally expire. While this may not be the best way to go about things, I do always follow the proper guidelines for disposing of my meds, even if I do it a year late. I am a work in progress, I guess.

Final Thoughts

You are now fully equipped to become a responsible pharmaceutical user. You have learned how to correctly store your medications, and you are more aware of the dangers associated with taking your medicines in an improper way. You also now know how to dispose of your expired and unneeded drugs in a safe and responsible manner. Following the information contained within these three aspects of responsible medication use will allow you to take advantage of the huge health benefits that modern pharmaceuticals can provide, while also ensuring that you are doing so in a safe way. Remember that it is up to you, as the person using these medications, to be knowledgeable about your meds and how to properly use them. Take the time to read the documentation that accompanies every drug you buy, because spending a few minutes reading these pamphlets could be the difference between life and death. My final piece of advice is to use common sense and trust your instincts. If you ever get even a tiny feeling that you may be using a medicine improperly, do not take it and consult your pharmacist or physician. If you do that, and do your best to follow the guidelines described above, you will not only be a responsible consumer of pharmaceuticals, but you will also have a much happier, healthier life.

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A Life Of Service

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Late last Thursday night, the Notre Dame community, and honestly the world as a whole, had to say goodbye to a very special and influential man, Father Theodore Hesburgh. Before I delve into who this man was and discuss what he accomplished throughout his amazing life, I want to share with you my initial, emotional reaction at hearing about his passing. While some of you may have already read it, here is the Facebook post I wrote immediately after I learned of his death, as I was trying to cope with this unexpected and depressing news.

“Today we mourn the loss of a great man and patriarch of the entire Notre Dame family. He served for 35 years as the university’s president, but his impact on the Irish community goes far beyond his time in office. From his work on civil rights that earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 to running with the Olympic torch that now resides in his private office atop the library named in his honor, “Father Ted” was always working to make “our lady’s university” a better place for its students. His work and dedication has played such a large part in the lives of every graduate of the university, that his impact can be felt in all of the good that Notre Dame alumni have done throughout the world. Whether you were lucky enough to actually meet him or merely talked of him in rumors about how to sneak into his “penthouse” via his secret elevator, every student who was lucky enough to study under the Golden Dome had an enormous amount of respect for this man and his service. He will be missed by all of ND Nation, but he will never be forgotten, as his works and wisdom will forever be reminders of what it means to lead a fulfilling life in service of others. As we mourn this great loss and celebrate his incredible life, it is important to remember that we, the University of Notre Dame graduates that he dedicated his lifetime to serving, are his legacy. It is now our privilege as brothers and sisters of the Notre Dame community to live our lives the way he taught us, with overflowing kindness, unending compassion, and an insatiable curiosity.”

As you can tell from my words, even though I never got the privilege of meeting him personally, Father Hesburgh had an enormous impact on me. In recognition of this amazing man, I would like to share with you a bit about who he was, and more importantly, how he was able to make such a large influence on the lives of others.

Scott Drotar Father Hesburgh
Father Hesburgh served his country by working on appointments for six different presidential administrations.

Theodore Martin Hesburgh was born in 1917 as one of five children, and in his 97 years he achieved some truly astonishing things. He took his vows and was ordained as a priest with the Holy Cross Congregation in 1943, served as the president of the University of Notre Dame for 35 years from 1952 to 1987, and made a major impact on numerous political and theological issues for over 50 years. He had a Guinness world record of over 150 honorary degrees, was appointed to over a dozen White House positions under six different presidents, and even unofficially broke the speed record of 2,193 miles per hour at the age of 62. He held many high ranking positions and was awarded countless, prestigious awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and serving as the chairman of the board for the Rockefeller Foundation. Even with everything that he accomplished throughout his life and all of the accolades he was given though, those of us who are lucky enough to call ourselves sons and daughters of our lady’s university will remember him for a much different reason. We will remember this incredible individual, not for what he achieved throughout his life, but for the way he achieved it.

Father Hesburgh lived his entire life in the service of others. Whether it was serving his students on campus, serving his country by working with the president on civil rights issues, or serving the worldwide, Catholic community by bringing more progressive thinking to the Church, he was always trying to make the world a better place for everyone else. What is even more impressive though, is that he did all of these amazing things, not because he wanted prestige, fame, or money, but because it was the right thing to do. Even when he knew his decisions or actions would not be in agreement with major political or religious groups, like his disagreement with President Nixon over the use of federal troops to limit campus anti-war protests or when he went against the Catholic Church by endorsing the search for truth over religious indoctrination in 1967, he would still do what he believed was best for others. He made such a huge impact on the world simply by living his life with a generous, kind heart, a ravenously curious mind, and the unquestioning belief in doing what was right. This is the most important gift he gave those of us who were fortunate enough to be touched by his work. He modeled how to lead a fulfilling, successful, and meaningful life for thousands of Notre Dame graduates, and by showing us how to live in service to the world, he gave us the ability to change it. It is these teachings, and the work done by Notre Dame alumni because of them, that will be his lasting legacy.

Scott Drotar Father Ted
“Father Ted,” as Notre Dame students call him, served as the university’s longest tenured president for 35 years.

“Father Ted” probably had a greater impact on my life than any other person that I have never met in person. His never-ending devotion to living life the right way and in the service of others is in large part the example I try to follow as I pursue my mission of helping people lead happier lives. In addition, his lifelong pursuit of truth and passion for learning was a major influence in my own insatiable thirst for knowledge. The most important lesson I took from Father Hesburgh however, was how crucial it is to have the courage to do what you know is right, even when you know that the people around you will disagree with your choice. You have to have the strength and conviction to stand up for what you believe in, in order to make a difference in the world and improve the lives of others. This is something that he modeled with perfection for half a century, and it is the standard I am trying to live up to in my own journey. I, like so many other loyal sons and daughters of Notre Dame, will always remember Father Hesburgh, and he will forever be an influential part of our lives. We now have the privilege of continuing his work by making our own mark on the world using the lessons he taught us, and in doing so ensuring that his legacy and impact on the world will never be forgotten.

Scott Drotar A Life Of Service
Father Hesburgh lived his entire life in the service of others, which is something we should all strive to achieve.

“My basic principle is that you don’t make decisions because they are easy; you don’t make them because they are cheap; you don’t make them because they’re popular; you make them because they’re right.”
–Theodore Hesburgh

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Her Many Hats

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Scott Drotar Mom's Birthday
It is a big day for Roll Models, because it is the day that one of the most influential people in my life was born. Today is my mom’s birthday.

Today is a very special day both for me and for Roll Models. Today is the day that one of the most important and influential people in my life was brought into the world (many, many years ago). Today is my mom’s birthday. I was having trouble trying to decide what to write about this amazing lady, who will always be the number one woman in my life, and I thought that my writer’s block was because I had already written so many articles about my magnificent mom. I have shared with you the sacrifices she has made for me, how she is always ready at the drop of a hat to travel the 600 miles to come take care of me, and the courage she has shown in letting me live my own, independent life. I actually thought that maybe I had run the well dry on this topic and would need to come up with some other way to celebrate her birthday. After I thought about my creative constipation for a while and why I could not think of a suitable way to honor my mother on her special day though, I realized that my mental block was not because I had too little to write about, but because I have too much. There are so many incredible things I could share with you about this wonderful woman that it is hard to pick out just one. It would be like picking the best Beatles song or your favorite Robert Frost poem. You cannot pick just one since they are all great and meaningful in their own way. To solve this little quandary, I decided to not pick just one thing to write about, and instead tell you about several of the countless ways that she has made my life so successful and fulfilling.

My mother went to Ball State University and graduated with a degree in both instrumental and choral music education. While this is her only official academic training, like all mothers out there, she also has a thorough understanding of all of the various techniques necessary for raising happy, healthy, well-behaved children. Things like being nurturing and soothing when her children are upset, being the warden when they misbehave, and all of the other skills that moms seem to possess almost like magic. However, unlike most other mothers, whose role as caregiver and such decreases over time as their kids grow into teenagers, due to my disability my mom had to continue her caregiver role until I graduated and moved off to college. Not only did she have to continue to take care of me for 18 years, she also had to learn a myriad of other skills in order to keep me safe and make my life as “normal” as possible. When I think about all of the different things she had to learn to do over the years, often with no prior training or notice, I often think of her as wearing many different hats, each of which represents another part she had to play in the story of my life. Most of these roles were not things she had ever wanted to be or had much knowledge of, but if there was a hat she needed to wear to make my life work, she put it on without saying a word. To celebrate her birthday, I have decided to share with you a few of the many hats in my mom’s closet.

Scott Drotar Nurses Hat
While she received no formal training, my mom learned the skills she needed and put on her nurse’s hat to keep me safe and healthy.

One of the hats she wore the most, in fact she probably wore out a few, was her nurse’s cap. My mom has absolutely no medical training, nor did she ever plan on getting any, but as soon as I was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy she put this hat right on. My mom knows more about the respiratory system, physical therapy, and pain management than a lot of second year med students, and she learned it all on the fly, without any training, and without a safety net. Despite all of this, she absorbed it all and kept me safe and healthy my entire life. Another piece of headgear that she never would have dreamed of wearing is the trucker style hat of the wheelchair technician. My mother will be the first to admit that she is not mechanically inclined, and she has no interest in tools, axles, or motors. Even though she had little natural ability or previous interest though, as soon as my wheelchair broke down for the first time, she was happy to

Scott Drotar Chef's Hat
It is a-me, a-chef a-mommy.

put on that foam-billed cap and get her hands dirty. She is even more skilled than many actual wheelchair techs, because she often had to work with next to no tools (it never failed that my wheelchair would break down away from home), and instead just try to “MacGyver” a quick fix. One of the more fun hats she had in her arsenal is her nutritionist/dietitian/chef’s hat. When you have a physical disability that keeps you immobile and in a wheelchair, it is often very difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Most people who use power wheelchairs are either much too heavy or, as in my case, much too thin (this is a generalization not a rule). Throughout my life my mom has been painstakingly cooking anything and everything she can to try to entice me to eat more and fatten me up. Whether it was driving 30 minutes to get some fast food because that is what sounded good to me or spending hours in the kitchen after working all day to make my favorite meals, she was always quick to dress up like Chef Boyardee and put some pounds on me.

These are just a handful of the hundreds of different hats that my mom has worn over the years to make my life better. While I have taken over most of these jobs and wear these hats myself now that I am grown and living on my own, there is one role that I hope she never gives up. As great as she was as a nurse and as cool as she looked in her chef’s hat, it is the role she plays when she takes off all the headgear that is the most important to me. She is at her best when she is not wearing any hat, when she is being my mom. When she is being the person I want by my bed when I am sick and the person that texts me any day I do not post an article on my blog. When she is willing to, in an instant, learn any new skill or trade and wear any hat, if it means that my life will be better or easier, even if it is something she has no interest in. When she is being the woman who will always love me more than anyone else. That is when she is in her natural role, being my mother.

As I go about my life out here on my own, wearing many of the hats that my mom had to wear for so many years, I am so thankful for having the amazing mom that I do. I now know how hard it is sometimes to have to fulfill a role that you have no training in or desire

Scott Drotar Her Many Hats
I may be the one wearing her many hats now, but my mother will always play her most important role in my life, being my mom.

to learn at a moment’s notice, and I am thankful that my mother carried that burden for so long. I am also thankful that she not only wore all of these hats, but also taught me how to wear them as well, to prepare me for a life on my own. I am most thankful though that she will always be there playing her most important role, and one that I could never take over, of being my mom. I know that no matter how far away I move or how independent I become, that she will always be there for me, ready to do anything I need her to. She will always love me more than anyone else, and more than I could probably even fathom, and that is by far the most important part she plays in my life. To my mom, Happy ##th Birthday (I will not put the number for all to see). I hope you have an amazing, perfect day, and that dad is taking you someplace nice for dinner. Most of all, know that I love you. Even if I do not say it often, it is always true. You are, and always will be, the number one woman in my life, even if you do not get to wear any more terrific hats.

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More Than Blood

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Rarely a week goes by on www.scottdrotar.com where I do not post an article about my family and how great they are. I have written about my sister protecting me like a tigress watching over her cubs, the incredible sacrifices that my mom has made over the years to give me the opportunity to have the life I have always dreamed of, the unbreakable, indescribable bond between my brother and I, and the way my father refused to let my physical limitations prevent me from sharing his passion for sports. These posts, and countless others, have shown you how important my family is to me. While these four individuals who I am most closely linked to genetically will always have a special connection with me that no other relationship could ever come close to matching, that does not mean that there have not been other people in my life over the years that I would consider “family.” “Family,” and I mean family in a broader sense of the word, is so much more than biology and being genetically more similar to certain people than others. It is about sharing your day-to-day life with people, caring about their safety and happiness more than you do your own, and loving them in an unconditional, unquestioning way that is beyond words, yet you know it when you feel it. Relationships like this may not happen often outside of your actual family unit, but when they do, they can have an enormous impact on your life.

Scott Drotar Ed
Although we are not related by blood, Ed is definitely someone I consider family.

Whenever I think about my “family,” the first person that comes to mind is a close friend of my father’s, Ed. Ed initially entered into my world before I was even born as a lineman on one of my dad’s high school football teams many, many moons ago. After graduating and going off to college (ironically, to the same college as my father), Ed came back into my life (I was just a baby at this point) when he was hired as an assistant football coach under my dad, and eventually as a coworker of both my parents as a high school, English teacher. Even though my father and Ed were quite a bit different in age, their personalities and backgrounds were similar enough that they quickly became very good friends. For the entirety of my childhood growing up, Ed was always a big part of my life. We celebrated holidays together, he would babysit my siblings and I, and he even learned a lot of my care related to my disability. One year he even went with us on a road trip to Disneyworld for a “family” vacation, and if spending 22 hours in a car with three kids that are not your own does not make you “family,” I do not know what does.

Ed was like an “uncle” or “big brother” to me throughout my childhood, and during this time he taught me so many things about life and happiness that I still carry with me today. By living his life with a fun-loving attitude and smile on his face, he showed me that, even as an adult, it is alright to be a “big kid” sometimes. He also taught me that it is alright to like things that people think are uncool, childish, or geeky, through his love for things like “Speed Racer” and the television series, “Highlander” (he even had a replica of Duncan’s katana). Ed was a rather large man (he was often referred to as “Big Ed”), and while he was not unattractive by any means, he was definitely not a Calvin Klein model either. By getting to see him date women over the years, I learned that even though I am in a wheelchair, have a trache, and look different from what is generally considered physically “attractive,” that does not mean I cannot date beautiful women. He even taught me about how to approach and speak to women (or as he would always say “pick up hot babes”) with confidence and charm, because I have a lot to offer and the worst that can happen is they politely say no. Much to my mother’s dismay, Ed also told me that it was important to be a little rebellious sometimes, by taking me to see movies that my parents would not allow and sneaking me CDs of music with lyrics they would not approve of (he gave me a Kid Rock album in a Bon Jovi CD case for Christmas one year). And of course, the most important thing he imparted upon me was the delicate art of creating the perfect, chocolate milkshake (even John Travolta would agree that it is worth at least $5).

Scott Drotar $5 Milkshake
Ed taught me many important things about life, like how to make the perfect milkshake.

By far the most valuable thing that Ed brought to my life though was his role as a constant in my life, a “safety net,” that I knew was always there for me. I knew without a doubt that I could go to him with any problem I was having that I could not go to my parents with, and he would give me whatever help and guidance I needed. I felt this way because, just like the four members of my immediate family, we had been together for so long that we had forged a strong, unwavering connection. We had seen each other at our best, like when he won a trip to Vegas at a golf competition or when I gave my valedictorian’s speech to my high school class. We had also seen each other at our worst, like when I nearly died and got my trache or when he had some medical issues and found out he was diabetic. We had spent hours in a car together, gotten each other out of trouble, and probably more often, gotten each other into trouble, but throughout it all we always knew we had each other’s back, no matter what. Just like a toddler wants to know that their parent is sitting nearby before exploring their environment, Ed being a constant source of comfort in my life helped me expand my horizons. Having the knowledge that, if I needed it, someone was there to catch me if I fell, gave me the confidence to break some rules, take some risks, and live a full, exciting life.

Ed, or “Falcon Eddie” as I would call him, is definitely someone that is as much a part of my “family” as anyone else. While my parents, siblings, and I will always have a special connection with each other that is more powerful than any other, it is not because of blood or genetics. This unbreakable, familial bond is so special because of the time we have spent together, the memories we have created, and the unconditional love that we share. Since my immediate family has been a part of everything in my life, we share the strongest connection, but other “family” members, like Ed, who have been constants in my life are not far behind. Who in your own life would you consider “family?” Take the time to think about these people, and how much they have meant to you. Make sure that these individuals, who have had such a huge impact on your life, are aware of how you feel about them, because it is important to tell your “family” how much you love them. This is so important, since in the blink of an eye it could be too late, and you do not want to miss your chance to share your feelings with these major influences on your success. Telling them how you feel will not just bring happiness to their life, but it will also remind you of all of the happiness that they have brought to yours, which is what family is all about.

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His Greatest Achievement

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Scott Drotar Lifetime Achievement Award
My father was given a lifetime achievement award for his more than two decades of service to the students of John Glenn High School.

This year the school district where my father works awarded my very deserving dad with a lifetime achievement award for his nearly 25 years of service as a teacher and coach to the students of John Glenn High School (JGHS). In bestowing this prestigious honor upon him, I am sure that they will bring up the numerous teams he has coached, the dozens of different classes he has agreed to teach over the years, and his work to improve the school’s AP program for college bound seniors. While all of these accomplishments are worthy of praise and recognition, these types of things are by no means his greatest achievements as an educator. His most important accomplishments as a guide for his students did not occur in the classroom, on the football field, or softball diamond, and the impact that he has made is far more valuable than any tackling technique or test score. His greatest feats as a teacher are things that his students will remember and carry with them for the rest of their lives, as they mature into successful, happy adults.

One Summer several years ago, I had gone out with my father to run some errands around town, and he needed to stop by the high school to grab something out of his classroom. As he ran down to his room to grab whatever he wanted to pick up, I decided to stop in the school’s main office to say “hello” to my old guidance counselor. While I was in the office talking about my time at Notre Dame and such, the newly hired assistant principal of the school walked in. After introducing ourselves, I came to find out that even though he was now going to be my dad’s superior, he had actually been a student of my father’s years before at another high school. This was strange enough to hear, but as I was waiting on my dad to return, this young administrator told me a story about my father that I will always remember. Not only will this story forever remind me of how amazing and wise my father is, but it is a great example of the way he has made a lifelong difference in the lives of so many of his students.

Scott Drotar Young Teacher
Even as a young teacher and coach, my father was extremely devoted to making an impact on the lives of his students.

When my father was just starting his career as a high school teacher, he worked at a school in a rural, farming community in Northern Indiana as the government teacher and football coach. During this time, the new assistant principal of JGHS was a senior and both a student of my father’s as well as a player on his varsity football team. He was a popular guy and a leader on the team with a bright future ahead of him, but as so often happens with hormone crazed teens however, life happened, and he and his girlfriend got pregnant. An unplanned pregnancy is something that fully grown, mature couples can barely deal with, and for a couple of high school kids, who cannot even buy a lottery ticket, this type of situation is even more impossible to manage. A few days after learning this life altering news, this young father-to-be went to speak to my dad after school one day to discuss how it may affect his ability to remain on the football team. It was this conversation with my father that this young man credits with having the greatest impact on him during this trying time in his life. He even believes that without my dad’s guidance that he would not have been able to overcome this adverse set of circumstances and create a successful life.

After hearing about his life changing situation, my father had this troubled teen take a seat in one of the student desks in his classroom, and my dad sat down in a desk right across from him. Out of everyone this adolescent had spoken to about the pregnancy, this 18 year old was being talked to and treated like a man for the first time, because that is what he had to be now that he was having a baby. My father did not talk down to him as an adult to a child, but instead like a man, an equal, advising another man. My dad basically said that the most important thing was to do right by this child, and that he would have to sacrifice some things in order to make this kid his number one priority. My wise father did not pretend to have all the answers or know what to do, but by helping this young man gain some perspective and re-prioritize his life, he got him on the right track to overcoming this difficult situation. While he did not receive any specific advice on how to move forward, the scared, 18 year old kid that entered my father’s classroom that day left that room a much more confident, mature young man, thanks to the wisdom and guidance of my incredible dad.

This emotional, inspirational story about how my father helped this distraught teenager keep his life on track was moving enough on its own, but the look on the face of the now assistant principal made it even more powerful to hear. As I listened to him recount this tale from his past, I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he remembered how my father had made him feel that day many years ago. The look on his face and the inflection in his voice made it obvious how much that conversation meant to him, and the immense amount of gratitude and respect he had for my dad because of it. You could tell that this young administrator truly believed that if not for the guidance of my father, he would not have been able to keep his life in order, graduate from high school, raise a family with his high school sweetheart, and become a high school principal. And while you would think that this sort of life altering event would be a one time occurrence for the careers of most teachers, and for lesser men than my father that would probably be true, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for Mr. Drotar. I cannot begin to tell you the number of former students and players we have bumped into over the years who have that same look on their face when they come up and shake my dad’s hand. Even though most of these thankful individuals did not have anything as life changing as a teen pregnancy to deal with, they all had the same feelings of respect and admiration for my father and the way he treated them as adolescents. They are all grateful for the way he treated them as young, emerging adults and the life lessons and wisdom he was always willing to share.

Scott Drotar His Greatest Achievement
My father has accomplished many things during his career, but his greatest achievement are the successful individuals out in the world whose lives he has touched.

Anyone who has worked with my father for any length of time would definitely agree that this recognition of his years of dedication and service to the students of JGHS is much deserved and long overdue. While this award may focus on his students test scores and the number of winning teams he has put on the field during his career, the people who really matter, the thousands of young men and women who have sat in his classroom, know that his greatest professional achievements have little to do with academics or athletics. His greatest accomplishments as a teacher are the happy, successful individuals that were able to grow into functioning members of society thanks to the wisdom my father passed on to them. These life lessons and guidance will never show up on any spreadsheet of test scores or in a box score of a high school football game, but that does not mean that they are not important. If anything, the fact that these words of wisdom he has shared with so many young minds were done without any recognition or acclaim makes his sage-like guidance that much more incredible. I want to say congratulations to my incredible father for this much deserved award for his life of dedication to his students. I am so extremely proud that I get to introduce you as my father, and I hope that the wisdom you have imparted on me has helped me to grow into a man that you are proud to call your son. You are a terrific teacher, an amazing coach, and most of all a phenomenal father. I love you and hope that you enjoy your time in the spotlight (although I know you will want to return to your spot behind the scenes as quickly as possible).

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A Humbling Revelation

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As you are well aware by now, I am a huge nerd and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. I am constantly reading a book on some new topic that interests me or teaching myself some skill that I have always wanted to learn. Between my never-ending quest for enlightenment and spending eight years of my life in college and graduate school, I have accumulated a plethora of facts, skills, and expertise in a variety of areas, and I am learning more every day. Despite my wealth of knowledge (most of it being useless sports and movie trivia), an IQ north of 130, and multiple college degrees from top universities, I had a conversation the other day that reminded me of how dumb I really am. Maybe dumb is too strong a word, but I did have a humbling revelation about how little I actually know about life. This epiphany as to my own ignorance helped me realize some important things about my place in the world and reminded me of some valuable lessons that are vital to living a fulfilling life.

Scott Drotar A Humbling Revelation
Graduating from a prestigious university does not necessarily mean that you know more about life than a high school dropout.

One of the best parts about having a team of nurses with you at all times is that you get to meet people from all walks of life. I have had nurses of all different ages and from more than seven different countries over the years, and it has been quite educational to get to listen to all of their stories. The other day I was talking to one of my nurses, who was born and raised in Kenya, about her weekend plans, and she mentioned that her and her husband were helping with a wedding. After talking with her about this a little more, I came to find out that what we think of as a wedding in the United States is very different from the way they do things in Kenya. It would take me a long time to go through it all here, and I doubt I would get it all right anyway, but a Kenyan wedding ceremony is quite a thing to see. They have an entire set of rituals that they “act out” in a way to remain in touch with their cultural customs in our modern world. There is a fake kidnapping, family rivalry, and a lot of other important, yet exciting, practices that they adapted to modern times to tie the knot. It was extremely interesting to get to listen to my nurse tell me about her culture, and as I was thinking about everything she had told me later that day, I had an enlightening insight into the world and my place in it.

After learning about how the Kenyan culture celebrates a wedding, I realized how much I do not know about the world. This is the first time that I can remember looking at knowledge and intelligence in terms of how much I do not know instead of how much I do know. Even with a topic as basic and important to any culture as a wedding, I know very little beyond my own limited experience. In the grand scheme of things, I really know next to nothing about weddings when you look at how much knowledge is actually out there to take in. I also realized quite quickly that if I know so little about a concept as common as a wedding, then I surely know even less about other more advanced or complex subjects. For someone who has been told his entire life how smart he is and has devoted a lot of time and energy to obtaining knowledge, this realization was quite humbling to say the least. I finally gained the perspective to see how much is out there to learn, and how little I actually know in comparison. While this was a bit off putting and discouraging at first, I soon realized that I should not see this as something to be discouraged by, but as a golden opportunity.

Now that I have come to terms with how little I know about even basic topics, there is so much more information out in the world for me to obtain. While it is a bit overwhelming to think about how much you have to learn, and it did make me feel a little like a fly on an elephant’s ass to think about what I know compared to how much knowledge is out there, for a nerd like me recognizing that there is a seemingly infinite amount of information out in the world waiting for me was very exciting. Not only that, but since everyone has their own unique, distinct background, I realized that there is not a person on this planet that does not have something to teach you about life, if you are willing to listen. So frequently we are only willing to listen to or learn from academic types with numerous degrees and titles, and these brilliant individuals do have a lot to teach you, but that does not mean that other, less formally educated, people have nothing to share with you too. My grandfather has taught me so much more about life than probably any of my teachers, and he never finished high school. Whether someone is a Fulbright scholar giving a prestigious talk or a high school dropout sitting next to you on the bus, they both have a story to tell and something to teach you. If you want to truly learn about life and how to be happy and successful, all you have to do is take the time to listen to anyone who is willing to share their story, no matter who they are.

Scott Drotar Socrates
Even Socrates was aware of how little any one person can know about life and the world.

One of the greatest thinkers of all time, Socrates (pronounced, “so crates”), once wrote, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” While I am not sure it is the “only true wisdom,” I do think that realizing both how much there is out in the world to learn, as well as how little you know in comparison, is an important aspect of leading a successful, happy life. If you look at this humbling situation as an opportunity to learn and grow as a person, there is so much for you to gain. Like any other topic, and even the lessons in this blog, by learning from others about their lives, you can obtain valuable lessons that you can apply to your own. Take a moment to stop and think about the immense amount of knowledge there is to be learned, and then take advantage of this realization to improve your life. Remember that everyone has a story to share and a lesson to pass on, if you are only willing to sit there, shut up, and listen.

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