Monday, February 20, 2017

Life is Beautiful

February 20, 2017
Life is beautiful and so are you!
Our country was founded around the motto of "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" The saying was utilized because while in the old world those that did not fit into the cultural norms could come to America and still become successful. This was because as a new Nation our strength was in our diversity. Occasionally in our lives we will experience some degree of pain because we are not exactly like "the others". The more unique we are it seems the more pain we experience as we try to fit in. One of my favorite quotes is from George Bernard Shaw, "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." We could easily replace "unreasonable" with different or unique in this quote. In other words if we were all the same and all focused on the same thing then progress would not occur. This is why our differences make us great. Life in this Nation is a tremendous gift a gift we should never underestimate or waste.

As the Mayor of Mantorville I normally write an article for the paper with an intended audience of around twelve hundred people. This week my audience is substantially smaller. I hope that everyone reads my article even if you are not one of the few that are in my target audience because perhaps you know someone that could benefit from these words. I started writing this article several times and it is by far the hardest article I have ever had to write. I struggled with if I should even write an article like this let alone the contents that would be appropriate for this article. After having struggled with this content I realized how hard the topic is to even mention let alone engage in a meaningful dialog about. In the end I knew that I had to write this article because if I could reach just one life, If I could just raise one question in one person’s mind, If I could just give one person a “pause”, then my efforts would be well served. The difficulty I encountered writing this article is nothing compared to the unimaginable difficulty one must face when first standing up and saying “I need some help”. Just as I had to write this article, you HAVE to standup and ask. I know it is hard, I know your scared but I also know you just don’t want to hurt any more. Trust me! We are stronger together than we are apart. Together we can and will find a solution.

The best is yet to come:
When I was in school, I would always hear people say “oh that is the best time of your life” somehow I knew even then that can’t be true. After graduation and having worked for awhile I found this in fact was not the case. There are some amazing days still ahead, days you can’t even imagine. These future days will help put any bad days into perspective. This knowledge alone may not comfort the pain your in right now, but there are solutions. I know there are many people in our community and probably even a few in your own life that have had similar experiences as the one your are facing now. The reason we have a network of people that we trust and rely on is so that together we can lean and grow from each others experiences and life lessons.

Life can be difficult, we all have to fight life challenges and remember to celebrate life's gifts. I find it helpful to look at others experiences when I am struggling with difficulties.

In High School one of my friends, Angie, was diagnosed with Leukemia and told that there was very little hope. The doctors told her to think about what she wanted do with her last days, Angie said she wanted go to school and prepare for her future. Her parents would later tell me that they thought she was in denial, Angie insisted on going through some very painful treatments and continued to go to school. Angie has been in remission for over 30 years now, she graduated High School on time and with her class and went on to get a BS from the University of Iowa. The doctors explained that young patients are more resilient, her parents said it wasn't in God's plan, but I think the most important thing was no matter how bad the situation was she never gave up. Angie has a beautiful daughter now, she has a great legal practice and is very happy. Angie's experiences show us that no matter how hard times seem especially in our younger lives, life has a way of turning around for us, we just need to fight and give life a chance.

Pain can be reduced:
In my article a few weeks ago I spoke about some life lessons from the Super Bowl. A common thread from many of those observations dealt with our emotions, perceptions and dealing with pain. We saw Tom Brady get sacked several times, we know by the end of the game he was dealing with some pain; however, once the Patriots won the game I don't think the QB was feeling anything except excitement. We also saw several players during that game stay down and allowed the team doctor to come out and evaluate the situation. The point here is that some degree of pain will actually make the good times seem even better but we need to be able to ask for help when the pain becomes too great. If a NFL player can stop and ask for help I think anyone of us should feel comfortable asking for help when we need it. Remember what Dr. Martin Luther King said “Only in the darkness can you see the stars”

Your Not Alone:
None of us do it alone. In the first story above Angie had the support of her parents, the doctors were working to help her and she had the encouragement and support of her friends. Just as Angie did not fight her fight alone, so too we do not have to fight through the pain by ourselves. There are many people that care about you and want to help.

For any given bad situation there are a dozen of possible solutions. As with any problem, look for a solution with the least possible “side affects” first then look for additional solutions. A good solution is one that can be reversed if it doesn’t work The only bad solution is a solution that involves permanent loss. I know and understand that you don’t want to hurt yourself, but I also understand that you just want the pain to stop. Together we can make that pain stop, we can find a good solution and we can enjoy those amazing future days together, but first you have to take that first step and ask. Ask a friend, ask a parent, ask a teacher, your principal, your superintendent, your doctor ANYONE! Just ask. It is not as hard as it seems just say “I am hurting and I don’t know what to do, can you help me?” After your conversation with your trusted “other” person, be ready to try several solutions and also keep the dialog open so together you can celebrate your success or formulate a new plan. Keep the conversation going and the pain WILL go away. Before doing anything severe if you don't know who else to reach out to pick up the phone and dial 9 1 1. This is a legitimate emergency and the dispatch team has more resources available than what I was able to mention here.

Be a friend:
If you know someone that you think may need some help, the most caring thing you can do is to start the conversation. Your friend may desperately want to talk to someone but be too afraid to reach out. If one of your friends jokes or implies that life would be better with out them or anything like that, take it seriously most people that follow through on their plan to hurt themselves have joked or kidded about it in the past. If you turn out to be wrong your friend will know how much they mean to you and your friendship will grow stronger. If you are correct, you might save a life and they will defiantly be a true friend to you in return. If you are concerned about how to start the conversation Dr. Jerry Reed has written a good article on the subject. Dr. Reed has been a leader in the suicide prevention movement for many years. He says, “Each of us in this field should be committed to looking to other areas, because the answers to some of our challenges lie in places we least expect them.” his remarks can be found at:

There are several resources available both on the National and local level. There is a text line that offers assistance, there are several phone numbers and numerous web sites. Below I have included information on a few of the resources that are available in addition to your personal support circle. These resources are listed as links on my blog at

Crisis Intervention - Suicide Hotline (507- 451-9100 )
Zumbro Valley Crisis Receiving (844.274.7472)

Mental Health Mobile Crisis Intervention & Stabilization
Minnesota Prairie County Alliance - Dodge County
22 6th St E, Dept 401, Mantorville, MN, 55955-2235
(507) 635-6170

 (612) 767-2846

NAMI also provides family support groups in our area.
7:00 p.m., meets the 1st Monday of each month at Christ Community Covenant Church, 540 SE 18th Street. Contact Judy at 507-451-0043.

Group 1: 7:00 p.m., meets the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month at NAMI SE Minnesota, 1700 Broadway Ave. N., Suite 104. Contact 507-287-1692.
6:00 p.m.,

Group 2: meets the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month, at Mayo Clinic/St. Mary's Hospital, Generose Bldg., in room 3-108 (the Rome Library). Parking validation available. Contact 507-287-1692.

A friends guide to help someone in need.

There are even several mobile applications that help with contacts, resources and establishing a safety plan. One of these is simply called “my3” and can be found here:

The ChildMind Institute has a web site devoted to the topic of suicide located at::

The American Psychological Associations web site on suicide is available at::

Minnesota Suicide Resources:

Find Your Hope:
Remember there are people that care about you and people that want to help. There are resources available there are many sources of help to restore hope and help with eliminating the pain you don't have to go it alone. The first step in making the pain go away is asking for help. Using the resources listed above, talking to your support group and working your safety plan together we can make the pain stop and help you see the hope for the future again. Now would be a good time to take the fist step and ask for help.
Yours in service,

Chuck Bradford,
Mayor - City of Mantorville

Monday, February 6, 2017

Life Lessons and a Game

February 6, 2017

Once every year we put aside our differences and together watch the same football game. This year the heavily favored New England Patriots faced the Atlanta Falcons. The game started out with the so called under-dog team shutting out the Patriots. Spencer, my son, was routing for the Falcons and by half time was chanting “game over”. For three quarters of the game Atlanta held a commanding lead. A lead so great a comeback from this far down had never been achieved in Super Bowl history.
After the longest Super Bowl in history was over, my son was very disappointed. I spoke to him about sportsmanship and as I spoke to him I drew some life lessons that apply in everyday life.

Lesson 1: Never Give up
When the Patriots looked up and saw a 28 to 3 score, it would have been understandable if they would have said, “Well this thing is over”. This was the Patriots seventh Super Bowl appearance and they did not get to be the AFC Champions by just accepting their fate. Even though a 25 point deficit has never been over-come in Super Bowl history (maybe not even in NFL history) the Patriots di not give up. After a half time “peep” talk, I wish I would been privy to, Julian Edelman made a catch no-one could ever make. A toss from Tom Brady that had no chance of being caught was plucked out of the air just before it hit the ground and Edelman held on to it as his weight and the weight of a falcon came down on his left shoulder. When the dust settled Edelman still had the ball in his hand. This was just an example of the renewed focus and dedication that New England brought to the second half. The patriots were able to rally and eventually bring in a win during over-time despite having been out played for 45 minutes of the game. This win was not achieved by luck or skill but by sheer determination to achieve greatness. The take away from this lesson. Things may look bleak, everyone around may say it can’t be done but if you know it CAN be done, you will succeed. Coach Vince Lombardi said: “The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back. That's real glory. That's the essence of it.”

Lesson 2: No matter the lead, it’s not over till the clock reads zero.
I think to some extent the Falcons were thinking the same thing as my son by half time. It was Game Over, this was their victory and they just had to relax and wait until the end of the fourth quarter when they would put their finger-prints on the Lombardi trophy. While the Patriots took the extra-long half time to perform some much needed introspection, the Falcons came out with the exact same game plan. The third quarter started with Atlanta looking strong, just as they had in the first half, but soon, the Patriots were able to make their adjustments and answer the Falcons lead with some of the needed points to close the 25 point  gap. The game came down to a two point conversion late in the fourth quarter to tie the game. The Patriots held the falcons on their final possession of the game and forced the game into the first ever over time in a Super Bowl. The Clock read zero and the board showed a tie of 28 to 28. The once sure thing had slipped away and a new game had started. Stunned, the Falcons watched as Tom Brady marched his team onto a fourth Super Bowl win, another Super Bowl first. The take away here is never assume just because things are good they will stay that way forever, make plans to assess your weaknesses and double down on your strengths. Don’t relax until that clock reads zero, not even for a moment.

Lesson 3: It’s ok to mess up, get over it
For the first forty five minutes of the game, New England was facing two opponents. The Falcons were executing a near perfect game plan and the Patriots were literally doing the opposite. While Atlanta was performing as a single cohesive unit and executing a well thought out game plan, the Patriots were making huge mistakes and were their own second opponent. To put it bluntly New England had messed up big time! Late in the game, somehow, they collectively took a breath, readjusted, looked at the situation differently and evaluated on-the-fly what they as a team were doing wrong. The team under Bill Belichick leadership “got over” the fact that they had stunk the last forty five minutes and said “You know what we still have 15 minuets left, let’s do this thing!” The New England Patriots did what had never been done in a Super Bowl, they came back from a huge deficit and forced the game into over-time . The take away from this lesson. Go ahead, mess up it’s ok. Learn from your mistakes, get over the fact that you’re not perfect, adjust and make a good situation out of a bad one.

Lesson 4: Things aren’t always what they appear.
At one point towards the end of the game, two opposing players ( Falcons DE Dwight Freeney and Patriots TE Martellus Bennett)  were standing very close together. Too close. The referee came over to break up the starting fight, but when he arrived found that the two players facemasks were interlocked. Both players took off their helmets and were able to resolve the interlock. The final lesson from this game was, don’t jump to conclusions! Just because something looks bad there are many ways to look at the same situation. If you don’t like the way something looks in your life look for a new way to look at the situation.

I finish up this article with one more quote from Vince Lombardi:

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

Remember, Life is beautiful. If life does not seem beautiful at the moment find a new way to look at the situation. Take time to assess what you’re doing and make plans to adjust anything you have messed up. Remember to forgive yourself, get over your mistakes and give yourself permission to win. These are this years lessons from a simple football game played on just another February Sunday.

Yours in service,

Chuck Bradford,
Mayor - City of Mantorville