The History of Me – Today is my Birthday



Yes, today is my birthday. January 1st has always been special for me all the way back to the youth days. My parents made it a big deal telling me that everyone in the world is celebrating my birthday. We started on December 31st as that was my dads birthday. So we celebrated that until midnight and then it was for me. They always told me the ball dropping in NYC was to let me know and the world it was Tom Knuppel’s birthday. I bought that until I was somewhere between 8 and 10 years old. But I told that story to my grandchildren to make them think the same thing. It didn’t work.






Let’s do some history diving.

I was a surprise baby by all accounts as my brothers and sister were all born 2 years apart….. until it came to me and it was a five year span. That is a sign, a clue that I wasn’t really a planned child. My parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl. They already had four boys (Richard, William, John and Lyle) and one daughter (Elizabeth Jane). What they did want that they admitted to me much later was to be born BEFORE January 1st in order to get the tax break in 1950 instead of waiting an entire year in 1951. Also, I was told that they promised my sister, Jane, I would be a girl. That didn’t work out. I was born in Peoria, Il at approximately 10:30 AM. That seems to be late but I was rewarded as the FIRST BABY born in Mason County in 1951, even though I was born at Proctor in Peoria. I won all the prizes. Things like diapers and powder and other things were given to me since I was a BORN WINNER! I guess things had no where to go from there except downhill. 🙂

What did I win for my family? Here are the prizes from the news clipping.





The one on here I love….Hurley Funeral Home transportation to and from the hospital (wait, I was already there) or $3 in cash. 






My mother and I were in the hospital for 10 days before they allowed her to go home. There wasn’t any problem it was just standard procedure to do that. I joke that she kept asking to stay another day so she could avoid the five children at home. My mom showed me, later in life, the copy of the hospital stay and for 10 days in 1951 was about $60.53! (I have the receipt) Oh wouldn’t that be nice today?

Jane was allowed to name me, at least to a certain degree, to help hide her disappointment that I was a boy. Never knew for sure how I became Thomas Lee. I was told that my mom never stayed home with me and if there was somewhere to go, she took me. Things like crowded high school gyms in the winter and loud, noisey stock car races in the summer. Yes, my dad had a stock car that he owned and operated on. But mom wasn’t about to allow him to drive it. After all, he has six kids at home and he had no business getting in any stock car wrecks.

My first recollection was about at the age of 5. A couple of things hit me. One is we had a big farmhouse and all the bedrooms were upstairs where the one and only bathroom was located. I shared a room with John and Lyle and it was the first room at the top of the stair to the right. The room was not big enough for three beds but could handle two beds and a baby bed. I slept in the bed until I was 8 years old and we moved to another house.

Another was my first trip (that I remembered) to Florida. Dad was already in Daytona Beach and mom and I stayed at a motel in Springfield that was owned by Lyle and Marge Drake. They were good friends of my parents. We got up the next morning and rode in a car with them all the way to Florida with me in the back seat playing quiet games. I never asked my self where the other kids were or why dad was already there. That answer will come later.

That’s all for now. I hope you join me in my adventure.



Thanks for reading about me. I will be posted articles from time to time in 2017. They won’t be in any particular order but rather stories that I remember and will share. I am currently raidng the scrapbook my mom diligently kept from my sports days from 6th grade through high school. If you know anybody that can transfer old newspaper clippings into a modern format, please let me know. Lastly, feel free to leave any comments about my stories. 




“It’s Not Fair” is Our Comfort Blanket


“It’s not fair.”

It is the phrase that has become society’s personal crutch. Three simple words that hinder people from taking ownership and responsibility for their actions. The sentence used as justification for us to fall apart. Often, we examine our experiences and instantly resort to pointing out what’s “unfair.”

To a certain degree, “It’s not fair” is our comfort blanket.

Yes, in many situations, things are unfortunate and completely out of our control. Circumstances arise and life throws some pretty hard curve balls. However, do you know what is in our control? The way we approach our adversity.

Stop Wallowing

We need to stop wallowing in sorrow and making excuses. You lost your job? Does that mean you should have a pity party for yourself? No. Work on your resume and start hunting for a new one. You did not get accepted into a program. Should you give up on your dream of being in the field? No. Start exploring alternative ideas and mapping out potential paths.

If you want something, fight for it. Do not become paralyzed by fear or rejection. Success comes through repeated mistakes. What is the worst that could happen? You get denied? Well at least you tried it. Sure, it might take 10 attempts, maybe 100, but if it’s your life dream: go for it! Keep striving for it until you see results.

Instead of focusing on the problems, start discovering solutions. Every new day is an opportunity to transform our lives. Heartaches and disappointment should not control us. Personal pain should not break our spirits.

Avoid becoming lost in comparing journeys with the people around you. Instead of constantly over-analyzing personal flaws, embrace them. Instead of taking in the disappointment, take in the memories. Just because things did not work in your favor now does not mean it will never happen.

Look for Opportunities

It’s about having optimism and being content — understanding that the timing you have planned might just not be what is right for you at this time. Maybe grad school is not happening right now, because an even greater is opportunity is coming along.

Actions always have consequences, but stop allowing them dictate your life. Sure, there will be times where you wonder “why?” There will be times where you put in so much effort, but there is no return. However, be comforted in knowing that is natural.

Someday when you achieve your dream, the satisfaction of knowing you fought for it will be invaluable.

We evolve every single day. Whether or not you realize it, you’re probably not the same type of person you were five years ago. Not even five months ago. Stop beating yourself up for regrets you may have about the past. Supposed “mistakes” often open doors of opportunity. Life isn’t fair. It is a balancing act of highs and lows. Ironically, that is what makes it beautiful. The challenges we face allow us to appreciate our successes. Rough times make great ones even greater.

It is OK to acknowledge something is not fair, but avoid resting in that state of mind. Challenges present the deepest learning experiences and sometimes, the most cherished memories. We might not know what lies ahead, but at least we have the power to choose what we leave behind.

“One is only poor, only if they choose to be…”

And oh I couldn’t understand it, for I felt I was rich
And I told them of the love my momma sewed in every stitch
And I told ’em all the story momma told me while she sewed
And how my coat of many colors was worth more than all their clothes


But they didn’t understand it
And I tried to make them see
That one is only poor
Only if they choose to be
Now I know we had no money
But I was rich as I could be
In my coat of many colors
My momma made for me
Made just for me

By Dolly Parton




People hate being poor. They frown upon being poor and certainly loathe it.

What we’ve lost sight of is that it’s… Okay to be poor, a good thing even.


Why? It’s a learning opportunity. A character building opportunity. For most of us, whether or not we’re poor is highly dependent upon our attitude.

If we believe that we can’t afford to live below our means, we probably won’t even try to find a way to make it happen. That’s a good way to make sure you never get ahead.

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.   Philipians 4:12

Instead, why not take the view that you really do have enough? A simple change in your point of view can make all the difference. It allows you to look for ways to use your resources more efficiently, so that you can not only live within your budget, but under it. After all, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, if you don’t live beneath your means, you can’t save/invest for the future.

Here are some important things I think we need to learn from being poor.

  • Stewardship. If we aren’t wise stewards of few resources, why would we be given many?
  • Contentment. It’s clichè, by its true; if we’re not content with little, there’s not a chance that we’ll be content with much.
  • Humility. It’s oh, so easy to be conceited in our wealth. Being the person without a smart phone (or whatever), keeps ya humble. A trait which will hopefully be carried over into wealthier times.
  • Adaptability. Being able to adapt to your financial situation can be an invaluable skill that will carry over into other areas of life.

Money is not the be all, end all.

Politeness Shouldn’t be Selective

Politeness Shouldn’t be Selective


Manners are something that just comes natural with some people. Sometimes it amazes me to see it in some people and not others in the same family. I was expected to be nice and say no sir and no ma’am and thank you along with excuse me. I always said please and thank you, and didn’t find it odd that these simple adages were expected of me; it was part of how I was raised, and it went a long way to showing mutual respect for another person by being polite to them.

The amazing part is some people are downright offensive to you using manners. They freak out, they cuss you out, they demean you for doing something your parents told you was the right thing to do. Elderly ladies don’t like to be call ma’am for many reasons and one of them it makes them sound old. Hmm. Politeness shouldn’t be selective, it should be given to everybody regardless of age, position in society or skin color. It shows you want to show respect.


I just don’t understand the reasoning behind becoming offended by, or being opposed to, being called ma’am or sir. I understand that in our society, which constantly struggles for progress, some people may see it as archaic in nature, an unnecessary representation of inferiority to another person or some other such intellectual nonsense that makes everybody’s head hurt. However, it’s insulting that the respect you show somebody is thrown right back at you, like he or she rejects your show of politeness just because his or her idea of what being polite means differs from yours. You’re left wondering how to respond to them while foregoing everything you have been taught to do when addressing another person. It’s offensive to be told that your show of respect isn’t accepted, and makes you feel as if it isn’t returned, either.

I once opened the door for two ladies going into a department store and one of them stopped and told me she could open her own d___ door. I just looked and her and said, ” I’m sorry for trying to be polite.” She didn’t respond.

I’m not going to stop practicing politeness because people may no longer expect it.

Put Some Silence into Your Life

Put Some Silence into Your Life

Put Some Silence into Your Life

Society, for the most part, appears to hate silence. We surround ourselves with noise. Sounds and beeps are all over the place. When is the last time you drove a car with no passengers and didn’t turn on the radio or CD player? We can’t stand it.

If we have noise going then we can avoid having confrontation with ourselves.  Yes, that is what is likely to happen. We will do anything to put noise into our lives including singing horribly out loud to ourselves. Silence is considered one of the great spiritual disciplines and the most avoided one of all.

Consider this quote from Roy Walsh, psychiatry professor quoted in the book The Search for Meaning:

Basically our lives are, to a large extent, spent in avoiding confrontation with ourselves. And then you can begin to make sense of the enormous amount of our culture’s daily activities, which attempt to distract us from ourselves, from deep reflection, from deep thinking, from existential confrontation. There’s a wonderful phrase by the philosopher Kierkegaard, “tranquilization by the trivial.” I think our culture has mastered this better than any culture in history, simply because we have the wealth and means to do so.

What makes silence difficult? People are action oriented and they complement our actions not our being. Think about the last time someone said to you “How are you?’ They want to have noise or conversation as they are afraid of silence.

If we slow down and put silence in our lives it would cause us to listen to ourselves and God. We would rather have a tornado buzzing around in our head as we don’t want to confront the mess we have inside and outside our head. No one can fix that but God.

The answer is simple (isn’t it always?), but undesired by most. We just simply need to add a little silence to our lives. Turn off all the noise, and then listen to the noise inside. I promise if you keep working on finding that inner silence, it will start to come and the peace that passes understanding will also find you too. Silence really is golden.

Let’s start treating like it’s worth what it actually is.


The opinions in this blog are those of Tom Knuppel

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