Sunday, October 15, 2017


“Y’all don’t go slidin’ into first base, yer gonna get yer jams dirt-eh…” said my middle school-aged Southern second cousin to his younger brother in his native drawl. 

“Maybe I wanna get my jams dirt-eh…it means I dared to play,” he replied with a smirk, smacking the baseball with all his might sliding into home plate as he intended.

This was innocent, pure wisdom in the middle of a baseball field.

It was TRUTH spoken from an authentic place from within my cousin’s core.  He was a child, but even then – he knew what he stood for.  He did not care about his jams, rather honored the jam from within his being. 

Cut-to a scene in New Orleans.  The year was Y2K.  It was January.  Hail the size of golf balls broke windows in the French Quarter from an unexpected storm, but that didn’t rattle NOLA. 

I had arrived with my business colleague to work the NATPE convention at the start of the dot com invasion of entertainment. We were there promoting a groundbreaking 
entertainment stream for mobile devices from a successful music producer, a TV executive, and one of the creatives from Lucasfilm.  

We had arrived early, greeting our digital clients at the historic inn where we discovered they were not quite ready to meet.  They told us to go hang out in the French Quarter, which we did without hesitation ending up walking toward Maison Bourbon to enjoy some music. 

As we approached the corner, jazz music began to swell in the room permeating out the front door attracting people like magnets. 

I watched a set of grandparents share the experience of enjoying music with their young adult grandchildren as they walked past. The elderly man lingered around the doorway taking it in. The grandson asked about Maison Bourbon, asking if this was ‘just a bar.”
His grandfather said, “This is the preservation of jazz and it’s important.” 

The grandson asked “Why? They’re just musicians jammin’…” 

The grandfather replied, “No, you’re wrong. It’s the value and integrity of music and what it represents. Preservation of what matters is all we have left.”  

Cut-to a scene at festival, where I was doing broadcast PR for gourmet foods and unique wares.  A woman named Millie was introducing her line of innovative herb jams, jellies, and marmalade. But this was no ordinary festival, nor ordinary jam.  This was one of the most challenging festivals to enter (now going on its 45th year), where every exhibitor is juried for handmade (not mass manufactured) original one-of-a-kind products with category limitations to increase opportunity for success.

She gave samples of her jam to attendees, ensuring attraction to what normally what people would bypass as ‘just jam.’  She had overheard one attendee saying this was so, and offered a sample to try to convince otherwise.  One raised eyebrow, and an unforgettable expression prompted the attendee to say, “Wow. That’s really good.  What makes it so special? And please don’t say, ‘love.’” 

She said, “Okay, I won’t say it, you can obviously taste it.”  

That’s all she said.  He bought three jars. 

Neither of these story memories have escaped me. They have been permanently etched in my brain in a pun-play-on-words of JAM in succession… because of how they are LINKED together with one common thread…CORE VALUES. 

Our core values, principles, and truth within our being hold a major piece of our authentic selves.

No matter what changes in our lives, from our thoughts or open-mindedness, our opportunity for learning and growing, it is our core values that we hold true in our heart and soul, which make us who we are. 

What we choose to preserve in our character, the integrity from which we operate to be honest in our actions or how we view life, ultimately define us at the end of each day.  

Without our core values – there is no rooting system for which we function with any basis of being that has meaning, depth and reality. This is why it is important and why we need it, to stay grounded at every turn.  

While there may be a constant questioning of and about life, it is necessary for us to understand our own foundation in order to springboard forward, onward and upward as we continue on this journey called life.  

Every human’s ideas, parameters, measurement, and perception of what their jam is in every field of core value categorization may differ. 

Of course, this is based on human experience, soul experience and accrued processes of individual or the collective mind-heart value system.  There are many reasons for what differs in core values either generationally, through transference, adaptive and adoptive behavioral upbringing, as well as social, cultural, religious, and geographical influence.

We are shaped along the pathway of life with these values.  Sometimes along the journey we morph our core values from pre-existing knowns with our individual exploration into new territory of pursued education or learned experiences. From here, sometimes we create a core value system, altered from traditional upbringing, incorporating unconventional wisdom and applied values, which resonate more truthfully with our soul’s purpose and human identity. 

What we choose to preserve is our authentic jam of core values which can be like its own sweet recipe made with love….. OR its own jazz song of integrity preserved out of respect OR woven into the attire we wear proudly with a little dirt from our home run attempts in life.

Whether your values are about stepping up to the plate to play this game called life; appreciating the rhythm along your journey, while savoring the flavor from which you invest all your energies along your pathway - this life we have is all we have to make the most of while we're here to believe in something and live this truth.

It is in our own jam, we dare to be who we are, live life to the fullest with our authentic core values and be true to who we are and what we believe and stand for.