Monday, September 30, 2013

October is here - Ut-oh!

It's that time of year again in HOT-Lanta. It's cooling down. There is a little bit of a chill in the air. Here in Atlanta that could mean only one thing - it's time for the Braves to let us down again.

We had a great regular season! Yeah, yeah. Call me when the October misery is over.

Yes, it's time for the Braves to be in the playoffs (and once again they are) and to quietly fade away. This team has lost 9 out of the last 10 postseason series they have played including the last 7. Since 1991, the Braves have been to the playoffs 16 times and won their last game a total of 1 time. It's a pretty remarkable feat but not one we are really proud of in Atlanta. This season's team promises to be different...or the same. It just depends how you want to look at it.

Here are the top 5 reasons this postseason will be no different than the last 7:

1. This team strikes out a ton and they'll be facing the Dodgers who have 2 Aces at the top of their rotation.
2. Fredi Gonzalez is Bobby Cox reincarnated.
3. The Braves 2 highest paid players barely made the playoff roster. Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton have been 2 of the biggest disappointments in the majors this season much less the Braves.
4. The Braves starting pitching is good. The Dodgers starting pitching is great.
5. The Braves bullpen was once its strength but thanks to injuries and exhaustion, it may now be a weakness.

Here are the top 5 reasons this postseason could be different than the last 7:

1. Luck. Seriously, the Braves have not had much of it. See the infield fly call last year and Brooks Conrad's awful play a few years ago.

The terrible infield fly call against the Braves last year probably cost them a chance to advance in the postseason.

Brooks Conrad isn't getting a key to the city anytime soon for his 2010 postseason performance against the Giants. The Giants should have given him a World Series ring.

2. Freddie Freeman. The guy is clutch. He has put this team on his back. He's a legitimate MVP candidate.

3. Kris Medlen. The guy is pitching lights out right now.

4. The Braves have homefield advantage in the first round. They had the best home record in the Majors this year. Should they win and face the Cardinals, they'll have revenge on their minds from the last 2 seasons.

5. Maybe God has a sense of humor. Maybe he'll just let them win once so Atlanta fans can have something to cheer about.

A preview of a 2013 World Series photo? Fingers crossed!

Finally, it's time for my prediction which is basically my way of listening to my head and my heart.

Braves vs. Dodgers - Braves in 5 - homefield will actually mean something even against Kershaw

Cardinals vs. Pirates (Pirates will beat the Reds tonight) - Cardinals in 4

Rays vs. Red Sox (Rays will beat the Indians) - Red Sox in 4

A's vs. Tigers - Tigers in 5

Braves vs. Cardinals - Braves in 7 - I think it's time for the Braves to finally get even with the Red Birds and erase the demons of seasons past.

Tigers vs. Red Sox - Tigers in 7

Braves vs. Tigers - The Tigers swept the Braves in the regular season so I'm picking the Braves in 6.

Ok, that was from my heart.

Now the prediction using my head - Dodgers in 4, Uggla will complain about his vision, Fredi will do a terrible job of managing, someone will make a big error, blah, blah blah.

Enjoy the postseason everyone!

I hope I can share a real postseason with my wife and children this time around. They need to feel the magic and excitement of a terrific October...a man can dream.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Humbled by an award and I need a nebulizer!

First off, for those who read my blog talking about "taking a break from CF stuff" and were concerned that Wish for Wendy was over. Not a chance. I still plan to keep this tournament going until there's a cure or until my health is just not well enough that I cannot run the event anymore. I just meant that I needed a break for a few months once the event is over and want to focus less on CF in my life.

I was really proud to win a Turknett award last week. Among the nominees was Shirley Franklin, the former Mayor of Atlanta. It was great to have my friends there and to enjoy the award with them. I didn't think there was any way in the world I would win. Andrea will attest that I was actually eating my dessert when my name was called. I think you can detect a smidge of chocolate pudding on my face in the winning picture.

The "I need a nebulizer" video is attracting a lot of interest. We already have 5,000+ views in less than a week. It's pretty cool stuff. I'm more happy with the comments that people really appreciated being represented in the video.

The Braves clinched the division and will likely host a postseason series. I'm looking forward to a deep playoff run and hope it's not a quick one-series and out like it has been the past 10 or so years. Revenge for the Infield Fly Call!

Andrea, Avery, Ethan and I went to Dollywood for the weekend. We had a blast. The kids loved the roller coasters and water slides. I can't say I agree with them as I was scared to death. My daughter loves roller coasters so apparently I better get used to this. I disappointed myself by not winning a single big stuffed animal during the carnival games. I believe that I've lost my touch. By the way, Dollywood is open from 10 to 6. Wouldn't you think with one of Dolly Parton's most successful movies being 9 to 5 that those hours would be different. Oh well.

Andrea and I make our debut on Bravo tonight at 10pm (September 24th). We are on Emily's new show "The New Atlanta." Check it out if you get a chance.

It's a big sports weekend in Atlanta. The Braves, Dawgs and Falcons are all playing locally. All 3 still have something to play for. The Dawgs are in a top 10 Gameday matchup with LSU. The Braves are playing for homefield. The Falcons are looking to get off the snide against the Patriots Sunday night. Even Georgia Tech has a big home game on Thursday night against Virginia Tech. One thing is for sure. Tech will win.

I hope that everyone is well and make sure if you haven't already to check out "I need a nebulizer" and retweet and forward the heck out of it.



Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My sister Emily Lipman has made it big!

I'm so proud of Emily. Tonight is her show's debut. Check out "The New Atlanta" at 10pm on Bravo. Check out her fundraiser as well. I can't wait to go to her store's opening. Check out Raw Denim! And then seeing the big premiere with family and friends.

I always knew my sister would make it big. I remember the days when she would always have people say "There goes Andy's sister." Not anymore. Now I'm known as Emily's brother and couldn't be prouder.

I still have this sign in my office that she wrote to me when she left for college. I always knew it would mean something to keep it. And Em, I will never forget my sister!!!

Keep it up! I love you!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Is it time to stop being Superman?

Have any of you seen Superman II? The movie had me thinking at my therapy session today.

The conflict within me

Since my 25th birthday more than 15 years ago, I have been dead set on finding a cure for cystic fibrosis. It was that day I began writing "Alive at 25" and everything in my life dropped to number two on the priority list. Since then, I've written 3 books, run 13 softball tournaments, made 50 plus speeches and created a music video for cystic fibrosis. Don't get me wrong. I love doing things for the cause but I think somewhere along the way I became defined by CF and I have no idea who I am anymore. In the midst of those 15 years, I managed to find my soulmate, have 2 beautiful children and keep my health in good shape for CF standards. Still I have forgotten who I am. I don't know why people like me. Is it because of who I am? Or is it because of what I do? I have some great friends but I wonder if they really know the true me. I wonder if I know the true me.

For those of you who remember Superman II, there is a scene where Clark Kent (Kal-el) talks to his mother (Lara) and tells her that he doesn't want to be Superman anymore. He just wants to be Clark Kent. He wants things simpler. He doesn't want everyone depending on him to save the world. I think I feel the same way. I don't know that I want to be the Superman of finding a cure for CF right now. Maybe I just want to be me. I think I need a break when Wish for Wendy and the new CF video are over. Maybe I need that Clark Kent time on my hands. I need my friends to hang out with me at a party not just at a charity event. I need to be at a ballgame talking about my family rather than how much money we raised.

This is who I thought I wanted to be all of my life and especially the last 15 years

For 15 years, I have given my heart and soul for the cause. I love doing it, but I think somewhere along the way I lost touch with who I am or what I wanted for me in life. There is no doubt that I am defined by this disease. In many ways, that's great. I've been able to do things that most people have not been able to do...throw out a first pitch at a Braves game, run with the Olympic Torch and speak all over the world to large audiences. Still, I wonder what it's like on an October or November day not to panic about the weather for Wish for Wendy. I wonder what it's like not wearing a shirt and tie and talking to hundreds of people. I wonder what it's like not thinking about a terminal disease every minute of every day.

I find myself finishing Wish for Wendy meetings or closing out speeches to rotary groups and wanting to go home, talk about nothing CF-related and snuggle with my wife and kids. I want normalcy...a normalcy I take full responsibility for ridding myself of 15 years ago.

I am not saying I'm Tom Cruise or Derek Jeter. I'm definitely not saying I'm a celebrity or I'm better than anyone else. I want you to understand that right away. I just mean that in the world of cystic fibrosis I have become somewhat of a role model and I'm not sure I want that anymore. There was a time that nothing meant more to me. Right now, nothing means more to me than my wife and kids. Maybe that's just part of growing old.

Cystic fibrosis can't compete with this

I get e-mails just about every day from people talking to me about cystic fibrosis whether it's the CF Foundation or someone who is affected by the disease. It's great to feel like I'm helping but still it's tough constantly thinking about a terminal disease with a median life expectancy in the late thirties especially when I have it and I'm 40. It really makes me respect Michael J. Fox and the late Christopher Reeve. It makes me wonder if they ever needed a break.

I had a lot of family come into town to celebrate my 40th birthday and while that was great, it made me realize what a big deal it was that I made it to 40. I remember Rusty Sneiderman telling me that I was going to make it to 40 and how excited he was. Rusty died at 36. He was my friend and my cheerleader. My therapist thinks I have survivor's guilt and maybe that's part of it. I don't know. I think a lot about death lately. I think a lot about what would have happened if I hadn't made the fight against CF such a huge part of my life. Would I have found Andrea? Would I have Ethan and Avery? Would I have issues with depression? Would I have succumbed to CF?

I wonder what people would think about the real me. Here are some things you may not know since I speak to large groups and throw 600-person softball tournaments. I am an introvert. I'm terrible in a crowd. I like to be by myself. I want people to like me. I doubt they really do. I'm terrible with conflict. I appreciate when people say that I look so healthy but it embarrasses me at the same time. I try to avoid any discussion regarding health or my charity work when it comes to hanging out with friends. It's not that I'm ashamed of it. It's just that I'm constantly reminded of it. I'm modest to a fault. I hate hearing about the things I've done because even if someone else is saying it, I feel like I'm somehow bragging.

That reminds me of a story I rarely talk about. I don't tell many people. When I was 10 or 11, I was getting really good at tennis and therefore getting a big head. My grandmother Ethel Lipman (who would die the following year) was watching me play at Wild Dunes against this kid named Perry. Here's what I remember about Perry. He was exactly one day younger than me and resided in Detroit. That day, I was crushing Perry. He had no chance. I think it was like 7 games to none. It was then that I grabbed a racquetball glove that was my father's from my tennis bag. I did it at match point to show off. I won the point and was just smiling. "My grandmother was going to be so impressed," I thought. The opposite happened. A woman who some who knew her called her the nicest person on earth scolded me for showing off. She told me that showing off like that did not impress anyone and I should apologize to Perry. I don't even remember if I did but I remember her words. I remember the humiliation I felt. I have diverted cockiness like the plague since then. I still think about Perry every year on my birthday. I have tried to look him up but it's hard to find someone in Detroit, Michigan with the first name Perry when all you have is a birth date and no last name. Maybe it's best I never call him to apologize. I'd say the odds of him remembering this moment in time are astronomical. I only wanted to tell you that story so you know something about me. Modesty is one of my attributes as well as one of my downfalls.

After Wish for Wendy, I'm going to hang up the cape, take a break from CF for a while and see what else there is in this world. I don't know if I'll come back and be "The Superman of CF again." But who knows? Clark Kent decided Superman was who he wanted to be.

Maybe I will too.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Turning 40!

Since it's my 40th birthday tomorrow, I thought I would remember the 40 best memories of my life in no particular order. Enjoy!

1. The birth of Avery Lipman - My first born. I was so excited.

2. The birth of Ethan Lipman - I thought I loved football before but this kid has taken it to a new level.

3. Meeting Andrea Herz - Meeting my wife was the best thing to happen to me and changed my life in so many ways. I still remember being at a party that I was not even supposed to be at. You gotta love fate!

4. Marrying Andrea Lipman - 11 years ago this past Sunday Andrea and I were married in Atlanta. I am grateful for each day
with her.

5. Running with the Olympic Torch - That was one of the coolest things I've ever done. Andrea, thanks for nominating me!

6. Seeing my first book in print, "Alive at 25" - My dad didn't even think I could read much less write. Ha Ha!

7. Seeing the Braves finally win the World Series - I was at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium that night. I was kind of hoping it would happen again one day. Still waiting...

8. Graduating from the University of Georgia - Though I took the long route, I was proud to get through all of my troubling times and make it out of school.

9. Each close to Wish for Wendy - The close of each Wish for Wendy is very exciting for me as I know we raised a lot of money for a good cause in memory of my sister.

10. Watching my wife run with the Olympic Torch - Seeing Andrea run with it was incredible. We all had T-shirts with her picture on them.

11. The birth of my sister Emily - I always thought I was happy being an only child but Emily changed that. Who would have thought that I had a reality star as a sister? Remember "The New Atlanta" everyone on Bravo this Fall.

12. Seeing Ethan score his first soccer goal - The kid actually kicked 8 goals in one game. The kid had been through so much after he was born but he survived and now is thriving. I'm so proud of him and grateful to Andrea for getting him in that study at Duke. Thanks honey!

13. Seeing Avery win her first medal as a gymnast - the kid is flexible! She puts in so much time at the gym. I'm really proud of her.

14. The day I won my first tennis trophy - Most people forget when they win trophies during their youth but that trophy could not have come at a more important time in my young life.

15. Running my first Peachtree Road Race - It will always be more than a race to me. Thanks Uncle Bobby for pushing me.

16. Running my first triathlon with Andrea - She demolished me but at least I finished. I always was a terrible swimmer but got through it. I was so proud of her as well.

17. My Bar Mitzvah - I was so nervous up there but I was proud to finally get through it. Now I have a video to prove that puberty took way too long for me.

18. Winning my first USTA championship - I remember that the guy who was supposed to play #1 singles got hurt after he and his mom basically put him at 1 singles, 1 doubles and mixed doubles that day because they thought the rest of us couldn't cut it. I won 8-1 and we won the title!

19. The 2001 UGA-Tennessee game - My wife would probably like to forget it. It was my first trip to Neyland Stadium and we won the game with just a few seconds left. My wife and I were only about 20 rows up from the end zone where the final catch was made. If our relationship could survive that, it could survive anything. Thanks to Manny, my father-in-law for the tickets. Go Dawgs!

20. Seeing the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta - Thanks Dad for taking me.

21. The CSA Awards - We got to be on 11 Alive and I was one of 11 people chosen for this honor. Thanks again Aunt Susie for nominating me. I also made a good friend from it...Paul Ossmann, news meteorologist, who comes to every Wish for Wendy.

22. Being the speaker at Chipper Jones' gala dinner - The only issue was it was the day after Wish for Wendy and I didn't have much of a voice but I made it through the speech and even made fun of him for his for once, the Dawgs had beaten them that year.

23. Being a batboy for the Braves - I got to meet Dale Murphy. I got to see a brawl that day too. So cool!

24. Being a 40 under 40 UGA honoree - Getting to walk on the field and be included with so many great UGA alumni was really cool. I remember having a table at the luncheon and my Aunt Loretta, who nominated me, cheered like nobody's business when they call my name. Thanks Greatest! I still don't know how I was asked to be part of that group but they can't take it back!

25. Being a speaker at the opening for the Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities for the CDC & Prevention - Thanks Andrea for helping me get this gig. I got to speak at the same event as the late great Dana Reeve (wife of the late Christopher Reeve, one of my heroes in life).

26. The day I lifted 300 pounds - It wasn't just about the number. It was about accomplishing a goal that was seemingly impossible when I was a scrawny kid in college.

27. Being a brother of Tau Epsilon Phi - I have so many friends from my fraternity at the University of Georgia that I can never be more thankful to the brotherhood. I have signed 2 Ketubahs which is the wedding contract for a Jewish marriage and is a great honor, been in 2 other weddings and was best man at my buddy Ross's wedding. All of these people were fraternity brothers of mine. I actually found out that this year a new UGA TEP pledge also has cystic fibrosis. Talk about passing the torch.

28. Being a speaker at a conference for Cystic Fibrosis Ireland in Wexford, Ireland - It was exciting to spend a week with my wife that concluded with me speaking in another country.

29. When Andrea surprised me with a baseball trip to Yankee Stadium and Fenway with my buddy Ross - Thanks Andrea. I had the time of my life watching America's pastime. Thanks Ross for going.

30. Going to Wimbledon with my family - That was a cool trip we took when I was in my teens. Tennis was my sport and seeing some of the greats of the game at these famous hallowed grounds was awesome. Thanks Mom and Dad!

31. Seeing the Dream Team debut in Barcelona - Going to my first Olympic Games was pretty cool but seeing The ORIGINAL Dream Team play in Barcelona was even better. That was the greatest team I've ever seen in person.

32. Being a ballboy for the Atlanta Hawks - The CF Foundation helped me to do this for a night. It was the Celtics and the Hawks. Dominique vs. Bird, McHale and Parish. I got to throw the ball to the Celtics in warm-ups. So cool!

33. Being a ball boy for the Federation Cup which is the Davis Cup for women - You'd think it would be cool because I saw young stars like Jennifer Capriati and Gabriela Sabatini but no, that's not it. I got to be the official ball boy for the Norway team. Enough said.

34. Being asked to be a board member for The Georgia Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - I became the first patient to be a member which shows how far the median life expectancy of a CF patient has come.

35. Seeing Kalydeco approved by the FDA - This is the first HUGE CF treatment to come along...the first of many!

36. Finishing the advanced weight-lifting class in college - That was the most important class I ever took in college. It literally changed my life.

37. Being told that Andrea and I were pregnant with Avery and then with Ethan - Again, this is in no particular order or this would be very high up on the list. I never thought I'd be able to have kids. I'm blessed to have not one but two awesome little ones. Thank you Andrea for being a great mom...and wife too of course.

38. When my Aunt Anita invited Andrea and I to go to the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Alliance Gala - It was so cool to meet Garth and several professional athletes. Thanks Aunt Anita!

39. Being asked to be a Board Member at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia - It's always an honor to be asked to be on a Board but especially as an alumnus at that college. I'm now in my 2nd year as a Board member.

40. My 30th birthday - When Andrea surprised me with about 75 of my closest friends at the Braves game. Thank you Andrea for making 30 so special.

I'm sure there are so many other memories I'm forgetting but the point is I'm so lucky for the experiences I've had the last four decades. Thank you to my family and friends for always being there. I love you guys very much.


* Honorable Mention:

My 21st birthday, my 25th birthday and my Bachelor Party - I remember very little about any of these but I heard we had a fun time.

Eventually being at a national championship game featuring the Georgia Bulldogs - I can dream, right?

The day my Aunt Anita brought Howard to me - Thank you Anita, Susie and my parents for bringing me my best friend - a friend I so badly needed when I was young.

The day I got my therapy machine - I didn't list it on the original 40 because at the time I did not realize how important this day would be in my life. It would finally allow me the independence I desired.

The day the Braves clinched the division in 1991 - They went from worst to first. It was an incredible season.

The hate from the trial

So the last few weeks have been very difficult for me. I testified in Andrea Sneiderman's case and though I felt I did well, I immediately became a target for hate mail and tweets. It was really ugly for a while there. I found myself checking my Twitter account to see who had bad-mouthed me and my blog. It was really difficult to swallow all of the hurtful things that people said about me, people who I'd never met or talked to. I know that as my children get older that they will most likely be the subject of bullying whether it be the Internet or in their day-to-day affairs off the computer. I will take this experience as a positive in that I can help them with dealing with their issues. You hear the old song "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me." I could not disagree more after dealing with the horrible treatment the last few weeks.

I'm sad that my friend Andrea is in prison but I have faith that she will get out sooner rather than later. I pray that her children can hang in there without her but I know they are in good care. I've never had a friend in prison before and I doubt many of you have either. It's a difficult position especially with the media outrage over the case. I still fully support Andrea and hope that she will see her children sooner rather than later. I refuse to push my opinions on others. I just hope that people can respect the fact that this is how I feel. I understand that we are all entitled to our own opinions.

I wish everyone the best. For those of you observing Rosh Hashanah, I hope you have a very Happy New Year.