The Ivy Resolutions – Part 2

Editor’s Note – A wish for you for a tremendous 2022.  I have a good feeling.  Perhaps without foundation, but most joy springs out of nowhere anyway.  We will be back on Monday, January 3rd.  I never say “Be safe” because who remembers that, ever?  No one does.  You will not be out tonight and then think, “Oh wait, Burton said be careful, ok I will switch to club soda.”  I almost promise you won’t. That said, I do wish safety for you, tonight and always.  May this year bring happiness and wisdom and love, and more things classic, trad, and Ivy. – JB

Ivy Resolution Number Four – Be A Looser Parent. 

My next resolution is on parenting.  I have a 14 year old daughter, her name is Gramercy Burton.  We have had a road, it has settled down the but long story short is I got sick, pretty much everybody I knew either gave up on me or at least straight-armed me for awhile, she was 6 and stayed with me.   I missed a few years of parenting there, and she picked up a few years of caretaking there.  Not a trade I would have made, but I wasn’t in the position to choose.  To this day, it happened yesterday, she looks at me making sure I am ok.  But I’ve been better for a long time now (8 years) and so she trusts the whole Dad thing, but I notice myself overcompensating for that missed time.

And it dawned on me that raising a child is not skeet shooting.  The things I did not accomplish as a dad are not clays I can ask her to pull so I get another shot at them.

I must learn to accept her as her own person now.  We’ve always been partners in a way that people used to judge, and it used to piss me off.  And it pissed me off even further when, as she got older, everyone went from “You know, she needs to have her own life” to “But OF COURSE being close to you helped her be so great,” without any “oops maybe I shouldn’t judge someone else’s relationships” in between.  But like the magnet I got for Christmas says:

… and we are partners now, but my resolution is to facilitate her being more her, whatever that is.  It sound easy, almost every piece of parenting perspective sounds like common sense and when you say it out loud people think, “Of course, duh,” and rare is the parent who will say they can do better.  But I can do better.  I do good.  But I resolve to do better, at least that way.

Gramercy Burton, aka The Package. The internet is so overly woke sometimes. I get a ton of crap for calling her The Package. “You know, John, in some places The Package means something derogatory or demeaning” (yes that is true but not applicable) or “I cannot believe you objectify your daughter that way.” So the story is, she was maybe 3 and I took her to a local, I mean 200 person FireHouse Carnival (they had a merry go round). Her mother was a nervous wreck and was nagging me every 4 seconds, as if a dad can’t take care of a kid and that the haunting would make a difference. So I texted the mother, “I lost The Package.” OKAY, I KNOW NOW that my sense of humor doesn’t always play. But really, if I lose your daughter, I will not text it to you. And if you have had a daughter with me, you should know me well enough to know that. At any rate, once the National Guard stood down, asking each other “Do you have The Package?” or texting each other “The Package is staying over at Auntie’s tonight” became a thing, she became The Package, and please, Lighten Up Francis.


Ivy Resolution Number Five – Wear A Sport Coat As The Default

The next resolution starts with a bit of education.  From Tom James:

The difference between a sport coat, blazer, and suit coat comes down to patterns, buttons and fabric.

sport coat is a patterned jacket that coordinates with trousers that are not made of the same fabric or have the same pattern.

blazer is a solid color jacket with contrasting (often metal) buttons.

And a suit coat has a pair of pants made from the same fabric/pattern as the coat.

I have some amazing sport coats, when I say amazing don’t mean they are particularly outstanding (although I have a Polo brown corduroy and an Orvis shooting jacket that you would like… seriously, there is no question – you would like them) but that I really like them.  But when I head out on Saturday morning to do the grocery shopping (remember that whole “partnership” thing we just talked about – it does not extend to grocery shopping) I don’t wear a sport coat.  And then the day gets away from  me, and I never do.  There are so many days when I could substitute a tweed for whatever coat I would otherwise wear, but for some reason, I don’t.   I used to think it was because I didn’t want to look like my father.  Then I remembered I’m an orphan.  Then I thought it was because I didn’t want to prematurely age myself.  Then I remembered that Ivy doesn’t age, it preserves.  So my resolution this year is to default to a sport coat 3 seasons of the year and only wear a coat or jacket if a sport coat won’t do.  And a blazer in the summer, of course.  Navy.  Of course.  That part I am already pretty good with.

This isn’t exactly it, mine has a loop on the collar and a paisley lining, but the bottom line is that this can be worn in almost every situation I would wear a regular coat in.


Ivy Resolution Number Six – Become Excellent At Something That Is Not My Job

Finally, I resolve to pursue excellence in something I am passionate about, for the sole reason of being excellent at it.  Stay with me.  Most of us dedicate any time we spend becoming excellent at something to our profession because the more excellent, the more reward.  In theory.  And of course, that makes sense.  But excellence for the sake of excellence has so many benefits.

Excellence is one of the finest forms of self care.

Achieving excellence in something expands the reserve of problem solving plays to call in the huddle.  I know that if I can become an excellent guitar player that I have the discipline and the focus to figure out what to feed a 14 year old.  Ok, a stretch, that, but you take my point.

I have a three prong process for getting excellent at guitar, which translates into anything you want to become excellent at that isn’t your day job.

  1. You must be willing to take something you love and make it hurt you.  There is no excellence without pain and sacrifice.  None.  Ever.  There are natural gifts, but regardless of the degree to which one is gifted, one cannot achieve excellence without blood and tears.  Excellence is not being better than.  I don’t care how natural your swing is, it isn’t excellent until you have lost afternoons and taken ibuprofen to make it better.  The day my guitar became part shovel with which to dig ditches is the day I started getting better at it.
  2. Stephen King wrote in On Writing that you cannot become and excellent writer unless you are always reading.   You must consume excellence to pursue it.
  3. You must be willing to share excellence. The viral and inspirational nature of excellence is in the DNA of Excellence (that’s my book title, DO NOT steal it).  Whatever your pursuit, the higher levels cannot be reached without sharing it.  I have learned to refuse to teach guitar to people who will not perform.  Not that there isn’t enough value in just learning for yourself, but you cannot get excellent at anything, I do not care what it is, until you have shared it, and it has breathed.

The pursuit of excellence is one of the Ivy fundamentals.  For me this year it is going to be guitar and touring, I am going to become excellent at what it is that I do there.


10 Comments on "The Ivy Resolutions – Part 2"

  1. Well stated.
    Your writing styles (you play with a few, don’t you?) — very good
    and getting better. I suspect you think in poetry and adjust it to sound (seem) like a prose.
    Mary Oliver and Bruce Springsteen did likewise, so you’re among worthwhile company.
    They didn’t become who they became by “being safe,” but probably by being as careful as possible.
    And there’s a difference.
    So, be careful this evening–and find some time to listen to Joseph Campbell talk about how all of this– ALL of this–is a big circle doing round-and-round.

    THANK YOU and may you have an amazing year! – JB

  2. * ‘going’– round and round, that is.

  3. You are one lucky dog. A happy and healthy new year to you and Grammercy. Enjoy
    every moment. Girl are the best!

  4. Girls are the best!
    Spell check is not!

  5. All three points make perfect sense to me. Happy New Year!

    Kind Regards,


  6. Randy Ventgen | December 31, 2021 at 4:17 pm |

    Good luck. We are fathers of daughters and always will be. Mine is twenty years older but my need for learning is the same as yours.

    The father that needs to learn is the best father, that father that doesn’t think they need to learn is the worst. – JB

  7. Prescott Forbes | January 1, 2022 at 12:09 am |

    As a reader previously mentioned, “Gramercy” is a lovely name for your lovely daughter, meaning, as it does, “great thanks”.

  8. Paul Desmond | January 1, 2022 at 7:43 am |

    Great piece as usual, but the jazz fanatic in me is impressed that you used two jazz standards consecutively in your intro (“Joy Spring” and “Out of Nowhere”). Right on!

    Totally on purpose. Totally. 🙂 THANKS. – JB

  9. You’re a lucky man to have such a lovely daughter, truly a gift. Happy New Year to you both.

  10. repptieupstateNY | January 2, 2022 at 3:34 pm |

    “lighten up Francis”- I’ll keep reading this site purely for your movie quotes lol

    Ok, I will dig around for more 🙂 THANK YOU – JB

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