Monday, January 23, 2017


In August of this year I turn 45 years old. I hadn’t thought of it at all until the Inauguration coverage of the 45th President. This post is not about politics, the newly elected president, nor anything political. Like all of my blogs, it’s about me.

Numbers, I thought, didn’t have much meaning in my life. Until recently I didn’t make connections with numbers. But then I looked back and realized how much numbers have played a starring role in my decisions, comfort, and faith.

Since I was a small child the numbers three and five were always favorites. Being the third and last child in a family of five may have been a big reason why.

The Star Wars franchise has been a consistent thread in the fabric of my life. Seriously.  Remember the final scene of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope? Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Princess Leia stood together. Three.

In fact, the Star Wars movies are always put out in Trilogies.

Leaping forward to my early adulthood I connected with the driver of the No. 3 car in NASCAR, Dale Earnhardt. If you know me, you know my history with auto racing, Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt, and the No. 3.

Fast forward to after Earnhardt’s death in 2001 when his son Dale Jr. was still driving the No. 8 car (three plus five). 

It was directly after Dale Jr. changed teams and car numbers to the No. 88 when I was signing my son up for Cub Scouts (2008). I asked the Cubmaster what the Pack number was and he replied, “88”. I then inquired what my son’s Den number to be was and was told, “3”. The decision was made on the spot.  We joined. And I became the No. 3 Den Leader.

The landmark Broadway musical Rent is another example of numbers. The hit song “Seasons of Love” starts with the number 525,600 being sung. Those are the minutes in a year. How do you measure a year? Myriad ways, but, like for so many, the number stuck and has resonated for nearly two decades. And, of course, it’s divisible by three and five.

I wear three diamonds in my engagement ring. I say I love symmetry, and I do, but that number three is sacred to me.

My wedding date was in 1993. All of the nines are divisible by three!

Like the family I come from I have three children, five people in the family.

I began Chief 187™Chatter in 2010, a year divisible by three and five.

I successfully ran for a seat on my local school board in 2015. The number 15 is divisible by three and five.

Now I’m turning 45, truly “middle-aged”. I love the number, divisible by three and five. I’m not feeling old or even finished. In fact, I’m feeling this number is going to be a fruitful one for me.

Why not? All it takes is action. By simply doing we are successful, right?

I mean, I have numbers on my side.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pain Equals Creativity?

On Monday Racer 187 and I took a rare opportunity to go on a Date Night. We, like most parents, are active every day and night of the week so we had to purposefully make time for us. We stole away to have dinner and see a movie.

At our local performance theater they were showing Miles Ahead about the incomparable Miles Davis. It was an interesting film starring Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor, the former also writing, directing, and producing the film.

The movie is a gritty bio-pic of Davis in his later, drug-infused years suffering from chronic hip pain, writer's/performance block, and regret about his past. Although the story itself is fictional, Davis, the drug use, and the music are all true and fascinating.

On the way home from the movie Racer and I discussed the film, Davis, and art in general. What I determined was that artists who suffer - depression, physical and/or emotional pain, drug use, violence, etc. - create universally appreciated timeless works of art.

Racer countered that happy, positive artists have a strong voice that people are attracted to and seek. I didn't disagree, I replied that although Love may be universal, it is felt and understood differently around the globe. Pain, however, seems to be a human condition that binds us all.

And, when in pain, sometimes the only thing that can soothe us is creating or another's expression of that pain whether it's in the form of a painting, sculpture, dance, writing, film, or music. Not all people are exposed to Love in the same way, but pain is so dominant in human life that we can all identify with it in some way.

So, for artists to truly resonate must they suffer tremendously to create masterpieces that connect with the masses? Is there no hope for the "Happy" artist who came from a pain-free upbringing and life? Are light, optimistic pieces not popular?

Of course not.

Look at Paul McCartney and "Silly Love Songs", Pharrell Williams and "Happy", Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", and Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" from his masterpiece The Messiah. People do love and respond to such works and embrace them through the ages.

But for the artists, to put themselves out there, to have the masses celebrate their accomplishments, is suffering a pre-requisite?

I'm not famous. I'm not well-known or well-read by the masses, but I do have a readership that I am proud to have earned. A lot of my pieces I have written over the years are happy, positive articles that embody who I am. But, I have suffered pains - unspeakable pains that shaped who I am and influence me daily.

If people across the globe are united by pain then perhaps it is only logical that the greatest artists of all times are shaped by the pains they endured.

J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame comes to mind. Hemingway does, too. Picasso, Van Gogh, Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison of The Doors. Madonna. And, where I started, Miles Davis.

My philosophy has always been, "You have to be exposed to be inspired."

Now I am realizing that in addition to exposure, strength, tenacity, and the talent to turn pain into creativity are helpful additives.

Love still motivates me. It inspires me. It drives me.

But it is evident that the pains I have endured, the pains I still endure, have shaped me, formed me, and make me work harder to communicate, create, and connect.

What artists of the past and today resonate with you? Did they suffer greatly in life? Discuss your feelings about this subject below. I am always interested in reading your opinions.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Candice Smith: Creator, Writer, Editor, At-track Media, On-Air Personality

My teaching life and my parenting life are only a couple of aspects of who Candice Smith is. They are important to who I am and how I have come to be Me, but there are other parts, too.

In 2007 I started blogging at a now defunct NASCAR social media site called I dusted off my NASCAR fandom that I had abandoned after Dale Earnhardt died in 2001 and started to pursue a passion - writing. I wrote under the pen name Chief 187.

Quickly I found I had a following - people liked what I had to write and how I was writing it.

In 2010 I started my own personal blog, monetized it, and found an International audience that was loyal and supportive of my daily musings. That is called Chief 187™Chatter.  

It took nearly a year but I trademarked Chief 187™ to make sure I would own the name I had worked so hard to brand.

2011  found me being courted by an Internet radio station that was new and offering an exciting blend of sports programming and music on air and a need for fresh and original content for its website. I took the job and threw myself into writing even more.

Again my readership grew.

That job at with station owner Tony Arnold led to on-air work as the NASCAR correspondent weekly. Eventually I was asked to do the entire weekly two hour show and discuss sports of all kinds.

A sister station to - - heard my on-air reports and asked me to join not one but two of their radio programs.

I was on the air three times per week to talk about NASCAR, stick and ball sports, and music!

An all-female Motorsports website "magazine" called Skirts and Scuffs hired me to write a column I entitled, "Why I Love NASCAR: By Chief 187™.  

By 2012 I had pitched an idea to about starting my own Motorsports radio program and they were most interested. I assembled a panel with Keith Hayes from the Boston area and a gentleman from North Carolina, a former racer and a great radio man, named Ronnie "Crate" Payne. Later that spring I added Gray Warren, a NASCAR veteran who had worked a long time with Bill Davis Racing and currently works for Richard Childress Racing.

Drafting the Circuits radio program began in March of 2012. It is a weekly radio show that covers NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1 and other forms of racing. It includes guest interviews and round table discussions and occurs LIVE.

At the same time one of  NASCAR's biggest and most respected veteran writers, Steve Waid, asked me to write for him at his website I was beyond humbled!

In August 2012 Motorsports Unplugged sent me to Pocono Raceway as their media representative for the second date on that track's NASCAR schedule. I met ARCA, NASCAR Camping World Truck, and NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers, interviewed them both in the garage and in the media center, and started making a name for myself among my peers.

An Internet radio station named Performance Motorsports Network asked me to join the panel  of one of their Motorsports programs, Burning Rubber Radio, and also asked to carry Drafting the Circuits, my show, as a syndicated program throughout the weekend.

Performance Motorsports Network got media credentials for me to attend Homestead-Miami for NASCAR's championship weekend across their three major touring series.

Again I met drivers, crew chiefs, crewmen and women, track personnel, and NASCAR Hall of Famers of all kinds, from Richard Petty and Dale Inman to Rusty Wallace and Leonard Wood of the Wood Brothers.

By 2013 Drafting the Circuits launched its own website and I was able to post original articles along with writers I had hired to flesh out the site. The website enabled me to easily procure media credentials under Drafting the Circuits. We attended both NASCAR and Camping World Truck races from Pocono to Las Vegas, but the all-important Indianapolis 500 with my IndyCar correspondent Frank Santoroski.

In 2014 my radio show was getting LIVE legendary guests like Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Bobby Allison, as well as series regular drivers like Brendan Gaughan, Joey Coulter, Charlie Kimball and Spencer Gallagher.

Also in 2014 we were able to claim a huge coup when we added Formula 1 to the list of credentials our small site had won. My correspondent Steve Aibel was given credentials to the U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

My site continues to grow, the articles garner thousands of page views, and our listenership increases weekly.

I do this all out of my home from my home computer and a small "studio" my husband set up for me in my basement.

Not only am I a former teacher, an involved parent, but I am an active and busy business woman as well.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My Lifelong Love and Connection to Education By: Candice Smith

When I was a child, from the earliest age, I played "School". I pretended to have a class, lessons to teach, and a grade book to record "their" scores.

My parents always stressed the importance of school. I knew Education was important to them and that I was going to get a formal one.

School was a wonderful place for me and although I wasn't a straight A student, I did well. I worked hard and learned.

Education excited me.

Learning empowered me.

As I grew older my career path seemed destined to be in the classroom.

I enjoyed teaching History/Social Studies to my students.

Working with other teachers enriched me.

Being evaluated by my administrators gave me new goals to strive for and also a glorious feeling that my techniques were valued.

My students' rapt attention, awesome questions, and eagerness to learn - some days! - kept me motivated.

My students' parents' appreciation of me for reaching their children humbled me.

After leaving teaching to raise my own family I found myself still teaching.

I teach my children.

As a M.O.M.S. Club President I taught and was taught by the many Moms AND Dads who populated the club.

As a Den Leader I taught my Cub Scouts.

I always knew my life would include Education, revolve around the Schools, and keep me connected to Children.

My bid to run for Hopatcong School Board is a continuation of my lifelong path.

It is my goal yesterday, today, and always to strive to take action in...

"Putting Our Children First".

By voting for me on November 3, 2015 you can do the same.

Thank you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

This is truly my favorite time of year! I actually have many favorite times but this is the season we are in so it is my current favorite.

Like with many things in life, it is the anticipation of what’s to come rather than the actual event that gets me and keeps me excited.

As in any situation, my good comes with bad. My joys accompany sorrows. My reality falls short of my fantasies.

But when I leapfrog from one Simple Joy to the next – immerse myself in my own private pleasures – then I find every week is most enjoyable.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Winter Concert. My oldest child plays trombone in his middle school band. On a cold Wednesday night we dressed up and went to the school to hear the middle school choir and band play several songs – some seasonal and some just great pieces. It has been the highlight of our holiday doings so far this season as music has always been a huge part of my husband's and my life.

After listening to our son practice at home for months on end, to hear him perform ‘flawlessly’ with his school band was a Simple Joy that left us filled with holiday cheer and optimism for his future as a musician.

Snow Day. No matter how old I get, having a snow day, even on the weekend, is a great delight. Snow was predicted on Saturday starting in the early morning so we simply stayed home, stayed in our pajamas and enjoyed a totally fun and relaxing day at home.

Having a snow day during the hectic holiday season was an enormous and welcomed Simple Joy.

Unplugged. During our snow day I enacted an “unplugged” rule as I found my children were worshipping too often to the electronic gods. At first they balked – until I threatened more days unplugged if they continued their protestations – but then they had a most wonderful day.

We played a silly Christmas Ring Toss game they had gotten for St. Nicholas Day, and then we played Kids’ Charades. We ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home and together as a family. We made Christmas cookie dough but not cookies as we just weren’t in the mood. We got our Cub Scout to finish the rest of his Wolf requirements in a quality session of just him and me. And, finally, we sat down to watch A Christmas Story. Many watch this when it is broadcast for 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Day, but we are never able to watch it as we are always entertaining a massive group of family (happily so).

Spending a day together at home, in our pajamas, during the holiday season was a rare and luxurious Simple Joy.

Letter/Gifts for Santa. My second child is very artistic, thoughtful, and sweet. He is seven years old and so excited for Christmas.

During our unplugged day we were talking about Christmas Eve and what kind of cookies to leave Santa. My son blurted out, “We should leave a gift for Santa! I bet he doesn’t get any!”

So, we discussed what he could do for Santa and the boy came up with the idea to make ornaments for Santa’s tree. Then he happily and skillfully made three different ones out of construction paper. We added ornament hangers and then he looked at me excitedly and said, “I have to write a note and have it stand up like this!”

The note was not a reiterated list of toys wanted, but actually a thank you note to Santa for coming to our home.

Watching my son finally understand the joy of giving at this tender age is a Simple Joy I shall never forget.

Make up. My husband and I get along famously… until we don’t. Invariably we hit a snag in the road that leads to marital disharmony. Luckily we have learned tools to not let these bumps become mountains. Of course, spending all of that quality time together in close quarters led to a bump… but that just gave us a chance to make up. For those of you in relationships, you know how that goes.

Making up with my hubby is a passionate Simple Joy.

The holidays are fast approaching. My innate need to people-please will dominate even though it’s not the healthiest trait. Still, I’m excited to see family, thrilled to be entertaining, and secretly delighted to see what Santa will bring me.

By trying to keep my immediate family as my focus, remembering to nourish myself, and keeping a realistic expectation for the time together, I hope to continue to identify and LIVE my Simple Joys.

Wishing you all a week filled with Simple Joys.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

In this season of gift-giving it’s vital for me to remember the best gifts I receive are the ones daily from my family, friends, and life.

I’ve been blessed with three beautiful children who bring far more joy than not, friends who make me laugh and smile, and a husband who truly completes me.

In what is supposed to be a most joyous season can sometimes be overshadowed by stress, anxiety, sadness, and general ‘poopiness’.

By concentrating on my weekly Simple Joys I hope to banish the baseness of this season from my little world and focus on those most important to me and let go of pettiness that can all too easily get the better of me.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Mommy’s Helper. St. Nicholas makes a visit to our home on his special day each year to fill my children’s shoes with holiday treats. It’s a Dutch tradition my sister-in-law introduced me to and one that I have embraced since having children. This year I was treated to a special experience. Upon my children inspecting all of their loot, my daughter offered to help clean up the small pile of mess. She took items to the trash, moved items to the stairs to go up, and brought the chocolate Santas to the dining room to be stored.

Seeing this kind, sweet, and helpful side of my four-year-old daughter was a Simple Joy I want to bottle and open when I am frustrated by her more normal four-year-old behavior. It encourages me to know that we are on the right path with her and I continue to look at her with wide-eyed awe when the small glimmer of young lady-hood shines through.

Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies. I was lucky to spend a day with my niece over the weekend and we had a great time. Before I dropped her back to her mother my niece asked me if I was making my homemade sugar cookies (with frosting and sprinkles) for Christmas. This made me laugh because since she was born I have been making these cut-out cookies for her as I know they are her favorite. Even though my niece is nearing 13 years old, she still wants these cookies and wants me to make them.

Having this special request from my niece was a Simple Joy that warmed me heart and will give me renewed vigor to mix, roll, cut-out, bake, and decorate those cookies with an extra dash of love for her.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Banquet. The 2013 season is behind me and I am enjoying my off-season with holiday entertaining, an over-abundance of family time and a break from the intensity of the writing/radio work. But the fan in me still relishes the hours spent in early December watching the NASCAR Banquet.

The tuxedos, suits, evening gowns, and jewels add an extra layer of personality to the drivers, wives/girlfriends, and crew I’ve come to know. I enjoy listening to heartfelt speeches, funny ones, and even less than stellarly-delivered ones. This season, especially, I found much inspiration for article writing in the off-season. I am rarin’ to go!

Watching the NASCAR Banquet is a Simple Joy and December tradition for me for over two decades!

Peaceful moments. Over the weekend we took our family to HersheyPark to enjoy the holiday-themed CandyLand. We had a fantastic time all the while walking through the snow that continued to fall the entire day. At one point we sat in a heated theater to watch a Christmas music/dance revue. My daughter, normally very independent and fidgety, asked to sit on my lap. I spread out my wrap over her to warm her cold little hands, and cuddled her tightly to me. She nestled into me for the entire show. I was in Heaven.

Spending time with my daughter in warmth, Christmas joy, and loving embrace was the most incredible Simple Joy.

Larry The Cable Guy Christmas Special. My husband DVR’d this program to screen it for our children to see if it was appropriate for their various ages. He deemed the show fit and so we watched it last night. My boys howled at the humor, guffawed at the site gags, and laughed until tears fell down their faces.

Sharing a mindless, good-natured Christmas special that induced such laughter in our home was a homerun of a Simple Joy.

There are endless to-do lists, shopping to finish, gifts to wrap, menus to plan, food to buy, and Christmas cards to order, address, and mail, but I’m not focusing on that stuff – clearly.

Instead, I am trying to keep my world centered on the Simple Joys that will enhance my December, my Christmas, and my life the most. I’m concentrating on my Simple Joys.

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I am wishing you all a week filled with Simple Joys!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Some weeks Simple Joys just fall out of the sky blessed by the Heavens. This past holiday week was one of those.

As I continue to grow and evolve as a human being living this Life I learn all of the time. This lesson was clearly evident: mental preparedness allows for greater capacity for Simple Joys to penetrate. I opened the window hugely for less stress, more joy, and kept burden at bay.

Result? A week filled with boundless Simple Joys!

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Anticipation. What I love so much about the holiday season is actually a great deal of anticipation. Like a big vacation far off in the future, waiting for and dreaming of what the holidays will be like is often far more satisfying than what really happens.

Only this time I kept my daydreams to a realistic measure and when the Holiday Company and events actually occurred the reality far exceeded my anticipation.

Still, anticipation is a free, lavish, and boundary-less Simple Joy that I revel in throughout the year.

Left Center Right Dice Game. My mother-in-law loves to arrive with a new game for all of us to enjoy. This Thanksgiving she bought a gem. The Left Center Right dice game was simple enough for all at our table – from 93 to four years old - to understand and heartily enjoy.

Finding a game that holds attention, is easy to learn upfront for all ages, and is competitive but friendly is a Simple Joy that enhanced the holidays and will surely come out again to be played in the future.

Social Media. Adding to my enjoyment of anticipation was checking in everyday with my virtual friends and family. This is a force in my life that enhances my activities. Knowing I have a massive community outside of my walls to talk to, joke with, and share information adds depth to my life.

Social media is a Simple Joy I write about often because it really is that important to me.

Setting the table to the Nines. I woke up on Thanksgiving morning determined to set the finest table possible for all in attendance, including myself. As the only daughter and the first child married in my original family, I was graciously given family heirlooms to use and act as custodian. I’ve written about the Thanksgiving plates from my paternal grandmother here, but I also have her gorgeous jewel-toned wine goblets and my maternal grandmother’s silverware.

I awoke early to help my husband prepare the bird and a few side dishes and then dutifully got the silver out to polish. Luckily the silverware was in good shape so the job took minimal time.

Seeing the Thanksgiving table dressed to the nines in my home with my grandparents’ collective treasures all around made me feel connected to their celebrations from the past. I plan to duplicate the table setting this month for Christmas so my parents can share the Simple Joy with me.

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. We are fortunate to have a children’s theater near our home. This season they put on Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer developed directly from the Christmas special that airs annually by Rankin/Bass – same storyline and wonderful songs.

My children, being MY children, know the show intimately so they were thrilled to see it all played out live on stage.

I was so happy to share the stage experience with all three of them as theater has always been a deep and pleasurable Simple Joy for me.

To capture the memory I asked my husband to purchase one stuffed animal for each of the children. My four-year-old daughter got a “Clarice” reindeer dressed in pink bow and scarf. My seven-year-old middle boy received a dashing Rudolph reindeer, and my eleven-year-old who I thought was possibly too old for a stuffed animal, delighted in receiving the “Bumble” snow monster.

All three children had wide, excited eyes when we presented them with their respective toy before the curtain went up and held on to their characters throughout the entire play, at bedtime, and during playtime the next day! In fact, they still stay close to them adoringly.

The play was a big enough Simple Joy, but adding the extra luxury of the stuffed animal that resonated with all three of my children was the whipped cream and cherry on my sundae of an experience.

These Simple Joys are mine but I encourage you to find and identify yours. As the holiday season is upon us in full swing, it can be stressful, lonely, frustrating, and sad for many – even those you’d least suspect.

Be mindful of creating too many expectations for a “perfect holiday season” as it doesn’t exist for anyone.

Try to stick with routine while enjoy some activities out of the ordinary that are timely this season. Try to reach out to those who are alone, in pain, down on their luck, or who experience sadness this time of year.

And, if that’s you, try to reach out to those who need companionship, too.

Simple Joys are not defined by me, I only define my own. Be the one who defines your Simple Joys and make sure to write them down, say them, or at the very least think about them once a week.

A positive perspective will grow and your happiness will, too.

Wishing you all a week filled with Simple Joys!