Tom Garrity

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

The Entirety of Life

In Life on June 8, 2021 at 12:05 am

James Aloysius Garrity 2nd was born June 8, 1937 to Harold Thomas Garrity and Mary Broderick Garrity. He grew up with his brother Matt and his sister’s Kathy and Mary Ann. In 1963 he married Andrea Joan Schlick, whose parents were John and Adrienne, her sisters are Pam and Paula her brother is John. To understand “our dad” is to understand that family is everything to him.  Whether it was coaching swim team, cheering our collective sports and activities or always looking forward to Sunday’s family dinner, it was family.  The regular calls with Kathy and Matt, the voicemail messages he would leave on our mobile phones declaring, this is James A Garrity, your father, calling… as if we might forget… which we never did and never will.

Dad had many near-death experiences, or experiences that could cause death. In his childhood, he inhaled fumes of poison ivy from a bon-fire someone had set; he was that someone. The plane crash. By all accounts, both he and Grandpa Garrity should not have survived. That is where his “never quit, never surrender” approach to life was tested, and proved to be true. Then there was the lawnmower accident, two strokes and almost getting run off the road by his own boat. The Vegas odds makers really had no idea who they were up against.

He was a fighter, right to the end. Hard to believe it was almost a year ago. 


Time provides us a way to address the waves of grief by digging deeper into our memories, great memories, to remember and reflect dad’s narrative… re-reading letters, holding the $2 bills he provided to help celebrate special occasions.

One day, as dad read the newspaper, I mentioned that Crankshaft was a comic I enjoyed.  While living in Montana, Miami or New Mexico He made a point to cut them out and save them. If I had a Texas Quarter for every comic he clipped… Oh wait I think I do!


He was proud of his children, didn’t hesitate to brag on his grandchildren, who call him “Daddy Jim”. He was always quick with a “spare check”, a note, a letter, a photocopy of an article, a photocopy of medical records, a photocopy of social security cards, photocopy of birth certificates, photocopy passports… who knew that Kens Kwik Kopy would be such a part of our life. He was quick to offer an ear, provide advice, insight and stories of serving in the US Army, swimming as an all American, or falling victim to Father Thomas Brennan who taught Logic at Notre Dame (yeah I know).. Father Brennan use to toss matchbooks, with uncanny accuracy, as a means to capture the attention of inattentive students… whether or not he was one of those students, we may never know… but dad says the matchbook hit hard!


The only thing he loved more than a good story was a great laugh.  He also loved the practical jokes, playing them more than falling prey to them. One family camping trip to Big Bear Lake included an early wakeup call to see big feet drawn in the dirt. Convinced it was either big foot or a big bear, we started to see where the tracks led. He loved the scavenger hunt because it would challenge us to use our minds. Scavenger hunts became a staple for a time and even eclipsed the “gift” sometimes. Unless the gift was epic, which is always was.

There is always a special bond between parents and their children, even more so between a father and his daughter. Such is the relationship between dad and our sister Shauna. When I wrecked the car I was grounded for a month, my brother was grounded for a week and Shauna… well she got a new car! Their relationship was much deeper than physical gifts, the meaningful relationships always are…

Dad loved mom and he loved to show her the ways.  On her 40th birthday, rather, the first anniversary of her 39thbirthday, he found a marching band, threw a parade and got mom a car… theirs was a blessed and unique connection that started when Dad brought his Mercedes back from Germany and picked up mom for a blind date … we are all thankful he did. He loved his cars, they were either fast or classy or a Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon, the kind with a wood panel.


Outside of home, dad was happy in two places… a Notre Dame football game or on/or near the water. The Venture 21 sailboat provided so many memories. Weekend boating trips, overnights on the water were always a special time. There was one time dad, jimmy and I were sailing, keel hulling to be exact when dad lost his grip and did an inertia driven back flip into the water, leaving my brother and I to navigate the boat back to his general area. We pulled him in, had a great laugh and decided it was time to call it a day.


One of the things I enjoy is trail running the path is memorable for a variety of reasons, it is mostly clear, the ponds and lakes at lower elevations provide great memories.  The higher you get the more difficult the terrain… more challenges surface, resulting in a twisted ankle, rolled and then the stumble a time, or ten. As the summit gets closer, the altitude is thinner, the climb is steeper but oh, the view, the perspective when you get to the top and can look back at the entirety of the trail… just like looking back on the entirety of a life, hearing his stories, some might have been embellished, but all rooted in truth, they are memories of family, friends, places in time, grounded in love. Those thoughts, like wine, only get better with age.

Dad is known for saying a lot of things. But this is the one that sticks with me…

“Do the best you can with what you’ve got as long as you got it.”

Dad, thank you for your thoughtfulness, love and legacy. I love you and you are missed.

The Family on the Train

In Life on January 20, 2019 at 10:45 pm

tomtrainsnap1As a part of my Christmas holiday travel, I worked in a trip on the Amtrak.

This was my fourth long haul train trip, first on the Texas Eagle (Fort Worth to Chicago, about 23 hours of travel). While the trip
itself wasn’t memorable, by design.  The people on the train (and the views) are always what makes it worthwhile for my travel taste.

On this trip, the passengers who made the 23 hours memorable are people I never formally met.  They were located two cabins behind me, a family of five. It included an adolescent  son, an elementary school aged daughter and an infant.  The husband is cordial,  has tattoos and looks like he enjoys the time with weights.  The wife is medically skinny with very short hair which is sometimes covered with a ski cap. As we approached Chicago she sported a new wig.

tomtrainsnap3Their chatter, disagreements and laughter is typical family stuff. They were traveling to  to visit family.  I don’t know where they boarded the train, they were already on when I boarded in Fort Worth.  My guess, they got on the train in Los Angeles.

Their morning ritual was not unlike other families and included the mom asking the son and daughter to get ready for the day.  Sometimes, repeating the desired tasking multiple times.  After a consecutive insistence, the son tapped his inner adolescence and decided to challenge the requests to brush his teeth.  The tension overflowed and got into areas that really had nothing to do with brushing teeth.  The son made some comment about is mom’s medical condition and the large number of pills she needs to take.  He commented how their family is really are putting a lot of hope in how those pills can change her per assumed fate. The mom share the need to give her body a two
week rest before resuming the regimen.  It was just enough time for the family to claim some kind of normalcy in the midst of the medical chaos.

The tone changed.  Silence fell. A short time later the son went to brush his teeth.

tomtrainsnap2The rest of the time, was filled with typically family travel stuff with tears being prompted by fatigue and roller coaster anticipation of getting tho their destination.

While the family was engaged in a game, passing time before arriving in Chicago, the son with celebrated anticipation proclaimed “mom, your gonna win!”  Her response was “I just want to keep playing.”

Don’t we all.

Swim Bike & Sling

In Life, Uncategorized on August 8, 2017 at 11:42 pm

Spoiler alert! Despite how the finishing photo looked, my recent Ironman 70.3 Boulder triathlon ended with a finish and a personal best time for that distance when I raced in the 2016 Toughman event in New Mexico.

The fact I could even get close to a personal best with only 41 days of training and an unstable shoulder for most of the 13.1-mile run are two of many positive takeaways from a long day on a beautiful course!

FullSizeRender 6

via Elli Martindale

The first three hundred yards of the swim was from buoy to buoy. Having difficulty catching my breath among the other 50-something age group swimmers, I let the pack thin out and finally regained composure to salvage a decent swim. The final 400 yards of the swim was filled with my brain calling out orders to the rest of the body how transitioning from swimming to standing to walking is supposed to take place. Getting out of the water, I did my best impersonation of an evolutionary tetrapod. No falling.

FullSizeRender 5The 56-mile bike effort was the best of the three disciplines. My brief training for this aspect of the race, paid off. The course was “fast”, which I really do not understand because there were points where I felt anything but fast. My time was nearly 30 minutes faster than my last race at this distance. It was fun flying by other cyclists on the downhill segments.

Then there was the run.

Throughout training, my transition to the run was the weakest element.  For the race, I set low expectations and failed to meet the minimum standards.  Yes, it was a $#!& Show that was about to go into hyper-drive in the wrong direction.

To understand what happens next, you need to know a little bit about my family medical history. Here is a recap:

  • Brother – three shoulder surgeries
  • Sister – three shoulder surgeries
  • Me – two shoulder surgeries

At mile two, my foot tripped on something and I staggered my step, some would call it a trip without a fall. The jarring nature of the event caused my shoulder to become unstable and the socket and rising out of the right socket only to capture a nerve and other things on its way back into place.  How did it feel? Think of hitting your funny bone and the sensation resonating throughout your entire arm. Welcome to my world.

It turns out the running action was causing my elbow to drop, pulling my shoulder nearly out of socket. For the next five miles I adapted by clutching my shirt, below the collar. It helped temporarily but caused some to think I might be having a heart attack or other medical event. Not so good. Then at mile eight, I hailed a motorcycle medic and explained what was happening with the shoulder. The medic fashioned a triangle bandage into a sling and wrapped it tight to stabilize my elbow. Relief. It worked! I could now run with confidence, and I did.

FullSizeRender 3About three miles from the finish it occurred to me that a new personal best might be within reach. The 2016 Toughman time to beat was 6:57:19. Honestly, I did not remember the time, only thought it was about 6:56 and change. My final time was 6:57:08, something I did not fully realize until putting this blog together.

Time to go celebrate #Cheers!

May 2017

In Life, Uncategorized on June 4, 2017 at 10:20 pm

If you have a bucket list item of traveling to all seven continents in one month, I will try to discourage you. Today, it is June 1, 2017 and I am at my home in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. The month of May 2017 was a whirlwind of travel that had me on the road more than at home.

Spending time with the Worldcom Public Relations Group at our Annual General Meeting started off my travel with five days in Hong Kong. It was my first time visiting the islands of Kowloon and Hong Kong, second time in Asia.

ProfessiTG HongKongonally, the networking and conversations exceeded expectations. It took the form of exploring parts of the city from the longest series of escalators in the world to betting on horses at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Personally, I was able to get in a few runs through Kowloon and look to the skyline each night at 8:10 when the horizon lit up with a lazer light show on Hong Kong Island.

The food… well, let me just say there General Tso’s Chicken isn’t on the menu. But, every part of the chicken is available for consumption. The sweet and savory is more my speed. It was a great culinary experience.

Then it was off to Seattle for the annual Counselors Academy Spring ConfeTG Seattlerence. Having chaired the event many years ago in Key West provided the opportunity to lead the organization this calendar year. The area’s food and coffee were on par with the programming of this year’s event (the reading list derived from this event is quite impressive, more in a future post). I was able to get in some nice runs around the area (always a great way to explore and acclimate) and finished up the event at the iconic Space Needle for dinner.

After a bTG Irelandrief reset, it was off on a personal trip to Ireland with my two daughters. It was my first time there. Flew in and out of Dublin, spent nearly all of our time on the west coast. We meandered from Killarney to Newport, seeing the sights on and off the beaten path. While there were so many personal highlight of this trip, I shared those stories to provide business insight from my visit to the Guinness Storehouse factory.
When Arthur Guinness started the brewery in 1759, he signed a 9,000 year lease the four acre factory site at the St. James Gate, in Dublin. The business decision of signing a long (LONG)-term lease for a start-up company would be laughed at today. However, the leadership, persistence, excellence and commitment to bring the “Guinness” vision to life is nothing short of impressive and awe-inspiring.

TG GuinnessAlso, in the “for what it is worth” department, here is information about the status of the 9,000 year lease via Wikipedia:The 9,000-year lease signed in 1759 was for a 4 acre brewery site. Today, the brewery covers over 50 acres, which grew up over the past 200 years around the original 4 acre site. The 1759 lease is no longer valid as the Company purchased the lands outright many years ago.

Some #PR insight for my second cousin, James Comey

In Crisis Communication, Life, Messaging, Reputation, Uncategorized on May 19, 2017 at 6:26 pm


The second most polarizing figure in America today is the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation James Comey.  Yes, at one point, he was number one, no doubt.

Mr. Comey’s grandmother on his mom’s side and my grandmother on my dad’s side are sisters.  I always knew his grandmother as Aunt Irene.  Mary and Irene Broderick grew up in New York and got along tremendously well. Ensuring that future generations were connected was not on their watch, just a casualty of the nuclear family.

Despite the distance, I am proud of the bloodline that connects our lineage. Yes, I had thought about giving him a call at the office; the potential thought of discussing public relation approaches with my second cousin sounded kind of cool. But in lieu of the awkward telephone handoffs of explaining the family relation for a dozen or so times with federal agents, only to leave a message with a very capable civilian, I opted to put a few of my thoughts on this blog.

As a public relations practitioner for the past 24 years, what insight could I possibly someone who has “been there and done that” in the gauntlet of public opinion?

First, I’d give former FBI Director three quick recaps:

  • The New Yorker story and 60 minutes interview resulted in solid media coverage to share who you are as a person. This is key to creating credibility and likeability.
  • The multiple news announcements about the Clinton e-mail server could have been handled better. While I am convinced that in your mind you were doing the right thing, it came across as disjointed and politically motivated.
  • Conducting an overview briefing to discuss the process for the respective Flynn and Trump/Russia investigations would have helped to shape future media coverage and conversations without giving away any of the investigative findings.

Then I’d ask, “ok, what’s next for you?”  And follow some of these questions (which would surely spur other questions):

  1. What does a win look like? Why?
  2. Where do you want to be professionally three years from now?
  3. How do you want the news headlines to read six months from now, or a year (if you care)?
  4. Are there any pressing issues or public activities taking place within the next 48-72 hours? List them and explain how they might impact the responses to any of the first three questions.

Based on his answers, we’d develop message and a strategy. As a result of that conversation, some exclusive one on one media interviews would be proposed unique to print (New York Times), radio (Michael Smerconish) and television (60 minutes).

Last question that I would ask: tell me about Aunt Irene!

Go Purple!

In Life on November 21, 2013 at 3:15 pm

PurpleTiePurple and White is a tradition with any alum and/or friend of Texas Christian University.

While I will summon Horned Frog pride on Friday, there will be a larger cause behind my purple, awareness for Pancreatic Cancer.

Nancy Murphy Bowles is a tireless advocate for raising awareness and funds for research to beat this killer.  Her brother Dino, whom I’ve only met in spirit, was a victim of the cancer.  But his spirit and memory is a survivor, serving as an encouragement to all who hear his story.

Nancy recently shared their story on the One Medal website.

The marathon season she recalls in her story is still fresh in my mind.

There is a lot of truth in the adage “you run 444 miles to train your body for a marathon so your mind can handle 26.2 miles.”  However that season a group of us were training for the 2011 Los Angeles Marathon it was clear the mind, body and soul were getting trained the entire time.

On race day, singer and songwriter Albert Hammond’s one hit wonder never hit closer to home:

Seems it never rains in southern California
Seems I’ve often heard that kind of talk before
It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya?
It pours, man, it pours

Nancy and I paced each other most of the way as our running mob wound from Dodgers Stadium through downtown, the cultural district, along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and then down Santa Monica Boulevard for the beach.  It was not a beach day.

For the most part we were in eyesight of each other and swapped lead throughout the marathon.  However, I did lose track of her when we hit Rodeo Drive, maybe it was some power shopping?

But in the midst of running in ankle deep water, seeing a bearded surfer dude running in a bathing suit (no shoes) and being cleansed throughout the race in a torrential downpour I never saw Nancy, in her purple tutu, flinch.

That same determination carried through the finish line and is still a major part of who she is today.

So when I wear purple this Friday, I will be quieter about my Frogs and louder about raising awareness as an encouragement to those lives impacted by Pancreatic Cancer.

One Medal

In Life on July 8, 2013 at 9:05 pm

One MedalApril 14, 2013, the day before the Boston Marathon, marked an important date for me.  It was 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours earlier (yes think Forrest Gump) that I ran the first two miles for what would be three marathons, three half marathons, one ultra marathon and three 200 mile cross country relays.

My first two-mile training run, through Team in Training, was difficult.  It should have been seeing that I hadn’t run, well, since high school.  Everyone else on that two mile run was running for a reason. They had a friend or loved one battling an illness. I was running; no reason; no purpose, just for me.

That night, cruising Facebook, I saw a high school friend, Pete, was starting his chemo treatment for a blood cancer the next day. Through a brief email exchange on Facebook, I shared my concern and gave Pete my commitment that he was going to be with me in spirit for the training and running of the 2010 San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon.

So, I ran.

Today, Pete is in remission!  Finishing the races and sending him the medals provided him a “boost”. Mission accomplished! His name engraved on the back, my initials next to the time (BTW, that kind of accountability also forced me to get to as many speed training workouts as possible)!

Pete wrote back about the great encouragement the medals provided.

But then I started thinking; Pete is just one person.

Consider these United States facts: In 2009, there were 1,555,143 people suffering from cancer.  Last year, 528,375 people finished a marathon.

What if only a quarter of the runners gave their medal away to someone else? Then 132,093 people will be encouraged.

That’s why I built on a movement fueled by DetermiNation, Team in Training, PCAN, Joints in Motion, Team World Vision, Cycle for Life and many other excellent endurance training programs for charities.  There are also scores of runners, far more talented than me, participating in clubs around Albuquerque and the United States who are running for someone.  All of These groups, including my current running club the Oxy-Gen Morons, have these “One Medal Moments.”

One Medal is all about celebrating the accomplishments of others, providing a sacrifice of time and effort for someone else.

If they choose, athletes can donate their hardware, instead of placing it inside of a dusty shoebox, to provide encouragement to people going through chemo, recovery, remission or through some other reality changing life event.

If you run, why do you run?

My call to action is this: Run for someone, provide encouragement, let your time sacrifice of running, cycling and/or swimming be spent to provide someone, maybe a stranger, peace… if only for a moment.  Then share your One Medal moment on

Run Tom Run!

In Life on November 26, 2012 at 4:30 am

Forrest Gump ran for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours.

As of the writing of this blog, I’ve been running 2 years, 9 months, 26 days and 13 hours.  During that time, I’ve had the opportunity to train for and complete three marathons, three half marathons, two cross-country relays and a handful of fun run 5K and 10K races.  The reason I run has been addressed in previous blogs.

My latest adventure is scheduled to be an Ultra Marathon, in Big Bend National Park on January 20th.

During my training, I’ve had the chance to be schooled by some great coaches who have provided group and personalized training.  The group I have been running with for the past three seasons is call the Oxy “Gen” Morons.  The name is funny because we are all an oxymoron in some form or fashion.  Our chant “Go Mo!”

So you don’t get any ideas.  My times will not qualify me for the Boston Marathon. And, the only way I am getting to the US Olympic Time Trials is if I buy a ticket to watch.  Here are a few of the things I’ve learned from my coaches and Runner’s World calendar provided to me last year:

  • “The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting forth above average effort.” – Colin Powell
  • My runs are more productive when I think about possibilities rather than reliving past mistakes.
  • “Fear is probably the thing that limits performance more than anything – the fear of not doing well, of what people will say. You’ve got to acknowledge those fears, then release them” Mark Allen, won six Ironman championships.
  • “Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.” Oprah Winfrey
  • “Running affords the perfect integration of body and spirit.  It makes for a fullness of life.” – Sister Mario Irvine, the oldest woman to qualify for the US Olympic Marathon Trials (She was54 when she ran a 2:51 at the Trials in 1984)
  • You train your body by running 444 miles so your mind can make it for 26.2 miles
  • “Don’t ever accept anyone else’s preconceived limitations.  If there is something you want to do, there isn’t any reason you can’t do it.” – Any Dodson, broke the 26.2 mile women’s leg amputee record by 24 minutes, 13 seconds
  • You create what you state.  Think positive!
  • “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence is the key to unlocking our potential.” William Churchill
  • “Sport is not about being wrapped up in a cotton wool… sport, like all of life, is about taking risks.” – Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.

Three Unique NM Election Storylines

In Life on November 7, 2012 at 2:52 pm

New Mexico’s post election analysis will include a number of pundits laying blame, pointing fingers and claiming success.  Here are three uniquely New Mexico story lines from the 2012 Election.

In Plain Sight v. Breaking Bad

U.S. Marshall Mary Shannon, played by Governor Susana Martinez,  fell short of capturing Walter White, played by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez.  But the PAC run by her political operative, played by Jay McCleskey, was successful in dislodging two other core senate leaders (Senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings and Senate Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia).  Did the Governor get a pathway through the Senate for her legislative agenda?  No, the “all in” strategy only agitated an already independent political body, played by the New Mexico Senate.

Paul Lynde v. Jerry McGuire

The effort to raise the minimum wage got a huge boost of support when pro-business groups went for the “Block” to keep the issue off of the ballot.  The issue might have survived if pro-business groups created a “You Complete Me” coalition with the pro-wage groups to identify ways to improve the workforce and working conditions for Albuquerque-area employees.

Judiciary v Scarlet Letter

Approaching 11:59pm on election night it was apparent that the Governor’s coat-tails were more tripping up her judiciary picks than pulling them to victory.  An aggressive advertising campaign that publically aligned the Governor with conservative judges appears to have backfired, providing a scarlet letter, of sorts, giving liberal voters an outlet to vent their angst.

Finally, these views are my own and do not represent opinions of my company or the clients we have the opportunity to represent.

Fair Time!

In Life, Reputation on September 12, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Where can you walk around gnawing on a turkey leg while sampling a side of funnel cake and kettle corn?  The New Mexico State Fair, of course.

Resistance is futile. The last negotiating chip I have with my family is “as long as I don’t have to go in the midway”.

The New Mexico State Fair starts its 12 day run this week.  The event has been besieged in a funding tug of war as legislators debate scrapping or funding the State-owned Albuquerque property.

The ghost of past State Fairs linger.  Specifcally, a hop scotch pattern of scheduling has been the biggest point of confusion, which is reinforced on its website “This year, the Fair is condensed from 13 open days over a 17-day run to 12 open days.” The emphasis was theirs.

Based on the Garrity Perception Survey, mobile users are a great base of support for the New Mexico State Fair.  Just yesterday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reinforced his commitment to own the mobile space.  While the State Fair doesn’t have a mainstream “mobile app” there is a lot of opportunity for communicators to leverage their Facebook presence.

What else can the State Fair do in the social and mobile space?  Establish or piggyback on a #StateFair hashtag, have an Instagramphoto challenge” and provide updates about events via twitter.

Personally, my goal this year is to get a close up picture of a #Snout