Sunday, November 4, 2012


Beautiful sunrise this morning seems to be a reminder that no matter what happened yesterday, today will always come around. It’s hard, sometimes, to realize that our immediate problems today will eventually become yesterday’s memories and nothing more. There seems to be so much doom and gloom in the world today, so many people who are convinced that the world will end if things don’t go the way they want them to. 

Yet in spite of it all the sun keeps rising every morning, the country is still intact, the world did not come to an end. 

I think our priorities are so backward these days. We all seem so focused on winning that we forget to live. I see it everywhere this morning, from sports to politics to business. Even the church across the street seems to be focused on winning more people to their congregation.

 I have to ask – Is winning really all there is to life?

What about simply being good people and helping one another out. If we all focused even a tenth of the energy we spend worrying about winning this race or that contest on helping each other succeed wouldn’t we all win?

That is the world I long to see.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Legacy in a Box

Where my office is located in the building I hear lots of interesting things that happen in the front lobby and the hallways. Some are funny, most are forgettable. Earlier today I overheard a conversation at work that got me thinking about age and legacy. A little old man walked into the company today with a box filled with Caterpillar machine die cast models that he had been collecting over the years. He talked about how he used to have them arranged on shelves in his den and had little stories about several of them. He brought them to us to see if we knew of anyone who wanted to buy them. He wasn’t overly concerned about price, but wanted them to go to a home where they would be appreciated. Our receptionist asked why he was selling them, since they obviously meant a great deal. He said that he and his wife were moving into a retirement home and there just wasn’t room for anything but the essentials.

A crowd of employees had formed by this point, exclaiming over the models. Some were really old and rare (the models as well as some of the employees, LOL), but the care that had been taken to preserve them over the years was obvious. The old man was thrilled to tell the story of his model collection to everyone there and the smile on his face by this point was the brightest thing in the room. That small box held more than just a jumble of toys, they held his history, his legacy. That small box was his life story in something other than words. He had to get rid of them because of space constraints, but by sharing the story behind them with us his legacy won’t die when he does.

One of our employees was so impressed by the collection and the story that he bought the entire box  within minutes. I think the man was happier about the fact that his collection would remain intact than with the money he walked out with.

This entire event got me to wondering what my legacy would be. What will I leave behind in the end? Am I creating a story worth remembering?   

I haven’t done anything especially heroic, saved a life, inspired anyone to invent the latest world changing gizmo, or donated a kidney to a family member. I don’t think that means anything bad, it doesn’t make me forgettable in the eyes of those I love. I just doesn't make me unforgettable in the eyes of strangers, and that really isn't very important to me.

When I thought in the past of what I someday will leave to future generations it has always been with a bit of trepidation. Most people can point to their children as their legacy. They know that, good or bad, there will be a piece of them left in the world. No, I don’t have that. But that doesn’t mean my legacy is any less than anyone else’s. It  just means that I have to be more creative in coming up ways to leave a lasting impression behind, just like that little old man who touched the lives of my coworkers and I with a small box.

It dawned on me at that moment that a legacy doesn’t have to be some grandiose event that the world over will remember for thousands of years. It can be as simple as a memory of a smile brought by a stranger. I don’t know that little old man’s name but I’ll never forget his story.I don't care if anyone remembers my name after I am gone, I just want to leave behind a memory of a smile and laughter. If I can make someone's day a little brighter as I pass through it that is enough for me. I'll admit I don't succeed every day, but I do try.

Think about what the world would be like if the billions of people on this planet made it their goal to make one person laugh every day, to bring a smile to just one person's day. Think about how luminous this world could be if each of us strove to make just one person's day a little brighter every day.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grape Kool-Aid & a Covered Book

I read an article today about whether or not a personal trainer should have a six pack. (Strange reading but it was well recommended.) While I agree with what the author had to say it was the way he said it that struck a chord with me. He started the article describing a trainer who he used to work with. The man did not look like what you expect to see in a person trainer at a typical gym. He was overweight, looked unhealthy, complained to his coworkers of constant fatigue, and was constantly drinking what everyone thought was grape Kool-aid. The author couldn’t understand why this guy was hired by his gym and why he was as successful with his clients as he seemed to be. What he later found out was that this man had been in fantastic shape and was active in many sports until he was attacked by cancer. The “grape Kool-aid” was a special drink to help him fight the nausea and fatigue that were a side effect of the cancer treatments.

This brings me to the point of today’s post (I know, a lot quicker than normal). We’ve all heard the phrase, “do not judge a book by its cover.” This is just another reminder of that. That overweight woman you see stuffing her face at the Pizza Hut may be suffering from an eating disorder just like the anorexic girl you see furiously sprinting on the treadmill. Neither one has the control she needs to fight the impulses, but one is seen as lazy and a slob while the other is looked on with sympathy and offered help. The woman flirting with every man in the room may be extremely insecure about herself and needs that attention to overcome her own self image. The flirting gets her the attention from the men, but ridicule from women, and that just perpetuates her poor self image. That shy girl that won’t look at you may really want to be friends but just doesn’t know how to start a conversation. Instead of approaching her and making an effort to get to know her she is branded as a snob and ignored which does nothing to help her break out of her shell.

We all look at people we don’t know and make snap judgments about who they are. Most of the time when we take the time to get to know someone we find they are vastly different from what we originally thought. This can actually go both ways. The person we thought we knew and trusted can sometimes turn out to be shallow and self centered. (I know this from direct experience.) Just like in the reverse scenario we have to be open to seeing what is really in front of us and base our choices on reality, not first impressions. So many times in the case of discovering that someone we thought was a good person is really not we refuse to see the truth until it smacks us upside the head with a closed fist or a humiliating comment in public.

There is no shame in admitting we were wrong in our first impression of a person. The only shame is refusing to admit it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The mountain and the valley (A dream with a message)

I had a dream the other night. That in itself is not unusual; I have very vivid dreams almost every night. Most aren’t worth sharing; most in fact I don’t even bother to remember past the morning shower.  This one seemed different right from the start and the more I thought about it the more I realized that my subconscious was trying to tell me something important. It had been nudging me for weeks but my stubborn nature doesn’t always take nudges, sometimes I just need to be kicked in the tushy to get the point.

In my dream I was standing on a mountaintop. It looked as if a forest fire had  recently swept through. The few remaining trees around me were little more than blackened spikes rising up from the scorched rocks. There was nothing green or alive, just the wind blowing dust and ashes. There were no animals or birdsong, just silence and a view of a beautiful valley below. I should have felt proud for making it to the top of the mountain. Isn’t that what we are always taught? We struggle all of our lives to make it to the top, we should feel pride and accomplishment when we get there. But I remember in the dream wondering why I fought so hard to get to this desolate and barren place when what was below was much more scenic.

Then I heard a small voice crying out from the cliffs below. Looking over the edge I saw a young girl clinging to a small shelf of rock, crying out for help. She was about 12 and her long blond hair was pulled back in two pig tails that hung down over her shoulders. She was dressed in an orange soccer shirt with black shorts and cleats. It seemed like a strange outfit for a young girl to be rock climbing in, until she looked up at me and I realized I was looking down at myself.

The girl saw me and called out for help, the shelf she was on was crumbling beneath her feet. If I didn’t help she would surely fall. I reached down to pull her up, but I couldn’t reach her from where I stood. I saw toe holds and handholds that would allow me to climb down to help her, but that would mean leaving the safety and security of the mountain top that I had worked so hard to attain. Eventually her calls for help encouraged me to climb down to where she stood. As the ledge we were on cracked and crumbled beneath our feet I realized that we would never be able to climb back up the same way I came down, the holds I had used had disappeared.

I kept one arm around the girl, feeling her terror and fear and trying to keep it from infecting me. I looked up, searching for a new way to climb back up with the girl, but there was nothing. I finally looked down and saw the beautiful valley far below with a deep lake directly beneath where the girl and I stood. Our way off of the cliff was clear, but the way was not what I had been expecting. The only way for the girl and I to get off the cliff and be able to move ahead would be to let go and leap off the mountain to the lake below. There was no way to climb up and staying still would mean giving up control of our fate to cliff.

After I woke and thought about this dream for a few days I realized what my subconscious has been trying to tell me. Sometimes the top is not worth reaching. Sometimes the best way, the only way, to move forward in life is to let go of the security you thought you had at the top. Sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith into the lake below.

What my mind was trying to tell me was that sometimes it is not only okay to let go, sometimes it is the only way to save yourself and find what you are really looking for rather than what you have been told you should be aiming for.

Letting go is not always easy, in fact it can be terrifying. But sometimes letting go is the only choice you have.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Doors & Windows

Sometimes a door closes on a part of your life that you treasure and you feel lost. You wonder what you will do now, how to fill that hole that was once such a big part of you.  We’ve all been through it in some way or another.

At the time all we have are questions. Questions like, what will I do now? How can I go on without this one thing or this one person?

What we don’t realize is that once we get past the grief and look clearly at life we can find an entire new path that we would never have seen before. That one thing that you don’t feel you can live without may be the one thing that is holding you back from reaching your full potential. 

Who you are is more than just the here and now. Who you are, is also who you can be and who you can be is all dependent upon what you are willing to try.

So what are you willing to try today?