Daily Acts Of Gratitude

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12/7/14

While striving for the most optimal changes in my life as I get older, it’s valuable to remind myself of simply doing the following each day:

  • If I can raise my arms, I can easily reach out to give a hug.
  • If I can share a smile, I’m better off doing so given the weight of its impact versus any other expression.
  • If I can still get off the ground, I should jump every once in a while just to temporarily feel the brief sensation of flying and soaring.
  • If I still have a voice, why not “sing my ass off” while listening to a song that captures my emotion?
  • If I can move my legs, why not dance or at least tap my feet to music if moved to do so?
  • If I can speak and my brain still works, I’m going to speak my mind (without needlessly hurting someone) if there is some value in what I have to say.
  • If I feel like I deserve something good, maybe I should make it happen first instead of waiting for karma to find me.
  • If I can bend my legs without too much pain, I should drop to my knees and give thanks to my Lord for giving me another day to add to this great life and that with another, I’ll work to make that life better for me and those around me.
  • Finally, if I can raise my hand above my head, I’ll also point to the Heavens and think “sometimes I may not have acted as God wished but I’m glad to know He never left me”!
  • So in the end, I’ll “let the beauty that I love be what I do”, because you know, I’m just never too old to have it so!

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Sometimes What’s Perfect Is Greater Than Perfection – Thoughts To My Family

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(Reposting of thoughts that carry as much, if not more, meaning today than the day I wrote it.)

11/9/14

“Aim for success, not perfection.  Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.” – Dr. David M. Burns

Perfection is the ideal but the perfect result may be entirely different.  The fabric of our identity is not defined by what we originally envision for ourselves but the difficulties that we ultimately have to confront to get to where we eventually end up.

We struggle too often with our expectations and what we feel we deserve which sometimes is masked behind feelings of entitlement.  Quoting a line from an old movie, “deserving has got nothing to do with it” or at least our perception of it.  Do you really think that God has children born into starving countries or impoverished communities because they deserve it?  That doesn’t make sense and the simple answers as to why it happens is that “I don’t know”, and “it’s not for me to know”.  Thinking about “why them”, and “why not me”, is as perplexing when things are not going well for us and we form the questions “why me” and “why not them?”  Same simple answers.

Ask any adult with some years behind them if everything has turned out the way they dreamed whether you want to pin it down on a personal, professional, family, social, physical, creative, or emotional level.  The initial goals and aspirations were based on an ideal yet inexperienced vision of perfection.  The better question is to ask them to compare those dreams to what turned out “perfect” and why.  I’m pretty sure it will be different yet harder to define.

Here’s anothet perfect example.  Ask this other question to any adult who’s ever faced the challenge of raising a child well, or been married an extended period of time if this reality ever set in:  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy but I didn’t know it was going to be this hard!

We understand the basic reasons as to “why” but figuring out the intricate causes that separated our results from another’s with similar circumstance is perplexing.  I mean why did Brian Piccolo (“Brian’s Song) die in his 20’s from lung cancer after never smoking, and others live into their 90’s after smoking a pack a day?  Why did my best friend’s car get struck by a drunk driver and he was the one who died?  How does a younger, healthier person suffer a head injury/bleed, seizure, and die or end up incapacitated, and I survive with a better than expected recovery?  It troubles me but its better off left to “I don’t know”, and “it’s not important for me to know” since I guess “deserving has got nothing to do with it.”

All unfortunate things happen for a reason whether we may not always understand why at the time.  Sometimes the weight that drags our hearts down takes us to where we need to be.  By being there, we may not find what we want but we can better identify what we don’t want, what we don’t need, what we don’t want to happen, and where we don’t want to be again.  We have a better understanding of our large and small successes in the past, and how misguided we were to think we were entitled to more.  Most importantly, we learn how to measure success differently so that the fruits of our efforts are hopefully better appreciated when we see them again.

Trust me, something does come from what may seem like “nothing” at the time.  It’s only temporary even though we may feel like we’re wasting away under the fatigue.  I’ve accepted that our lives, when stripped to their basics, can make the solutions less complex than they need to be and only complicated by what we feel we are owed from how much we despaired.

Don’t lose hope because success begins from any amount of optimism.  Feeling alone is only a condition of the situation, not a product of our overall circumstances.  Beyond those near us, there are 7 billion people on this planet that should convince us that we’ll never be alone.  Chances are that we’re closer than we know to where we want and “deserve” to be, so slow down, breathe, and take better steps based on what we’ve learned and where we’ve been!

Leadership – Message To My Sons

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8/17/17

I expect you boys to be leaders, not followers; and that can only be accomplished once you understand that leadership is on no greater display than when you consistently illustrate the quality and conviction of your character, morality, and principles, even when others find it convenient to sacrifice their own! – Joe Dico

Reaching Out To The Unlikely – Chalenge To My Sons (All Teens)

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(This is one of my first posts and I feel humbled and proud that my boys have honored the wishes set forth below since the day I first shared it with them)

1/24/15

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you. ” – Princess Diana

So now I’m going to ask you boys for something which is less a request and more of a challenge and test.  In a way it’s something you owe yourselves as part of a discovery of who you are and how others see you and/or may be affected by you.  At a minimum after all I’ve written and hopefully assisted you with, this is something that you owe me.

Life has a funny way of working out but many things are not really random.  It can be excellent at times and others, well not so much.  Our ability to make an average day better from our own efforts is not something we should take for granted when we boil it down to its basics.  The best part of our day and overall existence should not be the greatest gifts we receive but the simplest gifts we give and just maybe, create for others.

You boys by virtue of being athletes, relatively easy on the eyes, personable, charming, fairly witty, etc., consequently may fall into the “popular” and “admired” categories, at least in the high and middle school arenas.  All of this changes in the college settings where you can get overlooked in a larger population and the grading scale of success is different.

So take this time to use this aspect of your status to reach out to those who would never imagine that you would even acknowledge them.  They are no less important than those you regularly interact with and importantly, can add a new dimension to your emerging interpersonal skills by exploring their own unique and distinctive attributes.  You just might be surprised that by performing this simple act of altruism, you may expand your understanding of your infinite coexistence with a few of the 7 billion people on this planet.

This is a perfect time to attempt to figuratively “touch someone” in an unexpected and meaningful fashion because of the daily paths you cross in your school communities.  When you get older and in your professional world, you will meet a lot of people who you are essentially required to interact with, and consequently it’s financially beneficial to excel in that capacity.  But how authentic are those interactions when the objectives are more self-serving than a genuine extension of the best of who you are.  It’s no excuse, just the frequent trap that engulfs us.  It’s unfortunate to find that we ignore the opportunities, either due to the hectic pace or schedule of our days, to slow down and capitalize on the random lives that we can affect or be affected by.

So my challenge is to make a simple attempt this next week (or longer) to acknowledge the unlikeliest of suspects whether it be another student, teacher, staff member, janitor, acquaintance, etc., who may fall outside your normal social sphere and would least expect it – I’m sure you can think of a few people who fall in that category.  Take an extra few seconds to just say “hi” or “how are you” to that person and pay attention to the response, if any, and do it at least one more time in the upcoming days.  If done only once, it can be construed as a fluke or aberration.  Importantly, initiate the encounter and use the person’s name, look at them, smile, and again at a minimum, wait for some sort of response and then take it however you wish from there.  Don’t think about it too much – just try it because there’s no reason not to and you might find a surprising return on the investment.

I’m not asking you to adopt my routine because frankly, you probably think I’m nuts!  I have the time, desire, and my own personal objectives which essentially involve gratitude for where I’m at and where I want my soul to remain.  Some might think I reach out to so many random individuals outside of my comfort zone for attention but that’s where they’d be mistaken.  My intention has never been to draw attention to myself (although that’s often the outcome), but to give my attention to those around me who deserve or maybe could just use it.  In the end though, I know that I benefit from it in too many ways to count and describe in detail.

All of our lives offer so many unnoticed and undiscovered things which really take little awareness to uncover.  Sometimes we get so locked inside our routines to appreciate what’s in front of us because we think external demands and distractions insist upon it.  Let’s be clear – they shouldn’t, they’re really not as significant as you think, and you can control your approach to them, all for the better!

So please be thoughtful in everything you do, and let that also include those who just happen to be part of your surroundings because the opportunities are abundant and shouldn’t be ignored.

And you want to know why it should come easy?  Because it’s the way you were raised, it’s who you are, and it honors your parents and those who influenced you to be that way!

Why Beauty Is Baseball – Sharing With The Boys

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4/6/15 (I wrote this to my sons over 2 years ago when Jason was a junior in high school and Christian was still a year from starting his high school career.  It seems somewhat prophetic now that J has begun his college baseball career at U of Santa Clara and C committed to play baseball at U of Washington after he graduates in 2019.  Coincidence – I’m fairly certain there’s more to it than that.)

“Grace is the beauty of form under the influence of freedom.” — Friedrich Schiller

This is when life is so liberating.  It’s when the exquisite and magnificent inner-structural components are pieced together so that we are momentarily elevated above the normalcy of our routine existence!  Wow, that was quite the combination of “big” words and the reason is that I’m not sure I’m able to precisely describe and articulate the moments where the “grace” and “freedom” converge as mentioned above.  I just know when it happens because it just seems and it feels that way!

I sometimes feel guilty because it happens so frequently during the most mundane moments when I slow down, take more in that’s around me, and make those moments not just part of me but able to surround them as opposed to letting them surround and overwhelm me.

When I read this quote, I instinctively went back to younger days and the freedom I felt during the buildup before, and the release of the usual daily boundaries right when I crossed onto the baseball field for any reason.  This occurred at almost any age starting from little league through high school and up until those ultra-competitive adult leagues I played in where the quality of the players kept alive my personalized and frenzied addiction to the sport.  I guess it was during those times that my life truly belonged to me, free of external obligations and responsibilities.  It’s funny but even though other players and coaches surrounded me, sometimes they were just voices in the background while I settled into my own individual state of reality.

I know baseball is considered a team sport but for it to have any particular meaning so that players can perform by and through the inner power that’s possessed, it has to be experienced and measured in accordance by individual models for successful attainment of “baseball nirvana”, devoid of external restrictions or limitations.  Is thIs that odd or do you guys ever feel that way because it can’t just be me, can it?

There was no one particular moment that baseball generated such an instinctive and personal state of mind but it was no doubt a combination of: the feeling of a ball settling into my glove; that same ball being released traveling stealthily along different horizontal angles and distances; an unbridled pitch that is captured, corralled, and released under the control of a bat; the acceleration around a base where the body is catapulted by the feet and legs towards the next destination that almost certainly belongs to you; and/or the “punch out” pinch or play to end an inning and jogging calmly off the mound or your position knowing that it’s all you can do to control yourself from exalting in the air and fist-pumping all the way back to the dugout (don’t do that or you’ll invite a retaliatory pitch but then again Jason would welcome getting hit by a pitch and then steal second and maybe third).

I got snippets of those days teaching and coaching you boys but living through you guys just doesn’t come close to replacing those feelings that were left behind.  J and C, remember that smile on my face you saw in that old high school video I showed you?  There’s no way to recall the precise thoughts in my head or during so many times after when art was inter-spliced with actual, living moments, but I’m guessing you have an idea.  But the best part about being a fan of you two in the stands is that I don’t have to restrict myself from expressing the excitement you elicit out of me when you the things that seem to come so natural to you knowing that few others are capable of them.

Oh and don’t ask me to calm it down because I can’t, I won’t, and shouldn’t have to, because it’s my connection with not just you guys but a love of a sport that was created well before and evolved well before you were born!  Just deal with it and bust your ass on the field because emotionally, so am I on the other side of it.

“Faith is love taking the form of aspiration.”  Think of this quote and apply it to why you are still playing baseball and plan to continue to do so at a high(er) level while others couldn’t or won’t be able to forge the same transference.

Obviously you found love and enjoyment in the sport through discovery and/or influence along while growing up with so many others around you.  But who’s left among those who you played against and why?  I’m guessing it’s because your sport requires maximum elevation allowing maximum mental, spiritual, and physical evolution leading to maximum execution that has to be harnessed and directed towards specific objectives that form the standards of your own personal goals and aspirations.  This my friends is where grace equals freedom and feeling anything different means you’re not thinking the right way, not loving the game so that it loves you back, or letting the wrong things enter in your own individual sphere to disturb what is one of the most magical and rewarding relationships that you’ll experience.  Eliminate that from happening and just enjoy where the resulting freedom takes you!

Last thing:  Remember the outcome will most times take care of itself if the approach is sound.  Not always but once you’re in the right place and where you need to be before you cross the write lines, the only surprises in store should work in your favor and against your opponents but then again, there are really few surprises when you put everything out there that continues to form the masterpieces you create!

So get your mind right because “we seek purpose when we are not in touch with who we really are.  When an apple tree discovers who it is, the question ‘what must I do?’ disappears.  When you discover who you are (at the deepest part of your being) you will find your purpose.” — Colleen-Joy Page