WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

These last few days have been filled with sadness as we have been mourning the loss of Margie’s mother Ruthanne. I have always been someone who searches for the light in the darkness. There is no more difficult time to do this than when we lose somebody who means so much. If there is anything my faith has taught me is that there is always something to be grateful for.

Of course we would all very much like to have Ruthanne back to hear her sing one more song, laugh one more time with us or even just to put things in perspective the way only she could do. Thankfully we have lots of videos, pictures and memories where those moments will live on. In addition to the great lessons in life that she has left behind, there is another gift I have discovered in the midst of this somber time.

While making arrangements for the celebration of life planned for Ruthanne, there were generations worth of pictures to sift through. I am a big fan of history to begin with, but being able to see first hand the family history of the woman I love is something truly special. Of course we would love to have Margie’s mom present to go through these photos with us, especially to enlighten us as to who some of the less familiar faces may be. Yet, it is through her passing that the gift of discovery and in some cases revelation of many family facts and stories.

On a more personal note, I could not be more grateful and excited to learn more about where the love of my life came from and the people, places and events that help shape her into the amazing woman she is today. Plus, adorable baby pictures like the one above are hard to pass up. I was honored to get to know her mother and see how Margie learned a lot of the traits that make her the woman I love. I am also humbled to be the man she chose to have by her side as she goes through with what is the most difficult time of her life. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge I am gaining by listening to the stories (and Storys) and looking at the pictures will help provide me with more and better ways to help provide her the love she needs as her heart makes the long journey towards healing.

YOU ARE A CHAMPION

Recently, I had a discussion with a coworker about Billy Alsbrooks, an author and motivational speaker I enjoy. The subject was on being a champion. Mr. Alsbrooks states in his videos that we are all champions. This gentleman took a slight issue with that. “I am not always a champion. Some days I lose my temper and act in ways I shouldn’t.” he informed me. I would like to share with you my reply to him.

I do not pretend to speak for Billy Alsbrooks, but instead will give you my interpretation of his message and how it spoke to me. The first thing that came to mind was the definition of a champion. When people hear the word champion they think of the person holding up the trophy. Someone who did not lose. If you have read my writing for any length of time you will know I look at a champion differently.

To me, a champion is someone who is always learning, always growing. We consider a baseball player with a 300 average a champion. A 300 average means they ‘failed’ 7 out of 10 times! Think of people we call champions today. Lebron James was on a team in Cleveland that could not win a championship. He did not give up. He ended up playing in Miami where he won and then went back to Cleveland to win one there as well. Michael Jordan, who many consider the best player of all time did not make the cut on his high school team. He used that for motivation to work harder and won 6 championships. Tom Brady had to wait until the sixth round to be drafted. Then he was on a team who had a star quarterback. Instead of feeling dejected, he practiced twice as hard. When his time came he took full advantage and has won several championships.

This is not limited to sports. What if I told you there was a child who grew up with a mother and father who were alcoholics and mentally and physically abusive. At one point even having dish soap poured down his throat for something he said. Growing up poor eventually having six fathers and leaving home at 17 what would you predict for his life? Failure? Poverty? Surely there would be a general anger and distrust of people. That man was Tony Robbins who has gone on to be one of the best selling and most inspiring success coaches of all time.

The point is this. Champions are not people who win all of the time. They are those who learn and grow from their challenges and so-called failures. There are days we all don’t live up to our own standards. We lose our temper, we don’t follow through, we are not as productive as we should be. Those things do not mean we are not champions. All they mean is we have lessons to learn and chances to practice improving ourselves. It also serves as a great way to remain humble. Remember other fellow champions have their off days too. Be understanding and use those moments to remind them that they too are champions.

A true champion is not about their standing or their situations, but more about what they do with them.

HOW DID YOU DO IT? WE NEED TO KNOW!

My next book will contain a new section titled “In the company of angels”. It is a collection of people who have faced a lot of challenges in life and remained positive. More important than their stories, which some of us may be able to relate too, are the ways they were able to overcome those challenges and hang on despite having every reason not to.

Here is where you the reader of this post come in. I am looking to add to that collection. If you would enjoy possibly becoming a part of my next book, I invite you to share your story with us here. Do so in the comments below. If I use your story, I will send you an autographed copy of the book when it is published. In addition you will inspire and help a lot of people who read this post.

We all go through pain and the best way to make use of it is to learn from it. The best way to make pain a gift is to use it to help others who may be going through a similar situation. In your story please include what you went through, how you were feeling and what allowed you to come out the other side with a smile on your face and joy in your heart.

FOR EVERY LEVEL, THERE’S ANOTHER DEVIL

I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –

The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat

Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.

Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.

Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.

This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP

WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY 

I promised you a powerful activity and here it is. A while back i recorded a very powerful video you can watch by clicking the link at the end of this post. Today we are going to revisit the principles discussed in that video. 

If you have spent a fair amount of time on this planet you have no doubt heard a eulogy. Maybe you have even had to write and deliver one yourself? One fact of life is this, when it comes to the end whether you are Bill Gates or a man who lives under a bridge, when you die someone will say something about you. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black, white or any other color of the rainbow. It doesn’t matter what faith you follow. When you pass on words will be said to describe your life. 

Now this may come across as a dark or morbid thought to many of you. To me, it is just a fact. If you were to leave this planet tonight what would they say about you? What would you, and your life, be known for? Is it what you would want to be known for? Have you done what you wanted to with your life? 

If we are honest, most of us, to some extent would have to answer ‘no’ to some degree. There is always more we would like to do and accomplish. There are lives we would like to touch and things we would like to be remembered for. What would you like your legacy to be? This is a question we don’t spend a good deal pondering. Death is a subject rarely discussed and just as rarely thought of except at funerals. 

As uncomfortable as the thought of our own mortality is, it can serve as a great motivator. There is a Native American saying that goes “today is a good day to die.” Meaning we should live life so that if we should pass away today our soul would be at peace.

A great way to accomplish all of this is to write our own eulogy. When my day comes and people are gathered around remembering Neil, what would I like them to be saying? Sit down and think about that. Write down what you would like to hear about you and your life. Chances are you will not have done, or even be that kind of person yet. Knowing what you want to be remembered for will certainly help you gain clarity and motivation to get there. 

Doing this exercise will change your life. I encourage you to do it and feel free to share what you discovered and how it impacted you. 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO 

SAME..BUT DIFFERENT

As we watch what is going on in our current political climate i am reminded of my great friend Cari. That is a picture of her above. Not only does she obviously have great taste in books (you can get a copy of that very book by clicking this link A Happy Life for Busy People) but she is one of the sweetest people I have the honor of having in my life. Cari literally will help anyone and everyone she can. When her friends are hurting, she is hurting. She is a great listener and has a kind word about everyone. She even bakes amazing cookies. 

Other than the fact I am grateful for my friend and can take a moment to brag on her,what is this post about? Here is something about Cari and I, when it comes to some very important issues we have major differences. We are both very spiritual people and lean heavily on our faith. It is one of the things that I respect most about Cari. She stands by her beliefs even when it is not the easiest thing to do. She also does her very best to not only stand by them, but live her faith as well. She ‘walks the walk’. She also expresses her faith quite openly.

One evening Cari and I met for dinner which ended up lasting several hours. We discussed at length our beliefs and how they would apply in certain situations. We discovered on a lot of issues, important ones, we were miles apart. On others our views were in direct conflict with each other. 

A discussion like that could lead to conflict between the two individuals. How often have we heard never to discuss religion and politics? Here is what came of the evening with my friend. We expressed our views openly and passionately while the other party listened with the intent of understanding and not to ‘correct’ or even contradict each other. On several issues we agreed to disagree and on others even incorporated each other’s belief to gain a more complete understanding. 

The reason i bring this up is to encourage all of us to do the same. We can obviously see on a bigger scale governments having difficulty doing this, but it starts at a fundamental level between two people. I encourage us all to search for common ground and learn to agree to disagree. You can certainly respect someone and their convictions even if you do not agree with them 100%. Feel free to share any ideas you have for doing so in the comments below. 

COME TOGETHER 

Here is a story i often tell in person that for reasons i am not sure I’ve never shared here. A few years back I had a friend Nick that sadly was killed at a very young age in a vehicle accident. I had the great honor of attending his memorial service.

Here is what I walked away with that I will never forget. Nick’s mom practiced Judaism. Nick’s father was a Free Mason. Nick himself followed the Buddhist path. The service was held at the local Masonic lodge. At the service there was a Buddhist chanter and there were was a Rabbi who shared some very touching words and prayers. I was overwhelmed by the ability for all of these different faiths to come together to honor my friend.

While that was a very good and lasting memory it is sad to notice I have not seen many such examples of faiths working together. Usually the news we hear is of different beliefs battling to show which one is right, which to me leaves me appalled by all of them.

Another more secular example of this that I see daily is when emergency vehicles are coming down the street and everyone pulls over for them. After saying a few quick words for those they are going to help (a tradition left to me by my grandmother) I stop and feel grateful for all of the people doing their part to help them by clearing the way. On occasion there are those who do not get out of the way, which always leave me wondering if they would do the same if it were their loved one in need of help. Still for the most part we all recognize someone is in need of help and do our part to assist by allowing the help to get there in a timely manner.

My question is this, why do we seem to come together only at these times? Truly this proves we as people are more than capable of working together for the greater good. Personally I would like to see more of different faiths, beliefs and cultures working together to not only better understand each other, but for the greater good of us all.

Feel free to share examples you have seen of different people working together as well as any ideas you may have for that in the comments below. Also feel free to share this post as well.