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.

DON’T LET THE DEVIL LIE TO YOU

Ah the devil… Satan… whatever you care to call him. Some refer to this as negative side of the universe. Some just call it negativity. The name we attach to this power of evil is not important to what we are going to discuss today. What we are going to discuss is the lies we have all been fed. These come from all kinds of places, the media, coworkers, history, even well-meaning friends and family. Sometimes the voice seems to come from inside our own head.

The messages may seemed varied, but they all serve the same purpose, to lower our vibration. Whether it is politicians doing their best to convince you that a certain group of people are bad because of their skin color, religion, political belief or maybe even just based on where they live. Maybe the message is coming from the media telling you the world is going downhill fast. There is more violence than ever, there is more hate than ever. Convincing you that you have to live and walk in fear. Even our friends and family telling us not to get our hopes up about that dream we are saying or not to venture away from that seemingly safe career we have because we will fail if we try to do it on our own. They mean well, they are wanting us to be safe.

It is my belief these messages all come from the same source and are intended for the same purpose; to create a world full of fear and devoid of love. When we are divided against ourselves, when we are so busy finding reasons to hate each other it is difficult if not impossible to work together to solve the real problems that exist. Two people’s ideas put together may do a great deal to end world hunger or bring a cure to a certain disease, but if they are refusing to talk because they look different or worship or vote in a different way the world will remain darker.

I propose working together and finding the reasons to come together in a spirit of love and community to solve issues. This does not mean ignoring the problems that plague us all, but working together looking towards creating a solution instead of assigning blame. Is there more violence today or is the world better connected and we can hear about each and every incident? Are guns the problem or is it the promotion of lack of respect and sanctity of life promoted in movies, television, music and video games? I don’t pretend to know those answers. What I do know is this, by focusing on how terrible things are without an accent on finding solutions and healing the hearts and minds of people everywhere, we are letting the powers of darkness win.

So next time you hear the ‘devil’ whisper in your ear about how bad the world is, how truly bad people have become and how hopeless both you and your life are, next time you hear him whisper that you cannot withstand the storm. You need to face that demon, whether it is the media, a negative coworker or even a voice in your own head and reply with conviction that you indeed are the storm! You are a storm of love and compassion that will not be defeated. Even though you are hearing how scary and bad the world is, you will do your part to bring love and brighten a stranger’s day. When you hear about anger leading to violence and death, you can use it as a reminder to respond to hurt with empathy and compassion.

No matter what you hear about the world and people around you, the fact is that the power to change that world lies in each and every one of us. Your act of kindness and of love, no matter how small will have a ripple effect that will affect far more than you will ever know. What you may not think about is so will your anger and negative actions, even your apathy. Do not let the devil lie to you. It is you who are the storm, you who have the very power to change the world and we do so through love and compassion.

YOU FORGOT A GIFT!!

Just when you thought you opened All of your holiday gifts, I’m here to inform you that you forgot the best gift of all! The funny thing is that you have had this gift not only the entire holiday season, but your whole life! It is the greatest gift you have ever received, yet most of us have never opened it, or at least opened it all of the way.

What is this amazing gift and why haven’t we opened it? I think most of you realize that the best gifts are those that are not material. Good health is a gift that cannot be overlooked. Sadly this year I have lost too many whose health failed them. Bring physically vibrant allows us to fully enjoy the holidays. Good health isn’t the greatest gift…exactly.

The love of family and friends is one of the most precious gifts. The love I have with my beautiful lady Margie has transformed how I experience the holidays. When I stop and think of how many wonderful people I have shared and am sharing my life with I am overcome with gratitude. The love of family and friends is not the greatest gift…exactly.

Memories and moments of joy are gifts that are hard to top. I mentioned I lost several close people this year. I think of times when my uncle and I would travel to a local car show and spend the afternoon together. Although because of his passing, I’ll never experience that again, being able to share those moments with him was a gift that will keep on giving.

The joyous moments we experience both throughout the holiday season and the rest of the year are gifts that fill our soul. Whether it is a heartfelt moment with the one you love, or even the well-wishes from a stranger. They all bring smiles to our hearts and to our faces. Memories and joyous moments are not the greatest gift…exactly.

What is the greatest gift? Why do I keep saying exactly? I keep saying exactly because all of these things are part of the greatest gift – your life. Without being given the gift of life you could not experience, or help others experience, all of the gifts we mentioned above.

What do I mean about not fully opening our gift of life? Each one of us have been given special skills, or gifts that we bring to the world. Some of us can create a beautiful cake, like my love. Some of us can make people laugh. Some can make people think. Some encourage. Some inspire. Some do a little of several of these. Whatever your gift is, understand the greatest gift you can give to yourself, and more to the point here, the world around you, is to live that gift to its fullest.

Maybe your gift is to make people laugh, but you’re so busy with work and family you don’t often get a chance to do so. Take the time my friend. Start writing a humorous book, maybe start a blog of daily smiles. Whatever you have to do to live your gift. When you do you find a spark has returned to your heart and their is passion in your soul. A person living and loving life in just such a way is the greatest gift we can give to our world.

P.S. – I must give credit to my friend Michael Davis for inspiring this post.

CHANGE A CHILD’S LIFE!

Working in the tavern industry becomes less and less of an appeal to me with what at sometimes seems to be a daily pace. One of the great things about working in this industry though is on occasion you meet really amazing people. Some of them have been featured in my past blogs. Yesterday’s in fact! If you wish to read that one you can check it out here IT WORKS! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Today I wish to discuss another amazing individual my lovely lady and I have the pleasure of seeing as we do our shows. His name is Jerry Musolf, but he goes by Sonny. He is a really great friend by all standards. Friendly, helpful, always willing to lend a hand or a smile whichever is needed. Sonny also rides a motorcycle when the weather in this state allows. As such, you will often see him wearing a vest with patches of different sorts on it. One such patch on his vest looks like the one above. During one show Sonny had asked me to read a fundraiser announcement for a charity he belongs to. Always happy to help people doing good I did. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another friend of ours was wearing a sweatshirt from the same organization. That prompted me to inquire as to the what the group was all about. I was told to ask Sonny for all the details. What he shared with me is what I am about to share with you.

What influence I have in the world as an author, speaker and the use of this website I try to use for good. One of the causes that always is near and dear to my heart is children. They are innocent victims and often there is not enough support when they need it. If you read my post earlier this month about doing the Warrior Dash to help St. Jude children’s hospital that offers care to sick children and their families.

Another area where children suffer, and often alone is child abuse. Especially if the person doing the abusing is a family member or an adult the child trusts. In addition to the terrible physical aspects of child abuse the emotional and psychological effects can be just as or even worse and last a lifetime. What children need is a sense to feel safe. They need a group of adults they can trust.

This is where Guardians of the Children come in. Let me begin by sharing their mission statement with you. “The mission of Guardians of the Children (GOC) is to recognize and react to child abuse and educate the public to do the same; to serve as advocates to provide strength and stability to families in crisis; and be the answer to the prayer of an abused child or teen for courage, support and protection.” That all sounds good, but what does it actually translate to?

I am going to share both items available in the group’s literature as well as personal stories Sonny has told me. The group partners with other child abuse agencies to raise awareness of the prevalence of child abuse. The use donations they receive for birthdays, basic needs such as clothing and hygiene supplies, literature to promote child abuse awareness as well as activities for the kids. The strive to give these children the same opportunities that your own children have, a normal life and a family that loves and cares for their needs.

The last line is what really impresses me. This group often becomes the family these children so desperately need. The go to court with the children so they are less afraid. They often supply the children with a teddy bear (one that has been hugged by all the members of the group) to hold when they are alone and feeling scared. Each child also receives their own little vest with a patch that says “Little guardian”. The group also provides safe and fun activities for these children such as Easter egg hunts, fishing trips, roller skating and so much more.

In a world where there are far too many innocent child victims it does my soul good to know that such a group exists. On a personal note, I am proud to be the friend of a gentleman who is part of such a community. Below I will share both the national 24-hour child abuse hotline as well as links to both the national and local chapters of this amazing group. It is my sincere desire and hope that many of you will not only share this post, but chose to become a part of this group either through joining or donating. Together we can make this a better world for all of the children

24-hour child abuse hotline 1-800-252-5400

local chapter of Guardians of the Children

Guardians of the children Hawg city chapter

National website for Guardians of the Children

CONTRADICTION OF INFLUENCE 

If you read this post even semi regularly or know me personally, you know how much I enjoy our local state fair. Last year I saw the classic country western singer Kenny Rogers. There were a lot of families there. He sings such classic songs as ‘Islands in the stream’ and ‘Love’s got a hold on me’. Last night I saw the rock band Halestorm perform. Not so many families there as there songs include such titles as ‘Love bites and so do I’ and ‘I get off on you getting off on me’. So other than the fact that my musical interests are quite varied what are we to get out of this story?

Here is the thing. I assume most of you would rather take your families to the first show as one would assume that the influences would be better. Well at Kenny Rogers show he addressed the folks sitting right in front of the stage and said “Was that you singing because in all my years of singing that is the worst singing I have ever heard”. At first I wondered if he was trying some new humor or if he had just starting losing his mind. As the show went on, however, he continued to mock the singing ability of those present. He did all of this while making several mistakes on his own songs. I could not help but asking myself if Mr. Kenny Rogers was aware those were the people who paid the highest ticket prices and thus were the most eager to see him. I left with a little bit of dismay and a lot less respect for the singer.

Fast forward to last night and the Halestorm show. After a few hard rocking songs mentioned in the first paragraph the singer of the band, Lzzy Hale, stopped the show to tell everyone how much it meant to their band and the opening act that all of us attended. She mentioned several other entertainment options we could have explored and thanked us for choosing to come to the show. A theme she repeated several times throughout their performance. She also sat down and the piano and did a song to both thank her parents for their support of her musical career and to encourage other young ladies not to give up if people tell them they can’t do something. I left the show a new fan of the band and with a lot more respect for their singer. Not only for their great performance, but for their show of gratitude.

My point it is this, song lyrics are one thing, but seeing the difference in the attitudes of the performers I would much rather take my family to the second show. What we learn from what we are exposed to has a lot to do with how we are raised and what to look for. I encourage you all to look deeper into the people behind the performance.

HOW TO ALL GET ALONG…

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This has always been one if my favorite bumper stickers. Recently the tragic events in Orlando have sparked some interesting debates. I have heard people speak out against the LGBT community,  I have heard certain people speak out against the Muslim community. There have been arguments on both side of the gun issue. There have been both praises and criticism of law enforcement and government. I even heard a republican broadcast mention the shooter was a registered democrat.

Whenever tragedy strikes people want to look for something to blame. It gives them comfort and a false sense that they can correct the ‘problem’ once they assign blame to what they think the problem may be. It is this kind of thinking that is the problem. Your sexual orientation does not make you kill people. Your ideology does not make you kill people. Certainly what political party you vote for does not make you more or less likely to commit violent acts. Yes, it would be easy (and very naïve) to say all members of this religion are bad, or if you vote in this political party you are to blame for all of the worlds ills. When I hear statements such as this it makes me think the person making them is not very well educated.

So what does cause people to harm others? To be filled with such hate that they resort to violence? It is the inability to coexist with others who are different from them. There are over 7 billion people on this planet and if we cannot get along with others who may do things that we would not every day will be a long day. I am not saying you have to be in agreement with everyone that would be ridiculous and very boring actually. Still, being able to afford others the right to believe the way they do even if we do not agree with it is a sign of a mature and cultured individual. I am not gay, but I have quite a few friends who are. To expect them to be straight because I am makes no more sense then if they were to ask me to be gay because they are. I am not Muslim so I do not celebrate Ramadan, but I certainly wouldn’t want to prevent my friends who do from doing so.

Ok, so what then is the answer to all of this senseless violence? I believe it is compassion and knowledge. For years I have encouraged people to explore other cultures and beliefs. If you do not agree with someone or something, get to know more about it. You may still not believe the same thing, but it will help you appreciate why they believe as they do. There have been several times when people I know who “hate” this group of people meet one of my friends who happen to fit into that group of people and tell me how nice they are. After they find out they belong to a group that the person believes is no good they end of feeling a little confused, silly and sometimes angry. I have even seen this with members of my own family. It is through this positive exposure that minds are slowly changed and beliefs questioned.

So what can we do? What is our part of the solution? First, learn all you can about the people you meet. Look for the good in them. Second, whatever you are, be a good one. If you are gay, be the nicest, most helpful gay person you can be. If you are a republican, be the most caring and compassionate republican you can. That is the only way you can truly change someone’s beliefs is through experience and education. Share all the positive aspects of who you are. If someone voices a strong dislike for it, try reaching them through education and compassion. If they persist in their hate all you can do is be shining example of how wrong they are and the only way to do that is by being an amazing human being.

Lastly, share this post. Let us educate everyone and let us all do our part to get along with those we may disagree with the most.

MEMORIAL DAY

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Memorial day is a day we honor fallen soldiers here in the United States. Sadly, war is usually the result of ego driven politicians inability to resolve conflict without resorting to violence and loss of life, which is seldom if ever their own. Still, in the midst of this world of darkness there are many things that evolve.

I have the honor of knowing a great many warriors as they are referred to in my culture. Still my favorite was my Grandfather. Listening to stories he shared during his time in the south pacific in World War two allowed me to appreciate what can come out of war. Without fail every former soldier I have spoken to has a greater appreciation of life and the value each life holds. It is with this knowledge they are able to love deeper, understand greater, and have more compassion then most people I know.

In this country, as well as others I have visited, there seems to be a glaring neglect for these men and women who risk their lives for the sake of their country. Let us understand for the most part these brave souls go willingly to follow the orders of leaders they may not even agree with, the cost of which may be their lives, just so the rest of us do not have to. When they return they have almost always been a part of something, and seen things most of us will not and could not ever understand. They are left with a view of the world we will never know. They are left with challenges of physical, mental and emotional aspect.

Sadly, the governments who seem to be so willing to put these men and women in harms way tend to drop the ball when it comes for caring for them when they return. Now this blog is not political, and I do not wish to engage in a discussion about the current state of the Veterans Administration. That being said, my point is this, on a day we remember all of those who served let us work together as a people to give what our governments have not – let us all do something to honor and serve those who have honored and served their country and all of us. What can we do? If you know a veteran, thank them for their service. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of the active and retired service men and women from the bottom of my heart. Even if you don’t, stop by your local VA there are many needs you can fill. Volunteer to read to veterans, or offer your skills in whatever you do. See if there is anything you could donate. Write a letter to a soldier who may not have anyone to share with them. Donate to a care package drive.

Most importantly, Memorial day is about those soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. What could we do for them? There are few things. First learn the stories of fallen heros. What they went through, where they came from and who and what they left behind. That brings us to the other thing we can do. Understand each fallen soldier leaves behind family and friends who need our support and compassion. There is obviously emotional hurt and loss, but that is often accompanied by economic and social challenges as well. So let us not forget the sacrifice made by the family and friends of those who have lost someone in battle.

Let us understand even if we do not support conflict or the governments who engage in it, let us support the people who sacrifice their time, physical and emotional well-being and all to often their lives so we do not have to. Once more a heart-felt thank you from myself and everyone here at Secret2anamazinglife.com to all of the veterans past and present for all you have given so the rest of us do not have to. Please help honor them all by sharing this.