EMPOWERING FAREWELLS

Here is a copy of the latest magazine I appear in. You will find my article on page 46 (just swipe left) I would love to hear your feedback as would the magazine.

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WHAT NOW?

When I decided to be a motivational speaker I thought it would be an easy and natural progression. Taking the material in both my book and website and sharing it with people would be simple and enjoyable. What challenges could come from sharing how to live a more positive and rewarding life with others.

I have discovered being able to appreciate the beauty in others and express that beauty in the written words has bestowed upon me one of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding honors I have faced. In the past 12 months I have spoken at 5 funerals. Being asked to speak about the life of someone who everyone in attendance cared so deeply for is both a tremendous honor, and great responsibility. One that I do not take lightly. It has also taught me to learn and think a great deal about how I approach the subject of death. In doing so, I have discovered what will not only help ease the burden of grief we feel when we lose someone we love but will help them live on every day in our lives. I would like to share what I learned with all of you in hopes it may help you or someone you know who may be experiencing the grief of losing someone you love.

On May 8th our family experienced a great loss in the mother of my lovely lady, Margie. Shortly after her mom’s passing, Margie asked if I would like to speak at the funeral. I must confess to having cringed a little. Being that my love and respect for both of those ladies was quite high, it was an honor, but it would be an emotional challenge to deliver. Certainly, when asked to perform such an important honor, it is hard to say no. As I began to think about what I would say, a new challenge presented itself. I was about to compose words about the woman the lady in my life was lucky enough to call her mom. Nothing but the best would do. The words came to me at 3 o’clock one morning. I grabbed my laptop to capture them.

In all my writing I try to give the reader something they can use to reduce the stress, or in this case grief in their life and add some joy or positivity. Fortunately for me, Margie’s mother, Ruthanne, led life that provided most of what I needed to say.

Most eulogies include memories of the person they honor. I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to answer the question that all of us, in some form or fashion, have in our hearts and minds when we lose someone we love – now what? What do we do now that we have lost a great parent, grandparent, spouse or even dear friend? How do we keep them alive both in our hearts and the world around us? How can we help their legacy live on?

I am going to share what works for me in hopes that it may help you. I have found although honoring someone with a memorial or candle-light vigil is thoughtful, the event is over in a day. For me, the best way to keep someone alive in our hearts and in our daily life is to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I would like to explain this further by using the life of Ruthanne as an example. I must add Ruthanne gave more light in her 79 years than most people could do if given 179 years. Her life could best be summed up by recalling her last few days with us here on earth.

When Ruthanne was told her time on earth was ending, she voiced two desires. It wasn’t a fancy car or an exotic vacation. She wanted to go to the casino and karaoke one more time. She wanted to die as she lived, feeling the joy in her life, surrounded by the people she loved. Ruthanne understood that joy and peace are more important than status or wealth.

When it became clear she was not going to leave the hospital we asked her if she would like us to bring her anything. Her answer spoke volumes. She said quite firmly, “I don’t need things. I need people.” Ruthanne understood the material gifts we are given we cannot take with us, but the lives we touch and the memories we create is what will live on long after we are gone. She knew the most valuable gift we can give someone is our time and our love. That is what she wanted from us.

It was not receiving that gift that most concerned Ruthanne. Every person who visited her in the hospital asked her the same question, “How are you doing?” You might think she would lament the conditions that plagued her or the time she had left. Not once did I hear this. Instead, she asked people how they were doing. She did not do this just for conversation, but with the genuine sincerity of someone who truly cares. She asked to see pictures of babies and how their jobs were going. Ruthanne understood how important it is to let someone know they are loved and significant.

If you attended Ruthanne’s funeral or visited her in the hospital you would notice the people she surrounded herself with came from every race, culture and creed. Ruthanne may joke with you about your look some days, but she would never let how someone looked stop her from loving them. Although a Christian, she would not let believing in a different faith stop her from loving you. Ruthanne gave us the gift of acceptance.

Sometimes, those she loved let her down. They may have been in trouble with the law, developed habits or addictions they shouldn’t have, or even hurt her or the ones she loved. I think at some point all of us that knew her failed to live up to our own standard. What did she do when this happened? She loved us anyway. Ruthanne gave us the gift of forgiveness.

With all the gifts mentioned above that she gave us, it is easy to see why at the 79th birthday party Margie threw her over 100 people showed up. If I were to guess almost three times that many either visited or sent well-wishes when she was in the hospital. With that much love and popularity you could not blame Ruthanne if she would boast with the rest of them. When she was told people had to leave her room because more were waiting to visit her she would tell us, “I don’t know why people love me so much. I am just me.” Ruthanne gave us the gift of humility.

Ruthanne gave me those gifts and I must add giving birth to the most beautiful woman I share my life with. Sadly, she will no longer be here to teach me these gifts in person. It falls upon me and those she knew, in her honor and memory, to share these gifts with those lives we touch. Every time I am accepting, forgiving, every time I make someone laugh or remind them how important and loved they are, I will think of and thank Ruthanne for being a living example of these virtues and many more.

When we lose someone we truly love, let us all work together to replace the light the world has lost with their passing. It will not only help ease our grief, it will keep them with us every day we share the gifts that they gave us.

ARE YOU AN ANGEL?

When I first saw this picture I thought to myself, “An angel, really?” After a few moments of contemplation, my thoughts changed. How do we view angels? As an entity that looks over us from above, guiding our actions, encouraging us and keeping us safe. How do we define a great friend? Someone who stays by our side, giving us advice, encouraging us and looking out for us. Other than the geographical location they are very similar.

It has me taking a more venerable look at several of my friends. Unlike the ethereal beings to which I am drawing a comparison, friends make mistakes. Even the best friend can have a bad day. Perhaps they take their frustrations of the day out on us because they feel safe and comfortable in our presence? They may put their needs ahead of ours. They may treat us harshly or say something hurtful either by accident or because they have succumb to their emotions.

Does this mean friends are not human angels? Not at all. Through those lessons, if we truly love our friends, they can teach us how to be forgiving, understanding and compassionate. Something angels cannot do. Maybe angels use these ‘human angels’ to help teach us these lessons? I am not sure. What I am sure of is that I am blessed to have many friends who have looked out for me, tried to keep me safe and gave me an encouraging word when I needed one. To me that is a definition of a human angel.

This week let us approach this idea in two ways. First, take a look at some of our closest friends. Do they qualify as human angels? Chances are in some form or fashion they just might. I hear a lot of voices throughout the day. My stomach tells me pizza for dinner everyday is ok. There are the things my body tells me after the gym, but I do not think they are fit to type here. The closest things to an angelic voice that I hear is from someone I deeply care about telling me they feel the same. Let us, in our own way, recognize these human angels. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. In fact, if you are shy or nervous as to what they may think you don’t have to tell them at all. In my life all of my friends know I am crazy, so I am not worried. Even just taking a moment to yourself to think, “This person is a human angel.” That will be enough to cause a shift in how you see that person.

The second part is being a human angel. Again, this does not mean trying to be perfect or walking around in a toga playing a harp, but doing our best to treat others the best we can. With love, respect and compassion. Do you think anyone would describe you as a human angel?

DON’T LET THE SAME DOG BITE YOU TWICE

One of my favorite quotes to help keep peace in your mind and heart comes from Buddha, who said “holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”

Forgiveness truly is the gift you give yourself. Most of the time when we stay angry at people it only affects us. Think of what happens to your body when you get angry. Your blood pressure rises, you can get sick to the stomach among many other unpleasant symptoms. Imagine what would happen if we did this over a prolonged period of time. Not only would it drain our spirit and soul, but it would make us actually physically sick.

Here is the caveat about forgiving someone, it does not mean they need to be your best friend. There are some people who are destructive and surrounding yourself with them will only bring you down. I compare it to continuing to try and pet a dog you know will bite you. Unless the dog goes through some training, it will likely bite you again. Forgive the dog for biting you and then do your best to keep your distance from the dog.

Starting today, let go of anger and practice forgiveness. It does not mean you agree with their behaviour. It also does not mean you have to let them back into your life. It only means you value yourself enough to let go of negative emotions that will bring you down emotionally, spiritually and physically.

WHAT IS EATING YOU?

I would like to begin this post quote from Les Brown, one of my favorite speakers.

“Millions of people die each year because of what they eat. Millions more die because of what is eating them”.

This site is focused on living an amazing life. We have discussed in previous posts the importance of focusing on where you want to go. Today will be a little different. Today’s post will be about how to increase the speed and ease of which to achieve your goals as well as improving your health. Sounds great doesn’t it? What if I told you this can be accomplished with one action? Too good to be true? Read on and decide for yourself.

Do you have something that is eating you? If you are anything like the rest of us chances are the answer is yes. Perhaps it is a relationship with someone who needs repair? Perhaps it is a hurt you are carrying with you from long ago? Not only does this slow you down, in fact, it is like running toward your goal while dragging an anchor. It can fill you with self doubt or feelings of not being worthy of the success you so deserve. The continued stress this causes you can actually affect your health. We all know how much our productivity slows when our health is not up to par.

More than likely you are aware of all of these challenges, but the question is how to fix them. Usually it revolves around one simple word. Next to ‘gratitude’ it is one of the most powerful words we can make use of. That word is ‘forgiveness’. IF you catch yourself thinking “They are not worth forgiving” or “You don’t know what they did to me”. You would be right on both accounts. I don’t know your situation personally. Here is the straight up truth – it does not matter -. How can I say it doesn’t matter?

Easy, forgiveness is not for the other person. First of all changing other people seldom works. Not to mention we have no right to do so. People have the right to choose who they want to be even if it is someone who tends to be not so pleasant. No my friends, forgiveness is for us. If you are mad at someone chances are it doesn’t affect them nearly as much as it does you. It has been said anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. When you forgive someone, whether they deserve it or not, you are freeing yourself. You are effectively saying “Your actions will no longer cause me any anguish”. You must forgive truly, however. This does not mean you have to let that person back in your life, or that you are excusing their actions. It just means you are no longer prisoner to the pain that their actions have caused you.

Think of the last time you heard someone else complaining about or putting someone else down. What did you think of the person doing the complaining? When you are the one doing the complaining and telling someone over and over again how terrible someone is or how much they hurt you how do you feel? Usually it is like reliving the hurt all over again. Even if you just think about it in your mind it can make you sick to your stomach. So do your self a favor, let yourself out of that prison of anger and hate. Do not be one of the millions who die because of what is eating them.

Feel free to share your ideas on forgiveness below and feel free to share this post.

A BROKEN PLATE

ANGER

This quote from Buddha reminds us how damaging anger is to a situation. It often hurts the party to which it is directed, but certainly always hurts the party distributing it. It may feel good to yell or say something at your partner when you are upset. Especially if you feel they have done something to hurt you. Still by doing so you can leave a far more damaging situation than the one they have brought to you. This is best described in the story of the broken plate. A mother had a son who had an extremely bad temper. He would often do or say some of the most hurtful things. After which he truly seemed repentant. No matter what the mother did she could not get the child to think before he reacted. One day while washing dishes she had a great idea. She called her son into the room with her and handed him a glass plate. “Throw that plate on the ground” she instructed the young man. After some encouragement the young man did as he was told. As expected the plate broke into several pieces. “Now let’s glue this plate back together” her mother said. So they worked together for quite some time and had the plate looking pretty close to its original state, although a few cracks and chips were still visible. “Now say you’re sorry to this plate” the mother said. The child looked confused but saw his mother was serious. So he said his apology. “Now is the plate good as new?” she asked. The child shook his head no because although it was back together it would never look the same. The mother went on to explain that is what we do to the hearts of our loved ones when we are angry. Although the pain can be mended and apologies can be given they relationship will never be able to be put back together the same again.

So the next time you are in a heated debate with your spouse, friend, coworker before you say the well crafted biting reply you have been working on, think of the story of the broken plate and ask yourself is it really worth the damage that can never be undone?

YOUR NEXT SUPERPOWER

romantic10

“To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it”

Confucius

I am always interested in how couples that seem passionate late into their years together manage to accomplish such a thing. As my relationship started to crumble I began to do the craziest thing. I asked them. Let me tell you there is not much you can do to light up the eyes of a loving elderly couple than to ask them how they make it work. Speaking of work I was late many times because these conversations lasted far longer than I ever imagined.

So what is the secret? There are a million different ones, but one that stuck out in my head was from a couple I knew in the town of Greendale Wisconsin where I used to work. When I asked this couple who seemed more in love at 80 than I was at 30. The husband’s eyes lit up and he looked around as if he were about to tell me a heavily guarded secret. Naturally I was very interested. He whispered so only we could hear “We use our superpower” At first I was a bit hesitant to ask, especially with his wife nodding intensely in agreement. Still, curiosity got the best of me and I went for it. “Forgiveness” was all he had to say. Sensing my doubt in the power of his answer he all but insisted I sit down and listen to his explanation. Seeing that they did seem to have the evidence to back it up and I really didn’t mind being a few minutes late to the post office I sat down. He told me to think of the worst thing my lady had done. How it had made me feel. After a few seconds I seemed to have picked the one that did the trick. “Think of how bad that made you feel” the old man urged me on. After a while I did feel myself getting a little hot under the collar. Then he asked me how she was feeling right now. Ok I said she probably didn’t even know we were having this conversation. “And if she did?” he asked. I offered she might be mad I was discussing it with him or she might even feel bad for making me feel the way she did. “Young man you need to throw that memory away” he told me. The only thing worth hanging onto is love. By having these bad memories you are throwing rocks in your garden. Forgiveness he told me heals everyone and not forgiving hurts everyone. You’re going to make more mistakes yourself young man and if your lady doesn’t forgive you, I think you both will be miserable. He was right. We must truly forgive and leave behind the pain our partners have caused us. If it is a healthy relationship chances are they have beat themselves up far more about how they made us feel anyway. Forgiveness is freedom. It frees us from the pain of the memory and it frees our relationships up to grow. So whoever you need to forgive do so today and set yourself free.