LEARN FROM MY REFLECTIONS

TODAY MARKS 3 WEEKS SINCE MY CRAZY HEART SURGERY. MY PATIENCE WITH GETTING BACK IS WEARING THIN, BUT NOT MUCH I CAN DO. I USE A LOT OF TIME IN REFLECTION. AS WITH ANY CHALLENGE, I ASK MYSELF “HOW CAN I USE THIS?” THIS INCLUDES THINKING OF THE LESSONS I HAVE LEARNED. I WOULD LIKE TO SHARE A FEW WITH YOU.

AS I MENTIONED, PATIENCE IS A LESSON I’M LEARNING. THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS I CAN BE PATIENT WITH, BUT FEELING BETTER ISN’T ONE OF THEM. I USUALLY TRY EVERYTHING TO GET BETTER AND GO WITH WHAT WORKS. THIS CAN INCLUDE SUPPLEMENTS, DIET,EXERCISE AND A MILLION OTHER THINGS. WITH HEART SURGERY, ALL YOU CAN DO IS WAIT. PAINS COME AND GO, YOU CAN’T REALLY DO MUCH WITHOUT RUNNING OUT OF BREATH. THE DOCTORS TELL YOU “THAT IS NORMAL. IT WILL JUST TAKE TIME. ” PATIENCE…A LESSON I’M LEARNING.

ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE QUOTES. IT ALSO HAPPENS TO BE SOMETHING I WAS REMINDED OF. IN TODAY’S WORLD, A LOT OF US PUT OUR LIVES TO THE SIDE WHEN OUR JOB NEEDS US. YET, WE KNOW FULL WELL OUR JOB WILL REPLACE US IN A HEARTBEAT, BUT OUR LOSS TO OUR TRUE FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL BE FELT FOR A LONG TIME AFTER WE ARE GONE.

SPEAKING OF TRUE FRIENDS AND FAMILY, YOU LEARN THE PEOPLE THE CARE AND WOULD MISS YOU. I DO MY BEST TO ENCOURAGEME AND INSPIRE EVERYONE I COME IN CONTACT WITH. I FIGURE THE WORLD HAS ENOUGH CRITICS, IT COULD USE SOME MORE CHEERLEADERS. WHAT SHOCKED ME WAS WHO BECAME CHEERLEADERS FOR ME. THIS WAS BOTH GOOD AND BAD.

IN MY DAY JOB, I WORK WITH ROUGHLY 50 PEOPLE. I DO MY BEST TO BRING A LITTLE JOY AND LAUGHTER TO AS MANY AS I CAN THROUGHOUT THE DAY. THE NUMBER OF THEM WHO CHECKED ON ME? IT WAS GREATER THAN ZERO… BUT LESS THAN TWO. ONE OUT OF 50. YET, THERE WERE PEOPLE I HAVEN’T SEEN IN PERSON IN SOME TIME WHO FOLLOW MY WEBSITE OR YOUTUBE CHANNEL AND THEY REACHED OUT. FRIENDS I DON’T SPEAK TO REGULARLY, EVEN FRIENDS OF MARGIE’S OFFERED TO HELP OUT. A GREAT REMINDER TO GO WHERE YOU ARE CELEBRATED, NOT TOLERATED.

THERE ARE ALSO THE THINGS THAT FILL MY LIFE WITH JOY THAT HAVE BEEN REMOVED OR LIMITED WITH MY RECOVERY. I LOVE GOING FOR WALKS IN NATURE. I’M GOING TO TRY A SMALL ONE TODAY, BUT NOT BEING ABLE TO KEEP GOING CAN BE FRUSTRATING. I LOVE GOING TO THE GYM. GREAT STRESS RELEASE AND HELPS WITH MY SANITY. CAN’T LIFT MORE THAN 10 POUNDS FOR 3 MONTHS, SO THAT WILL HAVE TO WAIT.

THE END RESULT OF ALL OF THIS IS THAT THE GREATER THE CHALLENGE, THE MORE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED. THERE WERE AND ARE MANY MORE LESSONS THIS HAS TAUGHT ME. THE SECRET HERE IS TO BE ABLE TO SEE THEM AS GIFTS INSTEAD OF OBSTACLES. ANOTHER LESSON THERE…PERCEPTION GOES A LONG WAY TO DETERMINING YOUR REALITY. YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ THAT LAST LINE AGAIN. I ENCOURAGE YOU ALL TO FIND THE GIFTS AND LESSONS IN YOUR CHALLENGES.

LESSONS LEARNED

I have often spoke of lessons I have come to appreciate only in reflection years after they have taken place. This story is about one of those lessons. I recall the odd habit my grandfather had of reading the obituaries. Not just glancing at them, but reading them. When I pressed him as to why he did what I considered an odd habit. His reply was that as he grew older, that was the only time he heard about or from friends. “Some people only make the paper when they die.” This is lesson number one. Don’t make the only time you make it into the paper be when you die. This is not to say we should try to chase fame and fortune for the sake of being famous. It also doesn’t mean we should try to appear in the police blotter, a part of the paper we should really try to avoid. The point here is to try and make an impact while you are living. You don’t have to change the world, just change some lives. Be a positive difference for the people you encounter. Make an impact in your community. Support local businesses, get to know your neighbors.

The other thought that occurred to me was how little we keep in touch. Especially as we grow older, this becomes more important. Although, at any age we never know when someone we love can leave us. Send more greeting cards. Pick up the phone just to say “Hello”. Send an email to let someone know you are thinking of them and how much they mean to you. If those sort of sentiments make you uncomfortable, realize they can’t see you behind a keyboard. One of the positives of modern technology. Keep in touch with people. Create memories that will last a lifetime, and maybe even beyond!

He also mentioned something else I would like to share with you. He said with a wry smile that every time he didn’t see his name in the ‘obits’, as he called them, was a day he was grateful to be alive. It was also a sign that your work wasn’t done he reminded me. How sad is it that many of us spend our days noting what is wrong with our lives instead of appreciating that we have one? It seems all to often that the only time we stop to appreciate life is after we lose someone close to us. It is my belief that we need a reminder everyday to appreciate the life we have, even with all of its imperfections. Perhaps reading about all of those poor souls who wouldn’t be getting up that day was his way of reminding himself to be grateful for not being among them.

This habit of looking at the notices of people who have passed away is a good reminder of our own mortality. We should do our best to think of what we want to be remembered for. Do we want to be remembered as a good family person? Will we be remembered as a pillar of our community? Will they say that we always were eager to lend a helping hand? Are we living that life right now? If not, how can we do the things we know that we should be doing? What will our legacy be?

Even something that may seem as morose as reading the obituaries, can be a source of both motivation and inspiration. We do not have to wait until we lose someone we love to realize the value of our lives. We don’t have to wait to make an impact until we pass away. It is never too early or too late to start thinking about and working on what our legacy will be. Listen to the stories of your elders, they hold hidden wisdom you may only realize years later.

OUR HEROES CAN TEACH US LONG AFTER THEY ARE GONE

Above is a picture of a very young me next to my grandfather at I believe was his 80th birthday party. Also included in the picture is my late aunt Virginia. When I was growing up my grandfather was one of my heroes. He had a presence that commanded respect. He didn’t have to raise his voice or do anything to get it either. (My mother might have a slightly different memory of that) He was a man of great integrity. He was honest, fair and did what he felt was right. Just last night as Margie and I were pulling into the grocery store I was thinking about things my grandfather had told me when I was young. Many of them at the time I didn’t either understand or I thought I knew better. If you read the last post you may see a pattern developing.

There are things that happen in my life even to this day, long after he passed away, that have me thinking, “That is what my grandfather meant!” His favorite singer was Eddy Arnold. I thought if I ever had the choice I would never listen to the song Cattle call again. After he passed away I missed hearing it. I was fortunate enough to meet a great man named John Whelan who shared the same affection for Mr. Arnold and often sang this song. Sadly, John has passed away. I was grateful to be able to speak at his funeral. My grandfather had a good knowledge of healing herbs and foods. He served in the second World War. He loved the tropics and had fond memories of being stationed in Hawaii.

Another reason my grandfather was my hero, was the way he conducted himself in the relationship he had with my grandmother. My grandmother was an amazing woman as well and taught me many things about cooking and being hospitable. She was, to one degree or another, an opinionated and on several occasions, an upset woman. She had several medical conditions that I imagine weighed on her. During some of her more earnest ‘correcting’ of my grandfather, I noticed he just shook his head and rarely seemed to offer much of a rebuttal. Even when the situation was obvious he was correct and she was not. When that truth revealed itself, he seldom made mention of it. One day I asked him why he never said anything. I asked how he managed to stay happy and some days even sane being yelled at for things that were often not his fault. I recall what he told me to this very day. I can picture it as if it were yesterday. As we sat in his kitchen he told me, “The secret to a successful relationship is to bend but not break.”

I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out the wisdom of that statement. Let me just tell you that in my relationship with the beautiful Margie we often disagree on things. I have learned to differentiate between things that I just want and things that go against what I value. If they are issues that do not cause me to sacrifice my principles or my standards, then there is always room to compromise. In this way you have to bend. Sometimes you might even just let the other person have their way to keep the peace. If it is something that truly goes against what you believe then you have to take a stand and not break. Applying this knowledge that my grandfather gave me so many years ago in that kitchen has allowed me to build the best relationship I have ever had. I guess if I had learned and applied it sooner I would not have had the opportunity to share life with the amazing woman I do now.

Just a reminder that my grandfather is still teaching me and still a big part of my life long after he is gone. If you have recently, or even not so recently lost someone, realize they will live on and be a part of your life. When someone we really love leaves us, it is only physical. Their lessons, their words and their love will continue to affect us until we are the ones who leave.

A LESSON I HAVE LEARNED

There are a handful of lessons I have learned in my life that really stuck with me and defined who I am to this very day. One of them I was told was that “If you hate someone or something you just do not know enough about it. If you learn about it and still hate it, that does not mean it is bad, it means you still have more to learn.” This is something I keep with me to this very day.

If we are being honest, we would have to admit there are lots of messages telling us who we should dislike, who the bad guys are and why. From politics, sports and even religion have messages telling us that there are people who are less than us. When we read about some violent episode conducted by a group of people it can be easy to say “Look this group of people are evil.” If we were to apply that same guilt by association to every terrible act that has been done I fear we would all belong to some group of evil.

How can we ever not harbor some sort of negative emotions towards people who by their very acts cause the death of hundred, or even thousands of people? It is a very difficult question to answer. Quite often we must look back in history for answers as to why things happen today. Was there an event in history where this group of people were made to suffer under the group they attacked?

Even personal history can shed some light on why people can do acts most of us would find unspeakable. Did this person suffer years of physical and emotional abuse? Did their family constantly remind them of judgmental or even hateful beliefs that hand been handed down for generations? Were they raised in a neighborhood that also promoted these beliefs? Maybe while attending school for 8 hours a day surrounded by peers their age they learned to adopt their beliefs? They might have even did so just to fit in at first, but after years of trying to fit in those beliefs became part of their spirit.

This can be even worse when an entire society is fed information that is hateful. We can use both Nazi Germany during World War two, as well as early America as examples. In the 1930’s Germany began a campaign against the Jewish people. This was not only political, but in schools, the media and in the home. An entire generation grew up being taught a terrible doctrine of hate and evil. This resulted in the death of over 6 million men, women and children of Jewish decent. In the founding years of America the same thing happened. Americans were told the native people were uncivilized and less than they were. They were told they were violent and threatened their safety. It was also said that the Native Americans stood in the way of the prosperity and freedom of the white settlers. Again, this message was delivered in the media, the government, the home and even the church pulpit. This resulted in the death of over 100 million men, women and children. What is worse is that often entire nations and cultures were lost. Medicine and knowledge we could use today are gone forever.

Does this mean we should hate the German people who did not stand up to their government? Should we hate those who acted on the beliefs they were raised on? Should we still hate the American soldiers who killed pregnant Native American women because when they were being forced to walk from North Carolina to Oklahoma they were going to slow? Sure those acts, among many others in history are hard to understand and even harder to forgive for some people.

We must not only view the history, but be careful not to view it through our own eyes. It may be easy to say “If I was in Germany back then I would have told Hitler to go to hell !” We can say that as somebody who was raised free and without judgment. If we had been told, and often given ‘proof’ as to how bad this group of people were from the time we were born, we might act differently. While there is plenty of proof of people who have overcome very challenging situations to be loving non-violent people, it is impossible to know how we would act in the same situation. In fact, we will never know as we will never have their exact life and genetic makeup.

In a world that urges us to blame and condemn, there is very little accent on compassion and understanding. Those two elements are essential if we ever hope to change the world we live in for the better. Let me be perfectly clear on one very important point. Understanding someone’s violent action does not mean Condoning it. We can certainly condemn acts that harm others, and we should, but without following that with an equal effort to understand why they happened in the first place history would be doomed to repeat itself.