Sometimes finding simple definitions of who you are can really help. I rather fit into that statement above. By knowing who we are we can find other like-minded souls to complete our tribe. Also a sense of identity will help us steer our own internal moral compass. Think of how you feel when you act out of character? Maybe you do something unkind and think to yourself, “Man that is really not who I am.” We have all done it. Unfortunately, I do it to this day. That is why developing a good definition of the kind of person we would like to be is so important.
Think of how easy it would be to turn away from temptation if you had a definition of who you are. Would it be easier to walk away from those doughnuts in the breakroom if you consider yourself a healthy and conscious eater? Would it be a little more difficult to ignore a friends troubles if you wanted to be considered someone who cares deeply for those around them? Sit down by yourself and think about who you really want to be. Then create a short, concise statement encompassing what you have come up with. Carry it with you and let it guide your daily speech (especially to yourself) your actions and your thoughts. Before long you will have become the living embodiment of what you have on that piece of paper.
It never ceases to amaze me how many times this shows up in my life. In the past, it used to show up in my life. On occasion it still does, but for the most part I have learned the importance of expressing one’s emotions. I know in the grips of painful emotions this is not always easy. It took a great deal of effort and a good deal of patience and help from Margie to help me develop this skill. Here is what I learned. If you are able to express yourself in a healthy constructive manner your results will be far better.
How often have you heard one of your friends tell you about someone who is really doing something to upset them? When you ask if they have told them, the answers vary. Sometimes you hear things like “They should know!” or “They could tell by how upset I am.” These always make me laugh. How can someone be so upset as to tell an uninvolved third party, but not the offending party? I get it. I was guilty of this in the past. You may very well think this person knows, but never under estimate the ingnorance of some individuals. You really cannot hold someone accountable unless you are 100% sure they know what they are doing. Let me be specific here. The only way to be 100% sure is by telling them.
Here is where it can get a little tricky. Simply telling them what a jerk they are being or how much they are upseting you will only make things worse. Think of how you would feel if someone had to tell you that they were upset with you. That is a good measure of how to say something. Often, being told you are doing something that upsets someone can put us on the defensive. Nobody likes to think of themselves as ‘the bad guy or girl’. That is why it is helpful to begin with a phrase like, “I’m sure you don’t mean to, but I want you to know it upsets me when you ___” or even ask for their input by saying something like this, “It upsets me when you ___. I am sure that is not your intent, but how do you think we could fix that?” Be open to understanding that you may play a role in helping. Perhaps approaching things from a different perspective. In some cases it may require patience, compassion and understanding from you as the person works with you to resolve whatever issue is bothering you.
On the opposite end, when someone comes to you with something you are doing that upsets them it is important to exercise the same things. First, remember they may do so with more of a confrontational style. Not everyone has learned the proper way to express their hurt and pain. Realize by bringing it to you they are really having a cry for help. It may seem and feel as if you are being attacked, but remember this person is in pain and may not be acting in their best nature. This can be very difficult to do. Being able to do so, however, will make people feel more comfortable to come to you in the future. This will not only make your relationships better, but it will help you grow as a person as well. At some point, you could even use this as a teaching moment. Saying something like, “I really appreciate you letting me know that I have upset you. That wasn’t my intent. In the future could you please let me know before you get too upset. I do not want to risk losing you as a friend.”
Being able to do these things is not easy. It will take patience and having a thick skin. You cannot take the way people bring their pain and upset to you. Especially before you have a chance to discuss that aspect with them. Being able to do so will allow them to feel more comfortable to do so in the future. When bringing up your own upsets, remember to ask yourself, “How would I like to be told about this?” That will insure you do so with attention to the other parties feelings. Following these rules will transform your life for the better.
This is one of my favorite pictures. I was sitting outside a local coffee shop, I believe it was a Starbucks, enjoying the sun and a good book. You will notice my bookmark that day was a picture of my lovely Margie. It happens to be one of my favorite pictures of her. Although I must confess, having a picture of the most beautiful woman in the world blowing you a kiss can be a rather distracting choice for a bookmark.
I took this picture to show Margie that as I was relaxing soaking in the sun she was never far from my mind. Not only is that statement 100% true, it made her feel loved. For those of you who know us personally as a couple, or even if you follow us casually on social media, you will know this is just one of many such things we do to show each other that we are thinking about and loving the other. We do our best to find new and exciting ways to show our love every day. It not only keeps the relationship fresh, it provides us the ability to remind the other they are loved. This can be important during a trying episode, when either one of us is stressed or even on a sunny cheerful day when we have to be apart.
How many times have you seen the lateset romantic comedy, or watched your favorite romantic movie, and thought, “I wish I had a love story like that!” I am here to tell you that you can have one. You just have to create it. Sure, wisking your loved one away to a tropical escape where you drive them around the island in your Italian sports car may be beyond your means, but that is not what is truly important. A few posts ago we demonstrated how being an active listener in relationships can be transformative. Taking this knowledge and putting it into action can make all of the difference.
How would it feel if your spouse listened to what favorite treat you liked from the grocery store was and brought it home for you? What if you casually mentioned that you would like music from a certain artist and a few days later the latest CD of that artist comes home with the one you love? What if you lost someone you love very much and your partner anticipates the hurt and sense of loss you may be feeling during the holidays and has a local artist render a great drawing of the two of you for a Christmas gift?
Everything from knowing that you like soggy french toast, to buying you items adored with bears and pizza because they know they are two of your favorite things and saw them when they were out and thought of you. These things go a long way to creating a love story. How can you create your love story? I suggest sitting down by yourself with pen and paper and ask yourself what you can do to creat your own love story. Can you create a piece of jewelry for the one you love? Is it opening the door for them even when it is cold and raining? Small acts of giving when done with great amounts of love can transform a good relationship to a great one. Not sure of what some romantic ideas would be? Dust off that movie and see if there are certain things you can incorporate into your own relationship. Google ‘romantic gifts/gestures/ideas” Read books about helping your partner feel loved. Most importantly, listen and remember when they tell you what is important. Sometimes…just listen. Create your own love story today.
Margie and I routinely take turns picking out movies to watch. One night it is her turn, the next night it is my turn. This way it keeps things fair and interesting since we can often have very different tastes in movies. On this particular night the movie that was chosen to watch was “What Women Want” staring Mel Gibson among others. If you haven’t seen the movie I will given you the plot very briefly. A man who generally has little regard for women is suddenly able to hear their every thought. By being able to do this, it has a big impact on his life and career.
As valuable as this ability might be, as far as we are aware it is impossible to hear the minds of the opposite sex. To some this could be frustrating, but to many they should probably be grateful. I am sure we can all recall many moments when we have heard friends say, or even said ourselves, “I wish I could know what goes on in their head!” On occasion I have even said this about myself, but that is a topic for a different day. Trying to know what is in the minds of someone, be it a man or a woman, can be frustrating. The amazing thing is that there is a way to do this and it is also easier than you think. Of course there are a million books on ‘How to read someone like a book’ or ‘how to understand your partner more’. Trust me I have read a good deal of them and they all have something valuable to offer.
The tricky thing about reading and applying the knowledge you learn from these books is that it can vary from person to person. To say all men are alike or all women think and act in the same manner is obviously ludicrous. A lot of our nature has to do with genetics, experiences and goals. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a simple formula that could work to help us gain deeper insight into anyone we are working to know on a deeper level? How much would it be worth to know how your boss felt about certain things? How helpful would knowing what motivated your employees and coworkers be? Would it be valuable to you to understand why members of your family continue to do things that drive you crazy? To, of course, the most valuable aspect of this formula. How much would you pay to know more about the inner workings of the mind contained in the head of the person you loved? What if you could know more about what made them happy? Would knowing what upset them as well as what made them happy and relaxed be worth something to you?
The great news is that there is such a formula. The better news is I am about to give it to you for free! No strings attached. You can choose to use it, or you can choose to dismiss it because of its simplicity. The choice is up to you. My promise to you is this – if you put this formula to work with an honest effort, you will acheive everything mentioned in the paragraph above and more. Personally, I would recommend starting with one person until you really get the hang of this. After a while, applying this formula will become second nature to you and all your relationships will be taken to amazing new levels. You will be able to impress your boss with regularity. This could lead to a raise, a promotion or countless other great items. You could motivate your employees and coworkers while making them happy at the same time. Imagine the work enviroment this could lead to! Most importantly, you will have your intimate partner feeling happier and more loved than ever before. I have been applying this formula in my own relationship and can tell you it is one of the main reasons both of us are so happy.
What is this magic formula? How can you apply it for your own benefit today? The formula is the title of this blog – SHUT 1 AND OPEN 2. You may wish to write this simple formula down as a daily reminder. Let me explain further what this formula means. Again, I strongly caution you against dismissing it based on how simple it may sound. Most profound thoughts are simple. The first part of the formula ‘shut one’ refers to your mouth. Most of us love to explain to our partners our feelings (a very important aspect of communication) but we are so busy talking about ourselves, we forget to do the second part of the formula. That second part ‘open 2’ refers to both our ears and our eyes. Call it actively listening, focused observation or any other term you like. Using this second part of the formula will bring you all the riches you desire when it comes to personal relations.
Let us delve a little deeper into the second part of this formula. Focused observation involves listening to, and watching someone with a particular goal in mind. In this case to learn more about them. Most couples can tell you that they can tell when their partner is upset when they give them “the look”. Actively listening or applying the second part of this formula involves paying attention to what proceeded that look. What was said or done to ilicit that expression? The same can work in reverse. When we see a genuine expression of joy on our partners face, their eyes lighting up, a smile adorning their face, it causes us to be happy as well. How often do we stop and ask ourselves “What caused this expression of joy?” More importantly in these examples is making a mental, or written, account of that. Remember what caused the pain or upset and what caused the joy.
I applied this very formula in my own relationship with astounding results. I did it without really knowing what I was doing. Now that I know and have perfected this formula, I continue to use it everyday and the results have only become more amazing. I was at our local food coop and wanted to pick up a little gift for Margie to let her know I was thinking about her. We had been to that store a few times as well as other grocery stores. The funny thing was I did not have any clue as to what a good surprise would be. I thought to myself, “Boy if only she was here I could see what she liked and then pick that out.” Suddenly it hit me, I should be doing that all of the time. In the countless times we had been to the grocery store I did not really pay attention to what she may have picked up or what aisles she gravitated towards. I made a decision next time we went shoppping I would observe carefully to what she did and said to learn what would be a good surprise next time I was alone. I can tell you that I learned more about my beautiful Margie in that shopping trip than I had in all the time we spent leading up to that moment.
I was so proud of myself until I realized one very important thing. There was no reason to have waited to learn about the love of my life. It is not just what she likes in the grocery store that can make me a hero for the day. I began to pay attention to what movies she picks out. What colors she enjoys having around. What she says she likes, and what lights her up. I have seen her get upset with both me and others and noticed what caused that. I noticed what songs she listens to when she is upset, and which she listens to when she wants to relax. I observed her as a scientest would do when observing an experiment. Then I began to test what I had learned. Slowly I found ways to make her feel more happy and loved than I had done up to that point. This practice continues to this day. Some days I may not learn anything, but just be reminded of things that are important to her. Other days I learn so much I feel I didn’t even know the woman I have been blessed to be with.
It never fails to surprise me how many people do not know the most basic elements about their partners. What is their shoe size? What are their favorite colors? Movies? Songs? This formula can give you what many would percieve as an unfair advantage. Do not take my word for it, Prove it to yourself using this 24 hour experiment. For the next 24 hours pick someone to observe. Some may find it easier to start with someone they are not so attached to, others may see more benefit in jumping right in to the person closest to you. For 24 hours become an active listener. Watch their every move. Listen to every word they say. Even more important, try to learn what is behind these words and actions. Record what you learn. As a bonus you can even go deeper. Look at their social media accounts and what they put out for the world to see. Have they expressed what is important to them? Have they mentioned what upsets them or goals they are trying to reach? Make note of this too. It may sound like you are stalking them, and it way this is true. What you are doing is focusing all of your efforts on learning how this person thinks and feels. Imagine what amazing things you can do with this information? To them it may seem as if you can read their minds and atticipate their needs and desires. Imagine how that will change your relationships?
Today in the United States we celebrate Valentine’s Day. One of the more polarizing holidays. There are two very distinct camps of people when it comes to this holiday. There are those who consider it a ‘Hallmark holiday’. “We should celebrate love all year, why do we need a special day for it?” While I agree with celebrating love everyday, the rest of that thought makes as much sense as not celebrating birthdays because you are alive every day.
Then there are those like myself, who take this opportunity to celebrate the love they appreciate each and every day. I do not think it is a day I must purchase extravagant gifts or go out for an expensive dinners. Today ask yourself this one vital question. What is the best way to celebrate love? This does not generally bring to mind flowers or chocolates. There are many ways I celebrate love. I won’t give you all my secrets, but I will share two important ones.
The woman in the picture above is Margie, the love of my life. As you can see, I am beyond blessed to have what I feel is the most beautiful woman in the world. I work hard to be the best man I can be for her on days that end in ‘Y’. Taking one day out of the year to celebrate my good fortune at having not only a very lovely lady, but an amazing relationship seems like a no-brainer to me. While I enjoy surprising Margie with all kinds of goodies on this and every other day, to me that is not the best way to celebrate love.
The first way in which I celebrate love is by developing an attitude of gratitude. You may remember me telling you how gratitude can transform your life quicker than any other thing I know. If it is that powerful for your life in general, imagine how well it would work if you focused it on a certain area of your life, like your relationship perhaps? The difference is like feeling the warm sun on your skin, to focusing it through the lens of a magnifying glass.
Today I focus on the many things Margie gives me to be grateful for. On top of the pride of having such a stunning woman at my side, she keeps our love fresh and full of surprises. Take the other morning for example. Margie had discovered she could balance a broom on its bristles. You can only imagine the effect a broom standing up by itself in the middle of the room can have on a person half asleep at 4am leaving for work. There are other such surprises involving cats and coat hangers, movie theater garbage cans, and a million other things. She just sees me shake my head or raise my eyebrow, but I am really loving the fact that life is never dull with her. She also introduces me to many new things. I recall the first time she informed me I would be eating pork steak with cinnamon and cilantro. My eyebrow must have been on top of my head. Now it is one of the meals I like the most.
The second thing I like to do on Valentine’s Day is think of myself. Think of yourself when you have such a beautiful woman? What am I crazy? Seond question first – maybe just a little. Yes, I do think of myself. I think of my performance as the man in her life this past year. I ask myself what I did good. What mistakes did I make? What can I learn from both? It what ways can I learn more about her and how to love her better? Just like a yearly job performance, you should give yourself a yearly relationship performance. If you are really brave you can get together with your boss (your spouse) and ask them ways that you can add more value to the relationship in the coming year. Be open and eager to learn new and improved ways to strengthen and deepen your love for each other. Having a committed spouse who is looking for ways they can better themselves so that your relationship can improve is one of the best gifts you can give.
Today spend time really listening to the one you love. Do activities you both enjoy and think about all of the reasons you have to be grateful and ways you can improve. Next year, you will have even more reasons to celebrate.
This month is generally a month of love. It includes the holiday of Valentines Day. You can see hearts almost everywhere you look. I am going to ask we do our best to love all of our fellow human beings. (and dogs, bears, monkeys…etc) Do your best this weekend to be free of judgement.
This may sound easy at first. Two days without judging anyone? It is harder than it may seem. Some of our judgements are so ingrained in us we may be unaware we are even doing them. We see and senior and assume they are frail. We may see a person with blue hair, or a mohawk, and assume they are a rebellious rule breaker.
Some judgements may come from social conditioning. We see a person who is overweight and assume they are lazy or do not have any physical stamina. Maybe we have been taught certain beliefs about those of a certain race or religion? How about those of a certain political affiliation? Those who live in a particular area? All of these beliefs are actually judgements.
Some judgments we may feel we have a right to hold. A fellow driver cuts you off, passes you illegally and speed off into the horizon. This person is a rude, dangerous and unsafe individual right? Maybe they are someone who is rushing to the bedside of someone they love who is passing away? Maybe they just have to poop? Someone snaps at you at the grocery store? They are just rude and impatient? Maybe they just lost their job or had a disagreement with their spouse?
The truth is we really never know what everyone’s story may be. Even the people we know to be mean or insensitive can be so for reasons we may never know. They could have been abused growing up. They could be plagued by feelings of inadequacy and doubt. Most actions we consider mean or rude are veiled cries for help. That certainly does not excuse or justify their behavior, but it may give us pause before we judge.
This weekend, let us do our best to remember everyone has a story including us. Everyone has something they are judged by, including us. Let us do our small part to remove a little bit of judgement from the world starting today.
We all have been there. You go the grocery store hungry and end up at the checkout with things in your cart that you are not even sure what they are. You end up at home with items that are neither healthy or in some cases even desirable. You eat these items and create a situation for yourself that is neither healthy or desirable. Conversely, when we go to the grocery store with our stomachs full, after an abundance of food, we are able to make better decisions, healthier decisions. We shop with more restraint, with more intelligence. Acting on these decisions we put ourselves in healthier and more situations. The same holds true in economic terms. When we are in dire need of income we can be inclined to do things we might find questionable. There is a direct link between unemployment, both male and female, and violent crime and domestic violence. When the unemployment rate goes up, there is also a rise in violent crime and domestic violence. When we are in a state of economic abundance we will use our shrewd judgement and not submit ourselves to anything that we find in questionable judgement or does not meet our moral standards. What does all of this have to do with having a great relationship? Plenty. Many people are astounded, some perhaps envious, of mine and Margie’s relationship. Many of you may wonder about fidelity. How do we avoid temptation? Is there even temptation out there. The answer, which is probably the same in your relationship, is both yes and no. As DJs, we can come in contact with, and at some times seem surrounded by, people who have little if any respect for our relationship. Margie’s amazing singing talent, not to mention her stunning physical beauty is certainly available for everyone to see. I would be a fool to think that there are not other men who desire to be in my position. Do I worry? On occasion, but not as much as you might imagine. In my own world I was a bartender for 23 years. I was also a singer in a rock-n-roll band. Currently, I am an author and motivational speaker. That is a world that can be seemingly filled with temptation. Still Margie’s worry is less than one would think.This may sound like statements filled with contradictions. What is our secrets? Why are we not frought with jealousy and worry? If a man who does not respect himself enough to conduct himself properly, does his best to garner Margie’s attention, I know he will need more than charm and looks. Will he do his best to support her and set a great example spiritually? I know he will have to be committed to listening to not only what Margie says, but perhaps more importantly what she does not say, with the desire to be the best man he can be. I know he would need to work tirelessly not only on the relationship, but on himself so that he can bring the best to the relationship. He will need to have over 2 decades of knowledge of, and research into, both personal and relationship development. This is not to mention the seemingly small daily acts to show her how much she is loved and valued. He will also have to understand that those acts are not little at all, but what makes the difference in a relationship. What about me? Truly when bartending there were women who tried just about anything to not only get a free drink, but often go home with the bartender. I don’t think I need to expound on what happens when you are a singer in a band either. Some of these ladies would be what most would consider fairly to even very attractive. Shouldn’t that drive Margie nuts? I am sure women, just like men in the example above, who are disrespectful to us and to our relationship can be frustrating. What Margie realizes is what is truly important to me. Are you capable of conducting and participating in deep and philosophical conversations? Can you help me grow spiritually? Will you support and encourage me as I do my best to better myself. This would include physically at the gym, economically, and as mentioned early, spiritually. A woman would have to work tirelessly to help me expand my influence and help keep the flames of desire inside me to help others and to make the world a better place burning bright.In simple terms, we never send each other to the grocery store hungry. We do our best to keep our relationship in a state of abundance. When we are full of love, respect, and abundant in love we are not tempted to put things in our ‘cart’ that would be unhealthy. We do not consume those temptations and put ourselves in unhealthy and undesirable situations. When you send your partner out to the grocery store of the world hungry, they will be susceptible to temptation and fill their carts with things that will not be healthy and desirable for that relationship. Remember to keep your partner’s heart full. Never send them to the grocery store hungry.
Last Friday, I heard something that caused me to pause and think. This time it came from my friend Travis. As someone was coming up to perform a song while Margie and I were DJing this show, I heard them say, “Wait! I have to get ready.” To which our friend Mr. Jones informed them, “Be ready and you won’t have to get ready.” I thought about that for a second and was struck as to how true this statement was.
How many of us only look at other opportunities to earn income when we feel our job is threatened? Is it only when we have done something wrong or our spouse is unhappy that we look for ways to be loving and romantic? It also reminded me of a quote from Eric Thomas, “You must be ready for the opportunity of a lifetime in the lifetime of the opportunity.” Meaning, if you wait to prepare yourself until you have an opportunity, it may be too late. Can you imagine if an athlete only began training once they were drafted by a team? By the time they were in shape and had their skills down it might be too late.
I can’t count the friends I have that only begin to workout and watch their diets when they have a wedding or high school reunion to attend. The truth is we could be surprised by a friend tomorrow asking us to stand up in their wedding. We could be invited to participate in a 5K charity run for a cause we really believe in. There are countless times when the need to physically perform could benefit us. If we wait to get ready until that moment we may never be ready in time.
It is far more than just being in shape. Working on and discovering better ways to love your partner should be a daily activity. Always be listening to your partner. You never know when they may tell you a little bit of information that you could use to melt their heart and bring peace and joy to their soul.
What about on the job? If you wait until there is a promotion available to give your best, the chances of you being picked for the position will be slim to none. If, however, you have shown what a great worker you are with constant effort day in and day out, your name will be at the top of the list.
Being ready takes a lot of the pressure off of life. There is no stress and running around when you are trying to get ready. Even if some of your skills need a little polish, at least you will be prepared for the most part. Do your best to be ready every day and you will never have to get ready.
For those of you who know me or follow this blog, you are aware I am not crazy about the weather where I live this time of year. You should also know that I am crazy about the woman pictured above. Ironically, they both are in the same location.
Recently, that amazing lady purchased a ticket for me to enjoy a getaway visiting a friend of mine in the warm location of Arizona. I have enjoyed my 3 days I spent here. After a slight detour courtesy of my good friends at Southwest airlines, I even got to see a lot of the Denver airport.
Everyone, including mother nature, has been so pleasant on my trip. The airline employees, the workers at the places I have visited. All wonderful.
Even for a man that likes traveling as much as I do, there is nothing better than returning home. Even if you are not as lucky as I am to return to a loving partner, there is something special about returning home.
The streets are familiar. Driving tends to be a little less stressful. Even stopping into a restaurant where the menu is familiar can be a source of relaxation. It allows us to recharge for our next adventure.
As much as I am already looking forward to my next travel adventure (I’m thinking somewhere tropical with my love) I am already looking forward to being wrapped in her arms relaxing on the couch watching a movie.
Travel, adventure and expanding our horizons are truly gifts. So are things like relaxing drives (even to work) family, familiar restaurants and especially the arms of the one you love. May you enjoy all life has to offer.
Today we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. A man who pushed for all people to unite. A great man who wanted no man to be above another, who wanted all men to be equal. These are standards most of us can certainly get behind. On a personal level, the only thing that matters to me is how someone treats me and others. It matters little what race, religion or other group of society you belong to.
In an era where division is around every corner, the lessons this man gave his life to establish are more important than ever. There are those who seek to divide us and convince us that it is impossible for the world to unite. I refuse to believe that. Do not listen to the words of division on hate no matter whose mouth they come out of.
There are those who will try to convince you that one group is better than another. Do not believe that. There are others who will try to convince you they should get special based on who they are. Do not believe that. All people should be treated equal. When we treat each other differently based on any quality we decide, it causes resentment and breeds hate.
Let us use the day we honor this great man to reaffirm our commitment to treat everyone the same. Respect, freedom, and the ability to be who we are is not only something we all desire, but something we all deserve. Turn a blind eye to our differences and a deaf ear to words of hate. Instead, let us focus on what brings us together. Our desire to be loved, our yearning to be understood and to be accepted in our communities.
Although our law makers and leaders can put into place rules and laws to assist us in this endeavor, the burden falls on the hearts, minds and actions of each one of us. Not only does that include major events such as standing together when one of us is attacked, but our daily interactions with each other. It is heart-warming to see people come together to protest unfair treatment of groups they are not even affiliated with or join a prayer vigil for the loss of life halfway around the globe. It is just as heart-warming to see people of different faiths enjoying a meal or a cup of coffee together. It is also great to see those in love not allowing the fact they come from different races stop them. Seeing both of their families support that love can make all of the difference.
Today, let us look for ways in which we can unite as one. Let us take a break from promoting our own race, our own religion and our own group and let us find common ground with others. That could be discovering other cultures through cusine. It could involve picking up a book to learn about different spiritual beliefs. Maybe a conversation with someone who has a different outlook than you. Maybe just working on ourselves to overcome any judgemental believes we hold.
I encourage you to share any ideas you may have to bring all of us together working toward a better future for everyone.