REGRET CAN BE YOUR SUPER POWER!

On this blog we do things to try to limit regret in our lives. Regret is one of the worst emotions to have. At a funeral the toughest emotion to get over is not sadness, but regret. “I wish I would have….” feeling. Part of the Secret to an Amazing Life is doing less things you regret and regretting less things. If you live life in the best manner you can, you have less to regret.

Despite our best efforts, we all end up with some regret in our lives. Those of us who really work hard to be the best we can be, can have the most difficulty getting over regret. As I often do, let me share a personal example with you. When I reflect on relationships I have had with people in the past I can sometimes cringe at the memory of how I acted. In some cases the person’s actions may have not been the best either. I recall a boss I had when I first started at the Post Office that was always belittling. You could understand acting in a disrespectful or defensive nature to someone who did not respect you. Although their actions may be disrespectful, it does not excuse us from being the same.

As with all of us, I have had friendships that have been damaged. Maybe even some that have been lost due to things that were said and done between both parties. Special moments have been ruined or at least dampened due to behavior. Upon reflection I would become frustrated with myself. Then I heard something from Les Brown, “If you wouldn’t do the same thing today, then you are convicting an innocent person.” It was then I turned regret on its head. Instead of avoiding the sting of regret I put it to work for me. Whenever I am tempted to act in a manner beneath the best version of me I pause and remember the outcome of a time I did so and regret it. I ask myself, “Do you really want to feel like that again?” Especially if the pain is strong enough, it is enough to put me back on the right track. Regret has done more to shape my current behavior than most other things.

It is not just for keeping you from acting like a social degenerate. Regret can motivate you to do the right thing when you lack the inner drive. I recently read a story of a father in the UK who couldn’t go on a ride with his son because he was too large to fit into the cart. He used the sadness in his son’s face as well as his own embarrassment to lose almost half of his weight. Having a painful memory like that not only drove him to lose the weight but also allowed him to keep it off.

Many of you may recall the story of not going to the rummage event with my grandfather before he passed. It really wasn’t enjoyable for me at the time, but it really brought him joy. Now when I know there are things that others enjoy or that bring them happiness, I focus on the fact that I am helping the one I love. That is not to say I am constantly putting myself in a position to do things I dislike, for that would be a regret too, but doing the occasional thing I am not thrilled about in order to bring a smile to the one I love is not the worst in the world.

I encourage you to make a list of your worst regrets in life. This may be painful, but think of how you can use them for motivation to do better in the future. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #7)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Memories…songs have been written about them, movies have been made about them. They can cause us to shed tears or to beam a smile. When we think of memories the first thing to come to mind can often be times with those who have already passed on. I recall times spent at Military reenactments with my grandfather and late uncle. I can also recall summer trips to the Iola car show with my uncle. Those are nice memories and they cause me to smile. I am certainly grateful for them.

What about the painful memories? I recall a day when my grandfather had asked me to go to this communal rummage sale called ‘Rummage-o-rama’. Every single time we went he would pause to look at stuff that I knew he had no plans on buying. He would often spend a great deal of time talking about farming, the military or nothing at all really to a vendor. We would leave with either nothing or some mismatched things like a phone cord (these used exist) a razor blade and a dish towel. As a young man it was frustrating and seemed to last forever. I usually tried to find some excuse as to why I might not be able to attend. On this day, however, he asked me 3 days in advance. I had no excuse. After hanging up the phone with him I spent the next day thinking of ways to make the experience less painful or to get out of it all together. 2 days later, my grandfather passed away.

We never did go to that last rummage sale extravaganza. Guess what? I can often be found wandering through aisles, talking to people about anything and everything. Although I have no use for a phone cord, Margie can always use a dish towel or two. In hindsight, I realize the ‘Rummage-o-Rama’ was less about shopping and more about socializing and spending time with his grandson. At the time I have to confess to being too ignorant to realize what life is all about. Is that memory painful for me? It was, maybe still is a bit. More so, now it is a reflection on how much I have grown and changed. It is also a good lesson on how to keep memories of loved ones alive.

Speaking of loved ones, memories do not just have to involve those who have left us. Last year my trip to Jamaica with Margie produced more great memories than any other equal amount of time. We were just looking at the pictures and watching the videos the other day. I am really grateful for those memories as well.

One kind of memory I am grateful for that we may not think of, is those that haven’t happened yet. This may truly sound confusing. How can something that hasn’t happened yet be a memory? That does sound confusing at first blush. I know being with the lady I am with that we will find ways to be loving and romantic in ways I cannot conceive of yet. The fact that a lot of my relationships in life have grown and evolved as I have also excites me. I can only imagine as I am better able to relate to others what great memories we will create.

As you can see, thinking about gratitude can take you places you least expect. I am grateful for all of the memories in my life because they made me who I am. Mistakes and times that I was not the best person I could be are painful memories, but they motivate and remind me to not do so in the future. How about you? What are some of your favorite memories?

A POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS SECRET OF VACATION

By now most of you know that Margie and I enjoyed a well-deserved vacation at the Luxury Bahia Principe in Runaway Bay Jamaica. Here I am at the resort holding one of my favorite books. I presented several copies to different parties while I was there. The manager of the hotel actually called to give me his feedback and inform me that he was going to share several of the tools contained in the book with his staff.

Earlier this week on my YouTube channel Neil Panosian, as well as last week on this very blog, we looked at the benefits a vacation can bring you before you leave. In this post we are going to talk about the benefits you can receive from your vacation, but look at the dangers associated with it.

First the secret. I mentioned that Margie and I had spent time looking at videos and brochures prior to our departure to get our spirits up, and because the Wisconsin winter was especially long and tough this year, to keep our spirits up as well. The same thing will be applied for after vacation. This time the videos and pictures we will be watching will have us in them, because we took them! Not only will these be great for an emotional boost, but they will also be great for creating our vision boards. In my case it will also be a great motivating factor for the gym as well. There were so many fun and great moments on this trip, I was thrilled we could capture them. This includes a great snorkeling video I was able to take thanks to my new waterproof phone case.

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? What possibly could be dangerous about taking pictures and videos? The main danger, other than not watching where you are walking, is that you may miss the event for want of capturing it. With Margie taking cake orders and myself running several internet pages as well as keeping in touch with several publishers, we are both on our phones more that I would like. On vacation we made a concerted effort to limit that. We were also aided by what proved to be sketchy internet service and an issue with Facebook.

There is a thin line between wanting to capture the memory and being able to live the memory. There is nothing worse than going through your vacation photos only to find what you missed out on. What can we do to balance this out? Two things jump to my mind right away, but I would love to hear your suggestions as well.

One of the best things to do is to decide ahead of time pictures you might want to capture. Before Margie and I left on our vacation we knew a few of the things we were going to do. We were going to tour a coffee plantation, swim in the pool and ocean and enjoy several restaurants on the property. We also discussed where we would like pictures of us. I think we did a great job of capturing many wonderful moments. We both also wrote in journals to help record some of our wonderful moments we shared. Dividing the duties up between members of vacation party can make things a little easier as well. That way one person is not always behind the camera.

The second thing that jumped to mind may seem obvious, but is worth noting. Decide on moments that will be ‘phone and camera free’. Time to just enjoy and relax, to be in the moment. After our vacation was done we looked back on our pictures and were able to both savor the memories as well as appreciate the times we did not take pictures. I think it is important to learn from each vacation experience. That presents the opportunity to make each successive vacation even better. Some great examples is knowing what is worth packing and making sure to get rest before you leave. There was not much to regret on our wonderful tropical escape, but one thing we both agreed to do differently next vacation is to get some sleep the night before. Between jet lag and lack of sleep we lost half a day of vacation. It was great to rest in the tropical breeze, but I think we may do that differently next time.

HOW TO LIVE FOREVER PART ONE


In a mere few weeks I am going to begin work on my third book. I suspect this book will be released sometime in 2020. The tentative title of that book is How to Live Forever It is not a lesson on increasing one’s biology beyond known workable levels. In fact, it has nothing to do with the amount of years we live at all. How can a book, owning that title, have nothing to do with living longer?
In 2017 I gave four eulogies. I lost 5 people that were close to me. In 2018 that trend continued. This is quite a lot for someone in their early 40’s. I am honored to be asked to say parting words at such an important and difficult time in a family’s lives. I struggle for just the right words to do the person they lost the greatest amount of honor I can. In every case it seemed to come back to the same word – legacy.

From the moment I had to begin to deal with death on a personal level, I developed a way that I could honor the memory of the individual while at the same time helping myself deal with the pain and loss. My way of doing both of these centered around replacing some of the light the world had lost with their passing. I believe it started with my grandmother. She was always very hospitable and made everyone feel welcome. I did my best to be better than I was in those categories. As the years, and sadly the people, continued to pass, so did my working to replace the lost light.

At the end of last year I lost two aunts in a weeks time. I began to think about what I would say and what I could do to replace the light that was lost with their passing. Then something occurred to me, we all have the same legacy. This may sound crazy and it did to me at first as well. Looking out in the crowd at my aunt Virginia’s funeral it hit me. Whether your skill was hospitality like my grandmother, or humor and caring like my aunt, what really matters is that you touched the lives of others. At every funeral you attend the reason people are there is because of one thing – the person who passed away touched their lives in some way.

This second quote is what it is all about. How we touch the lives of others is what they will remember and what will keep us alive in their hearts. It relates to the first quote as well. One might ask, “Why plant a tree that I will never be able to enjoy?” My first thought would be that person is not a parent. Most parents would love to leave the world better for their children. For those of us who are not parents, you may ask yourself what the motivation would be? This is the same motivation that leads people to sponsor a bench in a park, or leave an endowment fund for a cause they believe in. They wish to leave some good behind in the world and give part of themselves to the positive things they enjoyed.

This is why I am called to write. I wish to give of myself to a cause I believe in and some motivation and inspiration to a power that can change the world long after I am gone. What is that cause I believe in? What is the power that can change the world that I so wish to inspire and encourage. The answer to both of those questions is YOU. Those of you who reading this blog right now and in the future. I believe in you. I want you to understand inside each and every one of us lies the seeds of greatness to change the world. It is my sincerest desire to help as many people see and understand this as I can. I want to touch as many lives as I can. I do not wish to limit this geographically so I make my writing available from Greenland to Jamaica.

Why if I am so dedicated to reaching as many souls as I can would I limit it to my lifetime? For all I know you could be reading this after I have passed. These words, along with my books and YouTube videos will be here long after I am gone and I hope they will continue to encourage and inspire others the way the words of Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar and others who have passed continue to inspire me today.

What about you? What is it that you do to touch the lives of others? Is it your singing? Your joke telling? The way you tell a story? In this age of technology and social media their are so many ways in which you can cement your legacy. Not sure what your legacy might be? Try doing the exercise I teach in the video linked at the end of this post. With a little effort and heartfelt desire, you too can live forever.

CLICK HERE TO HELP DISCOVER YOUR LEGACY

WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

This blog post created itself last night. After Margie and I had finished our Wednesday night show and found ourselves driving with our friend Kelly. We began sharing defining moments from our childhood that defined who we are today. It caused me to reflect on a few moments that I would like to share with you. More so, it made me think of something far more important that we will get to right after this moment of reflection.

For those of you who may have been reading my writings of late, I have shared the story of my senior year English teacher. On the final day before graduation, she pulled me aside and said in an almost pleading tone, “I pray to God you will never have a career involving writing.” Given the evidence up to that point I would have been inclined to agree with her, but here we are.

Another fun story involved a teacher I had for business. She was a kindly lady. She kind of reminded me of someone’s grandmother from a Norman Rockwell painting. My relationship with this wonderful woman was great. We laughed, smiled and shared many good conversations. I would have said I was the perfect student with one glaring exception. In this class it just so happened I was surrounded by friends of mine. It also happened these were friends that like conversation as much as I did. Daily we shared conversations about life, love and our pursuit of happiness. When the time came out for giving everyone a grade I still recall what this teacher wrote. Written next to my grade was the comment, “Neil will do a lot better in life when he understands you can’t make a living discussing life and its challenges with people.” Once again, here we are. Discussing life and how to positively approach and overcome its challenges. Granted you might be reading this in Greenland, South Africa or Fiji while I am here in West Allis, Wisconsin, but virtually we are engaged in this conversation.

Let me share a more comical example from my youth. Second grade I do believe. I had a good friend who had just moved away and I found myself in trouble for something. That part seems to remain vague. As punishment I was to stand with my back against the wall and watch the other kids enjoying recess and playing on the playground. Sounds a little cruel in hindsight but I guess it served as a lesson – almost. As I was standing there I thought of a joke. One of the kids walked by and I told him my joke. He thought it was so funny he went to bring other kids to hear it. Before recess was over I found myself doing what could be described as a forced stand up comedy routine.

I saved this example for last because it was by far the darkest example. I was part of a group called ‘peer helpers’ in high school. The program was designed to help students who were facing addiction, abuse or any other emotional trauma. To me it sounded like a great idea on the surface. It became apparent very quickly that I disagreed with the approach of the program. It seemed to approach the issues from that of the adults who formed the group and not of the youths facing the challenges. I soon politely left the group. All would have been ok with one exception. I really did have the desire to help and still talked to many of the kids I had met in the program. I tried methods I believed might reach them. This was especially true because most of them had stopped asking for help from the Peer Helpers program.

Again, this would have all been good, but my locker happened to be right across the hallway from the lady who was in charge of the program. Once she noticed that quite a few of the students who left her group were coming up to my locker and asking questions she stormed over. She issued what can only be viewed as a veiled threat. She yelled how dare I think I could help kids better than she could and I better stop what I was doing “or else.” I really wasn’t trying to do anything but help people the best way I thought I could. I continued to do so with a little more discretion. Two days before I was set to graduate I was summoned to the principle’s office. When I arrived the teacher was there along with several police officers. This teacher, this adult, this individual who is supposed to be an example told all of them I had threatened to physically harm her. Not only was that a total lie, but I had no malice towards this woman, merely a difference in philosophy. Luckily, with the support and sworn statements of my character from other instructors I had and her changing her story several times the matter was all but dropped.

What is the point of all of these stories? The point is that anyone of these stories could have had a very negative impact on my life. What made the difference is that I chose what they meant to me. My high school English teacher could have prevented me from ever starting this site which has close to 1000 posts. What she told me could have dissuaded me from ever writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People. My business teacher tried to convince me there was no future in listening to the challenges people face in life and trying to help create solutions, but that is the basis of all I do.

Through my punishment that day in second grade I learned the power of humor to reach people. I also learned that sometimes when the world seems to be taken away from you, the best solution is to make the world come to you. It is a theme that kind of plays throughout the videos on my YouTube channel. It also showed me new and wonderful ways to make friends. The lesson that if you can introduce your material to enough people it can really change your situation didn’t escape me either.

The final dark situation could have steered me in many different directions. I could have decided not to trust authority. Certainly learning that ego can override professionalism and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. I could have decided that it meant if I try to do things on my own in a way I feel will help the most people it will lead to trouble and could land me in jail. Of course it also showed me the value of displaying and acting with the best character and highest standards.

What is your story? What events have transformed your life? Have you let them decide what you can or can’t do? Are they putting limits on your life or are you using them to motivate you? The story of our lives should not be told through the mouths or actions of others. Realize you are not a victim of your past but a victor over it. You have made it to today despite what you have been told and what has happened to you. Do not let your past or those in it steal your power for a strong future. Find the empowerment in every challenge you have faced, or may now be facing.

MY FAVORITE DAY OF THE YEAR!!!

As you are reading this post I will be at the Wisconsin State fair. Today is the first day of the 11 day long festival. It is by far my favorite thing to look forward to all year. In the past I have stressed how important it is to have events to look forward to throughout the year. This is by far the one I look forward to the most. There is also a winter vacation, the bike expo, the first day of spring and many others, but the state fair is the biggest.

If I were someone who sat back and let life happen to them I would enjoy  this festival to the fullest for 11 days straight and them be sad when it is over. To some extent that is what happens, but I advocate and practice getting every last drop of joy out of life you possibly can. How do I apply this to the Wisconsin State Fair and how can you apply it to activities you look forward to in life? Let us take a look and start coming up with a few ideas.

First, as you can see by the photo above, spend the activity you love with the people you love the most. This is a picture of my lovely Margie and I on the sky glider last year. Margie and I have a wonderful relationship and both work hard to keep it that way and improve it all year long. We are always on the way to increase the amazing love we already share with each other. Being with her at one of my favorite places where I am extremely excited and happy provides a great opportunity to create life-long memories that will keep us smiling for a long time. It also increases the love and connection I feel with her. Having happy and joyous memories at my favorite place with my lady just leaves me with a feeling of love and gratitude for who I share my life with. In addition to Margie, I plan to enjoy days at the State Fair with my mom, and many of our friends. Together we will all create happy and joyous memories.

Then there is the planning. There is so much fun in just exploring and seeing what we discover. Making sure there are a few things we know we will enjoy is important as well. To that end we always look at the preview guide that comes out a few weeks ahead of the fair. There we discover bands we may like to see, food we may like to try and many other fun things to look forward to. This year we are even planning on an art walk they have to see many artistic displays featured in the park. There is also a garden walk in which you are shown different displays of greenery and how they are cultivated. Both walks feature a prize upon completion and are completely free.

Pictures. This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes those are the easiest to forget. Taking pictures of the fun activities you experience and the great, and sometimes no so great, food we try will give us something to look back on for years to come. This keeps the great memories alive after the event, and sadly sometimes after the people have passed. In the past year with all of the loss Margie and I experienced, videos and pictures have proved to be a invaluable link to the past and those we care about. This has brought to our attention the importance of capturing all the joy as it occurs.

Being present. In contrast to being behind a camera or cell phone to capture the joy that is occurring, there is the act of being present. Noticing the taste of what you are eating, the people you are sharing the moment with, or in my case the smile on the face of the beautiful blonde lady next to you. There is so much beauty to behold in life that we must remain alert to soak it all in.

These are just some of the ways I will enjoy the Wisconsin State Fair this year. Add to that my new career as a food critic and I will have plenty of chances to practice that. I welcome you to share your ideas on how I, and all of our readers can make their special moments even more special in the comments below.

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.

WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

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

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

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

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

YOU 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.