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.

WHY THE WORLD SHOULD BE A SPRING SHOWCASE

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Tonight I went to an elementary school spring performance. In addition to singing contemporary favorites such as Uptown Funk, the children from k-4 to third grade also performed some of my favorite classics like Brown bear, Brown bear.

Two things jumped out at me during this show. First, I had all but forgotten that I had attended this very school. Although when I was there it was grades seven and eight, the look had remained virtually unchanged.

The second thing I noticed was the talent of the children. It was amazing. I found myself dancing in my seat. Well, at least as much as I am want to do. Another thing I noticed was that I was in a very good mood. That made me take a break from my legendary chair dancing to sit up and take notice. Every time that I find myself in an extreme of emotion, be it good or bad, positive or negative, I stop and notice what has lead me to that point.

In this case it was a very good mood I found myself in. Was it being back in a place I had been so long ago? Not quite. Days weren’t always rosy in middle school. As we approached the door I pointed out to my lovely lady, Margie, an area where I had indulged in a rather intense physical interaction with another fellow student. “You were in a fight?” she asked incredulously. Anyone who knows me will understand seeing me engage in a physical altercation is a stretch these days. Even though back then it may have not been.

Ruling out the power of nostalgia, I moved on. Being that I was rather sleep deprived, I decided just to relax and really be present for the show. Then somewhere between The hungry caterpillar and I Bought Me a cat, it occurred to me. It was the show itself that was inspiring me. Not just the positive and light-hearted lyrics, but the scene itself. Children were putting their hearts and souls into their performances. They were doing this out of nothing but personal pride and the desire to make their parents proud of them. The parents also made me proud. As children can so often do, when they are supposed to hold up a picture of a bowl of soup during a song, it winds up being in a position that would leave more soup in your lap than in your stomach. Despite this, the parents glowed with pride and cheered for not only their child, but each and every child. They did so knowing the reasons the children were doing it were pure and innocent.

There was a bonus item of joy I noticed it not only filled my heart with a personal sense of joy, but made me proud of the parents and even more so, the students. In each group there were several children who seemed to suffer from some form of challenge mentally. Not only were they allowed to join the other students in the production, which made me proud of the job the teachers did, but as they were often wandering all over the stage involved in what seemed to be their own little show, the students not only remained focused, but often encouraged and embraced these children so different from themselves.

I began to wonder why the world itself is not more like this ‘Spring Showcase’. Imagine if we all worked with a heart filled with joy and a desire to make those closest to us proud of the job we did? What if we encouraged everyone who worked hard, doing the best they could, even if it didn’t turn out perfect and they did hold up the picture of a cupcake instead of string beans. What if we accepted those around us that were different and even invited them to be a part of our world while living the way they were created to? This was an example of the way the world should be. The greater question is how do we carry this behavior into the adult world?

PROOF YOU CAN DO IT!

This is a tattoo on the arm of my lady. It says “sing”. Recently she has faced some pretty tough personal challenges that have left her not only drained, but wondering if she can even make it through. We were laying down discussing this idea when I noticed her tattoo. What does her tattoo have to do with her daily challenges? Let me catch you all up to speed.

These days my lady and I work together 4 nights a week as DJs. Not only is she a wiz with the computer and the sound equipment, but she can sing like an angel. There are several songs she sings that take my breath away. In fact, often people will request she sings certain songs because they like her singing them better than the original. It was this very skill that stole my heart and brought us together in the first place. Here is where things get interesting. One fine evening I inquired as to how she began her career as a DJ. As we discussed how she began she told me an interesting story about the first time she sang. A good friend of hers, who was “Looking out for her best interests” told her that she was terrible and should not sing again. Thankfully she did not listen because not only would we not have fallen in love, but she would not have been able to bring the joy that she has to countless of people with her voice.

Let me tie this all together and give you something you can use immediately to grow your confidence and help you make it through any challenge you are facing. So my lady’s tattoo says ‘sing’ if she would have listened to her well meaning friend she may have never discovered one of her most amazing talents. She worked through the criticism and nervousness that she faced the next time she sang. By doing so she gave life to one of the most beautiful things about her. I told her whenever she doubts she can make it through something to look at that tattoo and remember how she turned what seemed to be a failure into a great skill and success.

So what does this all have to do with you and I? Each one of us has had challenges we thought we could not make it through. In fact, you may be going through one as you read this. The fact that you are reading this means you have made it through every challenge you have faced in your life so far. This can be very difficult to remember when we are going through something emotionally and/or physically trying. That is where a symbol comes in. In my lady’s case it is her tattoo. What is it in yours? Perhaps a trophy you earned? A picture of a goal accomplished? A talisman from a meaningful place you have been? Even journal entries come in play. By reading your thoughts as you went through a challenge in the past, perhaps maybe even one you thought you were not going to make it through, you can see the parallels to what you are currently going through. More to the point, you can see that you did make it through.

So pick your symbol today! Carry it with you as a reminder of how strong you can be. Then when a challenge comes you can look at it and remember you can do it. Feel free to like/share and comment on this. Show it to anyone you know is facing a challenge so they may have the strength they need.