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Monday, November 25, 2013

Extraordinarily Thankful

Earlier this week I was with a couple of buddies when one of them said something interesting. He said, “Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because we get to be with people we love, hang out and eat good food, and watch football and we don’t gotta screw around buying stupid presents.” Okay, so his grammar wasn’t perfect, but he made a good point. The things we are most thankful for don’t come wrapped with a bow...and I find that kind of extraordinary.
For almost 40 years now I have gotten up early every day and jumped into a truck. I head out onto a freeway loaded with thousands of other 3,000 pound missiles driving 70+ miles per hour to get who knows where. I’ve seen some bad accidents and I’ve had a few mishaps (one that was life changing) but I have always made it home safe and sound. For that I am thankful… and I find it extraordinary.
During the week I end up at an office filled with people who are true heroes. I constantly watch the people I work with show up early, stay late and work as if they owned the business themselves. They are determined to provide a better life for their families and they don’t compromise their integrity to do it. I am honored to be on their team and thankful for their inspiration…and I find it extraordinary.
At the end of the day I come home to my own loving family. For years I was able to tuck my four children into bed, often carrying the youngest on my shoulders. Most nights I would say their prayers with them and then peak into their rooms after they fell asleep. Their faces always looked so precious and peaceful as I pulled their covers up and remembered how blessed I am to be called “Dad”. How a clumsy, forgetful, chump like me could ever be blessed with four such awesome children (and six grandchildren now) I don’t know, but I do know one thing, I am very thankful…and I find it extraordinary.
Even more surprising is how each and every night I get to end up in the arms of the most beautiful and loving wife a man could ever want. She is everything I ever dreamed of (and I dreamt a lot when I was young) and she deserves a much better looking man than me. But yet she tells me I am her prince and her warrior, and she makes me believe it. She makes me want to be the best I can be and for that I am very thankful…and I find it (and her) extraordinary.
For a few minutes each day I get to sit down with a really good book. It’s a book that was created by the One who created me and blessed me with my life on this earth. I am honored to hold that book in my hands so I try hard to focus on the words, soak in their meaning and learn how to live in a way that honors Him. To have a Creator who will patiently await my personal development is something I am definitely thankful for…and I find it extremely extraordinary.
Tomorrow morning I will do it again. I will get into the same truck, go to the same office, work with the same people, call on the same customers, read the same Bible and crawl into bed with the same woman. I couldn’t be more thankful for all of it and I don’t need a bow on any of it! Extraordinary!

Happy Thanksgiving!

If the only prayer you ever said in your whole
life was, "thank you," that would suffice.
~ Meister Eckhart

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Moment's Notice

I admit it… I make a lot of mistakes! In fact, I am so far from perfect that sometimes you couldn’t locate me even with a GPS system. However, I don’t stress out about it because I try to learn from each mistake and if possible become a better man with each passing day. However, there is one mistake that I have made too many times. So I really need to work on it and with the Holidays fast approaching it is a mistake that a lot of people will make. It’s called being distracted…and it leads to the mistake of not “Living in the Moment”.

In today’s society, there are cell phones, I-pads and lap tops everywhere. So it’s really easy to get distracted and not pay attention to the real beauty of the world around us, which includes the people in our lives. I was at a restaurant last night and more than half of the people were on their cell phones, texting or emailing instead of focusing on the person right across the table. Don’t get me wrong, cell phones are awesome because they allow us to stay in touch with people quickly and easily. We just need to remember to put them away sometimes and focus on the beauty around us including the people in our lives, especially the ones right in front of us.

Living in the moment is all about taking notice of the world we live in. We can’t do anything about yesterday and tomorrow may never come but we can darn sure enjoy today if we focus on the moments that surround us. Here are 6 tips for “Living in the Moment”.

  1. Smile when you wake up. You can set the tone of appreciation and awareness for the next 24 hours by simply waking up and smiling
  2. Take notice of the world. No matter what you're doing, notice the moments that surround you, maybe it’s a bridge or a flower or the way the light filters through the sky.
  3. Minimize activities that dull your awareness of the moment. Choose times to turn off your cell phone, computer and TV. Do things that are active and that encourage you to look around and engage the world in that moment.
  4. Be otimistic. Whether you realize it or not, someone’s always watching, always listening. That means you're always performing, so "dance like nobody's watching" and dance well.
  5. Commit random, spontaneous acts of kindness. Whether it's donating a dollar to a charity, picking up litter, or simply complementing someone, keep alert in every moment of your day for some way in which you can make the world a better place.
  6. Be thankful for what is. When you find yourself wishing for something you don't have, or wishing your life could be different, start by being thankful for what is already in your life. This will bring you back to the present moment.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I Have Everything I Need

It’s funny the things that touch our hearts. I try to be a really tough, strong man that can handle any problem, lift any heavy box and slay any dragon that might come along…because according to society isn’t that what real men are supposed to be like? But the truth is, and I hate to admit it, but sometimes my heart is tugged so hard that the floodgates open and the tears just can’t be stopped. Last weekend was one of those moments.

But first…the back story. When I was young, about 12, I lived with my parents on a very small avocado ranch and often helped them with their grove. But our wealthy neighbor, Jack, had a huge ranch with nearly 50 acres of avocado trees. So every year around springtime the same four Mexican workers would show up at his ranch and work the groves for 9 months and then return back to Mexico with the money they had earned. I got to know them really well and Jack often let me work alongside them.
Manuel, Esteban, Jorge and Pancho were the hardest working men I had ever met. They would work 10-12 hours a day, every day except Sunday, and never complain. Pancho was my favorite because he spoke a little English and would often take time to teach me some Spanish. He was always smiling no matter how hot it was and always whistling while he worked. He had a huge hat that was his pride and joy and I remember he would take it off whenever he wanted to get my attention and teach me something really important. One day we were working in a very large tree pruning branches, when I slipped and fell. I landed on the edge of a saw and cut a huge gash in my hand. Before I knew it Pancho had wrapped his bandana around my hand and was carrying me down the road. I told him I was okay and could walk on my own (I didn’t want him to think I was a baby), but he stayed with me until we got to my house where my Mom could drive me to the doctor.

When my hand healed, I went back to work for the remainder of that summer. It was really hard work but Jack paid us $1.25 per hour and I felt like I was a “real man” when I worked alongside Pancho and his friends. I repaid Pancho’s kindness by hunting Quail, Dove and Rabbit which I would drop off at the little plywood shack where the four men stayed. Pancho even taught me how to skin a rabbit, but I didn’t have the guts to eat one, although I did eat the Quail and Dove, which were both pretty good!

Two years passed and I became very close friends with Pancho. He taught me about work ethic, honesty and sacrifice. In fact one of the things that amazed me most was the way he would never spend a dime on himself. He would save all the money he made at the ranch to take home to his family. There was a defining moment one day when Pancho and I were working together and Jack rolled up in his big fancy truck. Pancho whistled and said something in Spanish about the truck being beautiful. I agreed and told Pancho he should get a truck like that. Pancho laughed and said, “It’s not necessary, I have everything I need.” I didn’t fully understand at that time what he meant, but I thought about those words for a very long time.

The next spring rolled around and after school one day I went to Jack’s ranch to find Pancho. I was surprised to see only three men sitting next to the shack. I asked them how they were doing and then I asked them, “Donde esta mi amigo Pancho?” All three men were silent and just kept staring down at the ground. I asked them again, “Where’s Pancho?” Finally, Manuel spoke up and said, “Pancho was bitten by a snake and we had to bury him in the desert.” I couldn’t believe it and cried my eyes out all the way back home. I was devastated and never went back to Jack’s ranch that summer, but I also never forgot Pancho and everything he taught me.

Last weekend I went golfing with a couple of customers and of course I drove my new Ford F150 Truck that I had just purchased last month. When we were done golfing, there was an older Hispanic gentleman that jumped on my cart, rode with me over to my truck and cleaned my golf clubs for me. I gave him a tip and a sincere thank you but when I turned to leave, I heard him say, “Senor…excuse me. That is a beautiful truck. How much does a truck like that cost? It must be nice to have such a beautiful truck!”

I started telling him how I usually shop for trucks at Carmax to save money. He had a really nice smile and I guess I kind of felt sorry for him and wished I could just give him my truck on the spot. I know, crazy idea, but wouldn’t that be cool! Suddenly I stopped talking and became speechless when I noticed his name tag. I slowly turned around and climbed into my truck so he wouldn’t see my face. That golf course employee is probably still shaking his head wondering why some crazy golfer started crying for no reason when he asked about his truck. But maybe it’s because his name tag said “Pancho”.

 Sacrifice is a part of life and it's supposed to be.
It's not something to regret. It's something to aspire to.
    ~ Mitch Albom