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Monday, September 29, 2014

Bucket Lists

I’ve always been a person who enjoys setting goals and that’s probably because I’m extremely competitive and love to challenge myself. However, I’ve noticed my current “bucket list” varies greatly from the goals and dreams I had as a young man. The more I thought about it, the more intriguing it became. What goals have I truly accomplished in my life? What crazy things have I been lucky enough to experience? And what would I still like to achieve?

So I decided to write out two “bucket lists”. One list would contain the goals and dreams I was lucky enough to make happen so far….and the other list would contain dreams yet to come!

Read The Bible Cover to Cover (Twice so Far)
Fly an Airplane
Adopted an Hispanic Baby
Be on TV Show "Survivor"
Married the Woman of My Dreams
Ski a Black Diamond Ski Run
Drove a Race Car (NASCAR) at over 150mph
Write a Novel
Played Baseball at Angel Stadium 
Run with the Bulls in Pamplona
Installed a 33' Two-Ton Cross on a Mountaintop
Skydive out of An Airplane
Gave a Motivational Speech to over 1000 people
Ride a Motorcycle to Cabo
Built and Sold a Multi-Million Dollar Business
Make a Hole in One in Golf
Built My Own Home (and lived it in for 10 years)
Hit a Home Run in Baseball
Modeled Underwear on a Runway at a Fashion Show
Travel to Australia
Played Guitar in a Garage Rock Band
Learn How To Dance
Maintained a Friendship for over Forty Years
Kite Surf in Kauai
Kissed a Supermodel (Cheryl Tiegs)
Understand The Bible
When I finished making the two lists, I had to laugh about some of the stuff on the “Done List”, like “Kissing a Supermodel”. But you know - when you’re young your goals can be a little shallow.

However, I also noticed that the first goal on my “Done List” was to Read the Bible and the last goal on my “Yet To Do List” is to Understand the Bible. I’m glad I’ve read the Bible but I admit I still don’t understand a lot of it and maybe never will. But isn’t that the point of having a goal. You strive towards it every day, doing your best, and if you don’t get there - you get up the next day and try again - and it’s in the trying that we find out who we really are. I may not understand the Bible but I definitely understand the importance of making it one of my goals!

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead,
 press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
                                                                                ~ Philippians 3:14                                      

Monday, September 22, 2014

Go With The Flow

In my opinion life is really complicated and full of challenges for two separate but similar reasons. One, the world is constantly changing and evolving. And two, we as human beings are constantly changing and evolving as we grow and mature. One of those reasons alone would be enough to create problems but put the two together and life can seem overwhelming at times. So what do we do?

Early yesterday morning I went for a walk on the beach about two miles south of my house. I hadn’t been that far south for over a month and I was shocked at what I saw. The recent storms and huge waves have dramatically changed the shoreline along that stretch of beach. The sand in front of many of the homes is basically gone and the waves come all the way up to the patios. The water has done tremendous damage. In fact I saw where concrete support pylons were knocked down on several homes creating a really dangerous situation. There were tons of sand bags in place but the power of the ocean still won the battle. I have been coming to this area for over twenty years and witnessing the constant changes in the shoreline every year. Yesterday really punctuated the fact that the world is constantly changing and if we’re going to survive, we need to adapt and learn to go with the flow.

Yesterday afternoon I played baseball at Fullerton College. It was one of our regular Sunday baseball games, which I always enjoy, but not a normal one for me. You see age is finally catching up to me and I now have so many different pains in so many different parts of my body I can’t figure out which one to focus on first. However, the pain in my body was nothing compared to the pain in my ego as I made multiple errors at multiple positions. I should have stayed on the bench but we only had 9 guys so they were forced to play me. I was really starting to get depressed, but when our Manager said, “You know, it’s okay to catch a ball out there once in a while if you want to” it was hard not to laugh. He was trying to loosen me up and after the game he reminded me that I have had lots of great games in which I played well and that everyone has a bad day once in a while. I guess the one good thing about being older is that I do have good memories to fall back on…and that helps me to be able to go with the flow when things go wrong personally.

The world is constantly changing just as we are constantly changing from the moment we are born. So how do we handle all this change? We need to realize that in life there will always be problems and there will always be solutions and that in between…that is where life flows… So go with the flow!

Rough waves knock out concrete pylons at Capo Beach

I think I've discovered the secret of life. You just
hang around and go with the flow until you get used to it.
~ Charles Schulz

Monday, September 15, 2014

For No Reason

Life is made up of a lot of little things, like brief interactions with strangers on a daily basis. Is it enough to just be patient and polite and stay out of people’s way? Or can we actually make a difference in somebody’s life in just a few seconds? And maybe…just maybe…start a chain reaction!
On Friday evening my wife sent me to the store to pick up some wine and champagne for a small dinner party we were hosting. Her instructions were brief and she didn’t say what kind or how many so I struggled with my assignment because I guess I’m more of a beer kind of guy. But after standing there a long time I finally grabbed two bottles of each and headed to the check out stand. The cashier stopped me and explained that I would save 30% if I bought 6 instead of 4. That was a great offer but I looked behind me and there was a lady waiting in line so I didn’t want to hold her up. She said, “Sir, I don’t mind waiting if you want to go get some more wine. It will save you a lot of money.” I replied back, “Wow. That’s really nice of you!” She even suggested a better champagne brand. As I proudly headed to my car with my assignment completed, I thought about how cool it was that a complete stranger spoke up and helped me out for no reason.
On Saturday morning I headed out early to play golf with friends at Tijeras Creek. I wanted to hit a bucket of balls first but I was running short on time, so I hustled into the Pro Shop, paid for my round, and walked to the range. When I got to there the man at the counter said their computer wasn’t working so I would have to walk all the way back to the Pro Shop, pay there, and then walk back to the range. I didn’t have time do that so I just turned to leave. Before I took two steps a man behind me said, “Hey, I have an extra coupon for a free bucket and I’d be happy to give it to you.” “Wow. That’s really nice of you!” I replied and when my friends showed up I told all of them how cool it was that a complete stranger spoke up and helped me out for no reason.
On Sunday our entire family got together for a birthday brunch at a restaurant in Dana Point Harbor. There were 16 of us but fortunately we had a reservation because Sunday mornings are really busy at the harbor. The only difficulty was finding a parking spot but eventually everyone made it inside and we had a great time. After we finished eating I was standing outside waiting for my wife (she was still making plans for the rest of the day) and as I stood there an elderly lady pulled up and asked if there was parking around back. She looked distressed because she couldn’t find a parking spot. I told her I would probably be leaving in about 10 minutes and then it hit me. “Wait!” I said. “That’s my gray truck over there in the second row. I will go move right now so you can have my spot.” She looked surprised and very pleased that a stranger would help her out for no reason.
I admit it’s hard enough to be patient and polite to strangers, let alone go out of our way to help them out. But what if every time we did…that stranger then helped another stranger…who helped another…who helped another…who helped another? I guess that would mean it really isn’t “for no reason”!

Expose me to hate so it be not a stranger;
Yet fill my cup with love to turn strangers into friends.
~ Og Mandino

Monday, September 8, 2014

Little Red

Last week there were huge waves pounding the beaches all up and down the Southern California Coast. Since my wife and I live in a small beach house on the sand in Capo Beach, we had a first hand glimpse of the beauty and power of Mother Nature. In fact, the waves in front of our home were larger than any we have ever seen and although we rarely ever see surfers near our home, for several days there were dozens of surfers riding waves from sunup to sundown. These were not your average surfers because these were not your average waves and the stormy seas with huge swells made it extremely dangerous.

Early Thursday morning as I got ready for work I couldn’t help glancing out the window. There were at least 10 surfers catching long rides and flying off the top of 10’ waves, soaring through the air, and screaming in exhilaration as they hit the water. It was a great show and really something to watch. Within minutes several more surfers showed up, all of them appearing to be in their early twenties, all of them expert surfers.

I took a moment to walk outside and watch the show from my patio. As I stepped out of the house I noticed a young boy, not more than 12 years old, running up the beach with his surfboard. He was obviously excited and in a hurry to get out there and join the “big boys” on the big waves. He was wearing an all red wetsuit and carrying a very short but colorful surfboard. He stared at the waves for a few minutes and then took off paddling furiously to get through the rough break…but he didn’t make it. The huge waves pounded the little guy back onto the shore. He waited for the right break in the swells and then took off again, paddling hard, but again the waves pounded his little frame right back to the shore.

At that point I felt sorry for the little guy and scared for his safety at the same time. In my mind I nicknamed him “Little Red” and wished he would quit and go home before he got seriously hurt. But he decided to try one more time and once again the waves mercilessly crushed him and pounded him back to the shore. He collapsed on the sand looking exhausted but at least he was okay. About 10 minutes went by and I realized I had better get going, but just when I was ready to walk inside, Little Red took off into the waves a fourth time. This time I found myself routing for him. “Come on Little Red… you can make it!” And darn if he didn’t crest a giant wave and make it out there with the big boys! I know it sounds silly but I felt proud of him. Even though I don’t even know him, I do know what he is all about - courage and perseverance - and it was inspiring to watch.

As I drove to work I thought about all the tough times in my life and how often it seems like life “pounded me back to the shore” over and over again. I remember the times I quit and how bad I felt inside. But I also remember the times I persevered and eventually overcame so many tough obstacles. Little Red reminded me that we will always have challenges in life, but we cannot fail if we never quit!

With ordinary talent and extraordinary
perseverance all things are attainable.
~Thomas Foxwell Buxton