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Monday, January 26, 2015

Bad Apples

One of my faults (and the list is long) is making assumptions about people based on how they look, act, or talk. I know that “assuming” anything about a person is a bad idea but I also know that the older we get, the more likely we are to make quick assumptions. I think it’s because we get set in our ways…and think our own ways are best. That’s not a good thing and we older people shouldn’t think like that. We need to keep an open mind and an open heart at all times!

Saturday morning my wife and I went to Irvine to watch our oldest son play Roller Hockey. It was the championship game for their adult hockey league so we didn’t want to miss it. As we sat on the bleachers a young boy about 9 years old kept yelling, “Go Dad. Go Bad Apples!” Apparently the name of my son’s hockey team is “Bad Apples”. The young boy yelled non-stop encouragement to his Dad and the rest of the team the entire game and it cracked me up - because as far as I could tell there wasn’t a bad apple in the bunch. All the men played well, showed good sportsmanship and shook hands at the end. My son scored a goal and the Bad Apples won the championship, but despite being tough hockey players with a Bad Apples name, they were actually all really nice guys.

I guess what I’m trying to say can be best highlighted by a story I read this weekend. It also happens to be about bad apples.

From Readers Digest:
My grandfather was a rancher and would often take us grandkids for walks in his apple orchards. He would find apples that had been partially eaten by birds and carve off the opposite side to give to us kids. One day I asked him, “Why don’t you give us the ripe looking apples that aren’t touched by the birds?” I assumed he was such a miser that he wanted to keep the good apples and sell them in town instead of sharing them with his grandkids. He patted my head affectionately and said, “Birds have a keen sense of smell and will only eat the apples that are the sweetest. So you see…I pick only the best apples for you!” The lesson I learned that day…Never assume, always ask!

I may be getting old and I may have some faults, but making assumptions about people shouldn’t be one of them. So maybe if I keep an open mind and an open heart, people won’t assume I am as old as I really am!

The Hockey Garage "Bad Apples" Win League Championship!

Your assumptions are your windows on the world.
Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.
~Isaac Asimov 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Rich Enough

Besides owning my own company, I am also a salesperson with a lot of great customers. I really enjoy my job, however the problem with being a salesperson is that your job is never really done. No matter how many phone calls you make, emails you send out or sales calls you go on there is still more that you could do because the potential is only limited by the amount of work you are willing to do. That’s actually true in most professions, the harder you work the more success you will achieve…and the more success you achieve the more money you will make. But when is enough money…enough?

That’s a great question regarding balance and moderation. Being lazy will get you nowhere and working too much will only get you to your grave early, so how do we achieve balance in life?

There once was a very successful lighting salesman who bought hotdogs from a downtown San Diego street vendor almost every day. The hotdogs were delicious and the crusty old man who sold them was quick with a smile and a funny story. One day the salesman found the street vendor closing up at noon. He asked him, “Why are you closing so early? Is something wrong?” A smile wrinkled the old man’s leathery face as he replied, “Not at all. I am just going home so I can sit on my patio and sip ice tea with my wife.” The perplexed salesman said, “But the day is still young and you can still sell lots of hotdogs.” “No need to”, replied the street vendor, “I’ve made enough money for today.”

“That’s crazy” said the salesman, “It’s the best time of day to sell hotdogs and if you stick with it you can sell a lot more. The more hotdogs you sell, the more money you make. The more money you make the richer you become. The richer you become the more hotdog carts you can buy. With more hotdog carts, you can sell more hotdogs, and by selling more hotdogs, you become even richer. When you’re rich enough, you can sell all your hotdog carts and then go home and sip tea with your wife.” “Well, I can do that today, so I guess I am rich enough…for today!

I love my job and I enjoy the success and money that come from hard work. But I also love my wife, children, grandchildren, employees, customers and hundreds of friends, so I strive for balance every single day. In fact, my New Year’s Resolution this year is to slow down and realize that if I have the love and respect of my family and friends, then I am already truly rich enough!

Everything in moderation, including moderation.
~ Ancient Buddhist Saying 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Magnified A Million Times

There are a million things right with my wife but there's also something wrong with her, medically speaking, and I don't know what it is. I had to rush her to the ER last Monday because she was having trouble breathing. They ran a battery of tests on her, but no definite prognosis came out of it, so I took her to see an expert Pulmonologist on Friday. He wasn't sure what was wrong, so he scheduled additional blood tests for this morning. All I know for sure is that these doctor visits bring back a flood of bad memories...

Twelve years ago my wife had trouble breathing, over and over again, and eventually one of her lungs collapsed. She was operated on multiple times over a period of three years before they were finally able to rebuild one of her lungs properly. So those were definitely dark times for us. I hated staying at the hospital for weeks on end, worrying every moment that she might stop breathing again. But I refused to leave her side. One good thing that came about during that difficult period of time was coming up with the idea to write Monday Messages.

The idea of writing inspirational messages came to me because I realized that whenever I worried about my wife's health and focused on what was wrong... it became magnified. The more I worried about her fear and her pain, the more my fear and pain increased. But I discovered that if I focused on the good times, on the things that were going right, those thoughts took center stage and my troubles drifted into the background. Writing inspirational messages really helped me to focus on good things and take my mind off my worries. One night I remember waking up from a really bad nightmare on this tiny metal cot at the foot of her hospital bed. I was shaking when I stood up and as I leaned over her to make sure she was breathing, she had all these tubes and IV's attached, so the scene itself was a nightmare. But as I gazed at her sweet little sleeping face, I gently took hold of her hand and forced my mind to think of the great times we had on our honeymoon in Hawaii. I stood there with my eyes closed, squeezing her hand as I remembered the beautiful sunshine, brilliant blue skies and warm water rushing over us. I guessed I squeezed a little too hard because she woke up and asked me why I was smiling. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I do remember her smiling back at me...and for the first time in weeks, I relaxed.

It's human nature to worry, especially about our loved ones. But if we remember that we get to choose what we focus on... and that whatever we focus on gets magnified... then we can choose to magnify the good instead of the bad. That will not only help us enjoy life more, I'm sure it will help our loved ones as well. In my case, since there are a million things right with my wife, I think I will focus on all those things... and that should keep me way too busy to worry about what's wrong!

Your life is your garden.
Your thoughts are the seeds.
If your life isn't awesome,

It’s cause you're watering the weeds.
~ Anonymous

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Six Words

What was the best gift you received over the holidays? For me it was a tough question to answer.

First, our company Christmas party was the best we’ve ever had. Even though we were missing one beloved employee who passed away this year, there was still so much love and joy in the room that I didn’t want to leave when it was over. And even though my wife and I gave away really great gifts to each one of our awesome employees, when we left… I felt like we had received the best gift of all!

Second, our youngest daughter hosted a Christmas morning breakfast at her new apartment. She just moved back into town after six years of being away at college. I cooked biscuits and gravy which is a family tradition and we opened presents together. It was absolutely one of the best Christmas mornings ever. Having three out of four children now living nearby is a truly precious gift!

Third, I received some great news from oldest daughter. She is in her third year at Chapman Law School and she just finished acing her finals, making her one of the top ranked students in her class. This is a young woman who is not only leading her law school class; she is also working hard to raise three wonderful children at the same time. I am so proud of her hard work and accomplishments!

Fourth, while my oldest son gave me some great gifts, it was the card he gave me that had the most profound impact. Inside the card he thanked me for being, “the constant role model to me” and those six words really touched my heart. I will save that card and treasure those words forever!

But as I placed that card on my dresser last night, it got me thinking. We don’t just “role model” for our children. If we want to truly honor God in all that we do, then every where we go and with everyone we come in contact with…even in the smallest areas…we have to remember that we are representing Him in our daily lives. I know I fail sometimes, especially in the small areas, and I feel really bad about that. But my long term goal, my biggest hope is that someday when I leave this earth, God will be pleased with my efforts and utter another six words that I so very much long to hear…

Well done good and faithful servant.
 ~ Matthew 25:23