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Monday, October 19, 2015

Sand Bags & Bumpy Roads

Have you ever had a really bad day? What about a really bad week! I am not complaining because I expect there to be some bumps in the road, but last week it seemed like I was driving down a bumpy dirt road filled with cavernous craters just waiting to bounce me to bits.

Early last week I was at work when I got a frightened phone call from my wife. She had our sliding glass doors open to the beach when all of a sudden a rogue wave engulfed our patio and blew through our living room, kitchen and hallway, filling our home with saltwater, sand, and seaweed. When I rushed home I couldn’t believe the damage. Our heavy beach furniture was tossed through 30’ through the air and our big propane BBQ was knocked 20’ across the patio. It would take me days to clean up the mess.

Two days later I had to rush my wife to the ER due to breathing issues. The doctors at Mission Hospital were great (she has had multiple lung surgeries there) and after giving her breathing treatments and medicine for bronchitis, we were back home the same day, exhausted but glad to be home.

Three days after that I was with a customer in Fountain Valley when I got another scary phone call. My wife had taken a severe turn for the worse and was being taken by ambulance to Mission Hospital. I drove so fast I actually beat the ambulance to the hospital. After several hours and great care from a skilled pulmonologist, I was able to take her home once again.

Throughout the week I was also dealing with some really difficult issues at work. So all things considered it was a pretty rough week and I found myself getting more than just a little depressed.

So when the weekend came I decided I needed some exercise. I would kill two birds with one stone by building a “Sand Bag Seawall” to protect our beach from further erosion (and our home from becoming a swimming pool). I bought 20 concrete bricks to form a base and about 200 sand bags to build the seawall and then went to work filling them one by one. As I filled each bag I thought about both the good things and the bad things going on in my life. It dawned on me that there were a lot more good things than bad things, especially in the area of family and friends. The more I shoveled the more I thought about how many times in my life I have faced a difficult situation, only to have a friend step up to help me out. I realized I am incredibly blessed to have so many great friends and a thought occurred to me, “Why not let each sand bag represent a friend in my life, by placing that person’s name on each bag.” What a cool way to remind myself that building friendships is one of the best ways to smooth out the bumps in life.

             I haven’t completed the project yet because I still have 50 more sand bags to fill.
But once I’m done I’m going to write a name on each sand bag as a tribute to my awesome friends!

A true friend never gets in your way
unless you happen to be going down.
~ Arnold Glasow


Sunday, October 11, 2015

No Phone Zone

We all live in a very busy and very loud electronic world and my life is no exception. The majority of the time I am at my office I’m either on my phone or have my head buried in my computer. I always have a ton of voice mails to listen to, emails to answer, quotes to prepare and reports to write. But I also have a steady stream of employees stopping by to ask questions and seek my help.

So it’s hard to suddenly stop working when somebody walks in. But I realized several years ago that if I don’t stop, focus and listen, I’m not going to be able to truly help anyone. Besides it’s a sign of respect and caring to put down your phone or turn away from the monitor and focus on the living breathing human being in front of you.

Speaking of phones, I checked with Siri and found out that 6.97 billion people currently own an electronic cell phone. How crazy is that! And I am pretty sure that 6.96 billion of them are constantly on their phone all day long. Cell phones are now a major fact of life and they have truly changed the way we live our lives in both good and bad ways. But I am hoping that we don’t forget how to communicate face to face, and how important that personal connection is. If that happens, heaven help us!

Speaking of heaven, maybe we need to look to God for an example. I am pretty sure that every time I speak with Him, He is focused and listening (and not on His new I-Phone 7 that Saint Peter bought Him). I know He listens to the painful plea of the elderly in the rest home, the gruff confessions of the prisoners in the OC Men’s Jail, the young mother with an infant in the ER at Mission Hospital, the alcoholic who steps off the street and into a church for the first time. To all of them…God listens. So maybe heaven is the one…and perhaps only…“No Phone Zone” left.

We shall one day navigate the air as we do the sea, 
rain will be made to pour out on the desert, 
bread shall be made from stones in the street, 
the man of a hundred years shall yet be in his prime, 
and men will take a little instrument from their waistcoat pocket 
and communicate with a friend a hundred miles away, 
without wires, as if face to face.
James Gillingham, circa 1901

Monday, October 5, 2015


Last week I had the worst day of my life! Okay, maybe it wasn’t the absolute worst day ever, but it did cause me some pain and it forced me to stop and think about where I am in my life.

I stopped to make a sales call on a large contracting firm and see a friend of mine who works there named Benny. When I walked into the main lobby there was no receptionist, so I waited a while and then peaked down the hallway where I saw a young man walking by. I asked him if Benny was available and he said he would get him for me. When Benny came up to the lobby he was laughing and I asked him why. He said, “They told me some ‘Old Guy’ was out front looking for me”. I had to wait for him to stop laughing, which took a while, but finally I shook my head and said, “Wow, I guess I am an ‘Old Guy’ to some people, but I’ve never really thought about myself that way…until now.”

On the way home that night I felt really demoralized. Yes, I know that I’m 60 and I have a few wrinkles, so I definitely qualify as old. But inside my head I still feel like I’m 35. So when I went home that night and looked in the mirror I discovered by golly, that guy was right! I am physically old on the exterior. It was kind of shock but it got me thinking… Can there be anything good about getting older?

- When I was young I was always in hurry and not very patient with people. Now…I’m much more patient and forgiving.

- When I was young I wanted so many material things, cars, boats, houses. Now…I am happy renting a small house and only owning a single Ford truck.

- When I was young I had a temper and would let things get to me. Now…I am much calmer and can usually let things roll right off my back.

- When I was young I wanted to own my own company and be really successful. Now…I own my own company but it’s far more important to help my employees become successful.

- When I was young I was always asking God for His help. Now that I’m older…I am always thanking God for His help.

I am not sure I will ever achieve all the goals I set for myself as a young man. But if one of my main goals was to find happiness, then aging is something I need to be thankful for…because I might have wrinkles on the outside, but a lot of the wrinkles on the inside…have now disappeared!
Father Time
Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.
~ Mark Twain