Thursday, January 30, 2014


Most of us can remember our mothers screaming at us as little kids to share our toys with our siblings. The struggle continued throughout our childhood because it would it never fail that someone else had the coolest toys or games and wouldn’t share it with you or anyone. I know that one of the amazing gifts in life is your choice to share your time, talent and treasures with others. I have a good friend whose husband just got a new job with a start up venture. I had asked how he was doing and she glowed in her response. ‘He’s learned more in the last 2 months then in the previous 5 years!’ All of this is happening because someone is willing to share their passion and then you see the result of synergism.

The reality for most of us, myself included, is that we are stingy with our resources and afraid if we give something away we will be worse off. I chuckle when Anne and I eat out at our local IHOP and the server complains about how stingy customers are when it comes to tipping. I have memories of being taken out by an older couple to a very fancy Italian restaurant and having the server come chasing after me. I thought something must be terribly wrong for her to do this. She said that her manager wanted to know if the service was so horrible that we decided not to leave a tip? I was dumbfounded because our friends had treated us. I quickly made up some lame excuse and rushed back to leave a generous tip for an amazing meal. I was shocked at how my friend could be so incredibly stingy!

I’m in the middle of organizing a 2-mile march for unity to end gang violence. My close friend whose son was killed by a gang incident is the one who dreamed this into existence. We have been planning and reaching out to our larger community and circle of friends. The reality is that we need to raise around $2000 and get around 50 volunteers to help make the march and lunch a success. Our goal is to provide awareness to the community about the impact of gang violence. We also want to communicate that there is hope for those who have lost a loved one to such type of violence. Our challenge is that we are quickly approaching our dead line for getting T-Shirts and a few others important items.

What has to get my attention in order to pull out my wallet or use my card to help someone? I was driving around yesterday and I saw a mom with a little one in a stroller. She didn’t look great and I could tell that she needed help. I choose to stop instead of just driving off. I rolled down my window and listened to her story. I reached into my wallet and gave her  $5 bill. I have seen her around our area a little of the last year. I know that life for her is tough and most likely few are willing to help. I also recognize that $5 isn’t going to really help anyone.

The part of my life that I love is seeing those around me that are helping make a difference in kids and teens have an experience where they see the benefit for them. It is exciting to have someone cross over from being a taker in life to becoming a giver who is serious about life. I know that as a little kid I was fearful that my brother might break my toy or mess up my guitar or amplifier. The lesson I’m still learning, which is difficult to admit, is that too often things are valued over people.

I know that adult males have the best of all worlds because we work and have the means to get the toys we couldn’t get as little kids. We can quickly make the excuse that because I work I deserve to get this or that latest greatest high tech toy. I’m embarrassed to admit but too often I hold onto something because I don’t want someone else’s fingerprints on my pad or laptop. I’m so thankful that my mom pushed me into practicing sharing with my brother and my friends. I know that it wasn’t easy on her or my brother. I’m still learning to see that when I’m willing to share then surprise someone else around will do the same for me!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Talk it out!

I know that it is so easy to get worked up over meeting with someone where you have to lay it on the line. I always have visions of either me or the other party losing our cool and getting into a verbal free for all. The end result is usually hard feelings and a sense that no one really listens or cares.  If this is a family situation you can’t walk away from it. I know that many have quit good jobs because of their inability to get along with fellow employees or not being able to mesh with the boss or supervisor.

I wish I had a 1 – 2-  3 format for working through tough circumstances that would work for everyone but this just doesn’t happen. We have had different live with us for both short periods of time and for years. We typically try to have some type of agreement so the ground rules, which aren’t rocket science, can be understood for all involved. I will be the first to confess that life gets busy and it is all too easy to avoid someone that you are at odds with. I know that I shouldn’t be this way but few of us like confrontation.

I have the privilege of being like a dad to many where it does require real live communication. I agree that I error too often by texting or e-mailing and don’t want to waste time on the phone if it isn’t important. I have been chasing down one of my teens that has a tough life. He has lived between different friend’s homes over the last couple of years. He is well intended but has difficulty with focusing, don’t we all and following through. He, like many, has awesome dreams but the inability to prioritize at times what he should do and what he needs to lay aside for a time.

I could tell that my friend was a little afraid of me and didn’t want to talk. He is use to be attacked and made to feel like a failure. My goal was to encourage him and give him a clear path to follow that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Presently he would agree that he has been living in his own little world that doesn’t always coincide with reality. It took around twenty minutes for us to be on the same page and realize that neither of us was out to ‘kill the other’.

I know that there is lots of pressure to produce and conform to the expectations of those around us. I just received a txt from a good friend who is deciding to change majors. I truly believe she is making a great decision but her family had a meltdown. I can see why many run from their families because of the inability of relatives to understand someone’s choices in life.

My mom was always a big one on being a good listener. It is too easy to come with your own agenda too often and not be willing or interested in hearing another person’s side of an issue. I also know that one of the more important life lessons is learning to say NO to many things around you. It takes real determination to discern what is the great path for your life instead of being surrounded by good things that become distractions.

I was thrilled last night that at the end of the discussion that the light went on and I could see that my friend was listening. I’m hopefully that tomorrow will be a better day for my teen friend.

Monday, January 27, 2014


I continued to be amazed at how our society seems to be so out of touch with our youth and young adults. I just heard about the youth that set himself on fire and burned 80% of his body. I get a text from a good friend saying that their teen is having serious issues and has been hospitalized. I’m doing a march to end gang violence because one of my good friends lost her son to a youth that believed getting into a gang was more important that following common sense. This teen shot her son in the back three times. Now, this teen is in court facing a judge that will have him sentenced to many years in prison because of killing my friend’s son. Yes, my friend has dealt with this meltdown in an amazing way and has grace not hatred at the center of her life!

I confess that I was raised around a mom and dad who would have sworn that they never fought or ever had a disagreement. I do remember some loud discussions behind closed doors. Real communication has been replaced with high tech that sees few people actually talking to each other eye to eye. It is too easy to use social media, your cell phone, tablet, iPad or iPod to communicate instead of actually visiting that person and talking face to face. I admit that being productive and the pressure that comes with that has impacted our family, our culture and our business environment that has become unhealthy.

It has become a norm to hear about shootings almost every week in a context that doesn’t make any sense at all. People take out their disappointment and hatred in life with a gun as they go to a mall or school close by. I can’t imagine the heartache and life change that results from these random acts of violence. I live in a diverse community where revenge is the name of the game. It is no longer funny when you see little kids that have been taught by their adult family to not let anyone ever touch them or push them without them striking back. I become the fool for telling everyone to step back, count to ten and think through what they are doing before they get themselves in trouble.

I know that a good portion of the instability for our youth and young adults today is the lack of normalcy in their families. If you have never watched a mom and dad work through issues where they differ then the assumption is that might makes right. I get my way because I’m the boss and you have to follow me. I’m around too many kids and teens, which don’t have dads that are too quick to say that it doesn’t matter. The reality is that it does matter significantly. The only path back to wholeness is when others in the family or even friends outside the family choose to step up and become involved.

I just finished an excellent article in the latest Reader’s Digest that echoed the impact of a reporter who chose to step outside the boundaries of his profession and got involved with homeless youth. The story, which is inspiring, shows the difference one person can make in the life of a youth when you choose to be there on a consistent basis. This man becomes the hero of a young blind teen and another teen who is legless. I can imagine how these teens will now relate back to people around them that are in real need. Instead of being too busy or acting as if they are better then those in trouble they will take the time to share their story and be a help to someone who is on the edge of jumping off the cliff.

I know that meltdowns will become more common across the board regardless of age, racial or religious background. We have allowed outside pressure to put us into a box that is literally a time bomb waiting to go off. It is time that we slow down in life, reassess what is really important, spend more time with family and real friends and put down the PS4 controller, iPod, iPad, iPhone or whatever. We need to have eyes to see those around us that are fragile and ready to melt instead of texting while driving.  I would much rather hear about the story of the reporter that becomes a mentor and special friend then the teen that has killed another teen as a gang initiation right.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


I met someone the other day, who had just moved here from a place where there are four seasons. This individual was quick to say that they missed the four seasons while living here. I was quick to respond with would you rather have 70 degrees for a high or 20 degrees? I kind of like the clear skies and no snow, which makes it rather easy to get around and no fears of sliding off of the road or getting frostbite. I do understand how on occasion it is refreshing to do something totally different and that having a storm can help one stay inside and ‘chill’.

This last week I did put myself to my physical limit by running in the PF Changs’ marathon. I admit that meeting at 6:30 am was a rather chilling experience but ultimately the race finished for most around 11-12:30 under clear skies and beautiful temperatures. I had a slight cold, which meant that I had to blow my nose rather frequently but didn’t have to stop for this malady. I always try to avoid using the Porta Jons during the race.

My goal with not feeling 100% was to not stop even though that meant that I slowed down a few times and then with the use of my GPS sports watch could keep track of my pace easily. The only way to run this type of long distance is by training over months when you purposely push yourself to the limit to run probably 5 days a week and sometimes 2 times a day. The end result is that you are able to accomplish an awesome goal that is yours alone. I know at first everyone has visions of finishing first and winning either that $10k prize or maybe a car. The reality is that this is reserved for only a handful but the rest of us get this beautiful medal that is a reminder that hard work and setting goals is an important part of life.

The downside of training for months is that it does cramp your lifestyle a little. The other downer is that it does take a few days or a week to recover from doing this type of race. I know that my knees were rather mushy the first couple of days. I was especially sore with getting a few raw spots that most runners don’t talk about. This is why you see medical stations that have long Popsicle sticks with Vaseline on them. I hadn’t experienced any discomfort so didn’t grab one of these sticks. Yet, the reality that after I stripped and took a shower I was in acute pain. No details but just the fact that it was time for a week to slide and not run.

I know that for many it is too easy to always be programed to be busy thinking that is the ultimate goal in life. I can remember my mom at times stating that idleness is the workplace of the devil. I agreed to a certain extend with my kids but now see that rest and a change of pace is a gift from God that enables us to recover from life’s ups and especially downs. I know that I wasn’t the only runner last Sunday who wasn’t in perfect condition, which equates to more recovery time.

I’m glad that I could veg today with my Anne and not think about doing a long run or do something that might appear to be more important. I’m not sure I totally agree with my new friend that I miss the four seasons but I do like being able to enjoy the out of doors without having a parka, hat, gloves or face mask!

Special Friends

I’m fortunate to have lots of friends both young and old. It never fails that when one of my kid’s from New City – Barrio Nuevo gets injured in school I’ll get a call if they aren’t able to reach a parent or grandparent. This last week it was actually the uncle at work that called me and asked if I could come and get Ruby who had taken a plunge off of the playground equipment and needed stitches. I was only minutes away so I quickly made it too the school.

I’m usually not too shocked by blood or normal injuries. My little friend was in the nurses’ office lying on a bed with Band-Aids all over her chin and lip. She had actually bitten through her lip and also needed stitches on her chin. I could tell that she was still in shock but quickly responded to my coming.  I had to sign out with the school office and talked with the nurse about what happened. I escorted Ruby to my truck and helped her climb into the back seat and got her settled.

We drive to the closest urgent care which was just minutes away. I had been at this facility before with her grandma who had an appointment. The unfortunate thing was the long line waiting to just check into the facility. I knew that we would have to go to the real ER at the hospital about 15 minutes away. Just as we are deciding to leave her uncle shows up and takes over. We talked a little then he took off and I delivered her backpack and belongings home to grandma.

My heart broke for this little one who was hurt but she was fortunate to have a mom, uncle, grandparents and me who could come to her rescue. The challenge for me is that I work and live in an underserved community where too often there isn’t a parent or grandparent to care and give that extra TLC or come to someone’s rescue. I will be the first to recognize that there isn’t any substitute for a mom or dad regardless of the circumstances.

I see the need for having special friends who can be called upon to help whether that is in an emergency or just to talk. The challenge today is that our texting and social media driven society is reluctant to talk face to face or just hang out. I admit how much easier it is to text, e-mail or FB someone instead of just calling or actually going over to their house. As I’m finishing this blog I get a text that expresses it best when someone calls me their close friend who is like a brother to them.

I was glad to pick up my little friend but would have much rather had it been under different circumstances. Yes friends of all different types are a needed part of my life journey!