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Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Well the new year is upon us once again. Resolution time again. Will we accomplish our resolutions this year, or blow them on January 2nd? The key is to focus on making ourselves better and improving our marathon of life. We all know we need to eat healthier, exercise more, lose weight, save more money, and on and on, but why not commit to something we can achieve, one thing that will make our lives better. Instead of resolutions, let's work on resolve, something we all have and something we can make stronger, not just a goal, but a habit. Goal setting is important, don't get me wrong, but as admirable as it might be discipline and forming better habits are what can get things done.

In order to set up some serious resolve for next year you have to first know that resolutions are one of those things people don't take seriously and therefore why most fail. You have to commit at least some amount of time each day to you, be it 5 minutes or more, and you have to show up every day to that commitment and you also have to be flexible, maybe you can't do same time everyday, and maybe you miss sometimes, so be realistic and serious. Resolutions fail because of no follow through. We all sit down and believe we can be motivated when the new year starts, we are filled with self improvement energy, but that quickly fades when we go back to work and life. However, you can make changes, and you can be successful, but again commitment is key.

Like most things you need to write down your plan, your goals, or your changes. You make a list to go to the store, you make a list of things at work, you write out plans for work, and your life is no different. Download one of those apps that help you organize and track stuff, use it, it is handy and always with you. Take your goals and break them down to smaller steps, don't look long term, look day to day, see results and practice not getting so far ahead of yourself. If you save a dollar a day you achieve $365 in a year, but if you said I am going to save $365 it might not seem possible, so help yourself by starting small and making something doable. Get a friend, family member or buddy to join with you, be it exercise, dieting, saving, whatever you are trying to accomplish it is always easier with a partner. Take one step, and then put them together to cover some ground.

Make a wager with yourself or a friend on your resolve, because all of us hate to lose and therefore it also becomes another form of motivation. Figure out a way you can be more successful. If you are looking at losing weight, then plan meals for a week at a time, if you are wanting to exercise more then find a gym and time you can visit daily, do not sell yourself short, you can't give up and you need to know that. As you prepare for your year, just like preparing for a marathon, you have to train, you have to take it in stages, you have to stay on the path, and as the obstacles come and they will, you have to find an alternate path, but don't stop running, don't stop because of the bump, just go around it.

Strength and passion push us through much of our lives, and family and friends motivate us. Life is never going to be easy, and there is always going to be a storm that we face. Think about the folks in Rowlett this week that lost everything, look at what they face and other disasters that take everything from us. There are no guarantees in life, and our road will be paved with cracks, bumps, and hills, our marathon will be hard and we will fall down on the way, but resolve will help us up, spirit will push us ahead and faith will give us strength to face tomorrow. Happy New Year and never stop running.

Giving Gifts

First I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope you have a truly amazing holiday enjoying your family, and what wonderful gifts you have each day. There are so many people in my life who have given me amazing gifts. They didn't shop for them, they didn't even wrap them, and most were given on days that were not December 25th. I have been very blessed to have people touch my life with gifts that have taught me so much in my marathon of life. Meeting wonderful people, sharing in their lives, and learning that giving of oneself is the greatest gift has truly helped make my marathon a much smoother path.

We all face adversity in our lives, some from health struggles, some from financial, and others that help us to face demons and grow our inner strength in the battles. You have always heard it is better to give than to receive, but do you believe that? Especially at this time of year we hear it all the time, we see it on stickers, posters, and we teach our children that as well. Certainly in this day and age it is a struggle to really see the value, and understand that personal gain is not what life is all about. Generosity, purpose, fulfillment, each of these comes from sacrifice of yourself. As we all run our life marathon we do hit bumps in the road, we face uphill battles, we trudge ahead sometimes when we want to quit and as we fight our way to the next mile we see that others are ahead of us, so we fight to catch up to gain ground on them, because winning is the goal, or is it?

The goal when you start training for your life marathon is to build endurance, to finish the race, not always winning. We know that sacrifice is part of our training, we worked hard to get here, we want to do our best, but along the path we see others ahead of us and we wonder what we have to do in order to catch them, and yet behind us we don't see those that are struggling to catch up. Perhaps looking behind us is where we gain the most from our marathon. Love and giving, celebrating life with those who face turmoil, those who may not have the joy in their life that you have found, those facing serious illness, or who have lost hope. True love is not self seeking, it is there to be given with nothing in return. Finding joy in giving brings the greatest rewards, and fills your own heart with the greatest joy.

The holiday season opens the door and clears the path for your marathon allowing for forgiveness, new found friendship, listening to those who need an ear, giving a little extra to those who are facing hard times, and showing others that gifts of giving from the heart are the greatest, longest lasting and best presents they will ever get. From teachers I have had in school, to friends, bosses, soldiers, and even grand kids, people have given so much to me, a smile, an encouraging word, direction when I lost my way on the marathon of life, and even a kiss and hug when I needed it most. Gifts come in many shapes, sizes and tears. So Merry Christmas and please give one of the greatest gifts you can this holiday season, give love.

Naughty or Nice

So here we are at the time of year that the labeling begins, you are either on the naughty or nice list, and certainly there can be no in between. So it is either a lump of coal or wonderful gifts. Which is it for you? Have you told your kids, you better behave or you will be on the naughty list? Did you know that your name itself can provide a clue if you will be naughty or nice? It is true there are names that are more likely to be naughty and no matter that you had no control over choosing that name, you are now branded for life. Your parents might not have researched and discovered that Joshua is a name that has more likelihood of being naughty, and now you have to live with it.

But seriously, with all the labeling that goes on now should we not avoid more with naughty and nice lists. As we work to achieve greater harmony in this world, shy away from words that label others, how can we categorize people as naughty or nice. Truthfully we all have had periods through the year of being naughty, and nice. We are all a mix of both, after all we are human. So where did the phrase “naughty or nice” originate? Did it begin with “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town?” The word naughty comes from Old English word nawiht, meaning nothing, or nothing at all. Nice appeared in English history around the 13th century and was actually defined as ignorant or stupid. Through the ages it changed to mean timid, or shy, agreeable. Around the 17th century the words started to take on the meaning we know today, which is used to describe disobedient children who are naughty, or ones that mind and do as they are told who are nice. When in reality any age person could be labeled the same, and subject to lumps of coal.

It is really only around Christmas that the term gets used. Here in the Western world Christmas marks the birth of Christ, a day to share with family and celebrate other rituals, and across Europe Christmas is celebrated at various times and with sorted customs. The heart of the season though no matter where it is celebrated showcases gifts to good children. St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Santa, Old Man Winter, and a host of other names, but the inspiration of the celebration has carried naughty and nice through all the stories. There were pagan festivities that took place across the centuries and as those grew the decision was made in Britain and the Church to celebrate this day with the birth of Christ and so they changed the date to December 25th and through much trial and tribulation over 150 years the tradition took hold. Around the time the Dutch settlers came to America is when the modern day Santa was born, and then when The Night Before Christmas was introduced he added eight flying reindeer.

However it was not till 1962 on the cover of Harper's Weekly that the Santa we know took shape, color and became who we all know today. While the naughty and nice saying continued, the sticks they gave parents to beat their bad children disappeared, and in this day and age certainly would not be allowed since spanking even draws criticism. But there is still a level of mystery to the old adage, naughty or nice, and it could definitely originate from all the tales of Santa and whether he was himself nice or naughty, because after all, we really don't know who he is and with so many points of origin, the truth might not ever really be known. So the only advice I have for you is you better watch out, you better no pout, you better not cry, I'm telling you why – Santa Claus is watching and the big guy is coming to town. So don't worry about others, worry about yourself and be good for goodness sake!

The Force Awakens Every generation has a story

As the world gears up for that next release of Star Wars, The Force Awakens Every generation has a story?, it certainly brings to mind how very true that statement is, not only for Hans Solo or R2D2 but for the rest of us as well. On December 17th in a galaxy far far away once again the force will be with us and our children and grand children all know about Star Wars. Generation to generation we have passed down stories, history, family traditions and it seems knowledge of Jedi knights, and Darth Vader.

There are many symbolic reminders that with each generation there are new things, things that are viewed differently, new music, new clothing, or old, but reflecting of an every changing world. There is no absolute truth or best way to get things done, there is just change. We witness ever changing technology, a mixing of cultures, a growth and yet there is also tradition, some things that remain the same from generation to generation. We encourage our children to be creative, to follow their dreams, to embrace change and build the future. With each generation we face new challenges, but we also have a strange similarity to our parents, our grand parents, and even our great grand parents. We have certain basic truths that no matter what marathon we are running, culture binds us, faith guides us, and the future lies ahead of us.

So while each generation will have unique ideas, and certainly their own way of doing things, they will fight new battles, they will face obstacles that we have never seen, they will cure diseases that we have feared, they will travel to places that we have yet to even know exist. So Star Wars is simply a reflection of life, where we may not have traveled to yet, a galaxy far far away, but one that may still exist. So as the holidays approach and families gather together, take time to appreciate the generations.

As December 7th passed we remembered the devastation of Pearl Harbor and a generation that suffered, sacrificed and survived. Generations that have given lives, endured depression, and raised the next generation. The gift of love is one of the greatest that is passed from hand to heart and a treasure that we share. Respect the generations that have come before, learn from history, listen to what might be done better, and strive for being the best. So when the force awakens and the Millenium Falcon flies again, we can share our stories of Star Wars past, we can see the latest in technology and how it has enhanced R2D2 and C3PO, because as with every generation, the future takes over.  


Well here we are a week after Thanksgiving and the holiday season is in full swing. The transition of the giving season has started, the turkey has barely had time to find the way to leftovers and Christmas trees are popping up, lights are strung and Black Friday deals are upon us. The question of course now is what does everyone want for Christmas. Should we be so focused on gifts and material things? Should we be teaching our kids about good gift ideas and shopping for gift after gift? Have we become stuck on a running track that takes us in a circle, a vicious circle that end with, getting everything you want. Isn't that what we all focus in on after Christmas morning, making sure everyone is happy and got everything they wanted. But what about all those people who didn't get anything, or didn't have a hot meal, or didn't even have a warm bed, what about those people?

As we go through our marathon of life we all sometimes take things for granted, and sometimes we also take the people in our lives for granted, we become ungrateful. We need to step back, take a moment to appreciate our lives again, be thankful we have a home, a job, all the blessings we do have. We need to look at those less fortunate and share something with them. Just think if everyone in the world took one person that was less fortunate than them and shared a meal, a gift, money, whatever they might need, think about what an impact that would make. If you had say 3 coats in your closet and you gave 2 of them to homeless people to keep them warm, would you suffer? Of course not, and you gave a gift that was really needed, one that means warmth and comfort for someone that had nothing. That gift you provided is something that in turn gives you a gift back, one that is invaluable. Caring, giving, compassion is what the season is about, and only we can bring that back to our lives.

Hope comes in many packages, and for some it is all they have. If you thought you could provide hope for a family, or a single person just by providing one gift would you do it? Think about what it would mean to give a gift to someone who otherwise will not have one this year. Someone told me that Christmas belongs to the poor, and maybe we could capture the true spirit if we remember that. Taking the time to remember that the holidays mean different things to different people, cultures, families, and humble beginnings. If you are celebrating the birth of Jesus, spending time with friends and family, sharing a meal with those you love, no matter how you celebrate the season, share the joy with others.

This year I challenge you as we enter December. Identify someone that is less fortunate than yourself, be it a family, a child, a homeless person, a charity that needs your support, even your own family who wants you to spend more time with them, any and all, someone for you to bless with hope. You can wrap it up, you can take the person out to lunch, you can get presents for a family to open on Christmas morning, you can pay their electric bill for a month, you can do so much, with one simple act of kindness. Your marathon of life has bumps, it has curves, it has ups and downs, joys and sorrows, but it can be so much more, you can help others get back up and running again. Your actions could mean so much and could be the hope that someone prays for. So take the challenge, one act of kindness, one simple gesture, one gift, one meal, one small step for mankind.

Thanksgiving Everyday

As we approach Thanksgiving Day this week I would like to just take a few moments to point out that we should be thankful everyday, not just one day of the year, and while it is implied, it is not expected to be forever thankful for everything we are blessed with just once a year. I know that I have a wonderful life, despite the suffering in the world, the pain, hardship and disappointment, I am truly blessed. I believe that gratitude for these gifts is something that I didn't fully understand when I was younger, but I do believe now that being thankful and grateful for all we have is a choice each of us make, and so I hope each of you will choose to be grateful and share that with others. Gratitude helps us to experience every wonderful thing in our life to the fullest extent, and it also helps us to endure the harder things life throws at us. Gratitude helps us approach life as a race, preparing, training, and stepping out as we face our marathon of life.

Gratitude takes discipline and reminding ourselves the many reasons we have to be thankful and grateful. I challenge each of you to sit and write down a list of the things you are thankful for, think hard if they don't come easy, as many will feel a sense of entitlement, and ingratitude when in fact it should be a very easy list to compile. Attitude is part of what makes us grateful, and ungrateful, that and choices. Let us remember the heart of Thanksgiving, it is not the football, it is not even the turkey, it is the heart of family, the gratitude of life's greatest joys, it is you being truly thankful and gracious for your gifts. I created my list, it has obvious gratitude for my health, my family, my work, my online friends and those who at least read what I post. I am thankful for the music, books, and movies that inspire me, make me laugh, help me to appreciate art and provide time for my brain to shut off sometimes. I am truly thankful for grace, for a love that I can't explain and for a story that is still being written.

What is the history of Thanksgiving, the tradition that the Pilgrims started in 1621? President George Washington declared it a national day of thanksgiving in 1789, and in the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 President Abraham Lincoln set apart the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving and praise. However it wasn't until 1939 when we had a five Thursday November that President Roosevelt established the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. There are places that celebrate their Thanksgiving on other days, but for us it is established and on that day we give gratitude for God's blessings. Now one thing we should all remember on this thankful time is that we need to include a lot of folks on that list. The season allows us to say thanks to so many people in our lives that touch us with blessings every day. There are many people in our lives that should hear from us how thankful we are that we know them, that they have touched our lives in many ways.

If you sit down and write a short note, make a phone call, send an email, or a text, but show that you are grateful for them in some small way. Thank you for the beautiful weather, thank you for every moment of every day that I can walk, talk, and live. We get so caught up in our lives that we forget to live, we forget to see all the blessings, all the gracious gifts that we have in front of us. Make the list, take the challenge, maybe it will help you as it has me to see how wonderful my life is, how truly thankful I am, how I could never have known what treasures my life would hold. We have all had good times and bad times this year, we have lost someone close to us, we have others who have entered our life, but through it all we have strength through our family, our friends, ourselves. Thank you all for being a part of my life, and may you have a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving.

Solidarity Man versus Myth

As we all still try to understand the senseless deaths in Paris, and know that it touched people everywhere, those who lost loved ones, those who simply understand the pain of losing someone is such a horrific act, and all those who grieve for the world, one thing stands, solidarity for the world.

The French national team certainly stood tall and proud as they stepped into Wembley Stadium to play England and try to console a nation that is in mourning, and a world that stands with them. The team manager, Didier Deschamps said that on Friday night around the Stade De France as we defeated Germany explosions rocked the stadium and as the world watched the attacks unfolded. Both teams stayed inside the stadium until early the following morning so they could safely be taken out. Sporting events unite people, they know no color, no religion and no borders. The best sign of diversity coming together is in sports.

The Boston Marathon bombing survivors shared reflections on why they are standing with France and how traumatic events bring nations together. Showing that we are not afraid and that we stand together united and strong is what we all have to do in this time of tragedy. This is not only a problem for France, or for the United States, this is a problem for the world. The dangers we face will not go away, the solution is not fear, the answer for this senseless violence is solidarity for us all. Today we are all French, as on 9/11 we were all Americans. Like one Native American Chief said over 100 years ago: “Better to die standing than live on one's knees.”

More than a million people stood Sunday with Paris, 40 presidents and prime ministers, all representing a stand against this extremism that terrorists bring. We all know there are no answers to ending these attacks of violence. Understanding, trying to prevent and working together for peace is all we can do. Marathoners have worked since the Boston bombings to fight back, more people are training and running, working hard to keep a tradition alive. A year has passed and while there is new security in place, more guards and police present, there is never a guarantee of safety. Visibility, standing together, everyone focused on safety, that is how the world has to react, not just on race day, but everyday of our lives. Tradition will stand strong in every country, at every event, and through pain, tears and memories we will each train to run again. We must all find in ourselves the “Boston strong” as we continue to survive the war that has been waged on all of us, a war that we didn't ask them to bring, and yet one that we all have been brought into. As death touched innocent lives as it does with every war our hearts cry out for peace, and all we can do is continue to strive for unity, strive for solidarity in every aspect of our lives, our religions, our cultures, our countries.

Veterans A Time To Give Thanks

 It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again. Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.Roosevelt

As we celebrate our Veterans tomorrow we should understand why Thanksgiving falls in the same month, and also why every day should be Veterans Day. There are few families who are not touched in some way by a veteran, a family member who has served, given their life, or played a role in making our country a great place to live. Certainly we are not without problems, and far from perfect, but we are a country that has fought for freedoms and strive to keep them still today. It is also our fight to take care of those who have given to this country, their families, making sure they are cared for, receive the help they need and making sure from the top down that they are respected.

There are many ways to thank America's men and women who serve, not only one day a year, but everyday. A simple thank you is a small gesture, but means a great deal. Perhaps you can pick up their check at a local restaurant, work to insure VA services are provided to those you know are deserving and help them fight to receive what they should. Letters to politicians and actions to provide support to our veterans mean we care and we are concerned. Teach your children to respect and support those who protect them and help them to understand how long that has been done so they can live today. Help collect things that are needed that may not seem significant, like sending international phone cards to those overseas, donate frequent flyer miles, adopt a military family for the holidays, and make sure you support veteran legislation. There are hundreds of other things that can be done, and not hardships for any of us.

Veterans are not looking for handouts, they are not looking for pity, they are looking for respect and life just like all of us. Veterans suffer pain in many ways, not just from injury but from PTSD, from losing family members, from divorce or separation, from financial struggles, they suffer the same fates as all of us, because they are one with us. Veterans face death differently because they have witnessed so much of it, and those who served in war time especially understand the ugly of war. We have veterans who were volunteers, some who were drafted, we have World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Iraq, and more, each with stories and nightmares, each with something they can share that we should take time to listen. There are no ticker tape parades when our veterans come home now, those are reserved for sports teams, which is a travesty.

Certainly there is not all bad, and everyone is not broken, but the fact remains that we as a country have to take care of everyone, our veterans, our homeless, our sick and our children. We must recognize all that goes on. Remember in New York, the contributions being made by veterans couldn't have been more apparent than after Hurricane Sandy. When the city failed to coordinate relief efforts the veteran-led relief group Team Rubicon used a data-visualization program to map conditions and coordinate efforts to help people stranded after the storm. Veterans know about creating order out of chaos, they are the folks you want in times of crisis.

War like any crisis creates a variety of folks, some get stronger, some it can destroy, some will come out and others will not. But for our country, war has created a legacy of heroes, a history of veterans who deserve a lifetime of thanks and one special day in the year that everyone will take a moment to really reflect on who it is that gives us life as we know it. Thank you to all the Veterans, thank you!

FALL - Forward Backward Onward

November has arrived, and with the wonderful temperature change we also get our first glimpse of Fall. That reminds us that in our lives we sometimes might change our direction, change our marathon path, we might fall, but in those times of change, when we trip, or fall that is when we live life to the fullest, we learn that life is about what we do between the time we get here, and the time we leave. We get one opportunity at life, we have to learn to measure it in memories and moments, we need to make it matter and stop looking at it in terms of hours, minutes, dollars and cents.

Fall brings Thanksgiving and the time we reflect on what we are thankful for, the time we define what living means to each of us, what claim to life have we laid. Why do we say that we will get to that tomorrow, or someday when we have time, or maybe we can do that next year, what is wrong with now? If we continue to fall back into our old ways, if we continue to postpone our life, then how can we ever fall forward. Life is not about what happens to us, it is about what we make of it, we fall into a pattern, but it is up to us to fall out of line, and choose a new marathon path to run.

Now running a new life will not be without some falls, and it also means you are not running away from commitments, people, or yourself, it means you have to run with passion, run with purpose. As we fall in life it comes with wisdom, we learn to use that so that next time the fall is not as hard, not as far, not as crushing. With life comes death, and we all have had our share of losing people we love, people we care about, some have lived full lives, some have had their lives cut short, but with each one there is a memory, and how precious are those to us, that is the legacy they have left behind. Use your life on important moments, on people who matter to you and your life, people who have been there through the falls, the ones that picked you up, the ones that lay down a cushion, the ones that see and appreciate your journey.

Someone once told me to look at my life through the eyes of a child, envision your life with that in mind, what do you see? Life is there for you, so get back up, move ahead, chase those dreams, take that trip, spend the time with those that matter most, because tomorrow may not be there. Every year fall comes, but every year not everyone is here to share it. As with the fall season, it is followed by winter, the beautiful scene of new fallen snow, the smell of wood burning fireplaces, the crisp cool air that takes over for a few months. Then when spring makes it's debut we see an awakening, a new dawn, a new life, the buds on the trees, the flowers start to open and grow, and again we get a resurgence of life. So it really doesn't matter if it is Spring, Summer, Winter or Fall, what matters most is you and your ability to live your life, because that is what life is all about.

Pick Your Poison

 As we get close to Halloween I think about all the times people have tried to 'guide' me in my marathon, pointing me to a particular path, and helping me to make the right decisions, and trying to explain to me why I should do this and not that. Well the choices are always yours to make, you pick your poison and then drink it, whatever happens, the choice was yours, and that is how it should be. Everyone has opinions and certainly they want to share those with you. Family, friends, and even strangers can tell you how you should not do this or you need to make this decision, they will offer ever piece of advice they can, whether you ask or not. First rule, stop telling folks anything about what you plan to do, keep your ideas, your fears, and your plans under your hat. The people in your life, those that stand by you through thick and thin, those that provide unconditional love and support, those are the only people that need to know your path.

It is scary on the path, sometimes it will be dark and stormy, sometimes it will be cold, and you will face demons, you will face terror, you will face failure. Understand you are going to make mistakes, you are going to take the wrong path at some turns, but it is not the end, because there are other paths to choose. If there were only one drink then you would know it is poison, but you have choices, and while they might all have some effects, you choose, carefully, knowing what you know.

Positive people can help you to get positive results, they can be a great sounding board, and others you just need to be able to say thank you and move on. You have to understand you will never please everyone and you have to choose your marathon path, pick your poison and know what matters to you, because this is your race, your decision. Look at your qualities, your talents, align your goals and your life around those, and know what is in your heart. Look at what you have done in the past, what has worked and what has not, think about where you want to go, life can be complicated and you have to manage what is coming your way.

Happiness and success seem to go hand in hand, most of the time the happier you are the more successful you are and vice versa. Decisions on your path, and your choices of course impact that as well, and positive decisions, positive results certainly help that to happen, and build confidence and results. Take time to breathe, learning technique in breathing helps you to focus, it helps you to relax, it helps you to be grounded and run longer. Take time to know yourself, understand your victories no matter how small, know your path is taking shape, believe in yourself.

We are coming to the end of October, All Hallows Eve, and we dress up and have fun, for some they have tricks and others have treats and some have both, but it is just another day. It is the start of fall, we have time change, we have the start of November, the beginning of a month to be thankful and everywhere we will be inundated with Christmas. The path of our lives is always in a jog, a pace that we set, we are driven by so many outside influences, from retail to media, and surrounded by it all. Stop and breathe, set your own pace, be thankful all year long and don't save it for one month or one day, consider your choices, find your path, pick your poison.