If you love, you'll speak.

Love and Silence don’t go together. I can’t think of a time when staying silent was the best course of action when you see a loved one doing something harmful or unwise. I believe one of the greatest signs of love for another human being is when we have the courage to tell them something is wrong.

Whether they’re in a bad relationship or their actions are adversely effecting their life or the lives of others, deciding to say something shows you care. We can’t make them change their actions nor get out of that unhealthy relationship but at least we’ve done our part to speak up, tell them our feelings, and let them know they’re not alone. I can love fully and still not support their decisions.

We might have had those moments when we debated whether saying something would hurt their feelings or jeopardize our relationship so we hesitated to speak up. I know I’ve taken on a too-passive attitude at times, weighing my concerns for the person vs. my concerns for what they’ll think if I spoke out. But I will get better, become more aware of what my silence says to them, and believe that those words I say mean I love.

If you know it’s wrong, if your heart and your gut scream out for them to stop, let them know in your words. Write a letter, send a text, pick up the phone or stop what you’re doing and tell them to their face. They deserve it. They need it. Speak love.


That's when I knew him.

Looking back on my childhood, I can’t remember many occasions when I had deep conversations with my father. We did a lot of hunting, fishing, and watching football but not a lot of talking. He wasn’t much of a talker. Even into my teenage years, when boys normally drift off from their parents as they find themselves, he and I didn’t have a whole lot of great talks. I didn’t know my father.

My parents split up my Freshman year of high school. I can’t really remember it affecting me but I’ve had other people tell me it did. I can remember being 14, enjoying basketball, my friends, and the occasional girlfriend. This is when my father wanted to talk. He lived in the city and I lived in the country. He would come by evenings or weekends to do things, to take me places and instead of us just enjoying our days, he wanted to talk. I don’t hold this against him but I do remember that he had a desire to constantly talk about “what was happening.” He was bitter and sad and I understand. But I really just wanted him to be there and not analyze the situation. I didn’t know my father.

My father was an alcoholic. He sobered up about a year before I was born and over the next 20+ years, he did everything in his power to help other people battle this affliction. When I was about 10, the business he worked for asked him to move from a blue collar position as a tool sharpener to a Drug & Alcohol Counselor position. That was his calling. His world revolved around his disease, what it had done to other people, and how to help his fellow man. I didn’t know my father.

October 1997. I had just come home from a 6-month deployment in the Navy. I joined in 1993 and was living with my family in Virginia. My sister called me a couple weeks after I came home to let me know Dad was going in for a routine gall bladder procedure and not to be worried. A day later she told me the news. He had a tumor in his bile duct leading from his liver to his stomach. The tumor was stopping bile from going to do it’s job of dissolving food in the stomach. Instead it was dissolving his liver. He didn’t have long to live. We drove north to Syracuse in late October and spent most every day with him. He was at a cancer hospital in Rochester. I would sit in his room with him and talk about life. It seemed like every day, streams of people would come to visit him. They’d cry and cry, hug him, thank him, cry some more, and every one would stop to share their story of how my father helped them battle alcoholism. He saved their lives.

I looked at the man lying on his death bed, yellow from jaundice, barely able to feed himself, and thats when I knew him.

My father was a good man. He did his best with what God gave him. His actions spoke louder than his words.



They ain't makin' more.

Let’s say the average person lives to be 85 years old. Given every 4 years we have a leap year and we get February 29th, that gives us 21 extra days. So 85 years multiplied by 365 days = 31,025 days, plus the 21 leap year days gives us 31,046 days on this planet. Multiply that by 24 hours in a day and we have 745,104 hours (44,706,240 minutes) in this world. That’s not really that much time.

Have you ever seen “In Time” with Justin Timberlake? While it might not be your favorite movie and it didn’t win any Oscars, it’s a sobering reminder that unlike the Doritos add from a few years back "…we’ll make more”, there is no way to make more time. Sure, if we all had Ricky Bobby’s advanced income we could extend those 85 years to, I don’t know, 174, but we don’t.

So what do I do? Better yet, what don’t I do? I don’t waste it. Or at least I try not to waste it. I’ve become more aware of my actions. I stopped watching TV years ago and I don’t miss it. I am reassured of my decision when I stay the night at a hotel and find myself sucked into the shows. Sometimes I can’t help myself. So much mindless chatter and dumb commercials that make we wonder immediately after their done what the #!%$ I just watched.

I’ve found that I’m more aware of my surroundings too. I am fascinated with the smallest, most common things. Like chickadees. We have so many chickadees at our bird feeder. I get lost in watching those birds dart to and fro, grabbing a seed and wreaking havoc on the shell on a nearby branch.

And I’m getting better at prioritizing, goal setting and making plans. Each time the thought crosses my mind that I don’t have unlimited time, I’m more purposeful with what I do and why I’m doing it. Sure, I could always be better but I’m aware and I’m making steps to make use of the 359,280 (+/- 3,267) hours I have left in this amazing life. (Knock on wood)

What are you planning to do with the time you have? What will you accomplish? What legacy will you leave? Whose life will you improve? My hope is that the time you have left is full of love, learning, laughter and even more love. (And Doritos)



Want in one hand, Honesty in the other...

Have you ever heard the saying “Want (or wish) in one hand and poop in the other and see which one fills up faster"?

I’ve heard that my whole life. Especially when I was younger. It essentially means we can “want” all day long but that doesn’t make it happen. There are other powers at work. You don’t just get it because you want it.

So in this season I’m going through in life I’m reminded I can want or I can be honest and if I stop to look at that, the honesty hand will overflow pretty quick.

I’ve had some recent issues about not feeling like I’m where I “should” be in this stage in my life. I can want more from my job, I can want more from my education, I can want a better place to live or a new truck but honestly I’m not doing what I should on a daily basis to deserve those wants. I’m not applying myself in my everyday life. I’m not sticking to positive habits. I’m procrastinating with the things I know I need to do.

And then there’s relationships. I have a close friend who I know wants more from their current romantic relationship. (Trust me, it’s not me. I’m blessed and grateful in the relationship I have). This friend wants nothing more than for the relationship to be what they want it to be but if they were honest with themselves, truly honest, they’d see that it may never be. My friend gets honest opinions from the loving people around but again, honesty isn’t what’s wanted. That honesty hand is filling up quick.

I’m by no means saying don’t want or wish. I just think we all could do a better job sometimes in choking down that spoonful of honesty. Sure it might hurt our ego, our pride, and a host of other feelings but at the end of the day (or season) I believe that both hands will be overflowing.



All this pavement.

I drive around town and I see some truly disturbing sights.  Whole strip malls abandoned. Entire parking lots completely empty. Business "complexes" built years ago with the same "For Rent" or "For Lease" signs in the same windows. Entire malls that were sprawling with customers 25 years ago are now completely vacant, like a ghost town in the old west.

And I start to wonder, 60 years ago, right where those strip malls and "walk-in" malls now stand, all along those vast parking lots of pavement, there used to be forest and hills and grass. But for some reason, maybe an entrepreneur's dream or the growth of America, someone or a group of someone's decided to build it "so they would come." And come they did. For decades maybe, those malls and parking lots were full of America's people, hungry for commerce, for retail, for a good parking spot.

What are the chances that miraculously people will start to occupy those malls and parking lots again? What store, in this age of online commerce is going to get people off their couches, out of their houses and parking on that pavement? I say slim to none.

Lets just agree that “they aren’t coming.” Can we? So now what do we do with the buildings and pavement? Is anyone coming to bulldoze that shit up and plant some trees, grass, or maybe put in a duck pond? Doubtful. And NO, we don’t need more apartment complexes, developments or boutiques. (I love me a boutique now and again but c’mon.)

Why don’t cities take back these brick and pavement catastrophes and put in a lil green? While I’m not much of a couch-sitter, I’d get off my ass for a nice walk in the park. Maybe see some mallards frolicking in the pond. I’d take my old bread there too. Think what a 12-acre park in the middle of a run down town could do for the people there. Think of how much fun kids and mom’s with strollers and semi-retired folks could have after they’re done in (insert department store chain) and only need to go a block to find somewhere to try out those new sneakers or enjoy the zip up sweatshirt.

I’m at a loss for what to do but I have to start with a desire. Maybe I can get more people to motivated by green grass instead of green money. Stay tuned, more to follow.



Just one. Then another.

Just one step. Just one dollar. Just one less soda. Just one flight of stairs. Just one less hour watching the news.

I listened to a podcast last week where the host emphasized that we don't need to know where we're going or focus all of our attention on the destination or outcome. Because many times that is too daunting, too scary, and too complicated. He said all we have to do is focus on 1 step. Take that next step. Then the step after that. Then 1 more step. Before you know it, you're moving in a positive direction. You're moving towards your goal, your destination.

It's kind of like a fully loaded train at a dead stop. Have you ever seen a train start moving? It's not like a drag car which takes off like a rocket and hits top speed in a matter of seconds. A train conductor makes a decision to push the throttle forward and then things start to happen. There is a lurch as the locomotive heaves forward but not much else moves. Then the second car strains to move forward. Then the 3rd. Pretty soon the 16th rail car back is starting to inch forward. All the while the locomotive in the front has it's wheels spinning on the track.

That train is us. When we're depressed. When we're scared. When we're confused and we don't know where we're supposed to be or what we're supposed to do. We're that train sitting on the tracks. But if we, the conductor, make a decision to go forward. If we push that throttle forward and take that first step, we'll start to see a little bit of progress. 

What are we trying to change in our lives? Maybe we're trying to lose weight, get out of debt, finish our degree, write a book, become the person we're meant to be, see the world. Whatever it is, whatever your journey is, wherever the destination may lie, it takes just one step to get it started. 

For me personally I went through a period in my life where I had gained a lot of weight. I wasn't happy in my life and I was abusing food, alcohol and entertainment to dull the pain. But I took that first step and stopped drinking soda, reduced my intake of processed food, and became more aware of what I was doing to my body each time I consumed a drink, a meal or a TV show. I still work on that each day. I'm more aware of my choices. Now I'm working to reduce my debt and increase my savings. I'm working on a book I hope to publish in the future. It all takes just one step. 

What is that one step you will take to start your journey, to begin your transformation, to achieve your goal?

Thank you for reading. 



Traffic Lucky

Traffic Lucky

5 lanes. All at a dead stop. That orange finger on my dashboard stuck on zero. 

I am so lucky. 

My plane leaves in 2 hours and my GPS is telling me it’ll take over 30 minutes to go 7 more miles. 

I am extremely lucky. 

There’s an 18-wheeler in front of me, a panel truck to my right, a white sedan with an older couple to my left in the HOV lane and a black SUV behind me. We’re all going nowhere. We’re all not moving an inch. 

We’re all so lucky. 

You see, it’s all about perspective. I woke up this morning next to an angel who treats me like a king and fills my heart with joy and love. I opened my eyes to find the early rays of sun coming through my window. I drank a fresh brewed coffee, shared some eggs with her and I walked into and out of the shower on my own accord. I thought about those things as I continued to press my foot down on my brake pedal this morning. 

How lucky I am to be right where I am. 

I’m in my vehicle. I’m listening to an inspiring podcast. I have my health, my wits and a blindingly bright future. I have the love of family and friends. 

But let’s start with the basics...I woke up above the dirt. Everything else is frosting. 

As I sat in traffic for what seemed like eternity this morning my mind wandered to those in my life I’ve lost way before they “should have left.” I thought about a young man I met last year who’s been battling a debilitating disease for over 6 years. I think about the homeless woman I passed on the street corner this morning. She was sitting on that same bench yesterday with the same cart and same coat. 

I’m so lucky to be going nowhere in these 5 lanes of traffic. 

I thought about a woman I know who’s husband is fighting for his life against colon and liver cancer. Although I’ve never met him and only met her once briefly, my heart breaks for them both. 

Thank you for this horrible traffic. 

Memorial Day was 2 weekends ago. How many men and women have lost their lives serving a country, some before their lives actually started? 

I love this traffic. 

Perspective. Gratitude. Traffic Lucky



Ego, my shitty tour guide

It never fails. Time and again I've allowed this guide to take me on a tour. And time and again I've been disappointed. For the majority of the tours, I went in with this boisterous bravado, believing I was going down the right path. Believing the destination was a place I wanted to be. But for some I questioned signing up for the tour only to be coaxed into it by that guide called Ego.  

Either way I went. The first part of each journey was nearly the same. Big talk, grandiose claims and promises of...promise. Some proclaimed exciting action and new things to experience. But each and every tour left me upset, irritated and longing for a different view. 

Why? Why did I keep allowing Ego to take me places I never really liked?

Initially I didn't know his name. It took me decades to realize who was driving that bus, who was holding that microphone and who was sticking their hand up my ass and using me like a puppet. 

Then one day I realized why I took those tours. I was ignorant (and maybe prideful). I never took the time to ask myself the hard questions afterwards. I would cast blame or point the finger elsewhere.  

Guess what...I still take a tour now and then. It's more rare now but there are still times I get on that bus and allow Ego to drive. Man, what an idiot I feel like as soon as we get going down the road. Sure, I could jump off at a stop light. I could just tell him to stop the bus, maybe pull that little string signaling I wanted off. But I don't always do that. 

I can't ever remember one of his tours ending up somewhere enjoyable. I'm better now for taking those tours. More aware of the outcome. Less desiring his advice and promises of sights to behold. 

When Ego asks to drive that bus, kindly tell him/her "No thanks, you're a shitty guide!"



Muddy Roads

Do you ever feel like you have periods in your life when you're moving in mud? A day or a week (or a month or year) when you're barely moving forward? Maybe a time when you're just spinning your wheels.

I've realized that I have those periods sporadically throughout my life. I find myself sometimes moving at great speed towards my goals and following the plans I've laid out. Then there are other times when I'm not making nearly the progress that I would have liked.

In the past (and even rarely now) I would get down on myself and the negative self-talk would start happening. I'd say things that would keep me doubting my progress, doubting my goals and doubting my future. Negative self-talk seems to always be "negative". 

So how do I cope with those muddy times? Kindness & faith are a start. Being kind to myself and trust the plans I've set towards my goal. I speak with my mentors regularly to get their guidance and calibration and many times they tell me to "trust the plan".  I also understand that "Rome wasn't built in a day." Have patience with the process.  I also rely on faith.  Faith that I'm being guided by forces I cannot see. Faith that the mentors and coaches in my life are steering me with the plans we've laid out. And faith that all this work, finishing my degree, achieving industry certifications and surrounding myself with positivity will pay off. 

And one more thing. I share my journey with people I'm close to. I've found that when I have the courage to ask someone a question or to share an issue I'm dealing with, I realize quickly that many of us have been stuck in that same mud.  It reminds me that I grew up in the country. A back roads place with dirt roads and muddy pits.  Everyone who lived in that town, that drove those back roads knew which pits were the deepest and avoided them, after they got unstuck the first time.

So on those days when I feel stuck, barely making my way, I find someone who's traveled those roads before and ask them for a hand. 



We ALL got 'em

That fit, beautiful blonde in the gym you see each day. That rather large man with ankles the size of your waist. The guy in a suit in front of you this morning at the coffee shop. The Dad taking his two kids to the zoo on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The group of teenagers glued to their phones, oblivious to the world around them. The woman reading the Success magazine on the ferry. Me. You. Our significant others. Our mentors and our best friends. We all got ‘em. 


The scruffy man sitting on the curb looking for a handout. The middle aged woman with the little dog on her lap, rocking back and forth talking to herself. The young couple who couldn’t be out of their 20s, sharing the median taking turns holding their cardboard sign. What separates these people from me? We all have demons, we all have desires and dreams so why are they there and I’m walking past them in a warm coat and food in my belly? 

When did they lose hope? What happened to them that put them in that spot where the only thing they can do is hope for another’s compassion and generosity? 

What demons do they battle each day?

I truly believe we could trade places in an instant. I’m no better than them. I’m no more deserving of warmth than another human being. I no longer look down at them and shy from their gaze. We all have demons. But my curiosity wonders what they were like a decade ago, maybe a month ago. 

The man driving the Audi R8. The woman, mid 30's, killer heels and piercing eyes. The older couple with the huge home on the water that we walk by during our evening strolls. That couple in the restaurant, sipping wine and enjoying anything on the menu. The man on the ferry, dressed to impress, rocking his $300 shoes. 

How did they get so "lucky?" What did they do to achieve such "happiness?" Were they born with the finances to do whatever they pleased? And, where did you get those shoes?

I no longer judge the people I pass or interact with. Whether clad in rags or silk, I know we all have demons. I no more desire to be that millionaire than I do that “bum” on the street. Neither one has a demon bigger than the other. A demon is a demon. We all have to take up our sword and shield to battle that demon in front of us. 

But what if we shared our battle without fear of judgment? What would happen if our good friend knew we were battling this demon, would they judge us? Would they shun us? What if they battled a similar demon in the past and knew some tricks that would help us? What if they drew their sword in our defense? How powerful could we be if we arrayed ourselves with warriors willing to battle alongside us. We in turn would pledge our sword to them in their battle. 

Don’t mistake my belief, our battle never ends. That demon might be defeated by our efforts but another will inevitably take its place. Self doubt, depression, vanity, our past, perceived failures, negativity. Our demons wear ever changing faces. 

But what if, just maybe, someone, you, or I, had the courage to share what demons we faced.

They wouldn't stand a chance!



My "best" (or not)

I was asked in the past whether or not I believe people give their best. This question really makes me think. I believe Yes & No.  I will stop using the "we" and focus on whether or not "I" give my best.

First, to answer that question, my opinion of another person on this planet doesn't mean much. I don't know what they're dealing with, what issues haunt them, and quite frankly, I probably don't want to know. I have my own demons to slay. 

What is "my best"?  As I write this I realize that yesterday I wasn't my best.  I didn't do anything wrong. I don't think I failed anyone or ruined anyone's life.  I just wasn't my best. I believe that each day I'm improving who I was the day before, even .1% better and therefore "I wasn't my best"...or was I?

The day before that, I wasn't my best either.  I could apologize for each day in the past that I wasn't my best because I believe today, tomorrow, next Tuesday, I'll be better than I was before. I believe I can always grow, learn, and improve. So while I can definitely "give you my best", each day after that I would have to give you my best again.

For me, I always try to remember to be kind to myself and others. If I didn't give you my best in the past, I apologize. I'll strive to do better next time, for me and for you.



Yes, I did it.

     One of the hardest but best lessons I've learned in my 43+ years on this planet is when you own your shit/issues/problems/deficiencies, no one else has a chance of holding it over your head.  So yes, I did it. I was ignorant and thought I knew what I was doing. Yes, I was egotistical and full of pride so I didn't ask for help and I stumbled. Yes, I put that there, in the wrong place and no one else could have told me otherwise. Yes, I made a mistake, used poor judgement, said something in a moment of anger or frustration that I shouldn't have. Yes, I sped, I didn't use my blinker, I even ran a red light. Yes, I could have been a better role model, a better friend, a better father. Yes, I could have talked less and listened more. Yes, I could have been more, better, for you and for me. Yes, it was me. Yes, I did it.

    I'm learning. I'm growing. I'm evolving each and every day. I've never been more comfortable with myself in my life; not a decade ago, not a day ago, not at the start of this post.

   And I'm sorry if I wasn't my best for you when we met, during our friendship or when we were coworkers. I'm truly sorry.

   Now that that's over, now that I've owned my shit, what can you possibly say or hold over my head that I haven't already reconciled with myself? Nothing. So let's move on. Let's focus on the present and the future. Let's leave the past, in a cloud of dust and debris in the rearview mirror of life and move forward. 

     That was a hard stubborn lesson for me. I got figuratively slapped in the face more times than I can remember because of my ego, pride and stubbornness. (That damn ego. I'll write more about that monster soon.) It feels so good now when I do something wrong (yes, that happens and will always happen) and I just own it outright. If I give that drama or issue or error 1 extra second of my life, it will own me. And that person I "wronged", they'll definitely have power over me. I'm not saying I'll never make excuses again or my ego is completely gone but the understanding I have in how liberating owning my junk is, that feeling is intoxicating. And knowing no one in the universe can ever make war with my errors is, well, frosting on the cake.

Did you do it? Was that you? Oh it was, ok, thanks for telling me. What would you like for lunch?



Everything else is frosting.

     It was October 24th, 2016, a day I'll never forget. I came out of a local grocery store with a couple bags of groceries for a homeless man I'd seen near the parking lot. His smile and warm demeanor when I drove past him spoke to me. He came over to the passenger window of my truck as I pulled to a stop beside him. His name was Solomon. Probably in his mid 30's with long hair and a week's worth of scruff on his face. What he gave me will last longer than the simple food items I gave him. Solomon had painted a sign on the back of an old jacket which he was more than excited to share with me. The sign said, "You can smile, you woke up above the grass." He told me that he rarely saw someone smiling as they passed him. This coming from a man that didn't have many physical possessions to his name yet he couldn't stop smiling. His gratitude for simply being alive was tangible and gave me a new perspective on life. 


     Since then I've told the story of that day a hundred or more times.  We all have those times in our lives when we're weighed down by stress, depression, feelings of uncertainty or something or someone has irritated us.   I can choose to focus my day on all the things I don't have, all the things I want, all the things I need to change but really waking up is my "cake" and anything I have beyond waking up is "frosting". That belief in gratitude, for me, has been a guiding principle in life. How many people in this world would gladly trade places with me, would take my "rough days" in a moment's notice?

     I was recently asked how my day was and I responded "I have 10 fingers and 10 toes and woke up above the grass so everything else is frosting."  For me, it's difficult to vocalize any negativity with my day when I take a step back and realize how truly blessed I am to live the life I live.  I know I'll have days that I may lose focus on my gratitude or moments within the day that I allow my gratitude to slip but when I do I'll remember Solomon and his message. I'll smile knowing I'm above the grass.

May you find those moments that make this a grateful life. 




Reasons for seasons

This is something I wrote during a Free Writing & Poetry workshop led by a good friend. They are some of my memories of growing up in Central NY and how the seasons left an impact on my soul. - Thanks for reading. 

Spring, is it here? Above freezing for a full week. No jacket required and yes, I know it's only 38 degrees but that's 40 degrees warmer than it was last month. The buds on the trees, I know what they'll bring, a rake and a wheelbarrow about 7 months from now. Is that a patch of green over there in the lawn? Soaked with the remaining snow, the thawing ground and an occasional storm reminding us who is making the rules. Seems like each morning I slip on a patch of ice refrozen from the night before. We'll be fishing soon, mid May, isn't that right Dad? "Hold your mouth right" he'd always tell me. It took me decades to figure out that meant I was talking too much. 

The summer months. Long days turn into nights outside. Mosquitos and no alarm clock. The days hot & damp. The sounds of cicadas during the day and house fans during the night. I got to sleep on the porch in the summer. I think that was so I'd be closer to the lawnmower the next morning. I never minded cutting the grass. Push mowing 3 acres...seemed like 300. And don't forget Mrs. Peterson down the road. She had a good 5 acres and push mowed it well into her 80's...none of these "self-propelled gadgets." 

The sounds of school buses after Labor Day. My Mom or Dad telling me it was time to get up for school...again. The changing leaves and that rake I mentioned, yeah, an old friend. Seemed like we burned a mountain of leaves every weekend. Who in their right mind buys a house with 8 huge maple trees in the yard? The fall also brought out jeans and a sweatshirt. Apples picked off the tree when we paid for apples on the ground. And snagging salmon in the river as they came home to spread life and die. 

"The winter is coming..." Yup, I've heard that before. Who know's when it'll get here; I've seen snow before Halloween. There are the Holidays to take away some of the bite...and the snow days, not nearly enough though. If the bus is pushing snow with it's grill, isn't that enough to call it? I traded my rake for a shovel, my wheelbarrow for a closet of clothes, all of them cotton, all of them hand-me-downs. It's called "lake effect". Snow on steroids. Accept it. It's not going anywhere for another, who knows how long. 

Do you know what I'd give for 38 & muddy?

Will spring just get here...



Searching for a connection

Isn't connection something we all search for? I don't mean just with another person but with a passion, a hobby, nature, a common goal, anything you feel pulled to. Connection is essential to life. I've come to realize recently that I search for connection in everything I do. I attempt to connect with the people I meet and get to know each day. I search for connection in the activities I do, that meaning that tells me I am on the right path.

I facilitate a military transition class where I help members prepare to enter the civilian world again after their time in the military, whether it's 3 or 30 years. Each class brings its own special circumstances. The first activity I ask them to do is to interview someone in the class to find out 5 things: name, where that person is from, what they do in the military, where they want to go after transitioning and what they want to do. I ask them to do this to show them the power of connection and the ability we have to connect with people on so many different areas. The most powerful connection, and one that many times gets people to open up the most, is the understanding that we all have fears and we share many of those fears.  We may think ourselves alone in our fears but when someone has the courage to share their fear, we feel more connected and that connection allows us the vulnerability to share ours. 

I've become more open as my time as a facilitator has gone on and I have seen so many men and women, regardless of age or rank or "achievement" open up and share their concerns and fears. I start the conversation at different times in each class, normally gauging the class' ability to open up and also listen. The result never ceases to amaze me. I will share a genuine fear I've had in my life, something I dealt with or still do to this day; a fear that pertains to my transition from the military. You see my biggest fear is failure, as cliche as it sounds. But even more than that it's the fear that my next career wouldn't live up to the success I had in the military. Always comparing then and now but who determines my success? I do. That was the answer I received in a few of my classes. There was our connection. That was the spark that opened the class up, allowed them to share what kept them up at night and brought about a more genuine conversation. 

We all desire to know there is another sharing the energy, feelings, and thoughts we do. We desire connection in the jobs, hobbies, and activities that we do each day. We might find connection reading a book, listening to music or being in nature. 

We're all searching for a connection. Where do you find yours?




Embrace Every Emotion

      The last 9 months, for me, have been a roller coaster of emotions. Extreme highs, extreme lows and many moments of in between.  Change can do that.  As I sit here thinking about what I've been through, what I have & haven't done, and the experiences I've shared, I gain a better understanding of the emotions I've suppressed.  And why it's so important to embrace everything we feel. 

      For years I suppressed many of my emotions to meet what I believed were social expectations.  I maintained the "standard" for men and more specifically men in the military.  I showed just enough emotion to relay my desires.  Many times my emotions were focused on the negative like anger, disappointment, and frustration.  They were tools in which I motivated those that I worked with and the members of my family, all of them suffering because of it.  A few years ago I went through a big change in my life.  I became more aware of who I was; the mirror was held up to me and I didn't particularly like what I saw.  That realization, along with the help of someone close to me, allowed me to start to embrace who I was at my core.  I started to cast off the concerns for society's approval and became more genuine.  The process took time. There were a lot of self-doubts as I wrestled with the emotions I had in my core and still a concern for what others may think.  But in time I started to become more caring, more loving and expressed joy more openly.  I saw a big difference in my relationships with people, especially my family.  I wasn't afraid to cry, to admit when I was feeling down or to hug and squeeze those people I loved when I got the chance. 

      And now as I reflect back over the past 12+ months, I realize I could have done more to embrace all the new emotions that came up.  I made the determination to retire from the Navy about 2 years ago.  That in itself brings a flood of emotions. Yes, there is happiness and joy when thinking about all the great things life will bring after the Navy but also many emotions that can be hard to handle like fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  Since retiring in August of 2016, the emotions have piled on, each bringing a new lesson with it.  While I felt these emotions, sometimes I allowed ego and pride to stop me from sharing with others to once again keep up appearances. Or even more destructive, I suppressed those hard to handle emotions in hopes that they would go away.  I "set them aside" hoping they wouldn't be there when I returned.  They were.

      But I believe it's never too late to learn, to embrace and to grow.  When I realized that most everyone I know has felt the same emotions I have, it allowed me to once again open up, to be genuine and honest with myself and those in my life.  And that is an empowering, cleansing feeling.  Each emotion we feel inside is an invaluable part of who we are and part of our growth as a person.  When we are honest with our emotions, acknowledge them and learn from them, we're able to move past them.  We deal with them, not by suppressing them, but by being kind and patient with ourselves, allowing the emotion to run their course and grow more confident when that emotion comes up again.  

      Whether it's love, gratitude, fear, grief, or the many other emotions we're capable of, they are all our teachers.  Don't tell them to go away.  Allow them their place in your life.  Embrace the feelings they provide and know without a doubt that you are human, you are growing and you have an amazing, deep, powerful heart and soul. 

Thank you.


"Failure is not falling down, but refusing to get up" -Chinese Proverb

What holds you back from unleashing the greatness within you? What barriers do you have in your life that keep you bounded? Have you come to grips with them? What are you doing to knock them down and live?

For me, it's been the fear of failure. Many times I've been my own worst enemy. The high expectations of myself have created a shelf for which I've been scared to step from.  My successes from my past, yes the past, have set daunting standards for my future. But instead of using those as motivation and BELIEF in self, I've lulled myself into inaction. I retired from the Navy after 23 years with the desire to do more, be more, help more people, leave a bigger legacy. What if I fail? What if I'm not as good as I used to be? What if I try and I don't succeed? I'm sure these are common thoughts for many people. 

But what I've realized is that we can't have Success without Failure. We need Failure to learn from, to grow from, to calibrate our path to Success. Now looking back at my Navy career I see that I had those stumbles, poor performances, and failures that motivated me to achieve success, which I did. And I'll do it again! How many times did Thomas Edison "fail" before he invented the lightbulb? 

John Maxwell said in his book Failing Forward, "The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.

You never fail as long as you pick yourself up, learn from your past and continue forward towards your goals. 

What failures from your past have brought you success in the present or will in your future? My wish is that you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and achieve Success in everything you do.

Thank you for reading. - Reggie

Two ears and one mouth

Maybe that says something about how much we should listen. I always prided myself on being a good listener but lately I have been guilty of not truly listening to those people in my life that gave me the truest advice.  On occasions I allowed my pride to overtake my humility and that is a tough thing to admit.

But I'm all ears now (and I've been told I have big ears). Changes in my life that have shown me to truly open up and listen. Listen to people who care for me, listen to the signs from the universe and listen to my heart. And then get out there and do something about it! 

It seemed like for months I was figuring out who I wanted to be. Call it what you will but as I sit here and really search who I am I find a few things continually come to me.

I'm a lover of nature, being outdoors, sports, fishing and building things that give people joy. Those will always be parts of my core. I also know I love to help people live better lives. I truly enjoy meeting people, getting to know them and sharing something deeper than a surface conversation. For years, decades maybe, I was all surface. I didn't open up to what was buried deep and I sure wasn't interested in digging deep into others. I wasn't confident enough. In my previous post I wrote about pointing yourself in a direction; I believe I am. My passion for helping people has manifested itself in so many ways. I am part of an organization focused on healing the body. I am a basketball coach. I help military members find life after the military. I started a book about gratitude (ebook coming next year) and I've started a Facebook page called "Gratitude U." which is focused on increasing gratitude in the world.  All these things strike a deep cord within me. But most of all, I'm a proud father of two wonderful young adults. 

My ears are open. My pride is swallowed. My palms rest upward, open for signs and guidance. Changes are happening and I'm ready to be my truest self.

Thank you for reading - Reggie


Point yourself in the right direction

A nautical term I've used recently to describe what I've been through over the last few years of life.  Understanding my role on this earth, who I was put here to be and what I wanted my legacy to be.  You see, finding that one thing, that one calling comes for us at different times in life. We don't have to know at any specific time what it is but at least point yourself in the right direction.  If we're steering a ship, guiding it through open water and we need to head north, start by putting the bow (the pointy end) north. At that specific time deciding between 005 degrees and 356 degrees isn't crucial, you can make those course corrections you need to when the time is right. But point yourself in the right direction.

I talk about this because 6 months ago I retired from a 23+ year Navy career.  I had a general idea of what I wanted to do in life but I didn't find my specific heading for a while. Even now I don't have it down to the single degree. And yes, if we're being literal, a ship sailing east even 1 degree off will end up hundreds of miles off its intended destination. But I don't think we have to get that literal here. Not just yet. You, I, we have time to correct our steering.

I knew what my passion was, what burned in my heart and soul. I just didn't have my specific course in mind. That voyage was one of the most difficult things I've done in life. Wrought with uncertainty, lack of confidence and even fear.  Looking back now I can see all the things I could have done, all the work I could have put into it but I didn't.  I was traveling in a fog, looking and listening for guidance.  I was blessed to have love and support in my life through that trying time, more than I could ever imagine.  I have to remember many days to be kind to myself. Those feelings I had are all too common. Not just for retiring military but anyone making major changes in life. We could all be more kind to ourselves. Leave the past in the past but take those lessons into the future. 

I'm pointed in the right direction but each day I correct my course even more.  My passion is to empower people. To share what's in my heart and help guide people to who they truly are, what they truly want. To bring out the best in them and help them live the fullest life imaginable.  A boundless life.  

If you've enjoyed what you read, please like my post. If you'd like to connect, share stories or need help, please contact me in the tab above. You're not alone. 

Thank you for reading. -Reggie 





You're not alone

Hello, I truly hope you're well. My desire, as you read these posts, is that the words from my heart and soul will stir in you a belief in self and a better understanding that you're not alone in life. You're not so different from many other people who feel and believe what you do. And that you'll find empowerment.  Empowerment to live a full life without bounds.

We all deal with many of the same issues.  Some of us, including me, are sometimes too proud to admit them, speak of them and allow ourselves to grow and heal. You're not alone. I have found in my progression through life that simply opening up to someone, anyone and sharing your thoughts, whether positive, self-reflecting, fears, or whatever they may be, can be such an uplifting experience. Truly a weight lifts from us when we share feelings and sometimes find a connection.

For me personally, expressing my insecurities about being a good father, people I've lost in my life and recognizing the work I have to do each day on myself have been empowering and guide my future steps.  

How many can relate to those feelings or have a similar person in their lives who helps them become someone better? 

Share. Find connection. Grow. Become a truer you.