Month: December 2013

Wisdom From The “All You Can Eat” Buffet

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fatguyWe’re a nation of the well fed…  In 2012, the average person consumed:

  • Beef- over 50 lbs
  • Chicken- nearly 60 lbs
  • Pork- nearly 45 lbs
  • Turkey- 18 lbs
  • Fish- 10 lbs

Go to any local buffet and you’re almost certain to find at least one guy who is trying to get his entire quota in during that one meal.  You’ll most likely see children with plates piled up according to their attitude, rather than their ability to consume that much.  We’ll hear their mothers in the distance barking out the parental eating orders.

  • “Don’t put so much on your plate!”
  • “Don’t be wasteful!”
  • “Take smaller bites!”
  • “Get something healthy on that plate!”

all-you-can-eat-signGood advice for these buffet buccaneers… and for you and me as we look at our lives in the coming year.  We fill our lives and our schedules to the brim.  We have meetings overlapping meetings like mashed potatoes & gravy oozing into our pea salad.  We bloat our lives full of things that look good, but in truth just aren’t that satisfying.  We abuse the people and projects that deserve our attention because we’ve spent too much time on the things that seemed exciting or different.  Kinda like the little boy who ignores his vegetables, and opts instead for spending his entire meal at the chocolate fondue fountain eating dipped marshmallows.

Listen to your mother this year.  “Don’t put so much on your plate!”.   “Don’t be wasteful!”.   “Take smaller bites!”.   “Get something healthy on that plate!”  Don’t just have a happy new year- have a healthy, wholesome and prosperous new year.  Mom knows best.

It’s OK to Cry

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60 (2)Emotions… real men, we’re told, are able to keep them under control.  I used to be one of those guys who fought like crazy to do just that.  In addition to “Never let’em see you sweat”, I added “or cry, or be sad, or get your feelings hurt”.  Whether it was stupid pride or wanting to be strong for others, I did my best not to let my emotions get the best of me.  But then my Daddy died.  A year and a half later my Mom followed him to Heaven.  Everything changed for me since they’ve gone.

I can still watch the blood and guts movies, the sci-fi horror flicks, and even laugh when they tazer the guy on the opening sequence of Cops, and do all of that without even one emotional or teary flinch.  However, let me stumble across a Hallmark movie, or a heart wrenching scene on a TV drama involving parents and their kids and I come apart.  It seems that the temporary nature of life has become very, very real to me.  Each family holiday since my parents have died always finds me somewhere alone, quiet, and crying.  Why?

I miss the “only them” stuff.  My dad’s smile… it was infectious.  Not known much for wearing his emotions on his sleeve, that changed drastically as he aged, and especially when the grandkids came along.  Nobody had a smile like my Daddy.  My Mom, on the other hand, was the sassy joker of the couple.  A wit as sharp as a razor, and tongue as sharp as one to go with it, she used them to make us laugh and keep us in line!  Together, their over 50 years of marriage served as a model for their five sons and their wives.  The reputations they had built for themselves are still living legacies to this day, highlighting that they lived their lives well, and that mattered.

I miss the feeling of our family being complete.  We still get together with the brother, wives and kids, as well as some of the extended family.  But there’s always that slight feeling of emptiness.  Happy sadness.  Thanksgiving truly was a time of thanks when you heard my Daddy pray over our family lunch.  Christmastime bubbled with enthusiasm out of the overflow of my Mom’s heart.  Although we still give thanks to God for His blessings, and we laugh and enjoy the Christmas season, there’s still those two empty chairs that leave me a little melancholy.

pic019I miss the stuff that might have been.    Not every family is as blessed as ours to have had parents like we had.  I’m so grateful for the times we’ve had.  But I look at my daughter and think, “I wish your Papa and Grandma were going to see your wedding someday.”  I think about my boys, and the wives I know that they’s marry one day, and wish they could have spent time in the kitchen and in the shopping mall with my Mom.  (She was much better at shopping than the kitchen, by the way.)   I was blessed to remember know and remember my great grandmother on my dad’s side…  And I know the only things my grandbabies to come will know about their great-grandparents is what we tell them.   My Daddy worked hard and long as a college president, and retired only 4 years before he died.  I wish he and my Mom had longer together as a retired couple, to travel, to enjoy each other and their family, and to just be.  So many good things that might have been, aren’t and won’t be.  It makes me sad.

I realize that although the world is a better place because they were here, it’s not a better place without them here.   I know that I’ll see my parents again in Heaven, of that I’m sure.  At 50 years of age, I may have another good third of my life left on this planet before then.  I still have opportunity to encounter many of the people whose lives were enriched because they crossed paths with my Dad and Mom.  There are hundreds more that I’ll never know or know about, but whose lives are fuller and more blessed because of Bill and Sondra Cole.  When I take in all that their lives accomplished, I am grateful, and proud, and happy to have called them my parents.  But this world was a better place with them in it, and I miss them.

So what will I do?  I’ll be OK with crying at those tender movie moments.  I’m satisfied to be teary as I write this.  I will put aside those foolish, prideful macho man attitudes.  In those quietly, lonely moments when my heart trembles and my lip quivers as  I think about my parents, I’ll remind myself that real men DO cry… especially when they miss their parents.

What About Your Living Tombstone?

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I-told-you-I-was-sick-tombstone

“What do you want written on your tombstone?”   The question has been posed over and over, challenging people to pause and consider what they want their lives and legacy to ultimately be.  There are so many things that could be said…   “He was a good man…  I told you I was sick…  She was a loving wife, mother and friend… Here lies Les More… No Less, No More…”

But the question begs to be asked.  What do you want people to remember you for RIGHT NOW?  When your name comes up, how do you want people to respond?  Do you want them to comment about something you’ve done?  Remark about the quality of your character?  Mention the things that you love to do the most?  How do you want to be known?  Ultimately, it’s up to you, isn’t it?  You have influence over what people think of you, so how will you impact not only what’s on your tombstone, but what’s on your “live stone”?

  1. Choose where you spend your time wisely.  Depending on where you live on the planet what gender you are, you will live approximately 35 to 40 million minutes.  Now that may sound like a lot, but you’ll spend over a third of those sleeping, and approximately another 10 to 15 percent eating.  That leaves you around 55 to 60% of those minutes to use.  But wait, if you’re in the work force, you’ll use up another 20% of your time at work.  Choose wisely.  You can talk about “investing time, not spending time” all you want, but the truth is once you’ve used that moment, it’s gone.
  2. Support what you love with your time, efforts and money.  Lip service means nothing if it’s not backed up by our clock and our cash.  You say you care about the i-will-not-be-back-after-the-message-tombstonehomeless?  Go work in a soup kitchen on a regular basis.  You care about troubled teens?  Donate to after school programs.   If you want to be known now AND later for making a difference, here’s the simple plan to follow.  Go make a difference.
  3. Whatever you put your hand to do, do it with excellence.  The world is full of average people giving a mediocre effort for  a bland, middle of the road set of underwhelming results.   Stand out by doing what you do better than anyone else.  If it’s not ultimately better in quality, it ought to at least be better in effort.  When did it become OK for average to be goal or benchmark we strive for?  Reach, and reach higher!  Work, and work better!  Serve others, and serve like their life and your legacy depends on it!  It just may.
  4. Invest in relationships more than anything else.  We can fill our lives with checklists and projects, and our resumes with scores of accomplishments listed in chronological order.  In the Bible, I Corinthians 13: 1-3 says, “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.  If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.   If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”   People need you.  They need your time, your understanding, your influence and most of all your love.   If no one misses you when you’re gone, then what kind of real impact have you truly had?
  5. Be authentic and approachable.  The greatest legacies in history are not necessarily the kings and poets, heroes and explorers.  Those who will have the most lasting legacies are those who build a solid foundation for the next generation.  This world is dying for people who genuinely care, and who avail themselves to others in making the world a better place.

santa-claus-tombstoneSo if there’s something you want on your tombstone, put it in your will.  We might actually follow through with it for you if what you wrote is true. But until then, you’re in charge of your “live stone.”  Go do something spectacular with it!

What do you want written on YOUR tombstone?

It May Be Time Someone Poked You With a Sharp Stick

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“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  Soren KierkegaardLarry-Shocked

Will you wake up one day and suddenly be old, wondering where your life had dribbled away to, and what the meaning of life was?  Or will you look back across the journey of your years and think, “Dang, that was awesome!!!”   I’ve been doing a lot of family tree research lately, and come across some pretty interesting characters in my family tree.  Reading some of their notes and stories, I’ve come to one conclusion that I am convinced describes them all.   No one is destined for greatness; destiny is simply a rudder that is turned by the hand and the will of the individual.  Your life simply will be what you make it, and whether or not it happens on purpose depends on your choices.  So how do you guide this ship that’s called your life?  Ask yourself these simple questions.

Where did you actually give a flying flip?  The easiest ways to determine in your own life what mattered are to ask yourself these questions:

  1. Where did I spend my time, my money, my efforts?
  2. What people or events touched or wounded my heart?

Identify those events that really mattered in this past year, and then follow the advice on the shampoo bottle.  Lather, rinse and repeat.  Chase after those kinds of opportunities and people, and make it happen again and again and again, but even better or more often.

Put a boot up the butt of the downers in your life.  Life seems so long when we’re young.  But anyone over 30 realizes that time seems to pick up speed exponentially as we age.  You have zero control regarding whether negative people will come into your life.  You have absolute control over whether or not you allow them to stay there.  Isolate and remove from your life any negative influences or consistently negative people.  Change jobs, move away or simply confront the negativity and serve notice that it’s unacceptable.  But don’t waste those precious, irretrievable moments of your existence on people and places that serve no purpose but to bring you down.

Gut check and fess up to the best and worst choices of your year.  Only you can truly know this.  In this past year, you’ve probably done some really cool stuff, and maybe impacted the lives of others for the better.  If you’re like the rest of us, you’ve also probably screwed up pretty bad once or twice.  We get better when we learn from both our great and not-so-great choices, and we can learn a ton from the fall out from each.  If you’re still making the same mistakes this year that you did last year, well then, that’s on you and no one else.  If you fall short or blow way past the amount of positive impact you created in life last year it’s because you chose to do so. 

Where do you shine?   You.  Yes you.  Do you know why you’re here?  If you do, that’s awesome!  Then go do it, be it, give it away!  If you don’t know, then you’re just wasting space on your section of dirt until you figure it out.  You’re good at something, and underneath it all, you’re really passionate about it.  Heck, that’s why you’re good at it.  Take that first step towards being an even better you.  Go and shine, this world desperately needs what you’ve got to offer.

Seriously… Is THIS is where I wanted to be by now?  Goals are great… working the plan you’ve set is too.  But even if you never got around to “making the life plan” or “setting goals and milestones” in your life, nothing is stopping you from stepping off of the train for a minute and just looking around the landscape and asking yourself, “I see where I am, but is it where I want to be?”  Most people immediately jump to their financial condition when they think of this exercise.  It’s way more than that.  What about these questions:

  1. Am I the kind of person that would have made my Dad proud?
  2. Would I be pleased if my kids turned out like me?
  3. If I looked back on my life, would I be able to feel like I mattered, like I made a difference?
  4. Then if you must, ask yourself those questions about career, finances, education and other tangibles.

Meditate on this point in your journey.  Reflect.  Then choose to move forward intentionally in the direction of a life that matters.

Someone’s life depends on YOU.  That might seem a little melodramatic to you, but I don’t care.  It’s true.  In the day and age we live in, you have an astounding amount of knowledge about where suffering exists in your community, country and planet.  If you life in the United States and you’re reading this article, then you’re more wealthy than 95% of the world’s population.  Don’t be a selfish loser.  Go choose where you will change the world, and then go change it.  One dollar, one afternoon or one person at a time.  Just go make a stinkin’ difference.  NO EXCUSES.

Take 10 minutes.  Right now.  Seriously, right now.  Shut your door, turn off your phone, and get quiet.  Remember the advice at the top of the blog… “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  Whether you understand where you’ve been or what you live forward matters is up to you.

What advice would you give to a twenty-something entering the work force and “real life” for the first time?

Phil Robertson… It’s Chick-fil-A, Round 2!

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phil-robertson-throughPhil Robertson… Duck Commander Founder…  a man of character.  But now it’s Chick-fil-A, Round 2!  Why is it that this society doesn’t get it?  If you ask a Christian, whose faith and belief system is based on the teachings in the Bible, what he thinks about homosexuality, why is it surprised that he calls it a sin?   I mean, seriously, the guy prays at the end of every episode of their hit show.  They espouse Christian values on the show, and in interview after interview before this one they’ve made it clear- they are Christians first, family members second, and TV star is way down on their list.  Politically correct?  It’s not even on the list!

U.S. Census figures from 2010 show the population in the US that claim to be homosexual is somewhere around 1%.  In much of the LGBT literature, they espouse an incorrect number of 10% population as being homosexual.  But that’s at best a misrepresentation, and at worst a lie.  If the A&E people are taking a stand based on their convictions, then that’s their choice.  But if they are doing it because they are worried about money, then they need to think about the population that has made this one of the top shows on television, because they just pissed a lot of those people off.

I caught some wisdom and perspective from my friend Cambri on this whole situation… I’ll  share it here:
Few thoughts on the whole Phil thing…
1. Why was GQ interviewing Phil? He is not exactly the GQ type.
2. Why did they ask him his stance on gay marriage?
3. Why is anyone surprised at his answer?
4. His words were a little more graphic than most would use but if you have ever watched the show, he never holds back. So once again why are people surprised? 
5. I think A&E firing him is going to do the exact opposite of what GLAAD wants to happen. Just like with Chick-Fil-A, more people will come out to support the Robertson’s than ever before.
6. I hope that the Robertson’s do not cave, like every other celebrity in this country, and apologize for their beliefs when there is backlash.
7. I hope that when Christians read the statements from the GLAAD spokesman, that they were concerned as to why he thinks that “true Christians” do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. I think this proves that most Christians are more worried about offending someone and being PC than standing up for what the bible actually says. 
8. WHY THE HECK WAS GQ INTERVIEWING PHIL ROBERTSON!!

How come Christians and Christianity can be bashed all over television and the movies, mocked and ridiculed as a belief system, and it’s followers taunted as old fashioned and weak?  There are no “firings”, “suspensions” or “hiatuses” ordered because of these attacks on Christianity?  Beyond that, this is a “Reality TV” show, for cryin’ out loud!   What has happened here is definitely a hate crime.  But it’s a hate crime against Christianity, inflamed and blown out of proportion by a liberal network that has lost touch with it’s viewers.

There will be a price to be paid, but it won’t be by Phil Robertson, trust me. A& E… back off and fix this, or find yourself watched about as much as MSNBC.

What Would Make You Lose It?

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We have all done it some time.  We’ve totally lost our patience and lost our minds.  We’ve screamed, yelled & cried. We’ve thrown tantrums of epic proportions.  We’ve caused our co-workers or family members to question our sanity, and although we may not have noticed, their hands had quickly dialed 911 on their cell, and their thumbs sat anxiously on the “send” button.  We’ve all lost it before.  This is one of my favorite viral videos of all time.  This kid loses it.  His mom cancelled his “World of Warcraft” account, an online gaming and role playing video experience.  I’m not sure why she cancelled it, but after watching the video, it may have something to do with misusing or abusing the remote.  Ummm… might want to disinfect that thing.

Among other things, this video begs the question of each of us,”What makes me LOSE IT?”.  Is there anything, or things, that cause you to totally lose your mind?  You say things you shouldn’t, do things normally you wouldn’t, and in the end leave a wake of misery or mockery.  I’m about to blow your mind with some observations about losing your mind.

  1. I believe we hold different and sometimes unfair standards for different people.   The most obvious and glaring example of this are our family members.  Sometimes they get way too much slack, but many more times we’re less patient with our kin than we are with strangers.  It might not be a bad thing to pause and ask ourselves pre-eruption, “Would I be acting this way if it was a complete stranger, or a co-worker that had caused me to be upset?”
  2. You will always, always, 100% of the time always look like a fool when you lose control.  You may think it’s appropriate to show how serious the infraction was, or how just your cause is, and therefore justify your mind losing fit.  Just a hint… you still look like an idiot.  Chill out.
  3. This too shall pass.  Yep, whatever your world exploding, end of civilization as we know it experience is, a week from now it will seem much smaller.  A month from now you’ll be embarrassed at your behavior.  A year from now?  Well, let’s just hope no one caught it on tape.  Life is too short to allow ANY situation to destroy you, your reputation or the heart of another person.
  4. You’ll look like less a fool later if you protect yourself now.  There are some simple things you can do while you still have your sanity and are somewhat connected to reality that may prevent you from losing it, or at least minimize the catastrophic consequences of a meltdown.  Not all of these are necessary, and not all of them may work for you, but hey… try something, especially if you have a ballistic past or a short fuse.   Don’t know if you ARE a short fuse person?  Ask someone you trust to tell you- and then don’t yell at them when they are honest.  Here are some suggestions to help “Lose It Losers”…
  • Count to ten… or fifty… or one hundred, before you explode… time allows you to get your composure.
  • Breathe in deeply through your mouth, and exhale through your nose for a few minutes.  It will help you relax.
  • Leave.  Sometimes you need space, and so does the other person.  For safety.  For peace of mind.  For a while.
  • Talk PRIVATELY with a 3rd party who doesn’t have “skin in the game”, someone who can be objective.  Ask for honest feedback.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes, if only for a few minutes.  Ask yourself how or why things could have happened like they did.  Sometimes theirs a good reason.
  • Self examination is critically important.  Is there something you could have done, said, prepared, educated or otherwise availed yourself to have kept this from becoming a bad situation?  If you have some culpability, it may curb your lava flow of frustration just a bit.

So, here’s your chance to vent just a tad… What are the kinds of things that cause YOU to LOSE IT?

What works best for you in preventing you from having a complete meltdown?

Little Step, Big Leap

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“If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”   Neil GaimanThe Graveyard Bookbaby-steps-big-dreams

You’ve been wrestling with dueling visions of your future for a while.  You could stay where you are, do what you’re doing and actually feel fairly happy, satisfied and blessed.  But on the other hand, you have a dream in your heart.  A dream of a different career, different mission, a totally different future from your current path.

Is it time for you to quit your job, jump out into the big wide world and follow your dreams?  Should you instead choose to be reasonable, put aside these crazy notions, and dig in to do better, be better where you are now?  Your common sense tells you one thing while your heart screams out something completely different!

Maybe your choice is to do… NEITHER?

Following a dream does mean “burning the ships” as Hernando Cortez did in 1519 on the Yucutan peninsula.  He and his men were in search of treasure, and he knew he had to take failure off of the table as an option.  “If we’re going home,” he told his men, “we will go in THEIR ships.”  Some visions, some dreams require being absolutely sold out to the cause.  But when did that become the only option?  Are our only options “ALL” or “NOTHING”?  I say a resounding “Have you lost your stinkin’ mind?!  Of course those aren’t the only choices!”

For you, it may simple be taking that first “little step.”  Not quitting your job, but instead committing your Saturdays to developing your dream.  It may mean taking that night class, or spending money on incorporation and equipment rather than a weekend in Vegas.  But take the step, even if it’s a little one!  Choose to start saving money, or getting your training.  Look for a location or schedule your daily writing time.  Take. A. Step!

If it takes you ten years to realize your dream, consider this… how much older will you be then?  Ten years?  The SAME ten years older you will be if you don’t take those steps.  So do it… NOW!

“Only those who play win. Only those who risk win. History favors risk-takers. Forgets the timid. Everything else is commentary.” Iveta Cherneva

What is ONE STEP you could take today that will start you on the path to your dreams?