Life’s Playlist….. Fly by Celine Dion

Today’s assignment for the Jeff Goins, 500 Words for 31 Days Challenge is to write a confession.

I don’t feel like writing a confession.  I don’t fee like writing 500 words.  I feel helpless, confused and angry that once again, kids went to school yesterday and they didn’t come home to their parents at the end of the day.

What is wrong with our society?

Life’s Playlist…. Stand Tall by Burton Cummings

Day 20 of the Jeff Goins – 500 Words, 31 Days Writing Challenge…. Write about Justice.

Dr. Seuss put it succinctly, Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

I often ponder on how we as a society have gotten to the point we are.  It seems as though our compassion for our fellow-man often falls behind political debate and the party lines that used to help us find compromise, today only hardens our convictions.

At what point did we get to the strident beliefs that our fellow-man is not of value, when did we get to the point where we believed that our convictions are move important than that of our neighbor and at what point did we decided it is going to be “my way, or no way?”

Day after day we see the debates that confront us all, divide us.  I once heard a pastor say, if we would concentrate on the 90% that we agree on, the other 10% could fall into place.

I’m not Pollyanna enough to believe that we will ever come to a point where we all agree on everything, our differences are what has made us great as a nation.  But those differences used to be celebrated, today the division that is created threatens our society in ways that outside threats cannot.

As American’s we are good at coming together when life’s challenges threaten us.  We help our fellow-man when floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tragedy strikes, but within days we let our differences harden our actions and go back to the win at all costs mentality that has gotten us to where we are.

Here are a few truths that I stand by with conviction and resolve:

  • We are stronger together than we are separately.
  • America is the greatest nation ever to grace the planet.
  • Only America can destroy America.
  • We are all Americans, there is no place in America for hyphenated Americans.
  • I am not guilty for the sins of my forefathers, nor is your life affected by those same sins.
  • We have all had leaders we didn’t vote for, however those same leaders were elected and the OFFICE they represent always deserves respect.
  • If my leaders lie to me once, they will lie again and again.
  • America is a guiding light, we have our problems, but together there is nothing we cannot overcome.
  • Leaders must hold a higher standard morally and ethically and their actions must always represent that higher calling.

I believe in the melting pot of America that has served us well for over 200 years, we have our problems, but we are a resilient nation.  The only way to cure the ills that affect us today and into our future is to start acting like Americans.

I fear, for many of us, the standards we were built upon have been forgotten.  You are entitled to help when you need it, you aren’t entitled to anything if you don’t give 100% towards the betterment of our society.

Unless your Ancestry.com report says you are 100% native American, you and your ancestors were immigrants.  Immigrants built this nation and walls, fences and waters should never keep them out.  However, immigrants must assimilate to our nation’s ideals and cultures, and you must follow the rules to be here.

No one is entitled to be an American and if you don’t like the way our nation is headed, then change it, lawfully with ideals that can help make us stronger, not tear us apart.

I pray for our nation and hope that we will once again start acting like Americans, the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Whether you are black, white, straight, gay, old, young or any other subset of the American dream, it is your responsibility to help move us forward in ways that honor the forefathers who built this shining city on a hill.

Life’s Playlist… Bugler’s Dream by John Williams

Today is my Day 17 of the Jeff Goins — 31 Day, 500 Word Writing Challenge.

The assignment for today is to “make a point and fight for it.”

Every two years the Olympics roll around, on a rotating basis we skip between the summer and winter Games.

The Olympics have always been one of those pivotal times in life where I stop what I am doing and invest in the days of worldwide competition.

I contend that the Olympic movement should be the governance for our planet.

As the Winter Olympic Games get underway this weekend in PyeongChang, South Korea, I challenge you to consider the possibilities.

Years in advance of the Games taking place in a City, multiple communities around the world compete for the opportunity to be named the host city.

Selections are made for the hosts by who provides the best presentation, offers the world the best “meeting place,” and can provide the infrastructure and support to welcome the athletes of the world into their backyard.

You don’t hear back-biting from the cities that lost, sure there is disappointment, but in the spirit of Olympism the communities celebrate the newly selected host and work harder in the next opportunity to score their chance at victory.

Where I think our world leadership could learn the most from the Olympic movement is on the field of competition.

When the athletes of the world gather together on the field of competition, they do their best to succeed.  You rarely see poor sportsmanship or fights.  They work hard for victory and when a competition is over, the participants shake hands and celebrate the victor.

In the world we live in, where leaders no longer lead, and we are so dug-in to our own philosophy and mind-set, isn’t it refreshing to see the youth of the world gather, compete and accept the outcome.

Certainly there are those who try to skirt the rules to give themselves an advantage.  Some get by with it, but most often, the Olympic movement uncovers those who don’t play by the rules and handle those who cheat by singling them out, expelling them and handling the issues with dignity.

Finally, the Olympics are all about excellence.  Everyone who qualifies through hard-work and dedication to their chosen endeavor are allowed to participate.  However, everyone is not entitled a win.  In the Olympic Games, there are no participation trophies, there are winners and others who compete.

I think if we found the world operating more like the Olympic Games we would find the world a better place to live.  People doing their best, competing fairly for the opportunity at victory and being awarded the top prize by being superior to the competition.

As you enjoy the Games of the Winter Olympics over the next days, imagine what the world would be like if these were the ideals of the governments, leaders and people of our world.  It could provide a way towards a much-needed acceptance, honor and celebration of what is possible, the joy of competition and the flame that would light a brighter future for us all.

 

Life’s Playlist… Hero by Mariah Carey

Day 6 of the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins….. tell someone else’s story.

She watched her 11-year-old son, riddled with cancer, die a painful and grueling death.

I fist met her when a news report was featured on the local news channel in West Palm Beach, FL where I was living at the time.

Her child had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The most brutal of all cancers, for a child to get the diagnosis was quite rare.

The news report told the story of a fund-raiser for the child that had been scheduled at his school.  Due to regulations, my friend had been informed two days before the event, that it would have to be cancelled.

The news unsettled me,  how this event had to be cancelled over stupid regulations added insult to injury for this family that had already seen far too many bad turns in their lives.

At the time, I was the Marketing Director for a local retail/entertainment center.  The story haunted me through the night and the next morning when I arrived at work, somehow I was able to locate the mom’s phone number and contacted her.

Within an hour she was in my office and we were planning the logistics to move the event to our center.

We hit it off right away, through the tragedy that she was enduring, we became friends.

The event came and went at our center, but our friendship sustained over time.  We kept in touch and she would give updates about her son’s condition.

About a year after our meeting, my friend’s son lost his battle with the disease.  He passed away in their family home.  His little body suffered and by the time he passed he was constantly in pain with his family suffering every moment with him.

During those painful months, my friend rode every roller-coaster of emotion imaginable never leaving her child’s side.  Since his passing she feels guilt, sorrow and a broken heart that will never mend.

Not long after her child’s death, my friend opened a retail store in the tiny town I served as a City Commissioner for.  The thrift and consignment store was opened as a charity to assist families of children suffering with cancer.

My friend had found a new mission, one that would honor her son and allow her to give back in ways that would help sustain other families dealing with the same issues she had endured.

From opening day through the years the store has been opened successes have been difficult to measure.  Financially, the store has never operated to its anticipated dream, located in the small run down shopping center of a neighborhood that was fraught with crime, drugs and prostitution, it was difficult to make a go of the mission my friend envisioned.

Featuring a wonderful selection of furniture, clothes, antiques and accessories, the store should have been a success, unfortunately the neighborhood blocked that possibility.

My friend always kept her head-up and worked towards her mission.  Through her constant grief, her vision to honor her son never wavered.

A couple of weeks ago my friend announced the store will be closing.  Her continued battle to make the store meet her vision would come to an end.

The store will close, but I know my friend….. her vision and commitment to families who are going through the unfathomable days she went through will not.

My friend is a warrior and she is guided daily by an angel that helps her put one foot in front of the other.  The store may be closing, but my friends broken-heart will go on, she will persevere, she has already done more than she will ever know and her journey continues, through pain she will continue to heal and help others in her child’s name.

 

Life’s Playlist…. Winners by Frank Sinatra

Sunday night my Facebook timeline exploded.

It happened around 6PM as the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars game came to an end.

I hadn’t watched the game, but within second I knew the Patriots had won.  My timeline was filled with “Brady is a cheater,” “Brady is the G.O.A.T.” (greatest of all-time), “referees won another one for the Patriots,” ” no one can beat the Patriots,” and on and on.

I’m not a fan of professional football, I haven’t watched one play of the season this year.  Some of that is because of the mix of politics and football, but more than anything else I find professional football passionless and I am passionate about my sports and expect the participants to be passionate as well.

I find the game to be boring.  I’ll probably watch the Super Bowl until the half because I want to see Justin Timberlake and Pink, but I could care less who wins.

As I read the posts about Brady and the Patriots, I was taken back to my passion, college football.

I love college football, I have for my entire life.  I was born and bred a Georgia Bulldog and will bleed red and black until the day I die.

My heart was crushed when my team lost the National Championship this year and as I read the comments about the Patriots, I couldn’t help but think how those same comments are parallel to the University of Alabama.

When Alabama won the National Championship against Georgia, social media exploded with comments of “hate Saban,” ” Saban is a god,” ” Alabama cheats,” “the refs gave the game to ‘Bama,” except this time the comments were coming from fans of my team.

I don’t agree with the comments about Saban, Alabama, Brady or the Patriots, year after year they have simply proven to be better than everyone else.  Why don’t we honor that instead of trying to tear it down?

At what point as a society did we stop honoring success and start tearing it down?

It is unfortunate but today, in the age of participation trophies and people who are professionally offended we no longer honor the success of those who get out, work hard and rise to the top.

At what point did it become the rule that everyone should have what everyone else has?  I think everyone should have the opportunity to have what everyone else has, but it shouldn’t be given to them.

It is important to note that the people who are successful usually got that way through hard work and determination.  Yes, for some it is easier than others, but for many of us who have never been given a hand-out our successes are built on the blood, sweat and tears of our brow and not by holding our hands out waiting to get what is “ours.”

In sports, business, politics and indeed life, those who work hard, those who have the strongest work ethic, those who put in the grind usually rise to the top.  Why do we no longer celebrate this?

The way I look at it, the reason the Patriots and Alabama continue to win is because they beat their competition on and off the field.  I’m not saying they are better than anyone else, but when they walk in a room they demand respect because of their successes.

When teams start beating them on the field, then that air of superiority that surrounds them will begin to evaporate.  Tom Brady and Nick Saban have earned their successes, they devote their lives to their sport and that devotion shows in their victories.

Sports is like life, those who rise to the top usually do it through hard work, persistence and yes, some luck.

One of my favorite songs is today’s Life’s Playlist selection and sums up my thoughts better than I ever could…… Winners performed by Frank Sinatra.

Listen to the words, Here’s to the Winners, ALL OF US CAN BE!