Answer the Call

aim high signed

I’m riding home after work when my phone rings. Hmmm… I don’t recognize that number, I’ll let it go to voicemail.

At home, I cooked dinner, fed the pets, and did my thing and then I remembered that voicemail. I played it back and immediately looked at the clock. As the message went on, I could not believe what I was hearing. My heart sank!!

The message was an opportunity to shoot and produce a video for a live performance. The gentlemen who called has done some great work and this would’ve been an opportunity to sharpen my skills. I could’ve made it if I would’ve checked the message earlier, but now it was too late….

Aside from being angry at myself, I felt like an idiot, to put it mildly. Here was an opportunity to do what I love that could’ve opened other doors and not only didn’t I answer the phone, I didn’t check the messages. What good is technology if I don’t use it?

I know I like to think how events or situations will play out, but often good things come in unexpected ways. So next time the call comes, answer it or at least check the message right away. You never know what opportunity could be awaiting.

Tackle Life like a Sticky Frog

Sticky frogs are common in Florida, especially where I live. My first encounter with a sticky frog was quite memorable. With curiosity of a cat, I had to get closer and see what it was.

The sticky frog did not hop away as expected, but jumped right on my chest!! Being a real man, I just watched it and calmly said “cool”. Yeah, right…good thing no one had a video camera because I screamed so loud my friend came outside.
Through her hysterical laughter, I was told “you scream like a girl”. The laughter only got louder when she found it was because of a frog. I’m glad I’m so entertaining……

Tonight I was out for a walk around our circle when I saw a sticky frog in the road. With all animals, big or small, I gently move them out of the road before they become part of it. As I’m leaning over with a stick to push it away, the frog intently looked right at me and fearlessly jumped onto my arm.

Sorry, no screaming from me this time:) I took it to some bushes, but it refused to dismount. So I resumed my walk around the circle with the sticky frog hanging out on my arm. It would change positions occasionally for a better view, but basically sat there the whole time, enjoying the free ride.

The frog’s response to me made re-think of how I approach unknown situations. When confronted with a situation that is unknown and seemingly large, I will usually choose avoid verses confront. Most animals will do the same; come within a few feet, they are gone quickly.

However the sticky frog jumps right on for a closer look. Seeming to ask “What is this big think that keeps following me? “

What would happen if we did the same for those challenges that we tend to avoid? If we faced them would they really turn out so big? Would they metaphorically scream and run away? Maybe they would turn out to be good things instead of something we feared?

Obviously if it’s something life threatening, be smart and get away from it.

As in the case of tonight’s encounter, the frog faced the challenge and received a free ride around the neighborhood. With the frog on my arm, I walked slower for a change; saw the stars, clouds, and other things I normally miss because I’m in a hurry. It worked out well for both of us.

So the next time a seemingly large or unknown situation comes your way, be like the sticky frog and face it. You’re likely to learn some new insights and find some good things.

And what happened to my passenger that night? After riding on my arm for the mile walk around, I put him in some bushes near where I found him and he happily dismounted. I can only imagine the story he told when asked “where have you been?”

Life is here ready or not

“I’m not sure I’m ready for this”, my friend said. Life’s roller coaster was in full pull and now here was an unexpected opportunity for something good. He had been through a lot the past few months and was still a bit lost and confused about things.

He asked for guidance several times and the guidance in all cases confirmed that the opportunity in front of him was a good thing. He still wasn’t sure he was ready though. He really wanted things to calm down first.

As I listened to him, I began to reflect on my life. Some of my most memorable achievements happened when I wasn’t ready. They just appeared and sometimes I didn’t have a choice. I remember returning to work after vacation and withnin 10 minutes told I was in charge of an enterprise project. A project I have never done before with a lot of high stakes. I was anything but ready, but I figured it out as I went.

Those moments when I “wasn’t ready” is where I learned the most; to step up, to ask for help, to follow guidance, that I was capable of way more than I thought, and to follow my heart.

For me, ideally life should be all organized and tidy before things occur. I want them to happen on my time, when I’m ready. Don’t we all right?  How much would we really grow and learn if life happened exactly when we thought we were ready?

Course, am I ever really ready? It’s easy to become a victim of analysis paralysis. I can make plenty of excuses for not being ready and if I followed those, not much would happen. Its life happening, when it happens, that stretches me, that makes me grow the most. I don’t always like it, but it is what it is.

By having faith and following guidance, we can be sure that whatever happens we can handle, even if we don’t think so. When life is good, it’s easy to agree. However, when it seems everything is in upheaval and here comes one more thing is when you really question it. It is at these times that we learn the most and become stronger.

Corporate projects, relationships, family issues, unexpected vacation opportunities, and more. Life often happens when we don’t think we’re ready. Yet that is precisely when we need to move forward.

Life is here to be lived, ready or not.

I Have Everything I Need

I’m watching a video of an outdoor adventure and these guys are using just basic equipment and having a blast. Wow, I could never go with just basic equipment. I must have all my stuff together , tested, and all accounted for.  As you can imagine, that often leaves me on the sidelines waiting because I don’t have this or that. When I have this item, then I’ll go. While there is something to be said for planning, I realized an important lesson.

For every excuse I make to not do something, someone else is out there, with the same abilities, getting it done.  Now I’m a big planner and believe in having the right equipment. However, I realized I’m holding myself back in a lot of areas because I’m “waiting” for the perfect time, the perfect situations etc.

At this point in my life, I already know enough to be safe and smart, the power of faith, setting intentions, and letting go.  I have no excuses! I should just use what I have right here, right now and head off. If I need something else, I’m sure I’ll figure that out pretty quickly. In the meantime, I should be enjoying the journey rather than sitting here waiting for everything to be perfect.

Speaking of perfect, I had to ask myself a couple of questions. How much I learn when things are perfect? Not that much. How much have I learned when I had to a little work, overcome some things, and step out on faith? More than the scope of this article! Those life experiences strengthen my faith, give me depth, and should give me courage to handle whatever comes my way.

Looking back at some of my recent successes, I realized a fun fact. There was very little planning involved.  I just did it. I didn’t think about how it would work out or what it would take.  The more I was involved, the more opportunities lined up and things flowed along.

If I had thought about every coordination, all the people involved, and the other requirements to make it all come together,  I’d probably still be planning it.  It’s amazing what I can really do if I just take action.

I have my vision board and plans, but rather than make excuses and waiting, I’m getting started. I’m sure I’ll find some bumps along the way and learn some lessons, but I know I’ll be taken care of and opportunities will unfold as I go along.

 

 

Face the Fear and Launch Again

This story came to me as I was driving up to Kennedy Space Center to watch Endeavour’s final ferry flight to California. Still inspiring us one more time……

After tragedy occurs, whether it be life, relationships, jobs, etc. there’s always comes the time when you get the opportunity to do it again. As you step up there is that fear, that tentativeness that almost takes your breath away. That, Oh My God, am I ready to do this, have I figured out everything I did wrong last time? Am I going to get it right this time?

We don’t like to make mistakes and we really don’t like to make the same mistakes twice. Whenever we have the opportunity to do it again, all the questions, all the fears surface….yet there is that excitement of the chance to give it another shot.

After the Columbia tragedy, the next shuttle, Discovery, was tasked with a tremendous role.  In addition to millions of pounds of supplies for the space station, it carried the hopes of an entire nation. As it sat on the launch pad, all those fears of the unknown were still there. In spite of all the checks, the tests, the quadruple checks, there was still that fear of the unknown.  Did we miss anything? Did we account for all the possibilities?

There was plenty of fear to keep it grounded, but the destination was worth facing the fear. Much like our life; they had to go forward and give it another shot. When Discovery landed safely, it was an affirmation that Yea, we can do this.

We all face tragedy in our lives and there is always plenty of fear to keep us safe in the hangar of life. It’s safer in there because there’s no risk. If you don’t take any chances, you won’t feel any pain. I know I don’t like pain. Yet, it’s the facing that same situation again, taking the chance to get it right,  and being successful is what makes grow. Sometimes its really hard to overcome those fears, but it’s worth it.

Lifting off that launching pad again will be scary but when you nail the landing, you realize that did it. You faced the fear, you overcame and you carry on. That is what it’s all about…

Getting Unstuck

“I can’t believe this!!” Its 4:30 in the afternoon, I am in the western section of Colorado hours from civilization and I am stuck. Tires spin, mud flies, but forward progress is just a dream.

No problem; I open the back of my SUV to retrieve my shovel, jack, and other recovery gear. Uh –oh, this is not good!! The cargo area is completely empty! I took everything, & I mean everything, out because I shampooed the cargo area. This joyride was just an impromptu trip and wasn’t supposed to be an epic off-road adventure.

We were enjoying the scenic views and found a dirt road and just had to take it.  Now here I am about 2 hours of daylight left,  no recovery tools and stuck. This short fun ride just took a turn for the worse.

At first I became worried about the sun setting and being stuck in the wilderness overnight without provisions. That quickly turned to “I need to get out of here”.  I tried logs, rocks, and finally it was some odd combination that included using all 4 floor mats that finally got me on solid ground.

I love this story because I’ve often found myself stuck in life and bemoaning the situation. It’s not fun, but there’s something about complaining. Maybe it’s the attention, the validation, who knows.

Like the real stuck scenario above, if I would’ve wasted time complaining about being stuck, asking how did this happen, why am I being punished, why did this happen to me, etc. I would’ve been stuck there all night. No food, no water, and no blankets at 10,000 feet would have made me another preventable statistic.

But I didn’t focus on all that useless hyperbole. I focused on getting out! I didn’t make excuses about not having what I needed. I just used everything I could get my hands on, did whatever it took and extracted myself.

Back to the real world……If I would apply that same diligence to the “stucks” in my life, I’d be much further ahead.  That evening in the mountains, my main concern was escaping a freezing night without supplies. In real life, the stakes are just as life changing, just maybe not as apparent. Or we don’t view them as critical as they really are.

For me, it’s time  to look where I’m “stuck” in my life and stop making excuses, stop complaining, and stop wondering why. It’s time to do whatever it takes to move forward and get back on the road of life.

Everything Works Out

This true story is in honor of Mrs. Laurie Ford.  A vibrant teacher, caregiver, and active story teller who passed away after a long, full life.

Thunk! I briefly move from sleep to sort of consciously awake. A few seconds later Thunk!! What was that I ask myself? I instinctively drag my sleepy self up to check it out. Flashlight in hand, I look down and see the cat staring intently at something on the floor.

“Ok, not this again”. Periodically, items will “fall” on the floor in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. I’ll come down and find the cat staring inquisitively at whatever the object is. I’m just as curious and have to wonder if the cat is up to something of if there is something else in the house.

My sleep filled eyes try desperately to focus on what is on the floor while my brain tries to process what it sees. It’s unbelievably familiar, but neither the cat or I recognize it. You know how you see something familiar, but you can’t place it?  Then I shine the light closer and OMG!

It’s Fishy!! Fishy is a large goldfish and he’s just lying flat on the floor. Flat on his side, one eye open. Sporting one of those “well, that didn’t go as planned” look on his face.

Instantly I pick him up and put him in back the tank. He slowly swims around as if he’s just waking up.  The clock says 2:30am and I have to wonder just what was going on.

Was he sleep swimming and dreaming he was a dolphin or maybe Shamu? Was he having a nightmare where some sea creature was chasing him? Or was this some experiment gone wrong or maybe right?

What was going through that fish brain as he broke the surface of the water and took flight in the total darkness. Was it “Yee-Haw” or was it “Oh Sh(@*!

And how about that fall in the pitch dark? It’s only 4 feet, but when you’re only 3 inches that’s a looong way. Was it like one of those bad dreams where you dream you’re falling and it just keeps coming? As he fell was he thinking “the water should be here; any minute now, any minute now”

Course, how about when he actually hit the floor? Did it hurt? Was he laughing so hard he didn’t realize what happened? And how about when the cat walked up? If laying on the floor wasn’t enough of an  “oh crap” moment, when the cat walked up it certainly became one. When he saw the blinding, white flashlight was he thinking this is the end?

What about when I put him back in the tank? He swam very slowly. Was he going “Wow, I was just rescued”. Or was he thinking he had a bad dream? I don’t know, but the next morning when I walked up to the tank he was extra excited.

I do wish I would’ve had my camera handy because the look on his face while he on the floor was pretty funny.

Anyway, the important part of the story is this: For “some reason” I decided to sleep on the couch that night. If I had been upstairs, I wouldn’t have heard anything. I would’ve woken up to find him dead on the floor.

The cat that found him was the gentle one. The other cat that drinks out of the fish tank would’ve quickly enjoyed a late night snack.

My flashlight was readily available instead of down the hall in the kitchen cabinet. I could’ve stepped on him in the dark.

All of those “coincidences” added up to Fishy being rescued from his own mis-adventures.

I’ve had times in my life just like Fishy’s. I embark on something that doesn’t quite work as planned and I end up at rock bottom with a blank look on my face. I flounder, wondering what to do, my head full of more questions than answers; Why did I do that? What went wrong? How am I going to fix this? What was I thinking? Followed by the usual statements; I’m screwed, that was really dumb, that didn’t work at all, and I need help.

Sometimes what I thought was help ends up being another challenge. Hello up there; Are you not paying attention? Help and cat are not the same thing!

At just the right moment, something bigger than me, rescues me and gives me another chance. I try not to jump out of my tank, but occasionally that happens. There are times I’m tossed out of the tank. No matter what, I’ve always been rescued. Not always the way I expected or in the time I wanted, but always rescued.

I could wax verbose about what that means, but there’s one person who can sum it perfectly. Mrs. Ford would always smile, clasp her hands together and say very matter of factly “everything works out”.

 

 

 

Shift Your Life

Not another hill! My little rental car didn’t like hills or anything other than flat land. The car was brand new and seemed like it had potential, but along the way had been “dumbed down”. If I could just fully access what was under the hood, I had a feeling this car would be way different.

I began to experiment with manually shifting the automatic transmission.  It didn’t take long to find the ideal combinations and the car was more fun to drive. I had the power I needed, when I needed it.  

For example, midway up a steep hill, the car would kick into passing gear. Midway up was too late, I had lost my momentum!  Manually shifting, I’d see the hill, downshift at the bottom, maintain my momentum and zip right up. Driving through traffic was much easier as I could access the power when and how I needed to.  

I’m sure the engineers programmed the computer for what they considered optimal. Hmmmm….that made me think.

I’d been living my life based on what others considered optimal. It was working, but wasn’t exciting or fulfilling. I had what I needed, but not what I wanted. Life was good, but not fulfilling.   

Like the little car, I turned off “automatic mode” and began to “shift” my life. Things began to dramatically change. I became more excited as I did the things I wanted to do (following that moral compass of course).  I began to feel alive and occasionally a little scared as I faced the unknown. Automatic mode was easy; shifting requires thought, planning and responsibility.  

I finally feel like I’m accessing all I could be. It’d been in there all the time, I just wasn’t using it.  I’m still learning and, just like that little car, it is a work in progress to find the optimal combinations.  

Are you living on automatic mode? Is your life exciting and what you want it to be?  Maybe a shift is just what you need to reach your full potential.

Why does something have to be broken to fix it?

The time had come to replace my faithful, but aging car.  I had meticulously cared for it over the years so it ran & looked great. However, with 154K miles, it was time for something a little roomier, more power, more style, and of course lower miles.  

I owned my previous car for 7 years, I knew this day would come and had been preparing. As I began shopping, I’d tell people “I’m looking for a newer car”, in hopes that they would share the excitement.  Some did, but a lot of the responses were an immediate “What’s wrong with your old one!”  Ummm, nothing, just time for something newer.  Over and over again I was met with the same, almost antagonistic response: “What’s wrong with it? If it runs fine, why are you getting rid of it”? “Drive it into the ground. When it breaks then replace it”.  I knew they were only trying to help.      

I took their advice to heart, reviewed my plans and came back with the same answers.  I’ve long since bought the car but the concept still intrigues me to this day:

Why does something have to be broken to fix it?

That’s pretty limiting when you think about it. Sure, we shouldn’t be carelessly throwing things away and supporting rampant consumerism. However, at the same time, we shouldn’t hold on to something that is not working for us just because it’s not broken.

If I buy something that works, but doesn’t work as I need it to, than it’s not working. It’d be a waste for me to keep it when it could work for someone else.

I’m a firm believer in being able to change out of choice , not just out of necessity.  So unlimit yourself; don’t wait to make positive changes just because something isn’t broken.