An Open Letter to Myself

•January 8, 2013 • Leave a Comment

1-8-2013 9-03-39 AM

Dear Moose,

The experience of life is a fascinating thing.   It’s full of immensely differing turns and changes every day.  Some things we can plan for and other things we can’t.  We can plot a course and think we have all the answers and know all the directions, but sometimes we just have to walk to find where we are headed and which is the right place to be.

Everything in life is a choice.  It’s either a choice we choose to make or a choice on how we will react to decisions made by others.  Either way, we own the control of dictating where we want our lives to be.  We own the choice to let the decisions we make own us or to own the decisions we make.  We own the right to lead ourselves to our own happiness and to find the things in life that our important to us.

Not everybody will ever understand the decisions I make.  Sometimes I will not understand the choices that others make.  Life isn’t about making the choices that make everybody understand or make people happy with us.  Life is about making the decisions, no matter how hard they may be, which leads us to being as happy and fulfilled in life as we can be.  Life is about knowing in your heart the things that really matter and putting our hearts in motion to get to that point in our lives.

Sometimes it hurts.  Sometimes it’s painful.  Sometimes it’s agonizing.  But worse than feeling the pain and anguish of heartache or sadness is the pain and anguish of a life unfulfilled…a life left without really getting to the point where you are truly happy.  Without getting to the point where you know implicitly where you are supposed to be.  Life can be difficult, but a life without complete happiness is not a life.

We can’t prepare ourselves for everything.  We can’t prepare ourselves for every curveball or every swerve.  That is just not how life works.  We can only prepare ourselves for how we are going to handle these times and commit ourselves to work toward the ways that we are going to be happy in life.  We aren’t here for long, but in that time make the most out of every second to be fulfilled and complete.

Life isn’t easy.  Choices aren’t easy.  Being happy is a commitment to yourself.  Being happy is the foundation of life.  Wake up every day knowing where you want to be and make every effort to be as happy in life as you can be.  Look at that guy in the mirror and make him find his smile.



Picking Up the Pieces

•November 8, 2012 • Leave a Comment

11-8-2012 9-41-08 PM

Well, it’s that magical time again that comes every four years.  People picking where they stand.  Choosing sides.  Slinging messages of insult and anger.  And sadly, I’m not talking about the election itself.  I’m referring to post election fallout.  It seems that every time we reach this wonderful point in our country’s history the absolute worst in humanity never fails to emerge, and unfortunately this time more than most I can remember the venom is flowing like a river.  And just as unfortunate is the bitter reality that this is probably the single worst way to approach the beginnings of our next era in history.

Regardless of where any of us stand on party lines or politics, one message has resounded clearly in the two days following the election – this nation needs solidarity, cooperation, and a new vision for optimism if we are going to work toward progress.  While we hold firmly to our core beliefs and positions, there is a need to work in harmony with our brothers and sisters we differ from and work in the spirit of collaboration, putting behind us our vanity, our stubbornness, and our inflexibility and looking towards solutions, progress, and compromises where needed.  Many of us see this, from people beholden to vastly differing political or moral compasses.  However, many will not.

There are those that no matter what is said, done, or propositioned will forever cling to the “cut off my nose to spite my face” mentality.  They are full of rage, anger, and at times blatant hatred and would just as soon let our nation burn in a fiery ball before they look to giving an inch in making our way towards harmony and progress.  They see this as an opportunity to reject every leaning toward the offering of ways wherein we can find common ground and mutual understandings in lieu of finding a new fire for discourse and division.

Initially, it saddened me.  I admit, it gets tiresome and you begin to lose faith in humanity a little bit.  You begin to question whether we can ever be able to see America, though never in complete unequivocal agreement, able to find a means to remain a prosperous and industrious shining beacon for the world.  Then, I have to step back and think about the fact that we’ve been here before.

Do you think Washington felt these thoughts?  In his farewell address to the nation following his presidency, Washington warned us of the dangers that a party system of government would instigate and how the creation of factions within its borders could destroy it.  Washington believed very strongly in the notion of nonpartisan politics and often spoke of patriotism being our higher calling and the need for us all to work together as one.  A nation is such infancy was of course highly susceptible to division, but being the man of character and a hero to his people, he helped stitch the fabric to allow us to prosper.

What must President Lincoln have thought in his times spent alone as the nation he was charged with leading was categorically being divided before his very eyes?  In his very words, “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”  Through arguably the most dire point in our nation’s history, Lincoln pulled us through and the nation endured.

But I ask one question…does the sole responsibility for keeping our nation whole and one people rest entirely on the shoulders of men such as Washington or Lincoln?  I think not.  Through the toughest of times and the darkest hours, it has always been the people who have endured.  It has always been within us to lift up and push each other forward.  It’s in this notion that I maintain my faith in humanity.

In the next days or weeks or likely years, we will continue to hear those that will choose to attack the fabric of this country and decide that the problems are far more superior to solutions.  To those people I say you will have to do as you may.  For the rest of us, we have our nation.  We have our country.  We have our people.  We differ.  We disagree. We debate vigorously and contest with passion.  But under it all, we are one.  We are strong with resolve that there is something better we believe we can be.

We also fight mightily for the beliefs we hold dear to us because we have earned our right to do just that.  But today, I challenge ever person who calls this country home – seek to be a part of our solution, not another rock on the problem pile.  Casting stones and attacking the moral fiber of people with whole we disagree does not seek to solve anything.  It only breeds hatred and feeds further suffering for our nation.  We do not always agree, nor will we ever much as we did in the earliest days of our country, but we will endure this and will do so by strengthening the people that believe in our country and empowering them to speak up against these people of hate and insist that we will not tolerate the hatred any longer.  Working together is just that…work.  It takes effort, it takes respect, it takes sacrifice, and it takes all of us digging deep within to pick up our brother and sisters and brush them off, not because we agree with them, but because we are a part of them.

Climbing the Sandy Hill

•October 22, 2012 • Leave a Comment

10-22-2012 5-55-57 AM

Every once in a while in life we come across those moments in life where things change.  Where we stop to reflect on where we came from and where we are headed.  When we reach those decision points that will impact the direction we take our lives and push aside the things that are preventing us from being where we want to be.  Life is a never-ending climb up the sandy hill, but we occasionally need to stop and reflect on the footprints we left behind to understand the direction from where we have come.

Life contains a lot of decisions.  Some are no brainers, some with little consequence or importance, some without really questioning the “why” of our choices.  Other times, we make difficult decisions in life.  We have to decide to change paths, to change circumstances, or to change our positions in life.  It’s these types of decisions that alter our very existence and often impact those around us.

When we happen upon these crossroads in life, it is generally two kinds:  a path from which we are looking to flee or a path toward which we seek to embark.  Sometimes, if not often, these paths are one in the same…it’s all in the perspective we choose to see our journey and the perspective we choose to take that fuels the nature of our venture.

My challenge is this: relish these moments when these times come along.  Some hills we climb are steeper and more difficult than others, but when we make the tough decisions to chose for ourselves a new state of being, a new beginning, or a new frame of mind we open our being to new opportunities, experiences, or adventures.  There is never anything easy about shedding the past and walking in a new light, but we must remember that it’s never about the ease of our journeys, but rather the destination that matters.

So what will be the fire to light our course when we push on?  Courage.  Determination.  The thirst for something more in our life.  For each of us, the passion that keeps us walking up the hill shows itself differently.  Part of the experience is having the opportunity to have our own perspectives and live our journey in our own unique light.  We will find commonality with the journeys that other take and will share our tales of each others trek, but ultimately our walk is not only unique to who we are but molds and fashions who we are.

When we walk up the sandy hill, we leave the footprints behind to remind us the way we chose to climb.  We see and remember them, sometimes we either love or hate them, we feel senses of accomplishment or disappointment with them, but ultimately we look back upon them.  Those small imprints are simply reminders that you are about to make a new one in the sand right in front of you.  Take the time to look back upon them and understand why or how they happened, but never forget to keep looking for the best way up that hill and journey upward.

Democracy, Theocracy, and Hypocrisy

•September 3, 2012 • 2 Comments


9-3-2012 5-43-14 PM

Well, it’s that magical time I love so much that shows its ugly head every four years.  The season of politics is all around us, and it seems every one gets more ridiculous than the next.  Every four years, I get reminded how little faith I have in humanity these days, and how much we are moving backward as a society.  You see, it isn’t the politics itself that disgust me the most, though elements of it undoubtedly do.  No, what gets to me the most is that we as a people are becoming less and less tolerant of the difference in one another.

The people that attack freedom.  The enemy of democracy.  Growing up, these were terms used for horribly abusive regimes in other countries around the world where leaders were committing acts of vile cruelty and inhumane attacks on basic human rights.  Now, I hear these types of labels tossed around at every turn, only they are now aimed at our own people.  Government officials.  Public figures.  Religious leaders.  When did having a differing opinion lead to such disdain?

Regardless of where somebody’s political or religious affiliations lie, I don’t recall a time where such blatant disrespect for people existed.  In the past, there have been people that disagreed with policies of elected officials.  Did anybody ever take to the streets carrying signs of the President’s severed head?  Did we every have to worry about people burning cats in effigy to protest an elected official?  It’s one thing to disagree…it’s another to disrespect the very core of a human being’s essence.

Somehow, we have lost the ability to have differing opinions in the country.  It used to be that I could have a different stance or position than another and carry on a healthy debate.  Now, we are just enemies.  The very fabric of our national creed for centuries has been the right to think, worship, and exist in any way we choose.  Where have we strayed so far?  We’ve become so polarized, from the far right religious right to the bleeding hear liberal…we’ve lost any tolerance for the spaces between these ends.

And now to the part that bothers me the most with all of this.  Whether it be political or religious stances.  There is a core principle we lack severly…and I shall sum that up in one solitary statement:

A person’s belief system will not be taken seriously when peppered with hypocrisy.

Every day it seems I run into someone who wants to spill what they believe all over.  And how do they do that…by attacking the position contrary to what they believe.  Nobody seems to take a position on what they believe, but rather they choose to attack what they don’t believe.  And in doing so, they choose to ignore the validity of what they believe.

Statement:  You cannot choose to defend the core values of separation of church and state yet insist that we need to get God back into our public schools.

Statement: You cannot say that an elected office is trying to destroy Jesus in our society on the basis that you believe he is a Muslim and also believe in a political candidate who believes that God is a being who resides on the planet Kolob and belongs to a religious sect who’s leaders have made countless statements regarding the “ridiculousness” of Christianity.

Statement: Liberals cannot defend the first amendment but then demand someone be removed from a job for exercising that right.

If you believe in something, then understand why you believe in it.  Not why you choose to not believe in something else.  Know facts…don’t create them.  Study and stay educated.  And most importantly, keep an open mind.  You aren’t always going to agree with everything that everyone else believes.  This does not by nature make them your enemy…it just makes us different.  We have lost the ability to coexist and let others believe something that is not identical to us.  This is what democracy is for.  We believe what we choose.  When it is going to impact others, we have the rights to vote to determine how society should handle these differences.  Instead, we now devote all of our time trying to disprove what someone else thinks or destroying who someone else is.  Here’s a thought…more people will believe in you and respect you when they know who YOU are, not who someone else isn’t.

I have friends that are devout Christians.  I have friends who are Muslims.  I have friends who believe in Buddhism.  I have friends who are Catholic, Lutheran, or Methodist.  I have friends that are Democrats.  I have friends who are Republicans.  I have friends who refuse to affiliate themselves with a political party.  I have friends of all creeds, beliefs, and positions that believe in a multitude of things that I may or may not.  Looking them all over and summing them all up, I have friends.  At the end of the day, that should be the only thing that matters.

Believe with conviction but tolerate with compassion.