Power of Words

Most of us most of the time do not recognize the power of our words.  One sentence spoken can be permanently carved into another’s psyche.  Most of what we speak is lost in the air the moment after the breath behind it evaporates. Usually we never know the impact of what we have spoken has on another person unless they tell us.

When I was seven my father left and my mother sat on a bed at my grandparents with an arm around my brother and I as she told us what had happened.  At one point she looked at me through tears and said “You’re now the man of the house.  You’re gonna have to take care of your little brother”.  She will never know the impact, both positive and negative, that statement had on me.  Inside I carry it in bold print and all caps’.  My gratitude is for the joy of seeing after my little brother and the wisdom derived from pain.  In combination both influences made me stronger and able to withstand much more than if I had not been “weathered” by what began as just a few words.

In my 16th year there was the man who fired me from my first part-time job in a profession that I have now been in for several decades.  He said “You have no talent or aptitude for this business.  You ought to plan on another line of work.  You won’t make it in this one”.  His words had the reverse effect of his intention and instead gave me determination to prove him wrong.  (PS:  He was out of the profession within a few years and ended being a policeman in a small town).  I am thankful to that man for having put a fire in my belly and a bellows in my soul so I could “blaze” brightly and prove him wrong.

Within a couple of years I was freshly out of high school and working in my profession when a man I respected told me I had true talent, should pursue a career in the business and there was a bright future ahead.  After a couple of years we lost touch.  In time he became very well known nationally in our line of work and was often a speaker at conventions.  I had the chance to talk to him about 25 years later at a professional gathering.  He recognized me right off and was glad to see me.  When I reminded him of what he had said and how much it meant to me, he simply didn’t specifically remember saying those words.  My response was to tell him that didn’t matter much for I remembered them and they benefited me greatly.

I lost a close friend of 30 years about a year ago who had been in bad health for several years.  Yet, his passing came much sooner than expected.  Four days before he died my cell phone rang and B.’s name was caller ID’ed on my screen.  I answered and in a weak voice he said “how you doing Brother?”  We were not family but we were closer than most relatives are.  He continued “I just wanted to call and hear your voice and tell you that I love you”.  I replied “I love you too B. how are you doing?”  His response was “I’m not doing very good.  I don’t have energy to do anything anymore.  Even getting to the bathroom is an F’ing chore anymore”.  I began to respond, but he interrupted by saying “I gotta go.  I’m feeling very tired”.  What came out of my mouth was “Ok, talk to you soon B.  Take care”.  “You too” was his response.  And those were the last words we ever exchanged.  I know in my heart he called to say good bye and today know what a great gift his goodbye to me is.  Writing them now I feel the deep emotion I always get when I think of what he said and remember him.

The power of my words goes so far beyond what I can perceive.  Further, I will rarely ever know who I touched with what I expressed or exactly which segment of words will be remembered.  With much reverence for their value, I can certainly tell you about those valuable and special words spoken to me that I keep in my treasure box of my life experience.  I am so grateful for those priceless bits people gifted me with.  Beyond what they will ever know, my life was in part shaped by the words they shared with me.  I hope some where, some how there are things I have spoken to others that have been deemed worthy of being treasured in a like fashion in their keepsakes of life.

Act as if what you do makes a difference.  It does.  William James

Call Me Norman, Please

My profession has placed me in proximity to many famous people and the majority of them I am grateful to have met.  Not matter how much fame and fortune each had achieved, I learned first-hand that underneath each one is a person just like the rest of us.  How I felt about each celebrity I have met runs the full gamut just as the people I meet in everyday life do.  Many were warm and interesting, quite a few were aloof but polite and some were cold and just going through the motions.  But there are a few that really made impressions on me, especially one.

In 1972 I was returning to Colorado after visiting family down south and was making a connection on Frontier Airlines at the old Denver Stapleton Airport.  Those were the days of hair long past my shoulders and my full hippie regalia which those we called “Straight’s” liked to stare at, especially the older folks.  At the gate I was waiting for a flight to Colorado Springs that made another stop in Pueblo when I noticed a white haired gentleman in his 70’s sitting with a woman of similar age.

For about 10 minutes I stared on and off at the man about 20 feet away dressed in a crisp white shirt and khaki pants.  Was he who I thought he was or not?  I vacillated between “yes it is” and “it can’t be”.  To solve my quandary I got up the nerve to walk over and speak to him.  He was seated as I approached him and as he looked up I said “You wouldn’t be Norman Rockwell would you?”  He smiled and said “the last time I checked I was.  Who might you be?” as he extended his hand.  As I introduced myself and shook his hand I was glad for his warm and welcoming nature.  Soon after he patted the empty seat beside him inviting me to sit down and visit with him.  A couple of times while talking I referred to him as Mr. Rockwell and more than once he said “Norman, please”.

In our conversation of about 15 minutes, I learned the woman he was traveling with was “Molly” his wife as he introduced me to her (that he remembered my name even for 30 seconds really impressed me).  Then he motioned to a guy about my age standing nearby and introduced him as his grandson.  In the conversation he told me they were flying to Pueblo in order to get to what he called his “hideaway” somewhere near Canon City.  Norman seemed genuinely interested in our conversation and asked things like where I was going, where I had been, about my family and even what I thought of his work.  When I told him I “loved” his work and his Christmas paintings were favorites, especially Santa Claus, he said nothing, but a gentle smile came onto his face. He expressed his appreciation with that smile more than words probably could have.

The time passed quickly and soon it was time to board. Norman shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder, told me “good luck son”.  As he walked away to be one of the first to board he looked over his shoulder once and tipped his head a little to say good bye.  Later he smiled as I walked past him on the plane headed to my seat in the back of the plane and again when I got off the plane in Colorado Springs.  And that was the end of the story, but my memory of it remains clear and vivid.

To this day, I can remember the warmth of Norman Rockwell.  This is especially true since I have read he basically was a shy and quiet man overall.  But for a little while to me, then a kid of 18; he seemed like the uncle I had not seen in years.  I remember little things like the pipe in his shirt pocket but most of all I remember his smile.

Years later I read that Norman’s private life was troubled, especially the years married to his second wife and mother of his children who suffered from mental problems.  I also found a quote in some biographical material credited to Dr. Erik Erikson, a psychologist, who treated Mr. Rockwell.  It’s recorded that Dr. Erikson told Norman “he painted his happiness, but did not live it”.  Even today that makes me a little melancholy to think the man whose paintings contained such deep emotions from laughter to innocent elation and to sadness and reverence did not get to live what he painted. Norman Rockwell left an enduring legacy of joy and authentic American life to everyone, but to me he left a beautiful image of old gentlemen who was rich and famous, but still had time to be kind and thoughtful to an impressionable young man who 40 years later is still deeply grateful.   Thank you Norman.

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart.  Henry Clay

Sustenance From Gratitude

Since beginning this blog and the morning ritual of expressing my gratitude each day, my life has changed.  And it has changed remarkably for the better.  I am stunned by the effect on my life of an activity that appears so simple and one I thought I was already fairly consistent with.  What an eye opener this new journey is.

One of my very first thoughts in the morning, usually climbing out of bed, is “what am I most grateful for today” or “what am I going to write about today”.  This thinking is not compulsive nor does it feel like an obligatory task.  Rather, I look forward to it the way birds must anticipate embracing sunshine or the earth looks forward to rain.  I grow a little each day and become healthier from this simple expression of gratitude each day.

Near the start my thinking was it would be difficult to come up with a gratitude subject to write about each day.  How wrong I was!  It seems the more thanks I express, the more I find to be thankful for.  Here on my desk is a list of over 20 items to write about in the future and my store of future subjects is getting larger by the day now.

I have been moved emotionally at my very core by this daily activity.  Like most, I have read sayings about being grateful and believed in their wisdom.  Long has the belief been within that gratitude was a key ingredient in a good life.  What I have discovered is the sizeable distance between intellectually knowing truth and emotionally knowing truth.  Through this experience my discovery is my intellect is largely really one dimensional.  My feelings add the additional dimensions of height and depth to my understanding.  And so it has become with gratitude.

Each morning it takes about 30 minutes or so to create what is found here each day.  The belief within now is each half hour affects me like I imagine a solid half hour of prayer might.  For me a prayer has never lasted more than seconds and if ever, certainly no more than a minute or two.  To essentially pray for a half hour has a profound effect.

Further, after when finishing each day within is a feeling as if completing a half hour of formal meditation in the manner I have practiced somewhat regularly for years.  In that practice I close my eyes and count my breaths up to ten.  Inhale is “one”; exhale is “two” and so on until I reach ten.  Then I start over again.  Just that little bit of activity is enough to keep my mind from bouncing around in thought the way a pinball moves around in a game machine. My conclusion is writing this blog causes me to center on one subject I am grateful for and the sharpness of that focus quiets my mind much like formal meditation.  I did not expect this and am frankly profoundly moved by it all.

I am grateful that you have come here to read what I have written.  Now with gladness I share of myself openly about my truths, feelings and thoughts.  However, the impetus behind me doing so began as a purely personal thing and has evolved into a personal need now that when exercised is as nourishing to me as food and drink.  I know now that the measure of gratitude in my life is directly related to the amount of happiness and contentment I can experience.  I GET IT! 

So this morning I am humbly grateful to the spark of an idea, the thought put in my head by the universe and the divine inspiration that I feel that caused me to begin Good Morning Gratitude a few weeks ago.  I am convinced my gratitude multiplies the good in my life and diminishes the difficulty to an extent that exceeds my ability to express it.  I could lament “why did it take so long” but choose instead to say “the best of my life is still ahead”.

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens.
  Carl Jung
 

Thank You for the Music

Last evening I was fortunate to be a friend’s guest at an impressive Foo Fighters concert at our local arena.  All bands touring could take lessons from the passion and professionalism Dave Grohl and his band exhibit.  They played for over two and a half hours and I am grateful to have witnessed the show.

As I watched the performance, among the chill bumps of hearing songs performed live I know so well and singing along, a wave of gratitude hit me for all the great concerts I have been blessed to set eyes on.  There have been so many it is difficult to remember them all.

When I was barely a teen I sang along with Paul Revere and the Raiders at my first concert “I’m hungry for those good things, baby” as my way of asserting I was someday going to have a life outside of the rural south where I was growing up.

Within two years I had let my hair grow longer (pretty conservative by today’s standards) and was wearing sandals and army shirts.  I became what my brother later told me some people called the first hippie in Clay County, Alabama.  That’s interesting since I did not even know what marijuana was for another 4 years.  However, I was dressed the part and ready to see bearded, long-haired Felix Cavalieri of the Rascals sing “love to see the music take you away” and they took me away with a 10 minute jam (the first one I ever witnessed).

I held hands with my first serious girlfriend on the Auburn University campus while The Classics IV sang what became the epitaph of that relationship “Tickets torn in half, memories in bits and pieces”. 

In Jackson I sang along with Mountain “Mississippi Queen, if you know what I mean, she taught me everything”.  With me at the concert was the girl/woman who was my “first” and I hers.  She did not teach me everything, but we learned a lot together.

In the 70′s I moved to Colorado and with America in concert I sang “I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name”.  Later in Omaha I immensely enjoyed singing along with poet/performer Gordon Lightfoot, “If you could read my mind, love, what a tale my thoughts could tell”.

 “There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold” I sang with Led Zeppelin live at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati.  And a year later on December 3, 1979 in that same arena I sang “We’ll be fighting in the streets with our children at our feet” not knowing after that Who concert I’d find out 11 people had been trampled to death on their way into the show.

Over the years I have sung  “ On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair” with the Eagles in concert, “Just let me know if you wanna go to that home out on the range” with ZZ Top, “The rain exploded with a mighty crash as we fell into the sun” with Paul McCartney, “A goodbye kiss is all I need from you” with George Strait, “There must be higher love” with Steve Winwood, “She shines with her own kind of light” with Neil Diamond, “I wanna be loved like that” with Shenandoah, “Where are you going for tomorrow” with Stone Temple Pilots and all the others I sang along with:  Bruce Springsteen, Union Gap, Santana, Sammy Hagar, Rolling Stones, Boyce and Hart, Alanis Morisette, John Conley, Kansas, Billy Joel, Kiss, Queen, Three Dog Night, Jeff Beck, Ronnie Milsap, Rush, Marvin Gaye, Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Tracy Lawrence, NIN, Roots, Moody Blues, Staind, Police, Johnny Lang, Carpenters, Bush, Eric Clapton, U2, David Bowie, Alabama, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills and Nash, Moby, AC/DC (several times!), Styx, Beach Boys, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Yes,  Elton John, Outcast, James Taylor, Nelly Furtado, Incubus, Nickelback, Kinks, Reba McEntire, Black Eyed Peas, Aerosmith (gave some of hearing to those guys sitting in the 6th row!), 311, Beck, Genesis, Sublime, Def Leppard and so many more.

Knowing that I have listed not even half of the artists I have seen in concert, I am overcome with a sense of profound humility and almost over powering gratitude.  Was it because I love music so much that I attended all these shows or was it all the great live music that gave me a deep love of music?  I think it was probably both. 

Although I admit to not being a big fan of Abba, one of their songs expresses clearly my feelings of gratitude this morning:  “Thank you for the music, the songs I’m singing
Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing”.  ‘Nuff said.

Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.  Victor Hugo

Well Wishes From Youth

In a special edition of a book titled “The Prophet” by Kahlil Gibran, on January 25, 1975, my first wedding day, a woman dear to me wrote the following to the one I was marrying:

“…Take care of him, stay with him forever and tell him that you love him every day.  He has been a very special friend to me – a best friend.  He used to make every day a little nicer.  He’s a beautiful, warm person.  I know him well and know he loves you more than anything in his whole life.  And because he loves you – he’ll never let you down…”

Within that copy of Kahlil Gibran’s book the inscription is written in the following passages are found:

When love beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you.
And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams
as the north wind lays waste the garden.

For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth.

But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed;
For love is sufficient unto love.

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself.
But if you love…. let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.

When young, the fire of living burns brightly as one first experience after another of being an adult unfolds.  It is so easy to take for granted what much later becomes a prized and cherished memory.  In my remembrance there is much gratitude for knowing the woman who wrote the inscription in the book, for the words of the author and especially for the woman who married me and who I spent 20-something years of  my life with.  While we went our separate ways now over a dozen years ago, I will always be thankful for the good years we shared together and the son that came from our union.  The predictions of the well-wisher did not come true as she wrote them.  People do disappoint each other, love does not always grow and sometimes growth means growing apart.  Such happenings do not have to paint what unfolded as “bad”.   Rather I prefer to think of such occurrences as “good” that just turned out different than expected.

With sufficient time, all things change and the evolution of each of us as a person is only partially within our control.  However, my ability to value all my experiences is within my control.  That gratitude allows me to see that nothing lasts forever and teaches me to treasure experiences even more for the fleeting gifts they are.  Each piece of my past is responsible for molding me as I am today.  Just because the prophecy of “till death do us part” becomes untrue does not diminish in any way the value of what “was” for a time.

The years teach much which the days never knew.  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Home Sweet Home

My recollection is clear of the feeling when I caught sight of the house that would become the first home I owned.  The realtor was late and just being seeing the outside convinced us if the inside of the house was as appealing as the outside, we had found our first house to purchase.  We were not disappointed and soon were in happily in debt.  I know the realtor was pleased, as we had dragged her through over 100 homes over the previous months.  That little house truly was “love at first sight”.

After moving into the home, we worked constantly on the house taking down wall paper, painting, cleaning up the yard, planting and all the things that made that house a home.  It was the place my infant son came home to and where the retired next door neighbors became “shirt tail” grandparents.  Although we only owned the house a few years, it was a wonderful “first” that is burned into my treasured memories.

In recent times due to life changes I ended up renting half a duplex for several years and was the first time I had rented in several decades.  After a marital home was sold and the last bits of a divorce settlement were made I began looking for a house to purchase.  This search turned out to be much like my very first home.  I worked my way through one realtor and ended up on a second one before finding something I wanted to buy.  The search covered 18 months and at least 75 homes that I looked at and for a second time in my life I found a home that was “love at first sight”.

Once again, I knew this house was the one I wanted when I first saw it from the outside during my lunch hour.  I swear the house told me I was supposed to live here.  That evening when I was able to see the inside with my realtor, I absolutely loved what I saw but was sad there was already a contract on it.  In the end we stayed up late that night and made an offer anyway.  I thought there was only a slight chance the first offer would fall through and I might be able to buy it.  The next morning to my surprise, my contract was accepted by the sellers and I literally cried with joy.

So now I live in this wonderfully unique house that above you see the glass in one of the front doors.  Boxes are everywhere, nothing has been hung on the walls and only some rooms have semi-organized furniture in them.  I tell people I “live in the land of boxes” because I am taking my time to sort out my things and am lightening the load wherever I can.  That is a refreshing new start for me as I begin this new phase in my life.  I am so grateful to own a home again… Grateful like I was for the first home I managed to buy when I was in my 20’s.

The difficulty of the last few years is now settling into a mellow life filled with gratitude and humility.  I realize now that the challenges of my life have all been to bring me to this point where I can embrace myself just as I am.  Had I not experienced and endured the things that I have I would not have found this measure of wisdom I enjoy now that makes me the best I have ever been.  Given time gratitude has the power to make even the bitter taste sweet.

Every house where love abides
And friendship is a guest,
Is surely home, and home sweet home
For there the heart can rest.
Henry Van Dyke

The Invitation

I seem to be touched the deepest by works of art in written form, but as soon as I write that I am reminded of how I can at times be visually moved to the point of being overwhelmed.  When what I read is accompanied by an image to match that is when I am penetrated at the deepest levels.   I have profound gratitude for my ability to feel the expressions of “self” that artists and writers have given the world.  My life is far better because of them.  As an example I offer the image above and words you find below here.   I recently sent someone “The Invitation” as an explanation of what I hoped should I be blessed with love coming into my life again.  While no one can likely fit every single idea presented, the ability to be stirred by the words in a meaningful way is a necessary trait for anyone who wishes to knock on the door of my heart.

The Invitation

Oriah Mountain Dreamer

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

There was a time in my life I would have thought “The Invitation” to be “pretty” and would have appreciated the art of it, but have gotten no more from it.  I am indebted to the heartache that opened me, the trials that molded me and the growth as a sensing and feeling human being that today allow me not just to see the words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer, but to “feel” them as well.

If you’d like to know more about this poem go here:  http://www.oriahmountaindreamer.com/

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. Kahlil Gibran

Affecting Eternity

I am grateful for the opportunities to grow I have had throughout my life and the greatest influences have been people.   Clear in my mind are the teachers who taught me to read and write, the pilot who taught me to fly, the woman who taught me how to love and even those who taught me what not to do by me watching them do those very things.  Yet beyond the many who contributed to the quality of my life, there are the very few who had tremendous impact on me.  Right at the top of that list is DK, my first mentor.

DK was an inspiration to begin with when he hired me as a first time department manager when I was only 23.  Only a few years before he had overcome a severe drinking problem that had left his personal life a mess.  He told me once “I screwed up my first marriage by becoming a drunk and screwed up my first marriage to a drunk when I quit drinking”.  I knew him a few years later when he met a nurse who became his 3rd wife while he was in the hospital for a serious surgery.  I was a witness to the happiness he found with her during the rest of his years and the two children they had together.

I have great respect for DK and what he had overcame.  But to an even greater degree I hold him in high esteem for what he taught me about business and people.  Of the many things I learned from him in the seven years he was my boss, at the very top of the sizable heap is that businesses succeed or fail from the inside out.  He taught me that there on the “inside” people are what make or break a business.  “Hire good people, ask a lot of them and treat them as well as you possibly can” are his words that are imprinted deeply within me.   The image of the framed item at the top of this page is an example of his philosophy.  This frame  hung in DK’s office and his family gave it to me after he passed away.  Now a decade later it is displayed proudly in my office and I hear his voice in my head still guiding me just about every day.

There came a point when he confided in me that in six months he was moving on to a different job and one where he could not take me with him.  In our time together and with DK’s help I had managed to create success that was written about nationally in trade magazines.  There had been a number of previous offers of employment, but none that could attract me away.  Now a good job offer came along within a couple of months and I accepted it as I could not imagine being in my present position reporting to someone else.  Like DK said “Kid, its time to go”.

On my last day DK asked me to come to his office when I had all my stuff in my car and was ready to leave.  So there I was sitting with him just after 5pm wanting badly to express my gratitude for his belief in me and all he had taught me.  I asked him “How do I repay you for all you have done for me?”  He replied, “You can’t Kid”.  DK must have seen the perplexed look on my face, so he continued.  “Someone saw the spark in me and gave me opportunity and taught me.  I saw the spark in you and brought you along.  It’s your responsibility to take the time to teach and bring along those you see the spark in.  That’s how you repay me”.

So here I sit misty eyed as I always get when I tell this story, grateful beyond my ability to express it to a man I will never forget.  In later years at a business I managed I was able to hire and mentor DK’s son who was floundering in life.  Somehow it is fitting that the last time I saw DK was when he was in town helping his son move to start that job.  I know he would be proud of his son’s success today.

Most of all Don taught me to “play it forward” at least 10 or 15 years before I ever heard that phrase.  With a grateful and happy heart I will be “paying him back” for the rest of my days.

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.  Henry Adams

This is Wonderful!

The company that employs me takes good care of me and the hotels they book are very good ones, which I am thankful for.  However, a hotel room is just that:  a temporary place to hang clothes, bathe and sleep.  Some of the best hotels I have slept in have been paid for by an employer but I don’t sleep enough or particularly well in unfamiliar beds.  While on a business trip I am usually treated to great food in fine restaurants for which I am grateful, I always take in too many calories.  I am often entertained in ways that are uncommon to me to get to do which I also accept gratefully. However, all in all I generally come home tired from a business trip, a little out of sorts and in general worn out.

Whatever magic for me there was in business travel when younger has long since largely disappeared.  After 10 hours in airports yesterday, my arrival home was no different than usual.  However, when reviewing it all I know I am blessed with a good job and a good employer.  I am lucky to get to travel and have the experiences I get to have.  Even getting to fly as much as I do helps rack up frequent flyers miles for personal vacation travel.  All in all, I am reminded I have much to be grateful for.

After arriving at my home airport and getting my car I drove to the office and spent a few hours there.  It was good to see my coworkers.  I am truly blessed to share my working life with a group of talented people I respect and genuinely enjoy being around.   No emergencies or fires to put out, so I came home and unpacked soon after I arrived.  If unpacking is not made a completed task soon after I return home, I have this tendency to put it off for a day or two and end up having to rummage through my bag trying to find things.  For dinner I grabbed a bowl of cereal as I was just too pooped to do anything else.  Mindlessly I sat in front of the TV (correction:  lay in front of the TV for about two hours decompressing from my travels).  Between 8:30 and 9pm, my eyes were having difficulty staying open and toward bed I headed.

King size beds take up too much of a bedroom for my taste and my “queen size” is plenty big for me and accommodates my six foot three inch height.  When first purchased the high bed I have took some time to get used to.  It sits about 3 feet from the floor and originally I thought falling out of bed would be a regular occurrence.  That never happened and now I do enjoy not having to bend and crawl in and out of a low bed.  My high bed is easy for me to roll into and out of.

After brushing my teeth and not flossing (sorry Dr. C.) to bed I went.  I was very tired, but so glad to be home.  As I crawled into bed and felt the cool sheets against my skin along with the texture of the bed my body is so accustomed to, I smiled a satisfied smile and with great gratitude said aloud “this is wonderful”.  And after that simple expression of gratitude for one of life’s great simple pleasures within a minute I was fast asleep.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.   Author Unknown

Red’s Explanation

Business took me to Baltimore the last few days for a company meeting.  Last night we were treated to an Orioles baseball game on a beautiful spring night.  When the featured singer began to sing the national anthem, I stood as I always do.  This time I went a step further that has not been my consistent habit as an adult but was as an elementary school kid in the 60’s.  I put my right hand over my heart.  It felt good and while standing there listening and looking at the flag on the scoreboard I re-adopted my childhood habit.  I remembered learning the Pledge of Allegiance from reciting it daily with my hand over my heart at the start of each school day.

Red Skelton was a successful entertainer in the 60’s while I was in elementary school.  He had a “family oriented” variety TV show with lots of content that would not be considered “politically correct” today.  I suppose the way he explained Pledge of Allegiance to us kids then would be considered “incorrect” today as well.  I don’t care and am grateful for how memorable he made it for me.

“I” = Me, an individual, a committee of one

“PLEDGE” = Dedicate all my worldly good to give without self pity

“ALLEGIANCE” = my love and devotion

“TO THE FLAG” = our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom.  Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job.

“UNITED” = that means that we have all come together

“STATES” = individual communities that have united into fifty great states.  Fifty individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that’s love for country.

“TO THE REPUBLIC” = a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chose by the people to govern.  And government is the people and it’s from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.

“FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION = one place, one group of people, regardless of our race, color or religion

“UNDER GOD = with the guidance of a power greater yourself, however you define it

“INDIVISIBLE” = incapable of being divided

“WITH LIBERTY” = the principle or quality of dealing fairly with others.

“AND JUSTICE = fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards and law.

“FOR ALL” – boys and girls, it’s as much your country as mine.

                                                    (Updated to current version where necessary).

The gratitude I feel to be an American is strong.  In spite of all that could be better with this country there is no better place for me.  None!  Mr. Skelton, thanks for the inspiration and the memory!  I will always be grateful.

Be grateful for what you have,
not regretful for what you haven’t.

Anonymous