Value of Life

Value of Life


I listened to the President of the United States speak today about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.  First of all, I was watching a VERY important football game that was interrupted by this special presentation.

You know what?  I didn’t mind.  Not one bit.  I feel that means I’ve grown as a human being over the past few years.  Anyway, enough about me…

President Obama said something early in his speech about us, as humans, needing one another.  And earlier today, a good friend of mine posted a saying on Facebook that we should stop talking about controlling guns, and start teaching the value of human life.

I think these two concepts are connected in a big way.  I have stated before that the only way to start the ‘prevention’ of such tragedies is to teach our kids respect, love and courage.  But the question is can we do this by ourselves?

The answer is no.  We need to help each other out.  Create our communities and look out for each other.  There will be time that we will be high on life and our neighbor will be down in the dumps.  That is the time that we need to step up and offer assistance.

However, we must also remember that we can ONLY offer.  It’s a two-way street and once the offer is made, the offer must be accepted for it to be affected.  So, we must also remember that we need help and be open to the offerings of others.  That’s the only way it will work.  That is the way we realize the value of human life.

In this crazy journey we are all a part of, we only get what we put in.  So, let’s all make the conscious effort to put in a lot.  Be there for your neighbor, they will be there for you and BOOM both lives are enriched, thus increasing the value.

Show this to your kids and guess what happens?



UnspeakableAnd then it happened…

20 kids killed in their classrooms.  At a place where everyone tells them they are safe.  7 adults killed at their workplace.  Teaching and aiding today’s youth in their quest for knowledge.

A community torn apart by an unspeakable act of another human being.  A nation thrown into a flurry of anger, hatred and doubt.  Some people saying, “It could never happen here.”  Some of those people were probably Newtown, CT residents who saw the Virginia Tech, Columbine and Aurora shootings.

And then it happened…

It is simply amazing to see the outpouring of emotion and the ease of access we have to both express our thoughts and see others in their way of thinking.  I’ve seen posts ranging from “Take away all guns” to “How can this happen in a public school?” to “Why?”  I’ve seen anger, I’ve seen compassion, I’ve seen a lot of different take aways from the horrible incident that happened in Connecticut.

I wish I could sit here and give you a reason ‘why’ this happened.  I wish I could say that this would never happen to me or my community.  I wish I could say “Follow these steps and we can prevent this from ever happening again.”  But as is the reality of life, there is no simple answer nor is there a simple explanation.

The holidays are a great and wonderful time but can also be a very hard and depressing time.  There are always two sides to every coin.  Now, for 27 families, the landscape of the ‘holiday season’ has been changed forever.  For many more, this is just one more reminder at how short life is and how sometimes there is nothing we can do about it.

Can there be anything done?  I believe so.  Let me first say that I believe that there are random acts every day that we cannot change.  I don’t think there was anything definitive that would have stopped that man from walking into a school and opening fire.  The debate can go one about gun control laws until the end of time, but the fact of the matter is that there is no law that would stop a madman from killing innocent people.  We cannot change that sort of randomness.

What we can change, what we can do, is help each other and show love and compassion.  I can’t take away the possibility of this happening at my son’s school, but I can give my son the tools he needs to give him the best chance.  I can show him that he can trust me.  I can show him that as a child, he can trust the adults in his life.  I can show him how to gain the courage to be quiet, stay still and wait until danger passes.  I can tell him that running towards the sound of danger is not the right choice, but to band together with those around him is the way to survive.

No, I’m not going to be putting my 2-year-old through survival boot camp.  But over time, I will shower him with love and teach him respect.  I will show him what it means to live a good and fair life.  To treat others as he would like to be treated.  To not take advantage of the weak and to learn from the strong.

It is my belief that if more kids are taught core values and given love and shown respect from an early age, they have the best chance of not putting themselves into dangerous situations…let alone get the idea of taking a gun to school.

My heart goes out to every affected, directly or indirectly, by the events of Newtown, CT.  I will honor their loss by being thankful for my son and his opportunity to be a great person.



Knocking on Opportunity

Knocking on Opportunity


This is a quick follow-up to The End…  I woke up with a little inspiration and felt like I had a bit more to say.

The popular theme is to make sure you are ready for when opportunity knocks.  Take advantage and go for it.  Right?  Well, why are we waiting for opportunity to knock?  Go knock on opportunity’s door and say, “Hey, I’m ready, let’s go!”

In my experience, we as a society do ‘wait’ a lot for things.  I’m not saying that we should always take action 100% of the time, but more like make sure we aren’t waiting unnecessarily.

Is the opportunity for a better life not here yet?  Go make an opportunity.  Go out and see what’s out there.  Moving to a different state, looking for a different job, whatever the scenario might be, if you don’t go look for it, you may never find it at all.

So, don’t wait for opportunity, go make opportunities happen for you.


The End…

tyberonn_mayanCalendarWell, I’m sure you’ve heard this before.  The End of the World is coming.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks I suppose.  The asteroid is coming, or the zombies will rise.  The seas will flood and the earth will open spewing forth its molten core until the only things that survive are cockroaches and Twinkies….

Wait, what?!?  You’re telling me Twinkies are already on the endangered species list!  Maybe those Mayans WERE on to something.

Anyway, let’s say for a minute (or maybe 5, I haven’t decided how long this post will be yet) that those Yokels from the Yucatan were correct.  We only have 8 more days to live.  How do you spend them?  Do you turn to your deepest darkest desires and give in to the evil that lurks in each and every one of us?  Or do you turn to your….shallowest…lightest…ahh, never mind that’s a bad metaphor.

How about this.  What would be the last thing you want to do in this life?  What statement do you want to make to end the story that is you?  Are there things that you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t?  Well, 8 days isn’t THAT long, but I’m sure you can get some of those things accomplished.

The deeper question here is why haven’t you done them already?  Money?  Time?  Both very valid reasons.  Also, both of those reasons are able to be met.  You can make time and money.  Maybe not very fast, but it can happen if you really want it.

Do you really want it?  Why wait for the end of the world?  Take charge now and make it happen.  Make a plan and see it through.  Don’t wait for an ultimatum to make your wishes come true.

There’s still time!  Maybe 8 days, maybe 8 years, maybe 80 years.  But it all starts today.  The day you start making plans is the day you start realizing your dreams.  Stop waiting, start doing.  Make that your motto for the new year.  You’ll be amazed at how many things you can accomplish.



What if…?

What if...?

What if we had peace on earth?

What if you won the lotto?

What if that happened or what if this didn’t happen?

What if?

I find myself using that term a lot.  I use it a lot more than I probably should.  In reality, though, ‘what if’ is NOT reality.  ‘What if’ is a dream.  ‘What if’ is a fantasy.  And many times, ‘what if’ is a disappointment or a missed opportunity.

So, instead, try ‘why not?’  Instead of saying “What if I had asked that cute guy out?”  Say, “Why not take a chance and ask a cute guy out?”  Bad example?  Okay….how about this…Turn “What if I had gone for that job at the bakery?”  into “Why not look into owning my own bakery?”

See the difference?  Every ‘what if’ can turn into a ‘why not’.  This will allow you to realize that you still have the potential to do what you thought you missed.  More than likely we all have second chances.  You just need to reach out and grab it.

What If?  Why Not?



Self Image

It all starts with you.  That’s been a recurring theme of those blog and it won’t stop now.  How do you see yourself?  Do you see what others see or do you see what’s really inside? What percentage of your self-image is your external appearance or more importantly, how much weight to  you put in others’ opinion of your external appearance?

I’ll tell you that I’m not overly thrilled with the way I look.  Do I try those crazy herbal based diets?  Yes. (It’s great!)  Do I try those crazy workout programs?  Yes (This one works if you stick to it!)  Do I look like Hugh Jackman yet? No! (I can’t believe I just Googled ‘Topless Hugh Jackman’)  Do I lose sleep at night?  Yes…..well, okay no.  I don’t and that is because I only care so much about my external appearance.

Don’t get me wrong.  I would love six-pack abs and a chiseled chest…and as long as I stick to my crazy herbal diets and do my crazy workout programs, I think I will get there eventually.  But what I don’t do is let it get to me.  Nor do I let it make me forget who I am on the inside.

I feel like my self-image is great.  I know that I do what I can to help out others.  I treat people with respect and try to set a good example of what it means to be a man to my son.  I look after my wife and try my best to make sure she feels appreciated.  And though I may not keep in the greatest contact with friends and family at all times, I make sure that when I do see them, it’s worth their while.

That is how I measure my self-image.  This may not be the same for everyone and that is the beauty of us as individuals.  We all have our own metrics by which we need to stand.  We all have expectations and limits.  So, what do you hold yourself against?  What is your measuring stick?  Are you happy with your self-image?  If so, great!  If not, I have one piece of advice.  Instead of getting down on yourself, re-evaluate your measuring stick.  Or….re-

Examine The Glass.


Elevator Fun

Elevator Fun

I know you have all heard of those ‘fun things to do in an elevator’ social experiments.  Like, stand right next to the only other person in the elevator.  Well, let me tell you that is fun…especially if she’s cute.  But then after a while, you just feel creepy.  Anyway….

That’s not what I’m talking about.  Well, it sort of is, but not entirely.  Well, I should back up and make sure you all know what an elevator is.  If you had to click on that link I have ONE question for you:  How are you connecting to the Internet way up in the Ozarks?  That’s amazing….what digital divide??

Well, there are two digressions I’ve made so far in this post, let’s move on to the meat of the subject.  Elevator Fun!  Here’s the setting.  I get in the elevator and there is already a guy standing there.  He has pressed 6 and I need to go to 5.  So, I press 5.  Following along?

So, then I look at the guy and say “I’m always feel a bit awkward pushing the button for one floor below the floor already selected.”  He chuckled and said “Don’t worry about it, it happens.”

We got to 5 and I said “Have a good one” and he said “You too!”  Amazing dialogue isn’t it?  I should write a novel.

Anyway, the point is this.  I reached out with a disarming comment, it made both of us chuckle, which I know I needed after a long day at work and I can only imagine it lightened him up a bit too.

Very little effort.  Depending on your perspective, fairly large rewards.  We live in a society where a lot of people shy away from contact.  Especially if that contact involves a stranger.  But we also live in a society that MOST people will open up when presented the opportunity.  I’m not saying there was a HUGE break in this guy’s personal walls, he was willing and took the opportunity to enjoy a slight moment of idle banter.

Or not….maybe he was just being polite and I am the only person that got any sort of profound happiness out of this.  If that’s the case, then no harm no foul.  I enjoyed it and I plan on making sure I continue to allow myself to be open to moments of idle banter…especially when riding in an elevator.   DING!


Hope in the Darkness

Hope in the Darkness

“There’s hope in the darkness, you know you’re going to make it.”

That was a line to a Savage Garden song I listened to today.  A song that I’ve heard a lot over the years as it is on one of my favorite CDs.  Yes, I still listen to CDs.  Wipe that shocked look off of your tapes, it’s not like I said 8-track tapes or something.  And Yes, I did just link to 8-track tapes….sue me! 🙂

Anyway, where was I…oh yes, Savage Garden.  Or music in general is where I get some of my most inspiring thoughts.  The quote I started off with always struck true to me.  It always told me that no matter how dark it gets.  No matter how hard it gets.  There is always a way up.  I’m not saying it’s an easy way up or even an obvious way up.  But that old truism is still true…ism: when you’re on the bottom, there’s only one way to go.

I’ve seen people at their lowest.  I’ve seen people at their darkest.  And MANY more times than not, those same people are much better off now than they were then.  They have been able to rise above the tragedy, the pain, the sorrow.

It puts it into perspective for me.  The simple notion that I’ve seen people rise up from situations MUCH more dire than I may ever face, so why I am I worrying about my petty (in perspective) setbacks?  Well, a little worry is okay, because it can be a strong motivator.  However, too much worry can be a delimiter.

How many times have I stopped progressing forward because of what I perceive as a blocker or bottleneck?  How many times have you?  What’s really stopping us?  Ourselves….that’s it…end of story.  We are the candle that will light our darkness.  We have it within us to lead our own path to righteousness.  We are the key to our own future.

Embrace the darkness….it can only get lighter once we accept the fact that it is ourself pulling the blinds or closing the doors.

Be the light that shines inside of you.


Change of Seasons

Change of Seasons

It’s that time of year again….the time when the seasons change.  The sunshine goes away and the darkness settles in.  Right?  Well, here in the north-western part of the good ‘ol US of A, that seems to be the sentiment.

We’ve had a GREAT summer…..okay, we’ve had a GREAT August…as we usually do. The portable A/C unit was used in my household on more than a handful of times….enough to make me wonder if I ever need to get that thing serviced….hmmmm

But now, the chill is returning.   The rain came back a few days ago.  And the leaves are starting to turn.  Oh and how beautiful they are.  Maybe we should take their point of view for the next part of the season.  What do you think?

I mean, really….our leaves…they are green during the spring and summer.  Good and nice and all, but nothing spectacular.  But then when they find the shift coming, they know they will just be brown and crinkly and probably fall off their lofty perch soon, they decide to make one last stand of VIBRANCE!  And man, do they do a good job!

I love this part of the year, mainly because I love the colors.  Am I alone?  ::crickets::  Hmm….well, maybe, but probably not!  But the point is, that the leaves don’t take the change lying down.  They take as their last opportunity for glory.

We are fortunate to not have our life expectancy be ‘the end of the season’ so we aren’t faced with such drastic measures.  But does that mean that we can’t act like it?  When the blues start to set in….or we’re tired of the changing weather….or we long for sunshine…there’s only ONE things to do.


Okay….maybe there’s TWO things to do.  The above ridiculous statement and MAKE LIKE A LEAF AND TURN!  hmmm…..or MAKE LIKE A LEAF AND RUST!  hmmm….that’s not it. How about…MAKE LIKE A LEAF!

Make TODAY the day you start something new.  Make today the day you make yourself stand out just a little bit more.  Build up that confidence.  Build up that happiness.  Go have some fun!  Go MAKE LIKE A LEAF!  (Okay, that’s the last time I’ll say that…I’m sorry).

But you get it, right?  Right!  Don’t regret the change of the seasons…make the most of them!























AUTHOR’S NOTE:  I started writing this last year and couldn’t finish it.  Here I go again.


I remember.  I woke up in a house that was shared by 8 other guys.  Yes, a frat house.  Okay, NOT a frat house, but as close as it came at Pacific Lutheran University.  One of my housemates said to me when I walked in, “The Twin Towers have been attacked!”

First thing I thought was….the Twin Towers?  Who would want to attack The Big Bossman and Akeem, the African Dream?

Thank you World Wrestling Federation for muddling my childhood education.  As I had NO IDEA what the Twin Towers were.  Yep, that’s right.  Senior at a Liberal Arts college and I couldn’t tell you about some famous buildings in NYC.  My only consolation is that I know I’m not the only one.

A lot of things went through my head during that day/week/month.  Ironically, the people I cared about most were far away from me.  My girlfriend (now my wife) was in Minnesota.  Both my parents were out of town as well….a plane ride away.  A simple plane ride away, I thought….and now they couldn’t get back to me.  At least at first.  My mom ended up taking jumps here and there and I finally met her and my grandmother in Portland to drive them home.

But mainly, I was in shock.  Who would attack us?  Why New York City?  Was this domestic or international attack?  Are we going to war?  Will I be drafted?  Should I enlist?  Who would I be fighting?  Why would I be fighting?  Should I go back to sleep?  Well, it was early morning after all….early for a college student…..anyway…

As more and more facts came out about the attacks, I saw the amazing perseverance of people and also the amazing intolerance.  I had an Afghan professor who was in fear for his safety because of the mass, almost instant, hatred and acts of violence toward Middle Easterners in our country.

Really?  I couldn’t believe it.  I could, and DID, stand behind all of the flags on the porches and the patriotism that followed the 9/11 attacks, but REALLY?  The Iranian down the street that has lived here longer than you is suddenly the ENEMY?  The Indians and, well, anyone of slightly dark to tan color who wasn’t overtly of Hispanic heritage is now a suspect?

I was saddened.  I’m still saddened.  I’ll never forget the bravery of those in the service both here and abroad who helped bring peace of mind to us during that time.  The Police and Fire units are amazing folk.  Our military soldiers are amazing folk.  But the rest of us?  Okay, that’s too general….but you know what I mean.  The ‘rest’ of us who sat back on our recliners, watched the baseball game and condemned anyone different than ourselves.  They should be ashamed.

So, how do I spin this?  How do I turn this into a lesson in perspective?  It’s hard.  11 years later and I still see people giving other people suspicious glances.  Haven’t we learned?  Not everyone is out to get us.  Yes, we got caught unaware.  I believe we learned from that and it was a much needed lesson.  So, stop glaring at your neighbor.  More than likely, they are great people.  You should be too.