Blessings

 

As you look at the hourglass of life, and the sands of time appears to be slipping away… you need to give thanks for the blessings you’ve received. Many of those blessings come after struggle and hardship as you turn to God for divine guidance.

Today I am blessed to look ahead and see the possibilities for the future. But before I delve into that realm of dreams and the execution of the necessary steps to achieve those dreams, I will look to the present.

I have a beautiful daughter, Chelsea. She has taught me so much about life, myself, and the importance of unconditional love. She is growing into a beautiful person both intelligent and loving. I am very proud and blessed to have Chelsea as my daughter. 

Each present we share with friends and family is a gift to share with all those that enter into our spatial consciousness. I take this time to acknowledge how blessed I am to have Nancy in my life. She takes care of me and loves me like no other, which allows me the freedom to concentrate on the finances that gives us the freedom we enjoy.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my dear friends. You know whom you are, the love and caring you give me, and how much that means to me. Each friend that comes into our lives provides an insight into communication and the importance of honor and commitment.

As we get older, those dear friends are the shinning lights focused on the memories we share. Each memory brings laughter and joy as the special bond becomes even stronger. How precious is that to step back to the past while enjoying their company for as long as forever is.

In addition to Nancy we have two little pets that bring a smile to our faces everyday. Grayson and Sassy Girl are our cats. They bring affection and joy into our lives as they scurry around the home, mostly playing, but as they get older their sleep has become a priority.

The simplicity of structure and the beauty of where we live add to this perfect formula. Our home, travel, writing, playing music, riding my bicycle, and not having (for the most part) to be anywhere at any given time adds to our stress free life.

As I ride my bicycle down Tie Creek Road I view the wildflowers I used to drive past in a hurry to enjoy a limited vacation. Then, I was always thinking about getting back to work. Now I stop and literally smell the roses.

The vibrant colors of the wildflowers, the wildlife surrounding us, and the fragrant smell of lupin and honeysuckle penetrate the senses. Add to this the middle earth like experience we enjoy (referring to the mythical place where the Elves live in Lothlorien), and how much it means to both of us.

Being at peace is so very special. It reminds me of when I was a kid and would look to the forest for places to have a fort. Everything was so simple, basic, and nature was a wide open view into exploration and the wonderment of discovery.

I’d  sit, as a kid, and stare at the crystal clear creek as it meandered to places I had yet to discover. I imagined the beauty of waterfalls with deer sipping the nectar before jumping back into the canopy of the forest.

I was blessed to have those simple thoughts because I had parents that wanted me to learn and grow as a person. They were nurturing and guiding lights into how a family should be raised. Their love would radiate to friends and family, bringing a lasting delightful exclamation mark to the music and laughter they shared with others.

Another important blessing is the travel Nancy and I look forward to. Each trip opens up the history and geography books we studied in school. Now we live in the experience of finding out about other cultures. Their historical buildings, battles, discoveries,  languages, music, poetry, and of course food and wine.

We are especially blessed to enjoy other cultures food. Soon we will be taking a trip to Spain and Portugal.  We’ll enjoy cooking classes with recipes we can bring  back to produce for our friends and family.

Then there is flamenco in Malaga, the city where Picasso was born. Driving to Rhonda a city where Orson Wells was buried, then Seville (world class Sherry), and my favorite, vintage Madeira and vintage port from the isle of Madeira and the city of Oporto. Throw in a cruise, train ride, and the unbridled joy of seeing new places for the first time, priceless.

Yes, we should all look at our lives, not to compare but to rejoice in the many memories we have that make each of us unique and truly blessed.

 

 

 

 

Changes

 

The weather, the journey, the perspective… all changing. It’s easy to understand the changing weather. Although if you are politically motivated I guess you can orchestrate a reason for climate change or the argument that our climate is based upon many factors beyond human intervention.

In the restaurant business there were a thousand reasons why we were busy and an equal number of reasons why we weren’t busy. That logic is the basis for most discussions. It’s easy to build a case arguing one side or another when your whole premise for your reality is based upon emotion and not logic.

The journey through-out life is an education that affects our connection with people, the environment, and the ever changing circumstances that inspire our state of affairs.

The books we read and the people we associate with help create a direction that becomes more unwavering as we get older.  I was thinking today about life when I was younger and how I see many things differently.

Now I’m beginning to understand the phrase, “Why is youth wasted on the young?” However, I believe that if you never lose the child within you the change that becomes a part of whom you are is less noticeable and more open to new perspectives.

Each transition in life is fraught with positive and negative events. It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you react to it. They never made a seminar for worrying, but isn’t that human nature? As logical as we try to be, there is an edge that is exposed when negative events happen in our lives. It changes us!

We learn more from negative events then we do from positive ones. The change we feel when attempting to navigate a death, a job loss, a financial setback, a move to another place, or our interaction with another… changes our disposition and becomes a footnote in our ever changing journey.

We look back and attempt to gauge where we went astray. But if you’re on the right path you look forward to looking back to see how far you’ve come. Keeping a positive frame of mind in this ever changing world is an exercise in mental gymnastics. As we get older we see the sand of time sifting through our fingers. Wasted time that we can’t get back helps us look from the past to the future with a new perspective.

Each moment is an important statement about,” How short life is.” Learning to keep your mind active with new academic challenges, or traveling to places you’ve never been, is truly the life blood of discovery. Not only the discovery of new information or places, but the discovery of your own DNA that gravitates you towards happiness.

When I was young I loved loud music. It never was too loud and it never was too far to go to enjoy a live event. Now, the music must be softer and the distance to travel to an event must be within a three hour drive, or a two hour flight.

Now, cost is not as much a factor but other stimuli determine the final outcome. Good lodging with a view of some sort of water or a city sky line is mandatory as are excellent restaurants and world class beverages.

When I was young I could sleep on a floor or dirt surrounded by wild animals or people I’d never met. Now it’s just Nancy and I, no convicted felons, no strange wild animals, and camping is staying in a hotel without room service.

The ever changing life is a connection with those things that create the happiness we all desire. An evolutionary tale of learning about yourself, the world, and those magical moments that help create the memories, so very special to the quality of life we all strive for.

The Voyage of a Searching Soul

 

Whether its a dream that propels us to lands and people in our imagination, or the reality of planning a voyage to new destinations. Our heart lives for a Uruguayan sunset or the acoustic camouflage of the ocean that drowns out all other sensory distractions.

Our brain lives for the thrill of discovery which is at its height when we experience a place or event for the first time. Being in the mode of discovery opens our universe to the unveiling of new possibilities.

Those new possibilities create that inner smile that radiates through-out our body. This smile in turn  transmits negative ions that increase levels of the mood chemical, serotonin. This “serotonin” helps to alleviate depression, relieves stress, and boosts our energy. What could be better than to be on a voyage that illuminates all that brings a song to our soul?

New places we’ve read about and would love to visit brings cultures into the spotlight of discovery. Music, food, wine, architecture, and literature provide an interaction with those we’ve met along the way. This opens up the corridors of knowledge, bringing history books to life.

Enraptured by a tour of Buckingham Palace, the Louvre Museum, and the Burgundy region of France, we walk across a path tethered by the present, thinking of the past, eventually… to be shared in the future.

Each country we visit has its own magical charm that begs the question, “Have I been here before?” Past lives are open for discussion as familiarity breeds questions we can not answer.

Our propensity to gravitate towards certain foods, wines, and countries draws us closer to the past.  We breath in the smells, sounds, and flavors of cultures we can now speak of from experience. Each experience is a page in a book yet to be written, penned by an author immersed in the soul searching bounty of life.

As countries are brought into focus, I look for the finest to draw from in a short amount of time. I search for the best tours that create a real feel for the city. We find ourselves in the mode of discovery highlighting cultural expletives we must see that represent a grain of sand in the hourglass of life.

In Spain it will be flamenco guitar, tapas, sherry,  the most beautiful Gothic architecture, and world class beaches. Thriving in the  means of exploration I find things I wasn’t even searching for.

I stumbled across a page that listed the  best pizza restaurant in Europe located in Barcelona Spain, called “Sartoria Panatieri”. And on a more sublime note… who could forget one of the most revered artists of all time, Pablo Picasso born in Malaga, Spain.

Each city in every country has a story to tell. Each tale is brought to life through music. That music becomes a style that reflects a large part of the country’s identity. The arts are what draws people to experience different cultures.

And then there are other notes of culture to listen to. The food in every country which represents culture, climate, and products available. Each dish is passed down from generation to generation following the taste and traditions of the people who famously created it.

If you were to talk about how the top ten countries in the world prior to the 20th century related to their contributions to humanity… in almost every case music, food, wine, architecture, and literature would top the list.

Now it is technology and the advances turning luxuries into necessities. But before that it was the communication through the above mentioned arts that drew people to forget the struggles of everyday life.

In Portugal, Fado is a music of the world. Originating in Lisbon, Portugal,  it sings the feeling, heartbreak, and the longing for someone who is no longer in their life. The matches, or the mismatches of life are an infinite theme for inspiration. The mournful tunes and lyrics are often about the sea or life of the poor. Usually this music is infused with a sense of resignation, fate, and despair.

Every country, every state, every community, every person… if they’ve lived a little, writes poetry or sings songs about soulful sadness. It’s a lingering thought just beyond our reach… a perceptible weight on our heart.

The voyage of life is brought to a soulful crescendo when sadness is silenced. We learn to overcome our youthful hormonal surges that seems to create an emptiness inside. Then, with wisdom that comes with soulful searching, and of course age, we replace sadness with love.

The love we have for life’s voyage is a journey that leads us to search for answers about ourselves. Not only ourselves but those we’ve shared special memories with which are etched in the caverns of our mind… for as long as forever is.

Which Direction do I Take?

 

Over the course of our short lives we are offered different choices that lead to a direction affected by circumstance. Each choice is offered because of opportunity or our gut feeling that we need to change.

Many times we come to a crossroad that provides us with what seems to be equal value options. It is only with vetting the options and using our internal guiding system that we have the possibility of the reward we’re looking for.

However, if we are given a false narrative, and we base our decision upon that, chances are the outcome will not be what we’re looking for. That is when we learn one of the most important factors in decision making… trust.

If we believe the person offering us a job is true to their word then we can believe the outcome will be favorable. In many cases we want to believe the word of a friend or even a stranger because that is human nature. Most people look for the best in a person, or a job situation thinking that our circumstance will transform magically due to a physical change in location.

The truth is, if you don’t have the inner strength to handle the obstacles that occur in life, your direction will be affected by weakness and self doubt. Thus, you will be like a spinning top that never lands in a place of contentment.

The happiness your searching for is illusive because you’re not content with your own spirit. I see people think “things” will make them happy. A new car or a myriad of a thousand physical things that cannot make up for the hollowness deep inside their soul.

The happiest people I’ve found are the ones that don’t rely on themselves for inner strength. The happiest people I’ve discovered have a belief system that  revolves around God, or whatever you want to call an entity that we can draw extra support and inner peace from.

With that power that is offered by something greater than ourselves, anything is possible. The direction becomes more focused, clearer, because we realize that we don’t have to posses all the power to make decisions that will affect our future.

To release that stress from being totally responsible for our direction, we give ourselves a greater chance for the success we’re looking for. In many cases it goes against our human nature to surrender to something beyond our field of vision.

It’s funny that when we learn to surrender… we become stronger. To believe in a “transcendent” force means believing in something beyond the physical universe, independent of it and outside of space and time.

The times I’ve only relied on myself for direction, I’ve encountered obstacles that were placed there by my own inability to understand the greater picture. Almost every time it was one step forward and two steps back. This learning curve that leads to hurdling obstacles did not have to be.

When I was younger I thought that moving to a new place would erase what was holding me back. That thought process was just delaying the inevitable collapse. Of course we do learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

The mistakes we make (providing we don’t make them again) leads to a term that comes with age, “wisdom.” This wisdom can be traced to poor decisions that eventually led to self reflection. It is very important that through this process you don’t lose the gift of belief in your own abilities.

In our lifetime we will have great supporters for the road we choose, that’s called “family”. Then there are the friends we will have for a lifetime that believe in you, sometimes above the belief you have in yourself.

Those friends are rare indeed. They will be battle tested with the vicissitudes of relationships that are complicated but well worth the journey together. Each friend like that is a rare jewel. Giving support for years to those you love and care about is such a gift to those whom receive it and those that give it.

Directions in life are paths woven in soul searching expeditions that are framed in optimism. Each journey down that path excavates the wisdom we all search for to make a decision that will lead to a happy and healthy life.

Each decade provides different expectations. Responsibilities, and growing friend and family circles leads us to different nuances centered around others. Eventually when we live our lives and look back into the “Days of Future Past” we understand one important and simple lesson.

The greatest thing in life is to love and be loved in return.

 

Transported to Childhood

 

 

If there is one phrase that can transport us to our childhood… it is, “Once upon a time”.

This phrase, first recorded in 1380 (according to the Oxford English Dictionary) has opened many oral narratives since 1600… this expression is frequently used as the opening line of fairy tales and stories told to children.

What a beautiful phrase that can transport us to a much simpler time. A time when most of us only had to think about our first experiences and lavish in the moment of discovery. The alluring discovery of life in many different forms became the expansion of my reality.

A creek became an adventure. I would follow the movements of life forms as previously undiscovered entities that  broadened my horizons. A ballet of tadpoles swimming across the creek bed lined with a landscape fabric filled with boulders and stones of various sizes was an auditorium for my education.

The days before school were filled with the wonders of flying creatures that exhibited the colors and motion of theatrical dance. They were found weaving within natures canvas amongst the sounds and light that figured into their magnificence.

Each day brought a new found joy of discovery. Seeing insects, birds, and deer for the first time brought about an inner peace not realized by my youth but appreciated with age. Laying on the grass was one of my favorite pastimes.  However I quickly realized that bees didn’t like my overture into their white clover flower kingdom which provided sustenance for their species.

That first sting made me realize that I couldn’t just accept beauty but had to be careful when approaching it. At that point in time I didn’t understand the complexities of nature that underscored their protections, advances, and sometimes predatory nature.

Why should I? I was not yet educated in anything pertaining to the small envelope of space I occupied. I was a life form in its purest and simplest exhibition. I was being taken care of by two people I had just met that (unbeknownst to me) would give their lives for me, and in addition to that, a term I was yet to discover… their unconditional love.

I lived in a fairy tale world that involved sustenance, sleep, and discovery. Each frame in time was a meal, followed by a celebration (I usually had to dress up for), followed by more moments of discovery.

The first time for everything was the best, and still is. The exception to that was when I was actually too young to remember that event, place, or person. When I did remember, later on, I enjoyed the celebrations but not the attire. Halloween was the worst.

At Halloween, my parents would make me stand on a stool as they took old costumes and dressed me up like a mannequin. This took what seemed like hours and became my opening overture to the concept of time. My first memory of a costume was when my parents dressed me up like an African bush man.

I could have been the character, “Little Black Sambo”, but who knows? I had an African mask and a spear that conveyed a certain level of ferocity, humor, and poor taste, all wrapped into one, little, four year old package.

My parents would drive me around the neighborhood with my friends, all dressed in either cowboy attire, army, or knight garb. I was the only black man in the crowd, which on many occasions led to laughter and pointing. There certainly is a rap song in their somewhere!

My favorite holiday, like any young, dependent, greedy kid… was Christmas. I overlooked the religious basis and went straight for the capitalistic prize… presents. Oh how I enjoyed this holiday.

If it bounced, or I could play war with it… I was overcome with joy. Because I was an only child I reveled in the battles I’d create with my plastic army men on full display with their guns, tanks, ships, etc. However… at the end of the day the comfort of love, caring and understanding enveloped me.

That’s when it became time for my bedtime story. Usually my mom would read to me from a book of fairy tales… “Once upon a time” became the soothing mantra of the times of future past.

I lived in the present at that young age, a magical time of safety, protected by a phrase, “Once upon a time”. Looking back… it seemed like viewing a snow globe within a world I will never forget.

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2024

learn about yourself experience life

Every year becomes a notch in the calendar of life. Most people step into the new year with a resolve to become better in their personal and professional lives.

When we are younger it’s about new jobs, better income, perhaps hobbies/travel, and most certainly personal growth for those evolved enough to realize how important that is. The ticking clock of our expiration date isn’t thought about except for landmark ages where our friends remind us of just how old we are. That starts at age 30 and continues until 60.

After 60 (if you are a male)  you are addressed as sir or some variation to let you know that you are now “elderly”. Even your friends start telling you how good you look, “Compared to what?”

If you are blessed enough to have made some good decisions along the way, you can craft your own direction and life to perpetuate the happiness we all deserve.

This year of 2024 is a tale of two thoughts. On the one hand I am so very thankful for Nancy, my daughter, my friends, my health, our home in Idaho and the vision to travel and explore the world I’ve only read about.

Of course health is the most important. Without good health we are stifled in our ability to fulfill new and exciting chapters in our life. If you’ve experienced health issues and have recovered you realize how precious life is.

Now, time becomes a race against the aging clock. To experience the fruits of our labor and expand on the wonderful relationships we’ve cultivated through-out our lives. We must live in the moment always confident that the future is bright, the past is a memory, and the present is a gift.

2024 will be another trip to other parts of the world. Spain, Portugal, Madeira, and other places yet to be explored. This, while improving our home environment with beauty and creativity, breathing excitement into our visual wonderland.

The above thoughts are the best part of what is coming for Nancy and I in 2024. The flip side is to see what is becoming of the country we once loved so much.

With all  of the “Woke” hyperbole, gender confusion, mask mandates, more government over-reach, our personal freedoms being erased by greedy politicians, more “fake news”,  and the left wing control of most of the messaging… 2024 could become our Waterloo.

Children are now taught in our schools to hate our country. Our country’s history is now being used against us as a tool to erase all that which came before us. Teachers are now apologists attempting to cast hateful rhetoric about our history by suggesting those historical statues and events promoted systemic racism and other negative connotations.

History shouldn’t be erased to comfort those that don’t understand the benefits of learning from our past. While there is admittedly past and even present figures, historical events and symbols we should not blindly support… there is the pride we should feel in a country that far outdistances the rest of the world in humanitarian aid, technology, and more freedoms that have yet to be compromised.

When organizations such as “Black Lives Matter” identify with a racist agenda promoting one color over all others the time to stand up and be counted is now. If I said “White Lives Matter” I would be canceled in a heart beat… the hypocrisy is palatable.

Once again the double standard for those that are offended by everything, except their own systemic guilt for all that has transpired before them is a destructive force gaining incredible momentum.

This momentum is perpetuated by our educational system. From elementary school through college the teaching narrative of gender confusion, entitlement ideals, and socialist propaganda is simply brain washing. This is exacerbated by a left wing media that takes that agenda and spins it for their own destructive narrative to further divide us.

The owners of this mind control are the spinners of the web for their own economic benefit. From mask mandates, climate disinformation, and all the other laws going into affect to “protect us”. This is a sad commentary for those that still possess the ability for critical thinking.

2024 is poised to be the most important election year in our history. We either continue down this path of self destruction, which will wipe out our constitution, or we stand up for what this country used to stand for, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

 

Life is a Contact Sport

 

Last Sunday I suffered another heart attack. Around 9am I felt that tightening in my chest. I was home out on the porch watching the serenity unfold around me, morphing into bird calls and the hummingbird ballet. My pain was great enough for me to retreat to the bedroom.

I turned on the TV and was watching an episode of Daniel Boone I hadn’t seen before. My pain increased, but honestly I wanted to wait until the  show ended to witness it’s exciting conclusion.

Then I told Nancy I needed to be driven to the hospital. This is a hospital we’d not been to, but I knew where it was. As she drove, Nancy did her best imitation of my driving style. She passed a neighbor with her emergency lights on and her headlights flickering on and off to get their attention. Then she channeled my spirit as she passed an RV across a double yellow line, repeating this action, speeding past a truck pulling a boat.

Needless to say, as I slumped in the passenger seat, we arrived in a timely fashion to the hospital. The emergency room entrance was hidden, but we eventually found it. There was a button to press and a voice responded with the question, “Can we help you, what’s your emergency?”

Nancy told the receptionist I had chest pain. They opened that steel door  quickly and admitted me, as Nancy gave them all the necessary insurance cards.

Dr. Howe and nurse Dawn responded swiftly placing me on a gurnee, setting it up with fluids, testing my vitals, and securing me for the EKG test. Everything happened in literally a heart beat… the efficency was surprising for a small rural hospital.

After the EKG Dr. Howe determined it was necessary to call the flight for life service offered in most rural areas in Idaho. I asked the insurance person, Jess, if my insurance covered the flight for life. She said it didn’t but that we could sign up right now and it would cover the flight.

I asked, “How much would it cost?”She said,” Seventy Five dollars.” Then I asked, “How much would it cost if I paid out of pocket for this life saving ride?” She said, ” It would cost twenty-five thousand.”

Needless to say I went with the seventy-five dollar charge. Within an hour the flight for life crew was on the helipad, ready to transport me to one of two hospitals. Either Sacred Heart in Spokane or Kootenai Heart Clinic in Coeur D’ Alene. I asked Dr. Howe, “Which hospital would you choose?” He said, “They’re both quality facilities.”

Well, between the two, weighing safety for Nancy and the better restaurants, I chose Coeur D’ Alene, and so the 45 minute life flight began.

The helicopter touched down on the roof of the Kootenai Heart Clinic in Coeur D’Alene. I was then put onto a portable gurnee and whisked away to my room at the hospital.

The single room was beautiful with a view of the trees quiet and relaxing. The doctor came in immediately with two nurses. The doctor, Dr. Jones, told me that he wanted me to be without pain. They gave me some painkillers that stopped the pain. I was amazed at the quality and speed of their attention to my health.

Later that afternoon I asked Emily, the nurse, if I could have some food. She gave me a menu with 40 items to choose from. Everything from Wild Caught Salmon to pasta, and a Mediterranean salad were included in the choices.

Anyway, the next day I had the surgery around 7:45am. The doctor afterwords told me he placed a stent in my widowmaker artery thereby unclogging the clogged artery.

That same day the doctor offered an option for me to stay or leave the hospital. Needless to say I left and went to a hotel in Coeur D’ Alene and then to a restaurant, just like nothing had happened.

Don’t take life for granted. You never know when circumstances can change placing you at Heaven’s Door.