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Friday, March 28, 2014

Happy Birthday Dad

Tuesday, March 25th, was my Dad's birthday.  If he was still here he would have been 64 years old.

I spent a good chunk of the day thinking about and reflecting on my Dad - how he lived his life, what he believed in, what I learned from him both in life and in death.

Strangely, I realized I have learned so much more from my Dad in death than I did when he was alive.  Not because my Dad was not open to being a teacher, I think more so because I was resistant to being a student.

Death, loss, heartbreak, etc… they all have a way of shifting our priorities and make us stare life in the face and ask ourselves, "what really is important."  Not only that, but they call to attention just how important it is to treasure those important things while we have them.

Easier said than done, right?  I for one know that every day there are probably a ba-zillion things that I take for granted, or don't appreciate at the level I would like to.  Why?  Is it because I am selfish, is it because my attention is divided, is it because in the moment I don't acknowledge how much I care or have?  I think it is a combination of all of these and more, which sums up the reality that I am human.

As humans, we only have the ability to consciously process one or two things at a time.  At any given moment there are probably 100's of things that we can give our conscious attention to.  But, since we can only focus on a couple of those things, it means there are a whole lot of things failing to get the recognition and level of appreciation we may wish to give them.

As humans, when we have 100's of things to choose from to focus on, often we are going to miss focusing on the things that are most important because we have this assumption that they will always be there.  When we lose them we realize just how important they were.

I wanted to share with you all a few of the lessons I have learned from my Dad.  My hope is that some of them may resonate with you and that you use them to benefit your own life.

Also, I would love to hear any lessons you have learned from significant people in your life.  Please share them in the comments below or on the 1 Year 1000 Challenge page.

Lesson's learned from Dad:

1 - Make your priorities a priority while you can.  There were lots of things my Dad wanted to do and say, but he never got a chance to.  Time is of the essence for all of us.  We have to make our priorities a priority while we have the breath to do so.

2 - When you say it, make it count.  My Dad was not one of those people who called a lot or said I love you all the time.  Nor was he the best at cards, thank you notes, etc…  to some people this comes easily, my Dad was not one of those.  So when he did say I love you, when he did call, or he did take the time to make a card or send a note, he really meant it.  He did it because it was important enough for him to consciously work on doing and improving.

3 - Be grateful for what you got.  In life we are so quick to focus on what we don't have or what is wrong, that we don't stop to acknowledge all that we do have and all that is right.  We narrow our focus on one or two things that are bothering us and quickly turn a mole hill of a couple tiny problems into a mountain made up of the same tiny problems.  Much of the time I had with my Dad was squandered by focusing on lack vs focusing on abundance.  I didn't know any better and if I had, I would not be able to appreciate sharing this with you all like I can today.  In life, in relationships, in work, in health, there can always be "more," but in your pursuit of more, or better, remember to take a few moments to focus on what there is and what you do have.

4 - Don't leave things unsaid.  Communication is key in all relationships - parent/child, siblings, lovers, coworkers, friendships, families, etc… you name it and it can benefit from "saying" it.  Saying it means you make communication a priority.  You tell the people in your life what is going on and what they mean to you.  You say please and thank you, you talk about tragedies and triumphs, you let someone know that you appreciate their progress, you respect someone enough to tell them your concerns. My Dad and I could have added more depth to our relationship if we would have made communicating more of a priority.

5 - Treasure the little moments… In life we get so caught up in the rush for the "next big thing," that we often forget to stop and enjoy what we have right in front of us.  There will always be the temptation of the pursuit of something bigger and better.  I am all about charging forward to make your life the best you possibly can, but don't forget to recognize those components that exist in your life now, that add value and meaning to it.  It is those things that are in your life right now that make the "next big thing," so enjoyable.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse

P.S. Dad, if you can read this - I love and miss you.








Thursday, March 20, 2014

Leadership

This one is going to be short and sweet as I really want to hear all of your opinions, thoughts, ideas, etc…

As a leader, I always want to improve, to grow, to make myself better in any way I can, so that I can better lead and inspire.

I think some of the most valuable traits any human can ever learn are traits that demonstrate leadership.  A person who carries with him/her the ability to lead another person or a group of people, carries with them the ability to inspire others and change the world.

Often I find myself wondering, "if leadership is such an asset, why is it that more people are not mindful of learning and practicing it?"

Why is that?

I believe, more than anything it is a lack of clarity as to what exactly leadership is.  Leadership is something that will bring value to all of our lives if we incorporate basic principals of it into our lives.

If we all were to become more mindful of the practice of leadership, how would that change our day to day lives?

Would people who feel powerless become powerful?  Would people who feel hopeless become hopeful?  Would the voiceless suddenly gain a voice?

Leadership is not something that is only for political figures, CEO's, or coaches, it is something that can be practiced by teachers, students, doctors, friends, family members, mothers, and children.

Incorporating basic principals of leadership into any dynamic in life will only strengthen it.

With the above in mind, I am curious, what do you think of, when you think of leadership?  What principals and practices are essential to becoming a better leader?  Which ones do you use in your daily life?

Please leave your comments and share your insights below, as this is a topic that we can all benefit from learning more about.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse










Thursday, March 6, 2014

You Must Make Your Health a Priority!


You have heard me say it before and you will no doubt here me say it again and again, you have to make your health a priority.  If you don't, then what is left?  You spent all your time chasing after the money, the status, etc... you achieve them and then what?  What happens when you have a heart attack, or some other health event that is caused by not taking care of you, what do you do then?  Was the money really worth it?  Was it worth not being around or diminishing your quality of life so you can't enjoy it?

Today, I decided to share with you all a part of my life I rarely talk about.  My Grandma, (actually she is my Nana, she hates being referred to as Grandma), has severe Alzheimer's. 

Nana and I were always very close.  One of the best parts about moving to Santa Barbara for college was that I lived near to her so that I could visit often.  Throughout college Nana's house was my destination of choice to do laundry, get a home cooked meal, and take a break from the college life.

Nana always liked to brag about me to anyone who would listen, "this is my Grandson and he is going to the University of California at Santa Barbara," she would say.

Education, she felt, was very important.  She was always very proud that I went to college.

Around my sophomore year I noticed she was starting to become more forgetful.  By my senior year it was becoming very obvious that something was wrong.  Two years after that she had forgotten my name.  Shortly after that she rarely would recognize me.  At present she is virtually a vegetable.  She can barely speak, she can only eat if my Grandpa feeds her.  She cannot move without his assistance.

I feel like she is scared... like she has moments of recollection, kind of like she should know what is going on, but then she realizes she does not and it frightens her.  Like a little kid would be scared if she found herself lost in the forest, unsure of how to find her way back home. 

The process of watching someone you love wither away is heartbreaking.  Selfishly, I do not visit as much as I used to because, quite frankly, I want to remember Nana in a certain way and this is not it.  Nana has been "lost," for so long that I want to try and protect the memories I have of her before she got like this.  Every time I see her now, it is harder and harder for me to remember her how she was.

I want to remember her how she lived, not how she is dying. 

My point un sharing this with you all is this: while scientists may not know exactly what causes Alzheimer's, cancer, and a plethora of other horrible diseases, one thing they do know for certain is that being healthy: eating right and exercising, goes a long way in helping to prevent the onset of any of those diseases.

Nana never had the best eating habits nor did she actively exercise, why would she?  Information was not as available to her as it is to all of us now.  She is from a generation and a way of thinking that did not understand exercising especially for women.  Perhaps if she knew how important it was to eat right, (and what eating right consists of) and exercise, things could have been different for her. 

I can only speculate on what could have made a difference for Nana and for my Dad for that matter.  I can't go back and change those things, but what I can do is appeal to you all now to make some positive changes for you.

If you are a son, a daughter, a parent, a grandparent, a cousin, an aunt, an uncle, a friend, a family member, then you matter to someone else.  

So the actions you take, consistently eating unhealthy, and the actions you do not take, forgoing exercise, will not only affect you, but they will affect others who you care about and who care about you.

If my Dad would have made healthy eating choices and made exercise more of a priority, would it have changed things???  Who knows, but I feel pretty confident about saying it certainly would have benefited him.

If Nana would have made healthier eating choices and made exercise a priority, would it have changed things for her? Who knows, but again, I feel pretty confident in saying that it certainly would have benefited her.

Your health is a key that can unlock a limitless number of doors, doors that lead to joy, happiness, fulfillment, wealth, you name it, and your health can have a positive influence on it.

Make your health a priority, if not for you, then please, do it for the sake of someone who cares about you.  At the bottom of this blog I have included a short video about the importance of your health.  I encourage you to watch it.

I promise you that you will never regret the day that you do not suffer from a disease like cancer, Alzheimer's, heart disease, etc...

As they say in the airline business:

"Please secure your oxygen mask first before you assist another passenger."  Translation: you have to take care of you before you can effectively take care of anyone else.

The picture below is from my most recent visit with Nana, taken about six weeks ago.

I wish you all a healthy and inspired week.

Carpe Diem,

Jesse