Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Catching Up...

Has it been eight months since I've written?  Seriously??  So much has happened this year and reflecting back on it, 2015 is wrapping up to be a banner year for our family, for me, and for renewed relationships.

We moved...new home, new neighborhood, new friends, yet keeping all the best of the old.  Not even knowing we were going to do this, we purchased a new home, sold our old home, moved, settled in, and love our new lives without forgetting what got us here...each other and our commitment to each other first and foremost.  There were times during the process, I'm sure Kristine would have loved to strangle me, but she didn't and I'm thankful for that.  Now, we're settled in and learning to enjoy our new home and life.

Jade is driving!  Seriously folks, how did this happen??  Colleges are starting to recruit her!  How in the world can this be happening already?  Yet, it seems to be right.  She's making good decisions, thinking through her processes, and enjoying being a teenager.  We're laying the foundation and she's building a beautiful model of what her life is going to look like...compassion, consideration, responsibility, and enjoyment.  Balance and awareness, that's all we can show her, the rest is up to her and she appears to be watching, listening, and heeding.

Ryan and grandpa.  Here are two men in my personal life that mean more to me than anyone in my current life could know without knowing me back in my younger days.  Having both of them come back into my life this summer has fulfilled me in a way I didn't know I was empty.  Being able to share them with Kristine and Jade...priceless.

Kristine.  This woman never ceases to amaze me!  She loves unconditionally and completely.  I will work with everything in me everyday to ensure she has what makes her happy because that's what she does for me.  We just celebrated our five year anniversary, but we've experienced so many new "firsts" still this year, I can't wait to see what our list entails in the next year.

A wonderful year thus far.  So much going on, but the blessings are bountiful and plenty.  Taking care of family has been central this year and the results speak for themselves.  Sometimes the simple things are the big things.  Positive perspective produces positive people...the proof is in the pudding!

Friday, February 6, 2015

How Fragile is Life, Even When Lived Fully

Ok, so it's been a while since I've written...and I missed it.  But I wasn't ready to write and that makes a huge difference to me.  I simply cannot write just to be writing.  Why wasn't I ready?  Something in me changed, fundamentally changed.  We've all dealt with the loss of a loved one and we all, eventually, find a way to move forward again.  The same has happened with me.  However, this past loss seemed to be different and I wasn't sure how or why.  Heck, I wasn't even aware of how it affected me for some time.

Why was the loss of my father-in-law this past October so hard?  What made this more difficult for me?  Now that I think about it, the answer is simple...my life and my family and my age.  In order to help honor a fellow veteran and pay respects to a hard-working man, I helped to arrange his funeral, helped my wife through the myriad of paperwork and legal filings to finalize the estate, and simply held my wife when she cried.  These are the simple things that any decent and loving husband would do, and I did them without a thought.  Yet, it changed me.

Much of the process was made so much easier by a thoughtful man whom was no longer with us planning out every aspect of other's lives when he was no longer with us.  And that was a stark reminder to me that I should, must, and will do this for my own family.  Yet, what is right?  When is right?  When should I decide how my own funeral will be?  How do I determine my final resting place?  How do I ensure my family is financial secure while still alive and planning for my own retirement currently?  Stress entered the equation...I want to do it all right, but what is right?

Then I realized what I was doing to myself...and stopped.  Having open and honest conversations with your loved ones is a sufficient start.  We can then methodically move through the items that are most important.  Establishing a will, a living will, reviewing life insurance needs, knowing where all the papers, account numbers, and benefits are located.  It's a process, just like life, not a checklist to be completed instantaneously.

When 2015 ends, my family will be more prepared, all because of the example set by a loving husband, father, and human being.  However, 2015 will also find many celebrations, new memories, and successes.  Prepare, but don't be consumed!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Living and Recovering from Hearing Loss

 Hello out there, world!  Have you ever experience a major life event
which altered the course of your life and you simply accepted it and
took it in stride?  This is just what was planned for your life and
you were going to accept it, learn it, deal with it, and move on.  I
thought I could do just that after suffering from viral labyrinthitis
in October 2013 and permanently losing all hearing function of my left
ear.  It was that sudden.  I went to bed fine and woke up deaf in the
left.  After a short period of time, I adapted to only hearing out of
my right ear and went on about finding a fix to minimize this and
allowing me to return to life as I knew it before that morning.

After several months of hearing test confirming the hearing would not
be returning and this issue needed a course of action instead of
patience while it returned, I sought out solutions.  Without any
explanations, I was given the blunt diagnosis, “you can either use
hearing aids or get a screw in your skull.”  That was it, she left the
room right after this and I had no clue what she meant by the screw in
the skull.  How frightening!  Of course, I went home, did some of my
own research and found out that the BAHA surgery was this infamous
screw she spoke about so abruptly.  With time, hundreds of hours of my
own research, and lots of questions, this screw in my head became
reality on August 15, 2014.  I became an implant recipient.  Once it
healed and I was activated, I’d be back on the road to life and all
its glory with no issues…another challenge overcome.

Then a bout of depression started to set in without warning.  If
things weren’t perfect, I was upset.  I simply was not going to accept
that activation was going to be delayed.  It didn’t work into my plans
and recovery expectations.  How dare things get screwed up!  I was
mad…livid even.  Sure, it was only going to be a slight delay, but I
just wasn’t going to have it!  Then I started getting frustrated at
everything around me.  My life is so blessed, but I couldn’t see it at
that moment.  Then in a moment of clarity, I did see it.  Physically,
I was healing just fine.  But I was taking the time to conduct proper
wound care.  What I wasn’t doing was tending to my mental and
emotional wounds.  I simply did not have time to hurt emotionally,
life is simply too busy for that!

Ok, now that I realized I had this other set of injuries unknown to
me, how do I deal with them?  Was I angry because I lost my hearing in
the first place?  Was it because it took so long and was so difficult
to get help and resolution?  Was it because I was scared of the
unknown?  Why was I so angry when life is so good to me?  In my life,
my release and escape is writing.  Always has been, always will be.
So, with all these thoughts jumbled in my mind, I sat down at the
computer, opened my blog, closed my eyes and let my fingers just type
what my brain told them.  There were no sentences or structure.  There
were no spelling checks to interrupt.  Feelings flowing with eyes
closed to eliminate distraction.  Release.  After I was done, I walked
away for a bit to cope with the drain of emotions, but happy I had
allowed them to not suppress any longer.  Then I returned and read
what I had wrote, “there are those times during the day when in
solitude it still hits us...we are forever different than before.”
Now that I read this and understood how it was changing me, it was
acceptable.  Once I realized I had these fears, pains, anxieties, and
realizations, I could then talk about them.  I then reshaped the blog
to structure, spelling, and clarity and then posted with the title,
“Healing:  It’s More Than the Physical.”  Now, others whom had
experienced the same physical obstacles could also share in their
stories of how to overcome.  Therapy was about to commence.  Little
did I know the response would be so tremendous!  Quite a few comments
were posted of people saying they knew they were hurting, but didn’t
know how or why…this explained so much to so many.  Understanding your
injuries helps you begin to treat them so they heal.  Now, we can all
heal together.  This was, and still is, my therapy.

As I continue to heal, helping others do the same is a passion I’m
learning has its own powers of pain reduction.  We all have survived
so much, no matter our story, but we all hurt still at times.  It is
ok, we deserve to understand, empathize, and heal with others like us.
We are connected now, if not before.  We lift each other without
question and reach out when it is our turn to need support.  Do not
ever hesitate to reach out, there are so many ready to provide that
helping hand.  They’ve done it for me.  I’ll do it for them.  We all
will do it for you.  Heal, we have to in order to be strong and not
bitter.  Talk, write, pray, seek out therapy or support groups, but
don’t suppress it.  We are stronger together, we have done so much, we
will do this too…it simply cannot and will not be any other way.  I
will be healed, you will be healed, we will be healed!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Simplification: Catchphrase or Way of Life

Simplification.  Is this a catch phrase or is there logic behind it?  In business, absolutely.  How about in our personal lives?  We add more and more, do more and more, schedule more and more.  Life is short we tell ourselves, we must get the most out of every day.  But seriously...doesn't that wear us down, break us down, and perhaps even shorten that life that is already too short.  Can we do too much?  Plan too much?  Heck yeah, we can!  I'm at that point!

This year has included so much outside the normal work schedule and family items.  There was refinancing the house, getting all new windows, new shades, new furniture, painting two rooms, repainting a room, and the entire exterior being painted.  Take a breath...now, we've attended multiple MLB baseball games, basketball tournaments, planning football games, hosted cookouts, attended cookouts, and went camping.  Whew!  Oh yeah, don't forget a vacation to two states, anniversary trip coming up, out of town surgery, and a conference for work.

Every single bit of that has been, or will be, great!  Even the surgery as I've work towards that for almost a full year as well.  I'm tired.  I can't blame anyone else for my exhaustion.  We do these things to ourselves.  What next?  That's right, simplification.

Next year will be...plan much less, say no a little more, let a little more of my life be unplanned and explore a tad more.  Yes, simplification.  That's my promise to myself...my goal for my sanity.  Yes, it will still be blessed and full of fun and excitement, but it shall be much less planned, chaotic, and demanding.  The grill will get used more.  The alarm clock will get used less.

Yes, scaling and cutting back is the way it has to be.  Simplify to amplify...that's 2015 for me.  How about you?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Have You Walked a Mile Yet?

There is an old adage that states to understand someone is to walk a mile in their shoes.  That was never meant literally, but was meant to stress not judging people and urging an understanding into how people feel, think, and respond.  What makes someone tick?  Why do they do certain things?  No one knows how any certain individual will react to a situation or why.  However, the adage does have value, even more so in today's environment and society.  Why?  Social media, technology, and a desire to understand are the tools used widely on the high road and the path to a positive outcome.

Let's take a look at each one individually and then we'll realize how their cumulative effect molds our understanding and reaction to things we don't have a firsthand knowledge of.  Social media can be a harmful instrument when used to bully, extort, and misdirect persons.  However, when you are in short supply of understanding or answers, it is a natural go-to weapon in today's educational arsenal.  I know I used it when I was diagnosed with viral labrynthitus.  What the heck is that?  I didn't know, but I did know it wasn't a good thing...but since I had never heard of it, was it rare or widely known?  When I was finally able to focus and overcome the vertigo, I immersed myself into Google, WebMD, etc.  I learned so much about what was going on with me and what could be the worst case scenarios.  Unfortunately, one of the worst cases was hearing loss in at least one ear.  I ended up as one of those "fortunate" people.  However, others suffer from vertigo for months or years and cannot function or work.  That was something I was lucky enough to learn how to overcome quickly by pushing myself to relearn how to walk, move, and function with the inner ear balance loss in my left ear.

Social media then continued to assist me.  When I was told my hearing loss was permanent, the technician told me my choices were either hearing aids or to have a screw put into my head.  Say what?!?  Then when I learned the "screw in your head" was a cochlear implant, or bone conduction implanted device, I quickly got educated on the different devices, how they worked, the advancements in deafness treatments and the improvements in the devices, and I finally watched the surgery I was considering to make my decision.  After using social media, my new disability seemed so much less scary and daunting.  I now owned it instead of reacting to it.  I made the decisions that impacted my life again.  I was no longer forced to just accept my circumstances and situation.  Social media had done its job!

Then, technology has to do its job to help that mile walk happen.  Deafness, to me, was an absence of hearing which was overcome with sign language and attitude.  Holy cow, even with only Single-Sided Deafness (SSD), how much I've learned about how little I knew.  Many individuals today have come together with research, education, gumption, and technology to overcome this lost sense in their life.  Bilateral deafness is hearing loss in both ears.  What did they miss in their lives?  Imagine not hearing your loved one's voice, the birds and bees in the summertime, the warning siren of a fire truck, or the tunes of your favorite musician.  Amongst many other items, these are some of them.  Yet, with technology today, these are items which they can rediscover, or hear for the very first time.  I've had SSD for only six months now and am learning the road to recovery and am networking with those whom have traveled this road already, some of them traveling the technological road to hearing their entire lives.  They, to me, are the pioneers I get to benefit from now.  I hope to be that inspiration, example, and support for others in the future as they traverse their troubles and struggles.  I wrote "Bushels and Barrels" several years ago and based it off of life's struggles and how to overcome them and remain positive by looking beyond the challenges to recognize the blessings of life.  I never knew I would be tested to this extreme, but having that in my toolkit of experiences allowed me to see that I am blessed and can do such much more with this new "point of connection" with those struggling in life.

Technology has made it so those whom cannot hear naturally now can hear those sounds we take for granted.  Even better, in a more natural sound and distinction of direction from which the sound travels.  Science and engineering has come such a long way.  I am still awaiting final approval for the implant surgery, but am now wearing my new hearing aids.  They are helping me already, and they are so minimal, it's almost like they aren't even there.  They are giving me so much more back than they are requiring of me with respect to care, maintenance, and comfort.  I was with a group of my friends over the past few days, they didn't even realize I had the devices on, but I felt so much more a part of the conversation again.  I was no longer isolated when positioned at a place of disadvantage at the gathering table.  When meeting with a group of individuals at a support and educational gathering in the past few days, what an inspiration these individuals were.  There were those from eight months in age all the way to 71 years young.  Different experiences and reasons they had lost their hearing, but all together because technology was fixing that very thing for them.  I was a newbie in a world of those advanced and aided by technology.  What an adventure and a pleasure to be part of this.  I am blessed and my world is larger because of this journey!

Finally, a desire to understand is essential in overcoming an obstacle.  Researching via social media and meetings has given me a comfort in my new world.  There are so many others with larger challenges than I have and they are so positive because they understand their situation.  Their knowledge gives them comfort and control.  I now also have that.  Walking a mile in the shoes of deafness has been only the beginning of my new journey, but I now have tools to made that journey a smooth ride, walk, hike, and journey.  What walk have you taken lately and what tools have you used in that journey?  What has it "forced" you to learn?  What understanding and appreciation do you have because of this journey?  What do you plan to do with this new knowledge and confidence?  Own it, share it, and recreate it in others!  That is my challenge in hearing loss, what is yours?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Age of Entitlement? I Think Not!

Hello!  It's been quite a while since I've written, but that doesn't mean there isn't things to write about.  Life has been so busy and blessed, I love where life and God has taken me.  Within my life now, I get a chance to interact with and work with individuals of all backgrounds and ages.  There are many whom want to learn the right thing, there are those whom teach the right thing, and then there are those whom will do whatever it takes to avoid doing anything...much less the right thing.  But the overall assumption that this is the age of entitlement is far from correct.

I have encountered those whom will do absolutely everything to avoid performing the very activities they were hired to perform.  Yet, these individuals are such the minority.  Yes, they take a ton of time to manage, document, and defend against.  But man-o-man, are there so many of the younger generations ready to step up and learn life lessons and do their jobs exceptionally well at the same time.

I'm still learning...every day, I learn.  I love my job and career and where it could potentially take me.  Yet, what inspires me more and takes me to work is getting to help younger individuals create priorities in their life, build budgets, understand the importance of honor, and creating networks.  Forgiveness and flexibility have become a larger part of my vocabulary and actions within the past year as I've learned how to lead a team of civilians and not military members.  And that is ok, I've grown, they are growing...and the metrics are improving every time I look.

Outside work, watching my daughter and her friends learn and embrace community outreach, servitude, and responsibility.  It is a society where the village parenting concept is alive in the world I'm in now.  Maybe not everyone's, but it is in mine.  I love how other parents trust my wife and I to help raise their kids and we trust them in the same fashion.

As America's population gets older and the youth are challenged, they will rise.  If you tell them they can have things without having to work, of course, they will take it.  Wouldn't you?  Yet, you teach them to work hard, have pride, and learn from mistakes, you will be surprised, proud, and restored in faith.  We are ok!

Let's rid our lives of those whom only take, share with those wanting to learn, and stretch for those willing to make mistakes to grow.  This includes yourself...shape your life this year to be one willing to stretch, grow, learn, and prosper.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013 Reflections

As we start the process of closing 2013 out, we also take the time to reflect on family, our lives, our blessings, and take stock in our friends and our faith.  I love this about this time of year!

We've had some blessings this year...plenty of family time at sporting events, watching Jade enter into her last year before high school, she cheered her football team to a championship, we added a young cat to our family, and so much more!

We faced a few challenges this year as well...I lost all ability to hear in my left ear, we lost some loved ones from our lives, and have many others in our lives struggling with their own personal struggles we pray for and about daily.

However, what we know this time of year...each day we're given is a blessing.  I love every day I get to wake up to my family knowing I love them and they love me back.  Man, what a feeling!  Life has been such a struggle in the past for me, but this past year has been so much closer to "normal" than I've had in almost ever.

May God bless each and every one of you and hold you close to him while you travel to and from to visit family and friends.  Have a most Merry of Christmases and remember why this season exists and take a moment or two on Christmas morning to reflect on that fact before digging into all those presents and such.

Bushels and Barrels to all in 2013!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day 2013 Reflections

A band of brothers and sisters?  Most definitely!  Lifetime memories and stories of places visited...many of which were not of our choosing?  Again, most definitely.  An honor that we all chose and would do again in a heartbeat?  Absolutely!

1995 - 2011 were years of my life where I gave freely, but gained so much more in return.  As I go through my daily life, service to our country is a linkage to many of the most honorable of my friends and family.  The uniform of a military service member, the scrubs of a hospital employee, the dedication of EMT's, firefighters, and police offiers are all signs of what is right in our country today.

As I still struggle with what being a veteran means two years later, I am so proud and humbled to have served with some of America's finest sons and daughters.  I've raised drinks with perfect strangers all because of this bond.  I've given business to small companies simply because of this bond.  I've come to understand that we are a breed that is sought after and desired.  We are trustworthy, we are honorable, we are veterans.

Thank you so much for all those over the years whom had my six, and my friends and family of veterans whom still do.  I will always be here to do the same.  In a day set aside to remember us and what we've done...I come with a challenge.  Pay it forward...honor those whom served, yes...but also find someone about to join and ensure he or she understands the signficance of this day for them as well.  They will be the future, and the future looks good on them.

I would list out some of those most special to me, but I would most definitely forget someone along the way and that is a risk I will not take.  Thank you to all whom served before me and paved the way with your sacrifices, thank you to all whom served with me over the years and helped mold me into whom I am today, and thank you to all those whom choose to served after me, for it is you whom we shall look up to in the years to come and will support you as we've been supported.  We've got your Six!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Golden Nugget #2: Motivation vs. Inspiration

Have you ever heard the question, "what motivates you?"  Better yet, have you been part of a leadership team which is tasked with motivating others?  Getting the best out of a group of skilled individuals is an essential and necessary part of what a leader does, but is it honestly motivation we need to focus on?  Think about this for just a second.  If we motivate someone to perform a task very well, once the task is completed, so is the motivation.  If we give financial incentives to motivate, what happens when the money runs out?

During my recent leadership conference, we had the absolute pleasure to have a keynote speaker by the name of Nicholas Boothman.  He posed a question that caught me off guard and then provided the answer and reasoning for the answer.  (Also a positive leadership technique, by the way!)  He asked, "why are there so many motivational speakers out there?"  Well, as it turns out, he went on to explain that motivation just "bloody doesn't work."  If you're a leader and striving for a short burst of energy or focus to complete a specific task, then motivate away.  If you're looking for engaged, productive, and excited work forces, motivation is an ingredient in what you really need, not the full recipe for success.  What do you need?  Inspiration, my friend, you need inspiration!

If you inspire people, they will motivate themselves!  This is a novel approach.  Now the hard work must begin, how do we inspire those whom we must lead?  Those we want to lead?  Those whom in return want to be lead?  As I stated, motivation must come from within, so the first step is finding a group whom has the desire to work, engage, and be part of this thing you are trying to accomplish.

Once those people are found and included into the group or activity, the second step is to be clear in your communications.  Huh?  What does this have to do with anything?  Everything, that's what!  You have to be clear in what you are doing, why you are doing it, when you are doing it, and where you are doing it, and most importantly, how you are doing it.  With clear communications on the who, what, why, when, where, and how's, you've started the process off with a clear goal, procedure, and expectation.

Now we have the people and they know the details, we need to motivate them to get the activity done, right?  Wrong!  We need to inspire them.  If we provide them with inspiration, we open up the entire process to suggestions for improvements, empowered employees whom what to be part of this, and a continual evolution of successes.  If we empower those whom want to be there and are clear in our communications, they will want to be part of this.  We must inspire.

Motivation is essential, yes.  It is essential for short term goals or activities.  If someone whom is having a rough day or facing a daunting task, we must utilize motivation to help them over the hurdle.  Then use the success to help build them, this will inspire them to do it again.  Motivation is a needed tool in the leadership toolbox, but inspiration should be the belt with which we carry it.

How about you?  Would you rather be motivated by your leader or would you rather be inspired?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Golden Nuggets #1

I once heard someone say that information that can help you improve who you are and develop you professional and/or personally is called golden nuggets.  Here is my first installment in sharing my golden nuggets from the past few weeks.

Over the past week, I've had the pleasure of going to a leadership conference and obtaining feedback on the previous six months of my work in my new career track.  All of the information obtained has given me a reason to pause slightly and think through where I've been and where I'm going.  Yes, it's good...no, it's great to be back on a professional path!

The leadership conference allowed me to be exposed to our senior leadership and hear from them where they think the company and industry is headed and how they approached their careers along the way.  The largest thing I learned is there is no singular pathway to success within our company, you simply have to have two things, the desire to work hard and well and possess an open mind willing to learn new perspectives and approaches.  Now, those are not the words spoken, but the overall message was just this.  The theme of the conference was Building Connections.  I believe the year prior was Making Connections, but since I wasn't there, I could be wrong.  Now, if the theme-line continues, I would love to see next year's become Managing Connections.

Now, back to the two items needed for success, let's focus there for today.  The desire to work hard and well seems simple enough, right?  Not really!  Everyone has the ability to work hard, but the desire has to come from owning a drive...a drive to succeed, own your work, take responsibility for your results, and a drive that comes from within.  No, it's not that simple really.  Own your work and take responsibility for your results.  That sentence right there is perhaps the simplest, yet most difficult to do as a human.  Human nature allows us to own everything that produces excellent results.  However, owning those failures is not quite as fun or rewarding.  What I've learned over the years is that even failures build leaders and success.  If you never fail, how hard are you really trying for success anyway?  You are following a path already blazed.  If you try something with great intentions and for all the right reasons with sound logic and it doesn't pan out...well, you learned what doesn't work and are that much closer to what does work.  Simply because something you did failed does not mean you are a failure, that only happens when you give up!  So, think about this and ask yourself if you really have the desire to work hard.  I can honestly answer I do!  I have much to learn and will continue to strive to learn every day in this new venture I'm in, by doing so I become better and more valuable.

The second item was never spoken out loud either, but the messages all pointed back to here.  The intent of the seminars were well received and carried the absolute right messages.  However, when combined together, the related thread and requirement was possessing an open mind willing to learn new perspectives and approaches.  Human nature also provides us with this little thing called comfort in routines and patterns, they make us comfortable.  Yet, stepping outside this comfort is where the real work gets done.  In order to be successful, change is where it's at!  Doing the same things over and over and refusing to change has been at the heart of many previously successful companies either at the brink or over the edge of collapse.  Be excited by change, this means you are being challenged and get to learn.  Change can bring new, easier, better, and more successful things and processes into play.  For the most part, these changes are already tested and ready to implement.  Take charge, take the horns, drive the change, own the change...be the change.  If we change and are excited about where it is going to take us, then so will those around us.  Step out and step up!  This is where leaders are born and reside.  What's your address?  Out of the two tokens to take away here, this one is harder for me as well.  However, having recognized this, more of my energies are focused on this...I shall overcome my resistance and answer the challenge as well.  I am a firm believer leaders have traits unique to them, but without development, they never come to light or are honed.  It's my time to see what I've got!!

Life is a journey, not a destination.  The same with success.  After the feedback I received this week, I feel I'm on the right road and heading in the correct direction.  How many milestones I pass won't be fully known until retirement, when I reach the professional destination point.  In the interim, I'm travelling this road, it's what I am meant to do.  You in?