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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Revive the Romance

My Grandfather used to say: “When you are dating someone, treat them like you are married to them and when you marry them, treat them like you are dating.”

This morsel of wisdom is valuable to men and women alike because we all need a reminder. It’s similar to another quote that I’ve heard, but can’t quite remember whether it was a pastor or a comedian that said it. They were describing the differences between men and women at the time, and the speaker said “Women tend to marry men hoping that they will change, and men tend to marry women hoping that they won’t change.” How true it seems that after the nuptials are completed it feels like our spouse went into a booth somewhere and changed into…well, not quite a superhero…but was it them that changed or was it us?

During the dating and engagement period you have to bring your A-Game, especially if your goal is to make it to marriage with the one you want. So you make the adjustments; you hit the gym to keep the body looking great, you give them consideration in your decisions, or simply make the effort to create those “wow” romantic moments that they will always remember. Inevitably, once the bliss of the honeymoon is over and a certain level of comfort sets in, those efforts can start to diminish or disappear altogether.

The obvious intention of my grandfather’s comment is to remind us that marriage is not a finished product; it is a continual work in progress. Moreover, it isn’t just the romantic moments that are important, but we should invest in the longevity of the relationship, from the beginning, to ensure that there is a stable foundation set and our partner builds confidence in our intentions. Equally important, is that we fight off the temptation of complacency and keep the excitement and spice in our marriage. We should be just as interested in keeping our spouses as we were in winning their love to begin with.

The great thing about writing this blog is the opportunity to be reminded of the simple truths that my grandfather’s words provide. As I considered this particular post, I challenged the man in my mirror to put action to my words. So as my wife attended to a get together with some of her work friends, I took the opportunity to put some “wow” in our weekend. It only took a little creativity and less than $40 to create a memorable occasion where rose petals, candles and soft music helped me remind her that she is still very much deserving of the chase. The surprise in her eyes was priceless; the memories still the subject of her conversations and a deposit for me in the romantic bank of her heart. So, here is the same reminder to you…let’s see what you can do with it. Be Blessed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"Real Heroes" Poem (By Popular Request)

My last post was a call for heroes and as I continue to see the images of destruction and tragedy coming from our neighbor Haiti, I want to continue the call. Yes there is help slowly but surely arriving, but the need is still monumental. I am doing what I can where I can and part of that is reaching out for help. As you read this poem, I hope that it stirs something in your heart that motivates you to make a difference. Be Blessed

Real Heroes

When real heroes are born there are no celebrations, or ticker tape parades.
No millions paid for their baby picture on a trendy magazine page.
Just a quiet moment in history, future beneficiaries will regard,
as predestined appointments, divinely set, by an omnipotent and loving God.
The silver screen may suggest to us how our heroes should appear.
Those confident and chiseled representations, without the hindrance of fear.
But real heroes aren’t dawned from alien origins, nor have talents built in their genes,
just average people doing extraordinary things, with courage from places unseen.
You see, real heroes are all among us, and most never realize their worth,
because they’re the humble, selfless advocates, the human salt that flavors the earth.

Their feats of magnitude are not proclaimed for praise or remuneration,
you’ll find their powers revealed in a moment of action, not in boastful conversation.
They don’t have laser beams or teleport, or leap buildings in a single bound.
They’re brave souls that arrive in uniform, when twin towers come tumbling down.
Or the encouraging voice that whispers hope, to souls lost in despair and gloom,
preventing a note being found with a lifeless body, alone, in a darkened room.
It’s the soldier that makes the sacrifice, in a foreign and hostile land,
paying the price for the debt of freedom…for us strangers…their fellow man.
The visitor who’s smile lifted your spirits while you battled to regain your health.
or a silent companion through a time of loss, who understood the pain you felt.

You may lead peace protests to follow a dream, through racial prejudice and degradation,
or break boundaries in business, sports, and the arts, or as leader of this powerful nation.
From anonymous allies sharing what they have, to give others what they desperately need.
To the altruistic advocates giving irreplaceable time, because in their heart…love is free.
Great teachers, like candles, who consume themselves, lighting the way for those they reach,
understanding that who they are to a child is far more important than what they teach.
Rarely do they grasp the impact that’s made on the lives of those they touch.
They seldom fathom that what comes natural to them could affect another so much.
No…heroes are not always celebrated, and often insufficient homage is paid.
Like to the moms and dads who do their best to raise the heroes of tomorrow…today.

I could go on for hours sighting examples of heroes and deeds we hear that they do,
what’s important, when considering heroic needs, is to examine the hero in you.
See there is no hero’s application, no entrance exam or courses you take.
Your eligibility is determined by the way that you live and the decisions that you make.
So, next time you see a situation of need that sparks a frantic search for a hero.
The good news is you don’t have far to look, there’s one standing in front of your mirror.

Copyright © 2009 by William T. Holt

Monday, January 18, 2010

Calling All Heroes

My Grandfather used to say "so...what are you going to DO about it?"

In retrospect, I sit back in awe at how my grandfather could summarize hours of internal confusion, soul searching and mental anguish with these simple words. You see, as I would spend my time focused on the problem, he was directing me to focus on the solution which was consistently found in the form of action.

At some point any of us can find ourselves in search of a hero. Whether to come in with a miracle solution to save us from our own series of unfortunate events, or to swoop in and help a situation we observe via news or first hand. We dread these horrific events that has ravage our fellow humans leaving them flailing in an ocean of destruction and despair, and when you see these circumstances, we want someone to "Do Something".

There have been no shortage of these examples recently; 9/11 in New York, hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Tsunami in Indonesia or recently the earthquake in Haiti, the list goes on and on. Then again, maybe it's closer to home; a family finding themselves homeless due to the economy, a loved one with some terminal disease or children suffering the consequences of adult's poor decisions. We have all been audience to disaster in some form or another, some closer than others. The obvious question is what did you do about it?

Here is a challenge, take this simple question my grandfather posed, as I do in situations that I face and use it to provoke the man (or woman) in your mirror. There are always people out there looking for a hero, but not enough being heroic. I know you may be thinking "well, I am no hero", ironically, do you want to know where I heard that very statement last? A man said it during an interview on a news cast with the caption below him reading "Local Hero saves elderly woman".

Here is something that I have learned about real heroes, they don't know they are heroes until they have done something that someone else sees as heroic. In their eyes, they just did what they could do at that moment, but the key is...they DID something. Take inventory of your current sphere of influence, what is there available that you can apply some action to? Is there someone that can use some sacrificial funds you can produce, or can you donate some time or food to someone in need? Whatever it my be, I encourage you to "Do Something" for someone today big or small, you may never know the full impact it has on the recipient, but you can rest assured that you made a difference. Be Blessed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Gossiper Beware

My grandfather used to say: “A dog that buries a bone…carries a bone”

Do you know one of those people who is always ready to enlighten you to some “juicy scoop” about someone else? Maybe it’s a neighbor, an associate, or a co-worker on the job that knows everything about everybody…or at least they think they do. There is a major difference between someone sharing useful information and merely spreading trifling gossip. My grandfather’s valuable reminder is a common sense warning to us all, as we engage with others in two of the foundational components of relationships – trust and communication. We call the trap “the grapevine” and before you know it, you are caught up in one of the most destructive devices in our society with the infamous power to breed betrayal, wreck reputations, and sink friendships.

How does that happen you ask…simple…I will answer that with this question. What makes you think that someone who gossips to you, won’t gossip about you? You see, the vulnerability of a person who listens to gossip is the lack of foresight to realize that they are likely to be the next victim of the gossiper’s words. When I started managing people 17 years ago, I quickly understood the destructive power of gossip as I constantly dealt with workplace drama. Incidents usually ended with me consoling some disillusioned target as they realize their trust has been betrayed by a gossiper masquerading as a friend. After a few of these episodes, I penned a poem that is framed on my office wall and I want to share it with you. I appropriately named it “Fair Warning”, and I hope you read it with focused attention, so the next time someone comes to bury a bone of gossip in the backyard of your heart, you can be sure to keep hidden your bones of treasured information, lest they steal away with them, to share with someone else. Be Blessed.

Fair Warning

A juicy little gossip seed,

whispered into someone’s head.

Grows and grows like no one knows,

just as weeds in a flower bed.

And with each time that little seed

is planted or re-dispersed,

something is added from the last that had it

and it’s made into something worse.

Until soon you’ll see, that little seed

someone gave with all their trust,

has helped to steal their confidence

and crush their hopes to dust.

Loose lips sink friendships.

Trust those words you’ll find they are true.

Watch out, for the next seed spread around

just may be a seed about you.

Copyright © 1999 by William T. Holt

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Fists of Freedom

My Grandfather used to say “God can’t bless you with your fist balled up”

I was a young teenager struggling with the challengs of youth and the pain of my first heartbreak when he provided this glacier of wisdom. As I floundered in the grip of reason, trying to understand why a relationship that I invested my heart into just wasn’t working out and how I could make it work, he offered this quote and thankfully… illustrated it this way for me.

“Thomas, hold out your hands” he said and I did. He pulled out his old rubber change pouch, the old school kind that you squeeze in your hand on both ends and it opens up from the center like a baby bird’s mouth looking for a meal. He dug through it and found two of the worst looking pennies that he had and put one in each of my hands. “Now squeeze these as tight as you can” he said, and I did, as hard as I could. He then went into his billfold and took out a $100 bill, and as my eyes grew like inflating balloons, he reminded me to keep a tight hold on those pennies. He began to drop the $100 bill onto my clinched fists, each time it obviously fell to the ground and he would pick it up and try again. After about four tries, he looked at me with love and simply asked “ you understand?”

After a pause of deep thought, I had a true “ah-ha” moment, I finally understood that as long as I was clinging onto those worthless pennies, I could not receive the $100 bill he was trying to gift to me. Just as, while holding on to a relationship with little value, I was not able to be open to one that had exponential value. As I continue to live and learn with these words abounding in my mind and heart I understand a little more.

There are two major times that most people find their fists “balled up”. One is in anger or defiance and the other is typically clinching on to something tightly. In either scenario, usually, God can’t bless you until you decide to release your hand so you can receive His gift. So you see, while your fist is "balled up", you are causing the perpetuation of your own misery.

As we begin this new year, ask yourself what are the “pennies” in your life? Is it anger at someone or some event that happened recently or maybe long ago, that has you wrestling with unforgiveness? Is it a stagnant relationship with a person that has you bound, clinging to their indecision? Maybe it’s your stubbornness, the inability to apologize or accept an apology that binds you as you grip tightly to tethers of pride. Whatever the case, this year, don’t make a new year’s resolution have the new year’s revelation that there is a blessing waiting on you, if you will just release your "penny" and receive it. Don’t maintain your own frustration; you have the choice to let those worthless things go. Once you do, you open up the ability to increase the value of your life. Be blessed.