Giving Thanks After Thanksgiving

Today I was hit by a very real and very crazy realization:

IT’S ALREADY DECEMBER!

Please excuse the excitement, but it really is hard for me to not get excited around Christmas time. It is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I’ll probably go more into why I love Christmas time at a later date, but realizing that today is the first of December I began to think about how quickly this year has gone by.

I mean, I can literally remember what I was doing in my life the same time one year ago. To say that this year has been a “blur” would be an understatement. The change that’s happened in me has been unreal, and the men and women who have contributed to this change, I view in very high regard.

While at work, my manager contributed in a small, but significant way by sharing an attitude he was choosing to have throughout the day, and let me say that it was AWESOME! I’ll do my best to summarize:

“I’m choosing to find the good things, even when the situation is bad”

Short, sweet, and pretty convicting. How often do we actively choose to look at the good things whenever we’re right smack-dab in the middle of really lousy situation? Taking it one step further; how often do we actively choose to be thankful for those good things?

Just because Thanksgiving as a holiday is over, doesn’t mean that we should stop being thankful for the many small, but significant things that happen to us on a day-to-day basis.

Our lives will, in essence, be a self-fulfilling prophesy one way or another. Either you can be joyful and thankful in your outlook on everything, or you can be angry and resentful.

The cool thing is that you genuinely have the choice on how you view the world and how you respond to it. Will it be positive or negative? The choice is only yours to make.

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My Trip to the Arctic Tundra pt. II

Before I continue with this post, I sincerely want to apologize for not posting anything the past three days. One of the negatives about being in close proximity with family for extended periods of time is that sickness travels quickly. So again, I deeply apologize.

As my trip in Maine has come to an end and I’m sitting in the Baltimore airport with my parents, I can’t help but feel completely blessed for the time I was given to rest, relax, and enjoy time with family that is rarely available.

For the first time ever, I was able to see snow more the a quarter of an inch, and it was beautiful (both pictures posted were taken from Maine)! Seeing family, like I mentioned earlier, was great as well.

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I know this is a very ambiguous post, and it’s mainly due to having a hard time fully expressing my happiness about it all. God is so good, and he has blessed me far beyond anything I deserve.

There’s definitely more to come. Stay tuned for more thoughts, ideas, and all that jazz.

The Fruits Of Your Labor

Today I was reminded of the power of honest, hard work. I was running errands with my uncle today, and he took me to his farm. After grabbing a few things, he walked me around and showed me all his animals he was raising, and let me tell you that it was astounding.

He showed me his chickens that he was raising to sell, his goats and pigs, turkeys, cows, rabbits, and everything of the sort. It was all completely captivating to me.

The work that is involved in not only maintaining a farm and raising animals, but he also has an apple orchard with over 200 trees, a small business that him and his wife run, and does outstanding carpentry work.

After talking to him about his work and overall how busy he is, I was completely blown away. Just the amount of time and effort involved in everything he does is crazy and reminded of an amazing lesson; WORKING HARD IN EVERYTHING YOU DO.

At the end of the day, you can look back on your work and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Far too many people don’t take pride in their work nowadays, and it’s something sets you miles apart from the “normal” crowd.

Now, as promised, here’s a picture of an adorable baby goat that was born not too long ago at my uncle’s farm. He’s kind of hard to see, but he’s there! Enjoy!

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Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts

Today marks the second post for my thoughts on the sermon at church, which I’ve decided to called the Sunday Supposition. That being said, this particular post won’t correlate exactly with the sermon, it has more to do with my thoughts inspired by the sermon and throughout the day.

While I intend to post more about this topic on the actual day, I’d like to talk about an aspect of Thanksgiving that I feel is particularly important and often times over looked; BEING THANKFUL FOR THE SMALL THINGS.

I, sadly, don’t have the opportunity to see my family very often. We live on completely opposite sides of the country, so visits are very infrequent. However, while I’ve been here and spending time with them, I can’t be anything but joyful at just the simple fact that I get to spend time with them.

Today, outside of going to church, I got to see my cousin perform in a play for her school. Just having the opportunity to do that was awesome, and I wish I could do it more.

The lesson I’ve been learning is to sit back and find joy in the smaller things that you might be over-looking. Those are the things that will more than likely bring you the most happiness day in and day out.

The Refining Fire

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability.

Roy L. Smith

How many times have you started to do something, started off really well, then over time began to either lose interest or forget about what you were doing almost entirely? If you’re anything like me (and probably the greater majority of the human population), then it can become a chore just convincing yourself to continue doing whatever it is that you were so jazzed about just a month ago.

Why is this? Why do we so quickly lose focus on what we were ecstatic about starting? I look at people who have enormous success in their life and notice one common denominator that they all share – DISCIPLINE.

They refuse to quit, no matter who much it may hurt or inconvenience them. They have the “succeed or die” mentality that gives them the drive to reach the very top of whatever it is that they’re doing. While I don’t think that it’s 100% necessary to always be thinking “If I don’t succeed, I will LITERALLY die,” I do believe that it can motivate you beyond what you could imagine.

Rather, I believe that there are 4 steps that you can take that will greatly increase your desire to persevere during the hard times, and have the discipline to continue.

  1. Begin With The End In Mind: When you have an end goal, something that you can strive for and work towards, then your journey will have a purpose. You won’t just be doing something just because it’s a spur of the moment thing. Instead, there will be a reason for doing it.
  2. Find Your Why: What is driving you? Why do you desire to succeed so badly? Is it because you’re in a tight spot financially? To be a great role model for your kids or the people around you? Do you simply want to have a better life than what you currently have? This is the driving force behind your success; this is your own personal “succeed or die”.
  3. What’s Your Passion: You know that exercise in school where your teachers asked you if you could do one thing for the rest of your life and not get paid a dime, what would it be? While I’m sure I butchered that analogy, I think you get where I’m going with this. What is something you absolutely love to do? Something that you can spend hours, upon hours, upon hours of time devoting your time to? This will make your journey to success all the more enjoyable, and it won’t seem like a chore when you’re putting in the time day in and day out.
  4. Discipline Yourself: This last step might seem obvious, but absolutely needs to be mentioned. The first 3 steps, in complete honesty, are a farce if you don’t make a daily effort to be disciplined to do whatever it is that you’re doing. Steps 1-3 help, but at the end of the day you have to make the conscious effort to, at times, force yourself to do something you don’t feel like doing. That’s how people like Michael Jordan are revered as the best at what they do. They never had a sick day. They practiced even when they “didn’t feel like it”. They made the hard choices to be great, and I’m willing to bet that not one of them looks back and says, “I wish I had taken that day off”.

Begin with the end in mind, Find your why, What’s your passion, and simply discipline yourself. Four steps that I have been blessed to have personally seen people do on a daily basis, and are HIGHLY successful because of it.

What do you think? Do you think there should be more steps to this list? Let me know what you think!

An End To Journey Toward

How often do we look at our lives and think, “I wish I had more of…”? We have an image of ourselves that we want to resemble, and picture things we wish to own and possess.

Am I here to shame anyone for feeling or thinking this way? Absolutely not; that would be called hypocrisy. I, on an almost daily basis, am constantly picturing myself doing bigger and better things; being a CEO of a major corporation, having boatloads of money, having a family, finally owning a Jeep, or even getting a tan.

Being someone who wants to continue to improve their situation and work for something greater isn’t, in my opinion, wrong in any regard. It’s what America was built on, and there’s a lot of merit behind that. And while I highly encourage the people in my life to look for something to strive towards, pursue something in life that make their wildest dreams seem addled and obtuse, I want to desperately point out that while we’re reaching for our prize, do not neglect the joys that you will have from the journey itself.

Ernest Hemingway said it best:

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Like always, I love feedback from anything I post. I will personally respond to each and every comment, negative or positive! Also, this post was highly inspired by a post I read by Seth Godin. You can read his thoughts here!

Misguided Loyalty: Being Loyal to a Fault

A little over a year ago I made a blog post talking about the idea of loyalty, an idea that I do everything in my power to represent. Looking back, there is incredible wisdom that a man that I have a great amount of respect for shared:

“Misguided loyalty can be as harmful as the other is good…It’s not just about being loyal but being loyal for the right reason”

As I’ve matured (a whole year!), I see so much more truth and wisdom behind this than my younger self had. I’m sad to say that I was someone that had “misguided loyalty” to a degree that I was practically living a life that someone else wanted me to live. Getting a little personal with everyone, I’d like to share perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned from my experience:

BEING LOYAL DOES NOT MEAN BEING A SLAVE

If that giant title didn’t make it clear, then let me state this again. Just because you are loyal to someone or something, does not mean that you are a slave to it. There is nothing that should guilt you, shame you, blame you, hurt you, or pressure you into remaining loyal to something or someone that clearly doesn’t value you or your time. This relationship, if you can call it that, is toxic; it’s damaging and destructive and bears absolutely no fruit whatsoever. What should you do if you’re finding yourself in this spot? Plainly, I think there are two possibilities that can take place:

APPROACH AND DISCUSS

This, in my opinion, is the best option. I will always be an advocate for talking issues out with people that you have problems with. If you never talk about what’s going on and how you’re feeling, then there is no hope for a resolution. Ever. For all you know, the person who you feel is abusing your loyalty could just be ignorant of  their behavior and completely turn around after your conversation. Always approach them and be completely truthful with how you’ll feel. In the long run, I highly doubt you’ll regret at least making room for reconciliation.

CEASE AND DESIST

You can always leave. There is nothing stopping you from removing yourself from a toxic relationship, and in many instances you absolutely should. There are times when there can be no discussion, and just leaving is the best option for you and your life. While sometimes this may seem “cowardly” or “the easy way out”, there are instances where there is nothing else you can do and sometimes, you need to remove that cancer from your life.

While I know that this isn’t the “end all, be all” to people who abuse your trust and loyalty, I found that these are probably the two simplest methods of fixing the problem and I sincerely hope that you can learn from my life experiences. Like always I highly appreciate feedback of any kind, whether it be an agreement or disagreement. Until next time, y’all have a great day!