Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 - Joy as a Choice

As I look back and reflect on this year, I find a consistent thread winding it's way through each portion of the year...I say "portion" meaning each segment I chose to reflect upon at one time or another.  Reflection is definitely something I need to devote more of my time to...have you ever had a time of reflection where you came out thinking "I am dealing with life exactly how I should" or even more bluntly "I am really good at life."  I know I haven't had those feelings, which is much of why I think I should spend more time in reflection - through this practice, I think I will be able to present myself more fully as the man I feel I should be, and the man I want others to experience me as.

BUT...that is not even what I was about to talk about.  My theme for 2010 would be the theme of CHOOSING JOY.  I definitely stole this from my pastor at Summit Church, Isaac Hunter.  It is such a good thing to consistently remember, as I think somewhere along the way we were all taught to blame our feelings and our experiences and our circumstances on this or that, him or her, when in reality it is only us who are in control of how we experience (and approach) the world.  I am not discounting that other people can affect us, nor am I discounting that people go through trials of many kinds - what I am saying is our joy and the person we put forth to the world is solely determined by the choice we make to either count our blessings or count our troubles.

And really, WHO WANTS TO SPEND LIFE COUNTING THEIR TROUBLES???!!!  It may seem so illogical, but many days we do just that - I do it ALL the time!  I think it is something we cling to which gives us control over the way we feel, the way things are going, etc.  We think to ourselves that if we can just be bitter and blame someone for how they bother us or blame our boss for the ludicrous things he asks of us, or blame our friends for not being here or there...we can remove our responsibility in any given situation and give ourselves the license to be unhappy.

Here's an even crazier thought - we PREFER being unhappy for some crazy reason.  I think society tells us that we should never be satisfied, never feel like we've "made it", never feel like we are good enough...and somehow that has translated into unhappiness being trendy.  Walk into any workplace and you'll feel it.  If someone says they love their job, those around them often become bitter toward them...or think that person must be crazy (though they'd never say it to his or her face).  It's much more normal to find lunch tables around the country filled by people constantly talking about how much their jobs suck and how they want to be elsewhere.  Now I'm not saying I love my job, but I get to decide how I view my job in general and it's place in my life.  It may not be the most riveting thing in the world 24/7, but man am I blessed to have it, and that I'm paid well and don't worry about losing it, and I could go on and on.  Even professional athletes and entertainers (the jobs we "dream of") are always telling their peers, "this grind is just too much - I don't get paid enough for this" - so there you have it.

To step off the soapbox, my study in 2010 that I have completely NOT mastered, is the study of joy as a choice.  I get to wake up everyday, breathing and moving uninhibited, with a clear mind, many talents, well provided-for, and I literally could write 200 blogs on all the blessings I have...these things should make me feel like I have no right to choose anything BUT joy.  I should treat those around me with the grace flowing from this joy.  I should approach the challenges of each day through the lens of this joy.  I should be generous and unselfish because of this joy.  I should love others and not worry about what they have done for me - all because I have an ubelievable joy.  The joy is rooted most deeply in the fact that none of the experiences I am blessed with would mean anything without the saving grace of Jesus Christ - and when I remember the things He did for me on the cross, I am even MORE silly to think of my life experiences as anything other than a massive blessing.

Basically, all I'm saying is that when you think things are tough, or annoying, etc. etc. - remember that joy is a choice you make.  Do not give in to the temptation to be bitter, to complain, to point fingers.  You will feel better about yourself, you'll feel better about those around you (and even sorry for them when you see their bitterness).  And your witness to others about the joy you have found in Christ, if you have found it (and I pray you have), will be fullest.  None of your heroes walked around complaining or whining - I guarantee it.  They are those who inspired you to believe the day-to-day was no match for their unbreakable spirits, and no matter what life presented, they presented themselves with grace, hope, and JOY.  They were ordinary people. 

Choose joy in 2011.  And then reflect on that choice.  It could be the most life-changing decision you make - more life-changing than a new job, a new relationship, a new family, a new home - the significance of these events will hail in comparison to your outlook.  And if you are reading this blog in a warm room on a computer you own, that outlook should be nothing short of joy.

God bless.  I am a work in progress, but my prayer is that as I work my thoughts out on this computer screen, they will continue to take root in me, and maybe - just maybe - take root in you too.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Be Here

Here is my recent epiphany - and it really isn't an epiphany at all...more like a recognition of a condition existing within everyone in the midst of early adulthood: we can only control so much of where we are and what we do, but we can completely control how we react to it.

I am surrounded by people who are "working toward this" and "doing this for now, until the economy turns around" - I must confess, I have been one of them, essentially since about one year into my working life. I recently realized the fault in this way of thinking though - it cheapens the experience of every day leading up to "that point", if that epic moment of self-realization ever even occurs.

Life is not about getting to that place where all the stars align, where we spend every moment of every day doing precisely what we have always wanted to do. Now, a few lucky people will read this and say "the only reason he says that is to help him justify his lack of drive to achieve his dreams." I know nothing I can say will convince you otherwise. All I can tell you is that I am a driven person - my realization is that my drive needs to be healthy. It needs to have its place in my life; not the top of my priorities, yet still a priority. If my emotions, my strength, are completely plowed into my drive to do something more - be it more "fun," more "significant," more "meaningful," or more "how I was wired" - I will be left empty every day things don't fall exactly into place.

We are vessels in this world. We get to choose what we are vessels of, and I think that is the greater question than "what will I do with my life, and with whom will I spend it." Will I be a vessel of LOVE? A vessel of JOY? A vessel which attempts to transfer the many, many blessings I experience on a daily basis to others? Or will people look at me as this man who is always focused on some other place than the place he is, who does not appreciate the simple pleasures of the here and now, and ultimately may never be fulfilled? I pray not.

I challenge you to look at your life; look at your daily thoughts, and where you place your emotions and strength. Do you utilize these things to fully experience the love, the joy, the blessings of today? Or are you continually left with the feeling of an empty cup in your hand, constantly in search of something to fill it...? Look again. Your cup is FULL. Love abounds. The sun rises and a vibrant, lively world. Be a part of it. Don't give up on your dreams, but rather own them in their right place, instead of being consumed by another reality.

At the end of the day, I was not made for this place. If I die tomorrow, I hope I fully experienced today with the joy that comes with the overwhelming blessings I'm surrounded by.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Real World: Baldwin Park" Premiere Party

I thought you would enjoy the invitation I sent out to my friends at the request of my buddy Matt for me to write the invite for him...I have a history of composing these for the crew:

Loyal Viewers,

I hope this electronic notification finds you well-rested, healthy, and ready for a new season of your favorite television show – the “Real World.” Our team of experts worked tirelessly, both day and night, weekdays and weekends – they acted like they worked for Lockheed Martin, to be honest – to select this seasons location for our wildly popular reality show. This year will be unlike any other year. Rather than choosing a full cast to be announced on the season premiere episode, we are taking a ground-breaking new approach. We have selected three actors to reveal in the first show, and throughout the season, the full cast will be brought into the story at the most unexpected times.

As for the location, we wanted to choose a place where the people are all beautiful, where the wealth seems unending like a stream from the BP under-water oil pipeline, where no person can be seen in public wearing anything other than a smile, a perfect tan, and muscles toned straight from a Health & Fitness magazine. This haven seemed the perfect place to plant the drama, the chaos, the late-night mischief, and everything else you’ve learned to love from the “Real World.”

This being your formal invitation (yes, you) to the Premiere Party of the 2010 season of the show, we want to give you the first look at the cast you will come to love, hate, adore, despise, and every emotion in between…on a weekly basis. Without further ado…

David “Hands” Herskovitz
This car washer turned financial mogul turned bodybuilder turned trained assassin brings the spice to the party like no one else. Nicknamed “Hands,” he has been seen holding his signature energy drinks while completing such feats as climbing the Eiffel Tower, wrestling live mongooses, and eating restaurants out of business. Don’t ask him where he’ll be tonight, or any other night, because he doesn’t know yet – but you can be sure that wherever you find him, he will be finding some way to WIN.

Garret “Pockets” Lumley
“Pockets” is known by several names, in several places, but one thing is unquestionable – this guy loves to party. This Colorado native fits the bill as the party-starter, party-finisher, and everything in between. He specifically chose a career which would allow him to preserve all energy which would otherwise be spent on partying, laughing, or even smiling. You’ll often find him dancing on the hood of a sports car, shirtless, pantless, wearing red shoes, screaming “Straight Cash Homie.” If you don’t get it, don’t worry. You won’t.

Matt “Playa” Price
The legend of Thibodaux makes his way to the Sunshine State, and he brings the swagger of a don, the pride of a bengal, and the poise to make it rain like PacMan. He slangs code by day, slangs ladies by night, and slangs dollas all day errday. He brings the heat to the table, and has been known to be set off at a moment’s notice, making him the most volatile member of the current “Real World” house. But don’t worry, when you step to him, you step to a whole crew. Don’t come up on Price suspectin’ to get your way – he’d soon as just bust you in the mouth, take your lady, and drop a bill on you as a donation for the attempt. He can be found at your local spot, buyin’ shots and keeping the party rollin’.

Now that you know the cast, get excited as you will only catch the drama, the excitement, and the twists and turns by watching every Saturday night at 7:30 pm. You’ll meet new cast members each week, and who knows, we might just introduce a few at the Premiere Party THIS SATURDAY NIGHT, July 31, 2010 at 7:30 pm.

As V.I.P. guests, you will be granted exclusive access to the “Real World” house in Baldwin Park, as well as hot entertainment and the latest fashion Central Florida has to offer.

The house is located at 1540 Lake Baldwin Lane (Unit A) in Orlando.

All that we ask of you is to bring some of your favorite beverage refreshment to share, as well as a snack to share, and you will be provided with the full exclusive package (including full keg access) from 7:30 pm through the end of the evening.

Don’t miss this opportunity to meet the first cast members, mingle with other V.I.P. guests from across the country, and be on the front end of the next chapter of live reality TV.

To all concerned that their swag may be swindled by the presence of the notorious B.I.R.D., please be advised that his invitation was cancelled upon the sponsorship of Cash Money, Inc. This event, though not a Palooza-sponsored event, aims to take back the excitement lost in the party and fashion scene once Baldwin allowed Jonathan Robin to purchase a residence, and to replace it with the intensity and hype it rightfully should enjoy.

We look forward to your presence, and make sure you take your blood pressure medicine in advance, because this, my friends, is going to get REAL.

Call the don of the party, Mr. Price, with any questions, but only if they pertain to the following subjects: When do I party? How do I optimize my partying? When, if ever, do I stop partying? Can I party with you?

The number is 407-404-2559.

See you this Saturday. July 31. 7:30 PM. You won’t want to miss it. You just won’t.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Invite Me to Pro Day...you'll learn more

So why did we just spend three or four years watching these guys play college football if we're going to invite the ones we know MOST about to do simple tests of athleticism? I mean, if a guy has 85,000,000 rushing yards in major D-1 football but runs a 4.9 40-yard dash, we shouldn't draft him? It is funny because they only invite 40 guys...40 guys we know TONS about...and what does that really tell us? Nothing...except makes guys who worked hard for 4 years to prove how good they are at FOOTBALL look bad on an off-day, and guys who weren't quite as good can somehow convince you they will be better in the pros because you didn't know they could jump 46 inches.

It would be funny if they did pro day for professionals.

You show up with your resume and your references from past successes, and then they put 40 of you out there to do math problems in your head, spelling contests, words per minute typing, and crap like that. Now THAT would be hilarious. You'd have the experienced director looking terrible next to the sprouting college grad. It has nothing to do with the ability to do real work, but somehow it changes your perception.

This is similar to what happens at Pro Day. They aren't playing in game situations - they're displaying some basic skills that anyone could go out and perform well.

Love it.

I guess I can't blame them - I mean, they want to know everything they can about these guys they're going to overpay....BUT, it's still worth laughing about. Kind of like Signing Day. But I still like laughing at Signing Day more.

Still waiting for my call to participate in Pro Day. I think my in-the-head calculations could really impress some scouts. Don't even get me started on my words-per-minute.

Monday, February 15, 2010

On to the Next One...

Tiffany got a job today!!!!!

This has definitely been "her month" - I hope it continues.

First, she turned 30 on February 2nd...but still looks 18. For her birthday, I took her to St. Augustine for the weekend - we had an amazing time filled with the nicest hotel in town (http://www.casamonica.com/), an great walk through town and to see the old fort (http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm), an amazing restaurant for dinner and sangria made table-side (http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/), a haunted pub tour (http://www.ghostaugustine.com/haunted-pub-tour.php), and other great times!!!! Then this weekend I got 40 people together and we had an awesome FORMAL surprise birthday party at Pate's house - great times had by all, and she was totally surprised after I made her get dressed up to go to dinner at Maggiano's...mmmmmm.

THEN, today she got word that she was offered a reporter job as our local FOX station here in Orlando, and she starts in two weeks :) This is a huge answer to prayer, as it has been a trying several months of stress, frustration, and waiting...but I'm so thankful she was able to make it out the other side with a great offer and a great opportunity here in town!!!!

As for me, I'm still waiting for ESPN to call me and beg me to come talk about NBA basketball on TV for a living. I know they really are looking to round out their under-six-foot white guy who never played basketball past high school quota. I just know it.

I'm hoping Tiffany rounds out her wonder-month by getting back to jogging after months and months of rehabilitating her surgically-repaired knee. We're gonna get ourselves beach ready before the summer!!!!!

Anyway, just sharing the news...so it rolls.

Go Nuggets.