Saturday, August 31, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-31-13

"Contrast is what makes photography interesting."
-- Conrad Hall
"Perspective gives us the ability to accurately
contrast the large with the small,
and the important with the less important.
Without it we are lost in a world
where all ideas, news, and information look the same.
We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize,
and we cannot make good choices."
-- John Sununu

I got up this morning, and as I swiveled, sat up and my feet touched the floor, I said, "Lord, thank you for this day. I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the contrast and make choices." You could say that this was an interesting thing to say at first awakening, and you would be right, and I was so pleased that this was my first thought.

Contrast is all around us all day every day. I love the simple and yet profound quote above by Conrad Hall that says so perfectly, "contrast is what makes photography interesting." It is also what makes life interesting to me. Whereas in the past (seems so long ago now. . .), I saw contrast as good and evil, dark and light, good and bad, positive and negative, I now see contrast in a more subtle light.

Sure, dark and light are severe contrasts, but in and of themselves they contrast nothing. It is the more subtle contrasts that I find interesting and choose to enjoy.

On my wall in big letters is this quote from Abraham and Ester Hicks: "Today, No matter where I'm going and no matter what I am doing, it is my dominant intent to see that which I am wanting to see." As in photography, it is a matter of what we choose to focus on that creates the image and each image is individual and unique.

Some may think that it is what it is and what comes is what comes. A fatalist view for sure, yet we have the power, and privilege, to create our own view of that which we choose to look at, or plug into, and accept. The main difference for me today, is that I am becoming so excited and enjoying contrast and looking forward to what may come. I relish in the idea that I get to make choices every second of every day, and that I create 'my own world' through my choice of what I focus on.

If I watched the news several times a day, I might think that the world is a series of disasters, natural and unnatural, problems, chaos, financial woes, and more. Or, I can look in my courtyard surrounded by plants and flowers and watch the birds in the birdbath, while listening to the sounds of nature. They both exist all day every day. Yet, I get to choose which I focus on. It is always my choice every second of every day.

I Can Enjoy The Contrast, And By Paying Attention To How I Feel About It, I Make Choices That Allow Me To Feel Good.

Spread Some Joy Today--Choose your way into joy. There is no doubt whatsoever in the fact that it is definitely a choice.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-30-13

"Cultivate the habit of being grateful
for every good thing that comes to you,
and to give thanks continuously.
And because all things have
contributed to your advancement,
you should include all things in your gratitude."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not to be contradictory to the famous and wise Ralph Waldo Emerson, but I cannot help myself in my strong desire to change this message by removing just one word. That word would be 'good'. So, here it is without the word good:

Cultivate the habit of being grateful for everything that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.

That's so much better. . .

You know it is so easy, requires no effort to be thankful for the things that we see coming to us that are 'good'. It takes courage and more open mindedness, along with more wisdom to consider including those things that we consider bad and being thankful for them. Yet, it is very often true in my own life that those things that may have seemed bad, poor decisions and such, were the very things that caused more substantial growth, new and stronger, more committed desires, as well as often changing from bad to good once I saw them more clearly.

Being Thankful For EVERY-thing Is A Huge Advantage.

Spread Some Joy Today--The more thankful you are, the more you like yourself and where you happen to be right now.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-29-13

"The heaviness of being successful
was replaced by the lightness of
being a beginner again,
less sure of everything.
It freed me to enter one of the most
creative periods of my life."
-- Steve Jobs

Many years ago, I wrote an essay about beginnings. I loved beginnings. The are so enthusiastic and exciting and there is also a lot of unknown, but for some reason, it doesn't stop us because of the positive energy all around.

Sure there are naysayers. There always are. It is a given, but for some reason, in this energy field, we don't really hear them. Or, maybe it is that we ignore them. Either way, they have no power or authority to slow us down or stop us from doing what we have decided to do. Some call this the entrepreneurial spirit. Others might call it infatuation.

In any respect, it is a glorious place to be and all is well in this place. Idealism prevails. Nothing and no one can stop us at the moment.

After a while, I think we begin to count the cost and project the future and analyze the past and all of that brain-work. It is then that the excitement probably wanes and the cares may overcome the anticipated rewards.

We may then even become more concerned and at the same time create a downward spiral--often it is one of our own creation--but we create it anyway.

It is at this point that things fall apart and the only thing that can save us is to let go, and begin anew, taking us back to our favorite place: the beginning. It is there we return to the excitement and enthusiasm and joy. This is the creative place.

This doesn't just apply to businesses, entrepreneurship, etc. It applies equally to marriages and relationships.

Here's to creating new beginnings without losing the progress that we may have made. Keep the excitement of the beginning in your heart. The way to do that is through the idea of appreciation. Find ways to appreciate yourself, your team and each other as we progress.

"Be Willing To Be A Beginner Every Single Morning." -- Meister Eckhart

Spread Some Joy Today--Notice the signs and feel how it feels and then change how it feels by thinking new thoughts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-28-13

"Of all the people on the planet,
you talk to yourself more than anyone.
Make sure you are saying the right things."
-- Martin Rooney

Whether we are alone or surrounded with people, we talk to ourselves more than anyone outside our body. I know with me, that talk was often about what I should have done and didn't and what's wrong with the current picture, who else is to blame so that I can remain blameless, various justifications for actions that I've taken that produced less than perfect results, and a few thousand other similar thoughts.

I like how Alan Cohen guides us about internal thoughts: "When considering whether to hearken to a voice within you, test its frequency. Is it broadcasting from fear or love? Practice picking up the phone for love calls and refuse to answer the fear calls."

He adds some clarification with this: "Your soul's calling also has a distinct tone. When your inner voice speaks to you it bestows a feeling of peace, ease, flow, aliveness, and a sense of coming home. By contrast, the voice of the ego, or fear, is burdensome, demanding, and disquieting."

We have so many names for our emotions or feelings, but basically there are only two. We could call them love and fear, or more aptly described they are feeling good and feeling bad. It is good to get to know the voices inside our heads and pay far less attention to what they say, and focus in on how we are feeling about what they are saying. If we are feeling good, it is our own best nature, and love. If it is feeling bad, unsure, anxious, and such, it is not in our own best interests.

In fact, this is the best way to know about which decision to make when there are several options. Pay attention to how you feel about the decision as you think about it. If anything about it feels bad, it would probably be best to avoid that decision. If you feel good about it, then it is most likely the best way to go. If all the options are not feeling good at the moment, it is best to delay until you find an option that feels good.

Once I learned how to pay attention to how I am feeling, so many things about the talk in my head, decisions I need to make and so on are so much easier, better, and I don't worry about them.

"Everyone Should Carefully Observe Which Way His Heart Draws Him, And Then Choose That Way With All His Strength." -- Chasidic sage

Spread Some Joy Today--Go forth and find the best feeling thoughts you can. Practice will absolutely improve the process.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-27-13

"Opportunity looks a lot like work. . .
the sexiest thing in the entire world is
being smart, thoughtful and generous. . .
build a life, don't live one."
-- (Chris) Ashton Kutcher

You YouTubers may have seen this video, and I find it worth watching several times because the message is a wonderful teaching. Those that haven't seen it, are in for a treat.

Not Just Another, 'Oh, Thank You,' Speech.

Spread Some Joy Today--Be sexy.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-26-13

"There is no greater difference between men
than between grateful and ungrateful people."
-- R.H. Blyth

I have found no one thing greater in my own life than to practice becoming a grateful person. I say the word practice in the literal sense in that it is not something that just comes of its own except rarely, yet when intently practiced, it is like working a muscle and it becomes stronger.

In the beginning, I would see something in nature, such as, a beautiful sky, sunset or cloud formation and I would just internally say, 'thank you.' Later, I would say these things aloud and more often as I would see things that I liked, or things that caught my attention.

This attention to the beautiful and pleasing is wonderful, and the more I would find them, the more they would find me. The practice was creating more and more opportunities to become grateful.

Then, I began to branch out to things that weren't initially beautiful or pleasing. I began to look at things that I didn't really want to look at, but since I was seeing them, I would try to find something in them to be grateful for. Consequently, the more this was practiced, the more positive and interesting they became and I started to find good in so many things that previously I would have called bad. That was fascinating at first, but such a blessing as it was practiced.

The quote from R.H. Blyth is so perfect because as I see people and their differences, especially in their actions and words, I see only grateful or not grateful. Yet, even in my practice, I see through their ungratefulness, because they have just practiced the opposite.

Practice. It Is Worth The Small Effort. Become More Of The Real Self By Becoming More Grateful.

Spread Some Joy Today--Joy is a natural and fulfilling result of gratitude.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-25-13

"The meaning of life is to find your gift.
The purpose of life is to give it away."
-- Pablo Picasso

This quote caused me to immediately relate to what it is saying and the first person I thought of was my late wife, Nancy and her becoming at age 43, in 1996, a children's leader at church, later becoming an official pastor and Children's Director.

It began long after several other job paths. When we met in 1987, she was a sales manager at a car dealership. Prior to that she was a salesperson at a car dealership, went to college, was a stay at home mom. She also trained as a registered dental assistant and did that for a time as well as being the office manager.

She struggled with the male-dominated auto business. She was sharp and smart and most capable, but the male ego is so threatened, so she encountered a lot of what would now be called blatant sexual harassment. So she switched to the dental assistant and office manager work. This was like rolling off a log for her and presented little in the way of challenge, and it paid poorly.


But, it 1996, we went to a church that was just two years young and the needs were obvious, and within just a couple of months was working with the children and creating a children's church with specific curriculum for teaching rather than just watching and keeping the children entertained.

Early 1999. Since Nancy has been on a couple of TV game shows,
she did a teaching set up like one of them. How fun.

She found her gift, and then she began immediately giving it away. At the beginning, that meant literally since there was no money to pay her. Later, she earned $300 a month, and at the end, 15 years later, still less than $25,000 a year. So money was not the least motivation. It was a calling for her, which is one way to say finding your gift.

At nearly the same time, I became actively involved in the sound department and worship music so we were in the same building but in separate places most of the time, yet there were many opportunities that I could observe Nancy at work in children's church.

Superheroes in more way than one

VBS, or vacation bible school, was the biggest event of the year. Each year it seemed to grow. She took over the entire church for a week every year, using almost every room. There might be between 40 and 110 kids depending on the year, and she got as many adults involved as she could and often encouraged them to dress in ridiculous costumes for skits, including the senior pastor and his wife. Many things were built by volunteers and it was a very involved process that Nancy controlled extremely well.

One of many VBS events. Nancy on right with hat.

Senior pastor and his wife as Flintstone characters

She used to fret over it many weeks in advance. There were times when she would say, 'no more VBS!' It wore her out, but next year, she would be right back at it and even more elaborately.

KidsGames Event

Beyond other events like Christmas and Easter, and a few others, she would focus on teaching the children every week and in the last many years worked at the church full time all week long. She took it all personally and always insisted on a strong portion of the church focus be on the children.

Early KidsGames event

She gave her gift away and all were beneficiaries of that love and passion. She found her gift and gave it away. It took her 43 years to find it, but find it she did.

I ask myself if I have found mine. I think I have. I am and have been giving it away for many years now. I find joy in it. Now looking back on Nancy's life, I see that she was a shining example of finding your gift and then giving it away.

Have You Found Your Gift? Are You Giving It Away?

Spread Some Joy Today--Allow your passion to flow through you today.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-24-13

"Don't just count the cost,
but also count the loss."
-- Albert K Strong

I've heard, 'count the cost!' as an admonition to consider or reconsider making a decision. This is especially true in making a bold and/or new decision. We are supposed to picture the consequences in all its glory; albeit, glory is not the best word here. It's all about what could go wrong and the ramification of that. And, well meaning people have all sorts of reasons for reminding us to count the cost, most probably are about them and not really about us at all.

Counting the cost is a good thing to do, yet counting the loss--that which will be missed by delay, or a protective stance--is, in my mind and experience, far more important. It is so easy to find what could go wrong, but that is just as much a fantasy or true unknown as what the positive benefits and pleasures can be. Naysayers is a good word to use for the 'count-the-costers.'

It is best to put things into perspective and this helps to count the cost and the loss. The perspective, however, will be tainted by personal experience, attitude and outlook. At the very least, counting the loss will give a more enlightened perspective of the cost.

If All We Did Was Count The Cost, Nothing Would Ever Be Accomplished.

Spread Some Joy Today--Follow your bliss today. . . and tomorrow. . . and the next day. . . and the next day. . .

Friday, August 23, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-23-13

"Conflict cannot survive
without your participation."
-- Dr. Wayne Dyer

Tugging on the rope, resisting is one way to visualize conflict. It's tug o' war, me against them or us against them. In this game there are winners and losers. But if we decide to just let go of the rope, no one goes in the puddle and everyone survives. In addition, the real benefactor is the one who dropped the rope and let go. Stress is gone. Resistance is gone. Conflict is over.

That's all pretty easy to picture, but what about internal conflict. There is you and you, you and your ego, and there is a lot of conflict going on in many of us over a wide variety of issues.

I was thinking about this aspect of internal conflict, and I began thinking about some conversation I'm having in my head with someone. I was justifying something or other to make sure that I am right and all that. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. Sometimes we can go on for a bunch of time going from one scenario to the other, one conflict to another.

Anyway, as I was thinking about this conversation in my head, watching it unfold, participating in it as if it were real, and I became aware of my stomach. It didn't feel good, it was tense. My stomach muscles were tightened and I could feel the tension all over my body with the highlight in my stomach area.

Then, immediately, I let go of the rope. I quit. My stomach muscles loosened and I was relaxing into a pleasant space, perhaps not even thinking of anything in particular, but just noticing the improvement in my mental attitude and my physical being.

How many times each day might we go through this conflict. And each time it requires our participation in order to continue. As soon as we let go and relax, whether it is someone we are having issue with, or our own internal struggle, peace comes in to fill that space and health and well being are returned.

Paying Attention To What You Are Thinking Is Okay, But Paying Attention To Exactly How You Are Feeling Is Your Guiding Light!

Spread Some Joy Today--Praising someone, something, or some act is a perfect way to express appreciation and at the same time, cause personal joy.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-22-13

"Don't judge each day
by the harvest you reap
but by the seeds that you plant."
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

I love this quote. Aren't we all looking for the harvest? Don't we want the reward? Maybe we've worked for years and now it's time to collect. Harvest can be a great time.

I was looking at this idea with a bit of a twist. Harvest reminds me of what is. It reminds me of manifestation. There it is. And, true enough in farm language and every other, harvest can be great and it can be lousy. Maybe we ignored some important points on the way to harvestland. Maybe we cut some corners, skipped a step here and there. Maybe it turned out differently than we planned on it back in the day, which now seems ages ago, that we began with a glorious end in sight.

Another way to look at it that is a bit different is that it is already done--sort of like arriving at the destination. Then what? Enjoy the harvest, of course. It will be short-lived most likely.

Sometimes we may be so focused on the reward, the destination, the end result, that we have lost touch with the fact that the harvest is simply a portion.

I like harvest too, and yet I find that I have become a more committed planter. I want the best seeds I can create or find. I want to begin very well. I want to focus on what seeds I can plant today and every day. Seeds are easily shared and can provide additional and even far-reaching benefits to those around me. I may never see their harvest, but I know the seeds well. I want to judge my day by the seeds that I plant. The harvest will take care of itself.

There will be no harvest without the seeds. In addition, the what is harvested has everything to do with what seeds are planted. So true in life that what seeds we plant on a daily basis will absolutely reap a harvest. Will it be the harvest we want? We will only know by the type of seeds we plant.

Plant Corn, Get Corn. Plant Fear. Reap Fear. Plant Discord. Receive Discord. Plant Love, Get Love. Plant Peace, Get Peace. Plant Understanding. Get Understanding.

Spread Some Joy Today--Plant the best seeds and enjoy the process.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-21-13

"Our power lies in our
  small daily choices,
one after another,
to create eternal ripples
of a life well lived."
-- Mollie Marti

On the post for the 19th, I said I was done celebrating Nancy's life, and today was a strange day for me. I felt lost and was reflecting on the blessings that I received from my life with Nancy. I asked myself, 'what did I learn?,' 'what benefit was I to Nancy?'.

It seems logical that when someone is gone that was there for some time, that we would reflect on questions such as these. It doesn't matter how they departed, it is just that they are no longer there.

Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve/Guerneville CA

So, I reflected on what I learned, how I benefitted. I cannot presume that I would know what exactly or how exactly I was of benefit to her. I have some ideas, my opinion and such, but I will concentrate on the post by focusing on my own perspective, which I can know very well.

I reflected today that at the top of the list is that I had the opportunity and honor to practice my concept and activity in the idea of unconditional love. It is easy to love someone who is loving, but when someone is fighting you or looking at faults and such, it is much more of a challenge to offer unconditional love.

This dog hates me unless Nancy wasn't around. Such a protector

In my own life, I've experienced it personally, and also participated in divorce. It can be treacherous or not as is chosen by each, but in any respect, it is generally not a pleasant experience. It is a lesson in NOT unconditional love, or rather a very conditional love generally. But it can be other as we choose.

With Nancy, I had ample opportunity and contrast to practice my own personal goal and ideal of being a living example of unconditional love. I may not have succeeded 100%, but I got better and better and better, and I am proud of the progress I've made.

I learned patience. I was not a patient man. Indeed, I had a short fuse from time to time, but I had a goal; a desire; a willingness to practice in being more patient and calm. In the last year and a half, this patience was tested to the extreme. I refused to give in, give up, and let go. I wanted so much to be a patient and calm person, to exude these attributes that go along so perfectly harmoniously with unconditional love.

One of a few hundred rides. This one in Napa Valley

I am proud of the fact that I kept on keeping on and continued to find joy in the opportunities to practice patience.

Joy. I chose joy as much of the time as I could. In the practice of choosing joy, I found more joy continually. Joy is not something that someone else can give, it is something that we give ourselves only. It is very personal in that way. Regardless of the challenges that I was given, I found opportunities to practice allowing joy in my life. Yes, it is a very selfish thing, but that is not at all a bad thing, but a good thing. In the midst of tragedy, I found joy enough for me, and it was always my hope and desire that this example would inspire others to allow joy in their own lives among their own specific examples.

Meaning. It wasn't just the many challenges with Nancy, but I found opportunities to practice all three of these most important attributes, everywhere that I went. After a brief testing, I actually looked forward to these opportunities and rejoiced in them. Each one brought me further along and more improved.

I rejoice in the love I gave and accepted, the patience I demonstrated and practiced, and the joy I chose for myself regardless of other's choices or points of view. These are the best lessons, learning, and growth attributes I could imagine receiving in any relationship.

"You Are What You Practice Most." -- Richard Carlson

Spread Some Joy Today--What qualities of life will you practice? You get to choose.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-20-13

"Take care to distinguish between
things you can control and things you can't,
so that you will no longer worry
about the things you can't control
and will instead focus your attention
on the things you can control."
-- William B Irvine Peace

Presence. Enlightenment. Harmony. This thought above about control and where we put our focus has been said so many ways, and I think the value of seeing it in different; albeit, similar ways allows the idea to catch more people and ultimately hold meaning for them.

In Hawaii, they call it 'hanging loose.' Some say the value is in letting go, or being willing to give up ideas, thoughts, and beliefs. They are all right, of course. It is all these things. It is a way to have peace, a part of being present. It is a kind of enlightenment or awareness, and it is most certainly, harmony.

I'm not real fond of the word 'control,' because it entertains the idea of manipulation, but really it is just choice. To choose our focus. To choose our relationship to what we choose to do, be or think.

This is all good, yet I think I've found a better way for me. That way is to tell myself a different and a better story, and do it so often that I drown out the negative self-talk that has always been there. By telling a better, improved story, I choose things and I allow them and accept them.

Here is a really great way to begin right now, today. Say this out loud often, and especially when something seems to not be working out as you might have desired. Say, 'things are always working out for me.' Whatever the issue is, say, 'things are always working out for me.' The first thing you will notice is that this becomes true.

That Is Some Excellent Control!

Spread Some Joy Today--People need more hugs than they get. Give more today!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-19-13

"To love
is to recognize yourself
in another."
-- Eckhart Tolle

This is intended to be the final installment of celebrating Nancy. I've covered many topics in how she was special and how she affected others. I began Sunday, August 11th with an announcement and about Nancy as a children's pastor. Then how we met in Hawaii, how she was for the birds, how she loved plants, bushes, and trees. Next was how Hawaii was a theme in our lives. Next was her children, then her family. Yesterday was about her interest in cemeteries. Today comes full circle with my life with Nancy.

Nancy working at Toyota dealership

I was in a songwriting period from 1983 through 1988 (then again from 1998 through 2002), and after meeting Nancy in Hawaii, then going to southern California to stay with her another week, I returned home and wrote several songs about Nancy. Only one was worth recording to me, and it was called Nancy's Eyes. I mentioned this song in a post on January 14th, 2010. Here's the song:

Nancy's Eyes

1st verse:
Nancy's eyes reflect the joy I feel in me.
In Nancy's face, I see all I've come to be.
And in her smile, my love comes back to me
In Nancy, I see me.
In here I see reflections of what's inside of me.
She radiates the qualities that once I couldn't see.
Now I understand, the love she sees in me,
For I reflect the love in here she's choosing to set free.
2nd verse:
In Nancy's voice, I hear the feelings I express.
In Nancy's touch, I feel the warmth of my caress,
And in her laugh, the laughter, I possess.
It's me, that she reflects.
Repeat chorus

The idea of the song was interesting and different for me in that it approached the idea of love as if our love for someone else was a reflection of ourselves, even when we didn't realize we were that way.

Nancy in children's room at church

When Nancy moved up here in June 1987, I owned a little recording studio with two other people. I had this song and the basic tune, but it was one of my partners and also a roommate at the time, Dan who helped me record the song. He played piano and added a little lick to the song that took it to a different level. He put it on tape along with some lead notes and I loved what he did with it.

Nancy at her piano at home

It was just a basic demo type recording, and I sang the song. When it came time to do the vocal, I had Nancy sit in front of me in the studio and I sang and recorded it singing the song to her. I had never done anything like that before.

Nancy and daughter Alisa

The story expands.

When I met Nancy, she had a VW Cabriolet Convertible that she bought used from the car dealership where she worked. She loved that car. After 15 years in the car business for me, I had always taught my salespeople that if they were going to be good at selling new cars, they should own one. I led that by buying quite a few over the years. I was also very loyal to the brands I sold. In this case, it was Chevy, Olds, and Cadillac. So you can imagine with that attitude, what I thought about a foreign car in the driveway. She obviously didn't have the same attitude.

A recent photo of Nancy and her grown children, Guy and Alisa,
along with Charlie, her precious protector.

Her VW also had an engine vibration. It had 50,000 miles on it and I thought up any kind of reason that made any sense to have her let go of it and drive something I represented. Finally, she acquiesced, and I let her choose what car of the ones I sold she would like, and we bought a top of the line Oldsmobile Ciera International in gray metallic. After a week or so, she exclaimed how much she liked the car, and we owned it for a few years.

However, I didn't feel as good about the whole deal as I thought I would. Inside, I always felt that I had taken something away from her that she loved and it always bugged me while owning the Ciera.

So, working in Santa Rosa at a Chevy store, there was a VW store next door and in 1991, I bought, without her knowing about it, a new 1991 VW Cabriolet Convertible, white on white with a white top. But, I had to do more. She was on a trip with her kids in my Cosworth Vega (yes, I owned and loved a 1976 Cosworth Vega). I had a driver bring Nancy's new car home and I parked it in the carport with a big bow on it. Next, at the time I bought the car, I applied for a personalized license plate related to the song, Nancy's Eyes, and it became NANCZ IZ.

And that is how Nancy's Eyes and NANCZ IZ became a theme in our lives. Her email name was NANCZIZ. Later on, she wanted a full-size car to accommodate her parents and we got a Toyota Avalon and transferred the license plates to that car which I still own with 215,000 miles on it. It has been a wonderful machine and still is. It was Nancy's car and she drove it all over creation. We went to Wyoming in it, and I drove her around in it when she could no longer drive.

I guess that I made up for taking the car she loved away way back when. If nothing else, my attitude changed and that undeserved loyalty I was holding on to went away for good. It's people that matter. My wife mattered. Anytime I might have failed her in some way and I knew it, I did whatever I could to make up for it. This is one story of that and how Nancy's Eyes, which caught my attention immediately in Hawaii before I was even introduced to her, became something that was a theme throughout our life together.

"The World Is A Great Mirror. It Reflects Back To You What You Are." -- Thomas Dreier

Spread Some Joy Today--Express your joy and love today. There is no benefit to wait.

Note: For interested parties, Nancy's service is Friday, August 23, 2013, at 2pm at New Hope Christian Fellowship. See more at

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-18-13

"It is upon such stones
that men attempt to permanently etch history
so they will not exist in a vacuum;
it is the final statement after a lifetime
of scratching out divisions upon the ground,
over ephemeral time itself,
merely to give their short journeys meaning,
to tell others 'I was here--do not forget me,
do no let my brief blast dissolve into nothingness.'"
-- Rob Bignell

Continuing my open celebration of a bit of Nancy's life, we come to what might be called a quirkiness. We all have them. One of Nancy's was her love of cemeteries. Strange but true.

Nancy walking to old grave in the desert

We've driven thousands of miles all over northern California, along with other places from time to time, and regardless of where we went, Nancy could spot a cemetery that she wanted to stop at. Probably the majority of the time, we were already past it, so I would acknowledge it and keep driving. But, I couldn't always do that to be fair. Though I had little interest in cemeteries, I did stop at quite a large number of them and let her look around.

Some beautiful place

At first I thought that was weird, but I realized that Nancy was probably thinking more about history. She did a genealogy of her maiden name, Joslyn and went back to the Civil War era and researched where the relatives were buried via death records. In some cases, and if it were possible, she wanted to go to that cemetery and see the grave itself. She actually found several. Some were on the east coast and even some in the San Francisco bay area.

President Kennedy's gravesite with Eternal Flame

We've visited cemeteries in so many towns and cities within 100 miles of our home in places like Benicia, Forestville, St Helena, Calistoga, Vallejo, Mare Island, San Francisco, and many more. I remember in Calistoga, Nancy spent about an hour and a half going through a cemetery right next to a park. I think she looked at every grave.

Arlington National Cemetery

Then there were famous places like on our trip to Washington DC, we went to Arlington National Cemetery and saw President Kennedy's gravesite, the tomb of the unknown soldiers and more. Nancy used to take her kids when they were young to places like the site of Shays Rebellion, Civil War battlefields and more. Active history lessons Even when we were on a trip to Hawaii, she would want to stop at a cemetery there, or anywhere else we travelled in the country. Some lush and beautiful and others in the dry desert regions. Some we would even stop at more than once, such as an old cemetery in Forestville, California.

Orton Plantation, outside Wilmington, North Carolina

She went to many on her own; however, I can assure you that I have been to quite a large number of them. She had a 'radar' sense about where they might be. It was interesting to see some of the dates on some graves in how old they were, and I found it especially interesting how the old wooden grave markers could no longer be read.

All in all, she found them fascinating, and that is all that mattered. When Nancy was first diagnosed with ALS, within a couple of months, she picked out a cemetery where she wanted to be and bought the plot. She made most of the arrangements herself, wanting to control that to suit her desires. She chose a beautiful local cemetery, the Rockville Cemetery and we would drive by it often per her request. There are always so many flowers there, and it is always green, and has many trees and benches. An excellent choice.

Rockville Cemetery, Nancy's new home

By the way, as I've included a few photos here, there were so few photos taken of cemeteries. Nancy never seemed to want photos, just to experience them personally.

We Can Choose To Enjoy Our Interests Even When Others Don't Share Them.

Spread Some Joy Today--Celebrate the joy in your life wherever it may be.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-17-13

"The great gift of family life
is to be intimately acquainted
with people you might never
even introduce yourself to,
had life not done it for you."
-- Kendall Hailey

Just a few more days in the Daily Inspirations celebrating just a bit of Nancy's life and heritage. Yesterday was all about her children, and today is her family and my extended family.

Mom and Daughters Nancy and Susie

I'll never forget when I was visiting Nancy in southern California and when we decided to get married, we drove to Oceanside where Nancy is from and arrived at her sister's place in the evening. I walked in, gave Susie a big hug while exclaiming, 'Hi Sis!' She was taken aback, but I was thrilled to meet Nancy's younger sister that she felt so fondly about. We got along magically as if it was meant to be.

Nancy's brothers, Matthew, Mike and Tim

Next day, we went to Nancy's mom's house nearby and I did the same thing. I gave her mom a big hug and exclaimed, 'Hi mom!' She didn't know what to think. It took her totally by surprise, and I loved her and Nancy's dad, Dale, right from the start.

Three Gen: Mom, Daughter Nancy and Granddaughter Alisa

In fact, all of Nancy's family was that way. Meeting her three brothers was such a pleasure and whenever I see them even today, I love them totally. They are wonderful, caring people.

Learning the Swing from an expert

My own family was disjointed to say it kindly, and not really into family the way that Nancy's family was. I've attended so many Christmas times, Thanksgivings, other event get-togethers like weddings and birthdays, some here and many in Oceanside and elsewhere and every time there is such love.

Family get-together in Suisun City at the marina

Nancy's mom, Claudine and her father, Dale are the best. They have been so welcoming and warm and friendly and helpful in every way possible. I remember trips to Washington DC, a vacation home near Yosemite, Disneyland and other places. They have both been inspirations to me and especially Claudine, who in her mid-80s is constantly going, doing. It seems like the only time she rests at all is when she's reading.

More extended family

Nancy's brothers, Mike, Tim and Matthew are awesome. Matthew even lived with us in Fairfield for a while, and now has a family and lives in Spokane Washington. Mom and Dad sold their place in Oceanside and live with Matthew in his basement apartment helping out the family. What a great arrangement for everyone.

Nancy's 40th birthday dinner

I am blessed to have inherited this wonderful family from Nancy. It is a true pleasure to know them and to spend any time with. I can only hope to continue to be a part of such a great family as this.

"Rejoice With Your Family In The Beautiful Land Of Life!" -- Albert Einstein

Spread Some Joy Today--How wise is it to know what is really important?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Daily Inspiration 8-16-13

"You don't choose your family.
They are God's gift to you,
as you are to them."
-- Desmond Tutu

Good day. Continuing my open celebration of just some of Nancy's life, I've talked about how we met, her as a children's pastor, that she was for the birds, she loved plants and put them all around the house inside and out, and how Hawaii was more than just a meeting place, but a theme in our relationship. Today, I will share a bit about two of the most precious and special people I know: her children.

When Nancy and I met on April 30th, 1987, she had two children. One she brought on the trip with her was her daughter, age 14, and she also had a son two years younger. By walking (falling) into a special relationship with Nancy, I was gaining two children, one a teenager and one on the verge. This idea might scare some, but I didn't flinch. After meeting Alisa in Hawaii and spending a bit of time with her, I knew it was perfect.

Winter 1988. About 1 year at the Minion place.
Haven't seen snow since then. It is very rare here.

To say this was a whirlwind romance is true. We met, spent the week together, then a couple days later we're engaged. Within less than two more months, they were moved into my home. That was a lot to get used to for everyone, but especially Alisa. I know exactly how she felt because I have been in a situation very similar several times in being uprooted and thrown into a different area, no friends, knowing no one and adjusting to a whole new living dynamic. She hated it. I'm not being kind. She hated it.

Alisa is trying to get the 20 degree turn into the carport.
Going in is easy, but the backing up part appears to be an issue.

Moving from progressive and cool southern California to the backward and uncool scenes in northern California was torture. The harder one holds on to where they are not any longer, the more pain they inflict on themselves, but she had to experience it, as I did myself also moving from SoCal to NorCal.

Guy was living with his father for a time, but within just a few months, he was up here as well. He hated it too. He had some strange living arrangements and he and Alisa did some serious testing on me. Guy seemed to test more than Alisa, but it was okay. I understood their pain--or at least, part of it.

Guy is sweet sixteen and looking pretty dapper

In a relatively short time, we became a family. I made it clear to their father and to them that I wasn't trying to replace him, but I would love them and be there to help them in any way I could. I have sincerely done my best in that role and with that philosophy. I love them as if they were my own blood. I'm proud of both of them.

A rare picnic event at Lake Solano

Guy is brilliant. I can't say it any better. He gets it from his mother. Quick witted, extremely well spoken and deep thinker. He has a mass amount of knowledge to draw on and enjoys expressing himself in writing. He is a highly skilled writer. I am a writer, yet he is more skilled than I in my opinion. He gets that from his mother too. She was so good at writing that it amazed me constantly.

Guy is fearless. He travels the world now and has no trouble being alone in his travels to unknown places in unknown and stark circumstances, even in hostile environments. He is trained as a paramedic, but can do things that can only be done by a doctor in this country by working in other countries. He wanted that opportunity.

The First Family. Guy, Alisa, Nancy and Chappy

He and his wife put themselves through college. They now have two children and live in North Carolina. Nancy would typically travel there at least once, if not twice a year.

Alisa is brilliant as well. Also getting it from her mother. She adapts quickly, learns the ropes and applies herself at whatever task or position she accepts. She has been a store manager, even training store managers, and now works at the Jewish Home in San Francisco where she lives.

A bit blurry, but I love this shot.
They have the same smiling eyes that Nancy has.

I think Alisa loves her mom more than anyone else. She is very sensitive and pretty and has been through a lot and yet perseveres. She has a lot of friends and stays in touch with a lot of them all over the country. She has been so helpful in dealing with medical issues and Medicare and such with Nancy. I was lost and she had the answers and the follow through to get it done. I was like a deer in the headlights much of the time.

I got lucky. I got to meet these two wonderful people and be a bit of a post in the ground for them. I'm still in the same house they came to 26 years ago. By the time I was 33 years old, I had moved 43 times in my life, so sticking around one place for a while was important to me and I'm sure it was for them. Even if it was Fairfield, CA. It wasn't their favorite place, but that's okay.

Grandma Nancy with her two grandchildren,
Joslyn (left) and Sophia. Always the teacher.

Recognition was something that I realized was very important to Nancy. She wanted recognition for her service at church, the things she did to improve her children's lives, and those around her, and much more. She got some of it. But, if you took everything that Nancy ever did away and all she ever did was bring these two marvelous creatures into the world and raise them so skillfully and lovingly, that would be more than enough. Anyone who meets and gets to know Guy or Alisa is automatically giving Nancy the highest recognition possible. Everything else is a pale shadow.

I am so grateful to be a part of their lives and to have been a part of Nancy's. I plan to be a part of their lives for a long, long time.

We Bless So Many, Known And Unknown Through The Lives Of Our Children.

Spread Some Joy Today--Celebrate your children, or those of someone near. Spread the joy of your love and watch it gleam in their eyes.