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Gratitude Amidst Tragedy

June 21, 2020 by  
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Such sad, sad days for our family, especially my younger brother Scott, his kids, and his grand kids. Scott’s wonderful wife, Pat, died a few days ago. No, it wasn’t the Covid-19 virus. She has been struggling with health issues for quite some time. Wow, I feel so bad for my brother. For me, it brought back some very sad times and memories.

When I was 15 years old, my older brother Bruce, who was 17, died right in front of me on an outdoor basketball court in Ankara, Turkey where our family lived from 1959-1961. My brother’s death was devastating for me and I felt so guilty for many years thinking I should have saved him.

Unfortunately, there was a more devastating and tragic event for me that almost did me in. Many years after the tragedy of my brother’s death, my 16-year-old daughter Kristin died. That was, and still is, the biggest and most tragic event of my life. Scott’s wife’s death brought these two terrible events in my life forcefully back to my brain.

When I think of other cultures that are in the mist of war, poverty, and starvation, I realize I really don’t have it so bad. Another thought that helps my brain a bit – something that should help all of us get through the pain of losing a family member, loved one, or a dear friend – is the absolute fact that nobody gets out of this life alive. All of us pass away eventually. It is simply part of life.

One powerful lesson we should take to heart is that life is quite short, so we need to train and push ourselves to live life to the fullest. Live more fully in the great “right now” moment.

Love more.

Live more.

Give more.

And push yourself to fully understand how important those 3 things are in our lives.

For me, it is very helpful to make a list of all the good people and things in my life, reminding myself how grateful I should be to live in today’s world. I call it my gratitude list and when I feel a little down, I re-read that list. I highly recommend that everyone make their own GRATITUDE LIST and add to it every time you think of another thing in your life that makes you feel grateful!

 

Worthy Destinations

May 17, 2019 by  
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Morro Castle in La Habana, Cuba. Photo by Henryk Kotowski

Cuba has been on my bucket list of countries to visit for some time now and, finally, I made it. We boarded a Norwegian Cruise ship and enjoyed a great visit to that little country and its incredible history. I’ve always loved travel and visiting Cuba makes my count of new countries visited 92. We now are heading back to Florida with one short stop on an island that I’ve never heard of called Great Stirrup Cay.

I was pleasantly surprised how friendly and safe Cuba was. It is a very poor country, but the people seem to be very happy and content. Our guide told us that the average salary in Cuba is only $70 dollars a month. In Havana, we saw some old castles with their huge encompassing walls and moats and were told of all the battles that took place and the attempts of pirates to take over the city.

Our guide was a very nice and pretty 32-year-old lady. Her English was perfect, and her knowledge of Cuba and its history was incredible. She told us how she had tried for years to go to America. She has some family living in Florida, and she had served time in the Cuban military, and yet she still could not get permission to visit the USA. It struck me how lucky we are to live in the great country of America and how good we have it. I think most of us take our great freedom and opportunities for granted.

Traveling to new places and visiting new cultures is so mind expanding. It’s too bad that everyone in the world can’t visit dozens of different countries because if they could I think the world would have fewer wars and global problems as people would see and understand that most of us are so much alike. If we were all able to see that most people are nice, friendly and don’t want to hurt others, perhaps we’d have few, if any, wars.

I challenge you, my readers, to travel to new places as much as you are able and I’m pretty darn sure you will be glad you did. You will experience a mind expansion and appreciate other cultures even though they may be very different than yours.

Well, we’ve stopped now, and they have begun shuttling people from this huge cruise ship to the cute little island in their little shuttle boats, so I had better get to the deck and jump aboard!

The Difference a World View Makes

September 25, 2015 by  
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As I write this, I am flying at 32,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, that might be a pretty incredible thing for some but the incredible things on my mind are the wonderful people that we met in Ireland and the great beauty of the country side. We just spent 8 days there (my wife is part Irish but had never visited Ireland). What a wonderful country, with the greenest of  green lands  you’ll ever see and such friendly, kind people.  We flew into Dublin and rented a car then had the scary experience of driving on the wrong side of the road-at least it’s the wrong side as far as us Americans are concerned. I only screwed up twice but quickly corrected and we survived!

We drove from Dublin up to what is called the Carton House, a huge estate with a castle that is now fixed up as a hotel complete with two 18 hole golf courses and all kinds of other amenities. You see, my wife is a Carton and her family history was traced way back hundreds of years ago to the Cartons and the Fitzgeralds, both famous and very well to do families of Ireland. So we just had to visit and stay in the Carton house. We had a great time there and later drove (very carefully) to Kilkenny, the town made fun of on South Park.

Just before we left, we watched the big Gaelic Football finals. I’d never heard of the game before. It’s a combination between soccer, American football and basketball. They run with the ball, dribble it, pass it forward and backward, and kick it for a score. It’s a hugely exciting game; I loved it.

So there we were in an Irish Pub just a few blocks from the stadium packed with over 80,000 screaming fans and next to us was a beautiful couple. In short order we struck up a conversation and discovered they were from Hungary. They were such fun people. I liked them so much I insisted that I buy their lunch. It was like we were almost best friends by the time we finished lunch. That was such a great feeling and left me with such great memories. I sure hope to see them again some time, some place.

That chance meeting brought back memories of all the great people I’ve met in my life from so many different countries and cultures. I’ve had the great privilege of experiencing so much of this great world we live in and have learned so many great lessons from other cultures and peoples from my travels. The biggest life lesson I’ve learned from all these travels, at least for me is simply this:

To visit other countries and cultures and other people with different beliefs, habits and different views of the world can give us all a better and bigger mind and help you and I to be more open minded and accepting of others.

And that, my friends, is what this world needs more of. In my own personal opinion that would lead to a much more peaceful and war free world and would be a big blessing to each and every one of us. Do you see my point? I can only hope that you too will agree.