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Before We Lose It

August 15, 2021 by  
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A few weeks ago, I wrote about how I had no idea how important the social aspect of my life was until the pandemic hit. That made me realize just how much I valued my face-to-face conversations and hanging out with my friends. It also hurt that our annual trip to Europe and other counties was gone. We’ve met so many wonderful people and made so many new friends on those trips as well.

Most of us take way too much for granted and don’t take the time to be as grateful as we should be for what we have. But when one of those great things in our lives is suddenly taken away… wow, we certainly notice how much we appreciate those things when they are gone. 

Something that I took for granted for far too long was my daily long walk and comparing my daily steps total to my previous daily steps. As I’ve written before, I have given myself a minimum goal of 20,000 steps a day, although I usually go well over that. I use a super great gift my wife gave me years ago, a Fitbit, that counts each step I take and gives me weekly totals. That little device enhanced and lifted my life. It’s helped me stay fit, even now as the ripe age of 80 approaches, less than 3 years away.

Well, that little device that pushed me to regularly walk my 20,000 plus steps a day was a big deal and I totally took for granted what it was pushing me to do until recently. I got hit in the head several months back, which laid me up for a while. 

Then, just this last week, I had a big trip and fall at 2:30 in the morning. I hit my right knee so hard that I could hardly walk the next day and for many days to follow. The few steps I did try to take were too painful, so I would find myself in bed or sitting in a chair all day long. Ugh. Even taking a pain pill didn’t help much. Double ugh! 

That is when it hit me like a brick that I’ve taken the ability to walk without pain totally for granted. I know this happens to many of us when we get injured, but shouldn’t we start to appreciate what we have before we lose it?

I think all of us should take time to consider all the great things in our lives that we are just taking for granted. I talked about that here on my blog before. Back then, I made a list of the many things that I was taking for granted, but perhaps it’s time for an update.

I suggest now, as I did then, that all of us consider making or updating a list of that kind so we have time to enjoy and appreciate what we have while we have it. Doing so has the potential to make us more content as we begin to truly recognize all the great things we have in our lives. 

You can look at my prior list to help you start building your own. It’s in my post from 4/16/2020. You might also want to read or re-read what I posted on 11/29/2020 for an additional reminder. 

Time to Appreciate

August 1, 2021 by  
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As I was walking down our very long driveway to pick up the garbage cans, I looked up at the same sky I see every day, but this time I focused in on the absolutely beautiful blueness and the great billowy white clouds. It almost took my breath away. 

Probably the biggest reason that I was so moved is because for the last few days we’ve had thick, ugly, smoke-filled air caused by the huge fires in the western part of Utah and from all the way over on the west coast. Seeing the beautiful blue sky I had missed over the previous days just made me really appreciate it.

While I admired our clear skies, the thought hit me that there are so many times in our lives that we just take things for granted. The truth is, we often don’t really appreciate them until they are taken away from us.

That was certainly the case for me when the pandemic restrictions started to be pulled back. The lock downs took away my social life and, as I wrote several posts back, the pandemic restrictions made me realize how very important my social life and friends are in my life.

So, up until the day all that dirty air and smoke hit our city and state, I took all that good clean air for granted. Ugh! But now, wow, I notice and totally appreciate our beautiful sky and clear air. 

After this mental breakthrough, I started making a list of the many things I love but don’t always take time to appreciate. Here’s part of that list. The first 6 are all good “F” words:

1. Family, especially my wife

2. Friends

3. Freedom

4. Finances

5. Fun

6. Future

7. Health

8. A brain that works fairly well. (Okay, my wife may dispute that one!)

9. Home

10. Country

11. Nature

12. Kindness

I think I need to make more and more lists and review those lists and on a regular basis. I am sure that will lift my spirts and my life. I would encourage and challenge you to do the same!

The Joy in the Journey

June 27, 2021 by  
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Would you agree that most of us, at one time or another, especially when we were young, had thoughts of being rich and or famous? And maybe those thoughts were followed by, “If I was rich and famous, my life would be perfect or darn near perfect!”

If you were at all like me, you certainly had those thoughts. Most people I’ve talked with over the years had those thoughts run through their mind at some point. But I’m here to tell you that a near-perfect life does not necessarily follow fame or wealth.

Yes, wealth can make a lot of things in your life an easier, but if you think that tons of money and fame will automatically bring you happiness and contentment, you’re dead wrong. In fact, I think you will find a higher early death rate and more addiction in the rich and famous than in the middle class. That is saying something about how imperfect a life with wealth and fame can be.

Riches and fame can give you a lot more choices, but you do need to be extremely careful with the choices you make. For example, gifting your wealth to charitable causes can bring far greater and longer lasting satisfaction than feeding a cocaine or alcohol addiction with all that money.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that money and fame, or going after great and lofty financial glory, are not worthy goals. Those are energizing, lots of fun, and can be very satisfying. Just be sure you enjoy each hour and day of your pursuit and be aware that whatever the end results of your journey, it won’t make your life perfect.

The thing is, nobody’s life is perfect and when you realize that and accept that fact, your satisfaction and contentment can really begin to soar. Trust me on that. I’ve been there, done that, and learned it. I have to remind myself that life is never perfect on an almost daily basis, pushing myself to concentrate on the big multi-year goals while, at the same time, remembering to “live in the now” and have tons of joy while on the journey.

Money can do great things for you, your family, and your life, but it is simply not everything. It is not the key to a happy, fulfilled life. Look beyond the wealth to what you can do to make things better for others as well as exploring and enjoying life. You don’t want your life to just be about making money. You want it to be about what that money can do for you and others. That’s where you will find the joy.

A Winning Legacy

June 6, 2021 by  
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I’m pretty sure virtually all humans understand and appreciate how important it is to have friends, especially good ones and maybe lots of them. However, it’s so terrible and sad when one of them dies.

I was very shocked and saddened when, a few days ago, I heard that my good friend Mark Eaton had suddenly died. He was a great guy, very smart, and a very famous and talented superstar basketball player. He was also very nice, super friendly, and always looking to help other people.

Mark was also a brilliant writer. He wrote a wonderful book entitled The Four Commitments of a Winning Team. You really ought to get his book and read it cover to cover. Here’s a quick summary of the Four Commitments:

1. Know your job

2. Do what you’re asked to do

3. Make people look good

4. Protect others

What is amazing about his story is that even though he was a giant at 7’4” tall, he didn’t want to play basketball. He actually worked as an auto mechanic. He didn’t have any interest in basketball and resisted many attempts by coaches and others to talk him in to playing.

Finally, he was persuaded to take up the sport and, man oh man, did he ever become a superstar player. He broke several MBA records while playing for the Utah Jazz. Quoting from the inside flap of his book, “As a starting center for the Utah Jazz for over 10 years, Mark Eaton experienced the transformation of his team from cellar dweller to one with an extraordinary 20 consecutive playoff appearances.” 

What surprised me the most about the recent news is that Mark was in such great physical shape. He worked out regularly and was very sharp and smart. He was only 64. To me that’s very young since I’m 13 years older than that and I’m pretty sure he exercised more than I do.

How very sad to lose a great friend and great human being. His death certainly brought back the heart-breaking memories of my daughter, Kristin, who died at the young age of 16.

My wife and I headed for his ranch the day after he passed to comfort his wife and their children. We will all miss Mark very much! Please keep their family in your heart and thoughts.

The Power of Gratitude

May 9, 2021 by  
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It looks like we are slowly getting this COVID thing fixed, or at least we are making some progress. I must admit, I’m a pretty lucky guy. Not only did all my family make it through with no super serious problems, but there were some great rewards and big payments that lifted my brain and heart.

There is one type of big payment that comes to me constantly that I am so very grateful for. And no, I’m not talking about financial payments but something much more rewarding and pleasing, something that lifts my brain to a higher level. I’m talking about the messages of gratitude that so many of my blog and book readers send to me because the things I shared in my writing helped their lives.

There’s not a lot of things more rewarding in this life than gratitude and love from friends, family, and followers. I just received a great letter from a guy who calls himself Fixer Jay DeCima who thanked me for helping him. He writes books and training programs on profiting in real estate. You can find them at www.fixerjay.com. Also, there is the super billionaire, Dell Loy Hansen, that gives me credit for him making a fortune. His letter crediting me is in the front of the latest edition of my book, The Next Step to… Waking up the Financial Genius inside You.

These notes of thanks and words of gratitude come in randomly and, yep, they certainly lift my mind, body, and soul. There is almost nothing like that feeling in the world, and it’s so much more important than money. If you have experienced helping other people and then receiving thanks and gratitude from them, you know what I mean.

Also, this darn COVID thing has taught me a lot of lessons about the power and mind lifting benefit of being social and, especially, giving your friends and loved ones big hugs. Our social life and these experiences with gratitude and love drive, in a good way, our existence here on planet earth.

Now I’m not one to say that I know what happens to us after we die. I don’t know whether there is a next life or if we will live again with family and friends, but I do know that only a fool wouldn’t at least hope for that. So, my challenge to myself, and you, is that we take more time to express our gratitude and appreciation for other people and remember that these things are so important for a happy and fulfilling life on this planet earth.

Poetry of Life and Love

April 25, 2021 by  
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The other day I was thinking about love and how many people I love and feel loved by.

Just after having those thoughts, my wonderful wife, Kimberly, came across a poem I wrote for her about love. I wrote it back in 2006 and had totally forgotten about it. When I read it, I was really surprised. I didn’t remember writing a poem that she thought was so great.

So here it is. I hope you like it and that you love lots of people and they return the love back to you! 

 Life, Life, Life!
 It’s what we live… a day at a time.
 At times so sad, sometimes sublime.
  
 Most moments pass without much thought…
 Others stop us cold, as we challenge what we’ve sought.
 Tonight so silent and serene, by myself but not alone.
 Waiting for Her, the sound of her walk…
 Such comfort knowing we will soon talk.
 To share the details and feelings of her day and night,
 Our lives, our family and friends — the future so bright.
  
 So we finish the day and start all over tomorrow
 Grabbing each second, each minute, we steal or borrow.
 Those seconds turned hours, then two years
 Giving more time for great joys and sad tears.
  
 65, 70, 80 years we’ll soar.
 Why not 90, 100 or even more?
 Shoot for the stars and do all that you can.
 Maybe only the moon you’ll hit, for you’re just a man.
  
 Share your love along the way
 With kids, lovers and strangers each day.
 For to make a difference on this place called earth,
 Giving love and compassion will breed and give birth.
  
 Now, so many others whom you’ll never know…
 Will spread your influence for good and continue to grow.
 And whether the credit is given to you or not,
 Lives will be helped, easier battles will be fought.
  
 Lifting their sights to a higher plane…
 Giving all more courage to do the same.
 Making the world such a better place…
 Giving good reason you took up some space.
  
 — Mark O. Haroldsen, November 2006

Friends: A Vital Part of Our Lives

December 13, 2020 by  
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A few weeks ago, I got a terrible phone call from my best high school friend’s two adult kids. What they told me cut me to the core. They were calling from the hospital where their dad had just died.

Richard Harvey was my dear brother and the first black guy that I really got to know. He was my high school buddy and my basketball teammate. We met in Ankara, Turkey when our fathers were working overseas to help other countries. I knew he had been in the hospital because I had talked to him on the phone a few weeks earlier. He sounded find and we all thought he was recovering. The phone call from his kids was like a giant punch in the face and gut.

Richard Harvey and I, along with other American kids, attended a small high school in Ankara, Turkey. He truly was my soulmate and we bonded very quickly when we both made it on the high school basketball team. We got better every week and worked so hard at it. A big part of that great improvement came from my older brother Bruce’s death on the first day of tryouts for the team. Bruce died right in front of me.

Because of that, Richard and I, along with our great big Texas center Ed Beckcom, made a commitment to win in my brother’s honor. We practiced many, many hours each day. There were many small American High Schools in Europe, the middle East, and even northern Africa, and we were bound and determined to win the championship for that entire area.

The big championship tournament is held each year in a huge stadium in Rome, Italy. Thinking back after Rich’s death I had some vivid memories. We did in fact make it to the finals of the Rome tournament and even to this day I marvel at what happened in that game.

Notre Dame high school was the number one favorite and we were to play them in the finals. It was a very close game and with only 20 seconds left, Notre Dame was 1 point ahead and had the ball. They took one last long shot and it missed. Big Ed Beckcom went high in the air and came down with the rebound. The outlet pass went to me and Richard and I were speeding down the court with two on one. The clock was ticking down very fast.

When we got close to our basket, I faked a shot and threw a bounce pass to Richard and, as I did, Richard slipped and fell. Oh my gosh, I was petrified! But as he hit the floor, he tossed the ball up toward the basket and, miracle of all miracles, the ball went in the basket as the buzzer sounded.

WE WON, WE WON! Wow, were we ever excited and in 7th heaven. We did it for Bruce, and for us too! That day certainly cemented our friendship and we’ve kept in touch all these years. Hmm … that’s about 60 years!

I know that you, the reader, know the huge importance and gift of having good friends and we especially see how important that is since COVID-19 has made it hard to be close to them or make new friends. So, let’s all double down and reach out to friends, old and new, on phone calls, through texts, and on the internet and stay connected with these dear and important parts of our lives.

In photo above: Ed Beckcom (top row, left), Richard Harvey (middle row, right) and me (bottom row, left.) 

The Neglected Key to a Long Life

October 25, 2020 by  
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I started to re-read the book entitled I’ve Decided to Live 120 YEARS: The Ancient Secret to Longevity, Vitality, and Transformation written by Ilchi Lee. I’ve written about this book in a previous blog post but I didn’t mention an incredible statistic I learned about in these pages.

It turns out, you can do this very simple thing that, on average, can lengthen your life by 7.5 years. That conclusion was reached based on data from 143 studies with a total of 300,000 participants. In that previous post, I mostly talked about how a long and healthy life is primarily about eating nutritious foods and staying physically active but there’s a bit more you can do.

So, during my second read of the book, what really jumped out at me was something that I’ve not been doing much of since I retired. I’m kind of surprised that I’ve ignored this critical part of living a long life and I have suffered because of it.

What is it that I’ve ignored that could have possibly lengthened my life by 7.5 years? It’s this thing called a social life! Having and keeping a good strong and active social life does things to the brain including sending signals to various body parts that keep it healthy and helps you live longer.

When I retired, I let my social life slide down big time! I stopped going to the office and so I stopped seeing my coworkers, clients, partners and business associates. I also moved into a big house on the mountain side with no neighbors, so that made it even worse. And this COVID-19 has certainly not helped in the least. In addition, there’s no kids here at home anymore. It’s just me and the wife in our big, empty nest.

Lee says in his book, “The isolation of the elderly doesn’t only cause loneliness, it has been shown to have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing conditions like chronic disease, high blood pressure, depression, cognitive decline, and dementia”. In addition, he notes, “Having people around us with whom we can communicate on a heart-to-heart level may also reduce the effects of stress.”

We all want to be happy but things can quickly change when we suddenly retire–Lee goes on to say “People, especially as they get older, are experiencing deeper and more frequent forms of unhappiness in many spheres of life: chronic illnesses, alienation or disruption of personal relationships, weakening of economic power. Suddenly facing their social roles greatly reduced during retirement, people are likely to find their self-esteem withering away.”

Most of that has hit me hard so I’m here to tell you that, whether you are retired yet or not, it’s a good time to start making a list of plans and actions that you are going to take on when that day arrives and be sure an active social life is on there. Personally, I’m bound and determined to catch up and do just that!

In Lee’s book he also talks about another thing that can lengthen and make your life more pleasant and happy and it’s something that I’ve talked a lot about over the years – having a good strong purpose and hopes and dreams. I will talk more about those issues in my next week’s post.

Be Your Own Champion

May 31, 2020 by  
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These pandemic times have pushed me to go back and read some of my journal entries starting in February 1975 all the way to right now. My writing and the goals I logged has excited me to do more goal setting and more writing in my journals.

I have also been re-reading my blogs. I just re-read a post I wrote back in 2009 where I talked about my good friend and Olympic champion Jimmy Shea. He set goals for himself and then, with a ton of perseverance and very hard work, he won, not one, but two gold medals–one in the World Championships in 1999 and another in the winter Olympics in 2002.

I hope you will take the time to read the attached blog about Jimmy Shea and hopefully it will motivate you to make lists and set goals for yourself.

From the post “Meeting a Champion …” April 29, 2009:

This is a picture with me and Jimmy Shea Jr. He came to one of my book signings at Costco. Jimmy is an Olympic champion with quite a story. Jimmy describes his life and reaching his goals, overcoming blocks to becoming a champion:

As a youth growing up in Lake Placid, NY, Jim’s involvement in sports helped him overcome the doubt he experienced due to his battle with dyslexia. Having a severe learning disorder taught Jim the importance of perseverance and hard work, a lesson emphasized by his father and grandfather, both Winter Olympic athletes.

When Jim competed in the 2002 Winter Olympics (in the Men’s Skeleton), he became the only American to have the distinction of being a third generation Olympian. In 1932 his Grandfather, speed skater Jack Shea, became the first American to win two Winter Olympic Gold medals. In 1964 Jim’s father, Jim Shea, Sr. competed in the Nordic Combined at the Innsbruck Winter Olympics.

Jimmy also believes in giving back. He founded the Shea Family Foundation to help young Olympians in the sports he and his family have competed in for generations.

It’s great meeting people like Jimmy at book signings – thanks for coming!

 

So, while we all have tons of time, we should be putting our minds towards great goals we want to set for ourselves. We have the time to make those lists. And, as you know from reading my blog, making lists is critical to future success as is the act of writing them down. Those are great first steps to being your own champion!

Stir Yourself Up Instead of Going Stir Crazy

April 26, 2020 by  
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Wow. Now, after several weeks, we are still in lock down mode, but that doesn’t have to force us into a mental lock down too. Use this time to look at your world and your relationships in a new way.

The virus has undoubtedly brought my wife and I closer and has pushed my mind to see and think much more about details of so many things. For example, the other day, Kimberly said “Hey, let’s take a drive and look at all the beautiful blossoms that are out now.” Before the pandemic, I would have said, “Are you kidding me? That doesn’t sound like fun to me.”  But with what’s going on, I said, “Okay, let’s go.” Well, when I paid major attention to all the absolutely gorgeous and beautiful blossoms, I was so very impressed, and that drive lifted my mood. It was such a simple thing, but it did us so much good. Thank you, mister virus.

Talk about me noticing details now! Walking down my long driveway to pick up the newspaper I saw a little rock and noticed what looked like a face. How cool. By the way, walking to get my paper always starts my daily walking goal and I usually hit my goal of 20,000 steps a day, even in times like these.

Kimberly is spending hours and hours doing what she loves to do – making beautiful beaded necklaces and other jewelry. We have also found ourselves playing pool and shuffleboard and having a great time doing so many little simple things that we almost never do.

And, hey, remember that now is a great time to reach out to friends and family. My wife Kimberly has reached out to her family and had many long conversations on the phone with her father and friends. Even if you can’t physically hug your friends and family, you certainly can send a virtual hug on the phone.

I even found myself reaching out to friends from 60 years ago. I wanted to talk to my basketball buddy Richard Harvey. We were on the winning team that took first place in an American high school tournament in Rome, Italy back in the day.  I got a hold of his son Kyle who gave me Richard’s phone number in Ohio. I had a great conversation and did that virtual hugging thing. Then, the very next day an old friend of mine, Russ Whitney, called me. He read my first book back when he was a meat cutter in New York and now gives me a lot of credit for his huge success in life. He’s now having 1,000 apartment units built in Florida.

So, it turns out that we don’t have to put up with those feelings that we are going stir crazy.  We can turn this shutdown situation into a really good thing for us and our friends and family. It’s so amazing to me that I began noticing and paying attention to so many details, even simple things around the house, such as pictures and decorations that I have always just skipped over. And now I have that super little rock with the face to remind me to pay attention to the details too.

 

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