Archive for the ‘ Dreams ’ Category

Chris Severy Day (Weekly Inspiration)

On October 12, 1998, I was deeply impacted by the death of a friend Chris Severy.  He was one of the brightest, friendliest, and most talented people I have ever known, and he was far too young to die.  It was a morning like any other when he hit a tree while riding his bike down Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder.  I am pretty sure when Chris woke up that morning he had no idea that it would be his last.  I had a hard time coming to terms with the idea that in one moment life can seem long, full of possibilities, and dreams waiting to come true, while in the next moment it can just end.  I had just turned 28, and for the first time in my life, I think I understood my own mortality.  If Chris could die in an instant, anyone could.

About two years after his death, I started an annual tradition with my high school students  to help me deal with a loss I still didn’t understand.  Each year on October 12th, I would tell a few stories about some of my memories of Chris and share how he died.  I pledged, along with my students, that once a year we should set aside a day and let all the important people in our lives know how important they are, how much we love them, and how much better our lives are because we know them.  It was a way to get straight with the world, resolve petty conflicts, and forgive wrong doings.  I would remind myself, and my students, that none of us know when we will meet our tree or have our time run out.  We are crazy not to take a few moments every year to get straight in our relationships, and make certain that the people we love the most, know how we feel, and that we appreciate them being in our lives.

I no longer have a class to stand in front of and tell these stories, but I have many former students who read this blog and remember the stories.  I know there are other readers of this blog I have never met, or had in my classes, but you are still invited to celebrate this day and this pledge with us.  Post a kind shout out on your facebook profile, send out a few emails, hand write a note or two, make a phone call you have been putting off, or whatever you feel you need to do just in case you meet your tree sooner than later.

I am so thankful to be surrounded by amazing family and friends who have added more life to my days than I can quantify.  I love all of you!  To my former students – Know that I learned more from you over the years, than you ever did from me!  You have shaped my life and the person I am today!  To the friends I have yet to meet – I love you too and look forward to our adventures together!  Happy Chris Severy (Sev) Day!

Lesson For Life (Weekly Inspiration #7)

Here is a good one I would like to dedicate to all of my friends and former students who just graduated from Dubai American Academy.  I am sure you got a lot of advice this past week, but as you go out into the “real” world, this might be worth keeping in mind.  For the rest of us who are not graduating……it is just as good…. Continue reading

The Streaker Inside

In my post “An Unusual Bucket List”  I listed some things that I would like to do but never will.  I have more on my list than I wrote about in that post, so I decided to reveal another one now.

I have always marveled at the slightly overweight, slightly hairy, middle-aged man, who decides to strip down to the suit he was born in, and go sprinting across the field at a big sporting event.  He bobs, weaves, and waves to the crowd before finally being run down by an equally overweight but fully dressed security guard.

I have no idea why this sounds like fun to me.  I can only imagine the adrenalin and nerves as the anticipation builds, but I don’t think people do this for the adrenalin.  The true adrenalin junkies are busy jumping off buildings or surfing 30 foot waves.  The streaker does it for different reasons.  He is an entertainer.  He does it for the thrill of thrilling the crowd!  Sure the TV might not be able to show it, but the crowd lucky enough to be at the event, love it!  Streakers have performed at football, hockey, basketball, and soccer games.  They have brought their magic to the world of golf, tennis, and even billiards.  They have even been known to be “best in show” at dog shows!

It is too bad we have to arrest the streakers.  They are just doing their part to give the ticket holders value for their money.  Think about it.  If you were at sporting event and a naked homely man was running across the field, court, or ice, wouldn’t it bring a smile to your face?  Wouldn’t it give you a good story to share with your friends who didn’t get to go to the game?  How can these people be criminals when they are spreading so much joy?

Yes I know that sometimes streakers are female, but I don’t think they are as good because many people in the crowd actually want to see her naked.  A high quality streaker is a man who no one wants to see naked, but for some reason they can’t look away.

OK so I don’t really want to be a streaker.  I don’t have the physique or intrinsic desire to entertain at that level.  I just wanted a reason to include this picture in my blog!

An Unusual Bucket List

Lots of people have a list of things they want to do before they die.  These so called “Bucket Lists” inspire us to take risks and live the lives we dream about.  I don’t have a bucket list.  I prefer to take life as it comes, and not to turn down a good opportunity when it arises.  However I do keep a different kind of list.

I have a list of things I want to do someday but never will.  It’s not that I don’t want to do them.  It is just that if I did do them, the consequences would be too great.  So I just keep the list and dream about what it would be like to do these amazing things.  Take a look at 5 of the items on my list and see what you think.

1.  Quit Smoking: Like many people, I love a challenge.  This is why people climb mountains, run marathons, and a host of other difficult feats.  People claim that quitting smoking is one of the hardest things they have ever done, and others simply can’t.  The problem with this goal is that I don’t smoke.  I am not willing to start smoking or smoke long enough to develop the habit so I could quit.  This is why I keep it on this list.

2.  Rob a Bank: Maybe I have seen too many caper movies,  but it looks like so much fun planning and executing the perfect robbery!  I would not want to rob the bank while it is open with masks and guns.  I would rather plan out a sleek way to slip in, grab the money, and slip out before anyone noticed.  The problem here is that I don’t steal.  Oh… and I also do not want to go to jail if my plan fails!

3.  Land a 747: This one is pure fantasy but if I was ever on a fully loaded plane where the pilots were rendered unconscious, and the call went out for one of the passengers to land the plane, I would love to be that guy!  The tower would talk me through it and when I land safely, the passengers would cheer my name!  Did I mention this plane is full of swimsuit models?  Hey, it is my fantasy!  The problem is…………..well……….. this is just never going to happen!

4.  Escape from Prison: This might go along with #2 if I got caught robbing the bank.  Once again ,I like to imagine planning a great scheme breaking out, and then I like to think about what it would be like living on the run and staying undercover.  The problem here is that I do not wish to go to jail or prison in order to break out.  So I leave it on my list of things I would love to do but never will.

4.  Grow a Beard: Just once in my life I would love to experience a huge grizzly beard big enough to provide habitat for several small animals.  The problem here is that my facial hair is too patchy and a beard would never fill in fully to cover my face.  At least I am further along that this guy!

How about you?  Do you have a list of things you would like to do but never will?

Lies We Tell Children Part 3

I am having a little fun looking at some of the lies we tell children.  There are so many little ones that are harmless or maybe even helpful.  A good friend of mine has a daughter who has recently developed a fear of the monsters that live in her closet.  He and his wife have given her “Monster Spray” to use before she goes to bed.  This little lie helps her go to sleep at night and rest peacefully knowing the Monsters cannot get to her.

Other lies, and the ones I am more interested in, are the ones that seem to be for the good but have the potential to have horrible consequences.  In Lies We Tell Children Parts 1 and 2 we discussed the motivational lie that “You can accomplish anything you put your mind to”

Another favorite lie told by adults in an attempt to inspire not only children but other adults as well, is that the key to happiness is to “live each day as if it is your last.”  This is one part lie and one part advice but the potential result is the same.

I don’t think people are as likely to take this lie as literally as the first,  but it is still fun to play with the absurd nature of this lie and its implications.  It is a well intended lie that asserts  that we will not find happiness living in the past, nor will we discover fulfillment by only looking to the future and delaying our gratification until we reach “someday.”

The “greater truth” in this lie is that we should appreciate and take full advantage of right now.  To live in the present and enjoy the moment.  Not to wait until tomorrow but to seize the day to do the things you have always wanted.

But really does anybody really think this is a good idea?  If today were my last day on Earth and I was literally going to live it like there was no tomorrow, I would certainly not go to work.  Sure I might make sure I touch base with all my loved ones and make sure they know how much I love them, but I would not bother flossing my teeth.  The dishes in the sink could sit.  I have always wondered what it would be like to rob a bank and try to get away.  That might be an option.  I might as well try that dangerously addictive and life ruining drug I have always been warned about.  Maybe I would empty my bank account and go on a spending spree.

Imagine if the whole world decided one day to live it like it were the last. All the spending might be just the boost the economy needs right now but imagine the chaos.

What would you do?

Lies We Tell Children Part 2

“You can accomplish anything you put your mind to!”  This is the same as the lie in my last post “If you have a dream, and believe in yourself, and never give up, then you can do anything!”

Obviously neither version of this lie is true, yet audiences rise to their feet and applaud at the conclusion of a rousing and inspirational speech given by a person who overcame great odds, broke through impossible barriers, or ignored all the people who said “you can’t” and did it anyway.

We approve of this message for kids and hope that it will inspire them to follow their dreams and to persevere through hard times because “when the going gets tough…..”  But does this lie really foster drive, persistence, dedication, determination, and courage?  Do kids work harder and give up less often when they believe in this lie?  If so then maybe it is worth telling.

The alternative is to tell kids the truth.  But the truth is not nearly as dramatic and therefore less fun.

The truth is that each of us possesses a set of genetic, environmental, intellectual, and social limits or maximum potentials.  My genetic limits represented by my height, body make up and athletic ability, will probably not allow me to win the NBA slam dunk competition but if I worked hard enough, believed in myself, and really put my mind to it, maybe I could have touched the rim.

Personally I find discovering my limits within the tasks and dreams I choose to pursue incredibly rewarding.  I am under no allusions that I can do anything I put my mind to, but I know I can get better at the things I do through the same kind of hard work, desire, belief in myself, and determination the motivational speakers talk about.  But would children (and adults for that matter) be inspired by this message?

Several people commented yesterday on Lies We Tel Children Part 1.  I would highly recommend you read these comments if you are interested in this topic.  The replies deal with such things as cultural perspectives, greater truths, realistic goals, and the danger or equating accomplishing our dreams with happiness.  There is some great insight there!

In my next post I will look at another lie we tell children.  We all know this lie.  We have all heard it many times.  Most of us are probably inspired by it,  but if we all followed it, the world would descend into chaos!

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Lies We Tell Children Part 1

I am using this Blog as practice for a second Blog which I will be posting in the coming weeks with Todd Lile.  We will be blogging about our book, sharing insights, thoughts, and ideas related to the book, for those of you interested in following along.  This Blog will contain other ideas that go through my head.  Like this one.

There are a number of lies we adults tell children.  I will write about them one at a time.  The first lie is perhaps the most dangerous.  It is a staple of the motivational speaker diet.  Parents, teachers, celebrities, and athletes all know and spread this lie.  It goes something like this:

“If you have a dream and believe in yourself and never give up, then you can do anything!”

Really?  Seriously?  Is this a healthy message?  What if my dream when I was young, was to one day win the NBA Slam Dunk competition?  I knew it was possible because I heard the winner being interviewed.  He looked straight into the camera told the whole world the famous lie about this being his dream and he encouraged little kids like me to do the same.  So maybe  I believed in myself.  Maybe I trained everyday.  Maybe I learned how to dribble with my left hand!  Wait a minute….  My mom is 5’2″ and my Father is 5’6″.  Maybe the cards were stacked against me. But if I could just believe…….  But if I just never gave up……..

Is it possible this lie does more harm than good?  If “anything is possible” if we “never give up” then when we fail to achieve whatever dream (like me getting to play in the NBA let alone winning the slam dunk contest) then it is not because we lack the physical or genetic gifts, or what ever ingredients necessary.  It is because we lack the strength of character to follow our dream.  It must be because we gave up.

Is this really what we want to tell our children?   More on this in Part 2