Monday, November 28, 2016

I Can See the Finish Line from Here

We have reached the last month of the year.  Many people take time off during this month, whether because they need to use up their vacation time or to spend with their families.  However, the one thing we should not take a vacation from is reaching our goals!  “Yeah, but, Wayne…”  No yeah buts.  If you are close to hitting your goal, why would you quit when you are so close?  Have not started yet, you still have time to begin, or, at least get a jump-start on next year.

Look, in 2015, I had what I thought were achievable goals.  When we got to September, I said, I still have time and put off taking them seriously.  I did not take my goals seriously.  I did not focus on what I wanted to achieve.  A simple goal was not easy for me to achieve, and why?  I could have easily balled up my hand and stuck out my index finger, pointed at any number of things in my life, made excuses and passed the blame onto anyone or anything besides myself.  Hard lesson – that finger only could point back to me.  If my goals were to be achieved, it was up to me and only me.  I cannot give examples of where I could have placed the blamed, because that would mean I thought about it.  But, nope, it was my fault, my non-focus, my lack of diligence that caused my failure.

Fast forward to now.  I came across Tim Ferris’ book, The 4-hour Workout.  The book did not focus on just diet, it did not focus on just exercise, but made the point of transforming oneself, taking responsibility and finding an accountability partner.  12 months after reading the book, during which time I have read 30+ other books, I find that I am once again read The 4-hour Workout.  Why?  I want to finish the year strong by being re-inspired.  I want to finish the year to make sure that I am still focused on my goals.  I want to finish the year finding out if I missed something of value, as they say we do not retain everything we read the first go around.  And, most importantly, as close as I am to where I wanted to be, I want to do everything I can to achieve and possibly surpass my original objective.

There is 1 month, or, 31 days until we reach the finish line.  In front of us is the holiday season, which are merely hurdles in our path that we need to navigate, jumping over them (or going around) while keeping our eyes straight ahead on the tape spanning the end of our paths.  Join me in the sprint towards the end…and I will see you at the finish line.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gab, Bec and a little Lucy Lou

I am fortunate, both of our daughters have grown up with an appreciation of the critters that we share the Earth with.  They are not fanatical tree huggers; but instead have grown to respect living creatures.  Recently, each of them has done something that I do not know if I would have done, but each speaks to their character, values and ability to make choices.

Rebecca has long been a fan of all animals.  For years, she has pretty much avoided posting on Facebook, which, as a parent, I am glad that she does not have a need to share every activity with the world.  About a year ago, she started to share animal-friendly pictures and video clips.  I am not talking about simple cute and cuddly furry animals, but animal survival, celebrating their freedoms, and respectful of them in their habitats.  She has a good conscious when it comes to this.  She recently become the vice president of the Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animal club at her school (Go Bec!) and decided to become a vegetarian based on the treatment of animals slaughtered for food.  From my point of view, the meat has always appeared magically on the plate and I do not ask any questions.  I applaud her thinking to come to her conclusions to do her part.
Gabrielle, on the other hand, while she likes all critters, generally will run the other way when it comes to insects, large wild animals and the tiniest of snakes.  Last week, while driving to her student teaching position, she came across an animal in the street walking in odd circles.  As she slowly pulled closer, she saw that it was a skunk with something on its head.  She pulled over and waited for the cars behind to pass.  As she sat and watched, she realized that the skunk was in a distressed state and in danger of being hit by a car.  She took action – Gab got out of the car, walked up to the skunk, reached out, removed a yogurt cup (Go Gab!) from the skunks head, and quickly backed away.  The skunk, in a state of confusion, ran under Gab’s car, then after a few minutes, composed itself and trotted off.  I applaud her quick thinking to save a creature most of us would run from.
How were we able to raise such conscientious children?  I think that this is what I can refer to as the Lucy Lou effect.  We adopted Lucy Lou six years ago, when she was a scraggly, longhaired rescue dog.  The girls understood that they were responsible for caring, feeding and walking her.  There was love in the air, as Gab and Bec spent hours sitting, petting and tending to Lucy Lou, learning what it takes to care for and live with a four-legged friend.  Caring, minding others and learning what it means to become responsible not only for themselves, but for another has transpired.  Okay, I did not do this deep thinking and analysis beforehand, but am glad it happened, glad the Lucy Lou effect occurred and glad to see the positive impact (butterfly effect) on our children.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Election Day – Why I Vote

36 years ago, I was so excited to vote for the first time for the President of the United States.  Since the law states that the election is held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the month of November, a November 2nd birth date made me eligible.  I was a senior in high school and a big fan of Ronald Reagan (he ran against the incumbent Jimmy Carter).  Even though not all of my friends were able to vote that year, we all wore election pins supporting our candidates.  It was fun and exciting.  The big day arrived and I did what is an America right, I went to cast my vote. 
Interesting point – there has been the question of whether or not voting is a privilege of citizenship, or a right.  According to an article by Garrett Epps in The Atlantic entitled “Voting: Right or Privilege,” the right that is mentioned most in the United States Constitution is the “right to vote.”  That phrase is mentioned 5 times, which includes the Amendments.  For example, the 19th Amendment states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  And, of course, the all important 26th Amendment, that enabled me to cast my vote for President at 18, which states:

“1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.

2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

That was 1980, now that we are in 2016, and in this Presidential election cycle, both of our daughters had the chance to cast their votes for the first time.  Even though they may not have been as enthusiastic as I was (no pins), they equally looked forward to this day.  Their vote counted, their vote mattered and now they had a say in our government.  In addition, they have now gained the right to criticize, critique or compliment the new President.  That comes with being involved and voting.  I am proud of both of them to take the time to show an interest and to cast their vote.  We are after all, as Abraham Lincoln said towards the end of the Gettysburg address, a country whose government is “…of the people, by the people, for the people…”  No matter whom you voted for, and whether or not that person won or lost, our nation (or the ones that actually did vote) have chosen.
My 1980 election pin

Monday, November 7, 2016

In the Service of Others

“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” ~ Albert Einstein

Playing in a band, for me, is something that I enjoy.  I am doing something with friends, creating something we have a passion for and having the opportunity to focus on that one activity.  Most of the time, when we jam, we check our ego, life issues and concerns at the front door so that we can enjoy the moments of making music.  Do we play out, not often.  However, we play one gig a year that we look forward to and, in my mind, it elevates what we do, as we are doing it not necessarily for ourselves, but for others.

A friend of ours, Dr. Bruce, has been involved with J-ADD, the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities, and helps with their annual walk-a-thon.  A number of years ago, Dr. Bruce, who occasionally sits in on the saxophone with me and the boys, asked if we could provide music for the event.  Each year, we pull something together, whether it is a duo, a trio or a larger ensemble, to provide the music.  Every time we play, it is a great feeling-seeing people come up, people smiling, and people dancing in front of the band.  I walk away each year feeling good about being able, in a small way, to help with this event.  To have the opportunity to give back, especially in a way I enjoy, makes the event, makes the music and makes the day wonderful.

We have friends that are involved in different charitable events.  Some people do 39.3-mile walks for the charity they support.  Some people walk through the night for their charity.  Some people actively ask for money for their charities.  Some people are involved in food drives to feed the needy.  I have one friend that believes that giving charitably will change the world.  We work hard to better ourselves, provide for our families and plan for our future time of leisure.  It is important that we always help those less fortunate and the organizations that provide help or research to conquer disease.  We happily support our friends and the charitable organizations they support.  To paraphrase one of Maimonides’ eight levels of charity, it is important to give “…without knowing to whom one gives, and without the recipient knowing from who he received.”  What charities do you support?