Not having a significant other on Valentine’s Day sucks. The older I get, the more it sucks. I am not stating this to get attention. I am not stating this to get sympathy. I am stating this because I know there are a lot of people out there who can relate. I am always happy for others who are happy. When I have the opportunity to see people who are loving life, it puts a smile on my face. When I see couples holding hands, showing each other affection, my heart smiles. But the reality for me, and I know the reality for a lot of others out there, is the fact that life can be very lonely. Even when we are surrounded by others, even when we have deep, connected fellowship with other humans, such as friends, family, co-workers etc., the truth is, there is nothing that can replace the fulfillment, love, joy, and security of a significant other. There is nothing more beautiful then loving and being loved, deeply, intimately, and securely by a significant other. If you find yourself alone today in the midst of those you are surrounded by, if you find yourself yearning for the beauty of a life shared with a significant other, if you find yourself frustrated today, let me encourage you with this…….Life unfolds as life unfolds. Use this season of life you are in right now to refine yourself, improve yourself, and prepare yourself for the time when your significant other appears. Be the best version of yourself today, tomorrow, and in all the days to come. Continue to be a leader. An example. Someone to follow. Continue to serve. Continue to learn. Continue to love. Continue to be someone that someone else would want to be with. No matter what you are feeling today, no matter how overwhelming your emotions may be today, today is a gift, today is an opportunity, and today is beautiful. Open your heart, and allow your light to shine.
Please and thank you. Simple words. Powerful words. Kind words. Words of manner. Words that seem to have been lost. When I was growing up, I was instructed to use my manners. I was instructed to say please, to say thank you. Today, I rarely hear anyone, young or old, use please and thank you. Why? As a teacher, I am appalled at how often I don’t hear my students using please and thank you in their speech. Sometimes, I am blown away when a student of mine doesn’t even know what using your manners means. I believe the loss of these words, please and thank you, are a direct reflection on the entitled culture we live in. It is also a direct reflection of the arrogant culture we live in. So many people, young and old, have this idea that they have it all together, and have it all figured out. They get what they want, when they want, how they want. Using your manners, please and thank you specifically, is an indication of humility, kindness, and respect. When someone is entitled, arrogant, and disrespectful, their speech will reflect this. Even though I grew up learning to use my manners, I am far from perfect. At times in my life, I have failed to use my manners to the fullest. At times in my life, I have been the entitled, arrogant, and disrespectful individual. But now as an adult, a teacher, and having the burning desire deep with my soul to be someone to follow, I have been focusing lately on using my manners, please and thank you as much as possible. I find using my manners especially valuable when interacting, speaking, and asking my student to do or not to do something. I am finding when my speech is full of please and thank you, I have greater self-control and a stronger hold on my emotions. These are very important when you are a teacher, parent, or coach. Please and thank you. There is always room for improvement, growth, and maturity, no matter your educational background, age, or financial status. Let’s stay focused on the little things. The simple things. Let’s start small. Let’s start with our words. Let’s start with please and thank you. Let’s see where this will take us.
You never know the impact you may have on the life of a child. A rightly spoken word or a timely action, could literally, alter a child’s life. As we shift from adolescent to adult, as the years go by, most of us tend to lose the innocence, the beauty, and the purity of childhood. We tend to lose sight of the most important things, the most valuable things in life. A lot of us, lose sight of reality, the older we get. We forget childhood. We forget innocence. We forget the beauty. We forget the purity, of youth. We forget the dreams of yesteryear. We become negative, hurried, busied, stressed, and frustrated adults. People who live life going through the motions, because that’s what we “have” to do. Take a step back with me. Take a look back with me. Remember. Reflect. Step back to your younger years. Look back to who you were. Remember the excitement, the anticipation, the joy, of a life as a child. Reflect on your childhood dreams. So innocent. So beautiful. So pure. AMAZING. You are still that child. The innocence, beauty, and purity still exist, no matter what you have gone through, no matter how hurt you have been, no matter what you have suffered. You are still a child. There is still excitement. Still anticipation. There is still joy deep within your soul. Your dreams are still available. Attainable. You never know, until you try. You never know, until you take that step of faith. You never know, who you could be. You never know, how much you matter to the children around you. YOU MATTER. God has bestowed gifts, talents, and abilities to you. You are loved! The kids, the youth, the children in your life, they want you. They need you. They are starving for your love, affection, and attention. YOU MATTER. THEY MATTER. Let love flow. Let kindness flow. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Accessible. Real. Allow yourself to dream, once again. Allow yourself to feel, once again. Allow yourself to matter, once again. Allow yourself to be a child, once again. Extend your hand to the hurting. The hurting child, children, in your life. Be a servant. A servant to the least of these. Boldly. Relentlessly. Fearlessly. Allow your life to be transformed by a child. Allow your life to transform a child. Be strong. Be open. Be an example. Be someone to follow. Today, tomorrow, and until you have breathed your last. Live life fully. Live life for the children. For the next generation. Be the reason. The reason a child has hope for a brighter tomorrow. You never know…….
We experience so many feelings and emotions throughout the day. We have approximately 60,000-80,000 thoughts in a twenty-four hour period. The majority of us deal each day with some kind of anxiety, depression, and fear. There is a lot that happens within our brain, within our mind. Personally, I struggle daily with controlling my mind, controlling my thoughts, and controlling my anxieties. From the time I was a tween, I have had a conscious fight, a conscious battle with my mind. With my feelings, emotions, anxieties, and fears. At times when I was younger, I could barely bring myself to get out of bed because the anxiety and fear of the day was so great. There seemed to be an overbearing weight that was upon my shoulders. Recently, over the last several years, I have learned that I have control, full control over my mind. I have control over my thoughts, my anxieties, my fears, and the outcome of my days. I cannot control others. I cannot control the weather, or any other outside variable. But I can control what goes on inside of me. I can control my mind. Now, the feelings, emotions, anxieties, and fears are still present in my life. They always will be. They are a part of me until the day I die. But I do not have to be a slave to these feelings, emotion, anxieties, and fears. I do not have to allow these to control my life, how I live, how I serve, how I love. How have I come to the point in my life where I no longer suffer from my anxieties and fears? I have learned that I have to go against the anxiety, the fear, the feelings, and the emotions. I have to attack them. Every day. Each day, head on, aggressively, relentlessly. When my feelings and emotions are strong, when the anxiety and fear is trying to suffocate me and hold me back, I have to decide I am not going to be a victim. I am not going to give in, I am not going to allow what is happing inside of me to effect what I want to accomplish that day, week, month, or year. I AM IN CONTROL! My feelings, emotions, anxieties, and fears ARE NOT IN CONTROL! I cannot waste my life. I cannot waste what has been given to me to give. I cannot waste the opportunities I have been presented! I have to live my life fully! I have to be the man I know I am to be! I have to be a leader! I have to be an example! I have to be someone to follow! I must overcome. I must be the master of my mind, all day, every day. I must be stronger then the weakness that wants to win. I accept that I am not perfect. I will never be perfect this side of heaven. Perfection is a myth. But I can work harder, work smarter, learn more, apply more, grow more, mature more, serve more, give more. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. My feelings, emotions, anxieties, and fears have no power over me. They have lost. I have won. The fight, the battle continues. The beautiful struggle of life.
What is my purpose? What is the reason for my existence? What motivates me? What drives me to go beyond my perceived limit? What causes me to remain disciplined, focused, and consistent within a world that is undisciplined, unfocused, and inconsistent? Being the example. The answer to all of the aforementioned questions is to be the example. I am alive today to be an example. A positive, strong, consistent, relentless example. I live my life to lead. I live my life to be someone to follow. I live my life each and every day to be someone that others, especially young people, can look to, look at, and model their life after. This world is full of beauty, but at the same time, this world is full of ugly as well. There is a lot of darkness, hate, hurt, pain, sorrow, and loneliness in this world. There are too many negative, self-focused, fake, hateful, weak people in this life. People who are unfortunately, in positions of leadership, authority, and instruction, who are pathetic examples. As human beings, we need examples. We need people to encourage us, inspire us, motivate us, challenge us, and hold us accountable. We need connection to and with, other human beings. So many people in this life are lost. They wander aimlessly throughout their life with no direction, no passion, and no one to give them solid advice. So many young people are being sucked into the mirage of fame, fortune, sex, happiness, and the fast life. So many people are hurting. I know that this life, my life, isn’t about me. It’s about others. My life is for others. I am alive today, tomorrow, and for however long God grants me breath to breathe, in order to serve others, help others, and love others. I am alive to be an example, to be the example. To show others there is another way. I am alive to encourage, inspire, motivate, challenge, and hold others accountable. I am alive to stoke the flame within the souls of others into a wildfire. I take this purpose for my existence extremely serious. I am my harshest, most severe critic, I MUST be. In order to be an example, the example, I have to be above and beyond, AT ALL TIMES. This is my life. This is my why. This is my existence. This is my fulfillment. This is who I am. Who are you?
It’s ok if they don’t understand. It’s understandable. Understandable that they don’t get it. They don’t grasp it. They can’t wrap their mind around it. You are walking down a different path. You are walking down the less-traveled path. The difficult path. You have been created and called to live a different life. You have chosen to live this life. Each day, you continue to choose this life. This is who you are. This is who you want to be. You can walk away from this life at any time. You can quit. You can choose to live another life, someone else’s life. You can choose another path. But you know deep within your soul, you can’t, you won’t, and you honestly don’t want to. This less-traveled path you are walking down, the difficult path you have chosen to take, it drives you. It burns within you. It separates you. It gives you meaning. Purpose. Focus. Although at times this life is lonely, and at times exhausting, it is worth it. It will be worth it. Eventually, people will see. People will be encouraged. People will follow. Eventually, your time will come to an end. You will pass the baton to another. The example you have set, will continue. Today, you continue on. Quietly, humbly, aggressively. Your light is shining brightly.
The axe is clean. The axe has been sharpened. It is ready for use. I take my axe, and set out to find the largest tree. No one is around. The sky is clear, pure blue. The sun shines brightly, the heat is intense. I stand shirtless, axe in hand, focused on the task before me. It is time. I begin to chop. One chop at a time. This will be a very long process. Once chop at a time. One chop at a time. I get into a rhythm. One chop at a time. One chop at a time. Eventually, my axe will prevail. I will prevail. Patience, endurance, and strength are of utmost. Keep chopping. Keep chopping. The tree will fall. Keep chopping.