A decade down the road

I wrote this after ten years of marriage. I feel it even more after 21 years gone by. I love you Marixa!

If I had known what lay down this path

When I started down it long ago

I would not change a thing

I would not be who I am now

If the path had been different.

Of this I am sure

Loving you has shaped me.

You have helped me grow

Into a man that I am proud to be.

Each new day I wake up more in love

With the woman that I married.

She is so much more than the girl she once was.

Like stars colliding our paths intertwined

A gravity that we could not explain drew us in

We are still locked blissfully in love’s stronghold.

I am a decade down this road

Through paths that have curved and turned

But the journey has been so very sweet

For all of my life this path I will travel

Walking beside you hand in hand

For as I travel along with you, my heart is at home.

The Flower – Song Lyrics

I wrote this in 1999 after a dear friend was killed in a car accident. I still think about her to this day.

Verse 1

The Flower it grew from the earth to the sky. When it was in bloom, a rich and beautiful sight. It lit up the lives of all who came round. It was marveled until the day it was trampled to the ground.

Oh how the fragrance filled the room. Oh how our hearts are torn in two.

Chorus

You will grow in our hearts. You remain in our minds. You still bloom in the memories of those you left behind. And we look toward the day when our tears will be no more. Until then, you will grow and remain in the garden of our souls.

Verse 2

I can see you know in the master’s care growing in that garden we so long to share. For now your memory is all we have, but it won’t always be. Someday in God’s sweet garden, your beauty we again will see

Oh how the fragrance filled the room. Oh how our hearts are torn in two.

Chorus

You will grow in our hearts. You remain in our minds. You still bloom in the memories of those you left behind. And we look toward the day when our tears will be no more. Until then, you will grow and remain in the garden of our souls.

Why I enjoy Toastmasters

I gave a presentation in my Toastmasters group today. It was a decent presentation. That is not what this post is about though. I was reminded today of another reason why I love the Toastmasters organization.

First off, I have to say it has made an amazing difference in my life. It is awesome to see the progress I have made since I joined my first group 8 years ago. I’ve had many opportunities to speak in front of groups and encourage people. That is one reason I love it. I was reminded today of another reason why I really enjoy Toastmasters. I will get to that in a minute. Let me tell you why I joined.

Speaking in public is never been a fear of mine. I’m one of those strange guys that can get up in front of room, without something to say, and talk for 30 minutes. Boy, have I said some dumb things when I do that!

So, if that’s not the reason…why did I join Toastmasters? Simply put, I had no fear of speaking in public, but needed major help on the right way to say things. No, I didn’t say bad things. Many times I just didn’t convey what I actually meant. When you’re talking to a group that can be a problem.

When the opportunity presented itself in 2012 to join the Toastmasters group at my company I jumped into the deepens and really worked the program. I’m really glad I did. I have become more confident speaker. I have become a more eloquent speaker. And, more importantly, I’ve had the opportunity to meet and learn from some amazing people.

Many people don’t realize that Toastmasters is not just a public speaking organization. It is also a leadership development organization. It has given me the opportunity over the last eight years to lead groups of people in big and small ways. I have served my clubs in small rolls during weekly meetings, and I’ve also served many clubs as a director at the larger organizational level. In every step there have been opportunities to work with, encourage, and help people from all walks of life.

Seeing the development people make in this program is so amazing. I was reminded of this today. I watched one of our members give a presentation that she had delivered once before. She took the feedback from the earlier presentation and was able to take this presentation to the next level. It was so good to see.

Even better than that though. She has made so much progress since she first started. Participating in the club has given her confidence. It has given her opportunity to practice and improve. It has given her the opportunity to be herself in front of a group of people and be comfortable at the same time. That is amazing.

I want to be a part of things like this. We are a diverse group of people from many different countries with different backgrounds and beliefs. Despite that, we meet together weekly to work on our goals together. We find strength as a group. We are better together and getting better still. Yet another reason I love Toastmasters.

With You – Song Lyrics

I wrote this lyric in 1998. It is hard to believe this much time has gone by and I still like it.

Verse 1

I never expected to meet someone like you with a heart full of love that cares like you do. I never intended to be lost in thought this way wondering what to do next, without the words to say.

Verse 2

You see, life has been so hard out here on my own searching for answers, ones I thought I’d known. I’d give anything, for once to know the truth and just when I needed, I found you.

Chorus

I hope you know what you’ve meant to me. You showed the way, I was blind but now I see. How can I say thank you for all the things you’ve done? I know the way you love me my life has just begun, with you.

Verse 3

It is a strange feeling not to be alone. For the longest time I’ve had no place to call my own. For years I chose to refuse my first love. Now I’m safely here, You are more than enough.

Chorus

I hope you know what you’ve meant to me. You showed the way, I was blind but now I see. How can I say thank you for all the things you’ve done? I know the way you love me my life has just begun, with you.

Treat her right

I have to admit, it shook me when it happened. You see it from the outside a lot, but to see it happen up close was unnerving. Scary even. They were supposed to be together forever. That is what they promised on their special day. I guess 9 years felt like longer than forever for her. Maybe that is why she walked out. In the end, I think it worked out well. They are both married again and seem very happy. Could it have been avoided?

What I described above is extremely common, but is still cause for introspection and has led me to a few things I’d like to share from my 21 years of being married to my best friend.

1. If you don’t plan on living your life as partners from the beginning, it is much harder to do when you are down the road a ways. I talked to a guy once who admitted that his wife had been as low as fourth on his priority list for a long time. Treat your mate like that for long enough and they may not be there to listen when you finally come to your senses. I love the partnership I have built with my bride. We are in this thing together all the way.

2. Be the first to tell your spouse when you have made a mistake and don’t let it come from someone else. Take responsibility for it when it happened. Own it. Repent. Don’t let too much time lapse or it will fester and grow. Attend to it now and it won’t have a chance to swallow you later.

3. I read one time that you should never air your dirty laundry about your spouse to your parents. I would add to that, don’t air dirty laundry to anyone. If there are things you need to work on do it together. If you need to confide in someone at your church, or a counselor do that. Get help from someone who won’t hold on to something about your spouse. You will forgive them long before anyone else will.

4. Remember you have something that is worth fighting for. Marriage isn’t easy. Nothing truly rewarding is. It is worth the blood, sweat, and tears you put into it. With every year that goes by I grow more and more in love with this beautiful woman. She is my best friend and the love of my life. She is my home. I will fight for her and for us with every breath that is in me.

Marriage is the union of two imperfect people, who through a lifetime get to help each other work through the imperfections and create beauty. For the folks I wrote about in the first paragraph, they are working on it now in their new lives. In that, I am happy for them. There is beauty that has risen from the ashes. For me, I am so thankful that over 21 years ago I asked this amazing woman to be my partner. She is the best and this journey has been out of this world. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

The Thin Line – Song Lyrics

I wrote this from the the view point of a friend I once had. He thought he was in love and then it all went away.

Verse 1

If I could recapture, for a moment replace that moment with you, the look upon your face when our hands first entwined, and the chill up my back. The thrill of knowing you, I wish I still had that. But as quick as it came, it rushed away again. Nowhere I sit, wishing we could still be friends.

Chorus

There is a thin line between love and hate. You get so wrapped up in one that it is hard to anticipate that one day you might be looking in at the one you loved and once called friend from the other side of the thin line between love and hate.

Verse 2

Now I can’t say I’m innocent, like a man without sin. I know I played my part in the troubles that did us in. But as time passes by and perspective sets in you come to grips with the reasons that love came to it’s end. It is a crying shame that grown people have to part ways and I know down deep inside there is only one thing to say.

Chorus

There is a thin line between love and hate. You get so wrapped up in one that it is hard to anticipate that one day you might be looking in at the one you loved and once called friend from the other side of the thin line between love and hate.

Verse 3

Those days we spent together were the best days I’ve had. I know I blew it when I said I let you pack your bags. It hurts me to know there are some words you can’t take away that left us here on the other side of that line between love and hate.

Chorus

There is a thin line between love and hate. You get so wrapped up in one that it is hard to anticipate that one day you might be looking in at the one you loved and once called friend from the other side of the thin line between love and hate.

Under Control

Under control. This has a negative connotation doesn’t it? It can. To be under someone’s control is to be at their bidding. Do you trust the person? Do they have your best interest in mind? Are they asking things of you that will make you a better person? Or are they using you? To be under someone else’s control can be a very unsettling feeling.

It can also have a very positive meaning. To be under control means you are operating within a set of guidelines. You are performing well. You are succeeding. A man who can control himself (his tongue and his actions and his thoughts) is a man who can change the world around him. Someone that is under control can respond well as things come at them. It is purposeful action. This leads to somewhere specific.

You can look around and see many examples today of men and women who are not in control of themselves or their world. (I say this knowing that you can not control every aspect of your world, but you can make decisions that lead to many more positive outcomes that negative ones.) How many people do you see in the drive through line at the local fast food place who are quite obviously unhealthy? How many people have you seen that are extremely bright, but can’t put down the beer long enough to find focus? How many people do you know who would rather spend four to six hours an evening on the couch watching TV as opposed to exercising, reading, playing with family, or other lasting activities? We live in a world that has lost control.

Many people want to find this. They want their lives to be lived with purpose. Many feel like they are wandering with no hope of finding direction. Do you know how this feels? I do. I know the feeling very well. I spent most of a decade feeling this way. You feel lost. Your brain is fuzzy. You want to do things, but always find excuses not to. Then, one day, you wake up and look in the mirror and you don’t recognize who you see. Where there stood a person full of life and vigor stands an overweight and under motivated individual who has lost most of his drive and focus.

The cold hard truth is this: we are always under control. If we are not making conscious choices for ourselves and our futures we are in trouble. There is a whole world full of people out there willing to take you the way they want you to go.