Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now and Then...

It's been an interesting day. I think I've had a lot of time to reflect on the past couple of years. On Saturday I found myself reluctantly taking pictures for a friend. I use the word reluctantly because I'll be the first to admit that when it comes to taking pictures of people it's something better left for the professionals. We agreed that the price that they would pay for my time was a nice home-cooked meal...those are hard to come by as a bachelor. I was quick to remind them that 'they get what they pay for.' Since I come cheap, they couldn't expect to much. I showed up early and received the home-cooked meal (one of my favorites) biscuits and gravy...ranch style. I think I came out ahead on that deal.

Well, I shot the majority of the images in RAW (NEF if you're a Nikon user). Anyway, I guess I like things in that format. I like my steak on the raw side, my sushi of course...raw, and sometimes my thoughts. There is something about a hand-written letter with scribbles through misspelled words, white out and ink over covered up phrases, etc. Unfortunately, you can't see those things in a blog post...unless of course I were to write it, scan it, and upload...but, let's be honest, I'm too lazy for that. However, I will keep this one as raw and unadulterated as possible. That's a long intro to this post...which is fine, this one is meant as more of a catharsis for me anyway.

The blog title for this post is 'Now and Then' refers to the past two years of my life. Today is the birthday of a girl that I used to date (I don't like the term ex-girlfriend because it sounds so negative). Two years ago today I was rushing home from a work party that she was unable to attend with me because she had to study for finals, so that I could wish her a Happy Birthday in person. I remember ordering a dessert at the restaurant (chocolate cake if memory serves me correctly) to take to her along with the roses (her favorite flower) that I had picked up earlier that day. I got to her house around 10 o'clock we shared the piece of cake and I sang to her in Portuguese before telling her goodnight so that she could get some sleep and be well rested for her exams the next day. After her finals were over I took her out to dinner and to the Nutcracker to officially celebrate and we ended the night with a quick trip to see the lights at Temple Square before we both left town.

Honestly, there's a part of me that would like to go back in time and relive those few nights BUT I realize that was then...and this is now. I know it's probably unhealthy (emotionally) but I've had allowed thoughts come and go throughout the day wondering just how she is spending this birthday...after all, this is her first birthday since she began her college career when she won't have to stress over final projects/exams. I can only hope that someone made it a special day for her and that the coming year is even better than the last.

She was my best friend and it doesn't feel right not to reach out on a special occasion like a birthday. I've even debated a couple of times today whether to send a text message, an email, or join the host of well-wishers on Facebook to tell her Happy Birthday but have decided against it. Instead, I'll use this post, that she will likely never come across, to wish her a Happy Birthday...Happy Birthday, Milo!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My Name On A Cupcake...

I had lunch with a close personal friend today…in fact, she and I used to date. As we sat and ate our authentic Thai food at a small little restaurant in Orem we reminisced about the time we spent together and some of our current dating frustrations. When it comes to relationships I’ve always considered myself pretty ‘easy to please’ and I was relieved to find out that she agreed with me. You see, it doesn’t take much to keep me happy. Here’s a list:

A) Ever since I had long hair in high school and girls asked if they could play with it, I’ve been a fan (not of the long hair but having it played with). I’m half-tempted to grow it out again and see if it will produce the same result.

B) An occasional kiss on the cheek when I’m least expecting it. When you kiss someone on the cheek you don’t expect anything in return.

C) I think everyone likes a nice foot massage (I keep my feet really clean).

D) Maybe a text every once in awhile to let me know you’re thinking about me.

E) A home-cooked treat/meal never hurt any bachelor…present company included.

F) Finally, if you’ve spoken with me in the past few months you would know that my new approach to dating is to find someone will put my name on a cupcake.

That may not sound like much to you. Especially when you consider the fact that I don’t even really care for cupcakes. I’d actually prefer a homemade frosted sugar cookie or, short of that, one of those $0.99 jumbo sugar cookies from Smith’s with the hard plastic frosting on it.

It’s not the cupcake with my name on it that means anything, it’s what it symbolizes. I just want to find that girl that is proud to call me her boyfriend, to hold my hand in public, to introduce me to her family, AND to put my name on a cupcake and post a picture of it on her blog or facebook account. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always make that easy, but I do try. That may sound like I’ve never had any of those things done for me…I have.

Let’s be honest, I really don’t have the right to complain, I have been blessed to spend time with some extremely thoughtful girls. For example: one of them was waiting patiently on my doorstep for me to come back from a bike ride with a fresh peach pie in hand simply because she understood just how much I LOVE fresh peach pies. That same girl was concerned for my safety and bought me a reflector and lights for my bike that I use to this day. I’ve gotten chocolate covered cherries from a girl who would have bought strawberries if the candy store had them. And, I’ve even been the recipient of those fun little handwritten coupons that are given at random times and can be redeemed at anytime (assuming she’s around long enough to use them). That is to say nothing of the thoughtful girls that I consider the best of friends and the amazing things they have done for me.

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel like the success to any healthy relationship is for each person to do whatever they can do to make the other person happy. I’d like to think that I’ve tried to do that BUT you’d have to ask the girls I’ve dated to know for sure. With that said, I don’t think I’m alone in wanting my ‘name on a cupcake’. So, regardless of whether you’re dating someone or you’ve been fortunate enough to get married, do me a favor, write your significant other's name on a cupcake (AKA do the little things that make them happy).

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Innocence of Youth

Yesterday morning the cops showed up on my sister's doorstep. Apparently, during the night someone had pulled all of the freshly planted flowers at Sheri Dew's house.

When Sister Dew noticed that all of her flowers that she planted the previous night had been taken from her garden, she called her friend and neighbor, Wendy Nelson (wife of Russell M. Nelson). Sister Nelson hurried next door and the two of them had decided that it was probably a good idea to inform the police. Since she had just returned from a two-week trip to Russia Sister Nelson ran home for 15 minutes to clean up so she could run to the nursery and pick up some more flowers for Sister Dew. In the meantime, the police officers had arrived and wandered into my sister's backyard to see if her house had been vandalized too. Much to their surprise they found the pile of missing flowers.

What they thought could have been the work of a group of disgruntled teenage pranksters turned out to be the innocence of my cute little niece. You only have to meet Ella and you'll quickly realize just how sweet she is and understand that malice was the furthest thing from her mind. My guess is
that she just wanted her mom to have some pretty flowers in her garden too.

Fortunately, the officer was very cute with her so she wouldn't end up traumatized by the experience. Sister Dew was great too. She put Ella in charge of garden security and asked her to keep an eye out for anyone trying to pull flowers from her garden.

After things had settled down Sister Dew and Sister Nelson headed to the nursery to buy some new flowers as some of them had been damaged. They were so sweet and thoughtful...while they were at the nursery the picked up a flower for Ella and were eager to give it to her so she could have a flower or her own. She was fast asleep by the time they returned...a little too much excitement for one morning.

It's not quite as tasty as a plate of freshly baked cookies but what a memorable way to meet the neighbors!

Thank you Ella for being the most adorable niece ever and for having such a huge heart!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


May 22, 3:45 am: We were the only two left in the living room...everyone else had left or gone to bed. It wasn't until I could no longer stay awake that I reluctantly decided to leave...

Candy: 'I feel like we should hug or something but that would be awkward.'

Me: 'I was just thinking the same thing.'

That's the way we are...the best of friends that would do anything for each other...except hug. BUT, the fact that I could easily count on one hand the amount of times we've actually hugged does not make the friendship any less meaningful.

As we were driving to the Spazmatics she turned to me and said, ‘when you walked in you almost looked like you were going to cry.’ She was referring to my response to the surprise party she had put together. The truth is, I did get a little choked up...still do when I think about it.

For the past few years I have planned my own birthday parties...not because I'm that vain but because it is a good excuse to guilt people into spending time together. The usual excuses are no longer valid when it’s someone’s birthday…everyone has to come. Okay, they don’t have to but they are more inclined to do so. My birthdays usually involve some sort of food and 80’s dancing…this year I planned pretty much the same thing. The plan was to meet at Candy’s house for dinner (take-and-bake pizza from Nick and Willy’s), take pictures of our awesome 80’s costumes, and then head out to see my favorite 80’s cover band.

I made it easy for her to get me to her house since that is what I had planned on all along. But that was the only easy thing for her that night. As I walked toward the kitchen I saw a few people that I wasn’t expecting and by the time I made it all the way there I heard a big shout, ‘Surprise!’ That was an understatement.

Lots of people have surprise parties, right? So, why would I (the person who boasts not showing emotion) get choked up? Because of the time and effort that was spent in my behalf…to make this birthday special. It is one thing to have balloons, decorations, and treats BUT it was entirely another thing to have all of those things catered to my individual tastes. There was everything from a fondue pot with chocolate covered strawberries, pretzels, and marshmallows, to Oreos, to black licorice, to ‘purple soda’, to homemade frosted sugar cookies, carrot cake (she enlisted the help of my mom on those two), ‘argyle’ and Pac-Man cakes (thanks to Carly), pulled pork sandwiches (thanks for her parents) and the list goes on.

As wonderful as the food and decorations were, they paled in comparison to the people that were there. Candy made sure to invite everyone that she could think of that I would like to have there...for some of them, it was the first time I was able to share my birthday with them, for others it had been years since I had that privilege. For the few that had other commitments, this is my way of sharing with you the amazing night that Candy had arranged.

No party is complete without a piñata, right? Well, there were even a couple of those thanks to Lance and Mike. The problem…no bat. The solution…’ninja punching’. I now believe that every piñata should be ninja punched as the puncher is attacked by the piñatas.

After eating, picture taking, and piñata punching the group sang Happy Birthday as loudly as I’ve ever heard it sung. Some people left and went home, the rest of us headed out for an evening of dancing. While we were at the club I was approached by two different people who said things that perfectly define the night:

The first was Brysen. He first asked why Candy and I aren’t married…not an uncommon question for either one of us to hear. He then said, ‘who does something like this.’ I quickly responded by telling him that Candy is easily one of my best friends…he replied saying, ‘I have lots of good friends but none of them would do something like this.’ I thought about it for a second and it made me realize just how fortunate I am to be friends with Candy.

Raymond was half-drunk but fully sincere when he pulled me aside and said that the party and everything that went into it was a testament that ‘not all nice guys finish last.’ He went on to tell me what a blessing it was to have such a close group of friends, especially a friend like Candy that would go above and beyond to plan such a memorable night.

That is the best way to describe the night…memorable. I will not soon forget my 31st birthday or, as my dad calls it, the second anniversary of my 29th birthday. I can’t thank everyone enough for all that they did to make it such an unforgettable night. ..especially Candy!

Friday, April 15, 2011

mir·a·cle /ˈmirikəl/ noun

In my last blog post I used a scripture from the book of Luke when the Savior was praying the Garden of Gethsemane. As he prayed he asked saying, ‘remove this cup from me: nevertheless my will, but thine, be done’. Immediately following that scripture is of my favorites of the New Testament. It reads simply, ‘there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.’

I have always held those two scriptures close to my heart because of the profound lessons that they teach. With that said, I have come to appreciate them even more this week as I have pondered about how they apply to miracles.

When we speak of the miracles surrounding the Life and Atonement of the Savior we focus on the fact that we can receive forgiveness for our sins, hope for a reunion with those that we hold so dear in this life, and eventually partake in the resurrection.
I think one that is often over-looked is illustrated in the scripture listed above.

Miracles are defined in two ways:

1. A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine.

2. A highly improbable or extraordinary event, development, or accomplishment.

It’s only natural in times of sickness and suffering that we pray for our loved ones to be healed. But, we should not limit our definition of miracles to be confined to those times when our requests are granted.

The thought that has been on my mind this week is this: sometimes the miracle is not to be healed, the real miracle is to be strengthened through those trying times.

Earlier this week I attended the funeral of a man that I consider to be among the best of friends. I was at the hospital shortly before he passed away. As I was leaving his children showed up to be with him. They each had a chance to tell him that they loved him, that they knew he loved them, and that they would be okay.

While he was not able to be healed from such an aggressive cancer he was blessed with the miracle of having his own angels, in the form of family members and close friends, with him as he experienced what must have been one of his darkest hours. The beauty of the miracle does not stop there…just as they were there for him, certainly he will be there for them when they need him most. They will be reminded of lessons taught and counsel given that will stick with them throughout their lives.

We have the opportunity to be miracles in the lives of those around us. As we seek to help those in need we become the angels they need us to be.

Elder Henry B. Eyring made these two promises to those who would choose to serve the Lord by helping those around them:

“Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart. Your circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire. But you will have been given new strength to carry your burdens and new confidence that when your burdens become too heavy, the Lord, whom you have served, will carry what you cannot. He knows how. He prepared long ago. He suffered your infirmities and your sorrows when He was in the flesh so that He would know how to succor you.

The other promise I make to you is that by choosing to serve Him this day, you will feel His love and grow to love Him more.”

I will end with these words from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

“Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are close, perhaps even closest through the Holy Ghost when we are experiencing difficult trials…bad days come to end, faith always triumphs, and heavenly promises are always kept.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011


I have sat down a couple of times to try and come up with a fitting tribute to someone that I truly consider to be a best friend. I first met Hugh when I began working for Simmons Outdoor. As my ‘trainer’ he brags (rightfully so) that he ‘taught me everything I know, just not everything he knows.’ We laugh about it a little bit but there is a lot of truth to that statement. I constantly find myself learning something new from him.

On one of our combined sales trips to Texas we stood in line behind the rental car counter waiting for our turn. I had reserved my car in advance and had gotten a cheaper rate. True to form, Hugh tried to negotiate with the girl to get the same rate that they had offered me. His argument was that I, his associate, had a cheaper rate and because we were ‘associates’ we should be paying the same price. She refused to give him the discount and he reluctantly agreed to pay the rate she was asking for. Well, Hugh and I have become much more than ‘associates’ over the years. In addition to considering him a best friend and associate, I also consider him an outstanding example, personal confidant and mentor. I would be hard pressed to think of someone that I admire and respect more than Hugh.

Some of my favorite memories of Hugh are the times that we spent working together. Whether is was singing along to ‘Sailing’ (Christopher Cross) as we were driving on I-80 out to Wendover, mountain biking on a sales retreat, or hitting up the closest Chinese buffet, we always had a great time. There were times that I would be driving the two of us around and he would turn to me and say, ‘I’m going to go Kawabata on you’…which meant he was going to take a nap until we got to where we were going...he coined the phrase because when he was training me I would fall asleep on some of our long drives.

Speaking of phrases, a couple of week ago, I sat in the living room with Hugh and read aloud some of the letters he had just received from Darren. As I read through them, I’d come to phrases that made no sense to me but that brought smiles to Hugh’s face because he understood and appreciated them. Fortunately, there were some of the phrases that he used the carried over into his work life that I came to know all too well. It is not uncommon to hear Hugh say, ‘what do you want, the sun and the moon with a fence around them?’…‘what do you want, eggs in your beer?’...’what the fetch!’…’he totally got poned’…and my personal favorite was when someone would tell an unbelievable story he would ask them if ‘they found a $10 bill too.’ More than the phrases are the smiles that come to his face when he says them.

There were also some common phrases that he used when it came to training me how to be a better sales person. He would encourage me by saying, ‘see the people’, ‘press the flesh’, or, ‘all they can say is no’. I still love to go on sales calls with Hugh and see him in action. I consider it one of the great privileges of my life. He always seems to know when it is time to talk and when it is best to be quiet and let the customer break the silence. He has a way of finding common ground with just about everyone he meets. I didn’t know him as a missionary but I’d be willing to bet that the same qualities that make him a great sales person are the same ones that made him an even better missionary.

One of the things that I am most grateful for in my association with Hugh is that the greatest lessons I learned were not about sales but about life and love. Among his greatest attributes are his love for, and faith in, God and his family. I’ve always felt that the best compliments given are the ones that are unsolicited and will likely never get back to the person that they are said about. That is one of the reasons that I appreciate hearing about the most recent accomplishments of his children and wife. Whether it was Diane getting a new job, Darren playing the piano for the school musical, or Jerry playing for BYU, he speaks of their accomplishments as if they are his own. You can see the pride that comes over his face each time he speaks of any of them and you catch a glimpse of just how much he loves them.

Of the many proud moments that Hugh has had as a parent, few compare to seeing Darren receive his mission call. When he told me about the mission call he humbly admitted that he wasn’t sure how he was going to get along without him. He then proceeded to tell me all of the ways that Darren had helped pick up the slack when Hugh didn’t have the energy to do things that he needed to do. It is compliments like those that are most sincere and long-lasting. They are a tribute not only to Hugh but also to his family that he cares about so deeply.

Sadly, Hugh has been fighting an uphill battle with cancer for the past three years. He began going through chemotherapy a few months ago only to find out recently that it hadn’t been working as well as they had hoped. The cancer had spread to other parts of his body so quickly that the doctors explained that there was not much else that they could do.

Well, a couple of weeks ago we found ourselves behind another check-out counter and he turned to me and said, ‘I’m not in denial…I know that I’m sick but I don’t have any other choice than to have faith and hope because it is better than facing reality.’ That was another great lesson of having faith and hope in the face of adversity. Anyway, I have always appreciated Hugh’s hope and unwavering faith and later that same day as we drove in the car he explained to me that his faith was not necessarily to be healed but that Heavenly Father’s will would come to pass. He assured me that trials like these in life are not meant to weaken faith but to strengthen it.

There will be plenty of reality facing Hugh in the coming days and weeks but I will stand by him in faith and hope…because it is in fact better than facing reality. As Moroni said, ‘God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.’ The children of Israel were spared at the borders of the Red Sea, Lazarus was raised from the dead and Daniel and his ‘associates’ were also saved. So, I will continue to hope and pray alongside Hugh and many others for one of those miracles to happen in his life.

In doing so, I know it is also important to remember that even when the Savior prayed and said, ‘remove this cup from me: nevertheless my will, but thine, be done’ he was not spared. However, ‘there appeared unto him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.’ in cases like those when we are allowed to go through unimaginable pain and suffering that we would prefer to avoid, the Lord provides us with heavenly help to strengthen us.

Hugh has taught me to be the salesperson I am, and the person I want to be. Thank you, Hugh. My love, thoughts, and prayers are with you and your family during this trial!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. My dad boasts that he doesn't read novels, he reads spreadsheets. I'm am not as well-versed as he is but I have developed an affinity for rows, columns and cells myself. I have taken my new-found love and created a budget for 2011. There are about as many different ways to budget as there are to spend your money and I'll be the first to admit that my budget needs to be modified. As I make the necessary changes to it throughout the year it will become better.

A few weeks ago I asked my dad for some pointers on improving my budget. He gave his suggestions and also said that there is probably a statistic out there that states that those who budget save more. I'd have to agree. Just like the calorie-counting dieter, the budgeter begins to see where to trim the fat from a spending diet. I have noticed that I have been more aware of where I'm spending my money and consequently where I can save it. That's not to say that I don't avail myself of paying a little extra for some conveniences...I love On the Spot renewal at Jiffy Lube. $10 is a small price to pay to avoid the lines at the DMV.

Anyway, this month I am happy to report that I came in $37.74 under my budget goal, I spent 37% less this January over last January, and was able to put a little over 17% of my gross income into my savings account. Initially, it sounds like a triumph but in retrospect those figures could have been even better. Hopefully, the trend continues as I strive to stick to my budget. It's exciting to try and find new and creative ways to save money and eliminate, if you have any suggestions, let me know.

Finally, while I geeked out on creating my own budget, there are plenty of budget templates online. Find the one that works for you and stick to it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

right of passAGE (literally)

During our youth we reach certain milestones as we grow older. At age 16 we get a driver's license, at age 18 we become adults and have the right to vote, at age 21 we reach the legal drinking/gambling age, etc. Those are all exciting birthdays but as we get older they start to lose their appeal. First comes 25, then 30, then 40 bringing nothing with them except clever phrases like, 'the dirty 30' or 'over the hill.' That is until you qualify for the senior citizen's discount at the local Denny's, get your AARP card or can retire and start collecting Social Security (assuming it's even still around when WE get there).

Well, today as I talked with someone who has made it past each of those earlier milestones and is currently working on some of the others, we spoke of the other 'privileges' that come with old age...or rather the behaviors that become more acceptable/excusable the older we get. There are three major ones that we discussed:

1) You no longer have to be politically correct. You can say whatever you want. People can chose to be offended, or they can just chalk it up to your old age and grumpy disposition...or the fact that you 'grew up in a different generation.'

2) You can drive erratically (for example: you can drive 20mph under the speed limit in the fast lane, you can back up without looking over your shoulder, and you can leave your blinker on indefinitely, or not turn it on at all.)

3) Perhaps the most important (and the reason the person wishes to remain anonymous) is the fact that you can 'fart anywhere you want.' By way of example this individual explained that at the beginning of a relationship we are all careful not to break wind in front of the other person; as the relationship progresses we become more comfortable and, in certain instances, passing gas is at least tolerable; but, it is not until we reach our golden years that it is okay to cut the cheese freely in private and in public.

My response to those three suggestions was: 'haven't you already been doing all of those things anyway'...and quick came the reply, 'yeah, but it's getting worse.'

I have to admit that suddenly getting older doesn't seem so bad.

If you have any others you would like to add to list, feel free.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Best Blind Date Set Up...

We've all been set up on blind dates before, right? This email that I received this week is quite possibly the best approach I've ever seen, heard or read.

"Before we begin, let me say that this (email) will probably fall in the category of “Emma’s top 10 all time most awkward emails." And trust me I’ve written A LOT of awkward emails.

That being said, here we go…

Travis this is Stacy. Stacy this is Travis.

1. You both are sort of Asian… I think, 'hell I don’t know, but I’ve been set up for weirder things.'
2. You both travel. (or so I hear)
3. You both are outstanding members of the LDS church. (as far as I know)
4. You both are single (if this is not the case then you can stop reading now).

So when you combine these four factors, the result is (obviously) Matchmaking Nirvana… or at least to a certain coworker I have. I personally think it’s ridiculous. The chances of crap like this working is about as likely as Matt Damon showing up on my door step… riding a unicorn… nekkid.

Anyhoo, normally (because I set people up soooooo often) I would have just given a phone number to you, Travis, and let things go from there. But oddly enough, Stacy here doesn’t have a phone at the moment (sigh). She claims she didn’t really need one while she was in ECUADOR taking care of little ORPHAN BABIES (fact) and also claims to “really enjoy” the freedom that phonelessness gives her (crazy hippy talk). I figure that will change now that she’s got a big girl job … if not we probably won’t be friends anymore (kidding, sort of… you're walking a fine line Miss Stacy). So I’m giving you each other’s email address and you can exchange whatever information y’all want (if you want). Or you can totally blow each other off (at least that is what I would do).

Moving on, based on my conversations with you (Travis, I’ve talked to you probably less than 5 minutes since I’ve known you. HA! And Stacy, minus that whole phone bit, and the stint with old-man window air conditioner repair guy) I think both of you are pretty normal. I doubt you’ll have to worry about stalking issues or the like. Just in case, though, you’ll probably want to meet up in a public place (Walmart, Redbox, Super Target if you're fancy-like).

So there you go kids… have fun stormin’ the castle.

Oh there’s one more thing. Did I mention, I think you two are probably related? (Queue “Big Love” theme song…Warren Jeffs is applauding right now).

The more I write the more I’m realizing this is bound to be an EPIC FAIL, but I figure it will result in a hilarious story… so just to pacify my coworker (she digs playing matchmaker), go to dinner (lunch? Ice blocking?). Definitely keep it cheap (del taco on a Tuesday?), go dutch even!… you can exchange frequent flier miles, talk about your cousins, write a travel log (or whatever you kids do these days), then go your separate ways.

On the off chance that this does work (which it won’t, these things never do) I’ll expect this email to be printed, framed and hanging in your living room.

Best wishes for wonderful life together... or at least 15 minutes at the Dairy Queen."

I guess all that remains now is to see just how great Del Taco can be on a Tuesday night.

Monday, January 10, 2011

David Brooks

I recently discovered a new columnist whose writing style I really like. His name is David Brooks.

One of my favorite articles is one that he wrote about 5 years ago. It's called Saturday Night Lite.

Here are some of the best quotes from the article:

"I blame the arbiters of virtue. Sometime over the past generation we became less likely to object to something because it is immoral and more likely to object to something because it is unhealthy or unsafe. So smoking is now a worse evil than six of the Ten Commandments, and the word "sinful" is most commonly associated with chocolate.

Now we lead lives in which everything is a pallid parody of itself: fat-free yogurt, salt-free pretzels, milk-free milk. Gone, at least among the responsible professional class, is the exuberance of the feast. Gone is the grand and pointless gesture."


"This isn't the empire of an American Caesar; it's the empire of faux Caesar salad.

I blame parents. Kids are raised amid foam corner protectors and schooled amid flame-retardant construction paper. They're drugged with a vast array of pharmaceuticals to keep them from becoming interesting. They go from adult-structured tutorials to highly padded sports practices to career-counselor-approved summer internships."

He ends with these words:

"no matter how dull and responsible you become, an alternative and much stranger moral universe is always just one slippery step away."


Saturday, January 8, 2011


This message is as much for me as it is for any who might read this.

A few years ago on one of my first sales trips to the Texas panhandle I visited an advertising agency that prided itself on being the 'oldest ad agency west of the Mississippi River'. Their office looked as though it was stuck in the 70's with the earth-tone decor, the smell of old books, and outdated office furniture. As I stood in the waiting area I saw a door full of interesting quotes and thoughts. The one that stood out to me the most was one that said the following: 'Smile, it gets worse.'

I laughed silently to myself and thought about something my mom had taught me as a kid. She explained to me that the reason we experience tough times is to prepare us for the tougher ones to come. There is definitely some truth to that.

Fast forward to the present day (well a couple of days ago), I found myself sitting across the table from a friend sharing the fortunes from the cookies we had just eaten. As 'luck' would have it, my fortune said something with a completely different said, 'Don't Give Up! The Best Is Yet To Come.'

It was a timely message and one I felt compelled to share. As a missionary I would often receive little stories enclosed in each of the letters that my grandfather would send. One such story illustrates the idea of the fortune cookie well. The story is told of an elderly woman who had reached the end of her life. She called the pastor of her church to her home so that she could get all of her affairs in order. Upon leaving, the pastor turns to the elderly woman and asks if there is anything else that he can do for her. She responds by telling him that there is one more small thing she would like him to do...make sure that she is be buried with a fork in her right hand.

Obviously puzzled, the pastor asks her to explain her unique request. She proceeds to tell him that her favorite part of church gatherings was when someone would tell those in attendance to, 'keep their forks' after they had finished eating dinner. Those words meant that dessert was to follow shortly.

Nodding his head, the pastor agreed to do as she requested because he understood perfectly what she was trying to say. She had lived a full life, eaten all of her dinner so to speak, and now she would hold her fork in anticipation of partaking of the dessert that awaited her.

Our lives are much the same way. We must eat all of our vegetables if we hope to have a bowl of ice cream afterward. Through the trials and tribulations that we face we become better and stronger. If we endure those difficult times that come to each of us and see them through to the end not only will we come to understand their purpose in our lives, we will also prepare ourselves for better days ahead.

I know that sometimes it is easy to get discouraged, to lose faith, or to give up hope in the face of adversity. But, remember the words of the fortune cookie, 'Don't give up. The best is yet to come!'

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Value of Opinions

In keeping with Harper Lee, there is another great lesson in the classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.

'People are certainly entitled to think what they want, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.'

I don't mean to discount the value of other people's opinions of fact, in many ways, those opinions have helped me to make changes in my life for the better. With that said, there is danger when we allow the judgments of others to affect us in a negative way.

I have found that we are often hard enough on ourselves as it is and we do not need to allow other people's words, thoughts, or actions to burden us even more. It doesn't matter how many people share the same opinion (majority rule), what matters it what we think of ourselves.

I've always loved the phrase, 'keep your chin up and your nose clean.' When our lives are in order (noses clean) then we can keep our chins up regardless of what others may think of us.

The best way to keep your nose clean is to follow this counsel: 'Good, Better, Best...never let it rest until your Good is Better than Best.' There's always room for improvement.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Courage of Dating

I made a promise last week to write something on my blog with the condition that I would be given a topic to write about. The topic was dating. I don't consider myself any sort of authority on the subject. In fact, the thought, 'those who can't do, teach' comes to mind.

So, rather than offer any of my own profound insights on the subject, I'll allow Harper Lee to do it:

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do."

Dating can be tough. Rather than winning really only win once. But, it's important to remember that the times that you don't win only become losses when you choose not to learn something from them. I know that I have learned something new from each relationship that I've been in and I'm a better person because of it.

Knowing that the majority of the relationships that we're going to be in will either end in heartache and disappointment for one or both parties gives us the impression that we 'are licked before we begin' but we must have courage and 'begin anyway' and, more importantly, 'see it through no matter what.'

Each 'no' brings us that much closer to a 'yes'. Some have already found it. Some of us are still looking.