Tag Archives: marriage

Pursuing Your Passion

Years ago I wrote a book and I sold the movie rights to FOX studios.  They wanted a screenplay written. I had never given much serious thought to writing a screenplay for the big screen or the small screen.  After writing a book and being approached about a screenplay, I thought, “Hey, that’s what I want to be in life – a screenwriter!”

They asked me to write it with an Academy Award winning writer.  The writer invited me to lunch at their home.  It was an informal lunch eaten around the pool with the producer of the project and myself.  I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn from successful Hollywood individuals, so I thought the best course of action was for me to keep my mouth shut and take it all in.

I learned the writer, like me, had never gone to school for writing.  I learned the producer had built up an international production company in Scandinavia and sold it for a huge profit, then moved to Hollywood and started a new company in a new country.  Instead of retiring, he started over and continued to work hard.

During my time working with both of them, I was given a crash course in writing for a studio.  It was like a private lesson in screenwriting.  Looking back now I can see that I was already losing interest in writing for Hollywood, the more I learned about the business.  What I thought I had wanted, I was realizing was not my passion.

Even though I was unsure about my next steps in life, I learned valuable lessons and kept pushing forward.   In the end, my show was not picked up by Fox, but I learned enough to write my own western screenplay and sold that to History Channel.

Through my contacts on that project, I was able to secure a writing/consulting job for a movie production company in Stockholm, Sweden.  I grew up immensely while going through this Hollywood period of my writing career. The screenwriting work was a chance for me to work with people from all walks of life.

People like to talk about overnight success.  I learned that successful writers toil away for years before they get an opportunity to shine, and even then, they may end up losing it all.

Projects will come and go, but the people you work with along the way are important, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.  Work hard on every project, big or small, and always go above and beyond.

We each have our own paths with unique wants and needs.  If we follow someone else’s path we may have limited success, but it is fleeting.  We are all on our own journey, and as long as you keep learning from every opportunity and developing your skills, no project is a failure.

Opportunities often come in life when we least expect it, and they often come from unexpected people or places.  Work hard, keep a positive attitude, treat everyone with respect and pursue the passions that God has put in you – and you too will fulfill your purpose in life, even if you aren’t sure what it is right now.

Philippians 2:3

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

Ecclesiastes 3:1

   There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

 

Clarity Of Purpose

Regardless of who you are today, you had dreams and goals in mind when you were young. Maybe you dreamed of playing professional baseball or maybe you aspired to be an astronaut.  

Life happens.  As a result, those dreams may have fallen by the wayside. Why is that?  A lot of times we settle for jobs we don’t love just for the paycheck, so we can live.  The cash starts rolling in and now you have a lifestyle that you have become accustomed to.  You cannot change and do what you really want because you have so many obligations. Does this sound familiar?

I understand this situation very well because that is how my life played out.  I was on that treadmill for almost forty years.  I did things I did not like, only because of what I could put into my pockets as a result.  Many times, I tried to convince myself that I liked what I was doing. Even though I detest gambling and alcohol, both played a role in my livelihood.

I learned how to “take action,” or bookmaking, from an older gambler named Mark. Mark had been a bookie for at least twenty-five years when I met him.  In fact, I am sure he is still taking action to this day – well into his eighties.

I had expressed interest in making money through bookmaking and loansharking (also known as shylocking) to a number of men associated with the Los Angeles cosa nostra family.  They all knew me as a kid who worked hard and brought in cash, so they put me in touch with Mark.  I began to work for him, and during that time I mastered the art of running a sportsbook.  This was in a time before either cell phones or the internet.  We used a series of payphones, hardlines and answering machines to run the business.  We got our updates on odds and point spreads from what was known as the “Island Line.”  We also had Las Vegas contacts who helped with lines and laying off some of the action.   Mark pulled in a great living from sports gambling and he also ran some after hours card games.

I took to this “job” because I liked the attention, and most importantly, I liked the cash that came with it. I used to tell myself that the money I brought in gave me the freedom to do what I really wanted to do in life.  Looking back that is funny because I can tell you this: I never did much of anything else.  I spent all of my time running the business and living it.

It’s important, to be honest with yourself about your gifts, your goals, and your dreams.  You must decide if what you are doing or will be doing is right for you.  Does it align with your values? Is it what you were created to do?

You will most likely spend years working at something to get it working well enough to put dollars in your pocket.  This where your own personal values come into play.  When I was young I had some vague, at best, personal values – and it showed in how I conducted myself.  Once you have a good personal value system in place, the decisions you make will help guide you toward lasting success.

Clarity of purpose is key to living a successful happy life. Once we find our purpose in life, it will help guide and shape our decisions.  In the end, being successful looks different for every single person.

I was lost for so many years until I came back to living a life that wasn’t about my desires but about God’s purpose for my life.  I was lost and broken, but I could never understand why I  was feeling the way I did.  When I found my faith I realized that life was not all about me, it was much bigger than that.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

2 Timothy 1:9

He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.

 

Accomplishing The Impossible

How many times in your life have you told yourself that something was impossible to do, yet you ended up accomplishing it? We all have the ability to make the impossible possible.  It comes down to mindset.  If you believe you cannot do something, you won’t be able to do it.

If instead, you have an unwavering belief that you will reach your goal, you will.

There is an author that I have admired since I was a little boy. To date, he has sold over 300 million books in many different languages. He was even a favorite of Presidents like Ronald Reagan.

He was never a book critic favorite, but he nevertheless could produce books that people would read.  He wrote over 100 novels and 250 short stories in his lifetime, passing away in June of 1988.  He never went to college and in fact, he only ever made it to the 10th grade. Times were hard, so he had to quit school and begin working to support himself and his family. He might not have had any formal training after that, but he read as many books as he could get his hands on.

He was a professional boxer at times, a trainer, a merchant seaman, and an officer in World War II.  He held so many jobs that I could not even begin to list them all here.  He later used this vast experience and the knowledge of the people, landscape, and history to fill his books.

He had no formal training, he just sat down and wrote.  The man was Louis Lamour, who today is mostly known for his Western books.

People around him early on urged him to get into a career that would pay so he would have something in life.  He believed that he could accomplish what everyone told him could not be done.

Deep down we have to believe that we can do what we set out to do no matter our situation or what others tell us.

You have your own unique ability to do what most people will tell you is impossible.

 

Throughout my life, I always felt that I could do anything that I worked hard enough towards.  I directed my energies in the wrong direction many times, but I did complete what I set out to do.

My main problem was I would take short cuts. I was willing to do whatever it took to get to where I wished to be.  This works on the short term, but it has long-term effects and nothing is on solid ground.  In a society where there is so much emphasis on the outcome and reward it is easy to fall into that trap.

I decided that I wanted to fight an MMA bout years ago and my coach told me that I would have to fight at 145 lbs, which was much lighter than I walked around.  He based it on my height, body type, strength and skill set.  I thought he was kidding because even in high school I was never that small.  I doubted I could get that low.  The good thing was that I was in a good gym and we had many fighters that passed through. One of those was a fighter named Cub Swanson.  Cub was getting ready for a fight and he was cutting weight.  We all rolled with him and trained hard.  Cub was going to fight at 145 lbs at the end of the week and yet he was stronger and bigger than me.  Cub made weight and won his fight.  After watching Cub make weight, I knew that it was possible for me.

My time came and with the help of two fighters: Tim and Arian, I was able to make weight.

I learned that I could lean out and I learned that I could stay fit and strong while weighing less.

We can never forget that what seems today impossible will only be so until we complete it.  If others have done, it so can you.  If you have the courage and drive there will never be anything out of your reach.

There was a man who died 1,983 years ago who was only actively teaching for 3.5 years, yet today 2.2 billion people claim to follow his teachings. When he was alive he had 1/1000 of a percent of the Roman population following him. In just a few centuries 56 percent of Romans were believers.  That man is Jesus.  His story would seem impossible, yet here we are today.

Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Matthew 17:20  For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

Jeremiah 32:17 ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Christmas For Everyone!

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I would like to share my favorite Christmas memory with you.  I was very young and I woke up during the night and went out to the living room to see the Christmas tree.  It was dark, but I could see a tricycle with red wood blocks on the pedals.  I heard something outside and I looked out the window and I thought I saw Santa Claus take off in his sleigh.

I really enjoyed the holiday season as a kid.  We did Christmas shows at school, we told the tale of the three wise men and the star of Bethlehem.  Christmas decorations were up all over the city of Los Angeles. It was a very special time spent with family.

As an adult, I went through a phase where I grew less fond of the holidays, but one thing I could never understand was why it was offensive to some people to be told, “Merry Christmas.”  It does not hurt anyone and it certainly never hurt me to hear it.  While I do not drink alcohol, when someone offers me a drink I just say, “No thank you,” but the kind thought behind them offering one to me is not lost.  Yet, some people today find the idea of Christmas offensive and would like to erase the holiday.  Just how many people find it offensive?  According to some statistics, in the United States, ninety-two percent of Americans celebrate Christmas.  That is nine out of ten.  Still, society makes an attempt to change the greetings to not offend the few, losing the meaning and some of the history of the holiday for the rest of us.

During the bitter winter of 1777 George Washington and his closest men celebrated Christmas Eve with a dinner of rice and vinegar in their winter encampment in Valley Forge.

During the American Civil War both sides celebrated Christmas with special food and celebration.  President Lincoln held a Christmas party in the White House in 1861. He also visited troops and soldiers in the hospital on Christmas Day with his son. Union Soldiers pulled carts through parts of Georgia decorated like a sleigh with horse dressed to look like reindeer and handed out food.

During World War I on Christmas Day the fighting stopped in the trenches and they sang carols and exchanged cigarettes and chocolates.  There was even a soccer game between the English and German soldiers.

The founding fathers were Christians, and when they wrote the First Amendment they wrote that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They did not want a state religion forced on the people, and they did not want the country to be ruled by the church.  The term I hear so many people speak about so often is “the wall of separation between church and state.”  To set the record straight for all those people who like to throw it out there: it is not and never was in the US Constitution. It was written by Thomas Jefferson to a church that heard a rumor that Congress was going to make a national religion in 1802.

Christmas is a celebration of the gift of God to us: the birth of Jesus.  It is a celebration of love, sacrifice, forgiveness and grace. It is the unselfish act of God sending his son into the world so that we may all have everlasting life.

The whole world benefits from Christmas, no matter who you are or what you believe in or don’t believe in, there are no negative effects of a celebration of our savior.

Merry Christmas and God Bless!

John 3:16

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

 

Makes Us Angry

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DCIM100GOPRO

 

This is a post that is close to my heart.  I cannot tell you how many years I walked around with a huge chip on my shoulder.

In the past, any number of things might set me off.   I had all these notions of what it was to be a man.  I wanted and felt I deserved respect.  Whenever I felt wronged, I would spend days, weeks, months plotting how I was going to get back at that person.  I would go over it in my head and work myself up.  You know the old saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting a different outcome? That was me!  

It’s important to realize that nobody else has the power to make you angry.  When another person does something that we don’t like or that affects us negatively,  we have the power to control how we respond.

When I began to see that I could control my reaction to any situation, and that getting angry to get back at others was only hurting myself, I began to realize that my reactions to situations in life were actually holding me back.

When situations arose and I felt myself becoming angry, I made a conscious decision instead that I was not going that route.  I started to slowly see changes in myself.  Life is a work in progress.  

One of the ways I have learned a lot about anger is through Jiu Jitsu.  Jiu Jitsu is human chess and you must relax and set up moves sometimes six ahead of your opponent. There is no way you can compete when you are angry.  If you react in anger to your opponent, you will make foolish moves, waste energy and take foolish chances that will hurt you in the end.  It’s the same in life when you react to others in anger.

I still struggle with my bad attitude when things are tough or I’m having a bad day. I start to take it out on people around me instead of realizing that they have nothing to do with why I am upset. When I realize that, it is then up to me to put a stop to it.

For now I will keep working on always being aware of my attitude and consciously choosing not to react in anger.

Ephesians 4:26-27

In your anger do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

James 1:19-20

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Proverbs 29:11

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end.

On Time

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The Creek

We measure our time by seconds, minutes and hours. Each of us only has a limited amount of time on earth, so it’s important we don’t waste our time or others.  A plane flight, a party, a dinner date, or a work meeting, it does not matter what the event is: each has a defined time period at which you should be present.  

Today many people consider a lack of punctuality “okay.” I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who values punctuality anymore.  As a trainer, I have heard every excuse that can be made, and they are all just that: excuses.  

Everyone at some point or another has something happen out of their control that makes them late.  However, when someone makes a habit of being late, and everyone expects them to be late, they are more than late: they are rude.  They consistently show a lack of respect for other people’s time.   In a way, they have become a thief: they have stolen time from others that could have been used for another purpose.

The father of our country, George Washington, was a stickler for being on time.  He demanded it of everyone he came into contact with during his lifetime.  George must have gotten along well with Benjamin Franklin because he was also known for holding punctuality as being of the utmost importance.

All of our time is a valuable commodity, no matter who you are or what you do in life.  

Does the Bible say, “Thou shalt not be late?” No.  But it does tell us to love one another.  It also says that love is not rude, and that we are to treat others as more important than ourselves.

When you are late and cause someone to wait for you, you may be doing more harm than just disrespect.  You will likely also aggravate them, maybe causing them to become angry and/or stressed.  You have become a stumbling block for them.

When we make an appointment or set up a meeting for a certain time, it is an agreement by us to the other party. Being punctual shows that we value them and their time.  It conveys dependability and responsibility.   

If you wish to be a leader and gain respect, you should always show up on time, otherwise, how can you ever ask the same from anyone else?

Do you want to be known as someone who is trustworthy and dependable?

If you’ve developed some bad habits for being late – it’s not too late for you to overcome them.  The first step is to realize that your actions affect your character and also the lives of those around you.  Being more responsible with your time will help you develop good character.  You cannot control other people, but you can always control yourself.  Being reliable and punctual will give you an edge in life.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Philippians 4:8-9

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving

 

This week is known as a big week for food. Thanksgiving. When you think of Thanksgiving, do you think of turkey, Pilgrims in funny hats, Christmas shopping and football games? The true spirit of Thanksgiving can get lost among everything else.  

A lot of us were taught that the first Thanksgiving in the new world was celebrated by the Pilgrims that came over on the Mayflower and landed in what they called Plymouth Harbor.

The truth is: more than half of the Pilgrims did not survive that first winter 1620-21, due to the harsh weather and lack of nutrition.  They were not the first to struggle.  

The local natives, encouraged by an English speaker named Tisquantum, or “Squanto,” taught the colony how to plant and grow corn, how to fish and how to trap Beaver. The harvest of 1621 that came just before winter was much more bountiful than they had hoped for that year. They decided to have a feast that would last three days to celebrate. They invited the Pokanokets, a local tribe to join them.  There were ninety Pokanokets, fifty-three  Pilgrims in attendance at the the Thanksgiving of 1621.  

It was not the first Thanksgiving in the new world. There were other colonies and settlements that had celebrated the fall harvest with a festival for many years before the Mayflower arrived.  They also had them every year in Europe to celebrate the harvest.

The first national proclamation in the United States for Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777. Later, in December of 1777, General George Washington also declared a day of Thanksgiving after defeating the British at Saratoga.

President Lincoln in 1863 during the Civil War proclaimed a national day of Thanksgiving to be held on the last Thursday in November.

Finally, in 1942, the US Congress declared Thanksgiving to be held on the fourth Thursday in November and they made it a holiday.

Thanksgiving is not about turkey, pie and football.  It is a time to give thanks for everything that we were blessed with during the past year.  

It is a celebration of all that we have been blessed with in this country and in our lives.  It is a time to spend with family and those close to us.

What do you have to be thankful for?  Even if you had some rough times or just plain bad times, you are still here and you have things to be thankful for.

This Thanksgiving I have a lot more to be thankful for than I ever thought possible.  Even the bad times this year I can say helped me grow.

I am healthy, I have the gift of words and freedom to express my feelings.  I live in a beautiful country.  

I am blessed with opportunities to encourage many people that I meet to live a healthy lifestyle.  I have the love of my wife.

I thank God, for being both creator and provider.

People may want to rewrite history, but the real truth is that this is a holiday where we thank the Lord. And make no mistake, our Founding Fathers believed it too!

The Continental congress wrote.

“Commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies; and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.”

President Lincoln wrote.

Set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Psalm 136:1-26

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever;