2015 September

The Kindness of Strangers: My Homeless Story

 

Some lessons in life you just can’t forget; no matter how hard you try. I lived homeless for a year in Jacksonville, Florida. I’ll never forget the first time I walked up to a man having lunch. I hadn’t eaten or slept in two days. I was tired, hungry, and feeling defeated. I remember watching him for 20 minutes or so from across the street. At one point he looked up and noticed me. He smiled politely and continued to eat his meal. I waited for him to stand before I walked over. He was in his mid 20s, about the same age I was at the time. I tried to hold them in but couldn’t fight the tears. He asked what was wrong and if I was OK. I couldn’t say a word, I just kept looking at the half eaten sandwich he had left on the table. He told me he was full and I was welcome to finish it. He then left a couple of bucks on the table for the server and walked away. I thanked him and watched him leave. A couple at another table kept staring at me. My clothes were dirty and they were obviously uncomfortable with me there. I sensed that they thought I might take the money and walk. So I did. I then walked into the restaurant, found the man’s server, and gave the money to her.

 
This was the way things went for a while. I’d always try to find someone who wasn’t finishing their plate. I couldn’t walk into the restaurants without being told to leave so, instead, I would spend my time by the boardwalk. Most of the tables were outside making it easier to walk up to people. Rainy nights were the worse nights. Everyone remained inside and by the time they left the restaraunt, they were always rushing off, trying not to get wet. I then would have to hit a dumpster or go without eating that night, not to mention trying to find a dry place to sleep. This went on for a while too. It wasn’t until I met a guy on the beach that my life would start to change.

  
I was sleeping on an old sofa someone had thrown out. He walked over and said he had seen me around. He asked if I had somewhere to stay? He said he had an extra room if I wanted to crash there. He had just walked his girlfriend to work and was about to walk home. He literally helped me to my feet and we walked to his house. When we arrived at his place, his mother came to the door and met me with a hug. They were both so kind to me. They allowed me to shower and eat dinner. He gave me some clean clothes and his mother put mine in the wash. I stayed with this family for 2 months and never felt more welcome in my life. While there, I found a job and eventually saved up enough money to get my own place. If it weren’t for their extreme kindness, I don’t know where I’d be today. It’s been over 20 yrs and we’ve since lost touch. I’m doing much better now thanks to them. Reina, Tiffany, Alex and Al, if you’re reading this, I just want to say thank you. May God return the kindness you have shown me. I love you.

-John

  

Living to Work Versus Working to Live

  
They sound similar enough but do they mean the same thing? My mother once told me years ago, “There’s a difference between living to work and working to live.” The shift between the two is so subtle that most people go years before they even realize it. Those who do realize the change are usually so far past the threshold, they simply give up on what was once so important to them. It can be as subtle as agreeing to work that one extra shift. Before we realize it, that one extra shift is now on the regular schedule. We soon forget the promises we made to ourselves and our loved ones by replacing them with disappointing new promises.  

 
We kid ourselves into believing that we need to put in the extra time so that things are better in the long run. Weeks turn into months and months turn into years with the end nowhere in sight. It becomes “the daily grind.” We continue to push ourselves believing that we’re doing is what’s best for our future. Before long, the good things we used to enjoy doing just don’t seem to matter as much. 

 
School plays, dance recitals, and even trips to the beach seem so far out of reach. Before you know it, summer is over and kids are back to school. Where does the time go? Why are you tired all the time? 

 
Many of us feel like all we do is work. If  we don’t have time for our families and the things we love, what’s the point? Why would we want to earn more money if we never have time to enjoy it? We remember a time when we looked at work as something we did to live the lifestyle we wanted to. It seems, that now, so many of us live so that we can work. When does it end? Will it ever end?

 
Have you lived your entire life to work? Where has the time gone? Are you working to live or living to work? The choice is yours.

Why the First Impression Shouldn’t Always Be the Lasting Impression


We’ve all heard how you only get one chance to make a good first impression. The first thing people see will be the last thing they’ll remember, or will it? Take the man in the photo, for example. What do you see? At first glance, you might see a biker or perhaps even an outlaw. Maybe, you simply see a large man covered in tattoos. That part’s obvious, however, if we take a moment to look a bit closer, what else can we see? Are his tattoos a reminder of poor choices or of bible verses?

 


How many times have you heard, “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?” And yet many of us do. As human beings in today’s society, we have our own opinions and preconceived notions but could we be missing the big picture?

How important is that first impression? Are we to assume that every tattooed person is a criminal and every well-dressed person is a saint?


If the first impression is the first thing we see, shouldn’t the lasting impression be the last thing we see?

Spending Your Time with Those Who Tolerate You Versus Those Who Celebrate You

  

  
Time: the most precious gift you could offer someone. It is the one thing you can never take back. It is so precious, in fact, that the vast majority of people’s pay depends on it. Lawyers, psychiatrist, consultants, and mechanics all charge by the hour. They all earn a living based on how much value they place on their time, and how much of that time is to be spent on you.

  
So if we can agree that time is so valuable, wouldn’t it make sense to spend that time with those who appreciate it. In any relationship both personal and professional, we should invest in those who are invested in us. So how can we tell if the people we’re giving our time to are deserving of that time?

  
One of the rules I follow is simply paying attention to what a person does and not what they say. We’ve all heard the phrases, “Talk is cheap.” and “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s one thing to hear someone say they care about you. It’s another thing to have them actually show you. We don’t get to choose who our family members are. That’s an entirely different discussion, however, our social circle is something we do have a say in.

  
Wouldn’t it be great if each and every person we gave our time and energy to were not only worthy, but in fact reciprocated the same? You’ll find that once you start attracting the right people into your life, the wrong people will eventually fall off. It’s simply a matter of seeing yourself as high value and allowing others to agree with you. Do you see yourself as high value? How valuable is your time? What’s your time worth? 

   

Are you ready to celebrate?

“Teamwork Makes the Dream Work.”                        -John C. Maxwell

  
From the moment our lives began, we were faced with many challenges. Even something as simple as walking was once our greatest milestone. With each wobbly step, our parents would cheer us on. One foot in front of the other, sometimes falling over and sometimes reaching for help yet through it all, we would come to master it. 

   

Some challenges may take years to master while others take a moment or two. One of the best ways we can improve at something is to learn from those who already know.  

 
We’ve all heard that practice makes perfect, after all. Repetition is the mother of all skill, isn’t it? So what would happen if you not only learned from those who’ve done what you’re trying to do but instead, surrounded yourself with them? What would happen to your game? 

  
Can these same principles apply to your everyday life and your professional life as well? What about your social life? Could surrounding yourself with people who support your goals and dreams attract more of the same? What’s more powerful than a group of individuals working together trying to achieve a common goal? 

  
There’s something to be said about individual achievement and self recognition. Some things in life are better done alone, however, if you tackle your next challenge with a group of like-minded individuals, the possibilies become so much greater. What could you do with a team behind you? Would or could you take on bigger challenges?  Teamwork is a very powerful thing,
 
Where will your team take you?

If You Don’t Believe in Yourself, Why Would Anyone Else?

 
 “Full trust,” “believe in the powers,” “trustworthiness,” “reliability of a person or thing.”? 

These are some of the definitions you’ll find if you were to look up the word “confidence.” It’s not a word often-searched because most of us already know its meaning, or do we? 

If you were to ask random strangers what comes to mind when they hear the word confidence, you might hear something along the lines of: “Believing in yourself or believing you can accomplish great things.” “Self-confidence” is another definition you might hear. These are all great answers which leads me to this question, if most people understand the definition of the word, why aren’t more people practicing it? 

  

Could there be a difference between knowing a definition, and understanding its meaning? Sometimes it’s just easier that way, isn’t it? You don’t need to know how to read sheet music to appreciate a well-composed symphony do you? 

  
So why is it that people in positions of power tend to display a high level of confidence? Are they born with a special skill set or innate ability? Is there anything we can do to increase our own self-confidence levels? 

Which leads us to our original question “If you don’t believe in yourself, why would anyone else?”

  

So, what do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see yourself as you are, or whom you wish to become? I, for one, choose to believe that confidence is something we all have within us. We are all born with the gift of confidence. Some of us simply find it sooner than others. Have you found yours? Can you see the person you believe you can be? If you’re not sure where to look you might want to start with your mirror and when you do, what do you see?

Why Would We Treat Our Automobiles Better Than Our Bodies?

  
Most would agree, our automobiles have become an important part of our everyday lives. One glance into the parking lot of your favorite coffee shop and you’ll immediately know if it’s busy or not. How many times have you found yourself passing up a particular establishment because there was no place to park or it was simply too crowded.
We rely on our cars to do the things most best friends wouldn’t. They bring our children to school, run us to the grocery store, carpool our co-workers, and even bring newborns home from the hospital. Some families take such good care of their vehicles that they actually hand them down to the very children they drove so many years ago. 

One might go so far as to say we’re obsessed with our automobiles. Some people even go so far as naming them. “Guilty as charged.” LOL Perhaps, that would explain why we find ourselves rushing to the service station at the slightest sign of trouble. 

 
Oil changes and tire rotations are kept up like clockwork. Should we ever hear the dreaded squeak, rattle, or heavens forbid, a dashboard light should come on, we are all too ready to whip out the old credit card and get our babies well again. 
 
So why wouldn’t we give equal attention to our most precious vehicle? The one vessel that gets us everywhere we need to go. The one thing that will be with you through thick and thin, from birth till death.

 The human body is the one thing we cannot live without. In fact, the better we care for it, the better we feel. So why wouldn’t more of us take better care of ourselves?

  
 
Research studies have shown that in 2013, some 42 million children under the age of 5 were classified as overweight or obese! 

Which brings me back to the original question, why would we treat our automobiles any better than our bodies? What are your thoughts on this?