Category Archives: Life is good

To Tarry or Marry…

“If you live to be a hundred, I want
To live to be a hundred minus one day,
So I never have to live without you.”

Winnie the Pooh

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From time to time, I have young men come to me to discuss the dilemma of their relationships with the girls they are dating.  The specific question after dating someone for an extended time is, “how do I know that she is the one?”

I am not a professional marriage counselor but having been married over 28 years, I have learned a thing or two.  Still, it is a question that does not come with an easy answer. I write this blog to mostly an LDS audience and others who generally accept the premise that the option of living together to “try things out” is not really a viable consideration.

Without taking a potential spouse out for a “test drive” then, how can you make such an important decision and be sure that you will be happy with the consequences of that decision. It can be easy to become paralyzed with the whole situation and be afraid to take another step. It is especially frustrated by the new found social media platforms that promise the possibility that something better is waiting just around the corner.

This is a question that needs to be resolved in your mind and heart but don’t think that because it is hard, it is okay to be indecisive. An investment of time is required to know what is right for you but eventually, you do need to take a step…either closer or further away. Staying on the fence for an extended amount of time is not good for you or your potential spouse. Picture the fence as a series of barbed wires or having glass shards sticking out instead of a nice cushy La-z-boy fence where hanging out is sometimes easier and more comfortable than making a move. Make a decision to move forward or get out of the way so everyone can find that special person that is waiting for them to come into their lives.

Allow me to make a few spiritual and practical suggestions with the hope that one of them or maybe parts of several of them may help you take the next step.

Spiritual

There is a spiritual element that needs to play a part in this decision. There are many stories out there that seem to rely on this as the main reason for making a decision. Who am I to argue with that? May I suggest however, that just as there are many different ways people gain their testimony of Christ and develop their faith, there are also many different ways for someone to be spiritually influenced in their decision on whom to marry.

It is not necessary to speak to the burning bush or to get a burning in your bosom in order to light a fire under your rear to get moving forward with your relationship. God speaks to your mind as well as your heart. As you ponder and pray with real intent, there are a variety of ways to get your answer and many of them will come in the simple forms of which you are most likely already familiar. Among other things, you may feel peace, you may just feel right about it, it may just make a lot of sense to your mind, you may just love being in his/her presence, or you may be touched by how your friend treats other people.

You have the right to individual inspiration and revelation and do not need to depend on the other person’s spiritual promptings to help you determine what is right for you.

Practical

There are also practical elements that should play a part in this decision. I understand why people over the ages have said that you can make any marriage work. There is some truth in that because if both parties practice Christ like attributes of forgiveness, love unfeigned, love your enemy and long suffering, you could get along with anyone. However, wouldn’t it be nice if the bedrock of your relationship was actually based on something that made you happy without testing your skills of loving your enemy every day?

Here are four of my favorite practical elements that can help a marriage not only last but be dynamic and awesome:

Respect: Perhaps the biggest one for me is respect. At the end of the day, do you respect your future companion? Do you look at him/her and have an element of dang, this is one special person. They are amazing to you in some regard because of just the way they are. It has nothing to do with looks…it has all to do with character. This will be one of the most sustaining elements in a marriage that survives. How much do you respect them?

Individuality: Are they comfortable with who they are and is that person unique and admirable? It has nothing to do if they are like you at all. It has been said that opposites attract and though sometimes it is like mixing oil and water, people who do not think alike in all things, often create a dynamic that spurs growth for both individuals. It is great to get a few big issues out of the way…to agree on the things that are most important to both of you, but that list can be very short. The other things in life upon which you will differ will provide the fuel in your engine, the butter on your toast, the icing on your cake, the glue in your marriage, the spice in your life and the umph in your triumph.

Hard Worker: The ability to work hard is an attribute that you want your partner to have. Life is hard and someone who can roll up their sleeves without complaining and complete the task at hand will serve your marriage well. How can you tell if they are a hard worker? Pay attention. Do enough things together that require effort so that you begin to get a sense of how they will respond when the real loads of life are placed on their shoulders.

Chemistry: Sure people can love anyone but there is nothing to be ashamed of if you are so attracted to the other person that you can’t think straight. In fact, I would suggest that if it is not there then you may need to move on. Physical attraction is part of the package. I am not sure how much society has impacted what is attractive to each of us…surely it has played a part…but when all is said and done, wanting to be with each other is important. There may be medical reasons that create unhealthy expectations or disinterest but for the most part, proximity, the desire to be close to your spouse, is important.

These spiritual and practical items do not make a very long list. How long is your checklist? Does it include things like: height, weight, teeth, hair color, athleticism, finances, ankle size, education, family situation, pedigree, past history, political persuasion, musical talents, skin tone, religious persuasion, and other things that are yet even more demanding than these?

Marriage is a great adventure and will require all that you are to make it work. It will also require all that you are yet to become and that is brought about by what you will learn from your spouse. Most of the things that you have on your checklist before you get married, will have little to do with the forces that will make you grow together as individuals and as a couple.

For some things that do not line up with what your dreams told you would constitute marriage, you may just have to be the one that carries the weight of that for your spouse just as he/she will have to carry the weight of your short comings. You will be each other’s guardian angel, carrying the weight of the other’s imperfections as you build a marriage that will last forever.

So, is she the one? Well…she is for somebody…whether for you or not, I can’t tell.  Your next step however, is to not tarry. Stop trying to fit somebody into the perfect template that you designed several years ago. If you desire to get married, get serious and make some grown up evaluations and decisions regarding the person you are dating. Keep moving towards or away but keep moving.

Before you know it, you will have been married for 28 years and will represent the next generation of wise married folks whose scars and stripes have earned them the right to offer wisdom and council to those making the greatest decision of their lives. I won’t be there…I gotta keep moving too. Life and marriage are too awesome to tarry for too long…the journey is real…keep moving.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog. You can also follow Gary as “lakeolaguy” on Instagram and Facebook.

Sailin’ not Wailin’

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward
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Recently, my brother in law took out our sailboat on Lake Ola on a windy day and got swamped! It was quite an adventure when we “rescued” him because when we got it flipped back over, it took off unmanned across the lake at breakneck speed. We helplessly watched as it rammed the shore just missing a dock…thank goodness!

Much has been written about the forces of wind as it relates to our lives. May I just reiterate how amazingly simple and true it is that with a small adjustment in rudder and sail, what was a hazardous situation becomes fun and exciting or what was a listless boring going nowhere trip becomes useful and fulfilling.

Sometimes when our lives are just not where we want them to be, we can make small adjustments that can make a world of difference in our satisfaction with life. We don’t need a new boat or a bigger sail …we just need to pay attention to the wind and make the small adjustments to change our course.

Admittedly, as an amateur sailor who seems to need to learn the ropes again each time I take our sailboat out, there are others who do a much better job because they understand how everything works. In our lives, there are also family and friends who may know the ropes just a little better than us and can add valuable wisdom and knowledge to help our situation if we are open to listening. Often times, the hardest time to learn is when we know just enough to think we know enough. The fine tuning adjustments needed in our lives may be right before our eyes but clouded by our pride.

img_0813Next time the winds of live seem about ready to capsize your boat, stop wailin’ and start sailin’. Learn the life skills to make adjustments and then hold on to your hat because the excitement of life will “blow you away”!

HighFive YourLife Principle

Make adjustments in your life to take advantage of the winds of life instead of fearing them.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog. You can also follow Gary as “lakeolaguy” on Instagram and Facebook.

I Think We Can All Eat and Drink at the Same Table

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.”

Ronald Reagan

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed. Nelson Mandela

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Recently, I noticed a raccoon wading in the water at our home on Lake Ola in Tangerine, Florida. I grabbed my camera and as I focused in on him, I noticed there was a green heron right next to him. Each of them went about their business in close proximity and seemed to not be bothered by the other’s presence.

Everybody knows that one of the first rules of keeping peace in the family is to not discuss politics and religion at the dinner table. If only two people at the table enjoy a good debate, then everyone else becomes uncomfortable. If only one person is a good debater, then the other will not enjoy the joust. Once a normal person is outflanked by someone who has prepared better or simply understands the topic more thoroughly, the other person has nowhere to go but to dip into his/her emotions. Once you begin to defend your point of view with your emotions, it becomes personal and the wonderful meal that was prepared for you loses it savor.

The best debates, the ones that benefit everyone in the room, are done by people who respect each other and genuinely desire the best for the other side even though they may be as different as a raccoon and a bird. That respect can be built around a dinner table where interests are shared and people begin to know each other better. Each of us has his own story of struggle…of failure and success…of quitting and persevering…of pain and joy…and we see everyone’s life through the lens of our own lives. Once we understand the life of everyone around the table more, we build respect and a desire for their well being. We also begin to feel that those around the table feel the same way about us.

In this environment, you can allow yourself to be vulnerable because you know that the other side wants the best for you. Once those at the table become vulnerable, your discussion about God or politics or any other controversial issue, can be done without any endgame in mind other than the desire to be unified, not in your opinions of the affairs of the world but in your respect for and understanding of each other…and that is the basis for peaceful progress.

So, add an extra chair and welcome those you love and don’t yet love to dinner. If you do it right, you may actually enjoy the meal!

HighFive your Life Principle

The more that we eat and drink at the same dinner table, the better off our families and our world will be…if we follow the golden rule to genuinely attempt to love and respect our neighbors as ourselves.

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Valentine’s Day…Flowers or Sod?

“He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher… or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.”

 Douglas Adams

 

“My wife is always trying to get rid of me. The other day she told me to put the garbage out. I said to her I already did. She told me to go and keep an eye on it.”

 Rodney Dangerfield

 

“After 45 years of marriage, when I have an argument with my wife, if we don’t agree, we do what she wants. But, when we agree, we do what I want!”

 Jacques Pepin

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and my wife of 27 28 years is out of town and we will miss Valentine’s Day together. I can do the easy thing and send her some flowers and card or I can do the hard thing and put some sod down in the front yard so that when she returns she is surprised. I asked a few of you and the most common response was that I should do both!

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In order to get this right, one has to know my wife of 27 28 years and how she thinks. She doesn’t really care for a gift of flowers but neither does she want to spend money on things like a front lawn. With limited resources, there are a lot of other things she would rather spend the money on, such as the kids, travel and an annual subscription to Men’s Health for me.

Looking deeper, I would have to admit that it is really me that wants the front lawn and that I am simply doing it while she is gone so that it gets done. The assumption of course is that it would be way too hard for her to ask me to pull it back up, stack it on a pallet and go ask for a refund when she gets home. I hope I am not assuming too much.

And what of the flowers? She loves flowers but not as a gift that somehow pretends to show love and care with no effort on my part other than stopping by the grocery store with every other wannabe good husband picking up flowers on the way home from work. No…for me to get credit, I would have to hand pick them individually from a far-off mountainside (I live in Florida) and hand blow the glass vase myself.

But I know in my heart that flowers are not what she really wants for Valentine’s Day. What she really wants is for me to be healthy.  She wants me to eat correctly and work out and have zest for life and energy to enjoy the day. That sounds like a lot of work and effort on my part…that sounds like…wait a minute…Eureka! I’ve got it! Problem solved. I am so pumped.

img_7015I will forget about the grocery store flowers…I won’t fall for that lazy zestless selfish weak minded substitute for pure love. No…I will get up in the morning, gnaw on a few gluten free acorns and go out and get a wonderful day of exercise… laying sod…all for her. I will work up a sweat just for her. I will put that lawn in which we I have wanted for 20 years. Dang I love my wife. Thank you, sweetheart, for being such an inspiration!

img_7043                                           Yeah…I love Valentine’s Day

HighFive Your Life Principle

None

Okay…for those that think I am a total bum, I am sending a card…

Okay…okay… I may be a bum but she loves me and that makes me the luckiest bum in the whole world!

Okay…Okay…Okay…I’ll plant some flowers too…

My wife does not do social media so let’s keep the sod on the down low and maybe she won’t notice it!…but Joey…if you do catch wind of this, just know that I love you and I am trying to be healthy and miss you very much…and yes, I will mow the new lawn.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

garyjoey

The Mistake of the Old Man Brand

“It is easily overlooked that what is now called vintage was once brand new.”
Tony Visconti

There are brands out there with incredible name recognition like Coke, Pepsi and Nike. Let’s face it…there are also other kinds of brands, like the ones you put on cows that make them moo scream as the ranch logo sizzles permanently onto their skin.

Since I had both hips replaced, I found a new favorite kind of sock. It has very loose elastic at the top which helps with swelling in your feet. I have had them for a couple of years and it never hit me until this morning that I have been branded…and today I am letting out my own moo scream.

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For some reason this time when I looked at my feet, the logo or brand offended me. Why not put the Medi Peds logo somewhere else on the sock so that I do not have to be told that I am no longer part of the “Active Ped” Society.  I love these socks but they make me want to hurry and put on my shoes (hey…maybe that is their strategy to get us up and walking).

Once you dictate that we are part of the Medi Ped society, I am sure the Medi Fed and Medi Bed societies are not far behind until we finally join the Medi Dead society.

Why not put something motivational or fun on the toe of these socks. How about, “Turbo Feet” or  “Feat Feet” or “Seize the Day”. Even if they wanted to keep it medically associated, they could have written, “Walk or Die”. Many major retailers  advertise “loose fitting activewear”. How well would they do if their ads were centered around loose fitting medical or coffin wear?

I remember the days when tube socks came with stripes in your school colors and socks were everything on the basketball court and football and baseball fields. Maybe there is a part of me that does not want to accept that my new school colors are lab coat white and varicose vein blue and my new team is Medi Peds.

For all of you marketing guru’s out there that are counting on cashing in on the silver tsunami, remember that we still think like we are 20. Put some racing stripes on our diapers and make koozies for our pill bottles. We may not remember where we left the keys but we dang sure can remember what it was like to be young.

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Tell a Story

Why You Should Take Your Kids Fishing!

“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

Henry David Thoreau

I recently came across an old picture of a bass that one of my kids caught. Check out the expressions on my boy’s faces. I loved taking them fishing. My dad took me fishing. His dad took him fishing. I am sure that for generations along our family line, the dads have been taking their kids and grandkids fishing.

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family fishing
Taking your kids fishing is awesome. It is an experience or sum of many experiences that sometimes have little to do with actually catching fish. There are boat trailers that lose an axle or have a flat tire. There is always the pressure of backing a trailer down a busy boat ramp with multiple “experts” and old timers watching and judging. There are plugs that are sometimes remembered only when the boat is quickly filling up with water.

There is bait to buy and keep alive. There are licenses and boat regulations to consider. There is bad weather, hot sun and early morning departures which impact your whole day.

There are boat batteries that run down and motors that won’t start. There are snacks, gas, and ice to buy. There are fishing lines that break and hooks that end up in fingers and ears. There are rods and reels that fall into the water and stringers of fish that drift away because nobody tied them to the boat. There are anchors that have the same fate…a well meaning toss over board with no rope attached to the boat. There are tangles and knots. There are long hot hours that go by without any bites except from mosquitoes. There are snakes and gators that keep you on your toes.

There is all of this and finally a nibble…and if the fish gods are smiling on you, your child lands a fish. Life is good again…or so it seems to the younger ones. For those older and more mature anglers, they know that life has been good all along.

hf70 As with fishing, life is much less about the end result than it is about the journey. Going fishing is all about teaching your children how to solve problems without them even realizing they are growing…it’s about them learning that having fun does not always mean things won’t go wrong. Going fishing is about spending time talking with your kids while you are waiting for the fish to bite or for someone to tow you in. Going fishing is about introducing your children to the wonders of nature. Going fishing is how you make a miserable outing into something that your kids will treasure forever.

Don’t rob your kids of these experiences. Even in the bible it tells us while raising kids we are not to spare the rod…and,  I might add, nor the reel and a box full of tackle. Do all that it takes to make a fishing trip possible. You may or may not catch a fish but there is no question that your misery will pay you back to the positive down the road.

 HighFive Your Life Principle: Go fishing with your kids. Enjoy what others may call misery and make memories that will last through the generations.

Tell a Story

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What Do Bad Thoughts and Roach Legs Have In Common?

When the negative thoughts come – and they will; they come to all of us – it’s not enough to just not dwell on it… You’ve got to replace it with a positive thought.
Joel Osteen

I really enjoy a nice bowl of cereal for breakfast while reading a good book. Since cereal only requires the use of one hand, it is easy to shovel in luscious energy with your head positioned low and just over the bowl, while using the other hand to turn the pages and to keep anyone out who might have wandered inadvertently into the area where this intense and hallowed awesome morning ritual is taking place.

Recently, I prepared a nice bowl of a cereal with raisins. I added extra raisins and a good banana and settled down for a nice relaxing morning session of reading and eating.

About halfway through I noticed out of the corner of my eye, an unusually large clump of raisins in my spoon surrounded by white milk. It was staged close to my mouth hopper waiting for the previous spoonful to adequately clear which only took a moment. I didn’t stop reading or even stop to take a look at it and into my system it went. I noticed as I chewed on it that it did not have the same texture that I came to expect when eating those juicy raisins but that sensation was but a footnote to whatever had my attention in the book.

Sometime later while back at my desk computer, I noticed something lingering in my mouth. It was actually hard to get a hold of but once I pulled it out, I was shocked to find the leg of a roach….yes shocked and grossed out and yukked out and holy cowed out. Yep…my nice clump of juicy raisins was just a nice juicy cockroach. Below is a picture of it.

roachSince I try to discover the good life principles in the bad things that happen, I immediately started thinking about how this experience might have a life application. Besides the immediately clear wisdom of closing the cereal bag tight in between meals and looking at what I am eating, I looked deeper.

A friend of mine recently sent over a link to a church produced video helping parents approach the subject of pornography with their children. The message of how to help our children and grandchildren deal with these bad thoughts is so important. The link is below.

http://media2.ldscdn.org/assets/primary/preparing-children-against-pornography/2015-08-001-what-should-i-do-when-i-see-pornography-1080p-eng.mp4?download=true

Just like the roach in my cereal, we can, with hardly noticing, consume things mentally that are not healthy for us…and once they are in our brain, they seem to linger longer and are harder to remove. We need to be diligent about preventing them from getting in and then steady and strong about getting them out.

A HighFive Your Life principle is to pay attention to what we and our family members consume physically and mentally and to notice when we are chewing on raisins and when we are chewing  roaches.

If you enjoyed this blog, please share with your friends. If you would like to be notified of future blogs by Gary, please hit the “follow” button at the top of this blog. If you are using a smart phone the “follow” icon is sometimes at the bottom of the blog.