Category Archives: Love

Be the reason…

someone goes beyond their limits

someone laughs today

someone has a fond memory they cherish

someone learns something new

someone chooses life

someone believes more deeply

someone cares beyond themselves

someone knows they have unlimited potential

your boss can’t imagine delivering results without you

your employees can’t imagine delivering results without you

both can deliver results without you because you’ve taken the time to ensure they can

each person you encounter remembers your positive energy

your children know right from wrong

your children are independent and productive members of society

someone finds clarity

someone uses their imagination

someone thinks first

someone stops using lame excuses

someone steps outside of their habits

someone enjoys their day

someone smiles

someone is forgiven

the world is more beautiful.

 

Photo Credit:  Unsplash.com, Michal Grosicki

Later…

Later creates room for compromises.

Later lives for tomorrow.

Later keeps lists.

Later allows us to avoid.

Later tells us why we’re preparing.

Later delays forgiveness.

Later is born from hope.

Later connects without really connecting.

Later captures what we imagine.

We often try to create what happens later by our actions today.

Later provides direction.

Later reduces today’s expectations.

Later can hijack the present.

Later is the carrier of our dreams.

Later gains power when it remains vague.

Later simplifies execution.

Later is where many careers will find their stride.

Later is where the craziest ideas go to die.

Later tells us it’s okay to delay.

Later is where big ideas find their future.

Later makes it okay to add complexity.

Later drags us reluctantly forward.

Later makes today easier.

Later makes today harder.

Later isn’t guaranteed.  It can easily turn into never if we allow it.

Later only matters in the present. By the time we get to later, there’s a new later that will once again seem more important than our new present.

There’s more to say on this subject.  I’ll probably get to it later…

Note to Self

Maybe it’s all the close calls, existential threats, newly-invented liabilities, newly-minted regulations, new competitors, old competitors, angry customers, happy customers, former customers, new customers, potential opportunities, new ideas, new methods, better mouse traps, and everything else that comes our way in business (no matter the size).

Maybe it’s the fight-or-flight instinct that gets honed to a fine edge through years of experience.  Knowing when to hold ‘em, and when to fold ‘em…but always allowing room for doubt.  Knowing when the silent customer is more important than the loudest one.  Knowing that the employee you don’t see is just as important as the one you do see.  Knowing we always have a competitor, whether we realize it or not.

Maybe it’s that standard defensive posture that every business assumes at times, even when it knows that only a strong offense will win the day.  Understanding that this isn’t a game we get to win every day.

Maybe it’s just fear of failure, or more likely, fear of success.

Whatever it is that stops me from getting the most enjoyment from this business…now is the time to let it go.

Life is way too short to let the small stuff get in the way.

Here’s my promise to myself:

  • I will go on offense, every day
  • I will acknowledge my fears, but only if it helps create a stronger offense
  • I will focus on the next step forward, and let the past remain there
  • I will create opportunities for those around me
  • I will love and serve
  • I will let go
  • I will enjoy each day as the gift that it is.

I will do these things as a promise to myself, knowing that I’m not the One who is in control.

TEDx ChapmanU–August 20, 2015

TEDxSoldOut

Be curious. Open your mind. Challenge yourself to listen and learn. Respectfully explore new perspectives. Discover your own inner Icon\Genius\Maverick.

Great advice in any setting. Prerequisites for attending a TEDx event.

Here’s a summary of this year’s talks:

Stella Young—I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much. Stella was born with a disability that limited her growth, and confines her to a wheelchair. Is it difficult being disabled? Yes. Is she special because she’s disabled? She doesn’t think so, and her goal is that you won’t either.

Stella told a story that happened when she was about thirteen. Her parents received a call from a representative of their town council saying they’d like to give Stella an award for her community achievements. That was puzzling to her parents (and her), since she hadn’t really achieved anything for the community. She was more interested in watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Dawson’s Creek than actually doing anything for someone else.

The real reason for the award was that she was disabled and could be an inspiration to others. But that’s just it. She says that being disabled shouldn’t be something special, or an inspiration. After all, isn’t the inspiration we feel based upon the silent (and instant) comparison we make to that disabled person’s difficulty…and our relief that it isn’t us? By comparing ourselves to someone we think should have lowered expectations, we give ourselves permission to have our own higher expectations, at their expense.

Stella can’t wait for the day when being disabled isn’t special: the day when we take our inspiration and lessons from the good within people, whether they’re disabled or not.

Dan Pallotta—The way we think about charity is dead wrong. How much should a charity spend on fundraising? How much overhead should they have? Is it better to have a bake sale and raise $375 with no overhead, or spend $350,000 to produce an event that raises $5,000,000? If you’re an MBA graduate, should you go to work at a for-profit company, or a non-profit?

Dan says the way we approach these questions, and the ethical standards we put on charities and non-profits, is shackling them and reducing their ability to grow. We should be focused on what they are raising, how successful they are at providing their services, and not their overhead rate.

He provided a number of examples of the ways we apply different standards to for-profits, compared to non-profits. And yet, for all the advantages that for-profit organizations have in terms of access to capital, access to talent, permission to make mistakes, and their ability to focus on growth; they are not equipped or motivated to provide the type of assistance (economic and otherwise) that’s required in the lowest 10 percent of our society. Philanthropy is the marketplace for love. We need a robust and well-funded non-profit community to meet the very real needs of those less fortunate.

To get there, we need to upend the way we think about non-profits. We need to remove the shackles and give them the room they need to grow and succeed.

Mina Morita. What you value is defined by what you risk. Mina’s mom risked everything to come to America from Japan when she was 20. Mina gave up her corporate job to pursue her love of theater. Through many twists and turns, she is now the Artistic Director of Crowded Fire Theater. She’s fulfilled and happy. Not because her life is perfect. It’s fairly messy.

She gets to tell stories and create unique moments that can only happen in theater. Theater fulfills dreams. It’s a place where failure and judgment are in the flesh…every night. She has missed a lot of life’s joys, sacrificed special moments with family and friends. But, she’s happy because her life is what she wants it to be. What you value is defined by what you risk.

Brian Vellmure. Brian is a management consultant, but his talk wasn’t about that. It was about how to prepare our next generation for the challenges that lie ahead. What does he recommend? Team sports and adventure travel.

Team sports show us how to work with others, how to rise to a new challenge, how to go beyond what’s expected. Most importantly, team sports show us how to respond and bounce back from failure…and the fear of failure.

Adventure travel makes us all kindergarteners again. We don’t know anything. We don’t know the language, the customs, the food, or the geography. Outcomes are uncertain. It’s perfect practice for dealing with the challenges that our future will bring.

Why do some people succeed while others fail? Brian says successful people have three things above all else. Curiosity. Grit. Character.

Ryan Gattis. Ryan is an author, but more than that, he is an explorer of life. In 2009, his life had bottomed. He boiled it down to a series of numbers and stats, and none painted a good picture.

As a storyteller, Ryan told us that every good story has five elements:

Hooks

The Unexpected

Cause & Effect

How did it feel?

Concrete specific detail.

All of these elements are nothing if the story (and the author) lacks authenticity. Authenticity is the invisible power that makes a story matter.

Ryan weaved three stories together that contained all of the elements. We heard about the depths of his despair in 2009 and the course he charted to climb out, followed by an intense meeting with a Los Angeles area gang leader, asking permission to do research for his next book, All Involved: A Novel of the 1992 L.A. Riots. The third story, and also an unexpected element within the first two, was something that happened when he was seventeen. He wound up on the receiving end of a punch from a football player named Lump. The punch destroyed and relocated all of the cartilage in his nose to an area on his cheek, without breaking a bone. Two reconstructive surgeries later, he was fluent in pain.

It was that pain that gave his stories their authenticity, along with all the other elements. He discovered that once he opened up to his pain, his prose opened up as well.

Doug Woo. Doug is the president of the Smart Display Division at FUHU. FUHU focuses on providing digital solutions for families and kids. They have a line of tablets, aimed at the unique needs of families. Their Big Tab displays are as big as seventy inches. They resemble large flat screen TV’s, but they act like tablets.

Their innovation was to create a whole new category, based on something that everyone thought they already knew. Tablets. Innovation is practical change, driven by desperation or inspiration. FUHU went “big,” and focused on how to connect the family with their technology. Their cause was bigger than just the technology. Togetherness, collaboration, sharing. These were their motivation, and the Big Tab displays are the result.

These tablets don’t isolate family members. Instead, the entire family shares in the immersive experiences that only the Big Tab can provide.

Dotsie Bausch. In the first minute of Dotsie’s talk, we learned that she was a fashion model, a cocaine addict, bulimic, and attempted suicide twice. This was all before she entered three years of therapy. As she made progress, her therapist recommended she take on a new activity, and she chose cycling on a whim.

By 2012, she had become an Olympian track cyclist. She won a silver medal in the team pursuit event. She says that she has a voracious appetite for winning.

But, that wasn’t the subject of her talk.

Her talk focused on the benefits of a plant-based diet. It all started when she watched a documentary about factory farms, and witnessed the cruelty that animals face on their way to slaughter. She considers it an act of Olympic-level compassion to eat a plant-based diet.

She says that a person who eats only a plant-based diet is consuming 200,000 less gallons of water per year than someone who eats a meat-based diet. Athletes who eat plant-based diets recover 50% faster than their meat-based counterparts.

She asked each of us to go meatless for one day to start down the path toward a plant-based diet.

Todd Irving. Everyone is someone’s child. Todd says this should be the dominant thought in education at all levels. Parents send their most precious possession to school, and they should be treated that way. Todd is the teacher, now principal, that we hope all of our kids get. What makes the most difference to a kid? Taking time to make a connection with them. Getting to know them, their dreams, and their fears…one-on-one. Every child needs to have hope, and that’s the job of every educator, and each of us in the community.

Lesley Fightmaster. Yes, that’s her real name. Lesley is a yoga instructor. She led us in a short, guided meditation. We started by focusing on our breathing and our posture. With our eyes closed, breathing a little more deeply, she guided us through a series of peaceful thoughts that we directed out to the world and then back within ourselves.

Meditation helps us focus on the present moment. This moment is great. Be there. Namaste.

Dr. Anthony Chang. Dr. Chang started his talk with some sobering statistics about the relative happiness of physicians in the US. Nine out of ten physicians wouldn’t recommend their profession to others. Only 6% are happy with their careers. We are creating a perfect storm for reducing physician morale. They are under pressure to see high volumes of patients in a short amount of time. They are inundated with data gathering, data entry, and billing challenges.

Dr. Chang gets his inspiration from his patients. He told us about three of his patients, Hanna, Elsie, and Shirley. Hanna helped him renew his idealism for his profession. Elsie showed him how important it is to take all the data we have and somehow turn it into wisdom for patients…intelligence in medicine. Shirley reminded him about the importance of innovation in medicine.

Dr. Chang wants to integrate artificial intelligence into the practice of medicine. When we were learning to fly, we watched birds. Our first attempts tried to mimic their method, and didn’t work. Only by learning the underlying characteristics of flight, were we able to solve the riddle of flight in our own unique way.

It’s the same with artificial intelligence. Rather than attempting to mimic the way our brains function, the best approach is to extract the lessons we can learn and create our own unique methodology for bringing intelligence to various fields, like medicine.

Dr. Brenda Wiederhold. Dr. Wiederhold is a clinical psychologist and entrepreneur. She uses virtual reality to create transformative therapies for her patients. Therapies that free her patients from the bonds of fear and anxiety, and help them regain control.

Virtual reality is an excellent tool for transporting a patient into another reality. A reality that scares them, paralyzes them, or holds them hostage. Once the patient enters this reality, Dr. Wiederhold can work with them in this safe environment, showing them how to control their emotions, and ultimately their subconscious mind. This frees the patient to use what they’ve learned in the virtual reality environment, in the real world.

Phu Hoang. Build your dreams over time. Phu is the co-founder and CEO of Virtium Technology. He says there are two types of entrepreneurs. One is the “reckless abandon” type that makes a breakthrough and dives into it without really knowing which way he’s going. We’ve heard of many of them, yet there are only a few of them.

Then, there’s the rest of us.

Phu’s advice is to always have a dream, but also a belief in ourselves. He always believed that if he put time into learning about something, he could master it. By continuously improving, he could become the best. Choose a niche in something that is already growing rapidly. Look where the big guys aren’t looking and take that bite size niche. Become number one in that niche and build from there.

It’s okay to build someone else’s dream while you’re building your own. When you’re ready, make the leap and work full-time on your own dream.

Rob Seitelman. Rob is the speaker coach for Chapman’s TEDx. His talk was a letter to his daughters on the power of failure. Everything worthwhile has to cost something. Sometimes that cost is failure. Create a fall-through plan, not a fall-back plan. Sometimes you can do everything right and it still doesn’t work. The reality is that life is all about family, friends, and most importantly, love.

Never let someone else dictate your happiness. There is such a thing as best, but it’s only what’s best for YOU that matters. What’s best for someone else isn’t necessarily best for you. Think about the “why” of things. The most important “why” is: for the benefit of those who will come after us.

Ahmed Younis. Ahmed is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University. He focuses on the architecture of social change, youth employment in the Arab World, global Muslim public opinion and Islamic reform for social change. He started his talk by saying that he’s been working on terrorism for the past fifteen years. But, he hit a wall about a year ago.

He began to lose faith. A vessel can only pour what is within it, and he feared that his vessel was empty. It’s his job to articulate hope, and yet he was out of hope. He went on a search for hope and found it in a surprising place. He found hope in graphic novels and comic books. His favorite comic books? Pride, Cairo, Captain America, Black Panther, and Ms. Marvel.              

Each tells a story where hope triumphs amidst tragedy and conflict. Each is a story of heroes rising up from nothing to take on a world of ugliness and darkness.

How we engage the ugliness determines our hearts, and gives us hope.

Mandy Len Catron. Mandy published an article in the New York Times in January of this year, titled, To Fall In Love with Anyone, Do This. It highlights a study done more than twenty years ago by Dr. Arthur Aron. It’s an experiment built around the intimacy that comes from sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self disclosure.

Here’s the premise (from the article): A heterosexual man and woman enter the lab through separate doors. They sit face to face and answer a series of increasingly personal questions. Then they stare silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. The most tantalizing detail: Six months later, two participants were married. They invited the entire lab to the ceremony.

Intrigued, Mandy tried this experiment with an acquaintance. After they had asked each other the 36 questions, they stepped outside the bar where they were for the evening, and onto a bridge. They then stared silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes.

Did they fall in love? Yes, but that’s not the whole story.Her story received over 8 million views. Suddenly, she was an international news story. Unfortunately, so was her new relationship. The most asked question she receives is, “Are you two still together?”

She doesn’t think that’s the question we should be asking.

When you admit to loving someone, you admit to having a lot to lose. What she wants from love, and probably what most people want, is a guarantee that this love will last forever. That’s why everyone asks if they’re still together.

Falling in love and staying in love are two different things. Love is terrifying, and there aren’t any guarantees. That’s part of the deal.

Are they still together? Yes.

 

If there was one overarching theme from all the talks, it is that hope is precious. Without it, life becomes ugly. With it, everything else becomes possible.

Past Chapman TEDx summaries:

2013

2014

 

One Syllable Words

The assignment:  Describe the most dramatic moment in your life.  Easy.  But, there were two rules:

1) You have 15 minutes.

2) Only use one-syllable words.

That’s a little tougher.

Here was my entry:

“The rate is gone!”

“Turn her!”

“Code blue!” yelled the nurse.

All of the white coats on the floor were there fast.  Jan’s eyes showed her fear.  I was no help.  I froze and watched in awe.

One nurse pushed some drug in her arm.  One nurse held her hand.  Two docs barked new plans and the group worked their plan.

“Crash cart!” yelled one doc.

“We must go in.  The child may be lost!”

This was our first child.  We had been there for a day and a half, and now this.  What did it all mean?  Would our child make it out to see the world?

They ran down the hall on her bed with wheels.  There I stood.  The clock read five. The mess showed what was left from my child’s fight for life.  Where did they go?  I did not know so I stood there in the dark for at least three ticks of the clock.

“Sir, your wife is fine,” the nurse said.  She had found me and showed me to the room.  “Your child is fine.  Come in and see.  Would you like to hold her?”

Our girl was born!  From out of the dark, the world turned bright for us all that day.

***

Twenty-five years later, yet it seems like only a few minutes have passed.  Julianne made her dramatic entrance, and our lives have never been the same.

Happy (slightly early) Birthday, Julianne!

 

Be the Candle

“It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”  – Confucius (Kung Fu Tzu)

There’s a place in Baja, on the Sea of Cortez side, about 100 miles south of San Felipe called Gonzaga Bay.  You can drive there pretty easily (by Baja standards) nowadays.  But, 30 years ago, it was quite an adventure to get there.  Your reward for all that off road adventure (other than the journey itself)?  An off-the-grid community of small “houses” on a beautiful bay with whatever supplies you were able to bring with you.

Beyond the stark beauty of the bay, the warm water, fresh ocean breezes, and perfect cocktail conditions, the thing I remember most was the darkness.  The stars were so close you could almost touch them.  On a moonless night, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

But, light one candle and the scene changed.  The light from that one candle would penetrate the darkness.  The terrain glowed in the light.  Bushes and rocks cast shadows in the night.  The darkness was no match for the light from just one candle.

Darkness is all around us.  That darkness may even come from within.  We can choose to let the darkness consume us and everything we do.

Or, we can be the candle.

Some Things I Know to Be True

  1. Airplanes generally don’t crash due to one failure, or unexpected event. They rarely crash when a second failure happens.  It’s usually the third unexpected event that brings it down.  This tragic truism in real-life plane travel can be applied to life.  Consider your own “plane crashes.”  Were they preceded by just one failure, or unexpected event?    It was probably the second and third failure that actually brought things down.  We learn more from failures than successes.  Even better are the lessons that come when we honestly and thoroughly investigate our own plane crashes, and the series of failures that caused them.
  1. Speaking of success. Success is all about definition.  The only definition that matters is the one you create for yourself.  Success, by any definition, won’t bring truly transcendent happiness.
  1. Transcendent happiness comes from within.  Its foundation is a belief in something greater than yourself.  Something that you can’t touch, taste, see, smell, or hear.
  1. Speaking of something greater than yourself.  Love is the most powerful force in the universe.  It transcends all time and space.  Love can’t be stopped by death.  Being loved, and loving others, fills your soul.  Love is free, and yet it has infinite value.
  1. Teaching your son to cook blueberry muffins for his dad is one of the best gifts a mom can give to her son (and husband). Texting a photo of that cooking lesson to his grandpa is a great way to demonstrate truth number four.

James_Cooking_Muffins

The Truth about Grudges

It doesn’t take long in life for injustice to come your way.

Your mommy takes your toy away before you’re finished with it.  Injustice!  How do you deal with it?  Maybe you cry, or throw a hissy fit.  Chances are, since your attention span at 18 months is pretty short, you’ll forget about the injustice and get another toy.

Life isn’t fair, and neither are some people.  Things go wrong.  Plans get up-ended.  Promises aren’t always kept.  A friend or family member may offend us.  Someone we love may destroy themselves with addiction.  We might be the victim of a heinous crime.

Live long enough, and the injustices (both real and imaginary) will pile up.  What to do?  Crying may be appropriate.  And there’s nothing like the emotional release of a good hissy fit every now and then.  But, after that, then what?

The easy thing to do is turn each injustice into a grudge.  That way, you can stack the latest grudge on top of the others you’re carrying.  If your grudges become disorganized, you can spend some quality time dwelling on them and get them reorganized.  If they get too heavy, enlisting the help of others to carry some of your grudges is always helpful.

The burden of a grudge is carried by the victim.  The perpetrator, whether real or not, carries no such burden.  The perpetrator may carry regret, but they feel none of the weight of your grudge.

In our quest to never forget the lessons of an injustice, we wrap these lessons inside the grudge.  It’s a package deal.

For this reason, letting go, forgiving, can seem impossible.  Forgiveness runs counter to our natural instincts.  But forgiveness is about much more than survival.  It’s about finding a way to thrive with a clear focus on the things in life that really matter.

Letting go of a grudge doesn’t mean ignoring the lesson.  It means freeing yourself from the weight that only you are carrying.

 

 

 

Taking Time to Grieve

When someone we love dies, we often hear about the grieving process.  We hear that we should take time to grieve.  It’s something we can’t skip.

Grieving is unavoidable, no matter how busy or tough we think we are.

I remember when my Grandma Anne died (over twenty years ago).  My cousin, Devin, told me about DAWA, the four stages of the grieving process that he’d learned as a policeman:

Denial—we deny that the person has died, or that this is really happening.  We may also deny that it’s impacting us emotionally, or deny that we even understand the mix of emotions that are welling-up inside of us.

Anger—we realize this is real.  We wonder what we could have done differently.  We wonder how something like this could have happened.  We may question the justice in the universe, or how God could allow this.  Bargaining phrases like, “if only…” come into our mind.

Withdrawal—sometimes the only way to cope with the reality of our loss, and the emotions we can’t control, is to withdraw.  This may be within ourselves, or to some place where we can be alone.  Denial is giving way to reality.  Anger is turning to sadness.  We look within ourselves for the strength to overcome our sadness.

Acceptance—we begin to get our head wrapped around what is happening.  We start to make peace with this new reality.  Acceptance doesn’t mean we’re “over it,” or that there isn’t an irreparable rip in the fabric of our soul.  It means we start to understand how to go forward with our life.

It’s easy to list these stages and assume grief is a simple process with a beginning, middle, and end.  It doesn’t work that way.  Some people never get through all the stages, or, they may cycle through one or more of the stages numerous times.  It’s a process without a true endpoint…only the hope of eventual acceptance.

The grieving process applies to more than our loved ones passing away.  It can apply to losing just about anything else we love (whether we realize it or not).

Maybe it’s a friend who we don’t get to see anymore, a hobby we can no longer participate in, moving into a new house (and leaving the old one behind), graduating from college and saying goodbye to our friends, losing that job we thought we’d have for many years to come.

It doesn’t matter if we’re the ones driving the change in our life, or if the change is thrust upon us without warning.  It doesn’t matter if our loss is a stepping stone that leads us to something even greater (which is often the case).

The loss is real.

And, so is the grieving process.

The Finest Gift

Bingo changed my life.  The Alamitos dorm held their annual bingo tournament in the Commons, and a friend told me I should go.  Sounded like fun to me.  What else was a college freshman to do just weeks before final exams?  But, we’d have to wait a few minutes for one of his friends who’d be joining us.

She can shop all over town, turn the gift shops upside down.
Finding something for her man with everything.

I noticed her eyes first.  Then her smile.  It was like a perfect slice of the sun walked in the room.

“Bob, this is Janet.  She lives in the girl’s wing on our floor.”  Suddenly, words were a little hard to find.  “She’s a CIS major too,” he said, breaking the silence.  Talking about your major was always a good ice breaker.

But it’s right behind her eyes and no matter what she buys
She’ll always be the finest gift she brings.

Playing bingo is similar to a movie from a first date perspective.  There’s not a lot of time for chit chat.  Not that this was a date.  After all, we just met.  I was starting to string words together again, just barely.  This was the one person who would change my life forever, but this was also bingo.  It all about the numbers.

I wasn’t thinking about anything except how to see her again.  Then it happened.  I got a BINGO!  The prize?  A week’s membership at the Jack LaLane Health Spa.  That was nice, but didn’t get me closer to seeing Janet again.  Lucky for me they had more memberships to hand out.  A few games later, with one of the memberships on the line, I could see that Janet was close to having bingo.  How awesome is that?

Every year it’s never missed, should be at the top of every list.
It can never be outdone, it’s the perfect gift for everyone.

I’m sure I was the most excited person in the room when Janet yelled, “BINGO!”  We had matching membership envelopes!  This was my opening.  We were only three or four weeks away from the end of spring quarter.  We’d be moving out of the dorms for the summer…Janet wouldn’t be living just down the hall.  I had to move fast.

It’s in everything you’ll see, scattered underneath our tree.
You can hear it in the carols that we sing.

The details are a bit fuzzy for me as I think about our visits to Jack LaLane’s.  I do remember sitting in the Jacuzzi (I presume, after we had done our workouts).  The more I talked with Janet, the more I knew she was THE ONE.  And yet, I only had a few weeks.  The abyss of summer break was fast approaching.  I had to stay focused, which was impossible whenever I was around her.

It’s the heart of love’s design and it appreciates with time.
And she’ll always be the finest gift she brings.

Janet and a group of her friends were planning a trip to the Griffith Park Observatory to celebrate the end of the school year.  I knew a few of her friends (some were neighbors on my wing).  But, I wasn’t exactly part of the Griffith Park trip plan.  What do you do in that situation  Invite yourself, of course.

We had a small convoy of cars that night.  I couldn’t believe I was in the passenger seat of Janet’s convertible as we approached the observatory.  This was like a date, but not quite.  We were part of a big group.  Everything was closed at the observatory (college students work the late schedule), but we walked around the grounds and checked out the stars for quite a while.  I remember how the lights reflected off Janet’s eyes more than anything else.

Our road trip wasn’t over.  We stopped at a Tommy’s Burgers on the way back.  My first chili burger, on my first (almost) date with Janet.

Every year it’s never missed, should be at the top of every list.
It can never be outdone, it’s the perfect gift for everyone.

Only six weeks later, we were in my parent’s Toyota 4×4 pickup, following my family down to Gonzaga Bay in Baja…about 100 miles south of San Felipe.  Why not go to the middle of nowhere in Baja, off road, with this (awesome) guy you met playing bingo?  Janet is an adventurer, to say the least.

Now it’s not in any store and she could never give me more
Then her promise of the finest gift she brings.

Three years later, we shared our first Christmas as a married couple.

Christmas_1988

Our adventure continues to this day.

The finest gift is truly the one I receive every day (including Christmas).

Her love.

I know her love’s the finest gift she brings.

Clint Black sure got it right:  http://youtu.be/wGe96bEL7B8