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Archive for the ‘Consciousness’ Category

I had dinner with a friend last night on my way to a training for work.  He lives on the way up so I thought it would be fun to get a chance to have dinner and visit with this person.  He is a unique person in that he was one of my early martial arts students and he is genuinely a good guy.

I drove up, met him at his house where we sat and visited for a while and then left to pick up some take-out chinese food from around the corner.  (Some of the very best I’ve ever had!)  We came back and sat down and ate and chatted about life, our work, and our relationships.  My friend had just gotten officially divorced and he was going through the healing process and doing pretty well with it although it can be tough (on anyone!).

This friend, like a lot of us, has had a very eventful life.  A life that wasn’t always flowing so smoothly for him.  However, despite the often tulmultuous nature that seems to revolve around him and his relationships, we have a common love and desire for martial arts.  Invariably, we end up talking about our experiences in the arts and where it has brought us in our lives. 

It’s funny in that this student trained with me for a few years and when he left our school, it wasn’t under good terms.  He was angry as I had a mandatory meeting/workout for the higher ranked students and I told everyone not to be late.  I also added if they were going to be late, just call and tell me you wouldn’t be making it as I wasn’t going to unlock the door once the time for the meeting/workout was to begin.  He showed up about five minutes late and when he was not granted access to the school said, “I don’t need this sh_t,” and stormed off. 

He never officially trained with us again but he continued in his martial arts training.  He has since, on several occasions, apologized for that time in his life and how he acted.  He was young and sometimes, as we all know, we sometimes say some things that when we look back don’t look so good.

I appreciated his apology because I know how bad he felt about the incident years ago and he has made truly great strides in becoming what I think is an all-around excellent martial artist.  Not many people carry that level of passion about the art.  Many people are passionate about the fighting aspects of the art but very few are passionate about the entire being when discussing martial arts.

I asked him about this because he still belongs to a very political organization concerning the martial arts.  I told him I found this interesting because over 20 years ago I left our martial arts organization and ran independently as I didn’t want to deal with people’s over inflated egos and the politics that are so pervasive in martial arts systems.  I asked him what he got from his current assocation from his system and after going through some surface type answers, he realized that he indeed wasn’t getting much.

It’s hard sometimes to break away from the status quo.  Sometimes we feel like we just need to keep toeing the line… keep up appearances, keep putting in the same kind of effort – that it is our lot in life and we are stuck with it. 

I found it interesting to be in this conversation because it is something that I have thought a lot about over the last 2 decades since I split from my organizational ties.  In some ways, I found it sad in that when I quit teaching, my system of martial arts would come to an end.  I am not really training any young people to continue as I’m only teaching a few days a week and am not teaching under my own “roof” but rather through the city recreation department. 

This is by design as when I was working on my doctorate, running a martial arts school was a perfect way for me to pay for my education, keep flexible hours, and still get to train.  Once I finished my education I felt it was time to use it in a more focused way and so I sold my school to a couple of my senior students.  Within a few years however, I was compelled to come back and teach as my students who bought the school were getting ready to shut it down. 

I told the existing students that I didn’t see myself opening up another full time school but I would consider doing something on a more limited scale. 

It may seem like I’m rambling but I’ll get to the point of this post… lol.

In talking with my friend I realized that martial arts and the philosophy that I had developed would only be of benefit to those who trained with me.  If you didn’t live in the San Francisco Bay Area, and specifically out in the East Bay in or around Concord, you couldn’t train in my system and learn what I was teaching.

I realized that it would be fun to put down the system and record it

I shared this with my friend and he got excited. 

Ladies and gentleman, my life is busy.  I cannot tell you about all of the things, companies, concepts, books, dreams, visions I have for the rest of my life as it would take a LONG time.  I did realize however that martial arts has been an incredible gift to me and that I wanted to give back.

My friend and I talked about putting out a series of DVDs in which we would offer many things of martial arts.  I’ve always taught an integrated system of martial arts.  What I mean by that is I have never limited my teaching to only one style.  It’s one of the problems I had with organizations – they want you to teach ONLY their stuff. 

My friend has taken that to another level as he has gone on and trained with many famous martial artists and has turned himself into a very well-rounded martial artist. 

I told him that I not only wanted to offer our diverse physical system of martial arts, but that I also wanted to offer a whole side of the non-physical side of the art.  He got excited about that as he knows that I come from a strong component of not only the physical side of the art, but the social, emotional, mental, and spiritual side of the arts.

So that’s what we’re going to do.  We’re going to brainstorm out and put down our system of martial arts and include all aspects – the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual side of the art. 

I am very excited about it. 

Will anyone buy it? 

Who knows?

But that really isn’t the point – is it?

As I’ve said before… The goal is in the process… the doing… the trying.

I must admit that I like the idea of putting down what I feel is a wonderful system of martial arts.  It makes me feel that my life has and will have had a little more meaning as I feel  I would be leaving behind something that can make the world a little better place.

You can do that to. 

The first thing you have to do though is see it in your mind, be willing to dream it. 

I don’t know what gift you want to leave to the world – it could be many!  Only you know what evokes passion in you!

Everything in the universe began with a thought.  It is what set creation in motion (in my opinon. ; – ).

Think about your legacy. 

Think about how the world may remember you when you die.

How would you like the world to remember you?

Whatever answer you get, start with small steps to start creating the events in your life that will lead to that wonderful conclusion of a life well lived. 

Dream big. 

See yourself successful, talented, blessed, and loved.  Think about it, talk about it, and share it with people.  Take small steps and look at your progress after just 30 days – you’ll be amazed.

I truly want to hear your dreams.  If I can, I’d love to help your dreams come true and help you create a legacy that when you die, you’ll say, “Wow…what a well-lived life!”

As always, I look forward to any thoughts you may be willing to share.

Ray

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Passion allows us to go into our hearts and connect to the emotional center and speak from that powerful place.  A passionate person is an amazingly powerful individual and no one in the room has to ask if that person is coming from a place of strong emotional connection to what they are talking about as every syllable is connected to something strongly tied to a powerful belief structure.  Leaders who have achieved great things have done so with an ability to generate passion in those around them.  They take that deep passion that resides within them and choose words that reach out and tap into other people’s passion that gets them moving.
 
We as parents, children, employees, employers, and citizens must become proficient at instilling passion in those around us.  Passion is that ability to reach into the heart of another and stir the fire within them.  People’s passion can be aroused in many ways and in many subjects. 

When doing a training or giving a speech, I have often shared the story of the birth of my kids.  Even though my son Wes is 15 and my daughter Meaghan is 13, the telling of their story, along with my wife and I, is still an amazing event in our lives and continues to carry a tremendous amount of emotional energy for me.  It is a fairly long story so I will break it up into several posts and tie lessons to each one… so bear with me…lol.
 
I met my wife when I was just about to turn twenty and emotionally I was every bit of twelve.  My wife, having just graduated college, came back and took a temporary job at the health club that I was working at until she planned to move with her family to Hawaii to begin working in the fashion designing industry.  For some unknown reason, this lovely lady took an interest in me and in a few months, we were dating.  It became clear to me that I had a special lady who loved me very much.  It took me a long time to grow up enough to be able to accept this and we struggled for many years before I finally got it through my head that this woman truly loved me and I better not let her get away.  Since I was so bright, this obvious decision only took me nine years. 
 
By the time we got married, I was twenty-eight and my wife was thirty-one.  We enjoyed married life for a couple of years but we realized our biological clocks were ticking, especially my wife’s, and we set out to get pregnant and have kids.  During the long years of our courtship I came to know how deeply my wife wanted to get married and have children.  She longed to be a mother and housewife and provide the kind of home environment that we both wanted and never got.  I realized how much she must have loved me to have waited all those years for me to grow up knowing how deeply she wanted to be married and have children.
 
After a few months, my wife indeed became pregnant.  We were overjoyed to find out that she was carrying twins, and since we wanted two kids, this was an additional bonus.  My wife settled happily into pregnancy and quickly began reading and studying everything she could about parenting.  Although we both just hoped for a healthy baby, I was secretly hoping for a son, and I knew my wife was equally set on a daughter.  We would name our son Wesley and our daughter Meaghan.  If it was two of one sex, we’d have to come up with another name but for now, we were set.

We were deeply hurt shortly thereafter as Linda miscarried and lost the twins. 
 
A few months later, we were trying again and we thought Linda had become pregnant but we came to find out that the pregnancy terminated and the placenta became malignant.
 
Our worst fears were soon realized as Linda’s blood work showed that she had cancer.  It was a rare form of cancer that moves through the placenta and into the uterus.  The doctor quickly suggested we start chemotherapy and schedule a hysterectomy.  We were both shocked as this news hit us like a ton-of-bricks.  Linda was adamant in wanting another opinion, and rightfully so.  We got another appointment a week later and the second opinion concurred with the first – start chemotherapy now and perform the hysterectomy. 

This doctor also mentioned that the most recent blood work indicated that the cancer was already growing rapidly.

Shocked and saddened we both took in the words of the doctors. 

“No,” Linda said.

“What do you mean, no?” asked the doctor.

“I want another opinion outside of this system.  Get me a referral.  I want to have kids.  I’m not ready for a hysterectomy,” Linda said with more strength that I would have imagined.

“Linda, the chemotherapy will save your life.  If you don’t have the hysterectomy, the cancer could spread to other organs of the body,” the doctor said evenly.

I looked at Linda.

“Sweetie, we can always adopt,” I told her softly.

Linda’s eyes saddened and the tears formed.

“I know, but I want to have our kids.  I know we can adopt but I want to make sure we do all we can to have our own.”

I smiled at my wife then turned my attention to the doctor.

“You heard the lady.  Can you please get us a referral with someone who specializes in this type of cancer?”

A couple of weeks went by before we got in to see an older, semi-retired doctor out of the University of San Francisco.  She had Linda do blood work a couple of days before were to meet with her. 

We walked into the office and the first thing this lady did was to come around her desk, hug my wife, and say, “We’ll beat this.” 

A great beginning.

So far, I want you to understand that we are not always together.  I was, for many years, not ready or mature enough to realize the depth of love another human had for me, and how much I had for her.  If you stop and take stock, you will find that there are people who love you so much and if you could just stop and see and feel it, you would realize how fortunate you truly are.

Another point – Shi…stuff happens. Lol.  Life doesn’t always roll so smoothly for us as events jump up and seemingly bite us.  Sometimes we ask ourselves, “Why me?” and the answer I will tell you is because we can handle it, all of us.  These are the lessons that form our character and strengthen our resolve.  This allows us to recognize the wonderful times as we have some not-so wonderful experiences to contrast them against.

And the last point in the post before ending it is that there is always a solution.  A solution that doesn’t always work out the way you want it but never the less takes us upward and onward on our journey.  Sometimes the outcomes don’t make sense, but in the end, we can and we will benefit from this experience. 

I want to keep these posts fairly short so you can step off and attend to your life.  In the next post, we’ll continue.

Until the next time, hug those close to you and tell them that you love them as they won’t be there forever.

Ray

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In the last post I shared with you the beginnings of the process of having kids with my wife Linda and myself.   When I left off, Linda had refused the suggestion of a hysterectomy and had gotten an outside opinion with a doctor that felt right – for both of us.

This new doctor quickly set Linda up on chemotherapy as the cancer was aggressively growing and was now in Linda’s lungs.  I went with her to the treatments and sat as the needle was injected into her arm.  I remember thinking how much I wish I could take her place so she wouldn’t have this chemical going in and destroying the cancer, yes, but also all rapidly dividing cells. 

I thought how amazing my wife was during this time and how much inner strength she had that I never knew.

Within a month or so we went back in for blood work and another consultation and when we sat in front of the doctor again, she informed us that the chemotherapy was not working and that the cancer was spreading. 

What was so painful about this process for us was that the cancer manifested itself through the pregnancy in a way that cut Linda to the very bone.  As I mentioned before, for the many years that we had been together before we got married, Linda had expressed her deepest wish to be happily married and becoming a mother. 

Finally getting married had fulfilled one part of her dream but the second part was proving to be exceptionally painful. 

Not only did Linda have to live with the fact that she had a cancer that was spreading throughout her body, she also had to be reminded of it as her breasts and stomach continued to grow as if she were still pregnant.  It was the worst possible thing that could happen to my wife.  Having people come up and ask about what looked like a pregnancy brought the shock and pain to both of us full-force every time we spoke about it.

Our new doctor decided to try another chemotherapy cocktail and we anxiously awaited the scheduled blood work.  After a couple of months, the results were in:  The chemotherapy was not working and the cancer was continuing to rapidly spread. 

Fear ran through us as we sat in front of the doctor.  She calmly took Linda’s hand and told her not to worry, that we still had another course before doing anything drastic.  She suggested combining several strong chemotherapy drugs together and literally blasting the body with these drugs.  We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.

Within a few weeks of the new chemotherapy course, large chunks of Linda’s hair was coming out along with her eyebrows, eye lashes, and pubic hair.  Even though Linda’s physical appearance was changing radically, her faith and hope never waivered.  Her stomach and breasts continued to grow as we awaited the next blood work up.    

Waiting in the doctors’ office with my wife, we hoped for the best but feared that the treatment would not work and the cancer would be so far advanced that nothing could be done.  The doctor walked in a few minutes later and smiled. 

“The treatment seems to be working,” she said with a smile.

Both Linda and I had tears in our eyes as we hugged the doctor.

Linda continued with the chemotherapy for several months and within a year and a half, the cancer was gone, but we were told that if we tried to have kids again that the cancer has a much higher chance of coming back and if it did, she had developed such a
tolerance to the various chemotherapy drugs that they feared she would not be able to fight it off if the cancer reoccurred. 

Linda and I talked it over and she wanted to try again. 

I had my doubts and fears but because I loved my wife and knew how much she wanted to have children, I agreed.
 
They suggested we wait a year before trying and so we did.  We waited the year and then began trying.  Linda was now thirty-six and we could hear the clock ticking.    Within a couple of months, she relayed the news to me that she was pregnant again.  We collectively held our breath as the pregnancy unfolded.  We exercised together, ate all the right foods, and carefully went about our days trying to keep the pregnancy intact.
 
A few months into the pregnancy Linda started spotting again. With fear welling up in our chest, we went to the doctor and had them do the blood work we had become so familiar with. 

A few days later the results came back – No cancer. 

Another deep sigh of relief and we moved on.  We sailed through the pregnancy as Linda gained sixty-three pounds and her belly grew and grew, and then grew some more.
 
Linda delivered our son Wesley a month early via natural child birth with me right there.  He weighed in a healthy eight and a half pounds and was just beautiful.  We couldn’t be happier.  We settled into life as new parents and all that goes with it. 

This post brings up the very real issue facing all of us – death. 

Death is one of those huge, scary concepts that most of us just put in the back of our mind, hoping that it will be a long time before we ever had to deal with it. 

However, as time goes by, invariable death becomes something we all have to deal with. 

I was first introduced to it through the death of my grandmother.  It was hard and difficult to go and be there with her in that space for me.  I was scared, it was painful, and it was something that I was not able to fully honor.  It is something that, I feel, most people do with death – this avoidance.

I would just ask that you stop and recognize that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  Most of us have very special souls that are near and dear to us that we often take for granted. 

If you were never to see your wife, your child, your parents, your best friend again, have you said and done what you need to in order to be clear? 

Let me say it another way.

Do the people in your life know how much they mean to you? 

If this was the last day/night you were to spend with them, is there anything you’d like to do or say to them differently that if you thought you had years with them?

When I think of this, I am always motivated to hug my wife and kids and tell them how honored I am that they are in my life and how much I love them and are so very grateful  that we are together.

Sounds fluffy?

It is…and it should be.

Be clear and let those people in your life know what they mean to you…constantly.

Hugs to you all,

Ray

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In the last post, Linda had just given birth to Wes and while I was ecstatic as was Linda, I knew deep down in my heart that Linda wanted a daughter.

I wasn’t wrong as within a couple of months later, Linda told me that she wanted to try for a girl.  She had read some natural ways of conceiving for a particular sex and she wanted to try. I told her how lucky we were with Wes and maybe we shouldn’t push our luck.  She gave me that look and I knew that’s what she wanted and although I was scared, I loved her enough to try. 

Wes was about ten months old when we started trying again.  Within a couple of months Linda became pregnant again and the fear that had been gone for the last year suddenly surfaced again. 

Once again, Linda went into pregnancy mode and began being very mindful of what she ate and made sure she got the proper exercise.  Linda would be thirty-eight when the baby came and we both knew that she wasn’t in her prime child-bearing years and with the cancer looming in the background, the stress and fear level went up around our house. 

Everything was going along smoothly until we were about five and half months into the pregnancy.  I was standing in the doorway of the baby’s room as Linda was putting Wesley into his crib when some liquid began dripping on the floor between her legs.  We both looked at each other with a look of shock.

“I think my water just broke,” Linda said with a bit of panic in her voice.

We quickly jumped into the car and sped to the hospital. 

“Your water has indeed broken,” the doctor informed us an hour later. 

“But I’m only 24 weeks along,” Linda said, panic showing in her words.

The doctor consulted with his staff and it was decided that Linda would stay in the hospital for the remaining four months of the pregnancy with the hope that the water might replenish itself.  I remember the doctor’s words, “We just need to watch for a fever from Linda.  Fever would indicate an infection with the baby and the baby would have to come.” 

The baby would have to come?

How could that be?  A gestation period of twenty four weeks wasn’t enough, I thought to myself.

An hour later a doctor whom we’d never met walked in and picked up Linda’s chart.

“This baby can’t come now.  If it comes now it probably won’t survive and if it does it would have over a ninety percent chance of having severe retardation, blindness, or cerebral palsy – or a combination of them,” he said in a flat, cold voice.  He then turned and walked out of the room.

Linda and I sat their stunned.

The doctors and nurses got Linda settled in and in a couple of hours I found myself leaving the hospital.  I drove back home scared as I let my worst fears come to the surface. 

How could I survive without my Linda? 

How could I possibly raise Wes by myself?  

How can I help Linda an hour away? 

What’s going on with our lives? 

How come this is happening to us? 

Why is God doing this to us? 

The anxiety and fear continued to grow as I made my way back home.

A week later I was putting Wes to bed at about 9:30 when the phone rang. 

Linda’s voice shook as she told me that she had a fever and an infection and they were telling her that the baby would be coming shortly.

I quickly bundled Wes up and called Linda’s mother.  I dropped Wes off at his grandparents by 10:30 and drove on into the city frightened for my wife and my unborn daughter.

When I got to the hospital, the room was crowded as a couple of doctors and nurses stood huddled in the corner.  They came over and told us that they wanted to try and draw out some of the remaining amniotic fluid to see if they could tell if the infection truly was with the baby or not. 

We agreed to let them try and after looking at an ultrasound, they inserted the big needle into Linda’s stomach where they felt was the best chance to be containing fluid. 

A half an hour later they still had not been able to draw a drop of fluid and concluded that the uterus was not replenishing itself.

Linda’s fear began escalating as she feared that Meaghan would not last much longer without a proper environment.  This emotional state caused the doctor to suggest that Linda take a local tranquilizer to get her to relax.  Linda was adamant that she didn’t want to take anything that could possibly hurt the baby. 

After much counseling, and hearing that it wouldn’t hurt the baby and would only last a couple of hours, Linda took the medication and they sent both of us back upstairs to her room. 

We got up into her room at 4:00 a.m. and I sat in one of the uncomfortable chairs in her room.  We began to chat and I quickly realized what I had been holding onto for several months.

I realized that I had been harboring feelings of anger and fear concerning Linda and the pregnancy.  I was afraid that the cancer could come back and that with Linda already developing a tolerance to the various chemotherapies, that we would lose her and that it would just be Wes and myself trying to make it on our own.  I was angry that she wanted to take this risk and put us through another painful bout with the cancer and then possibly leaving us.  I also realized that because of this I had secretly not been as loving or supportive for this pregnancy. 

The wave of hurt fell over me as I realized that I had not been a very supportive father in wanting this little girl to come into the world. 

The tears flowed as I went over and put my face on my wife’s stomach. 

I told Meaghan how sorry I was that I hadn’t been there for her and how I was just afraid of losing her Mom and how scared I would be without her.  I asked first Linda and then Meaghan for their forgiveness and as I lay on Linda’s stomach, I whispered to Meaghan that if she wanted to come, that no matter what happened to her or how she came out, I would love her with all of my heart. 

I am continually amazed by how much stuff we hold onto inside our minds and hearts.  It has been my observation that most people are holding onto issues and events in their lives that serve no positive purpose for them at all.  In fact, lots of these experiences create a sense of negativity about ourselves as we relive our past mistakes.

Who hasn’t made a mistake?

What hasn’t had experiences that have caused themselves and others pain?

It doesn’t mean we are bad when have experiences that hurt us or others people.

What matters is that we are willing to own up to it, draw lessons from it, let it go, and apply this new found wisdom into our daily lives as we move forward. 

Realize that each of us are wonderful, loving, caring, incredible beings and that some of us need a little more help remembering this fact! ; – )

Don’t be afraid to remind others that the victory in the process is to be the best in the world or the fastest – the victory is in the race itself!  We win by engaging the process fully, by honoring ourselves and others, and by enjoying our lives fully at this time, in this moment, with whoever we are with.

Stay tuned for the conclusion!

Ray

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The last post of this quadrilogy! 

As the last post ended, I had realized how much I had not truly been there for my wife and unborn daughter and this realization had both shocked and shattered me.

My wife held me as I sat and talked to my little unborn daughter and reached out with my heart for her.  After a while I climbed back into the hospital chair drained, exhausted, yet feeling as if a weight had been removed from my shoulders.  I glanced at my watch and it was now almost five in the morning.  My wife and I chatted about our lives and where we had been and the journey we had taken together.

At 5:59a.m., my wife got up from the bed and mentioned that she had to go to the bathroom.  She hobbled across the floor and entered into the bathroom.  She wasn’t in there but a few seconds when I heard something that stirred me from tired state.

“Ray, I think the baby is coming.”

I jumped up and ran to the door and opened it.  What I saw instantly pumped adrenaline hard through my body.  My wife sat on the toilet and there between her legs was a small head coming out.  I quickly ran the few steps to the door and yelled, “The baby is coming!”  I quickly ran back to the door and in the seven or eight seconds I was gone I found Linda still sitting on the toilet but now she was holding a very small baby in one hand just above the water line with the umbilical chord still connecting the two of them.

A couple of seconds later our small bathroom was full of hospital staff.  Very quickly a female doctor cut the umbilical chord as blood spurted up into my wife’s face. 

This doctor handed the small child to someone else and instantly began removing her smock. She proceeded to quickly unbutton her shirt, remove it and toss it on the floor.  She then removed her bra, grabbed the baby and put it in between her breasts with one hand and took off running out of the room and down the hall. 

She had a large nurse running interference for her clearing her path as she sprinted down the stairs.  It reminded me of a professional football lineman clearing a path for the running back.

A moment later Linda and I were the only ones left in the bathroom.  My eyes were drawn to the blood that was sprayed onto the walls from the umbilical chord.  My attention was then brought to Linda as I heard her breathing.  Her eyes were fixed on the wall in front of her and she was breathing in short, rapid breaths.

“Linda.”

“Linda!  Snap out of it!”

She continued to breathe rapidly with her eyes still locked onto the blood-stained wall.
 
I realized she was going into shock and my mind flashed for a moment and I tried to think of anything to get Linda to snap out of the shock she was in.  A thought came to me.

“Linda, did you see the beautiful breasts on that lady?”

Instantly Linda’s eyes focused on mine and her rapid breathing stopped.

“RAY!!”

“Sweetie, I was just trying to get you to snap out of the state you were in!” I said pleadingly.

The thought quickly registered in her mind and she smiled.

“Go and check on Meaghan.”

I quickly went downstairs and after scrubbing into the NICU, or neo-natal intensive care unit, I was escorted over to my daughter.

While every other baby on the ward was in an incubator, the doctors had Meaghan on a small silver tray, eyes completely bandaged, what looked like saran wrap over her entire body, and sitting underneath what looked like a French-fry light. 

A tube was running from her mouth and out to a machine and I saw her chest vibrating at a fast rate.

“Oh, my God,” I said as I took in the image of her.

“The tube she has is a new type of ventilator.”

Meghan 4

I turned to look as a nurse had walked up behind me.

“She is so small that a traditional respirator even set to the lowest level would blow her lungs apart.  This respirator is like having her breathe a thousand times a second as it constantly keeps her lungs inflated.”

I brought my attention back to this tiny infant struggling hard to stay alive.

“She’s a girl and she’s made her way into the world at a pound and a half,” whispered the nurse.

I could feel a hot tear slide down my face as I leaned closer to her.

“I’m here, Meggie.  Daddy’s here.”

I went back upstairs and told Linda what I had seen and we both cried and held each other.  Although we didn’t go to church at the time, we prayed to God to watch over our little girl and to help us to be strong in trying to help her into the world.

The next few weeks were very tough as they said the next few weeks were crucial if Meaghan were to survive. When the alarms would go off, our hearts would race as the doctor or nurse would come and attend to Meaghan.  After several weeks, we got a chance to breathe a little easier as Meaghan was gaining some weight and they were hopeful of transferring her to a closer hospital where Linda could begin breastfeeding. 

When they transferred her to a closer hospital, all of the staff in the NICU came to see the little “miracle baby.” 

By this time Meaghan was a hefty four pounds. 

I could go on and on about Meaghan, but I will sum it up that the defects that she has is that she is far-sighted like me and wears glasses, but the only brain damage she has is the brain damage she has by having me as a father.

She still works at strengthening her legs and hips due to the prematurity, but I have her in our Taekwondo and Kenpo School where she has earned her green belt and continues to get stronger.  She is an incredible gift to us and we believe she has come into the world to fulfill some wonderful dreams and she’s had to fight every step of the way, but we are blessed and honored to have this amazing soul in our lives.  At almost eleven years old, she has already taught us more than I think we could ever teach her.

Passion is that part of us that feels deeply and strongly about someone or something. 

To be able to live, love, work and communicate with passion as an ally is a powerful tool.  It is a tool that one has to go inside their mind and heart to be able to tap into. 

Passion isn’t created in a classroom or through a tape or training seminar.  It comes with being in touch with who you are, what you want, what’s important to you, and what you care deeply about.  Once you are clear on these points, passion springs forth with the force of a truck or with the tenderness of a newborn. 

As a capable human being, you must recognize that every individual you come into contact with is a miracle in some way.  They are someone’s “Meaghan” and are loved deeply for who they are – and for good reason. 

I’m sorry this was a 4-part post but I wanted to share with you this story and the lessons that may resonate with you because of it.  I have no doubt in my mind that all of you have or are miracles in your own life. 

I greatly look forward to hearing your miracles.

With lots of love for all of you “Meaghans” in the world,

Ray

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I remember as a child growing up watching a lot of television and movies.  There weren’t hundreds of different channels as there are now but I still found time to plant my fanny in front of the tube a lot as a child. 

I remember hearing that when people used the word transparent it usually wasn’t complimentary.  I guess I’m thinking of scenes in which the guy is trying to pick up on the girl and it was so obvious what he was doing that she would get disgusted and say something like, “Your motives are so transparent!”  As a result, as a teenager I associated transparency with a sense of negativity.

I have done a one-eighty.

I have found that transparency, when coming from the right consciousness is an amazing gift to anyone who witnesses it. 

Think about it.

If I am not hiding anything, if I am willing to share with you what is actually going on in my heart, you will have a real look inside me.  I would be showing you my authentic self.  This is a good thing – A very good thing.

I cannot tell you how many experiences I have had both in my personal and professional lives dealing with inauthentic people – people who are NOT transparent.  These are people who are hiding things, holding back, afraid, keeping their own agenda.  Now I’m not saying that you walk around disclosing everything. 

However, THERE IS a time and a place for everything. 

Over the last dozen years or so, what we have heard about corporate America is anything but transparent.  You can turn on the television and listen to a variety of CEOs justify why they received their mega-million dollar payout while the company is looking at bankruptcy.  What about the CEO who had no idea his books were “cooked.” 

“It wasn’t my responsibility.  The accounting division handles all the fiscal documentation and reporting.  I’m as in the dark as you are!” 

GAG!

Business scandal after business scandal has rocked the image we held of a corporate CEO as being a person of the highest quality. 

When I was young, I thought the owner/CEO of the company was the leader – the one with vision and integrity to look out for the company and all of the employees they had been blessed to have work for them. 

Payouts, bonuses, cooked books, liquidation of huge shares of stock, and golden parachutes are just a few of the terms now associated with the modern CEO.  No longer to people hold the view of a CEO as integrity-based, honest or compassionate.  In fact, it is just the opposite.
Now more than ever people see CEOs as greedy, corrupt, dishonest, and completely self-centered as headlines bombard us about CEOs taking massive profits out while the company goes down the tubes.  What level of communication and honesty are they showing the world?  Their employees?  Themselves?

The image of the CEO has been badly damaged as never in history has the image of corporate America been so frowned upon. 

Why?

When we as a CEO look to serve ourselves first we forget the role we agreed to play.  I don’t mean CEO.  I mean the leader of the company – The steward of the company and its vision.  When we seek our gratification above our employees and the company we have lost track of the consciousness, vision, and responsibility in which we were given.  We’ve lost something even more important in the process – ourselves.

A decade or so ago when these corporate scandals started breaking, at first I felt a sense of anger at those CEOs who betrayed they responsibilities to the company.  However, as time moved on, I realized my anger gave way to something much different.

Sadness.

I felt and do feel a deep sense of sadness when I hear of a CEO who has “cooked” their books in order to meet a quota or guideline.  I feel sad when a CEO takes a huge bonus when the company is laying off hundreds, sometimes thousands of employees.  I feel sad because even though they’ve walked away with a pile of money, they left a part of their soul that will never be recovered and it will leave them scarred. 

Running a business can be one of the most gratifying things we can ever experience. 

Having a business with employees allows us to take this to an even higher level.  We now have someone (perhaps many) who believes in us and our vision.  They want to believe in us.  They want to follow the vision we, as their CEO, have put forth.  They have put their faith in us to support them in this path – this journey of business and creativity.  We have been put (or put ourselves) in a position to lead. 
 
Leaders and GOOD CEOs lead – they don’t cheat, lie, or steal.  (Not in my book anyway)
 
Leaders and GOOD CEOs look out for their employees in a variety of ways.
 
Leaders and GOOD CEOs walk a path rooted in service – service to their employees, their families, their community, and to the planet.  In living this life of service – in essence, by living a life serving others they get to enjoy the benefit and they in turn, will be served on a much higher, more elevated level. 
 
Don’t be afraid to be transparent.  Be willing to share what is underneath.  I promise you that none of those around you will think any less of you.  In fact, you may find that people will begin to think more of you. 

It is my personal goal to be as transparent as possible.  I want you to know what I am thinking.  I want you to know what my business is doing.  I want you to be able to see my accounting books and see what our income was, what our expenses were, and where we donated our time and resources.

It is in no way a negative thing to be transparent in business.  It may not be common, but then again, how healthy do you think corporate America is at the present time?
 
Exactly.

Transparency. 

Look at it and strive to peel back some of the layers of the onion that hides the true you AND your company (whether you own it or not!)  Peel back the layers and allow people to see the beauty that is inside.  Remember, part of the beauty is honoring that which may not seem beautiful.  We have all done things, said things, and thought things that was not necessarily nice or healthy. 

Owning it and moving on is a part of leading from a healthy perspective.  Being able to own up to it, admit it, apologize for it, and then learn from it and move on is another sign of mature and healthy leadership.
 

It’s also being transparent.

Telling a loved one how much they mean to you on a regular basis is also transparent.
 
Are you getting the message? 

Being transparent whether in a conversation, playing with friends, working in a business, AND ESPECIALLY running a business is an amazing thing.
 
Think about it and if it makes sense, strive for it.

Just my thoughts.

As always, I’m open and receptive to your thoughts and ideas.

Ray

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It’s funny that when I think of the question “why me?” or “why now?” I think of Murphy’s Law.  It seems that there is never a good time for some things to happen.  Well, I would like to take a different slant on these two questions.

Instead of thinking about the why me or why now of whatever bad news you think has happened to you, I’d like to think of why me or why now as something much more positive.  To be specific, I am asking myself the question of why me in relation to wanting to do the things I want to in my life.  Why am I driven to want to help my fellow man?  Why am I wanting to create opportunities where people can connect from the heart, help each other in business and in our personal lives, and to make the world a better place for our kids and grandkids?

Sometimes I think it would just be easier to think about how I could get ahead in life… You know, open a company and make a bunch of money, sell it off by the time I’m 55 and then retire for the next 35 years on Maui.

Why not me?

I know a lot of people do it.  I read about golden parachutes and incredible bonuses being given to CEOs whose company is going down the drain.  Huge payouts into the millions.  These CEOs and executives take the money and walk away.  I could do that.

No I couldn’t.

Not only could I not walk away with that kind of a payoff, I don’t know that I’ll ever walk away from what I’m passionate about work-wise.  If I’m passionate about it, why would I ever want to stop doing it?  If I lost passion in it, I would just naturally go onto something else that I had a great passion for. 

So why me?

I don’t know all of the reasons but I can tell you that one of the reasons is I get a great rush in working with other people and doing things in a new way.  Ways that may be more efficient than the old ways.  Ways that provide more opportunity to expand our present model, or enhance our bottom line, or create a new pathway for someone to take. 

I think one of the most undiscovered tools to have people discover their own personal passion is service. 

Yes, service.

I have experienced hundreds and hundreds of times in which I have worked with someone, giving them the best information and effort I have, and watch them take that information and effort and use it to make a difference in their life and career.  That feeling of being of actual service to someone is nothing short of addicting.  I cannot think of a better feeling I have experienced in my life than having giving a great and heartfelt effort rooted in honesty, integrity, and compassion to another soul or company and have them honor your effort, use it, and then come away not only much more improved but deeply appreciative of the gift they have been given.

This doesn’t have to be a huge thing… It can be small – very small.  It can be as simple as having a conversation with a friend who is in a down space and the action can be as simple as just listening to your friend.  Just being there can be an amazing gift.  However, you have to recognize the need and be willing to step up and offer what you can.  That is the challenge – to step up and offer what you can.  Look for opportunities to serve, whether they be helping whoever is preparing your dinner by setting the table, or by offering someone some feedback on a report at work, look for an opportunity to come from a placed of compassionate service in your heart.

Why now?

Why not now? 

When is the time NOT right to offer an act of service?

I will tell you flat out that if only for ONE hour a day you committed yourself to going around looking to be of service in whatever environment you are in, those acts of service will absolutely transform not only the people around you, but YOURSELF AS WELL!

I can hear you snickering…

“Ray, this is more of that fluffy, make the world better kind of B.S.”

Yes it is.  But it is also much more than that.

It’s also about using more of “that fluffy, make the world better kind of B.S. to make YOUR life better. 

Trust me, I guarantee you 100% that if you come from a place of service just ONE HOUR a day – just look to serve whoever you are around from a place rooted in compassion and a desire to help, that YOU, YOUR life will be the one that feels like you have been given a gift.

If you don’t want to trust me, then just test it out.  Try it and see what your experience is for one week.  If you don’t feel as if you are the one who has gotten an amazing gift, email me and when you’re in town, I’ll buy you lunch! lol.

Why me and why now?

Because it is time – plain and simple.  It is time.

Iam looking forward to hearing from you and having YOU buy me lunch when I’m in your town! 

Blessings,

Ray

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