December 30, 2008

CHRISTMAS MORNING STILL MAGICAL

Back in September, I wrote a blog post about my family's amazing tradition of making our Christmas gifts. (click here for original post)

I've always known that my family was pretty awesome, but it wasn't until we started unwrapping this year's homemade blessings that I realized how remarkable my family truly is.

For the last 10 years we have battled stress, creative roadblocks, and busy schedules in order to keep our Christmas mornings magical. Each of us has racked our brains for 11 months, been on the verge of tears with frustration in mid-December, and utilized a glue gun on Christmas Eve in order to add some final touches to our "masterpieces."

And even though we've passively talked about changing the tradition, we refuse to throw in the towel and each one us continues to shine every December – coming up with insightful and thoughtful ideas.

I wanted to share some of this year's gifts with everyone:

MARY GRACE (my three-year-old niece): Framed finger painting

JAKE (my eight-month-old nephew): Personalized cards with
his handprint and picture
of him and the recipient on the inside (right).

SUSAN (my younger sister):
Memory journals that we are supposed to write in every week for the next year.
She provided 52 prompts to give us guidance.
(Example: "Describe someone in your life
who had a great influence over you in a short time.")

ALLISON (my littlest sister): Hand-sewn oven mitts
for the boys and belts for the girls.

MOM: Custom floor mats (ours was for our kitchen);
she made Allie an awesome rug/mat from needlepoint.

DAD: Hand-cut mesquite wood chips for the grill – with specific instructions: "Soak for 30 minutes, then put on hot goals." (Each family received a bundle that was neatly packaged in homemade burlap bags that were sewn with yarn.)

TANYA (my wife): Pickles and pickled vegetables; she cleverly named them "Puckerin' Pickles" and "Wickled Wegtables" and printed personalized labels for each person.

MICHAEL (my brother-in-law): Personalized stationary;
I received four pads, each with its own marks: TCU logo, e-Partners in Giving logo, my initials, and "World's Best Uncle." (Mike, who plays professional baseball, also got me a personalized Fungo bat with my name engraved on it.)

Every couple of years, I opt to put my Photoshop and design skills to use. Which, according to my wife, means I'm making something to hang on the wall.

For once...she was correct.

I took pictures around my mom and dad's farm and created the following...."Alpha Art." It started with the main image that I gave my mom and dad (below).




The rest of the gifts evolved from that (below).





My homemade gift to Tanya was similar in style, but I took photos around Fort Worth to create her image.



OTHER NUGGETS

COMING SOON: CHRISTMAS CHAOS BLOG
As the wonderfully great holiday season comes to a close, I'm starting to formulate my first annual Christmas Chaos Blog. (I use "chaos" in the most cherished way possible.)

Here is a sneak peak of my wild
and crazy December through pictures:







SPECIAL THANKS FOR GIVING BACK
I've already said thank you through e-mails, text messages, and letters, but that only begins to express my appreciation for every single person who sponsored a client for our Safe Haven Christmas Extravaganza.

On December 22nd, we were able to capture the true meaning of Christmas. There is NO WAY we could have done it without the help from these individuals.

e-Partners in Giving stuffed 20 personalized stockings (with so much stuff there was a wrapped "overflow" package) for each Safe Haven resident. We also purchased a computer, monitor, and printer for the entire complex.

Our sponsors, including Rosa's Cafe, helped make all of this possible.

I wish I could capture a portion of the magic that was created when those 20 clients opened their stockings. There were a lot of smiles, a few tears of appreciation, and a lot of hugs.

One last time: Thanks to each
of you for making all of this possible.


December 7, 2008

ARE YOU LIVING THE DREAM? WHY NOT?

NOTE: The introduction to this blog post is going to sound like I’m fishing for a compliment or even some validation – please, please, please don’t think that. I was simply searching for a solid “starter,” and this one kicked the most butt.

I LOVE receiving written comments about my blog posts.

They are pretty scattered over several posts – some here and a few more there – but they all speak to me in a unique way.

Here are some examples that I have received, and how they have impacted my state of mind or called me to action:

SUBJECT: Nothing more than some random nuggets
(e-Partners, Obama, and being “wonderfully great”)

COMMENT FROM: My mom

MESSAGE: “ILY” (which is her little code for I Love You)

IMPACT: I think the Beatles said it best, “All you need is love…love is all you need.”


SUBJECT: My volunteer efforts and another company’s willingness to give back (Convergint Technologies and its “Social Responsibility Day”)

COMMENT FROM: Greg Lernihan, the president
and co-founder of Convergint.

MESSAGE (excerpts): “I read your blog and appreciate your comments on our company;” “I appreciate what you are trying to do - very inspiring.”

IMPACT: He posted this one month after I wrote the blog…I was floored. (I really hope Mr. Lernihan had some medical training, because he gave me shot of adrenaline that revved me up for several weeks.)



SUBJECT: Focusing on being successful rather than focusing on failing

COMMENT FROM: Anonymous

MESSAGE: Quote from Eleanor Roosevelt… "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

IMPACT: Inspired me to write this particular blog post.

Now….the clich├ęd segue (Oh yeah…I thought it was “segway,” too….NOPE….FYI: Smooth transition.)

I’ve always been a firm believer of this thought process: You can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
If you can dream it, you can live it.

I dare ANYONE to say those two statements are not accurate.

I’m not trying to be Johnny Rosecolorglasses or
Eddie Overoptimistic – I realize doubt, negativity, and/or fear can rear its ugly head. There have been plenty of times in my life where one of the following statements crept into my head…

• “I CAN'T do that.”

• “That’s TOO difficult!”

• “I only WISH I could accomplish something like that.”

I refuse to let those thoughts consume me, though.

I refuse to let them linger and destroy me from the inside out. As soon as I think it (or even whisper it to myself), I push it out as quickly as I can.

I replace them with thoughts and rhetorical questions, like:

• “I’ve done it before…and I can do it again.”

• “What is there to be scared of?”

• “If I fail, I will simply get back up and attack it again.”

• “God won’t put me in a situation that I can’t handle.”

I had one of these personal pep talks as drove home from Oregon.

I had another one when I quit my job to become a football coach.

With my new business venture, I have a pep talk about once every six weeks.

“If I want something bad enough….I’m going to take it!”

“There is NOTHING I can’t accomplish!”

Sometimes I need little help driving this home, though, and all of this verbiage has led up to this video. If you EVER feel like you can’t accomplish something or you're scared of failing…WATCH THIS!

First...a little background:

Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team that have completed 984 athletic/endurance events (marathons, triathlons, etc.) since 1979.

• On their web site it says, "It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk."

• At Rick’s birth in 1962 the umbilical cord coiled around his neck and cut off oxygen to his brain. Dick and his wife, Judy, were told that there would be no hope for their child’s development.

• With the help of a specially designed computer, Rick told his dad that he wanted to compete in a community 5K event in 1977. After the race, "Rick told us he just didn’t feel handicapped when we were competing."

• Both of their lives were changed forever.

• Now they have completed nine Ironman Triathlons (26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming)

• They have trekked 3,735 miles across America.

They are a true inspiration and a reminder that no mountain is too daunting to climb.

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