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The Bucket List 

In the 2007 movie The Bucket List,  Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson teamed up to present a story that struck a chord with a great many of us “seasoned” citizens.

The movie centers on a blue-collar mechanic (Freeman) and a billionaire businessman (Nicholson) who meet in the hospital, having both been diagnosed with cancer. After learning that he has less than a year to live, Freeman’s character writes a “bucket list” of all the things he wants to do before he “kicks the bucket”.  With Nicholson’s help, he sets out to accomplish as many as possible.

The Bucket List spawned a great interest in the idea of creating personal bucket lists. It became a popular fad to write down all the things you would like to do, the places you would like to see, and the things you would like to possess before the end of life. 

Being a bit slow on the draw, I just recently decided to sit down with pencil and paper to do mine.  In the process I learned a very important lesson.

I began to write and the first few items came rather easily.  

Topping my list is “Visiting Normandy, France”.  Because of my acute interest in the history of World War II, particularly the European theater, Normandy was an essential.  I wanted to stand at Pointe-du-Hoc, sift the sands of Omaha Beach through my fingers, and reverently stand and pray in the military cemetery on the bluff above the beaches. (In May 2017 I was blessed to scratch this one off the list)

Another item on my “bucket list” is “To perform on a concert stage in front of a full orchestra.”  This one might be tough to accomplish, but it’s been a lifelong dream and must be included on the list.  I can only imagine what it must a feel like to perform with a stage full of wonderful musicians all gathered to use their talents to try to make me sound good.  Of course, the older I get, the harder they will have to work to accomplish that task.

There are a couple of people on my list who I would love to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with. Both are musicians and neither one carry a name you would probably recognize.

In addition, I added some goals that I am currently working on like “writing and publishing at least one book”, and “writing at least one song that I think is a truly great song”.

After jotting down those first few my mind suddenly went blank.  I simply could not think of any other things that we so important to me that I would feel unfulfilled if I were to die before accomplishing them.

Then it hit me like.  I realized that I have been blessed by already having accomplished the things I value most in life. They were on my Bucket List long before I had heard of the concept and I could already check many of them off.

 I’m growing older with my high school sweetheart and enjoying the journey.  I’ve watched my five sons become fine young men whom I am very proud of.  I’ve got the health and freedom to spend time with my grandchildren, spoiling them to the best of my ability. I’ve got friends and family and community.  I’m doing work that I enjoy and hope to continue doing for many years to come.  I can look back on my life and know that though I may not have always been successful, I always tried to do what I thought was right and best.

I’ll continue to write my “bucket list” but more as an amusement than an obsession.  Most of all I’ll keep doing the important things with all the energy I can muster. Like everyone, when I stand at the door ready to depart this life I will probably look back and see a few places I’ll wish I would have seen and a few things I’ll wish I would have done.  I am confident, however, that they won’t be the urgent and important things.  

Therein lies the lesson of the Bucket List:  When you live each day with grace, purpose, and passion, the important things come into focus and your Bucket List – the truly important things of life – will be much, much shorter.

Igniting Passion 

Mike Singletary is remembered as one of the most feared players in football history.  He was a player of immense talent and possessed an even more immense passion for the game.  He was a key component in the Bears teams that dominated the NFL in the mid-80s, particularly their 1985 Super Bowl win.

By 1992, however, things had changed with the Bears.  It was Singletary’s last season and the Bears were struggling.  The “Monsters of the Midway” had lost five in a row and everyone was questioning their coach, their dedication to the game, and their will to win.  

“What has happened to the Bears?” was the single most asked question in the city of Chicago.

In an interview late that season with a writer from Sports Illustrated, Singletary sat shaking his head in disappointment as he offered his answer.

“It used to be that teams would play us and their guys would be lucky to get up after our defense got through with them,” said Singletary, recalling those dominating seasons of the past, “I can remember our players foaming at the mouth, wanting to hit guys over and over again…”

But that was the past.

“Now,” he said, “Instead of having a bunch of guys flying to the ball, I go into the huddle and say, ‘Come on!  Come on! Let’s go!’ Then I look into their eyes, and I can see it.  They’re just not with me.”

Singletary acknowledged that it wasn’t coaching or tactics or talent that was lacking.  The missing ingredient was passion, and that is something Singletary says can’t be summoned at a moment’s notice.  It has to simply be a part of you, something that has been cultivated and fueled day after day after day. 

Singletary believed that the Bears could return to those winning, dominating ways, but not without a serious change of heart.

“The guys have to talk about it, dream about it, work for it, want it,” he said, adding, “We used to have a coach around here who’d say, ‘If a puppy doesn’t bite when he’s a puppy, he is not going to all of a sudden start biting when he gets to be a dog.’”

What about you?  Do you have passion for something in your life?  Is there that “glow” of desire in your life for your relationships, for your work, for your faith, or for some life-long dream?

Truly dynamic people are people driven by a passion.  They act on that passion by living life to the full, making the most of each and every day, no matter what they are doing.  They see every day as a gift from God to be lived with grace, purpose and, yes, passion.

It’s not too late to fan the flames of that passion, no matter what your age. Do a bit of self-examination.  Determine what is truly important to you.  Ask yourself what is holding you back from having that relationship, or that career, or that faith that you want.

Then, go after it.  Period.  It’s your choice to make. 

One Less Hero 

In the cafeteria of a hotel in Bayeux, France, over a typical French breakfast of bread, bread, and more bread, my new found friend pointed his finger at me.

“You Americans,” he said in his wonderful English accent, “You think you know everything there is to know about World War II because you watched Saving Private Ryan.” 

“You don’t”, he added with a smile. 

His name was Clifford Coates and if anyone had the right to lecture me about what I knew or didn’t know about World War II I was Clifford. He had lived that remarkable, terrible time of history. Now, he was back in France to revisit the hallowed ground he had walked as a 19 year old soldier 74 years earlier. 

He had made this journey from his native England many times before, driving several hours south to Southhampton before catching a ferry for the trip across the English Channel to Cherbourg. From there it was a short drive down the French coastline to Normandy, the place that shaped his life perhaps more than he ever realized. 

I had come to know him by an accident of timing. I had traveled to Bayeux in June 2018 to revisit the D-Day beaches that had so captured my attention. A year earlier, my son and I had been there with a tour group. This time I had come alone to explore the more out-of-the-way places the tours don’t frequent.

I arrived on Sunday and on this Monday morning I ventured out to pick up my rental car then  returned to my hotel. Near the front door there sat a wheelchair inhabited by an elderly man in a uniform. A blanket was wrapped around his legs for warmth and a beret sat upon his head. He was very obviously British.

As has become my habit, I paused to thank him for his service but found it impossible to do so without asking at least a couple of introductory questions. My inquisition was cut short by the arrival of his ride, old French friends whom he would spend the day with. We agreed, however, to met up at breakfast the next day. 

The next morning, and every other morning until our departure, I would hunt Clifford down, announce that his “American pest” had arrived, then sit and listen to his amazing stories of D-Day. I was completely awed by the man and the experiences he shared. 

By June 6, 1944, Clifford was already a seasoned combat veteran having fought his way around the Mediterranean. With his mates from the 41st Royal Marine Commandos, he trudged ashore on Sword Beach at Ouistreham, on the eastern most extreme of the Operation Overlord map. Their mission was simple; to free France from the tyrannical grip of Adolf Hitler and has Nazi regime. They secured Ouistreham, then proceeded up the 10 mile corridor to relieve the embattled garrison at what is now known as Pegasus Bridge.

Our third morning in Bayeux was the day, June 6th, the 74th anniversary of D’Day. As was my habit I searched Clifford out in the breakfast area to once again harangue him with my countless questions. He seemed a bit more subdued than during our previous meetings. 

“How are you this morning, Clifford,” I asked.

“Well,” he replied quietly, “I’m better now than I was last night.”

“Too much activity?”, I asked.

“No”, he replied quietly, “It was just so emotional seeing my old friends.”

The day before, Clifford had been at an annual observance outside the small village of Ranville, at that bridge, the one known as Pegasus. He had indeed remembered. He remembered the place, the terrible noise and carnage of battle, and most of all his fellow soldiers, his mates, the friends he lost there who, like him, had risked everything for the cause of freedom. 

After 74 years the pain of those losses was still very, very real for my friend. It is a loss those of us who have never experienced such a cataclysmic event can never fully appreciate. I am most certain Clifford had shed a few tears.

“I lost friends, yes”, Clifford would recall in a 2019 interview with the British Veterans’ Foundation, “Nobody is sacrosanct. When that shell explodes, when that bomb drops, or that gun fires, somebody’s going to die. And it doesn’t matter who you are. If you’re in line it’s you.”

Clifford, of course, was not “in line”. He survived the war and lived a full life after the fighting finally came to close a little more than a year after D-Day. Like so many other World War II veterans from all nations, he invested in his family and his community, even serving a stint at his towns mayor.

The courage displayed, the terrible losses, the horrible memories all had a transcendent purpose in Clifford’s mind. 

In the before mentioned video interview Clifford explained.

“If you were say to anybody there, ‘What did you do it for? What was your aim? We would say to make it safe … for the kids, to give them a decent life because they had no life.”


“No war is really over,” stated one World War II soldier, “until the last veteran is dead.” If that is so, World War II just took one more step toward closure when Clifford Coates passed away quietly few days ago at the age of 96. 

May men like him–and their extraordinary deeds–never be forgotten. And may we never cease to be grateful. 

Rest in peace, Clifford Coates. You–and all the others like you–deserve it.  

On Veterans Day 

On November 11, 1918 at precisely 11:00 a.m., across the battlegrounds of Europe, the air was suddenly filled with an unusual sound; the sound of silence.

After four years of death on a scale the world had never before seen, an uneasy armistice was beginning. On both sides of the lines, hope started to stir in the hearts of those who, just moments before, been committed only to the task of killing. It was a hope that somehow they might just have a future after all.

World War I was a gruesome global event fought on nearly every continent and on every ocean. 70 nations participated. 65 million soldiers put on the uniform of their respective countries. Nearly 10,000,000 died in the four years of fighting. Another 21 million were scarred and mutilated, some being sentenced to spend the rest of their lives in nursing homes and hospitals.

Mankind had “come of age”. New technologies were emerging that made warfare more deadly and more horrible than any conflict prior. Gas was used by both sides with indiscriminate effect. Germany alone would release 68,000 tons of gas during the war. In total 1,200,000 soldiers fell victim to gas attacks with 91,000 dying excruciating deaths. One of those who fell victim to such an attack in the final days of the war was a young German soldier named Adolf Hitler.

Of the horror and carnage of the war, a young Frenchman, Second Lieutenant Alfred Joubaire, wrote in his diary ; “Humanity is mad! It must be mad to do what it is doing. What a massacre. What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to translate my impressions. Hell cannot be so terrible! Men are mad!” A short time later Jobaire became a statistic of the carnage he wrote of.

The Armistice of November 11, 1918 would hold. What was touted as, “the war to end all wars”, was now history. But there was still a matter of an official treaty. After much debate and bickering among the victorious countries the verdict was pronounced and the treaty signed on June 28,1919. Known as the Treaty of Versailles, it placed the blame for World War I squarely on the shoulders of Germany. A world stunned by the cost of the war in lives and resources coldly demanded retribution. 

As punishment Germany was stripped of large portions of its lands and resources, as well as its military, both present and future. Left humiliated and impoverished Germany was ripe soil for a leader such as Adolf Hitler to ascend to power by offering the German people hope that their beloved country could rise from the ashes and regain its former glory. 

We, of course, know the rest of the story. The “war to end all wars”, only planted the seeds for another war, a war that would dwarf World War I in every category. Furthermore,  it would take but one generation, a mere 20 years, for the world to be back on the same battlegrounds in addition to new ones in remote places on every corner of the planet.

One year after the Armistice took effect that ended the hostilities of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson will issued a proclamation to make November 11th each year a day to remember the end of that war and to honor those who fought it. “Armistice Day” as it was originally designated, would eventually become a legal American holiday as well as a time each year to honor American veterans of all wars.

On this Veterans Day we need to be reminded of the cost of the freedoms we enjoy and the sacrifice and service of those who fought to preserve them. Today we honor those Americans, each and every one who has served in our armed forces and have stood on the wall for freedom.

We would do well to pause to reflect and remember these men and women who have donned the uniforms and taken up arms, placing their lives in harm’s way for the sake of freedom, both ours and our neighbors who cannot defend themselves.

We must never forget the sacrifice and service of these Americans.  To do so is to set us on a dangerous path of neglect and indifference sure to seal a terrible fate for the freedoms we enjoy as well as endangering the very independence and sovereignty of our great nation.

A Wish Granted 

Rick Riscorla found himself facing one of those life challenges that sooner or later find us all. He had been diagnosed with cancer. Still a young and energetic man of 60, Riscorla didn’t like the prospects of losing his life in a gradual battle of attrition to the disease. This was not the way he wanted to go. 

Riscorla was a “man’s man”. Born in England he had been a record setting shot-putter in high school as well as an avid boxer. He served in the Parachute Regiment of the British army, then as an officer on the London police force.  He had grown up idolizing the United States military, so left London for the U.S. where he ultimately enlisted in the Army. As a platoon leader in the newly formed airborne Cavalry, Riscorla saw action and distinguished himself in the famous battle of the Ia Drang Valley in the early stages of the Vietnam War. 

Known to his men as “Hard Core” and to his commander, Lieutenant General Hal Moore as “the best platoon leader I ever saw”, Riscorla garnered a Silver Star, Bronze Star, Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart, and Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

Now, as the new millenium began, he found himself facing a prospect almost unimaginable for a man of his intense passion and adventure. He didn’t fear the cancer. He only feared that the cancer would dictate his exit from life in a way so foreign to the way he had lived. 

“Look at us”, he wrote a friend, “We should have died performing some great deed—go out in a blaze of glory, not end up with someone spoon-feeding us and changing our (diapers).”

He fought the cancer into remission after being told in 1998 that he had but six months to live. He continued his work as the head of security for Dean Witter and Morgan Stanley, headquartered in the World Trade Center. Everyone who worked there knew Rick Riscorla. Following the terrorist attack of 1993, he told anyone who listened that “they” (the terrorists) would be back. He planned for it. He developed a procedure for getting all the employees he was responsible for out of the building as quickly and as orderly as possible. He ran drill after drill after drill to make sure they understood the routine. 

On September 11, 2001, all the planning and training and drilling paid off. As the Twin Towers burned in the aftermath of the devastating terrorist attacks, Riscorla provided guidance, inspiration, and quiet, steady leadership in getting his people to safety. Confident he had everyone out, Riscorla returned to the burning building and was last seen on the 10th floor still leading, still comforting, still inspiring. Almost prophetically, he died as he had wished; performing a great deed. In all, over 3000 people died in the attacks of that day, yet only 6 of the 2700 in Rick Riscorla’s care perished. 

The life and philosophy of men like Rick Riscorla could best be described in a poem by Jack London; 

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

As I am often reminded, there are things worse than death. Living with no grace, no purpose, and no passion is one of them. Rick Riscorla knew that. So he lived life with grace. He lived life with passion. He lived life with purpose.

And he died the same way. 

On Baseball: Why I love--and have always loved--the game 

I love baseball.  I played the game almost every single day of every single summer when I was a kid.  When I wasn’t playing baseball I was watching it.  Every Saturday I sat transfixed in front of our black and white TV set watching the NBC Game of the Week with Pee Wee Reese and Dizzy Dean.  On weeknights I would sit with my ear to our big upright console radio and listen to the games, especially when my beloved New York Yankees played the Chicago White Sox.  With paper and pencil in hand I would keep score, taking in every word of every second of the broadcast. 

Winters, though filled with some other childhood pursuits, were long and grew longer with each passing day in the anticipation of the coming baseball season. 

I understood what baseball legend Rogers Hornsby meant when he said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball.  I'll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.” 

Did I mention the New York Yankees?  I was a fan of the Yankees, the real Yankees.  The Yankees of the late 50s and early 60s.  The Yankees of Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.  The Yankees of Bobby Richardson and Tony Kubek.  The Yankees of Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford.  The Yankees of Elston Howard and Clete Boyer.  Man, I loved those Yankees. 

My grandfather took me to Chicago’s Comiskey Park on a hot, sunny, Saturday afternoon in 1961 to see the Yankees and White Sox battle it out.  Mantle and Maris were in the midst of that amazing home run derby season when Maris would ultimately smack 61 round trippers to break the “unbreakable” record that Babe Ruth had held. Seeing my heroes in person in old Comiskey is a magical memory I will cherish all the way to my grave. 

Yes, I love baseball.  I love it because it has something most other sports lack.  It sets its own pace.  There is no clock to rush the game along.  It can be short or it can be long.  The game determines its own length. 

I love baseball because it has grace.  In my opinion there is nothing as beautiful and intricate as a ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded and everyone – I mean everyone – moving to their designated spot to take a relay throw or back up a base or home plate.  It is ballet on a stage of dirt and grass. 

There is elegance in the cat-and-mouse game that gets played between pitchers and hitters, and pitchers and base runners.  There is strategy in play on every pitch, to every batter, in every inning. 

Mostly, I love baseball because it is still the same game I watched as a kid some 50 years ago.  Sure, the parks and the names have changed.  Today there is the ever present talk of drugs and trades and contract disputes, but in the end all those things are discussions for the newspapers and locker rooms and the nightly ESPN broadcast. 

Between the lines baseball remains the same graceful, elegant game of my youth.  Between the lines lies a true “field of dreams” for many young boys today just as it was for me so many years ago.  Every dusty playground diamond is Wrigley Field or Yankee Stadium and every pick-up game is the seventh game of the World Series. 

I love baseball because when it is played as it should be played it is a microcosm of how life should be lived.  It is a game of grace, purpose, and passion,  and every pitch, every movement and every moment demands and is deserving of our utmost devotion. 

Baseball and life go together like the ballpark and a hot dog.  There is one huge difference between the two, however.  Baseball is played for a season, a few brief but shining months of the year, and a few fleeting hours of the day. 

On the other hand, life is something we are given to live each and every day.  We wake up each morning and choose our path, our attitude, our purpose for that day.  We can waste it or we can delight in it.  We can simply endure it or we can live it with grace, purpose and passion. 

Life is an everyday pick-up game.   In the end, it’s even better than baseball.

When Dreams Die 


Have you ever had a dream die? Most all of us have at some time or another. Perhaps it was the dream of being a professional athlete and that dream crumbled under a college knee injury or more likely from a sudden realization that you simply were not—and would never be—good enough.

Perhaps it was the dream of a life to be spent with that perfect someone that you had finally just met, only to see that dream shattered when you find that your perfect mate doesn’t see you in the same light.

Perhaps it was the dream of building that business you always saw yourself owning , that business that was destined to set the world on its ear and sit up and take notice. Only that dream died, like the others, for any number of possible reasons.

Dreams come in a million different colors and variations and they die in an equally staggering number of different ways.

That a dream we possess struggles and dies a terrible death is not necessarily a tragedy. If we dare to dream we face the likely reality of the death of that dream. The tragedy, however, is to live the rest of our life in mourning that dream, a mourning which robs us of any possibility of dreaming other dreams. And sometimes those dreams will be even greater, even grander, evern more profoundly impacting, than any dream we have previously dreamed. 

There are several things us prospective dreamers need to remember. 

First, if you are afraid of pain, don’t dream. If you can’t face the possibility of seeing your dream die, don’t dream in the first place. The more you dream, the more likely you are to see your dreams die. That is the reality. Face it. Deal with it.

Second, if and when you experience the death of a dream, don’t let the pain of the moment rob you of the invaluable lessons that can be learned in those moments. Stay alert. Keep a clear eye. 

Third, mourn, but only for a set period of time. The loss of a dream, like the loss of any person or possession that we love and value, must be mourned. We must go through the process of letting go. Allow yourself that time. Mourn. Cry. Scream in anger, if necessary. Shout at God a bit. (he understand, by the way).

Then, get up. Pick up the pieces. Clean up. Put a smile on your face. Move on.

Finally, dream the next dream. Songwriter Larry Gatlin penned a wonderful song titled “One Dream Per Customer” in which he asked the question; “Is life a simple matter of one dream per customer, or are we allowed all we dare to dream”. When we are in the midst of dreaming and planning our big dream—THE dream—it is hard for us to imagine and believe that there are more dreams where that came from. There are. Dream again. Yes, you might face another death if you do, but that’s ok. Dream anyway. Never let the death of one dream cause you to abort other dreams that are growing within you.

Dream on, dreamer.   


A Reality Check 

I’ve been through proceedures that placed five stents around my heart. I’ve had back surgery to repair damage done during my carpenter days. I possess a lifetime’s worth of arthritis. I’ve been poked, prodded, and invaded during all those tests my doctor suggested for a “man my age”. Still, nothing—and I mean nothing—has made me feel as old as I’m feeling right now.

I’m using a walker.  A WALKER for pity’s sake!

Granted, it is temporary (hopefully). Nonetheless, I feel every bit of my 69 years plus 20 or so more. 

To be honest, I’ve been pushing a walker for a number of years. You know them as shopping carts. Whether cruising the aisles at Walmart, K-Mart, Kohl’s, Menards, or Lowes, or any store that offers those little four wheel beauties, I grab one when I go in the door.  Somehow I always manage to get the one that has one front wheel aimed 45 degrees off center so I get a bit of extra exercise fighting it through the various departments of the store. Most of the time I actually don’t need the cart for shopping so I simply look as though I have great intentions of buying all sorts of goodies. Sure, I feel a little embarrassed when I approach the check-out stand with my cart and its contents consisting of just a greeting card, but I’m 69. I have no pride. 

Using a walker is just another of those reality checks that come with aging. If you haven’t experienced one yet, just sit tight. Your day is coming. When it does be thankful if the reality check is nothing more than using a walker. There are far, far worse realities. 

So, I’m thankful for my little four wheeled friend. It has been a great help in getting from point A to point B and to points beyond, even if it is a huge pain in the butt (and back) on stairs. Nontheless, I am going to use it to fullest advantage. 

You’re certainly familiar with the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”.  As I said, I’m hopeful my need for the walker is just temporary. That could change. Should the walker become my constant companion, I’m going to make lemonade. I’m going to have fun with it. Mine will be the coolest, most hopped-up, souped-up, snazzy, hip, cool, groovy walker yet to be seen. I envision headlights, tail lights, running lights, a crazy loud eight track player (They’ve gone out of style? Really?). Oh, yes, and turn signals. Not that us old folks ever use them. 

Why not?  It’s just aging. If you can’t fight it, make the best of it. Laugh a lot (when you’re not crying) and make the most of it. 

It’s here to stay.

Another New Year’s Eve 

Many years ago, while still in my 20s, I entered into a business venture with a friend.  We had what we thought was a great idea, we were young and aggressive, and we were confident of our success. With great excitement we dove in.  A few weeks later I stood with my new partner at a New Year’s Eve party.  Shaking hands, we boldly declared that the New Year would most certainly be our year.   

To make a long story short, it was not our year.  In fact, “our year” turned out to be pretty much the same as the previous year.   We discovered the hard way that we were big on dreams but short of the expertise that would be necessary to make our business venture a success.  In spite of our bold New Year’s Resolution, our venture failed.

The passing of a few more years and the gaining of much needed wisdom has taught me a very simple lesson; dreams are never accomplished simply by changing the calendar or turning the clock.

Countless millions of people will charge into January 2019 with renewed resolve, hoping to turn their dreams into reality.  Some of these boldly stated resolutions will be big, such as business ventures or professional challenges.  Others will be less dramatic but no less noble, such as losing weight or living on a budget.

Even armed with these new dreams and resolutions, and motivated by a new date on the calendar, an overwhelming percentage of these dreamers will fail in the pursuit.  2019 will produce no special magic that will make dreams come true and resolutions reality. 

Have you made one or several New Year’s Resolutions?  Have you taken any steps to assure their success?

            Those who wish to live life with grace, purpose and passion are resolution makers. They regularly make resolutions and set goals. They plan and prepare to succeed. They don’t confine the process to just New Year’s Eve but it is a part of their regular, 12 month a year, every day existence.

            Like them, your resolutions can succeed.  It will take more than wishful thinking and changing the calendar, however.

            Here are a few general tips to help you follow through on your resolutions for 2019.

            First, make your resolutions clear and specific. To say you are going to “lose some weight”, for example, just isn’t good enough.  How much weight?  Set a reasonable, achievable goal, but don’t make it too easy.  You need to be stretched.

            Next, put your resolution in writing.  Make several copies.  Keep it posted where you can see it and where it will do the most good. Be reminded of your resolution daily.

            Third, draw up a plan.  Like your stated resolution write out your step by step program for success.  Decide how you are going to achieve your goal and set some measurable benchmarks for various points along the journey.

            Fourth, enlist a friend or two.  Accountability is crucial to accomplishing any goal we seek. Answering tough questions from a trusted friend about your progress often means the difference between success and failure.

Last, but not least, start and don’t stop.  Get moving today with the determination that nothing will stop you on your journey.

2019 doesn’t have to be just another year, just a repeat of 2018. Set some resolutions and follow these general steps to accomplish them and 2019 might very well be everything you desire it to be. 

Missing Things 

When the father of lyric writer Larry Hart (of Rodgers and Hart fame) was dying he called his boys alongside and told them, “Don’t grieve for me…I haven’t missed a thing.” 

I love that quote. It reminds me that life is simply what we make of it. It is up to us to “grab all the gusto we can”, as the old beer commercial said.

Is it, however, really possible? Is it really possible to go through a life of 6, 7, 8 or more decades and not miss some wonderful experiences or opportunities? I highly doubt it. Still, to be able to exit this stage and feel like you’ve grabbed as much of life as possible is a noble pursuit.

At age 68 I’m fully aware that I missed some things. Sometimes I missed them because I was blind to them. I simply wasn’t looking in the right direction as they passed me by. I only saw them in the rear view mirror.

Sometimes I missed them because they were too grand or too risky. I grew fearful and hesitant. I held so tightly to what I had—and sometimes that wasn’t much by comparison—that I couldn’t loosen my grip to grab hold of an even greater thing.

Most of all, I was simply busy trying to live life. I was just getting by but that took all my time and energy. At least that was my excuse. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”  My wife and I raised 5 sons and pastored two churches. We invested time in our friends and our communities. I have no regrets for those choices. They were good and noble and right.

In the end you grab as much you can but do so knowing you can’t grab it all. Should you try you will probably find you never grab anything fully. You may also find that the most important things slip through your hands while you are busy chasing dreams and rainbows.

I have no serious regrets about my life. I won’t spend my time gazing in the rear view mirror at the what could have been. Instead, I can look at what was, what is, and what is still to be with a sense of gratitude and excitement.

Besides, If I keep my eyes open, if I overcome a bit of fear, and become a little more determined to seek and live my dreams, who knows?  There just might be—no, there will be—some great dreams and opportunities in the days and years ahead. 

And, yes, I do believe the best is yet to come.