Building Community (Part Two) 10/08/11 through 10/11/11

I’m compiling the timeline of my tweets on the topic of building community, in order to capture the thread of my thoughts for you to read in this series of blog postings! ¬†ūüôā Cheers, Mark @livelovethinkex

10/08/11 – “community must dedicate…time…resources to..cause” Local program cuts youth drinking, violence: study – Yahoo! News http://yhoo.it/nVzwVP¬†

10/08/11 – ¬†Everyplace is special in its own right…people, language, culture, custom, tradition, geography and climate…all blend to create…beauty!

10/08/11 – ¬†We work to build a peaceful world…so the beauty of people and places can be seen and enjoyed by everyone…what could be more vital today?

10/09/11 –¬†Society has gone terribly wrong…when CEOs take away millions for doing a lousy job…and the masses…can’t even find minimum wage jobs…

10/09/11 –¬†Live your life with love and compassion for all hearts…no matter who they are, how they are or where they are…and know, you have lived.

10/09/11 –¬†To love everyone with compassion, empathy and understanding…as Jesus taught us to do…challenges everything I see, know and understand…

10/09/11 – If I do nothing but love in this life…with caring, kindness, gentleness and understanding…I will know I have done done my best, to live.¬†¬†

10/09/11 –¬†Life is too short not to try everything our hearts dream of doing…for to have tried is to live…and living is all we can ask for in life!

10/09/11 –¬†If your heart leads you to go beyond your imagination…to do the impossible, follow it anyway…it’s only impossible, until you’ve done it.

10/09/11 –¬†To love everyone is difficult…because while my heart understands…my mind doesn’t…all my mind sees…are the problems of the world…

10/09/11 –¬†My heart follows the passions of love…and overrules my mind…so perhaps by the end of my days…I will have taught my mind to truly love.

10/09/11 –¬†I don’t live in an Ivory Tower…or in La La Land…my life is not all Peaches and Cream…but I committed to loving you…and the world…

10/09/11 –¬†Despite my faults and failures, it’s Jesus’ saving grace…that allows me to love you all unconditionally, for He taught my heart to love…

10/10/11 –¬†Good morning all! Live with authenticity…reach out without a safety net…be the person you dream you can be…fully present, in today! ūüôā

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†If everyone comes together, to love and support one another…so everyone succeeds…we can solve all the problems of the world!

10/10/11 –¬†God has allowed thorns in my side…so I would go beyond hypocrisy and lip service…to know what it really means…to love everyone…

10/10/11 –¬†My earliest memory started me on a journey of discovery…of understanding, empathy, diversity and tolerance…a journey lasting a lifetime.

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†Thanks Tzadhiqua! All we need is love…to change the world…one heart at a time. Enjoy your beautiful Maui! ūüôā Cheers, Mark

10/10/11 –¬†@LindaBorgen¬†Thanks Sis! ūüôā Imagine how beautiful our world would be, if we walked in faith…and always reached out to one another in love!

10/10/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†Saundra, I’ll always support diversity, tolerance and understanding, because there is no other way to live Truth and love! ūüôā

10/10/11 –¬†@Tzadhiqua¬†Thank you for your reply Tzadhiqua…if we all focus on love…the world can become the beautiful oasis…we know it can be! ūüôā

10/11/11 –¬†Good morning all! ūüôā Today’s word is diversity…we are all beautifully unique, individually and wonderfully made by God…celebrate You! ūüôā

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†Society is experiencing a perfect storm of abundance, shortage, excess, waste, debt, privilege, want, need and incompetence…

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†The center is losing ground and finally finding their voice, as they cling to middle class…threatened daily, with poverty…

10/11/11 – @living4bliss¬†The divide grows in society between the “haves” and the “have nots”…between luxury and poverty…and people are suffering…¬†

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†In the midst of scarcity and suffering…we must remember our humanness…tolerance, understanding, caring and love…for all.

10/11/11 –¬†@living4bliss¬†We need to celebrate diversity, alleviate suffering, promote tolerance, encourage understanding…and truly love one another.

10/11/11 –¬†The very concept of building community requires a desire for everyone to win…it’s not what can I get…it’s how do we all gain together…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community requires that everyone have a voice…from the developer, city council member…to the homeless person on the streets…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community has to be organic and locally derived, within context, history, culture and geography…it can’t be imposed on anyone…

10/11/11 –¬†Building community is like writing music…using rhyme, verse, metre, improvvisato and harmony…to create a symphony out of people’s lives.

10/11/11 –¬†Community is a cultural and social essence, an atmosphere of sweetness, romance, excitement…of place, setting, mood, spirit and enjoyment.

10/11/11 –¬†It is the very essence and atmosphere of community…the romance of people, place and setting…that brings films and novels…to life…

10/11/11 –¬†Community weaves lives, stories, hopes, dreams, ambitions, failures and romance together…creating the texture and fabric…of our lives…

10/11/11 –¬†E pluribus unum “Out of many, one” defines community…a sum greater than its parts…of lives, infrastructure, inspiration and cooperation.

10/11/11 –¬†Celebrate people, not wealth…opportunity, not barriers…potential, not limitation…ideas, not ideology…understanding, not opposition.

10/11/11 –¬†Each and every person is valuable and precious…and should have every opportunity…to be themselves, excel in life and live their dreams.

10/11/11 –¬†Step out of your paradigm and look through the lens and perspective of love…without ideology or labels…to see everyone’s individuality.

10/11/11 –¬†To celebrate our humanity…without ideology…is the essence of what it means to fully live…as the unique, diverse family of mankind…

10/11/11 –¬†Strip away pretense and appearances…image and status…ease and comfort…to be just as we are…vulnerable, weak and precious…to God…

Building Community (Part One) 10/04/11 through 10/08/11

I’ve compiled the timeline so far of my tweets on the topic of building community, in order to capture the thread of my thoughts! ūüôā Cheers, Mark @livelovethinkex

10/04/11 – If we can build a community of loving hearts on twitter…why can’t we extend that to the entire world? The only thing lacking is effort…

10/05/11 – How can we create an ideal community where everyone belongs and no one is left behind…yet maintain all the social freedoms we enjoy today?

10/05/11 –¬†I like to ponder things and find solutions to problems…no one should have to draw the short stick in a free, open and democratic society.

10/05/11 –¬†So tonight, I begin to consider ways to build a better world…within the context of a free and democratic society…where everyone wins…

10/05/11 –¬†My technique is to throw ideas on the table…as I’m inspired to think of them over time…removing them only once they’ve been ruled out…

10/05/11 –¬†Tonight I only consider a few points…my sense of community relates to cities, large or small…and change must be generated from within.

10/05/11 –¬†Government is the most inefficient and costly way to generate change…instead change must be cooperative and community based to be viable.

10/05/11 –¬†The entire community needs to buy into change and have skin in the game…rich and poor, young and old alike…to build a better community.

10/05/11 –¬†What does change look like? Change is defined by a community…by laying out a blueprint for everyone’s success within an ideal environment.

10/05/11 –¬†Imagine a city bidding for the Olympic Games…and instead turning the focus into building community…a framework for change, from within.

10/05/11 –¬†Next time I’ll consider the framework…a blueprint for making change happen…where everyone buys into a concept…so everyone is a winner.

10/07/11 –¬†To build community in an open and transparent process…everyone needs a seat at the table…to be represented and have their voice heard…

10/07/11 –¬†The process of building community…is by definition a validation of cooperation…of getting along with one another…so everyone wins…

10/07/11 –¬†Building community is actually creating an environment…like a marketplace…where everyone can go about the process of living together…

10/07/11 –¬†For community to work and gel…it has to be inclusive, organic, creative, beautiful, inspiring, uplifting, exhilarating, exciting and fun!

10/08/11 –¬†Building community is an investment in hearts, lives, hope, understanding, opportunity, potential, talent and love…for a better tomorrow!

10/08/11 –¬†A community is a bonding of hearts…through infrastructure, atmosphere, support, encouragement and opportunity…for everyone’s benefit…

10/08/11 –¬†I love the idea of community…because I’ve so rarely experienced it…only my Seattle years in ’77-79…gave me a feeling of belonging…

10/08/11 –¬†I’ve visited many of the world’s greatest cities…London, Paris, NYC…I’ve never been part of them, but felt a connection to all of them.

10/08/11 –¬†So in my ponderings…I hope to outline a concept of community…to help people feel they belong…wherever they find themselves in life…

10/08/11 – It’s been serendipity for me, to have found and enjoyed a sense of community through twitter and Klove.com, my thanks to all of you! ūüôā Mark

The Bag of Knowledge

I recently sent a card to my Second Grade teacher, Mrs. Shelley, who wrote back with an interesting comment that speaks to the very heart of this blog of mine. ¬†She said of our class, “I remember how everyone loved the imaginary ‘Bag of Knowledge’ that everyone brought and we filled with new words and knowledge every day!”

In the Air Force flying fighters, we carried with us to the jet a small ‘Pubs Bag’ that carried our charts and enroute publications like approach and departure plates – allowing us to fly any published approach or departure to a strange airfield during our sortie in case of an emergency. Every aviator always had their own imaginary ‘Clue Bag’ as well, which we filled with every bit of knowledge, war story, close call and bit of practical experience to call upon when facing a new and demanding situation that we may have never faced before – which was very instrumental in determining if we would be home for dinner or not on any given day.

While this blog of mine may not be much more than a first draft account of my life and experiences, subject to revision someday by someone much more talented in the art of writing than I am; it is essentially the same ‘Bag of Knowledge’ or ‘Clue Bag’ that I’ve carried with me ever since Second Grade – filling it with my life’s experiences for better or worse – that you can read and ‘go to school on.’ ¬†I say this because as much as life changes, it also stays the same. ¬†Eternal truths remain constant even though technology and lifestyle changes transform society at an ever increasing pace.

I often wished as a child that I had someone to tell me stories about the world, about adventures and travels, about hardships and close calls – but that really wasn’t to be. Most of all that I know, I’ve experienced first hand in the ‘School of Hard Knocks.’ Perhaps I would have been more successful had I been able to know more about the world from someone else’s trials and tribulations, but when I look in the mirror I know that I earned every wrinkle and gray hair – and wouldn’t have done it any other way.

In Jonathan’s Dream, I wrote about the fictional character of Dave Spencer, or ‘Gramps’ to young Jonathan – his mysterious grandfather that visited occasionally without notice to tell stories of his adventurous travels to the far flung corners of the globe. ¬†In a way, I play both roles in Jonathan’s Dream – the young Jonathan who yearns for adventure and finds himself in more of an adventure than he ever asked for – and Gramps – telling stories of his travels around the world and explaining life to his young grandson. ¬†Perhaps someday young children will read the accounts of my life long after I’m gone, and dream of leaving on an adventure of their own some day.

Because if the day ever comes when young children – boys and girls – stop dreaming of adventure and what lies beyond the horizon, then society and the world will have lost a special part of what makes us all human. ¬†Not everyone wants to go explore the world, but we all want to know that someone, somewhere is out there exploring our world – because it is possible to live our adventures through others if we choose. ¬†So whether it is reading about Bilbo and Frodo setting out on great adventures from the Shire, or Gramps recounting his travels down the Amazon, or my bicycle trip and adventure around America – we can all take an adventure together – and bring with us our ‘Bag of Knowledge’ and ‘Clue Bag’ to fill with our experiences.

Because someday, perhaps a child who has not yet been born will read about our adventures through life together, and based on our experiences fill his or her own ‘Bag of Knowledge’ and set out on their own adventures in life – and we will in our own small way have been a part of their adventures too…just like my Second Grade teacher has been a part of mine. ¬†ūüôā

Cheers,

Mark

Believe in Miracles – I do…

I’m jumping a little ahead¬†of my storyline here to tell you about the fact that I believe in¬†miracles – and would like for you to believe in them too.¬† Some people think that because the miracles of the Old and New Testament don’t seem to happen every day in our time –¬†that miracles no longer happen and everything is the outcome of the scientific process or luck.¬†¬† If you look around you –¬†starting with looking in the mirror –¬†the fact that we are beautifully made (not in the Hollywood sense but in actual flesh and blood), and exist on this perfect oasis of life that we call Earth as it speeds through a vast and unlimited universe; should be enough to see the miracle of¬†life itself¬†in a vast and wondrous universe.

During the early years of our marriage my wife and I had a lot of external stress that made life very difficult for us.  So I started an exercise that was born out of necessity, as a way to keep our heads above water when the odds were stacked against us and we needed to focus our efforts as a team to stay positive.  The exercise was a simple one РI took out a legal pad of paper and started writing down all the miracles that had happened in our lives Рand continued to do so over the next few years until I filled up so many pages that I was amazed by the reality of what was a miraculous life.

As a result of my exercise I stopped writing down our miracles and opened my eyes to see and appreciate in real-time what God was doing in my life and the lives of the people around me.  In all of my travels and adventures around the world, the fact that God has taken care of and protected me from harm is miraculous enough for me to believe in miracles; and the only time I was ever injured Рwas when I sliced the tendon on my finger due to my own self-pride that I was solely responsible for.  There was the time when I was eighteen years old (the legal drinking age in Michigan at the time) and drank 21 shots of rum in an hour and a half Рwhen by all rights I should have been dead through alcohol poisoning; but God had plans for me instead and allowed me the privilege of waking up the next day Рand since then every day of my life has been a bonus. 

The reason God had plans for me had nothing to do with me individually; but His purpose focused¬†on the¬†people who my life would have a unique opportunity to touch.¬† For example, time was running and David was waiting to be born – but I was in Grand Blanc,¬†Michigan and my future wife was in a little village in Germany called Bruch.¬† The Lord put a wanderlust into my heart – bicycling around¬†America and¬†Europe in a search for adventure before joining the Air Force; and¬†before the sun set on my first day in Germany¬†I was¬†invited into the home of my future wife’s family.¬† Just over two years later we were married, and¬†a year¬†afterwards David was born.¬† The¬†fact that David¬†was born was against all odds – especially with everything we had to overcome – and for¬†us¬†it is a miracle he’s here.¬†

God wanted me Рalong with millions of others Рto protect the lives of the people in Western Europe during the Cold War, and offer hope for millions more that were trapped behind the Iron Curtain.  God also wanted me to help Рalong with literally millions of others Рgive the country of Kuwait back to the people who it rightfully belonged to.  In addition, the lives of F-16 pilots and their families needed my best efforts as the Wing Electronic Combat Officer to help ensure everyone came home safely.   

But the reason for this article is not to recap the miraculous events that have occurred to me; like the time¬†flying at Green Flag out of Nellis AFB in the F-4E when our aircraft was¬†doing a ridge crossing at low-level – and inverted at the crest of the ridge¬†–¬†when an F-15¬†from the opposite direction came so close to us at high-speed that I could have reached out and touched it as it flashed by…just feet away.¬† Later I asked my pilot Woody how close we had come to hitting it in a mid-air collision –¬†and he said, “you don’t want to know.”

What I do want to discuss¬†here are¬†two very specific miracles in my life that occurred to me¬†in¬†the time leading up to my assignment at Ramstein Air Base (AB), Germany.¬† The reason for this is because time is short and life is so uncertain – that if you are reading¬†my blog and don’t believe in miracles – I want to offer you my story as a way for you to realize that¬†Christ is actively at work in our world this very moment¬†in time; and all you have to do is trust and believe in Him and you too will be able to see the miracles in your life that happen every day in the world all around you.

During the air war portion of the Gulf War, I was in a supporting role as a Wing Electronic Combat Officer, when my Director of Operations walked up to me and said the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) had a two-seat F-16D that they had just put back together Рand I should go fly with them.  The conversation came completely out of the blue and I had no idea this was going to happen.  I had brought my flight gear with me just in case such a situation would happen or in case my equipment could be used as a spare for someone else.  I was a trained fighter Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) and this was my profession.

I had every reason not to go: I was not “Mission Ready”¬†in the F-16 as a WSO, although I had a good bit of experience in the jet.¬† Also, I hadn’t flown since April 1990 when I cut my tendon on Weapons Training Deployment (WTD) with the 10th TFS at Zaragoza, Spain.¬† It was now January 1991, and the air war¬†was well underway –¬†and it was about¬†a week¬†prior to the start of the ground war.¬† I couldn’t say no to the offer and was packed and aboard a C-130 –¬†stopping at¬†every location along the Persian¬†Gulf –¬†prior to landing at¬†my destination.

I finally arrived at the base where the 614th TFS was deployed and checked into their¬†tent city, but nothing had been prepared for me and there was, “no room¬†at the inn;” so I had to go “downtown” and stay in the most exclusive hotel that I¬†had ever seen.¬† I walked into the hotel wearing my flight suit and carrying¬†a canvas¬†bag containing my flight gear and saw a gold filled lobby with the largest chandeliers I had ever seen – and Sheiks in their finest robes.¬† No one paid any attention to me as I walked through the lobby and took the elevator to¬†about the fifth floor – where my room overlooked a beautiful¬†marina filled with expensive private yachts.¬† The next day this “dream” burst its bubble as I was given a tent in the tent city to share.

Later in the day, the 614th TFS picked me up and took me to the building they were staying in; where I shared a room with a couple of other F-16 pilots.  The building the squadron was staying in was a small multi-story concrete dorm building with an open courtyard in the middle.  The pilots were flying combat missions around the clock and the squadron commander took me aside and talked with me for an hour or so in the open courtyard, where we discussed the war, Electronic Combat and our experiences at my other base.  On my two missions I sequenced in with the combat camera guys who were at the time documenting the air war from the back seat of the F-16D Рand my first mission was on the day prior to the start of the ground war.

My pilot was a Fighter Weapons School Major who could have played middle linebacker in college.¬† In the days leading up to that first mission, I have never prayed to God as hard or sincerely as I did then – and promised Him that if He would allow me to return home in one piece after this war that I would do His will – whatever He called me to do following the war.¬† That mission turned out to be the most eye-opening experience of my entire life, and I had never been in a jet that did the things my pilot did with that aircraft that day.¬† I have always been impressed by the skills that a pilot uses every day in the cockpit – especially fighter pilots…and single-seat F-16 pilots¬†in particular; but this pilot was simply unbelievable – and brought both of us back home in one piece – which¬†was a miracle in and of itself.

My second mission was with another Major as my pilot, on the day after the ground war started.¬† The weather was¬†terrible and our advancing forces were moving so quickly across the desert below us that it was a textbook case of the “fog of war” – but the intensity of the mission for me was nothing like¬†on my first combat flight.¬†¬†Shortly after the second flight as I was standing¬†at the¬†Duty Desk, we¬†received the news that¬†a ceasefire had been called by President Bush – and¬†shortly afterwards I returned to my original base – and was on my way home (which is another story…) on March 15, 1991, ¬†to prepare for my pending Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to RAF Upper Heyford, UK.

The point that I remember most vividly though, was¬†a seemingly offhand¬†remark that¬†our wingman made during the Intel Debrief concerning our aircraft as he followed us on¬†our first mission unscathed over the target –¬†twice.¬†¬†His comment¬†(which I won’t go into here…) literally took my breath away hearing it.¬† I was completely unaware of the fact during the flight, and at that moment I knew the protective hand of God¬†had been¬†around¬†our jet; and that He delivered me and so many others¬†in a very short time to return home to our families.

Unbeknownst to me, a year and a half later as I received my orders to Ramstein AB, the squadron commander of the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron that I had flown with during the Gulf War received orders as well to become the Operations Group Commander of the 86th Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany.  God was working behind the scenes to put people in place to help me, which was another miracle in and of itself.

After my arrival at Ramstein AB,¬†the new Operations Group Commander¬†called me into his office and told me that he wanted to be able to recommend me for promotion to major, but that he’d have to¬†have something to write about me.¬† So he gave me every job under the sun: 86th Wing Electronic Combat Officer, 86th Operations Group Inspector General, 86th Operations Group Quality Program Officer (when no Quality Program yet existed and I had to write my own), and a number of other¬†important tactical combat related positions.

It was¬†March 1993, and I only had about seven months at best before the¬†paperwork for the¬†December promotion board¬†needed to be completed – which¬†didn’t leave¬†me much time.¬† Also arriving at Ramstein AB from Hahn AB at the time was another senior F-16 pilot I knew, that would¬†take the position of¬†86th Wing Vice Commander – and it was his signature on¬†my “Definitely Promote” recommendation that left Ramstein AB for the promotion board.

I had been worried about my chances on the next promotion board, but somehow I knew that God would take care of me and my family.¬† Behind the scenes He was moving people around the world in¬†preparation for His taking care of me, which still required¬†my efforts to do the jobs that I had been given – but God set the¬†stage that made for my ultimate success and promotion…and all I needed to do is trust in Him.¬† Was it a miracle that I was promoted?¬† I know it was and have never doubted miracles after that time.¬† In fact, I look for¬†miracles around every corner on every day of my life now.¬† And my pledge to God to do His will?¬† I wait upon the Lord as I attempt to do the best that I can for Him each and every day.

After¬†my selection¬†for major¬†I began writing my autobiography¬†in January of 1994, and if this blog becomes a vehicle that He can use for good in the world…then let His will be done.¬† I place St. Martin’s Cloak Foundation for Peace through Love at the foot of the cross – and if God so desires that this becomes the vehicle for me to do His will – then it will be done according to His timeline¬†– and will¬†happen because He wills it to be so.¬† In the meantime, I will trust in and wait on the Lord in all things.¬† Amen.

Mark

Following Your Heart’s Desires

(Updated on July 11, 2010)

Today I was distracted by my thoughts for awhile and took a trip to the world of my, “Heart’s Desires.”¬† This is a place¬†where I often dwell, sometimes for only a moment¬†and other times I linger¬†there for longer; never knowing when I‚Äôll have the opportunity to return – or to even someday move to the land of my heart’s desires.¬† For you see, this isn’t just some imaginary place that has no relation to reality – I have had a lot of experience in my life with dreams – and with making my dreams come true.¬† Perhaps it is my unique approach that has allowed many of my dreams to come true; but whatever it is that has helped me to accomplish my dreams –¬†I would like to say “thank you” to everyone that helped me along the way –¬†and to God¬†for allowing¬†my dreams¬†to come true.

So today I thought I’d share with you a little about my approach to dreams and to following your heart’s desires.¬† First of all, the dreams that I dreamed were my very¬†own dreams, that were part of¬†the very fabric of my being that I was very passionate about.¬† The first aspect of following your dreams is that¬†they have to be real and authentic – not borrowed from someone else or just tried on for size.¬† My success is primarily the result of not knowing any better, because I really believed that¬†if I decided that I wanted to accomplish something –¬†I could.¬† No questions asked.¬† I had no idea how I would accomplish my dreams, but I just set out to accomplish them anyway.¬† Anyone else would have said that I was foolish, that it couldn’t be done and I’d fall flat on my face – and plenty of people thought and said exactly that.¬† Remember, it’s your dream and your heart’s desire – and despite the odds and the naysayers, if you¬†really desire¬†to do something –¬†you can accomplish it.¬† I avoided failure for the most part because I didn’t know any better…I just figured it would work out somehow – and it did.

Perhaps a few examples will illustrate my own experience.¬† In Junior High School I decided that I wanted to be a Vet.¬† When I was rejected by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University years later –¬†I thought that I had failed.¬† Yet close to 20 years after failing to get into Vet School, I suddenly realized that I had indeed become a Vet – a Veteran of the Persian Gulf War.¬† What I hadn’t done¬†during the course of my life¬†was to complete the picture of what success in this case – becoming a Vet – would actually look like.¬† My success in becoming a Vet in this manner was more rewarding for me than¬†getting into Vet School ever could have been.

Another example is that as a¬†teenager I wanted to live a life of adventure.¬† I didn’t know how, where or what…or how¬†I could possibly afford it; but it was my heart’s desire and looking back I’ve had all the adventure and more than I ever dreamed of.¬† Plenty of people thought my adventures were foolish and told me so – but they were my desires – so how could they know?¬† So I just did them.¬† I wanted to bicycle around the country and left with Bruce and¬†a little money and just headed out into the great unknown without a safety net.¬†¬†Almost a year¬†and 8,000 miles later, we had¬†accomplished our adventure¬†and done what we set out to do.¬† I flew to England on an “open return” ticket to bicycle around the U.K. and Europe and just did it – not having a clue how it would turn out.¬†¬†As¬†just a regular guy standing on the sidewalk¬†I wanted to fly the F-4 and threw caution to the wind and joined the Air Force.¬† Not only did I fly the F-4D/E/G but also the F-111E/G and the F-16D.¬† The patch I designed in Nav School said, “To Boldly Go Where No Nav Has Gone Before” – and that’s what I accomplished because I didn’t know that I couldn’t – I just did it bit-by-bit over 20 years.¬† Some dreams take a while to accomplish, and only after chipping away at the edges do you discover – years¬†later – that what you set out to do earlier you actually accomplished.¬† I had forgotten that patch I designed, and it was when I scanned it for the blog that it struck me…what I had designed into that patch – was what I had succeeded in accomplishing.

I wanted to be a songwriter and ended up writing over two hundred copyrighted songs.¬† I accomplished my goal and am very proud of them.¬† It was my goal and I did what I had set out to do – not knowing if I would write a few or many – I just started writing songs.¬† I¬†also wanted to write stories and ended up writing my autobiography.¬† People said, “You’re not famous – how can you have an autobiography at the age of 38?”¬† I wanted to write, and I had something to say – so I just¬†wrote my story.¬† It was my goal and my accomplishment…and I didn’t ask anyone’s permission to do it.¬† It¬†may not be published and for sale in a book store, but now it’s on the internet and anyone, anywhere in the world can read it – for free!¬† At least once I finish posting all of it.¬† I wanted to take photographs and now I’m posting¬†thousands of my own photos on the internet for free.¬† I¬†don’t look to make money off of anything, but¬†only to share my story for anyone that’s interested to read it.¬† The point is that if you have a goal or a desire of your heart – just follow it and enjoy the journey.¬† You don’t have to know or understand how you will¬†accomplish it; but after putting one foot in front of the other¬†for a while you will someday look¬†back over your shoulder and see that you’ve come a¬†long way toward accomplishing your dream.¬† My wife and I had to overcome some significant obstacles to get married, and despite those hurdles we’ve succeeded for the past 24 years…and our son is proof positive that it was the best decision we’ve ever made.¬† We just did it regardless of the problems that lay ahead ‚Äď for better…or for worse ‚Äď and succeeded.¬† It was our dream and our goal…and we have lived it and loved it.

The point of it all is that in order to accomplish your dreams and the desires of your heart, you have to have a “childlike heart” and simply not listen to anyone that says you can’t do something.¬† You don’t have to know when or how, but just make the decision and go forward with an innocence and belief that anything is possible; and live life without a safety net.¬†¬†Don’t accept no for an answer and simply attack the same issue from a different angle or a different perspective.¬† Trust in your beliefs and the desires of your heart, and one day you’ll find that your dreams have indeed come true.¬† It may have been through your own efforts, through someone else’s help and assistance – or through God’s¬†Will that it be done – or most likely all of the above.

Here is what God said to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1 in the New International Version of the Bible (quote used by permission):

“7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

8 Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. 9 Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

11 God said to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.””

God does know the desires of your heart and He wants to be able to give them to you; but you also have a role to play that is critical to the outcome.¬† You must search your heart¬†and know that your desires are for all the right reasons and all the right purposes.¬† Only then, after you ponder and pray that God would give you the desires of your heart; do you wait and listen for the answer to be given to you.¬† Since they are your heart’s desires – only you can recognize God’s response to your prayers.¬† Then you must act and follow through with faith that God will provide all that you need – and¬†He is the only safety net you require.

In Christ,

Mark

Pondering the Human Condition and Embracing the Journey

As I ponder the latest twist and turns¬†of my own adventures though life, it seems at moments like these that the biggest challenges we face on a daily basis requires us to confront and overcome¬†“self” and “selfishness” in order to rise above the events of the day.¬† It is so easy to fall into a “Why me?” routine when things don’t work out well, and when they do – we want to keep all the goodness that we can for ourselves and not share with others that are making do with less.

Life doesn’t keep track of winners and losers in the end analysis; as we will all leave this world the same way we entered it – naked and dependant on others for much of what we needed while living life.¬† Yet there is so much temptation to measure up to others, to have as much or more¬†than the next guy and¬†to be able to write a better Christmas letter full of outstanding news throughout the past year.¬† But that isn’t how life works.¬† We have our own individual journey to make with¬†our own unique struggles and joys along the way.¬† It is not possible to compare each other’s lives as if produce in the farmer’s market, because no part of our individual experience and struggles in life can possibly translate directly to someone else’s life or circumstance.

Looking at someone else’s life or situation from the outside has no relationship with “knowing” or “experiencing” that person’s life.¬† What looks idyllic to one may be a personal “hell” to another.¬† The saying, “to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” is perfectly valid, because we don’t know what their struggles are; and¬†even if they share them with us we will never really know the challenges and issues of someone else’s life.¬† We just can’t know.¬† We can‚Äôt share their experience.

Yet people still try to measure their lives against some “ideal” standard template – someone’s perception of what life should look like – as if that was even possible.¬† Magazine covers feature¬†“perfect people” with “perfect lives,” who are “perfectly happy” and setting “perfect goals” to ensure a “perfect future” and a “perfect outcome”…or are they?¬† If we spend our time always looking for reassurance that we¬†are keeping up with the Joneses –¬†or on par with the Smiths; we will miss out on living meaningful lives¬†with purpose and substance centered on¬†those very people in our own lives that¬†should be the focus of both our joy and attention.¬† In the end it isn’t about “us” at all.¬† It’s about everyone around us in a life that we don’t own at all –¬†but merely share with the hearts that journey with us.¬† Hearts going the¬†same way…same day.

So I say to all of you who share my path through life – for a moment or for a lifetime; I’m happy to share this journey together with you, and I hope that¬†at the end of the day we will all have become better people for the shared experience.¬† And the issue that started my pondering?¬† Just the diagnosis this week of an autoimmune chronic skin disorder that isn’t particular fun to have, but I have it none the less. So I’ll add it to my pile of “problems” that I’d like to one day not have to deal with anymore and perhaps¬†after 3 to 5 years¬†of successful treatment it will then just go away.¬† But until then it’s just another part of my personal equation of “positives” and “negatives” that life sends my way…in¬†what I call, “Life, Love and the Human Condition.”

Cheers,

Mark    

The Twelve Days of Christmas, Auld Lang Syne and New Year’s Resolutions

The early morning hours of New Year's Day 2008 in our home.

During Advent and the Christmas season, I love all of the traditional Christmas music that is played this time of year, both on the local “Christmas” radio station and from our own collection at home.¬† The Twelve Days of Christmas ends on January 6th, which is Epiphany or Three King’s¬†Day – the traditional day that marks the arrival of the three Wise Men, or Magi,¬†bringing gifts¬†from afar for the Christ Child – “revealing”¬†Jesus to the world as Lord and King.

The season of Christmas has dual meanings¬†for many, as traditional¬†secular holidays and religious days of observance overlap¬†during the same time frame.¬† Other faiths and traditions also observe this¬†time of the year¬†in special¬†ways as well.¬† While some celebrate in either a secular or religious way, many of us celebrate by respecting both the secular and the religious during the same season.¬† For me, Santa Claus is very real indeed, and I truly believe that anyone can be Santa Claus –¬†on any given day of the year;¬†by giving unexpected gifts¬†that meet someone’s very real need – at the time of that need.

This is a season of celebration, prayer, sentiment, memories and New Year’s¬†Resolutions.¬† Besides traditional religious Christmas songs, our favorite CD at home is Amy Grant’s “The Christmas Collection;” which has our favorite Christmas song, “Tennessee Christmas” – which is originally from her album, “A Christmas Album.”¬† “Tennessee Christmas” has been our favorite modern Christmas song ever since we first¬†listened to¬†it.¬† Other sentimental favorites of mine are: Amy Grant’s version of “Grown-Up Christmas List;” Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Old Lang Syne;” Kenny Logins’ “Celebrate Me Home;”¬†Emerson, Lake¬†& Palmer’s “I Believe in Father Christmas;” John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over);” Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas;” Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas;” Josh Groban’s “I’ll Be Home For Christmas;” Mariah Cary’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You;” and Straight No Chaser’s¬† a cappella¬†“The¬†12 Days Of Christmas.”

In the middle of The¬†Twelve Days of Christmas, is the celebration of New Year’s Eve;¬†where we¬†reflect on¬†years past and the New Year now just beginning.¬† As we get older we pause to consider¬†on New Year’s Eve all that we’ve been through,¬†what could have been but never was…¬†and the future yet to be.¬† People sing “Auld Lang Syne”¬†– for old times sake – written by Robert Burns in 1788 (courtesy of Wikipedia):¬†“Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?¬† Should old¬†acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?¬† For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.”¬†¬†As¬†I ponder this past year, I reflect back to January 29, 2009; when I¬†started this blog with my first post, “Welcome To My World!”¬† Little did I know or guess how far I would have come by this time, or imagine how much joy¬†I could get from sharing the events of my life with all of you.¬† The internet is an amazing invention, and the ability to connect with people around¬†the planet simply defies logic – but it happens every day around the world.¬† If but one person decides to live the life of their dreams based on reading this account of mine –¬†then everything I’ve posted here will have been well worth the effort.

A few years ago by brother suggested to me that I should write a book based on¬†all that I’ve done.¬† My immediate response was that someone can do that posthumously when I’m gone.¬† As I pondered that thought over time, I realized that despite having started my autobiography, “In Search of the Meaning of Life”¬†back in 1994 – that even my immediate family¬†wouldn’t be able to piece together all of the events and interests of my life after I’m gone.¬† So when this opportunity to start a blog was suggested to me, it became the ideal conduit to organize my life for my family, as well as¬†for anyone else that is interested.¬† Now as I approach the New Year, I ponder what is in store for our family, this blog and the greater world around us in 2010; and think about how my upcoming New Year’s Resolution can integrate all three in a positive and unified way.¬† Because in the end, our lives aren’t about being rich, successful or famous according to the world’s standards; but it’s God’s standards that we should aspire to instead.¬† Here is a quote from St. Augustine¬†of Hippo,¬†courtesy of WorldofQuotes.com:

“Picture God as saying to you, ‘My son, why is it that day by day you rise, and pray, and genuflect, and even strike the ground with your forehead, nay sometimes even shed tears, while you say to Me: ‘My Father, give me wealth!’ If I were to give it to you, you would think yourself of some importance, you would fancy that you had gained something very great. Because you asked for it, you have it. But take care to make good use of it. Before you had it, you were humble; now that you have begun to be rich you despise the poor. What kind of a good is that which only makes you worse? For worse you are, since you were bad already. And that it would make you worse you knew not; hence you asked it of Me. I gave it to you, and I proved you; you have found — and you have found out! Ask of Me better things than these, greater things than these. Ask of Me spiritual things. Ask of Me Myself!'”

In each of us God has planted a dream which holds a purpose and significance because He has chosen it for us, knowing that it would both agree with our inner nature and also serve Him as part of¬†His greater plan.¬† So in the end it is up to us to understand this dream and passion that we all hold within our very souls…and follow it as far as it takes us – because in following it we are doing God’s greater purpose in the world.¬† We may not understand that purpose or see it revealed in our own lifetimes, but that is not ours to determine – only God’s.¬† So in this Christmas season as we¬†celebrate the revealing of Jesus as Lord and King…and Savior – let us all thank Him for all that He has done for us, and continue to search out His purpose for our lives in order to make the New Year a better one than the year before…for all our sakes.¬† Happy New Year and all¬†the best in 2010 – from our family to yours!¬† ūüôā

Cheers,

Mark

Expecting Nothing In Return

I came across a timely quote today as I was doing some more pondering.¬† The quote was found on BrainyQuote.com,¬†and is attributed to musician Matthew Sweet: “Creativity is much better when it’s free.¬† Someone can take it and sell it if that’s what it needs, and from¬†that standpoint, you have to have a label.¬† If you could make your music and just give it away and somehow make a living – that would be the best scenario.”¬† Essentially, this blog is all about creativity and providing the fruits of it to anyone who cares to read it for free – my songs, my books, my life story and my thoughts about life in general.¬† There is a sense of perfect freedom in doing this.¬† Luckily I have a day job, but that’s not really the point – let me explain.

All of my writings were carefully preserved over the years, and only a select few had ever known about them, let alone read them.¬† I had thoughts of some day being a published author, but that day had never arrived – and everything was stored in boxes in the garage where no one was reading them anyway.¬† Then in a moment of serendipity a friend suggested that I start a blog – and I’ve never looked back.¬† Giving away my writings and songs for free is really the ultimate in creativity.¬† I work at my own direction, for my own pleasure and for my own higher purposes.¬† I have no one to answer to except God.¬† It is like the concept of unconditional love or forgiveness – it costs¬†us nothing but¬†provides¬†us with everything in return.

Over the years when I gave it pause for consideration, I wondered about the value of prayer in an isolated and solitary way, such as monks or nuns living a life of seclusion and prayer.  I only began to understand the power of isolated prayer and works when I began writing songs.  I would work hard at writing a song, putting it on paper and practicing it at home.  As I never evolved into a real performer, all of my work and practice was essentially for myself Рbut in time I began to see the big picture in what was happening.  Since my songwriting ability began with a prayer, I was always very careful to preserve the work that I did and to treat it with utmost respect Рwriting everything down carefully, typing it all out, copywriting the work, and even making simple recordings to capture the final result.  I always did the same for my writings, with the notion that I was saving them for some greater purpose someday.

One day while I was practicing my music¬†at home, I began to understand what was really important behind my creativity.¬† I realized that I spent a lot of time with my songwriting¬†and very few people had actually heard¬†any of my songs actually¬†played.¬† I was as usual practicing them to myself and for myself.¬† My¬†wife and son were in the house but involved in other activities and I was alone in a room practicing with the door closed.¬† It was then that I understood the purpose of it all.¬† It really doesn’t matter if no one else hears my music, I thought to myself – God hears it.¬† He is listening and watching and observing, and what God is listening to is the music of my heart.¬† My songs were a form of prayer, and God was the only listener.¬† Through my songs God knew my¬†heart and my soul, which in the end is all we could ever ask for.¬† There can be no value placed on time alone with God – it’s priceless.

I then knew the value of an elderly grandmother living alone in a quiet life of prayer.¬†¬†I knew the value of nuns and monks praying in isolated communities in¬†a life of prayer and silence.¬† I knew why when we pray we are to do it in an isolated place and not on the street corner –¬†because our prayers¬†are God’s¬†work and He is their intended audience in a direct link that requires no external measure of worth or value.¬† There is nothing in the entire universe that God isn’t intimately aware of, so He doesn’t need us to bring¬†anything to His attention.¬† What God does need from us is to know and measure our heart, our desires, our hopes, our fears, our requests and our petitions.¬† Through prayer God weighs the intention of our heart, and answers our prayers in ways that are often beyond our understanding.¬† Our work, our lives and all that we do, is a continual prayer as we offer up to God the very best that our human hands can produce and our hearts can hold.¬† In this journey, any one piece of it¬†or the entirety of our effort is not where the value actually¬†lies – but it is in our heart and in our prayers that the value of our lives is actually measured – by God alone.¬†

It’s All About Me

Spending even a short amount of time with someone can often lead you to understand a lot about their personality, mentality, patience, politeness, courtesy, money management, general¬†behavior and¬†temperament.¬† People generally have one of two overall types of personality – they either focus externally on other people or they are focused inwards on themselves.¬† If¬†someone is¬†externally focused on others they are generally considerate, empathetic, compassionate, caring, kind, temperate, sensitive and possibly introverts.¬† I’m not talking about a “used car salesman” external focus as in “I want to sell you a car,” but in¬†the way a grade school teacher gives all of¬†her children specialized attention like a mother hen taking care of her chicks.¬† It’s the¬†same as a mother cares for her children, or a volunteer assists the elderly in a retirement home.¬†¬†For these types of people¬†“it’s all about them” – meaning the focus is on other people and not themselves.

When people have the behavior traits and personality to focus mainly on themselves, their motto is, “It’s all¬†about me.”¬† They are generally extroverts, and¬†to a varying¬†degree –¬†loud, aggressive, driven to get ahead, arrogant, rude, pushy, self absorbed, hot tempered and all about themselves – classic “Type A” personalities.¬† There are many shades of temperament and everyone falls somewhere on a sliding scale¬†between considerate and arrogant.¬† It’s along this graduated scale of temperament that our behavior falls and we can be “pegged” by others as to who we are and what our behavior is – from only spending a short time with them.¬† Whether choosing a business associate or colleague, a future spouse or partner, a friend or mentor – to really understand them you have to know their personality – and the clues are always there¬†very early on in any relationship, but you have to choose to pay attention to them.¬† When people say that love is blind, they often refer to the fact that when people fall in love they only see what they choose to see in their partner – when everyone around them can see the person for who they really are – because you can’t disguise your personality to everyone, all the time.¬†¬†

Personality traits are like fingerprints – every one of us has a personality template or overlay that describes who we are to anyone that observes us.¬† Our personality traits are not set in stone, but over time they begin to settle in gradually like the lines on our face as we get older – until we become our personality as our personality becomes us.¬† It is possible to change our personality, just as we can change our heart – if we want to.¬† It’s hard work and not many attempt the transition, but if you find that you don’t like the person you’ve become, or are becoming, you can decide to modify your behavior and actually become the person that you really want to be.¬† It is hard work – but worth the effort!

Our faces shape to conform to our personality over time, and by the time you reach middle age if you are a happy and smiling person you’ll have nice upward turned smile lines at the corners of your eyes.¬† Everyone that¬†meets you can tell instantly that you have a bright and sunny outlook and personality – and that you’re most likely an optimist.¬† If you have a frowning, glum and “sour puss”¬†disposition in life, your mouth is bound to carry a permanent frown –¬†from how the muscles of your face are formed and contoured over time.¬†¬†Because women¬†have finer facial features, they seem to have more pronounced personality traits etched into their faces than men do.¬† However, an angry man will develop an angry face over time – because that’s the way the face conforms to personality as we age.

People are creatures of habit, in that “we are what we think and do.”¬† Over time we can’t separate our thoughts and daily actions from who we really are.¬†¬†Tendencies turn into habits.¬† Habits become patterns of behavior.¬† Patterns of behavior evolve into character.¬† Character defines a life.¬† One of the most radical notions¬†for society¬†over 2000 years ago,¬†was that Jesus spent as much time explaining that what we think on the inside of us matters as much or more than what we do on the outside.¬† For the first time the focus was on the interior life, on our thoughts and what we hold dear in our heart – because what we hold in our heart¬†is what will be displayed on the outside – either directly or indirectly.

When people are¬†being considered for a high level position,¬†during¬†the job interview and evaluation process, the company often takes them out to dinner.¬†¬†It is¬†during this dining out experience¬†that the company’s executive officer¬†can see the candidate in a different setting that perhaps will reveal more about their personality, behavior and temperament.¬† Since we are creatures of habit it is hard to “change our spots” in a public setting, unlike during an interview when we’re on our very best behavior.¬† The company can evaluate if the candidate is ready on time, follows directions to wherever they are to meet, is dressed appropriately, is courteous to everyone they come in contact with – especially the restaurant’s hostess,¬†kitchen and wait staff.¬† How you treat other people says everything about your personality in only a moment’s time.¬† Is the candidate pushy, rude, impatient, boastful, arrogant,¬†or abrupt with people?¬† Or are they patient, considerate, helpful, polite and gracious?¬†¬†Do they have proper table manners?¬† Are they clumsy and awkward?¬† Can they carry on polite conversation and discuss topics, events and subject areas that are unrelated to the job they are interviewing for?¬† And lastly, how do they handle money and tipping?¬† Generosity and consideration in money matters is a strong clue to overall behavior.¬†¬†The entire world of dating and falling in love is essentially a prolonged special interviewing process in and of itself, and restaurants happen to be the safe destination of choice for many first dates – precisely because you can clearly see someone’s overall personality on display.

One reason so many business meetings take place on the golf course is that a round or two of golf is another classic¬†case¬†where personality is very evident and on display for everyone to see.¬† Does the golfer show consideration and temperament, or does he curse and blame everything else¬†for his bad shots –¬†besides himself?¬† Is he honest in keeping score?¬† Does he discretely kick the¬†ball to¬†get a better lie – in order to¬†avoid an awkward shot?¬† Does he wrap his putter around the closest tree when missing a putt?¬† Is he patient and polite to other golfers or insist on playing through and barging ahead of them?¬† Is he¬† courteous in driving the golf cart or in treating his caddy – and does he tip the caddy well?¬† How we play games, whether a round of golf or¬†Monopoly, Clue or Risk – clearly shows our temperament to others.

However, I believe the most honest snapshot analysis of someone’s behavior – especially if they don’t¬†notice they’re being¬†observed or are under observation – is in the way they drive and behave when behind the wheel of a car, van or truck.¬† I always say that¬†everything that you ever wanted to¬†know about someone can be observed through watching them drive – and it’s true.¬† Every stage of the driving experience provides a clue or two in the overall picture of someone’s behavior.¬† Let me walk you through various steps along the way and I’m sure that in time you will be able to add your own clues and situations to¬†someone’s behavior analysis.

Why is this¬†whole behavior analysis important, you may ask?¬† Much of life is about safety, security, good decision making and making the right decisions concerning who to date, who to choose as a partner in life, who to marry, who to trust your life with and who to do business with.¬† So often, people get involved with someone only to have major regrets down the road – from broken hearts, broken marriages, broken partnerships and dangerous situations that could have been easily avoided.¬† In the “love is blind” example, all of your friends and family may see that the person you are dating or about to marry is a self-centered jerk – but you.¬† To be able to read people’s personalities and behavior traits right from the very beginning of a relationship can help you avoid bad decision making down the line.

First impressions really do count, and in only a few minutes you can read someone’s personality¬†and have a very high probability of understanding exactly who they are from only observing¬†their behavior.¬† Add into the mix¬†what they say and how they say it, their background, education, grades,¬†accomplishments, hobbies, entertainment choices, religious¬†beliefs and practices, family and friends, living arrangements,¬†and their credit and money management history –¬†you then have enough information to know with certainty exactly who they are.¬† If a partner in a new relationship displays a troubling personality trait like heavy drinking, anger management issues, risk taking, honesty issues, sadistic tendencies, money issues¬†– then run – it will only get worse over time when they are no longer on their best behavior.¬† It is not your job or duty to play psychologist and psychoanalyst to sort out all of their problems for¬†them – that’s for professionals to do.¬† Don’t let them break down and appeal to your charity to help them through their issues – unless you really, really, really¬†want to go there with them.¬† If you know who they are, understand their issues, get them some professional assistance, study up on the issues and feel that you can take them on – then do so with your eyes wide open.¬† Set down some rules and insist on their cooperation.¬† Don’t become an enabler or a crutch to finance them while their issues continue on without resolution.¬† If you do choose to help them in life, remember you get all of their issues, problems and baggage in a “package deal” that may remain with you for years and years – and if you’re not strong enough as a person to deal with it all, they may just break you in the process of trying to help.¬† If you are successful in helping them through their problems, then¬†congratulations are in order¬†–¬†because you’ve just accomplished a very high and noble thing.¬† But most people aren’t strong enough to deal with their own issues and someone else’s as well – especially if they are serious and psychologically or biologically based.

I¬†can’t tell you how many times in life I have seen a pretty young woman who has everything going for her in the entire world, choose to be with a really terrible guy, who in time misuses and abuses her¬†in any number of ways – mentally, physically, financially, emotionally, etc.¬† It turns out that many of these young women suffer from low self-esteem issues that one would never have guessed in a thousand years.¬† They say that “nice guys finish last,” and I have never understood the choices women often make in men.¬† That tough guy who lives¬†in the fast lane, drinks hard, doesn’t respect education or work – often gets the girl – and predictably the relationship¬†turns into a disaster – for her.¬† So knowing who people are does matter – because relationships and lives often hang in the balance.¬†¬†¬†¬†

So let’s get started with the driving example – and we’ll use a first date as an example.¬† Say a guy asks you (the girl) out on a date to dinner, and you agree to be picked up at 7:00 pm.¬† Even though he should be on his best behavior, his personality traits will come through his behavior because we are all creatures of habit – even when on our best behavior.¬† Your first clue about him, is does he show up on time, perhaps a few minutes early?¬† Where does he park?¬† Does he come properly to the door and ring the doorbell, or does he honk from the street or bang on the door?¬†¬†Is he dressed as expected and¬†well presented?¬† If your parents or roommates are home, is he polite, introduces himself and has a few minutes of polite conversation?¬† Does he look everyone in the eye?¬† Is he confident, self-conscious or cocky?¬† Does he crack jokes at other people’s,¬†or particularly your, expense?¬† Does he swear and use vulgar language?¬† Does he have a firm but not painful or wimpy handshake?¬† Does he say goodbye to everyone and walks you to the car – with you leading the way or¬†at his side?¬† Does he open your door for you?¬† Does he slam¬†your door or his door?¬† Is the car clean, washed and vacuumed?¬† Does he buckle his seat belt and insist that you do as well?¬† All of these actions indicate a personality trait on a scale somewhere between one and ten – careful, courteous, gracious, thoughtful, respectful, and compassionate; or rude, thoughtless, careless, aggressive, arrogant, and self-centered.¬† People who’s traits center near the middle are harder to be certain about – but all sevens on the scale during their best behavior can turn into eights and nines later on when they let their guard down – as everyone does over time.¬† An act, if it is an act, can’t be continued forever without slipping up here, there and then later – everywhere.¬†¬†¬†

Now let’s look at the way he drives.¬† Does he drive smoothly and carefully, or does he mistreat the car by the way he drives?¬† Does he follow the rules of the road and speed limits?¬† Is he cautious at intersections and traffic lights?¬†¬† How does he treat the other cars on the road?¬† Does he drive aggressively?¬† Does he signal his intentions to other cars?¬† Does he accelerate smoothly and slow smoothly?¬† Does he ask you if you’re comfortable – music channel and selection, volume, temperature, wind with the windows down, etc?¬† Does he park correctly in a parking spot or does take up two spots?¬† Does he accept a good parking spot that is convenient or does he get agitated in looking for the best spot as close as possible to where you’re going?¬†¬†¬†

Now let’s consider¬†the make and model of the guy’s car, van or truck.¬† People buy¬†a vehicle for many different reasons, but basic transportation needs are generally well down the list of priorities when they decide what make, model and color to pick.¬† A guy’s vehicle is a direct extension of their personality – and themselves.¬† A car salesperson knows this very well and uses this to their advantage in selling a car.¬† They can size someone up in five minutes based on age, gender, and finances.¬† Then from only a few probing questions, they can¬†steer¬†the buyer¬†into the exact car that¬†their ego wants.¬† This is very enticing to the buyer and if they aren’t careful the hook is bated and they really fall into the image trap.

First of all, does he¬†buy something new or used, flashy or conservative, sporty¬†or practical?¬† Has he researched it or is it a spontaneous purchase?¬† Can¬†he afford it?¬†¬†Does he¬†own it¬†outright, lease it,¬†or was it purchased on a¬†bank loan?¬† Was there a trade in, a down payment, or was it with no money down?¬† Does it support their profession, sport or hobby?¬† Do they properly take care of it – or do they spend hours obsessing over it?¬† Is it a sacred cow to them?¬† Does he treat his car or truck better than you?¬† The make of the vehicle says a lot – is it a sedan, sports car, station wagon, van or truck?¬†¬†A sedan is generally a conservative choice.¬† A sports car says their personal image is very important to them.¬† A truck or van can be practical, in that it may support what they do for a living or a hobby¬†– say a carpenter, outdoorsman¬†or¬†sportsman.¬† If it’s a truck and it’s huge, raised and “in your face” – it’s all about aggression.

Black is a color of aggression and that of a brooding, dark and so called “sophisticated” and arrogant¬†mentality.¬† Color always sets someone’s mood, and reveals their¬†mentality – brown or gray is boring;¬†white, silver and gold¬†are upscale;¬†yellow and new vibrant colors are sunny and¬†trendy; blue or green is conservative; red is flashy and black is aggressive and approaches mean spirited.¬† Show me a man’s car and I’ll describe his personality to you.¬† It¬†can be¬†a¬†beater, conservative, practical, environmentally conscious (as in a hybrid),¬†utilitarian, sporty, flashy, intimidating or aggressive – or a combination of types.¬† A Corvette says one thing, a Mercedes Sport Coupe¬†another, a Honda Accord something else, and a Hummer or giant tricked out pick-up truck something yet again.

Bumper stickers or stickers of any type are a whole world all to themselves.¬† In this case they are a very direct link to personality and behavior – because they are intended to direct a behavior or message directly to other drivers around them.¬† Study the messages carefully.¬† They can¬†reflect every type of view under the rainbow.¬† No stickers at all reflect a conservative and non-combative personality.¬† A university sticker displays an educated quiet pride.¬† Political messages are meant to be direct – and reflect a person’s passion of choice.¬† A car with fifteen stickers of every cause from a liberal, conservative or environmental point of view means that they are highly opinionated and not about to change – and will fight to prove their point.¬† One glance at¬†a car’s stickers tells you everything you need to know about the owner.¬†

For the record I own a full size 1995 Honda Accord EX station wagon, burgundy in color, with a gray interior, in¬†excellent condition with about¬†70,000 miles – and was purchased on a¬†five year bank¬†loan¬†and was paid off 8 years ago.¬† It’s my wife’s car and the family car for trips together.¬† My car for driving to work in is a 1994 Honda Accord Coupe, sort of a petroleum bluish green color with a beige interior, also purchased¬†on a¬†four year¬†bank loan and paid off in 1999.¬† It has a little rust around the right rear fender well, and¬†is otherwise in great shape with about 144,000 miles.¬† Both colors were the only choices available at the time we bought them.¬† We’ll drive both of them just as long as we can, and the coupe will be the first one to be eventually replaced.¬† We contributed to and paid off early, a basic two wheel drive,¬†regular cab, 1995 Dodge Ram 1500, metallic gray pick-up truck for our son, which he has since outfitted with a camper shell and custom¬†set up for camping¬†and mountain biking – with a removable solar panel on¬†top of the camper shell and a battery pack for power when¬†he’s in remote locations.¬† He’s studying to become an engineer.¬† From the vehicles we drive you get a pretty good picture of our lifestyle and values – conservative, practical, reliable, thoughtful,¬†dependable and responsible, and that’s also exactly how we drive¬†– and you’d be spot-on with your analysis.¬†¬†We are¬†exactly as we want to be, nothing more and nothing less.¬† What you see is what you get – and with a little practice, you too can tell everything that you need to know by observing people’s behavior and relating¬†it to their personality.¬† We are all creatures of habit, and how we act and behave – describes to anyone who’s paying attention – exactly who we are like a fingerprint.

The Sailboat

The Sailboat

(Copyright 2004, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

We craft the sailboat;

God provides the materials and ability…

We chart our course;

God provides the wind, water and heavens above…

We reference the compass;

God provided the magnetism…

We navigate by the stars;

In heavens created and sustained by God…

We hold the rudder;

God directs the wind and currents…

The journey is ours;

The destination…God