What is a hero? Some may say an immortal like Superman, Batman or maybe someone like a fireman or police officer. My hero is doesn’t really fall into either category. He was neither immortal and definitely not a mere mortal. He will live forever even though he is no longer alive.

What is a hero?
: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
: an illustrious warrior
: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities
: one that shows great courage
: the central figure in an event, period, or movement
: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work

How can one man be all this? Trust me when I say he can…a man with great strength and ability; a man who fought hard and stood tall (as tall as a Downey can stand), a man admired by his parents, siblings, children, grandchildren and friends; a man who was courageous in the face of death; a man who was the center of many lives and a man who was a key figure in so many lives.
What is a hero? A hero is a man who is all of the above and more. A man who transcends the norm and truly left a legacy; a lasting imprint on this earth.
Who is this man? This man is my grandfather. The amazing and incredible, Howard “Buddy” Downey. On the anniversary of the celebration of his life, and in remembrance of his death, I say, “Thank you Grandpa for amazing memories and all you taught me over the years. I will never forget the joy I had knowing that sometime in May you would be driving down the road on your way home from Florida; peering over the counter and seeing your van was almost as good as Christmas morning. All your gardening tips and your 1001 ways to use vinegar will always be something I remember. So much of who I am is because of you. I love you and miss you.”

As I stepped outside this morning, it was evident in the air that the seasons were changing. Yet again, Summer says “farewell” and Autumn gracefully takes her place. I will miss Summer and all the beauty that she brings, but Autumn promises new adventures and a welcome change. I wasn’t expecting Summer to leave so soon. I love Summer and everything about her. She was fun, bright, warm and exciting; to see her go was bittersweet. Autumn assures me that she too is only here for a season. She is peace, calm, change and new beauty.

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” – George Santayana

It is also true in life, that one day you may wake to an Autumn breeze in the wake of Summer’s heat. You wake up and find that the season you loved so much is passing by, and that a new one is coming to take its place. When you wake up to that crisp breeze, and suddenly feel frightened by the imminent change; stop. Don’t focus on the “hopeless love” you have for one season in your life, instead be interested and excited about what the next season promises.

There is good to be found in every situation and a hope to hold onto in every season. Focus on the beauty of what is to come, rather than framing the past on your mantle.

Lifeless, there I am.
Laying on the cold, damp earth – surrounded by a pool of my own chaos,
Saturated by the stench of the world I lived in.
I step over my empty shell.
I stare into my empty eyes – nothing looks back.
The eyes that once knew life, trust and passion, now only stare back at me with a blank gaze.
I see my hands.
Broken and mangled, these once beautiful hands were hardworking and powerful.
They did not know defeat, yet there they lay wet and worthless.
I stoop to where my legs are settled in the grass.
Limbs that were unmatched in speed and agility, now twisted and spent.
I stare at what used to be an unshakable stature.
A person I once knew as Me.
A person now chewed up and spit out by the world.
Left for dead and all alone. No one searches for me.
I continue to soak up the rejection even after death.
My body accepts the hurt and pain.
I see the damage now, standing above; looking down on a lost boy I once knew. I reach out my hand to close my eyes.
To put to rest the past and to bury what remains of me are left.
I vow not to let this carry on into the next life, but to hold on to the meaning of what was, with a greater hope of what can be. What will be.
I turn away from my breathless  image, looking only to what lies ahead.
The shadows of the unknown are enveloping around me and the familiar darkness is lurking in the distance.
But I see the light.
A spark.
A glimmer of hope of what can be.
What will be.

Hello again! We’ll be turning to page 176-177, for today’s entry from “Eat, Pray, Love.” This is a paraphrased version of her thoughts on prayer. In the book, she is talking about how lame it is that she [Liz] is telling God to give her whatever she needs – like, why doesn’t she know what she needs? Why isn’t she able to pray for her own needs? Anyway, this is it.

“Prayer is a relationship; half the job is mine. If I want transformation, but can’t even be bothered to articulate what, exactly, I’m aiming for, how will it ever occur? Half the benefit of prayer is in the asking itself, in the offering of clearly posed and well-considered intentions. If you don’t have this, all your pleas and desires are boneless, floppy, inert: they swirl at your feet in a cold fog and never lift.

So now I take the time every morning to search myself for specificity about what I’m truly asking for. I kneel there [in the temple] with my face on that cold, marble for as long as it takes me to formulate an authenticat prayer. If I don’t feel sincere, then I will stay there on the floor until I do.

What worked yesterday, doesn’t always work today. Prayers can become stale and drone into the boring and familiar if you let your attention stagnate. In making an effort to stay alert, I am assuming custodial responsibility for the maintenance of my own soul.”

So, I’m reading this book called, “Eat, Pray, Love” and before you say, “That’s totally a girl book, Ben!” let me assure you it’s not. During my dive into this amazing book, I’ve wanted to travel back to Italy, learn Italian and French, travel the world and get paid to do all of it! But I’ve also come across some very wise words from Liz Gilbert that I’d like to share. Turn to page 178 for this entry on Thoughts.

“So I’ve started being vigilant about watchng my thoughts all day, and monitoring them. I repeat this vow about 700 times a day: “I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore.” Everytime a diminishing thought arises, I repeat the vow.

The first time I heard myself say this, my inner ear perked up at the word “harbor”, which is a noun as well as a verb. A harbor, of course, is a place of refuge, a port of entry.I pictured the harbor of my mind – a little beat up, perhaps, a little storm-worn, but well situated and with nice depth. The harbor of my mind is an open bay, the only access to the island of my Self. The island has been through some wars, it is true, but it is now committed to peace, under a new leader (me) who has instituted new policies to protect the place. And now let the word go out across the seven seas – there are much, much stricter laws on the books about who may enter this harbor.

You may not come here any more with your hard and abusive thoughts, with your plague ships of thoughts, with your slave ships of thoughts, with your warships of thoughts – all these will be turned away. Likewise, any thoughts that are filled with angry or starving exiles, with malcontents and pamphleteers, mutineers and violent assasins, desperate prostitutes, pimps and seditious stowaways – you may not come here anymore either.

Cannabilistic thoughts, for obvious reasons, will no longer be received. Even missionaries will be screened for sincerity. This is a peaceful harbor, the entryway to a fine and proud island that is only now beginning to cultivate tranquility. If you can abide by these new laws, my dear thoughts, then you are welcome in my mind – otherwise, I shall turn you all back to the sea from whence you came.

That is my mission, and it will never end.”

Sleep evades me.
Even now I cannot find the sheep for counting.
My mind wanders, drifts, contemplates, spins.

Where are the sheep?

My body aches.
My head begins to ache as well.
There is too much thinking, not enough sleeping.

Where are the sheep?

Have I become an insomniac?
Is sleep forever my enemy?
Will the sheep find me once again?

Where are the sheep?

So today marks the very first day of my vacation…(thank God for breaks)…and I felt like I wanted to make some minor changes in my lifestyle for the next two weeks: some Healthy Choices. I was already planning on doing this when my sister decided to do something similar…confirmation…so I’m going to be focusing my attention on the things that matter most: family, prayer, plans and seeking God for some much needed direction. 

Mental/Spiritual Healthy Choice: What I’ve decided to do is take a break from social media (Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, HootSuite, Myspace and Linked In) and Television (SYTYCD, CSI, the news…the list goes on).

Physical Healthy Choice: I’m re-launching my “Pop=Zero” campaign and nipping my need for carbonation in the bud. Water with lemon please.

Now, obviously not everyone needs to/or wants to take part in such a personal bootcamp, but every once in awhile it’s nice to give yourself a kick in the pants, a reminder of the important things in life. It will be different things for different people though and you need to decide what’s best for you.

The greatest wealth is health.  ~Virgil

The greatest wealth is health: both physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Today is the day for change and today is the first day of the rest of your life…lol, that was cheezy. But seriously, today is the day!

See you on July 12 when my Media Fast ends…

Check this article I had the privilege of writing for Stevens Creative Consulting and their monthly eblast.
(check out the eblast here.)

Think outside the box. We’ve all heard that phrase, and I’m sure most of us have used it. And although it’s a pretty common statement with an obvious meaning, it’s much too easy to forget to actually do it!

It seems like it’s been around forever; however, ‘think outside the box’ originated in the USA in the late 1960s/early 1970s. The earliest citation that I have found comes from the weekly magazine of the US aviation industry – Aviation Week & Space Technology, July 1975: “We must step back and see if the solutions to our problems lie outside the box.” Read full article here.

It can be so simple to do things in the traditional way. Stick to what we know and continue down paths because we know where they’ll lead. Why fix what isn’t broken, right?

Let’s try some “blue sky” thinking about this.

I have been a creative consultant for non-profit organizations and businesses for many years. One of the most blue sky sessions I can remember was as a young teenager (probably around age 15 or 16) working with my church on an upcoming building project. We could have instantly started with the obvious, safe ideas – stuff found in other church building projects – items like a stage, chairs, rooms, and colors, but we were not “in the box thinkers.” We started off with ball pits, a roof-top roller coaster, observatory, café, and playscapes.

Now to some, our ideas may seem a bit over the top, a little too unrealistic. But in reality, it was thinking outside the box of what ‘church’ has to be. Why make it the same old boring routine when it can be fun? We didn’t get the roof-top roller coaster, but we did get the three-story playscape and a full-service café – which have become two of the most popular sites in the building!

In business, we should always be thinking of new ways to be different no matter what field we’re in. Maybe you should try updating your branding; we know you love clip art, but seriously? Why not kick it up a notch! There are numerous sites where you can purchase high quality photos and graphics online for a nominal fee. (One of my favorite sites is dreamstime.)

Why not send an Eblast to potential customers; despite what you may think, people actually DO read these! (Check out Constant Contact or Mad Mimi).

Maybe it’s time to rethink your logo – what is it really saying to your customers? Or maybe you just need to dust off your shelves and add a new product or service to appeal to a broader client base.

I’m ready for individuals who are excited to embrace new technology, expand their horizons, use some pizzazz and color, and take some time to invest good ‘ol creativity into their business. If you’re not willing to take a chance, get a little messy and make some calculated risks, then you must already be raking in the millions. Good for you! If not, try something new, do something different, add a little spice to your business and watch what happens. Isn’t it time to ask the questions, erase the boundaries, take a step, and think outside the box?

Maybe it’s time to ask for the roller coaster.

I recently sat through a commencement speech for a local graduation.  The speech had great points, although the delivery seemed very rough; a little too “fire and brimstone” for my taste. The topic was home education versus the public school system (or Government system as he put it) and although I agreed with many points, it was the delivery of the message that really took me off guard. It was presented as though you must home school if you’re a Christian because that’s the way God intended it and if you send your kids to “Government schools” you’re condemning them to heathenism and failure.

I was uncomfortable with how the message portrayed home education as a religious event, rather than an educational option. I was home educated my entire life, and although I thank my parents for making that choice, I don’t believe it is the only choice. Public, private and Christian schools serve a great purpose in our society, and although I do not agree with everything that goes on in these organizations, I believe that there are greater number of “good kids” that come out of the school system than heathens.

Not everyone is called to home educate. Not every child, Christian or not, is going to miss out on being part of the remnant generation because they were in public school. Not every public school is a hot bed for sin and destruction.

In many ways it’s like this; in Christianity it seems that the “Christians” who get the most media attention or national coverage are the nuts and flakes…the ones who have missed it just a bit and are making the Christian family as a whole look like a joke. In the same way the schools who receive the most attention are also the ones with the majority of issues and have some problems to work out.

There are heathens in home education, just as there are in public schools. There are socially inept home school kids, just as there are in public schools. There are Christian kids in public schools, just as there are in home education.

Just because the “rule” for you means home education,
doesn’t mean you should force feed that same rule on someone else. 

Home education is a choice that each parent has to make with careful consideration. Not everyone will choose it, and not everyone should. Let’s not propagate educational prejudice in church…home education is not mandated by God and shouldn’t be mandated by any one person.

“Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.”  ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard

Ok, so there’s this thing called Winter right? And there’s these other three things called Spring, Summer and Autumn (or Fall if you’re one of “those”)…I’d have to say that even though dear ‘ol Winter is only around 1/4 of the year it seems like an eternity of endless hibernation.

I. Hate. Winter.

I know some of you precious individuals just love the snow and prefer the cold…”it’s just so pretty” you say. Please…the beauty it brings is a fleeting moment; blink your eye and suddenly your car is spinning into a ditch. Now ain’t that pretty. 🙂

I for one am super stoked that we my finally be done with the White Season. I think of snow and I get sick. I just wanna be outside whenever I want. Drink ice cold lemonade. Drive with the windows down and legally wear the flip flops I’ve been sporting all year anyway.

Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!”  ~Robin Williams

I for one…am ready for that party. 🙂


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