Posts Tagged ‘encouragement’

I woke up yesterday only to discover a friend of mine was dead. He wasn’t necessarily a good friend, more of a Facebook friend really, but he was a very sweet guy and somehow his life ended on Saturday. I wasn’t really sure at first because all I saw was a semi-ambiguous post from another of his Facebook friends about being in disbelief. That could be anything right? I did what we do when someone passes these days and searched his Facebook page. My fear was confirmed and my friend was dead.

As I perused his page, I saw two things: 1. A ton of remorse and 2. a lot of words about how he was always there for everyone. The remorse was expressed in different forms from different people, but they had a similar theme: “I am sorry I didn’t get together with you for that drink,” “I should have made time for that lunch” “Sorry that I didn’t make time to come see you.” I know one of the last things he said to me when I saw him a little over a month ago was, “We should get together for lunch next week.” We, of course, got “busy” and never had that lunch.

It was almost split evenly because for every post of remorse, there was someone (oftentimes the same person) who wrote that he was always there for them in their time of need. To make matters worse, I get the feeling that his death was self-inflicted. Here was a guy that was always there for everyone in their time of need, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone was there in his. I know I wasn’t. He was a man that prayed for me and especially for one of my daughters. Did I ever pray for him? I THINK so, but can’t say for sure. He was a business contact that had me listed as one of his preferred vendors but I don’t know that I ever did anything to help his business. One of the Facebook posts on his wall could have easily been written by me, “I am so sorry that we missed the signs that you needed a friend. I am so sad…”

His own Facebook style was a lot different than my own. He would Tag some friends and then offer words of encouragement. Instead of being encouraged by his encouragement, I always thought it was a little quarky (I’m ashamed to admit now but I am just being honest). His very last post was, “Have you ever been ‘that’ tired?” Preceded by, “ever do something entirely stupid?” Just four days before his death he took one of those Facebook quizzes. This one happened to be titled, “What will you be remembered for?” The answer he got was his “amazing empathy.” I’m not one to argue with the experts of the Facebook quizzes, but I think I’ll remember him for his smile, his weight loss, his goofy professional photo that always reminded me of a cross between the George Costanza bearskin rug and Uncle Rico’s mall shot where he did his “billowy” pose, and above all his constant encouragement of others.

All of this comes on the heals of my blog post on the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is something that I am definitely trying to work on. It doesn’t cost anything to give but can make such a big difference to the receiver. Not to make light of my friend’s death by any means, but I’ll caution you that there are rules that must be followed when encouraging. I, of course, learned this the hard way as my wife read an admonishing email from our daughter’s softball coach.

Per this authoritative email on encouragment, it isn’t allowed at the softball games. So when little Susie is standing next to the coach who is pitching and the other team’s batter accidentally connects with the ball and sends a slow little dribbler to her, there are things that you aren’t allowed to “encourage” her with. You would think think a little encouragement to not kick the ball and instead pick it up would be allowed, but it isn’t. I thought that I would almost be commended for yelling, “take your finger out of your nose and use your other hand to throw the ball to first” but, nooooooo! Apparently softball games have gone the way of the movies, and silence is golden.

With a little encouragement from my wife last week in the form of, “This email from the coach is directed at you, you idiot!” I did much better this week. When one of our players hit the ball and stood there, I didn’t let out a “RUN!” When our right fielder decided to practice her cartwheels as a ball was hit in her direction, mum was the word from me. I was feeling quite proud of myself until little HeMan showed up with his battle axe. I was doing fine even when he ran on the field. I bit my tongue when he began swinging it at the girls but when he turned to chop off Susie’s hand I unfortunately couldn’t stop myself and yelled, “Not that one!!! At least go after her nose-picking hand!!!”

I woke up yesterday only to discover a friend of mine was dead. He wasn’t necessarily a good friend, more of a Facebook friend really, but he was a very sweet guy and somehow his life ended on Saturday. I wasn’t really sure at first because all I saw was a semi-ambiguous post from another of his Facebook friends about being in disbelief. That could be anything right? I did what we do when someone passes these days and searched his Facebook page. My fear was confirmed and my friend was dead.

As I perused his page, I saw two things: 1. A ton of remorse and 2. a lot of words about how he was always there for everyone. The remorse was expressed in different forms from different people, but they had a similar theme: “I am sorry I didn’t get together with you for that drink,” “I should have made time for that lunch” “Sorry that I didn’t make time to come see you.” I know one of the last things he said to me when I saw him a little over a month ago was, “We should get together for lunch next week.” We, of course, got “busy” and never had that lunch.

It was almost split evenly because for every post of remorse, there was someone (oftentimes the same person) who wrote that he was always there for them in their time of need. To make matters worse, I get the feeling that his death was self-inflicted. Here was a guy that was always there for everyone in their time of need, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone was there in his. I know I wasn’t. He was a man that prayed for me and especially for one of my daughters. Did I ever pray for him? I THINK so, but can’t say for sure. He was a business contact that had me listed as one of his preferred vendors but I don’t know that I ever did anything to help his business. One of the Facebook posts on his wall could have easily been written by me, “I am so sorry that we missed the signs that you needed a friend. I am so sad…”

His own Facebook style was a lot different than my own. He would Tag some friends and then offer words of encouragement. Instead of being encouraged by his encouragement, I always thought it was a little quarky (I’m ashamed to admit now but I am just being honest). His very last post was, “Have you ever been ‘that’ tired?” Preceded by, “ever do something entirely stupid?” Just four days before his death he took one of those Facebook quizzes. This one happened to be titled, “What will you be remembered for?” The answer he got was his “amazing empathy.” I’m not one to argue with the experts of the Facebook quizzes, but I think I’ll remember him for his smile, his weight loss, his goofy professional photo that always reminded me of a cross between the George Costanza bearskin rug and Uncle Rico’s mall shot where he did his “billowy” pose, and above all his constant encouragement of others.

All of this comes on the heals of my blog post on the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is something that I am definitely trying to work on. It doesn’t cost anything to give but can make such a big difference to the receiver. Not to make light of my friend’s death by any means, but I’ll caution you that there are rules that must be followed when encouraging. I, of course, learned this the hard way as my wife read an admonishing email from our daughter’s softball coach.

Per this authoritative email on encouragment, it isn’t allowed at the softball games. So when little Susie is standing next to the coach who is pitching and the other team’s batter accidentally connects with the ball and sends a slow little dribbler to her, there are things that you aren’t allowed to “encourage” her with. You would think think a little encouragement to not kick the ball and instead pick it up would be allowed, but it isn’t. I thought that I would almost be commended for yelling, “take your finger out of your nose and use your other hand to throw the ball to first” but, nooooooo! Apparently softball games have gone the way of the movies, and silence is golden.

With a little encouragement from my wife last week in the form of, “This email from the coach is directed at you, you idiot!” I did much better this week. When one of our players hit the ball and stood there, I didn’t let out a “RUN!” When our right fielder decided to practice her cartwheels as a ball was hit in her direction, mum was the word from me. I was feeling quite proud of myself until little HeMan showed up with his battle axe. I was doing fine even when he ran on the field. I bit my tongue when he began swinging it at the girls but when he turned to chop off Susie’s hand I unfortunately couldn’t stop myself and yelled, “Not that one!!! At least go after her nose-picking hand!!!”

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Encouragement… I'm working on it and I encourage you to join me.

The bad news is that I am writing again. The good news is… well… there is nothing good about it. I don’t write good. I don’t even write well. So why in the heck am I going to torture both people that might read this? For two reasons: 1. I’ve been doing some thinking 2. I’m an old goat 3. I’ve been encouraged. 4. I’m apparently terrible at math.
So what the heck have I been thinking? I’ve come to the realization that I’ll never write for a living. I’ll never even make dos pesos from my writing. Through my pondering, I’ve realized that I am not now, nor will I ever be, a real writer… and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it because I’m rapidly approaching the day that I return these blessed love handles to the Creator. I know I can’t be the only one who as a kid would have just the week before Christmas feel like ten years. I could swear that just yesterday I took a picture for my kids first day of school. I blinked, and today not only is their school year over, but they are already 1/3 of the way through their Summer break.
As time seems to be passing faster and faster, I realize that I am not pursuing any of my passions. I go to work, I come home. The next day I do the same. In between I might lower my IQ (not possible!) while watching some mindless TV show. Or, on a good day, I’ll love my wife or spend some quality time with my kids. Even the best of days turn into weeks, months, years, and decades too quickly. I’m not going to kid myself that writing will change any of that for me, but it comes down to a simple question: Tomorrow you win 100 million in the lottery, what would you do? Of course you would take a trip to Tijuana just for a bacon dog and a shot at a cage match with a midget luchadore, buy a ginormous belt buckle that said “Bubba”, and create a life size pez dispenser of The Fonz that dispenses Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but then what would you do? Would you stay at your job? I’m going to venture a wild guess that most of us would say no. So if you weren’t working for a living, what would you be doing to be living? My buddy Benny Franklin possibly said it best, “Most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.” Tomorrow if Ed McMahon calls me from the other side to tell me that I just hit his sweepstakes, I would do all the above and then I would write (while wearing only my “Bubba” belt buckle).
So I know what you are asking yourselves, “Who should we make pay for this?” Tread lightly young grasshoppers for they are like spry ninjas powerfully wielding a secret power that all of us have, but rarely use. They are the encouragers. With simple kind words we could motivate people to follow their dreams and change lives. For me it was just a (real) writer commenting, “I hope you are still writing.” Or a friend across the ocean sharing my lame blog with her friends. Or friends or family commenting that they really liked something I wrote. Even my nemesis wife, after about 17 cocktails, will encourage me to write (probably just so I’ll let her go to bed and quit with my Austin Powers, “Do I make you randy?).
So blame those that have cared enough to encourage, but BlogbyFatTom is being resurrected (and hopefully bringing Ed McMahon’s loot with it). I don’t even know what I’ll write about yet. I won’t write about my exciting diets anymore (but I’ll share these words of wisdom I saw on Facebook, “Nobody cares about your stupid diet. Just eat your lettuce and be sad.”) I also won’t write about religion, race, sex, drugs, rock and roll, or anything that might be remotely entertaining or funny. In fact, I can almost guarantee that once again, it’ll be an epic failure. To which I’ll leave you with this quote from George Burns, “I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.”
So… what about YOU? If money was no object, what would you do???