Thursday, December 25, 2008

My New Year's Resolution: To Do More

This year, I resolve to do more.

I will love more.
I will laugh more.
I will sing more.
I will participate more and I will make more of a difference in the world around me.

Life is a journey. If we pay attention along the way, we find that it is also a great teacher. Below are some of the things I have learned on my journey:

We all have something.
I have learned that nothing holds us back except ourselves. I have learned that we either have results or excuses as to why not. I have learned that we all have the same amount of time, and that we all can participate more, and do more to make a difference in this world. Whether it is an hour a day, an hour a month or an hour a year, we can all do something to make this a better world.

We can all do more.
Doing more requires only one thing: making the decision to do more. I have decided to do more for the MS Society. I will also do more for my wife, my children and my friends. I will do more for the world around me.

Doing more means participating more. Showing up is a good start, but it is not enough. Participating means rolling your sleeves up and getting involved both figuratively and literally. It means asking questions and learning more. It means listening when a listener is needed and teaching or counseling when called for. It means helping out and contributing time and attention to someone or something. It means caring.

We can all make a difference.
We can only make a difference when we care. Whether it is family or friends, work or a cause - my favorites are the MS Society ( ) and Chelsea’s Hope ( - Please visit this website). Find something that you care about and be a participant. If we participate, we can make a difference. When we make a difference, our lives have meaning and purpose.

Resolve to do more. That is my New Year’s Resolution. I may or may not lose weight, exercise more or save any money. What I will do is MORE…more of what is needed to make this world a better place. I hope that you will make that part of your list of resolutions too.

These are my New Year’s Resolutions and I am planning to have a great year.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fill Your Holidays And Everyday With Miracles

I have known Rabbi Joe for thirty years and I always loved spending time with him because I always learned something. One thing Joe taught was this: Just because a miracle can be explained, does not mean that it is not a miracle. To explain his position, he used two great biblical examples: The parting of the Red Sea and how “God gave us manna in the wilderness.”

Today scientists know of an earthly phenomenon which occurs annually. For a very brief period of time, parts of the Red Sea become so shallow that you can literally walk across it. Did God make the waters of the Red Sea part? Or did this earthly event just happen to occur as Moses was leading the Jews out of Egypt? Whichever you happen to believe, the fact that it did and/or does occur is nothing short of a miracle. (See )

After fleeing Egypt, the Jews spent 40 years in the desert. They did not bring enough food to last for 40 years. So how did they survive? An expedition set out in the desert of Israel in an attempt to retrace the steps that Moses and his followers took thousands of years ago. They discovered a tree that grows in that desert, that in the morning, produces a sweet dew that they could eat. A dew that would sustain them. Manna in the wilderness explained. (Also see

Just because these biblical examples of miracles can be explained, does not mean that they are not miracles. If I were to dismiss miracles because they can be explained, I would miss out on the joy and awe that life makes available to me daily.

This has nothing to do with religion or faith (although that never hurts). It has to do with being excited, thrilled and grateful for that thing we call LIFE and all the miracles that occur in it every single day..

My whole life has been and continues to be about miracles. I was a very sick kid when I was young, so sick my parents were told that I would never be normal and probably spend my life in an institution. That didn’t happen and the reason can be explained. It was a miracle.

I have been in three car accidents, two in which the cars were totaled, and one in which I walked away, each time unharmed. Miracles. I have been held up at gun point and walked away unscathed. Miracle. I have been in beautiful places and watched the sun come up. Miracle. I was in the delivery room twice, watching my children being born. Miracles.

Miracles happen everyday. The question is, do we recognize them as miracles or do we dismiss them as everyday events? Do you know any cancer or transplant survivors? Miracles. Have you ever travelled in a car or airplane or boat? Miracles. Have you ever watched TV or listened to the radio or been on the internet? Miracles. Have you ever had someone or something show up at just the right time in your life? Miracles.

I love that my life is filled with miracles. In fact, I have become pretty good at recognizing and acknowledging them. Living a life that is filled with miracles makes every day worth celebrating and something for which to be grateful.

Make this holiday season a most miraculous occasion. Start recognizing the miracles taking place around you, for you and because of you. Then start doing it everyday. We don’t need a holiday to have a miracle. We just need to see them.

Participate. Make a difference. Live a life that matters.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Because you asked me.

It has been and continues to be my pleasure and great privilege to share my perspectives with all of you. As of this writing, my blog has been viewed many thousands of times and I have received hundreds of responses.

Recently, I received some questions from people asking for my advise, or at least my perspective about their circumstances and challenges. The questions were so great, I wanted to share them and my response with all of you. I do hope that you will find these of value.

Please know that if you have a question, you may write to me directly at I promise you that if we publish your question and answer, your privacy and anonymity will be preserved.

Do know that I am not a mental health professional. But I am a big believer in them. If someone is struggling with adjusting to their new life, seek out professional help. It may be what is needed.

The first question and my response are below.

Dear Michael,

About two years ago, my mother had a brief but dramatic bout with brain cancer. My mom is a powerful and successful woman who has spent her career defying expectations and inspiring others, and so being in the role of a patient was already difficult enough for her. Her way to deal with it was to just not tell anyone about her cancer or surgery.

Thankfully, she lived through it and is now cancer free, but occasionally the evidence of the surgery is more obvious than she would like. The obvious clues are there, a faint but visible scar around the hairline, a few months of wearing a wig, a few missed big family events during the recovery period. Its the less obvious clues that seem to be the most upsetting to her - random and occasional stammering mid-sentence, difficulty focusing, less balance, and so on. As the visible scars healed, her behavioral ones seemed to increase. Now clients think that she is not the same, effective, powerhouse that she was before and they don't know why. She, understandably, doesn't tell them so not to seem unprofessional or needy of attention.

Doctor's say that the mental side effects of the surgery are probably permanant and may potentially worsen over time. How can I help my mother come to grips with her condition in a way that allows her to still feel in control? Is it right to share her medical needs with her clients? Is it okay that she's embarrased about these things?


Concerned in Concord

Dear Concerned in Concord;

Let me begin by saying "Good for Mom." She made it through. She is a survivor. She also sounds like she is a very strong, independent and proud woman, all characteristics that probably helped her to get through this ordeal. She also sounds a lot like my own mother did.

A great challenge for many of us, especially those of us who feel in control, is accepting that sometimes we are not in control. What I have learned and accepted is that life's events fall into one of three categories. They are those that we control, those that we influence and those that we have no control over. Much of our health is beyond our control, but it is subject to our influence.

What may help Mom is having a conversation about what is beyond her control and then discussing what options she may have to influence the course of her health. Discussing, hearing and accepting these truths, and her coming up with what she can do to influence the disease, may help her with acceptance and that helps a lot.

Does she tell people about her disease or does she hide it? If she has obvious symptoms and does not explain why, customers and friends will spend their time wondering what is wrong with her. Not addressing it may be like not addressing the elephant in the room. But by addressing it up front, the issue is diffused and the wondering can cease. Better than that is the potential for bonding, strengthening relationships and building trust, which is what we really want in our relationships, be they business or personal. After the elephant has been addressed, the elephant, or rather the disability can become invisible and everyone can focus on business. Then she can be seen as the strong, determined, knowledgeable professional that she is.

Embarrassed? Your mother needs to feel proud of her self and of what she has overcome. Your mother is out there in the world, participating and living. Whether she wants this or not, she needs to know that she is now a role model for all people of what it means to be alive, even with challenges. She also needs to know that by not sharing her story, she may be missing out on all the kindness the world has to offer her and all the experience and knowledge that people have to share.

Your mother sounds like a woman of extraordinary dignity and strength. Her continuing to participate in this life can and will inspire others. In return, she may get much more than increased business. She will get a new found respect, admiration and an out pouring of love and caring from all whom she touches. Sort of a bonus prize for being the champion she is.

I know this is true for me. Sharing my story and being the example to others that I want to be, has made my life richer, better and so very worth living. I hope your mom feels that way too.

You are lucky to have a mom like her. She is lucky to have a concerned family like you.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

I am as lucky as I want to be.

There are two kinds of luck. One is a skill. The other is about chance. Allow me to explain.

Almost thirty years ago a man named Doug Yeaman taught that “Luck is the ability to recognize opportunity when it knocks.” I love that definition and have never forgotten it. I love it because it takes the randomness and chance out of being lucky. Why are some people luckier than others? They are luckier because they are better at recognizing life’s opportunities. Luckily, I am pretty damned good at it.

Why are some people luckier than others? Or better yet, how come some people get more opportunities than others? They get more because they put themselves out there more, meaning they do more, see more, act more and participate more. The more I do, the more opportunities there are to be recognized by me. In that sense, I guess that luck is a numbers game. The more I play, the luckier I get. Want to win the lottery? Buy a ticket. Want to improve your odds? Buy more tickets.

I love this because it allows me to be responsible for creating my own luck in the world. When I began my professional career, the opportunities for advancement came very quickly and I jumped on them. I worked hard (something everyone can do), I invested a lot of hours (my choice and in my control) and I jumped on every opportunity I could to increase my level of responsibility. As a result, by the time I was 23 years old, I was managing a real estate office with almost 50 agents in it. Pretty lucky, don’t you think?

I have been able to turn some of life’s most random events into opportunities as well. That is certainly how I have approached living with multiple sclerosis. The disease has given me the opportunity to learn about myself, be an example to my children, teach my family and friends about what I have learned and for me to learn about gratitude and perspective in ways I never could have imagined. These are just a few examples of how lucky I am. They are also examples of my ability to recognize opportunity when it knocks.

The other kind of luck is chance. Some call it a feeling. Do I feel lucky? You betcha! My ability to see my life and circumstances as my good fortune serves me very well. Perhaps that is not luck, as much as it is gratitude and perspective.

Hmmmmm……if gratitude and perspective are opportunities that we all have, then maybe there is only one definition of luck.

I sure am a very lucky man.