Sunday, March 29, 2009


Right turn – Left turn stories. We all have them. One day we make a right turn instead of a left turn and the whole course of our life is forever changed. That is what life is all about – discovering what is next for us and sitting just around the corner.

It may not be a right turn or a left turn. It may be that you or someone else showed up somewhere unexpectedly and meeting that person changed the course of your life. It may be the appointment that cancelled and the phone call you received because you did not go. It may be the opportunity you got because you just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I call these “right turn – left turn stories.”

My favorite right turn/left turn story has to do with meeting the two hookers who lead me to my wife. This is not a joke. I had just started selling real estate and decided to work late one night to do some “cold calling”, dialing for business. When I asked the woman who answered the phone if she would be interested in selling her home, she said yes. I ran right over to list the property for sale and met the two, very attractive ‘professional’ women who owned the house.

Within a few weeks we had an offer to buy the house. When the real estate agent came to present the offer, she brought her broker with her. She sold the house and her broker and I stayed in touch. Within a few weeks, I joined his company. Eight months later I was engaged to his daughter……and I owe it all to the two hookers!

If I had not worked late, I never would have met the two hookers. If I never met the hookers, I would not have gotten the listing. Had I not gotten the listing, I never would have gotten the offer, gone to work for the broker, met his daughter, gotten married and had the life I have had….and I owe it all to the two hookers.

The fact is that having these ‘right turn – left turn stories’ to tell is a result of showing up and being a participant in all that life has to offer. If you don’t show up or participate, you will never make that ‘right turn instead of a left’ and you may never know all of the opportunities that life has in store for you.

Want more opportunities? Participate more.
Want to know what life has in store for you? Participate more.
Want more out of life? Do more. Participate more.

Planning for life is a great thing. However, we cannot always plan for every event or circumstance that life presents. We can make many choices. We can influence outcomes based on our participation. But we cannot control everything that happens around and to us. What we can control and plan for is how we will respond to what happens during the course of our lives.

A favorite old joke I know goes like this:
“Do you know how to make G-d laugh? Tell him your plans.”

My life certainly did not turn out as planned…..and I owe it all to two hookers!

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

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Best News Of All

Recently the NBC Nightly news announced that they would be doing a special segment called “Making A Difference” The host, Brian Williams, asked people to “send us stories of people who are undertaking either random or regular acts of kindness in this economic downturn because the stories of how Americans are responding to this economy are a big part of the story and helping each other.”

He continued saying “While it may not seem like it every evening, we are always looking for good news around here, especially in this economy. Specifically, here is our request for you: Nominate people who are doing good things where you live or work, perhaps a random or regular act of kindness in this cruel economy.” Within minutes they had heard from hundreds of people, then within hours they heard from thousands.

Stories like the one of the person at the toll bridge who paid the toll for the driver behind them and started a whole chain of drivers paying for one another. Or the person at the check out stand at the grocery store who was handed an envelope before paying with a note that read “Enclosed please find $50.00. If you need it to help pay for your groceries, then please keep it. If not, please pass it on to the next person in line.” The people in line continued to add cash to the envelope until those who needed it were helped.

There was the story of the owner of a manufacturing company whose business is down by more than 50% who, instead of laying off employees, is sending them into the community to do good deeds like fix up a playground or paint the town church.

People do amazing, incredible and kind things every day that make this a better world. During these difficult economic times, those who contribute financially to others are noteworthy. During any time, those who commit time to another person in need or commit an act of kindness to a friend or complete stranger are truly making a difference in the world.

The fact is that when everybody does a little bit, eventually a lot gets done. What we all need to remember is that it does not take a lot of money to make a difference in this world. We just have to remember to do it.

I hope that I will always remember that. I hope that you do too.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Story. My Symptoms My Sorrows. My Successes. My MS.

Imagine waking up one day and realizing that your life, every aspect of it, is forever changed. That is what happened to me the moment the doctor said “You have MS.” Actually, by the time he told us (Us being my incredible partner and wife, Gail and me) on that Monday morning, we had already concluded that would be the diagnosis. We had the whole weekend to think about it, worry about it and be afraid.

At the moment that we knew what it was, we cried. We held each other and cried. We were afraid because this was a disease we knew nothing about. We only knew enough to know that our future was uncertain. But then again, whose isn’t?

That was on a Saturday. After we cried, after the shock or pain or reality began to sink in, we made the decision that whatever it was, we would learn about it, learn from it and be an example to our children, family and friends. I believe that is exactly what we have done.

When the diagnosis arrived that Monday morning, it was really more of a confirmation of what we already knew. I have MS. Okay. Now what?
Aside from starting to take medicine, at that time a daily injection, life was pretty much the same. I had my routine - work, eat, sleep, occasional exercise - but over time I started having some balance issues and my legs were getting a little wobbly. I started using a cane and everyone felt better after I did. Not too much later, I got a pretty severe staph infection and checked into the hospital for sixteen days. After I came out of the hospital, I started using a walker. That episode has been the most impactful one physically since my diagnosis.
Bla. Bla. Bla. Bla. Bla. If you are not bored yet by these details, know that I am.

My symptoms include the following:

Weak legs
Bladder issues
Erectile issues
Heat sensitivity (If I get hot or a fever, I can’t move)
My hands get tired quickly from typing, eating, etc.
I use a wheelchair whenever there is more than very little walking to be done.
I have osteoporosis (I take Boniva just like Sally Fields does)
I have severe sleep apnea. (We are now treating that)
I can only sit up at a desk for an hour or two before needing to lie down or use a recliner.
I can only stand for seconds at a time and need a walker to hold on to for that.

I get something called Lehrmittes Syndrome. Sometimes it really hurts. I can only guess that it feels like being tasered. It causes me to use expletives! It is not everyday and it doesn’t last for long….so I can live with it.

There are many other common symptoms that I do not have and for that I am grateful.

What else can I tell you?

I need help and I have learned to ask for it.

I need help throughout the day.
I need help getting my clothes out (I still dress myself).
I need help getting food and drink. I cannot get it on my own.
I fall down. Sometimes twice a week and sometimes twice a day.
My fine motor skills are limited. It takes me an eternity to button a shirt.

That is my disease. What it is not is who I am.

I am a happy man. I wake up feeling happy every day of my life.
I lead an amazing and very active life, filled with family and friends.
My marriage of almost 29 years is better than ever and I love my wife more today than I did on our wedding day. We go places and do the things that others only dream of.
Together we participate in anything and everything we can. We are active with our chapter of the MS Society. We have one of the biggest teams at the Greater LA Walk MS. We are active with other charities and truly feel that we make a difference in the world. Our lives are full, rich and so very worth living.

Together, we are absolutely who we want to be in the world around us.

Do I have challenges? Yes. Some days are clearly more difficult than others. Are we having a hard time making ends meet? You betcha! But all of that has nothing to do with who we are. Our circumstances do not determine our happiness.

Sometimes people say that they feel sorry for me because of all that I miss out on. I don’t feel that way at all. In fact, I wish that everybody could be me for just a day to experience the happiness and joy that I experience.

There is one that thing I write about and talk about often and that is gratitude. My MS has taught me more about gratitude than I ever could have learned from a life without incident. It is that knowledge and experience of gratitude that enables me to feel the way I do and wake up happy everyday of my life.

I suppose that I do have a disability. But that disability has caused me to have some super-abilities too.

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

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Are we part of a Lost Generation?

Please watch this short video.

What will it sound like when your life is played back?

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