Bitter Sweet

It’s a bitter-sweet symphony, this life.

I feel this way at times during the holiday season.

Joy and sadness mingled together to make a melody that speaks deep into my core. It’s a time to embrace friends and family that are here, and lament those that are not.

The true beauty of this song, is the mental and emotional plain you can find yourself on. If you allow yourself the time to dive deep into both the joy and the sadness, we may find ourselves at a place of clarity. Personally, both aspects of this bring me to a place of action.

I’m a day dreamer, many of those dreams attainable if I put myself out there. Most require me start laying a foundation to build on. Any relationship that we want to maintain, grow, or establish; require us to do something. It can be as simple as making a phone call, or grabbing a cup of coffee (or tea if that’s your…well…cup of tea I guess).

I just watched It’s a wonderful Life last night with my youngest daughter, which in itself was great experience (I’ll take any snuggle time I can get with my kids nowadays). It was a good reminder that true wealth and fulfillment is not found through monetary means; but rather, in the relationships we have. I love the quote at the end (which I reference a lot) “No man is failure who has friends.”

So let us embrace both the song of praise, and the song of lament this season; as we remember that which has passed, and that which lies ahead.


Take a moment


That’s what I tell myself as I wake up in a restless state this morning.

Just breathe.

It’s a lot harder than it sounds, because my mind is already indexing projects that should be completed; and planning out the day ahead. The only problem is that it’s the Friday after Thanksgiving, I got no work today, and the plan was to enjoy a day off with the family.


Do I have the power of mind to just chill for a while this morning? Sit back, drink some coffee, and go with the flow as the family wakes up. Perhaps see what they  would like to do today, and until they do wake up; dig until I find peace.

Just Chill.

I’m a morning person in the sense that I don’t sleep in much past 7:00 on the weekends, and I’m up at the butt crack o’ dawn during the work week. I’ve been working hard this year on utilizing my morning mind, which is the time during our fist waking hour when our mind is most free and creative. I’ve read a lot of articles this past year about the significance of our morning routines, and the power of our minds.


Well, it’s blog time again. This has helped me in so many ways this past year. Even now, as I type away; I find my heart slowing, and my mind calming. As the sun continues to rise, I have managed to stay on the couch with a cup of coffee and my computer; finding a simple joy in this moment.


I will take away a lesson from this morning. Perhaps an initial restlessness does not signify unbalance, but rather, a signal to dig deep until a purpose is uncovered. It does not matter whether this purpose, or it’s impact, is small or large; because if it’s there, it must be brought to light.

Breathe. Chill. Create. Learn.

One Thing

What is one thing I can give up today?

Furthermore, what is one thing that I can focus on today?

What would life look like if I asked myself these two questions each day?

This could be a revolutionary idea for growth, and realization of purpose.

If a life of impact and fulfillment is what I long for, then I must ask of myself that which desires intentionality.

“Two roads diverged in the wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by; and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost


What am I to you?

I have been thinking a lot about less lately.

Maybe this is natural as I get older, maybe it’s an overall shift in our culture (which would be a good thing); but I have been moving towards less stuff in my life, longing for more focus.

I have realized that there is direct connection (for me at least) between clutter and unrest. I am a simple man, yet I have slowly moved toward complex living in a sense. At the center,  I know that which is truly treasure: My wife, my children, my family, my friends, and my faith; these are of the utmost value to me, my top-tier treasure if you will.  Other things that bring me fulfillment are a job well done, playing guitar, writing songs, writing blogs (presently partaking in this one),  and hiking/running among other things; these would be my next tier of treasure in my life.  interesting thing is the lack of things in these lists.

If that which I value most is free of charge, and available constantly; why have I spent so much time shopping for, and accumulating stuff? I believe that this has very deep roots for me, which go back to my childhood. I have grown up telling myself that I am a “collector”. I have saved and taken care of comic books, sports cards, toys, Lord of the Rings memorabilia (nerd alert), amongst many other items. I have spent money on these, and I have wrapped a part of my identity in these. Some of the reasons for this may lie deeply rooted in my psyche, and may need professional help to diagnose; but I won’t drag you all down that rabbit hole in this blog.

I truly believe that starting as young as a child, I began to be drawn by the thrill of “the purchase.” I have accustomed myself to shopping, holding high value on that which I purchase; and worked hard to earn money to spend and these things that I would keep undamaged in their packages, holding on to some sort of hope some day that I would pass along a fortune to my kids. Well, that is not reality anymore folks! Through eBay, I realized that thousands of other people have held on to those same items I have, and are all trying to sell them. That means a flooded market, and that drives down the value of those items.

I would like to believe though, that it is more than just a market flooded by collectibles that has driven down the market. I believe that all of us are experiencing a shift in our world. Our eyes are being opened to the impact of consumerism, and the rippling effects that it has on our environment. The more we consume, the more waste there is. The more we continue to spend, the more we will be marketed to. We are hopefully realizing that it is the quality of what we have and do more than the quantity.

There is a great scene near the end of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie (Spoiler alert!) takes place between Captan Barbosa and Carina Smyth. As the story unfolds to the audience, we find that Carina is actually Barbosa’s long lost daughter. The moment at which she realizes that this Pirate is willing to sacrifice himself for her she asks:

“Tell me, what am I to you?”

Barbosa replies, “Treasure.”

Barbosa was a pirate, a life full of taking more and more, gathering and spending his “plunder”. At the end of all things, he sees what is truly valuable, and makes the greatest decision in his life based on that which he found to be true “treasure”.

Well now I’m all teary eyed, but I hope you get the point.

Let us seek that which is truly valuable in our life; and may our actions, time, and purchases reflect our true passion.

Doin’ Something

Doin’ Something, not just the title of a grooving jazz/funk album by Soulive (which I highly recommend), but a reminder that we need to be doing something, intentionally.

Think big.

Open my mind to see opportunities, both big and small.

Broaden my focus.

I want to see beyond my needs, and see what is needed from me.

Do not begrudge the task to get to the completion, rather, enjoy the project. See the work to create as valuable as the creation itself.

“Life is a journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

My friend gave me a book of short prayers that I read with my youngest daughter some nights, here is one of the prayers that she and I have memorized:

May I see each day (and the work that comes with it) as a gift.

This is good, because there is a lot of work to be done in this world. Work goes beyond making money, work is the process of creating something. Life is happening, and opportunity abounds!

Instead of saying to myself, “I should start writing again.”

I should write

this blog



Come Alive

What do I expect from life?

This is a question that we ask, even if we don’t realize we are asking it. We have expectations, and we desire some definition of success in our lives.

What does life expect from me?

This is a question that brings perspective. It drives us to look beyond ourselves. It’s a question that sends us down the path of meaning, as it helps us see a reason to continue on.

But where these two questions meet, I believe that is where we find purpose and fulfillment.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

We are dreamers and idealists, full of creative potential and passion; Yet we let our dreams fade, or we don’t even take the time to dream. We don’t set goals because it feels overwhelming, or we label our dreams as too grand or better suited for a better person.

Driven solely by the question what do I expect from life?, we set our goals too low. We set our vision too small. If you ask yourself What does life expect from me?  You must be ready and willing to answer the call; because you will find that life expects a lot from you. There is a purpose for you to fulfill, and a plethora of people who need you to ask that question.

I speak from a man who is starting to tap into this. I in no way have this figured out, but I am trying; and I share this be cause I care. There is a balance between these two questions, and it is full of opportunity. Let us seize the day, and live life to the full.


Rantings of a madman


To be or not to be, that is the choice.

What is it to be content? I feel like I haven’t truly lived in contentment for a while. I have practiced thankfulness, but have not truly engraved it in my soul yet.

As we have added more stuff and more responsibility to our life, I have felt more weighed down than content.

I truly desire simplicity because I believe that in simplicity there is clarity, and in clarity there is contentment. I believe that a simple path can be blazed through complexity; because a complex life can also be beautiful if it is trekked with focus and gratefulness.

I don’t desire a life void of responsibility, neither do I want a life void of stuff; but I do want to learn how to live inspired and focused.

I long to enter each day in patience not tolerance, focus rather than anxiety.

I do need to learn to laugh at myself, instead of clinging to each failure as if it defines who I am. Move forward.

Establish goals, define what’s important now to achieve those goals. 

Life is huge right now. There is a lot in the air, a lot in the mix, and a lot to be done. It’s a privilege to have so much opportunity in life.

How will I treat my wife and kids with kindness? Perhaps it starts with searching for the opportunities. In a moment of failure or mistake, seize that opportunity to uplift and encourage. In a moment of success or personal victory, join in that celebration; no matter how small.

There is so much room in my life and character to grow, so I must accept and embrace that.

Steadfastness. Contentment. Love and kindness.

Something I learned

I wake up daily searching for purpose and meaning; longing to know who I am supposed to be, and what I am here to do…this comes after I make my morning coffee of course.

How can I be the best dad I can be for my daughters? How can I be the best husband I can be for my wife? How do I make the most of each day?

Hungry for inspiration and clarity.

The overriding question to all of this is How can I be significant?

How does one even start to answer that question? It is a daily answer, a constant answer; and it requires direction. To be significant means that you have a positive impact in this life, and this means realizing that how we live affects others.

To work towards something, means you need something to work towards. I recently listened to a great interview with college football coach/analyst Lou Holtz. It’s about an hour, and it is totally worth it. Here is the link to the audio podcast: Lou Holtz interview

One of his keys to success is remembering W.I.N. What’s Important Now. This is how we stay on track with our goals; which means we need to have goals. One of my goals I set is to become more patient, and realize that how I  react to situations affect my family. If I truly want to achieve this, I need to exercise my mind and my heart. I need to ask my self each morning as the alarm goes off at the butt crack o’ dawn, what’s important now? I don’t really want to wake up, I’d rather sleep; but I need have time to start my day with prayer, meditation, exercise, and nutrition if I want to have a stable mindset for the day. If I truly want to strengthen my mind, improve how I react to change and unmet expectations, and think clearly; then I must invest daily in activities and practices that promote these things.

If your goal is to get stronger or drop wait, then being intentional about exercise and nutrition is important now. If your goal is to make more money, then showing up to work on time and working hard is important now. If I want to take my my family to Disneyland every year, then choosing to save a few bucks here and there instead of spending a few bucks here and there is important now.

The list goes on and on, but the idea helps gives direction and focus.

All of this is worth nothing if it were only benefiting myself, but the impact spreads so much wider than that. If I become more patient, then my family is happier; and we can do more in life. If we make more money, then we can give more money.

I hope you listen to that podcast and get inspired and laugh. My hope is that you realize that you are important to this life and this world. If we learn to set and achieve goals, our range of positive impact will constantly grow.


Free not Fear

What what I do if I were not afraid?

This is a good question, I read it in a book*. It sparked a lot of thoughts and emotions onside of me, as I have struggled with facing my fears my whole life it feels like.

My fears are all over the place it seems, but when I step back and take a look at myself; I realize that many of my fears have the same roots.

Lack of confidence, fear of embarrassment, they seem so petty; yet they have a hold on me. What we tell ourselves about ourselves is very powerful.

What would I do if I were not afraid? This question was then followed later with a statement: When you move beyond fear, you feel free.

Wow. So what this means, is that my fear is a choice. I can choose to step outside my door, look around my world, and choose to be still or to move. What would I do if were not afraid? Personally, I would be a better man; and potentially have a bigger impact n this life; not potentially, definitely. I think we all would if we all asked ourselves this question.

I would say yes more often. I have a tendency to overthink opportunity. Here are some small examples from my life; I feel silly writing them, but that’s probably fear based as well!

Music: I love to play guitar. I mean looove it. I love to write songs, instrumental and sometimes add words. I enjoy performing, but I don’t pursue it. I enjoy sharing my songs with others, but I don’t do it. I find myself being so critical of what I make, I imagine people not enjoying the songs, and I assume that they will be considered lesser songs when compared to others. Though, that is not how I feel about them. I love them, and I believe they can impact others as well. Music has always impacted me in a deep way, it has got me through a lot, and it has inspired me. I guess my fear is not playing in front of others; rather, it is fear how it will be received which will never be known if it’s never put out there.

Sporty stuff: This fear was easy to define, embarrassment. When I consider playing basketball, softball, or snowboarding with friends; all I can think about is people seeing me suck. This makes me say no a lot when asked to join. The funny thing is, I wouldn’t suck 100% of the time, I might actually do pretty well most of the time (51%).

Fathery stuff: Is it fear, selfishness, or both that keep me from diving in 100% with my kids and their dreams and imaginations? I have many examples of this, but maybe that is  for another blog post. Basically, kids are full of dreams and have huge imaginations. I don’t want to quench their passion by placing my fears on them.

My hope is this: that my openness about my fears will help others open up about theirs; because I believe that this world can be a much more loving caring and inspiring place if we did so.

I would probably listen to Man in the Mirror  by MJ right now if I were you.

What would I do if I were not afraid? When you move beyond fear, you feel free.

*Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr. Spencer Johnson is a book about change, and living with a purpose.

Remembering my Father

Dad. We miss him so much, as it feels he went too soon; but I know that death may always feel like that.

But this post is not to remember his death, but to remember his life.

Every man dies, not every man truly lives.” – William Wallace, Braveheart

Classic quote, possibly a little over used, but none the less relevant. In the context of Braveheart, this has epic implications; but I don’t think our actions in life need to be of epic proportions to have epic impact.

My dad was a simple kind of man. You could learn his priorities in life over a cup of coffee, it was obvious what he cared about. He loved Jesus, He loved his family, he loved golf, and he had the strongest work ethic I’ve ver seen… He also loved mexican food.

His love for Jesus drove him to devote himself to others. He was selfless, and he was caring. Growing up i n California, I remember he and my mom constantly involved in ministries and community. They would serve outside of church, and they would serve at church. I grew up in Calvary Chapel Downey. Every Sunday after church, I would run all around that church playing with my friends for about an hour as my mom and dad stayed to pray and talk with anyone who needed it.

Simple action, small sacrifice of time, but huge impact that I didn’t even realize until I got older.

To avoid an incredibly long blog, I will leave it here: My dad was and still is one of the most, if not the most, impactful people in my life. I am thankful that he and my mom loved us children the way that they did. In this world of growing responsibility and opportunity, I want to honor my dad by seeking focus in life. I want to calibrate my priorities in a way that my kids feel as loved and encouraged as I did.

Simplicity leads to focus, and focus leads to impact.

I love you and miss you so much dad.

Here is the link to the initial blog “Remembering our Father”

George Grayum: In loving memory

And here is the link to the memorial slideshow:

George Grayum Memorial Slideshow