My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Enjoyment of Scenic Drives

Our family spent our latest Saturday, on a scenic drive from New Braunfels to Boerne , Texas. The drive on 46 West is just 40 minutes. We enjoyed every minute of traveling the rolling hills of the Hill Country. In the sections with expanses of trees I was hoping to see some colors but it being just the start of Fall, and with the hot dry Summer here in Texas the leaf colors need a few more weeks.

A scenic drive is an enjoyable way to spend a day. The curvy roads of a state route are harder to drive than a major highway but the scenery shows the beauty of the countryside. The drive brought back memories of when I was young in Ohio. My mother had a family friend and his wife who would take us on Saturday drives and picnics in Southern Ohio. That area of Ohio had rolling hills just like the Hill Country of Texas.

You can do a scenic drive anytime of the year but I always preferred in Ohio, Illinois and Michigan to do them in the Fall to view the Fall foliage change. That is why even though we moved here in Summer to New Braunfels my wife an I were waiting until Fall to do our first local drive.

We spent a few hours in Boerne shopping and ate lunch at a Local eatery, The Peach Tree Café . The staff were very friendly and the food was fresh and delicious. The décor was simple, clean and quaint.

On our way out of Boerne back home we stopped at a riverside park. We took some pictures of ducks and geese being fed by a family. We noticed as well in the water a large number of turtles trying to battle with the geese for crumbs of bread. Of course the geese won out most of the time.

Our scenic drive day was a change of pace from our regular Saturday routine. Breaking from routine is part of Living More Than OK. Overall even with high gas prices it was a relatively low cost day. The important part is we were together enjoying the beauty that is scenic America.

The internet is a great place to obtain ideas for scenic drives. Here are a few websites you can go to for ideas:

In Texas --

In USA --

You can also take a map of your state and be more daring by charting out your own scenic drive through local country roads.

Reflection: Take a Saturday or Sunday drive exploring a new area you have never driven before.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fear Limits Our Dreams

Recently I was watching an interview with Jazz great Ramsey Lewis. In the interview he shared how he never considered himself as a composer. He thought of himself as a jazz performer of others’ music. He stated that to him, Burt Bacharach and Duke Ellington, were composers not him. He then candidly shared that at one point he realized fear was a major factor in his mindset about this matter. He shared how this limited him and he felt more peaceful and more joyful about his music once he opened himself to accept that he could be a composer as well.

His newest album, Songs From The Heart, is all compositions written by Ramsey Lewis. The following You tube link has some samples of the music and thoughts from Ramsey Lewis about the album. Take a listen to the video and listen to the music and what he says-- In the video you can hear his feelings about his being considered a composer. He shares as this new album came up he immediately started thinking of other peoples’ songs he could put on it. It took someone else to remind him he had his own songs for people to enjoy.
Reflecting on the interview reminded me of how fear can limit our progress in our life journey and the dreams we are attempting. Fear can smother and weaken us so we give up on what we want in life. The fear may be of what others may think. Fear of failure in making fools out of ourselves. Fear of imagined negative consequences often chain us into being stagnant and not growing.

With anything new in our lives there will be fear. So with each new dream, each new learning experience; we will be faced with fear. The important thing is what to do with the fear. John Maxwell in his book The Success Journey quotes Dr. Susan Jeffries, “As long as I continue to push out into the world, as long as I continue to stretch my capabilities, as long as I continue to take risks in making my dreams come true, I am going to experience fear.” Fear is a reality and we can’t hide from it. It is part of the risk process in trying new things in life. We need to keep pushing out into the world on our journey each day. Fear keeps us hiding from our journey.

Another fear quote in the same book is one I have shared often with students, “The hero and the coward both feel exactly the same fear, only the hero converts it into fire.” (Cus D’Amato). It is how we react to the fear that is important. It is about our attitude. Do we give up, or reevaluate and continue in a forward motion. There is nothing wrong about feeling fear. The wrongness is in letting fear control us and conquer us.

Going back to Ramsey Lewis, he conquered the fear by beyond open to his skills as a composer. He now has an album of his own compositions to share with the world. New songs that would not be here if he had caved into fear. What is being withheld from the world in bringing more beauty and joy into the world by our letting fear smother our dreams?

Reflection: Take some quiet time to reflect on dreams and new learning experiences you have been desiring. Is fear holding you back? Brainstorm some ideas on how you can get back on track on things you have put off in your life but really wanted to do.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Enjoying God’s Creatures

About a month ago our family visited the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch nearby our home in New Braunfels, TX. It is a wildlife park where you travel by car through 4 miles of Texas Hill Country terrain viewing a variety of animals from Africa and native Texas animals. According to their website they have over 40 different species of animals.

Before you begin you are given a bag of food to toss out of your car for the animals. Unlike a zoo where the animals are caged, here we humans are caged in our cars and the animals roam free in the confines of their territory.

The setting lended itself to great photography opportunities. I was driving so my wife, daughter, and nephew took most of the camera shots. I did get some in as you can see a couple photos here atop of this column. We enjoyed the opportunity to be so close to the animals.

The animals were very docile and probably enjoying the easy food. Even though it is best not to buy extra food, as the animals were primarily eating the grass and just saw our food as an extra snack on the side. For the most part everyone driving respected each other. There were a few pesky types that would impatiently drive faster than they should to get to the end of the trail quicker. If a person is in such a hurry why do they go to such a place where the pace is tranquil and slow?

The Ranch also had a small animal petting area of primarily goats and sheep for children to enjoy getting up close and personal with the animals. If you are in the New Braunfels, Texas area I would encourage you to check The Wildlife Ranch out.

Spending the morning there made me think of all the diversity in nature. I then thought of the God behind it all. When you view animals at a zoo or aquarium and think about the complexity and diversity I do not understand how people can not think of them as God’s creatures. Whether creationist or evolutionist, all this diversity demands a God behind it from my point of view. But of course others prefer to rest their belief in random chance.

At the end of the day I thought of memories of how my mother always enjoyed visiting zoos and aquariums. When she was alive and I lived in Chicago I flew her in to visit and we visited the Lincoln Park Zoo, The Aquarium in Chicago and the Brookfield Zoo. Some people do not like zoos as they feel it is caging up animals. Yet I feel zoos provide an opportunity for more people to understand and enjoy animals. They provide important education about wildlife and can help us appreciate God’s creatures.

Reflection: Take a visit some weekend soon to a local zoo, aquarium, or nature preserve to enjoy the animals and nature. Take a few moments at the end of the day to journal or draw your reflections of what you learned by observing the animals.