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)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Creativity of Christmas Lights in Windcrest

After our Christmas dinner, our daughter suggested we go to Windcrest, Texas to see the neighborhood Christmas lights. I always thought Windcrest was a neighborhood in San Antonio but it is actually a small city on the Northeast side of San Antonio. Every Christmas season they do a lights competition so their area has some of the most beautiful displays in the area.

As we drove in the main neighborhood with the displays; we saw as in previous years some of the standard displays. Then in other yards we saw new displays we had not seen before. What always strikes me is the wide variety of creativity seen through the neighborhood. As you can see in the pictures posted here some are simple as just a manger scene by a tree or elaborate animal cut-out displays. Several of the homes had Christmas carols playing in the background. I wondered to myself, if the creativity reflects on the people who are making up the displays.

Not every house has a display which shows it is not mandatory to live there to do the Christmas displays. Still plenty of homes do become involved. There are placements for different categories such as best mailbox display, most joyous, or most creative. I would not want to be a judge as there is such a large number of amazing displays.

With displays like this the streets were packed with cars but unlike traffic on the local highways people were very patient with each other. No one was honking at those getting out of their cars to take a picture under the largest mistletoe ball. Maybe it was the holiday spirit coming out and calming the drivers.

As I drove through, my wife and daughter enjoyed the sights and took pictures. I made sure we did not bump into any other cars but still was able to keep a good view on the various decorations. I also took time to savor memories of Christmas lights in the past. There is just something about the lights at Christmas time. They remind me of years ago when I would go back to see my mother at Christmas in Ohio when she was alive. One thing she always wanted me to do was to take her out in the car to see Christmas lights. So seeing the lights in Windcrest allowed me to go back to the fond memories of those times taking my mother out to enjoy the lights.

Pictures are important for future memories but there is nothing like the experience of enjoying the lights in the moment.

Reflection: What kind of memories do Christmas lights bring to your mind? What are your favorite Christmas memories?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Lessons from Enjoying Andrea Bocelli in Concert

Over a week ago we as a family enjoyed a concert experience of Andrea Bocelli in Austin, Texas. We had been anticipating the concert for months as we bought the tickets in Summer. We had viewed dvd’s of his concerts in the past yet in my mind’s eye nothing beats the live concert experience. That evening he was with a full orchestra and chorale, along with guest artists. My favorite of his guests was soprano Ana Maria Martinez. That to me is an amazing point about him. It is not all about him as he showcases other talents to help others in their careers.

He performed songs from his latest CD, “Cinema” as well as popular love songs and spiritual songs. With this being the Christmas season he also did O Come All Ye Faithful in Italian. My wife liked how he showed video of he and his wife during one of the love songs. To promote his Andrea Bocelli Foundation's 'Voices Of Haiti' Choir, he had backup on one song by a local Austin children’s choir. I have listed here the lyrics to one of my favorite songs of his. Take time to listen to the Youtube video embedded in the title by hyperlink:

The Prayer (Click on title to hear duet of Andrea Bocelli and Katherine McPhee)

I pray you'll be our eyes,
and watch us where we go
And help us to be wise,
in times when we don't know
Let this be our prayer,
when we lose our way
Lead us to a place,
guide us with your grace
To a place where we'll be safe.
La luce che tu hai
I pray we'll find your light
Nel cuore resterà
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarci che
When stars go out each night
L'eterna stella sei
Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c'è
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with your grace

Give us faith so we'll be safe
Sogniamo un mondo senza più violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace, di fraternità

La forza che ci dà
We ask that life be kind
È il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amor
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a sé
Another soul to love
Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child

Need to find a place,
guide us with your grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe
È la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salverà.

The lessons I learned from the night first of all was while I was listening to the song above, The Prayer. With his blindness he could be bitter, but his singing this song, one understands he has deep spiritual roots. That very first line “I pray you'll be our eyes” must have special meaning to someone who is blind. He is seeking God to guide with his grace and protection throughout each day, in a way that those of us with sight do not fully understand.

After the concert I looked up his biography at He was born September 22, 1958 in Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy. His parents encouraged music early in his life with various instruments. He also enjoyed sports especially soccer. He was not born blind but had visual impairment at birth. He actually lost his sight at age 12 playing soccer. I can’t imagine a young boy at that age losing his sight. Thankfully he had a supportive family who encouraged education. He kept his passion for music but his parents wanted him to be a lawyer and he did become one. At the same time he never gave up on music. Happenstance happened in his life with a chance event in 1992 when he recorded a demo tape of "Miserere" the song co-written by Bono of U2. This was heard by the famous Luciano Pavarotti who then helped Andrea spur his career in music to what it is today.

So Andrea Bocelli was respectful of his parents career advice but at the same time never gave up on his own passion for music. He was also proactive with happenstance in that he did not sit around waiting to be noticed but did demo tapes that just happened to reach a great singer like Pavarotti who understood Bocelli’s talent. You can’t just sit and wish on dreams and goals there is the need for action; in the case of music the hard work of creating demos and sending them out.

From a number of songs like The Prayer, above was also the reminder of the importance of the spiritual in our lives. Bocelli seems to understand that his life journey is guided by a power greater than he. Even though I use the word happenstance, I see it as God guiding the chance events in our lives and the wise person acknowledges this. I believe his God-centeredness is a driving force in his Foundation -- 'Voices Of Haiti'. He is using the musical talents of the children in the choir to help change their present lives and a future out of poverty.

We may not have the talent of an Andrea Bocelli but each of us has talents that can either be wasted by neglect or perfected by passion and drive. At this Christmas time this may be the right time to slow down and reflect on your talent and passion and see how you can grow into the New Year.

Reflection: Who is your favorite musician and what can you learn from their life? Take time and think over what your talent in is your life. Are you using your talent or is it stagnating? How can you improve your talent in the New Year?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Are You Thankful To Be Alive?

A reader of my book, Living More Than OK, (purchase at Barnes & Noble by clicking on title) complimented me on my book as it was helping him grow in his life. Although he said there was a song I should have added into the text. I made use of many songs in the book to make people think of the song’s messages but he had an addition. I asked him what song was that and he said “Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez”. He said it was a positive song from back in the days of disco. So at first chance I looked it up on Youtube and remembered it from the late 1970’s.

Patrick Hernandez is a French singer whose family roots are Spanish. He was more popular in Europe but his big hit, Born To Be Alive, gained gold status in the US and was on the Billboard charts for disco songs when it came out in 1979.

As I listened to the song and looked over the lyrics there is not a lot of depth to the lyrics but take a listen to it and see what you think.

Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez (click on the title hear to hear the song)

We were born to be alive
We were born to be alive
Born, born to be alive
(Won't you be alive)
You see you were born
Born, born
(Born to be alive)

People ask me why
I never find a place to stop
And settle down, down, down
But I never wanted all those things
People need to justify
Their lives, lives, lives

You see you were
Born, born, born to be alive
(Born to be alive)
You see you were
Born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
It's good to be alive
To be alive
To be alive
It's good to be alive
To be alive
To be alive
It's good to be alive

Time was on my side
When I was running down the street
It was so fine, fine, fine
A suitcase and an old guitar
And something new to occupy
My mind, mind, mind

You see you were born, born
Born to be alive
(Born to be alive)
You see you were born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
You see you were born, born, born
(Born to be alive)
Born, born to be alive

What I like about the song is the catchy tune is full of positive energy. I usually like deep lyrics I can think through but in this case the overall message makes me think about how we should look at life. We were not placed on this earth to just exist. Many times when I people-watch crowds too many people walk around like lifeless zombies. The song writer has it right that we were born to be alive!

I am thankful the reader of my book brought this song up to me, especially at this time. The message makes me think -- How am I occupying my mind this Christmas season? Do I dread the stress of the holidays, worn out as another year ends? Or am I thankful that “It’s good to be alive!” as the song says? How would each day be different if we would wake up and dance through the day realizing we were born to be alive and to understand in our mind that is a good thing!

I found it amazing that after listening to the song the gentleman pointed out to me; later that day on Facebook I saw a post from Success Magazine about 126 Ways To be Extraordinary ( With the song on my mind I read the article. I felt the ways to be extraordinary can be a help in living a more alive life. Here are 10 ways from the list that stood out to me (you can explore the article and find 10 that are important to you):

2. Say, “Thank you.”
3. Learn from your mistakes.
17. Plan to be successful.
21. Fight mediocrity.
51. Stay mentally strong.
70. Read a new biography.
91. Let someone else get the attention.
108. Have a big vision for those around you.
117. Write a kind note.
125. Remember the good times.

I was never big into disco back in the 1970’s as I was more of a classic rock person as in Kansas and Yes. But I am glad this reader of my book shared with me the disco song, Born To Be Alive. Is there a song you enjoy that has a positive message to it. Please leave a comment and let me know.

Reflection: How can you be more alive this Holiday Season? Look at the article 126 Ways To be Extraordinary at the link above and choose your personal list of top 10 ways to be extraordinary in your life.