Category Archives: Blogs

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: The Color Of Kindness

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: The Color Of Kindness

Kindness comes in all colors. Shouldn’t freedom, equality, and opportunity come in all colors too? It has been some time, March 17th actually, since I have given any Uber/Lyft rides. I miss meeting people in those rides and hearing their unique life journeys. That experience always helped restore my faith in humanity. With all that has happened and is happening in the world, that faith in people has been challenged again. More than any issue, and we have plenty to choose from, I am focused tonight on race. One of the benefits of being an Uber/Lyft driver is the diversity of my passengers. I often felt like the United Nations on wheels.

These last few years have been especially difficult for issues of race. We have seen much hate and fear. We have seen our own president spew hateful and racist language on an almost daily basis. Worse yet, black and brown people in this country have been marginalized and disadvantaged in ways we thought were being put behind us in the story of America.

A conversation, a true national dialogue is occurring and has been long overdue. We are in a unique moment for our nation. We, ALL OF US, need to use this moment for good, for progress. White people, we MUST work harder to understand the true racial inequities in this country. That means stepping outside of our belief system, our ideology. That means listening to black and brown perspective, learning black and brown history. It means honoring both the sacrifices of black and brown Americans, but also acknowledging current plight for people of color.

We cannot help or be a part of this conversation from our own white space. I am speaking now to my white friends and family who are outraged over people who kneel before the flag or protest systemic racism and police brutality.

That flag IS a symbol for our freedom, our national identity, 50 states united, and it IS something we honor as representing all those who have given their lives to defend it, to defend us. But when that freedom isn’t the same for all Americans, then the American flag isn’t living up to its promise. That means America isn’t living up to Its promise.

We cannot fly a flag that we hold so dear, because it represents free and equal Americans, if some of those whom we expect to honor it at ballgames and events don’t feel as free and equal as we do. Black and brown people love this country every bit as much as white people. I would argue they love it more because people of color have suffered so much more for the stars and stripes since before we even declared our independence.

We cannot continue to express outrage over flag kneeling, protesting and even the rioting (which is usually as diverse in the color of the agitators as the color of our citizens) and not continue the conversation as to why.

This is where white America is failing. We cannot be a contributing part of the conversation if our first comments are to express outrage and disappointment with how people choose to stand (or kneel) and be heard because they have and continue to suffer racial injustice, racial bias, police brutality, and feel marginalized under the banner that is supposed to symbolize equal freedom, justice, and opportunity.

My conservative friends and family continue to be unapologetic about being white and Christian and flag loving Americans. OK. You are in your white space and you refuse to give it up or step out of it. But why are you so offended by the idea that others, who don’t feel they have the same American promises as you should ask for it?

Show me a flag that truly represents a free and equal America, for people of all color, and I will show you a country free of protest.

We have a chance to change that. We, our generation, I mean those of us who are here now, we can and must find solutions together to end racism, racial inequalities and the gross imbalance of opportunity in this country (which goes well beyond race).

If you want to see an end to kneeling before the flag, to protests, to people feeling they must organize under a slogan that actually says black lives matter, yelling at them in outrage or condemnation about how, where, or when they should choose to be heard is not the answer. That is just white people living in their white space with their unempathetic white ideology.

White people, it is time to change the conversation. It is time we stopped requiring all these conditions of our brothers and sisters of color before they can stand and be heard. Moreover, we need to do more than just shut up and listen. For a brief moment after George Floyd was murdered it seemed like the whole nation was focused and listening. But that didn’t last more than a split second in our time and soon the familiar cacophony of racial division overtook the conversation again.

Even that moment fell short. More than just shutting up and listening, we need to understand. We need to engage. We need to recognize that to make this country live up to the ideals and promises, the freedoms we so greatly represent in our national identity, in our symbology, and in our flag, we must acknowledge that it will require white people to change. And therein lies the true issue at hand. We have a racial problem and it is white people who caused it, perpetuate it, and continually deny it. We need to acknowledge this. This is a difficult thing to do. But it is the kind thing to do and kindness comes in all colors. So life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should come in all colors as well.

I want to add a few words to this conversation from the Christian perspective. Christ was an incredible teacher. He gave us a path to follow. But Jesus was also a very good listener. As Christians, as white Christians, it would behoove us to first listen, second acknowledge and respect our brothers and sisters of color. 3rd, only assume they love America too. Protests are the proof, not evidence to the contrary. 4th, with no caveats or criticisms, we need to ask how we can help. We need to be willing able to change our own beliefs, even just a little.

I began looking to the Bible for guidance on this. I believe I found it. Not surprisingly it all comes down to effective communication and not prejudging. Guess what, white America, we can do better. We must do better. We must be better listeners. We must find a way to get out of our own white spaces and stop first requiring others to come to us and act through our societal lense.

I found this excerpt as part of a story online about proverbs 18, written by:

Steve Watkins, Pastor

Trinity Bible Church

Felton, California

“Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” The Hebrew word that is translated opinion in the ESV is leb – which simply means, “heart”, “mind”, or “the inner person.” In other words, verse 2 of Proverbs 18 ascribes to the fool the quality of neglecting and despising objective truth in favor of believing what he wants to believe. His opinion may or (most likely) may not be based on any kind of fact or evidence. More likely, the fool’s “opinion” is a conclusion that is convenient to his own inner, self-serving feelings and desires.”

Let us not make conclusions driven by our own selfish, prideful, and myopic sense of what we believe we deserve. Otherwise we won’t see past our own “needs” and “rights” to even imagine what others might be going through. How hurtful our selfish, prideful foolishness can be.

“Verse 13 of Proverbs 18 reinforces this wisdom and points to the damage it causes, saying, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.”  Jesus surely taught us, in the Sermon on the Mount, that the wisdom and Law of God’s righteousness applies not only to the outside of the cup of our lives, but most importantly, to the inside. Proverbs does not only condemn as foolishness the impulsive words that come out of our mouths, but first and foremost the impulsive conclusions of mind and heart that drive those words. The folly of verbalizing an answer before hearing comes from the inner arrogance of believing a conclusion before having all the facts, which is precisely the sin that verse 2 exposes. How often we give ourselves permission to do this! How often we elevate our own inner perceptions and instincts (formed by our own sinful tendencies toward self-justification) to the level of inerrancy, and then allow ourselves to form conclusions that become the basis for accusations that have no basis in fact, reality or truth.”

We said goodbye to John Lewis this week. He has been a true Kindness Warrior throughout his life. His kind and peaceful leadership came in all colors. He has given all of us a blueprint for peace and equality, as well as our marching orders to continue improving America and the promise of freedom and equality. Contrary to popular belief, kindness can be very difficult and challenging. But that kindness is forever remembered in living color. We are in a critical moment in our country. My prayer is that love and kindness should win the day…

For John, for all of us.

Peace be with you, Kindness Warriors. Keep the conversation going.

Checkout Byron Sanders

Byron Sanders is the President and CEO of Big Thought. He says he sees more people willing to engage than ever before and knows that real change and improvement can happen if we don’t shrink away from this moment. MORE: wfaa.com/equality Subscribe to WFAA: https://bit.ly/subscribetowfaa

“This is about us reclaiming all of who we were born to be and loving each other.”

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: For Dad

I wrote this post below on March 4, 2019, not long after I had a heart attack and received 2 stents. I got a third a few months later. Now, as I write this update to the story, my father is in the hospital in Carson City. He and his wife live in Reno, but they chose the Carson hospital because they thought they would receive greater care for his heart issue. My dad is currently in his procedure now; Angiogram to see what is happening. I found it remarkable when Debby (my father’s wife) told me the Doc who is performing the procedure used to actually play backup guitar for Bob Seger. Well, there you have it. God’s grace through healing hands and, well, Rock-n-Roll!

My father, Lloyd and my son, Jacob during a family trip in 2011.

I am praying for good news. In the mean time, I am sharing this post again for Pop. He too, is tired and worn, but still running against the wind...

The Longest Trip.

Lord, I’m tired. I wonder, Lord, if you might give me shelter from the storm. The wind is blowing and I’m getting older. The wind is blowing and I am still running against it, as I have always done. But I’m tired and worn. I need some help. I need some hope. I just can’t shake this and I have lost a step or two…

Lately, I have been struggling. I have been questioning. I have been confused. There are days, more lately, where I find myself trying to reconcile God’s will with my own. I feel like I can’t find that balance. There is this nagging fear that I am failing, going nowhere, no matter how hard I try. There have been too many days where I forgot what it feels like, to feel good. Sometimes it feels like pushing on the ocean. Buts its just running against the wind, and I am not failing. And, I am not forsaken.

I haven’t written much lately. I haven’t found my voice again. At least until now. But this has taken me weeks to write. I have been in a bit of a fog, feeling weak, feeling like I have been knocked down and I am still coming to my senses. I feel incredibly mortal, fragile. And, that will pass. But nothing comes easy. There is a cost to everything.

We all struggle. If you look around and think about it, every person you know has struggles. That’s life. We all get knocked down. We all deal with difficult times. We are all still running against the wind. At least now that we’re older, we know we are stronger together. And, we are stronger through God’s grace.

Still, I am struggling.

Sunday, March 4th, 2019

Last night I picked up Steve and Susan from DFW airport. We hit it off before we got out of the terminal area. I am very glad too, because it was a 2 hour trip down just southwest of Waco. They live in McGregor, TX.
I actually took them to the municipal airport where they have a hangar that keeps their 1961 Beechcraft Bonanza. Their car happened to be there as well.

Steve and I swapped flying stories. I have a little flight time in the same make and model as his Bonzana. Stock photo below.

1961 Beechcraft Bonanza

They haven’t lived in Texas very long; less than a year. I asked Steve what brought him to Texas and he answered, Chip and Joanna Gaines. Seriously? I asked. Apparently, they watched the show Fixer Upper and decided Waco seemed like a nice place to live. It definitely has a lower cost of living than their previous home of 30 years, in Seattle.

Originally, they planned a retirement in the Caribbean, spending all their time on a catamaran. But their son was diagnosed with cancer. He is good now. But they say the next 5 years are the greatest risk of it returning. Steve and Susan decided to stay landside in case their son needed help. He lives in Houston.

So they came down and met the Gaineses. Joanna helped them find a house in McGregor. Their house in a Seattle suburb sold for $450 per square foot. Their new home in Texas cost $97 per sq. foot. They doubled the size for less money. Susan said they love being here and wish they had come to Texas 20 years ago.

As we continued to talk about aviation we started getting into the history of both our families. It turns out, Steve’s dad flew F4U-4 Corsairs in WWII. He was based in Guadalcanal, Henderson Field for a bit as well as the carriers, Lexington and Enterprise. While it was a completely different ship and in the 1970’s my father was an air traffic controller on the nuclear version of the Enterprise, CVN65.
Besides the F4U-4 Corsair, Steve’s father also flew Wildcats and Bearcats off the deck of a carrier. My favorite aircraft of all time is the F4U corsair and it just happens to be Steve’s dad’s favorite as well. Especially since he flew them in combat, dogfighting Japanese Zeroes.

F4-U Corsair

Dropping Steve and Susan off at McGregor airport was a real treat. It has been a while since I have been on an airfield. I enjoyed following the taxi lane to his hanger. It definitely brought back some memories.

Dropping them off completed the longest trip thus far in my 2 and a 1/2 years of driving Uber and Lyft. I think it was 123 miles. We had such a great time talking along the way, they offered to take me to dinner in Waco at their favorite burger place called Freddy’s. I had to gracefully decline and get back up to DFW. But it sure was a nice gesture. Steve and Susan, you guys are true kindness Warriors. Correction, Kindness Aviators!

Talking about our experience flying brought back so many memories. Thinking back on those days, I was so confident, so ambitious. I didn’t play by anyone elses rules. I thought I could do anything. But I was always running. I was running to or from something. Heartache, depression, loneliness, who knows exactly. But when I flew, I was at peace. Up there with the deep blue sky and the lofty clouds, I had no fears. My demons were left on the ground below. Up there it was just me and God.

Now, here I am, ragged and worn, still trying to re-engage. Still trying to find that place of grace that seems lost. I am running on fumes with no end in sight. But, I am still running.

Bob Seger was in town Saturday at the Ford Center in Frisco. I think his song, Against the Wind represents it best.

I know I am not alone. We are all struggling. We all keep running against the wind. It’s what we do. Sometimes, it’s all we can do.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles

StreetLights: From The Garage Friday June 26, 2020

From the garage…

Perfect weather as the sun sets here in Arlington, TX. Enjoying a relaxing evening. I do miss the road and the interesting stories from my riders. In the meantime, I have a few people to write about soon and there is this:

As I continue to sort through meaningful songs I always have a habit of going back to certain artists like Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

Neil Young wrote Helpless in 1969. This is one of those songs that really makes me delve deep into its meaning, or at least my interpretation of the song. I began to think of the helpless feeling one might have in isolation due to Covid19. In the song, Young refers to a town in North Ontario. It is pretty isolated up there. As one writer put it, when expressing his interpretation, “when you live in a town like that, you often feel helpless because you are. But there is beauty there like nowhere else. So when you are back to “civilization” you miss it.”

Perhaps it can be used as a feeling of despair that you cannot help, but there is still this image,

“Blue, blue windows behind the stars,
Yellow moon on the rise,
Big birds flying across the sky,”

Isolation is tough. I got to see some familiar faces tonight that I have seen in months. It was brief but meaningful nonetheless. This song has always been a favorite of mine. I would play it when I felt alone, sitting in my little apartment.

Melancholia.

But here is the thing, the silver lining if you will.

Even in times of sadness, despair, helplessness, there is beauty and grace.

Check in on someone this weekend. Reach out. There are many forms of isolation and many who feel helpless don’t know how to reach out.

Anyway, it is Friday. Have a great weekend everyone!

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected.

Life is better with a soundtrack.

This version of Neil Young’s Helpless by Buffy Sainte-Marie is pow wow werful!

kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #TheKindnessClub #StreetLights #Grace #drivingawaydepression #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack #weareallconnected

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Heart of Gold

June 14, 2020

The sun came up today, as it did yesterday and will again tomorrow. We have faith in that. It is a reliable constant that has never failed us. It’s Sunday in DFW. It is getting hot. As I sit here in my car, I notice the life around me. Lots of cars on the road. A nearly full city bus just drove by. There are several cars in the drive thru at Jack in the Box and Panda Express. Bees are circling the trash can in the parking lot where I am waiting. I am enjoying the bright sun, the blue sky and the scattered clouds, always a beautiful palette. There is something captivating about the sky and clouds. I bet I have taken a thousand pictures or more of the sky. The sky is both a constant and ever changing at the same time.

With the exception of a select few talented and dare I say lucky space travelers, we can always count on the sky over us, along with the sun and moon and the stars.

As I sit here appreciating the clouds and the bees and all these other little details around me that seem normal, peaceful, and ordinary, I see a man on the bridge that crosses the highway. He seems ancient, just skin and bone. His skin is darkened by all the sun his face has seen. His back is bowed and he moves ever so slowly but seemingly so deliberate, as if he had a mission that has taken his whole life and he was nearing the end. This man, the man on the bridge, the bridge man is wearing a paper surgical mask and holding a sign that says Peace and God Bless You on a torn piece of cardboard.

I wonder what Bridge Man sees when he looks around. I wonder if he appreciates the sky and the bees and the seemingly normal things around both of us. I wonder how different his perspective is from my own about the same surroundings. I wonder what he thinks about the troubled times we live in. He obviously knows about the pandemic. Does he know about the civil unrest? Does he care? He appears homeless and destitute. I think if I was in his shoes the world wouldn’t matter so much as what I would do for my next meal and where I might sleep tonight.

Does Bridge Man have any family or friends? How did he get here? Does he have a mental health issue? Is he struggling with alcohol or drug abuse? I watched as bridge man slowly disappeared beyond the apex of the bridge.

The man I was waiting for finally made it out to the car. His name is John. I met John recently at a new job and got to know him a bit. It turns out, John is a two-time felon who has only been out of his 2nd prison term for a few months. He lives in a sort of halfway house for men. I have been there and it is really quite nice. It is a two-story house with lots of shade and a pool in the back. So, John has a place to stay as he tries to get his life together. But he doesn’t have a car and he has a limited education. John is taking courses to become a HVAC technician. A few weeks after I met him, the new company I work for let him go because he didn’t clear the background check. He is now working at Jack in the Box. John is a little rough around the edges. He has had a hard life. He has even been shot twice in the face so he has a few mangled teeth. I give John a ride to class on Mondays and occasionally a ride home from work. It seemed like the least I could do. Once you are down, it’s very hard to get back up. John is trying.

With all the protests, I was reminded of an interaction with one of my riders last fall. I think it was shortly after Atatiana Jefferson was killed. It was raining, late on a Saturday night and I was picking up someone named Henry. All of the sudden the back door of my car opened and in flew someone from the rain with his hoody tightly pulled around his head. The second he got the door closed he ripped the hoody back, threw his hands up, and with a big disarming smile said “Hands up. Don’t shoot.” There was nothing remarkable enough about the trip for me to write about Henry at the time. At least I didn’t think so then. But I remembered him because of the way he made his entrance to the car and we did have a short conversation about race, white privilege, and both wondered if it would ever get better. I remember asking him that question. His answer was, “Only if we keep the conversation going and not the bullets.”

I miss those little interactions with my passengers. No matter how terrible the world seemed on the news, I could always get in my car, flip on the Uber/Lyft apps and meet new people who never failed to restore my faith in humanity.

What do these stories say about our society? How many homeless before we change the way we provide for our citizenry? How can someone truly get a second chance in a society that is already almost impossible for poor people who haven’t committed any crimes? How many black lives must be lost before we truly address police brutality and systemic racism? Could we finally be ALL in to address the racial injustices of our beloved America?

I certainly don’t have the answers. In my life journey, I have learned this much:

There is Grace in everything.

Each of those men reminded me about what matters in life and how I wish to live it. We are all connected in this world. Many of us fall through the cracks of society, become invisible. But those lost to the shadows have needs, feel love and sorrow.

We turn away from them daily, often without even thinking about it. Those of us who make mistakes and pay for those mistakes according to our justice system never stop paying for them in our society.

Maybe now, with this perfect storm of a pandemic, a racist and corrupt president exacerbating societal fault lines, and finally, white America is finally listening and learning just how many black lives died through police brutality and how very different our worlds are traveling down the same street. Maybe now we can truly change. Maybe now is the time we have all been waiting for. I am not foolish enough to think we will achieve world peace and equality tomorrow but maybe we can finally move our country toward a more perfect union.


As dark and frightening as the world may seem, it is easy to lose sight of God’s loving hands. We see less clearly with so much darkness in the world. I see way too many fellow Christians supporting and defending, vehemently defending rhetoric and actions that are anything but Christlike. When in truth, we should be setting a higher example and lighting the path to peace and justice and belonging; like Streetlights on a Saturday night, guiding us home. This battle for what many are calling the soul of our nation often pushes my anger in the direction of hate. Thinking of those 3 men, how could I be so vain and self-righteous?

And that is what reminded me once again, that there is grace in everything, everywhere. And through God’s grace we shall prevail.


Grace is all around us. It becomes harder to see and feel, to witness, when we carry hate and anger and fear in our hearts. But, nevertheless, it is there, grace. When we open our hearts and our eyes to see it, to feel it, to witness it we will know God’s love.

This is a daily gift from God. Imagine a set of rose colored eye glasses that have a unique power to see beautiful surroundings that are otherwise invisible. The surroundings are always there but without those glasses you cannot see how incredibly beautiful your surroundings truly are. Faith, love, and kindness are the filters through which we can truly see, feel, and witness the beauty of God’s grace.

I see it all the time now. Although, it took me more than forty years to find my rose-colored glasses and I still misplace them from time to time. Lately, I seem to forget them more often. We are in challenging times that can leave us all in a state of anger, hopelessness, fear, and despair. Lately I seem to get sidetracked and off message.

There are definitely things to be angry about. There is nothing wrong with anger. There are many wrongs that need to be righted. With all that this nation and the world is dealing with, it is easy to become the very thing we are fighting against, hate.

I have been listening to songs from the sixties and early seventies. I have been listening to the lyrics of songs like Blowin’ In The Wind, For What It’s Worth, and Change Is Gonna Come; songs written 50 and 60 years ago but seem like they could have been written yesterday. One of my favorite songwriters is Neil Young. I have always loved his song Heart Of Gold. I read the lyrics again, like one might read the Bible, searching for a deeper meaning, a lesson. I found one. It is this,

On this often difficult and sometimes painful journey of life, we all find ourselves searching for a heart of gold. I think what those lyrics mean for me is an internal quest. Perhaps that is what Young meant too. Of my attempts and my own failings, I am constantly looking for that heart of gold within me. Life continues to challenge that quest. Life can make me cynical and angry, sad and hopeless. But If I keep searching for goodness and purpose within my own heart, God will take care of the rest.

I wonder if Bridge Man, John, and Henry are looking for their heart of gold. How about you?

If you can’t change the world, change yourself.

Be love. Be kind. We are all connected.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #weareallconnected #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack

Rocket Man

Slightly updated this memory from 2018 for relevance to our current conditions.

April 13, 2020

The pandemic which has changed our world is not nearly done. As we brace for what is next, many of us do so alone. Depression must also be a condition/symptom/consequence of Covid-19. For my own experience, driving Uber and Lyft, meeting people and listening to the many incredible life stories has always been my therapy for counteracting my depression. At least, it has been a big part of my anti-depressant toolbox.

I have found a silver lining to this virus. I have been home with my family, at least most of my family. My days have been spent connecting with my wife and kids, reaching out to friends and family, and lots of yardwork. And I have been loving every single minute of it. I thought being taken off the road would be a challenge for my chronic depression, but I was wrong. I have found more joy and less stress during the last month than I ever remember.

But, the fact that so many people out there are dealing with loneliness and isolation, that fact is not lost on me. So I say to each of you, especially to my depressive brothers and sisters, I love you. You are not alone.

For folks who do not understand depression, please hear me! When depression sets in, it is like a fog. It is cold and confusing. It isn’t enough to say, call me. Depression often takes away the ability for someone to reach out for help. So we must be proactive. We must all be light. We must be kindness warriors and spread love in the time of Covid-19.

I see this in action. I see heroes rising. I see angels in email. I hear the beauty and love shared in song, on Facebook, ZOOM, WebEx, drive-by celebrations.

Love and kindness from 6 feet or through a camera lens will defeat this pandemic. So, keep checking up on each other. Keep the conversation going. A simple call or letter, or email, text, etc. might just save a life. Don’t be afraid. God is with us, always.

April 13, 2018

For the journey…

I get behind the wheel, engine start, all systems check. Flip on the app, and away I go. I am now far away. Halfway to Mars.

“I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight
And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
‘Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone”

Its always been my favorite Elton John song. I think I understand why, now. It’s day 129 since I hit rock bottom with depression. The climb is still wrought with danger, emotion, and self deception, self destruction. It’s lonely out in space.

But, I’m a Rocket Man.

StreetLights

Make it count. We are all connected. Let your loved ones know you love them. Spend as much time with them as you can. In this time of Covid-19, be purposefully kind. Be extraordinary! Be love.

For the journey…

Streetlights guide our path in the darkness. This blog is about my travels as an Uber/Lyft driver, the incredible people I meet, battles with depression, recovery, and stories of kindness.

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Phoenix

Facebook Memories is a great feature. I am constantly reminded of the many wonderful people I have met and posted about, through Uber and Lyft. Yesterday, that reminder was about a man I met 2 years ago, named Winston.

In 2005, Winston Norton suffered a burst aneurysm of the brain. He was taken to the hospital but was expected to die within 24 hours. The aneurysm caused a severe stroke. When the doctors went in to try and fix the aneurysm, they found over 40 more.

The chance Winston would live was becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, he coded (heart stopped) more than once.

He lived.

Winston had lost much of his body function and control. He couldn’t move half his body. He spent 9 months at Baylor University Medical Center. 9 months!

Winston is a man of faith and determination. You can see the trauma he suffered in his walk, but you couldn’t tell from his outlook on life. He lives to serve now, thanking God for every precious, beautiful day.

He knows God still has a purpose for him so he works everyday to fulfill that purpose. His recovery/survival is nothing short of a miracle.

He believes it is important to tell his story. He and I both agreed we didn’t cross paths by chance.

Winston, rise again my friend, and keep inspiring people through your story and your dedicaton to spreading kindness and love.

Winston’s story got me thinking about the mythical bird, Phoenix. Like the Phoenix, Winston rose from the ashes. That led me to a Dan Fogelberg song of the same name that I listened to often, in my youth. When I listened to it again today, I found a particularly powerful line from this excerpt, “Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
Like a Phoenix,
I have risen from the flames
No more living
Someone else’s dreams.”

Someone else’s dreams…

In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz describes our lives as dreams. “What you are seeing and hearing right now is nothing but a dream. You are dreaming right now in this moment. You are dreaming with the brain awake.”

We make many agreements with life, with God, with ourselves. In doing so, we submit to the dreams, or the influence of others, in the way we think, we perceive, we act. We live someone else’s dreams. The Four Agreements teaches us how to break old agreements and make four agreements with ourselves to create our own dream, free of influence from others. In doing so, we are filled with love and peace.

Our lives are like the life of the Phoenix. There are periods, even days when we die and are reborn. As Christians, we attach this life experience to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each day is a renewal. Each day is an opportunity to become a better person, to give and receive love, to enjoy God’s creation and grace. Each day we rise like the Phoenix.

So RISE! Get up, get out, and feel God’s love. Share that love, so that others may find their way out of the dark, out of someone else’s dream.

Thanks for the book recommendation Mindy Lee Carlson.

Happy Easter, my friends. He is risen! Be safe in this extraordinary moment in time. Be love. Be kind.

StreetLights On A Saturday Night: Love In The Time Of Covid-19

Love in the time of Covid-19

We have all become familiar with some new terms like shelter-in-place and social distancing. More than that, we are all adjusting to a very different world. There have been moments that feel as if each of us are on our own little space station floating around the earth. My station has artificial gravity, a fridge full of food, comfy bed, and a ton of movies, so it isn’t too bad. I also get to share this space station with my wife and three out of my four kids. I wish the 4th was here too but he is on his own space station. Every once in a while, we venture out in our trusty spacecraft to a large star base to resupply. My mother’s little space station where she is on her own is close by and since she is practicing the same isolation protocols as we are, we can still travel to and from her place.

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, there is much suffering and much danger. But there is also something good. There is much love. Love is strong. Love is powerful. And, love is everywhere in this time of Covid-19. As we first began to hear news of this virus and when the first cases were reported here in the United States, my initial reaction was anger. That anger consumed me. I am a news junkie anyway, but with this virus, I opened up the information valve all the way. This just intensified my outrage. And, for good reason. However, as I observe others, as I see posts online, and as I feel it here in my home, my little space station, I have become overwhelmed with love.  I see the love we share with others in a time such as this. I see selfless acts of love from every doctor, nurse, EMT, grocery store worker, restaurant employee, and so many other people who continue to work hard making sure we still function as a society and we still take care of people in need.  It is times like this when heroes shall rise.  And they have!

I haven’t driven in almost three weeks. It just became too dangerous. I miss the personal connections I make with passengers. Driving Uber and Lyft has always been a method of restoring my withered faith in humanity. I am finding new ways to appreciate and renew that faith. In a world of darkness, I see a million points of light. I see people helping people. I see the incredible love and kindness that IS humanity at its finest. And, that give me hope.

We recently lost a bright light, Bill Withers. But really, his light will keep shining for all of us in his music.

Excerpt from New York Times:

“At 17, eager to avoid a coal-mine career himself, Mr. Withers joined the Navy. “My first goal was, I didn’t want to be a cook or a steward,” he told Rolling Stone. “So, I went to aircraft-mechanic school.” He spent nine years in the service, some of it stationed in Guam. He quit the Navy in 1965, while stationed in California, and eventually got a job at an airplane parts factory. A visit to a nightclub to see Lou Rawls perform was a catalyst for changing his life. “I was making $3 an hour, looking for friendly women, but nobody found me interesting,” he said. “Then Rawls walked in, and all these women are talking to him.”

He bought a cheap guitar at a pawnshop, started learning to play it and writing songs, and eventually recorded a demo. Clarence Avant, a music executive who had just founded an independent label, Sussex, took note and set him up with the keyboardist Booker T. Jones, of Booker T. & the MG’s, to produce an album.

“Bill came right from the factory and showed up in his old brogans and his old clunk of a car with a notebook full of songs,” Mr. Jones told Rolling Stone. “When he saw everyone in the studio, he asked to speak to me privately and said, ‘Booker, who is going to sing these songs?’ I said, ‘You are, Bill.’ He was expecting some other vocalist to show up.”

Mr. Withers was laid off from his factory job a few months before “Just as I Am” came out. After the album’s release, he recalled, he received two letters on the same day. One was from his workplace asking him to return to work. The other was from “The Tonight Show,” where he appeared in November 1971.”  NYT April 3, 2020.

What an amazing story! Bill Withers, with no music background, bought a guitar and started writing and playing music in his 30s. “It was just something I decided to do,” he said. He was inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame by Stevie Wonder in 2015.undefined

For the record, “Ain’t No Sunshine” which garnered Withers his first Grammy was the B-side to “Harlem.”

We are going to get through this time of Covid-19. We are going to keep the fire bright. We are all connected!

So, for this edition of StreetLights On A Saturday Night, I leave you with a little love from Bill Withers. I truly hope it has been a lovely day, friends.

Life is better with a soundtrack!

Be safe. Be love. Be kind.

#kindness #purposefulkindness #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #Whatawonderfulworld #StreetLightsonasaturdaynight #TheKindnessClub #grace #Weareallconnected #Lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack

streetlights on a Saturday night 2 of 3 April 1st, 2020

StreetLights on a Saturday night

Part 2 of 3
Last Ride


Occurred March 25th, 2018

It was late Saturday night, after midnight. Okay, early Sunday morning!

I am exhausted. My whole week went sideways. It seems to do that often. I haven’t slept well in days. My restless legs have kept me up. It’s a nice bonus every time I get one of those steroid injections in my neck for a collapsed disc. My goals for the week were on the horizon but now have completely vanished. A few more rides like the last one and I am just done.

It is day 110 of recovery from depression rock bottom back in early December. I have managed to keep clear of the fog, for the most part. That nasty shadow has been chasing me, but hasn’t been able to catch me. I have been keeping it under control.

I am so tired. No way to hit that bonus. I think it may be time to head home. I will start again in the morning. Means, I miss church again but, need to work.

I was on highway 114 coming back from the west and looking to make the highway 121 exchange to head home.

The Lyft app began chirping with a request. Wow, its 17 minutes away. I accepted it. It turns out it was coming from the airport. I guess there is a real shortage of drivers in the queue at the airport. It isn’t common to get an airport pickup 17 minutes away. So, I headed in. I didn’t get far before the rider cancelled. I guess he didn’t like the wait time.

Well, I am headed toward the airport anyway. I will take just one more rider. I will make this one count and then head home to try again tomorrow. Just one more trip. Just then, the app started chirping again, 11 minutes away this time. I accepted it. Wow, another airport request. Bet they cancel. But I am going that way.

This request wasn’t canceled. It was a pickup at DFW Airport Terminal A. Really late for activity there. I was exhausted and feeling beat down. I could feel that shadow starting to move around me. I was feeling sorry for myself and I was feeling like a failure, my mind was getting dark. But I am going to get this one last rider home.
As I approached the Terminal I saw my passenger, looking at me. Man, this guy looked worse than I feel. You could tell he was running on empty just by watching him move as I pulled up.

Just this last ride. Just one more ride and I will head home. I feel like I haven’t seen or spent time with my family in weeks. I have missed church and my friends there. Now I am going to miss everyone again. I will GET UP and keep fighting again tomorrow, I guess. Starting to wonder what the point is. I am so tired. Just one more ride tonight. Just one more Saturday night drive. Ok, time to put on a smile and get this guy home. Clearly he needs to get there. Got to keep movin’. Got to keep fighting. Else, who am I?

Hello James. Welcome back to DFW. Let’s see where we are headed…

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #Peopleprofiles #weareallconnected #lifeisbetterwithasoundtrack


streetlights on a Saturday night 3 of 3, April 1st, 2020

StreetLights on a Saturday night
Part 3 of 3
Silver Linings

Occurred March 25, 2018

In the struggle of life, especially those long stretches of time when we try to change, to improve, there is a strong counteracting force. It will knock you down, kick you, and steal your lunch money! You get the idea. Change is hard. When we attempt it, we often fail, and then fail again.

There are often times of sorrow or sadness. We are emotional, loving beings. When we are away from our loved ones it takes an emotional toll. When we lose someone, it takes a toll. When we become sick, it takes a toll.

When we must isolate ourselves at home, it takes a toll.

Something I know to be true, God is active in our lives. God puts people in our lives when we need them. God won’t give us more than we can handle. And, God has a purpose for each of us.

Last Saturday I was run down. Last Saturday I was feeling depressed. I was driving late, and I was exhausted. I picked up James from the airport and took him home to his house in Frisco. James seemed to fall into the car feeling exhausted himself. We got through the introductions and started the trip. I asked him if he had been traveling all day and he smiled and said he had a horrible trip. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong. He said he desperately just wanted to make it home with no more issues, problems, or delays.

“I’ve got you covered!” I said. “Now tell me what happened on this horrible trip.” So James began telling this remarkable story of bad hotel rooms, broken rental cars, setbacks at work, and crazy flight delays. When he was done, I told him we needed to get him home as fast as we can so he can get out of my car and take that bad mojo with him! He laughed, but said the odds were against us. He was tired of travel and sad because he missed his family. I could certainly relate to that.

“James, your story alone is hilarious. Yes, it was all troubling and difficult to endure, but that was one of the worst travel experiences I have listened to, which makes it funny! And here you are on the final leg of your journey home. I will get us there!”

James asked me how my week went. I told him, not so well and explained all the things that went wrong with my week. After each of us had a chance to tell our stories to each other we both began to look for the silver lining, and we found it!

James ended up closer to his headquarters as a result of an issue with his first hotel room in Denver. He got upgraded when his rental car broke down. He could have been on the flight when the raft was triggered. It could have happened in the air. As far as his phone goes, well, stuff happens. But how cool was it that the trunk was triggered, sending his coffee mug right to him. That must have been quite a site. I told James I thought he now has a great story to tell his family in the morning to make them all laugh.

My week wasn’t the worst. Sure, I was tired. But I had so many wonderful interactions with people. I picked up some job leads and received help from numerous friends. James asked me what was most important in my life. I told him, my family. He said forget driving in the morning and get to church. He was right! I needed to be with my family. And I needed to recharge spiritually.

Sometimes, we need help gaining the right perspective on things. God is active in our lives. Meeting James was God’s doing. James was his messenger. And I was God’s messenger and delivery service for James. I delivered him to his doorstep at 1:58 AM. No issues or problems occurred.

Two weary travelers offering each other kind words and an ear. Just what each of us needed at the time. And our journey continues…

April 1st, 2020

Easter is almost upon us. I can’t think of a better time to use kind words and to listen. In doing so, we can alter the trajectory of someone’s life, in a very good way!

We can do even do this from home.

We are all connected.

Be safe. Be love. Be kind.

#Kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #weareallconnected



StreetLights On A Saturday Night

The Wisdom Of Downton Abbey

Well, here we are, 2020. Look how far we’ve come in the last 100 years!

Actually…

maybe you are better off not looking.

A few months ago, just before I took off for my neck surgery, I gave Andrew and Jennifer a ride home from the airport. They live in West Fort Worth. Andrew and Jennifer were coming home from a visit to Jennifer’s parents who live in Portland, Oregon. I wanted to write about them earlier but for some reason I kept getting sidetracked with a story within the story.

You see, writing about this wonderful couple, who are engaged to be married this summer, kept turning into writing about a TV show we spent much of the ride talking about.

Yep, Downton Abbey hijacked the story.

That’s ok. We’ll make a go of it anyway.

Jennifer said they were looking forward to getting home and doing nothing! At which point, Andrew said they had the rest of the week and the weekend off, so they were going to binge watch, yep, Downton Abbey. They apparently wanted to rewatch the whole series before seeing the movie. Plus, their trip to Portland was a very active one; not so much a vacation. So they were both exhausted.

“What is a weekend?”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

They planned their trip in order to help Jennifer’s parents move into a much smaller house. Andrew jokingly said that they kept most of the things that had a place in the big house. He said they kinda missed the point of downsizing.

From that moment of the trip, our conversation seemed to be about or circle back to Downton Abbey. I can certainly think of worse topics. I am a big fan of the show too.

“We must always travel in hope.”
— Carson, Downton Abbey, Season 5

Our discussion ebbed and flowed around one theme in particular. We kept comparing the way people behaved 100 years ago with today. That comparison left all three of us feeling a bit disappointed with humanity. With all the incredible technology we have now, escpecially regarding communication, transportation, and ease of access to knowledge, we seem to be in much shorter supply of intelligence. I would add love, peace, kindness, joy, and hope to the list.

“How you hate to be wrong,” said Isobel, practically baiting the Dowager to drop the following: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”

Andrew noted that we are all so much more opinionated now and a quick google search is all it takes to find information that backs our opinion and thus, in our own minds, makes that opinion, fact. So why would we consider anyone else’s now? They are clearly mistaken, uninformed, etc.

The story of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey slows everything down. Information back then came from books, newspapers, telegrams, and toward the end of the series, the telephone. Sources of information were few. Therefore, it was important to be reliable and accurate if you were a source. Now all you need is access to the internet. Somebody out there will believe whatever nonsense you are peddling. Downton Abbey is telling us to slow down and be responsible with our words, our knowledge.

The other side of this communication advancement is simply how we treat each other. Now that we can send out messages and posts like this one, we have somehow managed to remove any filters. In other words, we treat each other like crap.

Is that the byproduct of instant access? When we address each other face to face, there still exists a set of manners. We treat each other with respect. But now we can go home and post all kinds of jokes, memes, nasty insults and mockery with no sense of guilt or respect.

Don’t get meme wrong, I have a sense of humor and love a good joke when I see it. But if something we post isn’t something we could say about someone (or someone’s beliefs) in person, then that something stinks of poo and we shouldn’t post it. One other virtue Downton Abbey tries to teach us about communication is, even if we are right, that doesn’t mean we should say it!

I have been quite vocal lately. I have made several very sharp attacks. My anger and frustration has been consistently high. Yesterday, I came across a quote by Mother Teresa. At least, I think it was Mother Teresa. I found it on the very trustworthy internet. I didn’t bother to research the source. But hey, good words are good words. Anyway, Mother Teresa says,

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”

Ohhh, that got me thinking about my anger and my attacks. Anger, is ok. We all get angry and that anger is often appropriate. I considered what I was angry about and whether or not I went too far. Perhaps, a little. It is easy for anger to turn us into irrational. We can do and say things we regret. I think maybe I have been to judgemental in a few places this week.

My anger, my cause is valid. There are a great many injustices. There are far too many dark forces at work today. So, Mother Teresa has a great point. But anger is important too. And it is powerful, if controlled. Pure rage doesn’t do anyone any good. Neither does moral judgement, at least without cause. It’s a fine line is all I am saying. So let’s keep fighting the good fight, but be careful not to get all judgey beyond the argument at hand.

“Because I want the pleasure of saying I told you so.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton takes us through many of the same messes we find ourselves in today, but it does so in a 100 year old setting and with a society and culture that doesn’t exist anymore. Frankly, the idea of someone else helping me dress and undress every day is laughable. What I like about watching the challenges of life through the Downton lense is we see the issues and their true weight with much more clarity. The show doesn’t avoid anything. At one point or another, the characters are faced with some serious issues: war, murder, rape, homosexuality, abortion, children outside of wedlock, the exclusion of people based on their social status or skin color.

“I’m not a romantic, but even I will concede that the heart does not exist soley for the purpose of pumping blood.”

Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley

Of course let us not forget the brighter issues of friendships from unexpected places, romance, love, finding one’s purpose, the birth of a child, pigs (hey, pigs are cute and funny on screen), music, overcoming personal obstacles, and simply celebrating life. Oh let’s not forget the beauty of the English countryside.

I enjoyed watching these issues played out in such a different setting, without modern complications like social media, the ability to reach anyone, anywhere on the planet, via phone, text, messenger, skype, etc. There were far fewer complications back then. So for us, we get to watch the characters and think, ha! You are so lucky it’s only 1920! No way would you be able to deal with that issue in 2020!

“I think accepting change is quite as important as defending the past.”
— Cora, Lady Grantham, Downton Abbey, Season 3

The point I am trying to make is this. Downton Abbey shines a light on problems that existed then and still exist today. But when put in a much clearer and, dare I say simpler context, it makes us realize just how ridiculous we are to still be fighting with each other about certain issues. Watching Downton Abbey reminds me that we have had 100 years to get past certain “hang ups” we have with each other and still haven’t become a more enlightened and inclusive human race. In fact, if anything, we seem to have become even more polarized. Perhaps Mr. Carson, Miss Padmore, and Lady Grantham (the Dowager) had it right by opposing all the new technology, and changes to society.

“First electricity, now telephones. Sometimes I feel as if I were living in an H. G. Wells novel.”
—Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Downton Abbey takes us back to a much different time and a much different world and is quite the powerful story to help us reflect on just how stuck we are today.

In that time, words mattered. One was very careful about using the right words, avoiding anything dramatic or profane. Now we seem free to say whatever on social media, no filter. Just free flowing hatred, mockery and insults. What happened to the respect? What has happened to decency and dignity?

Even in the most regal of English houses, life is messy. It is full of pain and disappointment.

It is about lifes ups and downs as much as it is about happy endings.
It is a testament to the triumph of love and kindness. Mr. BARROW is proof of that.

SPOILER ALERT

And so the series ends on New Year’s eve with Edith celebrating her marriage and Anna giving birth upstairs, Carson retiring and Barrow coming back to replace him as Butler. I still haven’t seen the movie so don’t talk about it! 🧡😉

And in the final moments of the last episode, Downton Abbey leaves us with one very memorable and very true message,

We are all connected!

#kindness #purposefulkindness #Whatawonderfulworld #hope #peace #love #joy #StreetLights #TheKindnessClub #Grace #drivingawaydepression #weareallconnected