Monday, January 20, 2014

The Dream Continues

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
     -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke eloquently of a dream -- his dream and ours too -- for America. He spoke of a future in which his children -- our children -- would be judged by the content of their character.

He spoke of a dream -- his dream and ours too -- that one day little in even the most historically racist corners of our continent black and white girls and boys could join hands and recognize one another as brothers and sisters.

He spoke of his dream and ours too for a nation where every valley was raised up, and every hill and mountain made low, the rough places made plain, and the crooked made straight; a nation where the glory of the Lord could be revealed that all flesh would see it together.

Dr. King's dream is the American dream. It is a dream of opportunity. It is a dream of independence, of freedom. And it is the dream of a world where a person's worthiness is determined by the quality of his or her character.

We're not there yet.

We've come long way during the half century since Dr. King addressed the multitude on the national mall. We've moved forward, backward, and sideways. Progress refuses to move in a straight line. But we're not there yet.

We continue to stumble forward. We stumble forward because we can't turn back. In the words of Dr. King, "we must make the pledge that we will always march ahead."

The past lies behind us, our destiny opens before us. 

We have a dream.

Is it your dream?

Is it your chosen future?

Have you the perseverance to continue?

Have you quality of character to make it so?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Letter to My Teen Self

I recently discovered the website "Dear Teen Me" at

It made me wonder if I had the opportunity to send a message through time to my seventeen year old self, what would I write? And why would I write it? After all, given the laws of physics, my seventeen-year-old self will never read it. Then I thought others, perhaps even my grandchildren, might read and possibly benefit from my words.

If I could write a letter to the teen me, and send it back through time to the early 1960's, this is what I would write:

Dear Forrest:

You don't know me yet, but I know you. I know you because I am the future you. I have lived your life from when and where you are reading this to the time and place from which I write it more than fifty years in your future..

I'm writing to tell you you're going to be okay.

I'm writing to tell you that you have a great future ahead of you. You dream of it often. I can state with certainty that your dreams will be fulfilled.

You dream of learning complex and interesting things. You will learn them.

You dream of attending college, of studying and understanding deep technical concepts, and you will.

You dream of doing dashing deeds of daring during desperate times. You will do that too. It will scare the hell out of you, but you'll do it anyway.

But mostly, you dream of girls and of meeting a very special girl. You wonder if every girl you meet could be the one. You think you want a Playboy Playmate. What you really want is a soul mate and a help mate. I won't spoil things by telling you more, but you're going to like where it ends up.

Now the hard part. Your dreams will not happen on your time schedule. Some will require years. Others will require a lifetime. Most will require a great deal of work on your part. And that's okay. Hang on to the dreams that make sense and let go of those that don't. And never stop dreaming.

Also, nothing will happen exactly as you anticipate and this will frustrate you. Some of it will be amazingly wonderful, and some not so much. But things will mostly happen good.

That's all I'm going to say about your future lest I destroy your joy and excitement living it. For now, I want you to know that you are well equipped for everything the future will throw at you. Your Dad has given you a strong work ethic and sense of right and wrong. You will one day thank him for it. Your mother has given you a curiosity and interest in many subjects. And your school, in addition to a passable ability to read, write, speak, and cipher has given you friendships that will last a lifetime whether you think so now or not.

You are further blessed with a memory that retains all sorts of trivia and interesting minutiae. Take it from me, nothing you learn will ever be useless whether you ever use it or not.

The future is yours! Live it with optimism. Live it with enthusiasm. Live it well.

It's going to be great!

I've been there. I know.

Yours for the future,


I've written my letter to seventeen-year-old me.

Given the opportunity, what would you write back through time to the seventeen-year-old you?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Matter of Priority

If you're like me, you have more to do than time to do it.

If you're like me, actions to accomplish even your most important goals get lost in the hubbub of daily activities.

Getting on with doing your really important things requires a mindset that puts important actions first. It also requires a mechanism to keep these actions in front of the mind so they can be accomplished. That mechanism is called "priorities".

A priority is anything to which a person willingly devotes his limited time and resources. If you willingly devote your time and resources to something, it is by definition one of your priorities.

 Each of us has priorities. Most of these priorities are not reflected on any list. Of some we remain blissfully unaware.  All can be discovered.

How do you spend your time, where and doing what? Where and how you spend your time reflects your priorities.

How and for what do you spend your money.  Look at your checkbook and credit card statements. Where and how you spend your money reflects your priorities.

Do your priorities align with your goals? If so, good. If not, and if your goal is truly important, you must define actions needed and regularly expend time and resources to achieve it. You must make it a priority.

This past year, achieving a healthy weight became one of my top priorities. When it did, I took action.  I talked to my physician. He recommended I walk two miles a day.  Next, I visited a dietician. She set reasonable limits for my daily caloric intake. Neither of these actions would have made any difference had I not made it a priority to do what was recommended. Today and each day since, my prioritized daily task list has included tasks to  "Walk two miles," and "Monitor food and exercise." These items are attempted every day.

I am happy to report that I am halfway to my goal.

I made it a priority.

What are your priorities?

How are they reflected in your daily actions?

Are they moving you toward your goals?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thoughts for 2014

2104 has arrived! Last midnight across the nation, fireworks exploded, sweethearts kissed, and people lifted glasses of champagne and toasted the new year to the strains of "Auld Lang Syne". The old year has expired.  Behold, a new year has come, bringing with it opportunities for fresh starts, opportunities to do things differently and opportunities to do different things.

Many will take the opportunity of the new year  to make resolutions, committing themselves to accomplish something positive, to lose weight. to become more active, to spend more time with family, to be a better friend, to take a class, travel, start a business, publish a blog or even write the great American novel.

Others will go a step farther and set goals, binding their resolutions to attainment of a specific result. Some few will define SMART -- Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-limited -- goals, binding their result not only to one or more specific measures but also to a particular specified deadline for completion.

This year, I will make no resolutions. Resolutions are too non specific, too easily broken, too easily overcome by events. Resolutions don't work, at least not for me.

I may set goals. I may even establish some SMART goals. I have done this in the past, even to the extent of establishing intermediate goals and milestones. Sometimes I met them. Most often I didn't. In general, achieving my goals required too much effort over too long a time to deliver a result that was too far into the future to be real.  When life intervened, these goals were either abandoned or pushed so far into the future as to become irrelevant.

Setting goals was for defining where I wanted to be and when I wanted to be there but did little to get me there. My long term goals got lost in the hubbub of daily activities. I needed something to get me started and keep me moving. I needed actions I could make daily priorities.

Instead of resolving to "lose weight" -- resolution -- or stating  a goal to "lose x number of pounds by y date" -- goal -- I established a daily goal to "Consume no more than z calories per day" and daily actions to "Walk xx miles or yy minutes per day", and to "Monitor and record food intake and exercise daily" and to make accomplishing these actions a priority every day.  So far, my method is working.

This year, in lieu of resolutions, I will strive to break my long term goals into bite-size daily tasks and to make accomplishment of those tasks a priority every day.

How about you?

Have you made any resolutions or established any goals for the new year?

What actions will you take every day to keep your resolutions and achieve your goals?