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    November 2009

    Mondays with Mac: Finish Strong

    November 30, 2009 2455 Views

    Tuesday, December 1st marks the beginning of the end of 2009. This is the last month of the year... and if you are anything like me, you are looking at the last chance of the year to do certain things. It may be your last chance this year to meet your financial goal, to visit your family, or to attain your fitness goal. No matter what, the point is that the clock is ticking and time is running out in 2009!

    We definitely know the feeling here at Simple Truths. That is why this week I am enthusiastically making it Finish Strong week. To quote career collegiate football Lou Holtz, "How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser." Though we are past the second half mark, his point remains true: in order to finish a winner, you need to Finish Strong. We are happy to share the journey to the end of 2009 with you, and (as always) our goal is to help you meet yours.

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    In Finish Strong by Dan Green, Dan shares a story about Paul Hamm, the U.S.A. gymnastics competitor at the 2004 Olympics. Experts predicted that Paul would be a runaway winner in his event, but that predictions was severely doubted when he hit the vault too hard and tumbled into the judges on his right side like a bowling ball into pins. His rank dropped from first to 12th place. However, Paul proved the predictions right when he came back to win the gold medal in the men's all-around by 0.012 points, making him the first U.S. man to ever win the Olympic title. Despite early losses, Paul Hamm finished strong! Here's a video of his performance on the high bar:

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    Through this week, we will share more stories, quotes, and tips to help you finish strong this year. So tell me, which activities will you finish strong at this year?

    Best Way Out Is Always Through Movie

    November 29, 2009 2511 Views

    BWOTHow is that for perseverance? I am not a flower expert, but I know enough to know that most flowers do not normally bloom through snow! We can take a lesson from that little flower, and as Julie Andrews once said, "Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth."

    To celebrate perseverance and encourage you in your life, we have created a new movie to go with BJ Gallagher's book, The Best Way Out is Always Through. Click here to watch the movie, share it with your friends!

    Butterfly Effect Contest Winner

    November 27, 2009 1966 Views

    GrenardoTo coincide with the release of The Butterfly Effect movie, we are proud to announce the winner of the Butterfly Effect Contest, Grenardo L Avellino! The contest challenged Facebook fans of Simple Truths to submit their own "Butterfly Effect" stories. Not familiar with the concept? Click on the movie in the sidebar to learn more. Grenardo (or Greg for short) will receive a copy of The Butterfly Effect signed by Andy Andrews, thank you Greg!

    Last year, my daughter Rose participated in a church mission trip to the Dominican Republic. When she arrived back home, we could see a transformation that we had trouble understanding. As a family, we took time to digest her experiences and we tried to understand what she felt short-term and long-term.

    She showed us pictures and told us about the orphans and the lives they lived. She made friends with kids from other high schools and as a dad, I thought it was pretty neat to see her spread her wings socially.

    But there was something more that she received from the trip that I would not be able to understand myself until she asked me to consider being a chaperone for this year's trip. As you know, when your teenager asks you to chaperone – you don't turn down the opportunity.

    I was one of 8 chaperones, and the only male chaperone. It was a challenge living with 7 ladies, but I grew to appreciate them and together we learned each others' strengths. Collectively, we motivated and led 37 kids from 9 different high schools of all socio-economic backgrounds and family structures.

    We taught English camp at the disco, which was nothing more than a structure with a small stage, a roof and no walls. Every day when we arrived, we would sweep off the urine and defecation from the goats that wandered aimlessly so the kids would not run through it and we wouldn't have to sit in it as we taught. Often I observed the older kids would sneak over and read the books we brought with us. There was a thirst for knowledge. You see, if they are able to speak English, then they can possibly thrive in the tourism business and be more productive citizens.

    As a kid, every Sunday my father would drive our family through Harlem in NYC on the way to 5th Avenue Presbyterian Church. My father said weekly – "Take a good look around." For 45 years, I thought that was some of the worst poverty I had ever seen. 45 years of thinking changed July 7th when we began our mission trip and visited the Mustard Seed Orphanage. The orphanage itself was loving and cared for children with disabilities. The community playground outside the Mustard Seed had swing seats that were split in half. I had with me a roll of sport tape, and I taped both seats so the kids could swing again. To see the happiness of the little kids when they were able to swing again was satisfying and heartwarming.

    We developed relationships with the neighborhood of Monte Cristi. On a very hot Sunday some of our kids played volleyball in the street. People sat on the sidewalks in communal groups and sprayed water all over themselves and others to cool down. They even felt comfortable enough to spray and soak some of us to cool off! There was a strong sense of community. There was laughter and a lesson for all – to be thankful for what we have and not for what we think we need. Everywhere we went people greeted us by saying "Hola!" We felt very welcomed.

    We began each day with an activity that was either meditation, prayer, a significant reading, or motivational quotations. We served during the day, and at night we came together for reflection that was affectionately called "group therapy."

    On July 13th, we visited the marketplace in DaJabon where twice a week the border between Haiti and the DR is opened, allowing the Haitians to come to the marketplace and buy goods. To see despair and humans fighting for survival, making multiple trips for goods, made us appreciate what we have.

    Image courtesy of http://www.ace-clipart.comThis mission trip afforded me the time to develop a deeper understanding of my relationship with my daughter, my family, God, and others. I was fortunate to see and experience my daughter one-on-one as her father and as a chaperone. I strongly urge you to participate in the future with your own child together on a mission trip.

    In closing, what truly does matter most in our lives? It is not the nice car, the nice house, and the ability to buy whatever we want and do not necessarily need. To see the happiness and warmth of the Dominicans when some have nothing or little has made me examine my own beliefs and who I am. We all need to give back and develop more as humanitarians. What can you do to change someone else's life or your own? After the trip I was more patient and understanding and less demanding of others. The people in the Dominican Republic have nothing compared to us in the US, but they had each other and happiness in living with what they had.

    I returned appreciating the simplest things I took for granted in life. The most influential parts of my trip were two experiences - seeing how people survived at Dajabon (the border of Haiti and the Dom Rep) and teaching children in the Batey Maguaca. I have a rebirth in me to enjoy and appreciate not what I have, but the community of people I work and live in. I always knew there were people less fortunate than me, but I never really paid attention. I now have been volunteering with Imagine Syracuse and exploring ways to teach my children how to give back.

    The Simple Truths of Thanksgiving

    November 25, 2009 2368 Views

    I was talking with Dan Green, author of Finish Strong, at a bagel shop a couple months ago with some friends. We were talking about fun ideas for birthdays, and Dan talked about Truthday. Dan's idea is for you, on your birthday, to have special permission on your birthday to tell the truth the whole day without retaliation. You can imagine the kind of trouble you can get into with a whole day of nothing but the truth! However, the bright side of Truthday is that, when you see someone who has made a positive impact in your life, you have the chance to thank them for all that they are to you. You have an open invitation to slow down and say, "thank you".

    I guess, in that respect, Thanksgiving is like Truthday. We get busy sometimes, so much so that we go far too long without saying thank you to the people in our lives. Thanksgiving gives us the rare opportunity to slow down and count our blessings. Take some time today to appreciate the people in your life, whether he or she is an acquaintance like the mail carrier, or someone very close, like your spouse. And, to show you how much we appreciate you all, here is a video perfect for today:

    Another way that we would like to thank you is by announcing our biggest sale of the year. All of our gift books are on sale, starting Thursday at noon through midnight on Monday the 30th, just in time for your holiday shopping. Click here to check it out. Thank you for supporting us in our mission to help people reach their goals!

    Monday with Mac: Being Thankful for Appreciation

    November 23, 2009 2447 Views

    ThanksgivingTurkey"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings." -Eric Hoffer

    Welcome to another holiday season. The hectic pace of this season always seems to start the week of Thanksgiving... and that is right about now! As for me, getting together with family and friends over this week always proves to be busy, so much so that I often feel distracted from the point of Thanksgiving. I get so wrapped up in the activities of the week that I forget to appreciate the simple joys of life: a loving family, a wonderful feast, lifelong friends, time to relax, and so much more. That is why I would like to share a story I heard with you. It is not about Pilgrims or turkey, but it gets me back on track around this time of year:

    According to legend, a young man while roaming the desert came across a spring of delicious crystal-clear water. The water was so sweet he filled his leather canteen so he could bring some back to a tribal elder who had been his teacher. After a four-day journey he presented the water to the old man who took a deep drink, smiled warmly and thanked his student lavishly for the sweet water. The young man returned to his village with a happy heart. Later, the teacher let another student taste the water. He spat it out, saying it was awful. It apparently had become stale because of the old leather container. The student challenged his teacher: "Master, the water was foul. Why did you pretend to like it?" The teacher replied, "You only tasted the water. I tasted the gift. The water was simply the container for an act of living-kindness and nothing could be sweeter."

    On Thursday, use this story to remind yourself that your perspective determines what you see. Take the opportunity to slow down and count your blessings. Take time to taste the gift of appreciation on Thanksgiving and I guarantee you it will be more delicious than the most succulent turkey in the world!


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