The frail Dove takes flight and how we can live to Infinity #pause #4Gretchen #TuesdayTakeaway

What the hell do I write about? I wish I could yell at the top of my lungs, give out hugs, call my family, say I love you to everyone.  My heart has ached all day,how I feel tonight in my heart. On May 15th, I wrote about Jane Mitchell and her daughter Gretchen – Blog Post : An unsung hero, daughter battling cancer, will you dance?

At 12:26 am Gretchen’s soul took flight to the heavens above, leaving behind her husband, two baby girls, and her mother Jane. From the time it took me to write that sentence, I have stared at my laptop, from 46% to 5% still can’t articulate.

I recall our many phone calls, the most gripping before today was when Jane texted me that Gretchen was ill again, I had to pull over as I became numb while driving home, staring aimlessly at my surroundings. Thinking of that moment still brings me to tears as I type this.  I began to type, Jane was… but Jane IS strong, optimistic, loving, and persistent. Jane held tight until the end that Gretchen would be okay even as optimism began to fade, I can still hear her southern charm accent talking about her baby’s girls.

The news today brought back heart tendering moments in my life of the crushing feeling that loss brings. My mom took flight in 1993 when I was 13, I have tried to overcome my fear of abandonment and rejection but it’s a battle each day. My close friends understand how I look forward to things, the opportunities to build memories and when they end I solemnly reflect, even on the happiest of occasions, a vacation, Jet Drag, or company flying back home to Chicago. Everything ends, but it’s the journey we take that makes all the difference.

My Tuesday Takeaway, our time on earth is finite yet everyday we must take advantage of every opportunity to make a positive lasting imprint on the world around us. For then our lives become infinite.

While Gretchen is no longer with us this evening,  she soars above us free of pain and suffering. Part of Jane died today, I love you Jane, you are in my prayers, text from May.

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Celine Dion wrote a song called Fly about the loss of her niece Karine from Cystic Fibrosis. I saw her perform this haunting song live, it especially holds true for a parent who lost their child all too soon. Takes about 30 seconds for the story and her singing in this 1997 video.

“Fly”

Fly, fly little wing
Fly beyond imagining
The softest cloud, the whitest dove
Upon the wind of heaven’s love
Past the planets and the stars
Leave this lonely world of ours
Escape the sorrow and the pain
And fly againFly, fly precious one
Your endless journey has begun
Take your gentle happiness
Far too beautiful for this
Cross over to the other shore
There is peace forevermore
But hold this mem’ry bittersweet
Until we meetFly, fly do not fear
Don’t waste a breath, don’t shed a tear
Your heart is pure, your soul is free
Be on your way, don’t wait for me
Above the universe you’ll climb
On beyond the hands of time
The moon will rise, the sun will set
But I won’t forgetFly, fly little wing
Fly where only angels sing
Fly away, the time is right
Go now, find the light

For those with Spotify –




Need a Puzzle! 1000 Piece Jigsaw, Operation, Jenga, Rubix Cube?

Walking the toy aisle doesn’t resemble my time as a kid, picking out the right puzzle. The electronic gaming ushered a different experience, engaging with others yet more solo.

I have been giving thought to my life over the past month, being quiet in my posts and hopping off social media briefly. What does my life resemble most to me?

1000 Piece Puzzle – Immediately out of the box I am overwhelmed by the number of pieces. ,Similar colors in the photo, unsure where to begin. I can build the frame first or perhaps from the center out. Daunting, question, where to begin?

Operation – Like the scene in the Delta Safety Video, turbulence in life can make this game a tough one. The slightest twitch, the patient dies. This game seemed incredibly stressful, high risk, and often I questioned, why would anyone want to be a surgeon? Perhaps I have things that are out of place that just need to be removed for my life center to return?

Jenga – While the stress of Operation is greater, from the buzzer and light, Jenga is also a nerve racking strategy game. The foundation is strong in the beginning but as the game progresses, I have to take risk determining where to sacrifice strength to continue to build. My life is built on a foundation, will jiggering things differently collapse my foundation or help me climb higher?

Rubix Cube – The ultimate puzzle that consistently made me feel defeated especially when some can solve it within minutes. Though not quite as bad when a former boss gave me a MENSA calendar, talk about deflating my balloon. Can I figure out the Rubix Cube, get the colors aligned?

Walking down the toy aisle, I connect with the Rubix Cube. The design of the cube is set, I need to give greatest thought to how to solve the mismatch. I find this familiar seeking calm to the chaos in life, getting the right colors unified. Solving the cube doesn’t require others, many may have an opinion but it is something only I can do.

In giving thought to my core, I know I have the potential to solve the cube, get my life in order in all aspects but I need to develop a strategy. Not move too much at once, give thought, and continue to adjust. I continue my journey to define the Human Element, solving my Rubix Cube.

Calling it a night, sometimes the greatest hurdles in life can be solved with a good night of sleep.

HURRY! Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Abraham Lincoln? #TuesdayTakeaway

On Saturday, May 16th I was fortunate to tour the FAA tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through the New PDK Airport Association.  The tower has a 360 wrap around deck where you can see the entire airport and downtown. Photos | Exploring the tallest ATC Tower (ATL) in North America #avgeek

Perspective DrawingDo you remember as a kid when you drew a Perspective? At a view of nearly 400 feet above the worlds busiest airport (2014 Passenger Volume),  the wind whispered the word Perspective in my ear. Did that word call out to me because the view before me seemed like it continued on forever? Perhaps

Having travelled 800+ flights, air travel is an intricate experience with hours upon end spend at airports.  An airport is similar to a ride at Disneyland, You rush to wait.

Hear me out on this tangent… a typical day of air travel out of Atlanta –  You rush out of the office to avoid the afternoon traffic while contemplating is MARTA a better option today. You rush up to the platform at the MARTA station, to wait for the next train. You stand by the doors because you are nearing the end of the line at ATL. You rush out the door to beat the long line of people with their luggage awaiting the escalator, inevitably behind one. You rush to the kiosk or pull out your mobile to double-check the TSA Pre-Check stamp. You rush through security screening to not lose belongings or hold up the screening queue. You rush down the escalator to wait for the plane train. You rush up the escalator to the gate to see the plane hasn’t arrived and wait. When the plane arrives, you rush to the restroom when the plane arrives being keen to not miss the boarding zones, to return and wait.  You briskly walk to scan your boarding pass knowing the carry on baggage space saga. You rush into the jetway to wait to board the plane, which in Atlanta is miserable in the summer. You rush to pass down the aisle to put your bag up, to then sit, and wait…Arrive at your destination, unfasten seatbelt upon the chime to then wait to exit the plane.

Knowing first hand the annoyance of the announcements, lines, obnoxious people, screaming children, yet it was all drowned out by the warm calming breeze.  When can you recollect an airport moment you would describe as peaceful?

Gazing down from the tower on the airport below, I felt that I had stepped out of my body and soared like a bird overhead, it gave me a different perspective.

Having you ever been pricked by a thorn of a rose? Abraham Lincoln shared his perspective –

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” – Abraham Lincoln

 

I was stressed last Tuesday and I briefly closed my eyes and recollected the moment atop the ATL ATC tower. The warm breeze that drowned out the loud jet noise and the sunshine that blinded me with warmth. After only a minute, my body was calmer and reset simply by thinking of changing my perspective.

We all could use a little more waiting and a lot less rushing.

Photos | Exploring the tallest ATC Tower (ATL) in North America #avgeek

On Saturday, May 16th I was fortunate to tour the ATC tower at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport through the New PDK Airport Association. The finale after learning about the vast technology was the 360 wrap around deck where you can see the entire airport and downtown. Below are facts on the tower and some photos I captured.


Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, features the third tallest ATC tower in the world and the tallest ATC tower in North America. The new ATC tower measuring 121.31m (398ft) was commissioned in 2006.

The tower provides a clear view of the five parallel runways ranging from 9,000ft to 11,889ft in length, and the entire airfield. The tower was constructed with an investment of $44.2m, and houses an accompanying parking deck and meeting facilities.

The construction was funded by the City of Atlanta ($39.4m), while $4.8m was provided by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry out installation of equipment, power systems, furniture, and workstations. Source: Airport-Technology.com . 

 


If not me, then who, if not now, when? #MondayMotivation #MakeItHappen

I experienced unexpected challenges during my host provider change the last two weeks. The kinks worked out, the site now loads in 1/3rd the time. Now back to the good stuff…

Happy Monday! 

Can you believe that we are in June already? The many times I discounted my father’s wisdom,  time flies quickly as we get older… He was right.

For several months I sought out paths for a “creative” avenue, I pondered art classes to take, things to study but nothing resonated to my core. Thinking back to when I began my journey to define the Human Element on April 23rd, Did you…

Take a break?  – A 2 Minute Journey Along Moon River #mo·ti·va·tion #Monday #spotify

Celebrate life? – Can’t Sleep? Maybe you are NOT living #TuesdayTakeaway

Find a passage, quote or mantra you can relate to? – How One Restless Night Changed My Life #MondayMotivation #theHumanElement

Take a night to disconnect to connect? – The Detox I start tomorrow! I need your help! #TuesdayTakeaway

Thank someone for a laugh? – Effie, Brace yourself, Thank You Mrs. Doubtfire… #TuesdayTakeaway 

Only you can answer yes or no to the above but I hope that you had at least one moment where my random words provoked some reflection.

Douglas on his first day of preschool with his younger brother Sean
Douglas on his first day of preschool with his younger brother Sean

My younger brother Sean and I had an interesting chat the other day. In talking about his potential move to Atlanta, he shared that he changed his perspective on life. Now asking himself, “if not me, then who?”. In breaking that one short phrase apart I felt it spoke to me but one aspect was grossly missing,  time element. “If not me, then who, if not now, when?”

I knew early changing the focus of my online presence would present opportunity for me to share more intimate thoughts, avoid sharing altogether or post what I thought people would want to hear. The big benefit of a blog with a few 100 hits a post is that you accept that very few will read what you write, don’t worry how big the audience is, but know the few that do read feel a connection.

During the week I debate if the energy to type a post is worth the outcome, or on a rare occasion give in to a notion that no one will read this so who cares? I asked myself, if not me, then who, and if not now, when?

Challenge: Reflect on the past two weeks,  a time where you wish you would have taken that jump, big or small? Why in that moment did you say not me, or not now?

Effie, Brace yourself, Thank You Mrs. Doubtfire… #TuesdayTakeaway

Today’s Tuesday Takeaway, Mrs. Doubtfire

In 1993, Thanksgiving ushered in a new character named Mrs. Doubtfire who continues to bring laughter some 21 years later.  I’d like to share with you one of my favorite scenes of the movie, the interviews. Do you have a favorite character?

My favorite inquiry is a toss-up between I am Job and don’t make me get the hose.

While traveling over the weekend I debated whether a Mrs. Doubtfire clip from the movie would be better suited for a #FridayFeelGood or a #TuesdayTakeaway.  Welcome Mrs. Doubtfire to the Tuesday Takeaway list.

A pop up video debuted several years ago of Mrs. Doubtfire highlighting many hidden facts about the movie. One being, Robin Williams danced to a different song in the infamous “Dude, Looks Like a Lady” scene. Ad hoc lines from Robin riddle the movie highlighting the incredible talent he had as an actor. A similar act Robin put on each day of his off-screen life until the unfortunate end.

I can relate to Robin Williams in that I have many days where I seek out laughter of others to help calm my brain from the overwhelming chaos of thoughts. These moments of humor allow me a mental break to work towards solutions to challenges before me, delivering clarity and perspective. Maintaining high energy can be exhausting, when I am quiet people most often assume something isn’t right, simply my batteries are charging.

Robin Williams was a talented and brilliant man that I firmly believe was like no other. Often we discount others without understanding them, one might think Robin was crazy, in the end he was human, deflecting reality with humor longing for a connection.

Robin Williams Quote
“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

 

Having lost my mother to suicide in 1993 I can share the feeling of devastation when someone departs this world so quickly.

Some of the most energetic people have tough times but worry more about questions of concern from others or an innate feeling to make others happy. This facade depletes what little energy the person has making the days tougher.

Challenge: When someone makes you laugh today, say Thank You. These two words of appreciation can make all the difference when a person is masking a tough day through humor.

The Detox I start tomorrow! I need your help! #TuesdayTakeaway

Good Morning!

Today’s Tuesday Takeaway, time for a Detox.

Phew, are we busy, busy, busy, busy people? First things first on the docket today, rollover to check my phone, tweet ( @astriker79 ), update my Facebook status, comment on my friend’s status, Facebook Messenger, post to Instagram, Home email, work email, junk email, send texts…. (lather, rinse, repeat)

I can’t fathom a world without social media, how would I talk to people? I would miss out on that post about the SNL skit and I just might offend someone by not replying quick enough. What about if the message shows read, but no reply, I am insensitive and rude!

All joking aside, I am just as guilty of maintaining a high level of online social interaction. When I think of oxymoron, is being online and social possible? I went through an unpleasant break up in 2013 while overseas. I began to have a sinking feeling in my stomach, I had a two-week vacation planned after the two month work secondment concluded in London.  How could I possibly enjoy traveling alone for two weeks, Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg, Zürich, London then home.  Should I just fly back home to Atlanta early? I decided to turn off my Facebook profile allowing me time to focus on finding myself.

Two months later returned to Facebook at the start of my vacation to allow my family to see I was safe and share part of my adventure. What I found, it was the best vacation of my life. I explored at my pace, fought uncomfortable situations like meals alone in a big restaurant, but was able to enjoy places that I never imagined seeing.

What made my solo trip incredible was taking those two months away from our overly connected world to connect my brain with my heart. I was stronger when I returned and conquered my greatest fear, being alone.

Challenge: Dedicate one entire evening in the next seven days to step away from social media, your mobile device and computer. Find time to find you. If your evenings involve your partner, spouse, family have them partake. Your messages, Facebook, Twitter will still be there after.

The DND function on the iPhone is a blessing.


Watch the video below, can you spot a moment where you were that person? If your answer is no, you are not being honest with yourself.  #DisconnectToConnect #DigitalDetox

 

 

How One Restless Night Changed My Life #MondayMotivation #theHumanElement

Mantra: man-tra (noun) – (Originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) A word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation.

  • A Vedic hymn
  • a statement or slogan repeated frequently

I often thought the phrase Happy Monday was an oxymoron. For those in the corporate world, it’s the start of the work week and conclusion of the short two day break. The past thirty days has forever changed my perspective on life which I will continue to in the upcoming weeks. 

People have asked what changed? Did I attend a course on finding myself or attend a religious institution? Neither,  but I experienced firsthand one of the most selfless demonstration of compassion from complete strangers that united from around the globe for Postcards For Parker, Relay for Life Challenge . In just 19 days, Parker Eckburg became a household name for 100’s, receiving 13,000+ Postcards and $14,500 raised in donation to Relay for Life. I never imagined one random thought to make a big difference. I’d like to shed some light on the night that changed my life.

Experiencing a restless night, I glanced through twitter stumbling across a tweet by Life Coach Jordan Bach. The post prompted me to spend hours more awake exploring different aspects of life. The Parker phenomena idea came to fruition the next day. I also have recently expanded outside my comfort zone by partaking in therapy. I view that time solely dedicated to challenging myself and at times facing uncomfortable realizations.  From a career aspect I sought out a mentor who asked me the overly complicated simple question, what will be your brand in 5 years. All of these combined illuminated my mind, I felt like a single tree standing strong amidst a starry night.

Tree at Night

Last Sunday I felt a deep personal connection to a quote by the Dalai Lama XIV. I felt every word resonate to my guiding principle, to use each day to make a difference in at least one person’s life. I was fortunate to shake the hand of the Dalai Lama while working task force at a hotel in 2004.

The next morning (last Monday), I began a ritual of reading the quote aloud as the start of a new daily morning motivation. I have no plans of memorizing the words, discussing with others, or speaking it aloud with others present. Somedays I speak the words twice to strike my core hard to ensure I remain mindful of my ability to impact the world around me.

Dalai Lama“Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.”

~ Dalai Lama XIV

Challenge: When you awake you most likely find yourself thinking of the tasks at hand, schedule before you, dog to feed, kids to tend to. In the next week, find a word, a passage a quote that resonates with you. allow it to be your morning mantra.

(Photo: April 09, 2005, Mauna Kea Summit, Big Island)

An unsung hero, daughter battling cancer, will you dance? #Pause

Often times I find solace in the flicker of candlelight. I lit my hurricane lamp trying to fight back tears, bewildered on the pain on Jane’s heart. I asked for Jane’s permission before adding some personal interactions below.

Jane is a mother, grandmother and a friend of so many. I have been fortunate enough to have Jane in my life after only two in person moments, the second time being the Jet Drag. I joined Relay for Life because Jane’s passion for the event, it hit close to home, and the greatest love sometimes can be that of strangers.

In the past 3 months Jane’s story of Gretchen has been absolutely gut wrenching. Gretchen is a very young 33 years old with her youngest daughter being 4 on May 25th. Gretchen, like Parker is battling brain cancer and each day is growing weaker.

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I ask why? how? and again, why? How could a higher being do this to Gretchen, why Parker? I can only accept things happens for a reason and the God has a plan.

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Jane is selfless, asking God to take her and not Gretchen. The love of a mother, and an incredible person. Jane is an unsung hero, Jet Drag was her footprint on life to so many and a cause close to her heart. Jane raised $16,500, big thanks to everyone’s huge support of my Postcards for Parker Challenge that raised $14,500. Jane is giving all of her existence in a fight for her family. I am having a hard time typing this amidst tears forming.  Again and again the terrible illness are inflicted on our loved ones but alas Jane has explored the what if’s.

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Jane is the rock, the strong one for so many and she has not given up.  My mother fought a mental battle, I accepted her departure was inevitable.

Gretchen is fighting for her life everyday. I can’t fathom the tearful conversations Jane has had, the bond a mother has can never be replaced. We light a flame not in memory but in Gretchen’s flight. May the flame flicker brightly, light up the darkest rooms and guide us in the unknown. May my mother surround her with strength and courage in such a turbulent time.

My thoughts go to Jane, Gretchen, Matt and her two amazing granddaughters. Let’s keep them in our prayers to keep fighting.

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Gretchen, I light the lamp for you each night, be strong. Illuminate the world with your smile, your spirit, you will persevere.

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Everyday the world reminds us of shifting the priorities in our life… What matters? The line in Starbucks too long? That friend didn’t like your post?

Air in our lungs and love is around us, I need nothing else. I hope YOU dance.


 

 

Video|Did you own any of these? Top 10 Ridiculous Infomercials #FeelGoodFriday

Happy Friday from Atlanta!

What a great week it has been, the Pulling for Parker banner continues to fill up with words of encouragement!

In preparation for the weekend I wanted to share with you a #FeelGoodFriday . A few years ago we had a Top 10 list which one week was Top Infomercials. We filled up the dry erase board and had many moments of laughter.  Later that year we portrayed some team takeaways as an Infomercial (But wait, there is more!)…  with a clip like this to kick it off. The Hula chair we could act out on command.

Ask yourself… 

  • How many of these clips have you seen?
  • Did you buy any?
  • What’s your favorite?

Enjoy a classic Friday Funny!

 

A Journey to Define the Human Element.