Category Archives: General Post

The Power of Legacy: Tribute to My Gramps…

A couple of weeks ago, the last of my grandparents passed away.  The funeral was beautiful, but the day was emotionally draining for me.  I loved all my grandparents dearly, but Grandpa Hall had a special piece of my heart.  He just radiated goodness and he had a super tender heart.  He was 93 when he passed.  He lived a great life and was wonderful example of what a man is and should be.

As the oldest of his grandchildren, I got to know him in a way many of the other grandkids did not.  I have memories of him when he was still young and vibrant.  I am only a few years younger than grandpa’s youngest son, my Uncle Jared.  So, I got to see and experience Grandpa before life and age slowed him down.  During the summers as a boy, I would go down to Provo and spend a week or so at my grandparent’s place.  They spoiled me rotten, especially my two aunts, Laurie and Wendy.  I worshiped Phil and Jared, my uncles who are only a few years older and watched as they built model airplanes and blew up dirt hills with M-80’s and endured the endless teasing of my older uncles Brian and Rod.

Gramps Older

Grandpa was a WWII veteran, a fact in which I take enormous pride.  I always stuck my chest out a little bit when I got a chance to talk about his legacy of service to our country in one of the world’s darkest hours.  He served in the Army Air Corps, 20th Air Force, 509th composite group based on the Island of Tinian in the South Pacific.  He got into the war in 1942 serving as a radio operator on a B-29 Superfortress and was on his way to active combat duty when the United States dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, which effectively ended the war.   He always told me that the Japanese surrendered because their intelligence services had found out that H. Blaine Hall was coming.  I believed every word of it, even when my elementary school teacher said otherwise.

 

 

He instilled in me a passion for BYU sports, especially the football team.  From as long as I can remember we would sit in the stands at the then Cougar Stadium with Grandpa to watch the football games.  These were special times for me and we bonded over the team, always hashing over how the team was doing or how good they would be for the upcoming season when we would get together.  Saturdays in the fall will always have a hole in them now for me.

During the funeral, I listened to the speakers talk about Grandpa.  They told a lot of stories that I already knew, but some that I had never heard before.  I listened as well-wishers told me about how my Grandpa had had a positive effect on their lives. He served in many church leadership positions and was a very active member of Kiwanis and Sons of the Utah Pioneers.  He was always serving others.  As I listened to these stories, I was struck by the legacy he left and the legacy we ALL leave and my mind has not been able to leave the subject alone.  Thus, my need to empty my noggin with this blog post.

I was impressed with by this notion of legacy.  Legacy is something that is transmitted by those who have gone before and received by those still going.  It is one of the few things that can be left behind when we die.  This legacy can be both good AND bad and it can have a powerful impact for good or ill on the surviving posterity.  As I listened to those talking about my grandfather’s legacy, I thanked God for the overwhelmingly positive impact he had on my life.

Gramps with kids.JPG
Gramps with my kiddos.  So glad they got to know him. 

Since the funeral, I have been thinking about this notion of legacy, especially as it pertains to me and the legacy I will leave behind.  I have asked myself repeatedly over the past few days, “What am I leaving behind?” The question has haunted me.  I try to be a good person.  I think we all do.  I worry about what impact my weaknesses will have on my children.  I pray all the time that I don’t screw them up.  I hope that when its my turn to lie in that casket that my posterity and associates will say the same things about me that were said about my grandfather.

We all have our strengths and our weaknesses and so did Grandpa.  But, he lived so that his strengths made him who he was and lived so that his weakness did not define him.  I hope that I am doing the same for myself and for my posterity.

Gramps Steerman
Gramps in front of a Steerman.  This is one of the planes he trained in during pilot school. 

There was a beautiful feeling of love and family at that funeral.  I have been so blessed to have good family around me.  That is another legacy that Grandpa left.  His family was his utmost priority.  To this day, his children get along with one another and love and respect each other and there is harmony, with one unfortunate exception, a point of deep sorrow that sadly Grandpa had to take to his grave.  He loved his family and you knew it when you were around him.  I remember when I would leave his house or say goodbye to him on the phone that he would choke up and therefore, so did I.  I am choked up now as I write this and reflect upon those moments.  Those moments tenderly telegraphed love from his heart to mine.  I loved him.  He was a beautiful person.

Gramps B-29
Gramps during his Honor Flight visit to DC.  He’s in front of a B-29, the plane he served in during WWII.

His last few weeks were not good for him.  He died slowly, going in and out of coherence and in some pain.  I was in Utah about 3 weeks before he died and paid him what I knew would be my last visit.  He wasn’t well and I was worried because I hadn’t seen him that bad before. I phoned my Uncle Jared who came and we helped him use the bathroom and take his pills and get him comfortable in a chair – a minor but sacred act of service I am so glad I got to provide.  As I left, I told him I had to say goodbye, to which he responded, “I know.” I kissed him and told him that I loved him and that I was so thankful for his good example.  He said that he hoped that he was.  Oh, was he ever!  I will forever treasure that tender moment and the lovely mercy that he was coherent and knew who I was in that moment.

Me with Gramps
Saying goodbye to Gramps.  

I am now left with my thoughts and personal resolve to take greater care for the legacy I leave.  Grandpa’s funeral was a good reminder that I have work to do and lives still left to touch and influence.  I acknowledge the need to improve upon my weaknesses to further strengthen my family bonds and to avoid leaving harmful footprints upon my posterity. And lastly, I am thankful for my belief that our relationships do not end when this life does.  How can something so beautiful as love possibly be defeated by death?  It cannot, or God is not a God love.  Love you Gramps.  God speed and until we meet again.

8 Daily Habits That Build Confidence

A couple weeks ago, I put up a blog post about a book I had recently read.  In that entry I stated the following:  “When our daily habits and  energy are focused on action in the present time it leads to success, which builds confidence.  Confidence is a fear killer.”  A couple of readers responded, asking about what I meant by ” daily habits.”

What you are about to read are habits that I have developed that help me to build confidence in myself.  I do not presume to be an expert on how best to manage your life.  Nor is this intended to be a brag post detailing how amazing I am at life management.  Furthermore, I don’t purport to be some life management guru a la Stephen Covey.   Instead, this is simply a list of habits that I have incorporated into my life that have helped me build confidence in myself.  Take what you want from this and discard the rest.

Confidence is not arrogance.  Many people confuse the two.  Arrogance is an attitude that says, “I am good and you are inferior.”  Confidence is the ability to say – and truly believe – that, “I am good.”   Confidence kills fear and its offspring, anxiety, depression and  hopelessness because one believes deeply in his or her ability to confront and manage the difficulties and challenges of life.

Much of what drives my habits are things I have learned over the course of my life.  I haven’t always done these things.  But, as I have read, studied and experimented I have found habits that have  helped me to find success in my career, personal pursuits and my family life.  I am not perfect in these habits, though generally I do them consistently.  I have picked up many things from many sources, including books and conversations with others.

Habits lead to confidence because they allow us to have daily victories.  We become depressed and hopeless when we do not feel we have control over our lives.  Good daily habits teach us that we can control our lives and  once we see ourselves have victories each and every day, the confidence builds, self-belief grows and you banish  negative feelings and thoughts that inhibit growth.

  1.  Wake Up Early and Let the Light In

My alarm goes off at 5:30am and I hit the snooze a couple of times, but I’m usually up by 6:00.  The first thing that I do is to pull out the scriptures and study the word of God.  The light I am referring to is not the sun, but the light of knowledge and truth.  If you’re not a Christian or much of a religious person, then study something else that adds value and brings light into your soul.  There are many sources of truth and light.  For me, it is so crucial to kick off the day in this manner because it sets the tone for the rest of the day.  It is also one of the most positive things I can do all day.

2.  Prayer/Meditation

Following scripture study, I take time to think and ponder about what I have read, to be still and pray.  I like the mornings because it is so quiet  and peaceful and lends itself to deep thinking and prayer.  Its a great time for inspiration.  Sometimes I fall asleep in the middle of a good meditation session because it is so relaxing, but most of the time it allows me to begin the day on a positive, calm note.  It is important to have time each day to pray and think and search for inspiration.

3.  Daily Plan

Every morning before beginning my work I take a look at the day ahead.   It is at this time that I determine what are the priorities for the day.  I have found that I can only really accomplish 3-5 major tasks each day.  Trying to plan for more than that is setting yourself up for failure.  Be honest about what you can truly accomplish.  I feel good about myself when I can tick off a list and when I put too much on my plate, it just makes for stress.  I think of my day in terms of my roles, in other words as an employee, husband/father and home owner, etc..  I have a list of to-do items for today, this week and this month and I keep the list to one page.  I print it out and use it through the day to jot down notes and such.  I have tried doing it electronically, but I have always preferred good old fashioned paper.

I don’t get caught up too much in planning for the future, especially setting long term goals.  Short term goals are much easier to achieve and you have much greater control over the immediate future than over what happens six months from now.  I prefer to have an “end in mind”, rather than a fixed goal.  Perhaps they are one and the same, but I try not to set fixed goals that are too specific way out in the future.  It just causes anxiety and stress, especially when you can’t control the future.

4.  Daily Learn

I take time each day to learn something new.  At the present time I am trying to hone my Portuguese skills, so on some days I take 30 mins to practice that language.  Somedays I will research a particular topic or read from a magazine or trade publication.  The point is, that I feel the need to make sure I am filling my mind with knowledge and challenging myself to do something new.  Blogging is one of those items because I often have to do a lot of learning before posting.  Hobbies can also fit in here.  When you learn, you open your mind to new worlds and possibilities and confidence is the result because you are not limited by ignorance.  Knowledge opens the door of opportunity.

5.  Daily Read

I take time each day to read.  I’m always reading something.  My biggest problem sometimes is that I will have 3-4 different books started at one time.  I focus on biographies, history or self-improvement type books. I love to read about famous and successful people in history because I always learn something about what made them successful that helps me in my life.  However, sometimes a good fiction book, like a good movie,  can help to relax and detox.  I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reading.  If you’re not reading, you’re not learning, in my humble opinion.

6.  Daily Exercise

Balance is key in life and you can’t just exercise the brain.  Exercising the body is critically important.  This statement is backed up by a host of great research.  But, notwithstanding the research, I personally can vouch for the importance of exercise.  I choose to exercise in the late afternoon.  I tried doing it in the morning, but it requires that I get up even earlier and hey, I’m weak and a 4:30 am wake up call is just asking too much.

Exercise for me is like a microcosm of life.  Sometimes it hurts while you’re doing it and you have to push the mind to disregard the body, which is screaming at you to give up.  Then, when you complete a rigorous workout, you have the personal satisfaction of knowing you overcame the body and its pain and then once the endorphins kick in you feel like a million bucks.  I like the way I feel after a good workout and I notice that I sleep much better at night, too.

Exercise builds endurance.  When you can endure the pain of a workout, you begin to build a toolbox that gives you the instruments to endure the mental and physcological challenges that life can bring.  Exercise gives you the confidence to believe in your ability to endure the pain and overcome the negative messages that the mind sometimes gives you.

7.  Daily Review

To me, this is one of the most important habits that can build confidence.  I struggle the most with this, but mostly because I’m often lazy and I am too tired at the end of the day to want to do it.  However, keeping a journal is a healthy habit.  I try to keep a daily journal, making an entry at the close of each day.  This entry should not simply be a recap of the day’s events or a passive account of the weather, but it should serve as a time of reflection about what went well and what you can improve.  This should be a positive time where you note your victories, not a beat-yourself-up session.  Along with your victories, you should note the areas where improvement can be made and how you plan to improve.  When you do this, you begin to see how much you truly accomplished and how much good you  are cable of and then your confidence grows.  Journal writing teaches you to be accountable to yourself for how you spent your time.

To be most effective in this habit, you should ponder the days events with questions like, “how has someone blessed my life today?, or “how has God’s hand been in my life today.”  When we stop and count our blessings and consider our efforts, we can see the good things stacking up and it gives us hope.

8.  Remind Yourself of Who You Really Are

Throughout the day it is important to remind yourself of who you are.  Maybe this seems like an odd concept to you, but I feel that if we have an understanding of who we really are, we will rise to that standard.  For example, when I think if who I am, I think of the fact that I am a son of God, a husband to a great wife and a father to wonderful kids, etc.  This standard reminds me that I have something to live for and something to live up to and my decision making is therefore in line with that standard.

Anyway, these are my daily habits that I employ to help me deal with this crazy journey we call life.  I find that these steps provide me with  the tools to be happy with who I am striving to become.  As a result, I can be confident in myself because these habits lead to little victories each day.  Day after day, they add up and you start to believe that you can accomplish anything and manage life’s challenges.

I would love to hear about the habits that work for you.  Please feel free to share.

 

On New Year’s Resolutions…

I think in terms of the day’s resolutions, not the years’.

I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions.  Mostly because I try to bite off more than I can chew, then fail and feel bad about it.  I don’t find that to be very productive.  Truth be told, forging good daily habits are the key to change and consistent growth.  If you have lousy personal habits, you will not grow or challenge yourself.

However, this year I have made a resolution to get back to blogging.  I was doing it for a while several years ago, but I used the excuse that I was too busy.  In reality, I was probably too lazy.  I feel a need to put my thoughts on virtual paper and express myself.  I think people find value in the opinions and thoughts of others.  At the very least, taking the time to compose my thoughts is therapeutic and allows me to think through my opinions.  If someone is interested, great!  If not, they don’t have to read it.

Took a wUtah Lake Frozenalk today with the dogs down to the lake and out on the frozen surface.  I enjoyed admiring the beauty of the virgin, white planar surface with the amazing snow covered Mt. Timpanogos in the background.  I truly live in a beautiful place.

Recently, I watched a documentary entitled “Unbranded” (you can get it on Netflix) with my family, which documented the 3,000 mile journey on horse back (wild Mustangs, mind you!) of four recent college graduates from the Mexican border in Arizona, north through Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana to the Canadian border.  In addition to the beauty of watching this grueling 6-month journey and the endurance and grit it took to get through it, I was enamored by the absolutely astounding geography that encompasses the American West.  There is no where else like it in the world.  It is truly a treasure and deep down in my soul I’m a westerner.  Its in my blood and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.  I regret that I don’t take more time to enjoy its beauty and the serenity that it offers.

Perhaps that is another New Year’s resolution I can make?