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Death & Wills

I was listening to Dave Ramsey's podcast during my commute to work. The famous financial guru described the results from studying 10,000 millionaires. The research revealed that people who have wealth and keep wealth, think about the future. "I've noticed that rich people have wills, and poor people have fights when they die—over nothing because they don't have nothing!" sayeth Dave Ramsey. Read More 

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My Philosophy on Time

"I believe that one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself is time—taking time to be more fully present." Oprah

 

What are the most valuable things in life? Health? Relationships? Money? Yup, they're all important. They enrichen your life and give you options. But consider this for a moment: I've gotten ill, but I regained my health. Read More 

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Dreamcatcher: "Shamrocks or Bullets"

Time: Present Time

 

Background: Mr. Gerald McMillan is my best friend's dad. He was a pharmacist at a local hospital, and the McMillan family lived down the street from me in Lafayette, Louisiana. The 1980s suburban was a real vehicle that the McMillan family owned, and Jacob and I used to drive it back and forth to martial arts classes. It was like a tank, but instead of green, it was blue. Instead of tracks, it had rubber tires. Read More 

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Movie Review: "No Country for Old Men"

This crime thriller was even better the second time I watched it! It's directed by the Coen Brothers, and based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.

 

In summary: Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) is out hunting deer when he comes upon the grisly aftermath of a drug deal gone bad. His greed takes over, and he steals a briefcase of cash. Well, of course, the owner of that money is not going to stop looking for it.  Read More 

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Movie Review: "Alamar" ("To The Sea")

Was going through a list of movies on my Amazon watchlist, when I came across Alamar, a 2010 semi-documentary about a 4 year-old Italian boy who was the beautiful product of an Italian woman's tryst with a Yucatan tour guide. The young boy, Natan, spends a summer on the remote Mexican island with his father, and a kind-hearted grandfather figure who likes to joke and drink coffee with lots of sugar. Read More 

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Movie Review: "Won't You be my Neighbor?"

My childhood shows were Thundercats, GI Joe, and He-Man. So, my only recollection of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was from what other people would say, and also from satire clips. But the buzz about this new documentary, Won't You be my Neighbor, peaked my interest and I sat down to watch it. Boy, I'm glad I did. This film showcases an ordained ministry who was heading one direction when Fate re-calibrated his compass--and steered him toward television, and ultimately inside the homes of millions of Americans. Read More 

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Movie Review: "Operation Finale"

Operation Finale was about the Israeli clandestine operation to capture Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina. The purpose of the operation was for Eichmann to stand trial in Israel for war crimes during World War II. I'm disheartened that more people went to watch "Crazy Rich Asians " over the Labor Day weekend instead of seeing a film about the endless pursuit to bring justice to evildoers, but I digress... Read More 

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My Philosophy on Money

Not too long ago I saw the film, "All the Money in the World." The Rome scenes and interactions with the Carabinieri brought back fond memories of when I lived and worked in Italy. My favorite line from the film was: "Priceless? I deplore that word. Everything has a price. The great struggle in life is finding out that price." When asked how much money it would take for Mr. Getty to feel secure, he replied, "More."

 

My wife and I both attended public schools in Louisiana. Although we grew up in different parts of the State, we observed that none of our teachers taught us about money.  Read More 

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Movie Review: "Alpha"

Saw the movie "Alpha," today. Takes place 20,000 years ago in Europe. Entertaining and intense flick about a teenage boy who must survive alone in the wilderness after he's left for dead during his first hunt with his tribe. My favorite quote was from this young man's mother: "He leads with his heart, not with his spear." A lot of themes play out in this film: coming of age, enemies becoming friends, earning your father's pride, being stronger than you think, man vs nature, etc. There was too much CGI for my liking, but I did enjoy how the movie showed the evolution of how the wolf would eventually become man's best friend. After the show, I went home and loved on my five-year old Chocolate Labrador.

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Movie Review: "Get on Up"

The movie about James Brown's life, "Get on Up," was satisfying! The director (Tate Taylor) and main actor (Chadwick Boseman) captured the essence of the "Godfather of Soul" within the time constraints of a Hollywood movie. The film was entertaining, the story was fascinating, and the music was energizing! I couldn't help but wonder if James Brown would have become James Brown had it not been for his really sad childhood. His struggles reminded me of the metamorphosis that must take place for the caterpillar to become the butterfly. I think we shy away from struggles and let them handicap us, when in reality, they help us grow into the person we're destined to become.

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Opportunity Knocks. Will you Hear it and Answer?

Naples, Italy

The word, "opportunity," is an old nautical term that means "toward a port." Ship captains couldn't just sail their boats filled with crew, cargo, and passengers into the harbor. They had to be skilled mariners. They had to measure the wind, current, and tide. They had to be on the lookout for other ships, too. To safely port, they had to see their opening, and then take advantage of the opportunity.

 

Recognizing the history of this beautiful word helps us understand the secret to seizing opportunities.

 

(1) Realize that opportunities come and go. It's better to be prepared and not have an opportunity, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.

 

(2) You must identify that it is an opportunity for you, and not just a temporary distraction.

 

(3) And finally, you must seize the opportunity by action. Indecision is a decision, and the road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn't make a decision.

 

"Life is about opportunities," Janine Shepherd said as she opened her Ted Talk." This Australian pilot's speech is emotional, at times funny, and ever so inspiring. Please take a moment and watch. Perhaps your takeaway will be that you are the opportunity you are waiting for. Click here for the video.

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"We're Out of Gas"

Here is a story from my newest coauthor, the lovely Ms. Heidi Axum:

 

You would think with all the talking pilots do, that they'd be better at communicating. I'm not a pilot, but I am a frequent flyer with my husband at the controls. In fact, our first date was 16 years ago when he flew me over Louisiana's bayous at sunset. I've been flying with him ever since. 99% of those hours in the air have been uneventful—just pleasurable sightseeing over our vast country. However, our flight on June 28, 2018 made the hair on my arms stand up!

 

We were cruising at 6,500 feet over Alabama, heading west toward California. I was looking below at the stunning landscape, basking in the wonder of flight, and thinking how lucky I was to get a bird's eye view from our Cessna Cardinal. My husband had the soundtrack of the Hollywood movie, Flyboys, playing softly in the background of our headsets, which elevated this experience. My emotions swirled as a full orchestra of strings and horns accompanied our plane's dance around clusters of puffy white clouds. Perfection was suddenly interrupted by four little words uttered by my husband.


"We're out of gas," he said matter-of-fact.

 

My heart sank to the bottom of my stomach. "What?" I screamed.

 

"That's the name of the song," he calmly replied, still looking straight ahead.

 

I never did get my perfect moment back, but I seized that opportunity to remind my husband about passenger comfort, and the importance of providing context when making such outlandish statements in an airplane.

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How to Grieve

How to Grieve, SSI Community Church

"Suffering doesn't choose the weak or the strong, the faithful or the faithless. It chooses the human," by Ann Voskamp.

 

I recently attended service at St. Simon's Community Church, and the pastor's message on grief was very insightful. It may be helpful to you:

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The Day I Lied to the President

The G20 summit in the Fall of 2011 was held in Cannes, France. President Obama and French President Sarkozy were scheduled to deliver a joint press-conference highlighting the NATO alliance and the recent success of the military operation in Libya.

 

I supported the Allied Joint Force Commander's mission, so I traveled to France with him. Our flight on the military jet was quick—only 50 minutes from the American naval base in Italy to Southern France. Once we arrived at the airport, I saw Air Force One towering on the tarmac. The sky was overcast with grey skies and light rain. We wasted no time jumping into our motorcade, and getting escorted by two French motorcycle cops weaving in and out of traffic with their sirens and flashing lights.

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Conquer Writer's Block

I recently connected with an old colleague I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Listening to him on the telephone reminded me of how poetic his Southern vernacular and cadence were. He was a natural storyteller, and his knowledge of the English language coupled with his life of service as a police officer made for engaging conversation. I complimented him, and asked if writing ever interested him. He sighed before replying, “At one time, but life gets in the way.” Read More 
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Book Review: "The Alchemist"

I enjoyed Paulo Coelho's interview with Oprah on her Soul Sunday podcast, and I really enjoyed his novel, "The Alchemist." He wrote it in about two weeks! There were so many great quotations. Here was one I really enjoyed: "No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn't know it."

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Sometimes Age Comes Alone

Graphic by Hugh MacLeod

I really like this graphic by Hugh MacLeod, which shows the relationship between knowledge and experience. The old saying "with age comes wisdom" is not necessarily true. Sometimes age comes alone.

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Movie Review: "Hearts in Atlantis"

Just watched "Hearts in Atlantis," for the first time. It came out in 2001, but that was an intense time for me--being a full time college student and police officer. This film, based on a Stephen King novel, brought back a special childhood nostalgia, and so many sayings were priceless. As someone who travels back home to Louisiana once or twice a year, this line resonated with me: "Why do we always expect home to stay the same? Nothing else does."

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Book Review: "I will Find You"

Finished Lt. Joe Kenda's audiobook today ("I Will Find You"), which was narrated by the dry-humored, sarcastic homicide detective. King Solomon once asked: "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes getting burned." If you want to go inside the mind of a true law enforcement professional and walk a beat in his bloody shoes, I highly recommend this book. Check out the television series as well. He discusses many of the same crimes, just in more detail in his memoir.

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The Best Advice I've Received

Here is a Top 10 List of the best advice I've received this year:

1. If you say no other prayer, say "thank you."
2. Indecision is a decision.
3. Never fight a man with paint on his pants. Read More 
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My Q&A for the James Patterson MasterClass Journey

1) How did you hear about the James Patterson MasterClass?
I kept seeing MasterClass ads on my Facebook wall. I forwarded the advertisement to several friends who like writing, and I decided to enroll on January 29, 2017.

2) Have you taken any other MasterClass courses?
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Japan vs USA

I had been surviving in Japan for one year when I was asked to return to the States to testify as a witness in an old case stemming from my adventure in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea. I was excited to visit the States for five days, and many of my American friends wanted to know how I found the Land of the Rising Sun.  Read More 
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Friendship

“Without friendship, life is not worth living,” exclaimed the Roman Statesman Marcus Cicero.

How much different would our society be if we could “buy” our deceased friends back to Earth? Think about this for a minute. You have lost a very close friend, but God says to you: “You can have (insert name here) back on Earth for another 5 years, but you have to donate $50,000 to charity.” Would you do it? Read More 
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Make This Year Your Masterpiece

For this year to be your masterpiece, your focus should be on growth. But you cannot have growth without change, and the first step toward change is self-awareness. Know yourself. Read More 
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La Corrida de Toros

Landing in Madrid amidst an afternoon thunderstorm reminded me of the musical lyric, “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain.” This trip marked my fourth time returning to the Iberian Peninsula since I first stepped foot on it as a high school student in the summer of 1998.

It felt invigorating to once again be in the bustling metropolitan capital, with its ancient plazas, ornate fountains, and elaborate stone monuments at each intersection. Keeping in pace with an ever-advancing globalized world, Madrid boasted capitalist enterprises like Starbucks, McDonalds, Burger King, and TGI Fridays at every corner. Yet there was something starkly different about this culture from the rest of the civilized world. Read More 
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A Day of Remembrance

May 7, 2012: Heidi and I toured the most evil place I have ever experienced in my life--the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Nazi leader Adolph Hitler believed in the superiority of a Germanic or Aryan master race, and he desired to eliminate lower class humans not up to the standards of the master race.  Read More 
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