If you ask me the single greatest practice to cultivating a more beautiful life–the one thing that can and will make a tremendous difference in your life–my answer is simple. No spiritual rocket science here. It’s thanksgiving.
Giving thanks, practicing gratefulness, saying “Thank You” and living a life of appreciation radically changes your outlook on life. Even in tough times, thankful people are resilient people. I know it’s hard to be thankful when you’re being body-slammed and crushed in a BlackFriday dog-pile for a deeply-discounted big-screen TV. But cultivating thankfulness on a daily basis has incredible health benefits in many ways…
Going Above and Beyond to Create Beauty for Others
Ugh! Company was coming and the patio at The Grove still wasn’t finished. I still had a ton of dirt to move, but no one to help. Krista and I always say that ‘company is a good motivator’ for cleaning our home moments before guests arrive. I fondly call my wife the “relocation specialist.” She has the innate ability to hide unsightly stacks of papers, clothes dumped by teenage boys, and other sundry items into closets, drawers and nearby parked cars. But for me, there was no hiding. Two days before our Saturday event, by all counts, I still had about four tons of dirt to move…
Yesterday, I had the privilege to be with friends at a beautiful cliff home in Laguna Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Over the course of a couple hours, we had many beautiful moments. It was a gorgeous day. We sat in comfortable chairs on my friend’s patio. We laughed, prayed and told stories. We talked about our dreams and vision for a film project we’re working on. Below us, waves crashed and we could see seals basking in the sun on a large rock right in front of us. Looking south, we could see all the way down the coastline to South Laguna and the fortress-like headlands of Dana Point. And if that wasn’t enough…
Kindness has an undeniable and solid architecture.
My daughter Ellie is studying architecture in Copenhagen this year. Though we miss her smile and easy-going personality, she’s having the time of her life traveling Europe, taking in all of its architectural wonders and sending us photos of her watercolor paintings of Copenhagen. Architecture major. Art Minor.
Yesterday, my wife and I skyped with Ellie. She led us through a photographic journey of her recent trip to the World Expo in Milan, Italy. Advancing from photo to photo from each country’s incredible architectural and design installations, Ellie gave us a personal tour of all her curated photos. She then told us a beautiful little story about her new haircut.
I love little kittens and I hate poison oak. Turns out, I ended up with more than cat scratches last weekend. Aidan—my son—and David, a friend, and I had just finished a long day working at our 12 acre organic lemon and avocado grove.
Shoveling tons of dirt into the back of my truck, chain-sawing railroad ties, and stacking retaining wall bricks, we were building an entertainment patio space for our grove artist getaways. What could have been a long hot day had been minimized by a cool, soothing breeze that drifted over the rolling country hills from the Pacific. And so, it was just a long day lifting heavy things with lunch, laughter and a few water breaks.
At the end of the day, after locking our chain-link gate, we drove down the narrow road that borders our property. We quickly came to a halt by a small blue car stopped in the middle of the road. Two Hispanic ladies stood outside the car, peering into the bushes.
For years, my older sister Rosemary had talked about wanting to write a book. It was a familiar sounding dream. A beautiful desire. I’ve heard it from many well-meaning people. I recently read that 80% of people who wish to write a book; only 1% will actually do so. If you want to write a book, you need a strong and compelling reason. And if you really want to be a writer, you might as well take up less risky endeavors like base-jumping, Everest expeditions, hedge fund investing or learning Swahili.
The Eastern Congo is a place of jaw-dropping beauty and unspeakable horror. Grab a map and you’ll see the Congo smack dab in the heart of Africa. It’s the second largest country in Africa; bigger than the whole of Western Europe. A massive land filled with vast jungles, crocodile-infested rivers and savannah as far as the eye can see, Joseph Conrad chronicled his real life adventures about it in his bestselling novel Heart of Darkness.
The truth of the Congo, then and now, is no fictional tale. Read on…
I was one of those guys who said I’d never do a triathlon. I grew up in the eighties when triathlon was just getting popular. I loved athletics and played Division I volleyball in college, but when NBC sports televised the annual Kona Ironman race, I told myself, “Amazing. Inspiring. Good for them.”
Watching the surging maelstrom of a couple thousand swimmers clobber each other like salmon fighting upstream was not my idea how I’d like to spend my weekend mornings. Coffee and the morning paper were much more relaxing and safer. I wasn’t going to drown in my coffee.
Tell me your story and I’ll tell you mine. This past summer, I went to the Eastern Congo to discover and film stories of beauty and hope coming out of a desperate and war-torn land. There’s a whole lot of pain and brokenness in the Eastern Congo, a place the United Nations has called, “the rape capital of the world.”
In my travels, I heard gut-wrenching stories and met the victims of atrocities so horrific that I won’t repeat them to certain family and friends. Truly terrible and horrific stories.
But that’s not the end of the story. There’s more to it, you see…
Last week, I was the grateful recipient of a bestselling author’s lavish generosity. A bit of back story is in order: My screenwriting co-author and I have been working on a project for several years now. As part of our research, we contacted a top expert on the life of one of our key characters. “Expert” is an understatement.
He is the leading authority on the subject matter who wrote an international bestseller. His research was meticulous. His travel extensive. His fame worldwide. His storytelling precise and compelling. Nobody knows more about our character than this guy.
You’re probably wondering, “Ok already, who is it?” I won’t mention his name because name-dropping irritates me. I will like you for who you are. Not for who you know. (A simple way for us to be generous to one another.) It’s enough to say this guy is a true professional; a researcher and writer with many book awards. His work speaks for itself…