May 5, 2018
Life is about rowing……….
I reflect back on what I regard as one of the most magical evenings of my life and I am amazed. It was a time where division and different beliefs were disregarded and what was at the forefront of the evening was a constant movement in one direction by 1000 people in an effort to help The Be Perfect Foundation “Run Our Race.”
For those of you who attended, I express my sincere thanks to you, for not only making an impact on the lives of many people who your dollars will ultimately affect, but impacting my life in a way that you probably will never be able to understand and comprehend. You have given me a newfound perspective that has propelled me in a direction that makes it exciting to wake up every morning with a will to continue to Run My Race with each of you by my side.
For those of you who were unable to attend, but were supporting from the sidelines, all of you are near and dear to my heart and are an additional reason that the foundation continues to thrive on a day-to-day basis. We encourage each of you to stay in the race with us and meet us at our next event in 2019.
While preparation for the event is exciting and stressful, taking in the event is impactful and moving, however one of the best parts of the event is decompressing and reflecting.
Of course the committee and myself are our own biggest critics, thus I can truthfully say on behalf of all of us, we feel as if we took first place and ran the fastest race of our lives on this event in particular. Our volunteers stepped up to the plate where needed and made the event go off without a hitch. The food and the service given by Gourmet Gourmet Catering was next level and timely. The interactive nature that was utilized from the AES auction tablets is always a great innovative and progressive piece to the puzzle. Alliant audiovisual provided the motion picture quality visuals for the event. Lastly, the Citrus College band “Night Shift” stole the night away with dancing that seemed like it would never end out of sheer joy and excitement from the crowd.
The generous commitment of the most beautiful venue around by the Hafif Family for their estate and outdoor and theater, yet again did not disappoint. Year in and year out this generous commitment for us to have the estate be called home for Be Perfect’s annual fundraiser, is something we never shy away from and something that we always look forward to. Truthfully, where else could we put 1000 people and get all the feels of being outdoors and having the elements consume us in the most positive way? Nowhere I tell you…
I articulated in my speech that I had taken up a new career path since I’d last seen everybody, the title of being a magician (In a less literal, but more figurative way). I intended to set out on a very important mission that night to help everybody find their own magic, as I am a magician who assist everybody in finding their true gift that they can give and the piece of the puzzle that they have that the foundation needs to complete a beautiful masterpiece. Thus, I posed a question to each of you. What do you want more of in life? Money? Supporters? Time? Perfect! As the magician that I am, I know the exact recipe on how to grant you more time. Here it is are you ready? The recipe is to wake up 30 minutes earlier and stay up 30 minutes later. But, why would you do that? Because, that will give you two extra weeks of time in a given calendar year. Now, extrapolate that over 70 years of living. That will give you 140 extra weeks of life. That is nearly 3 more years of life. What could you do a three more years? I can tell you this, you can impact so many lives in just three years.
While I was the one that was trying to play magician throughout the night, little did I know the real magic of the night had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with our guest speakers, the donors and supporters that were there creating magic, and most certainly our clients who are the most pivotal part of the recipe. Together we can create a perfect masterpiece. And we did…
David Francisco, an American Idol contestant and an up-and-coming music star, who got injured in a bicycling accent shortly after moving to Nashville while trying to pursue his music career, played an incredible part in the evening. He told the crowd about his own race that he is running and harmonize the crowd with his captivating voice. David truly at the heart of a lion that night, much like he has throughout his journey of recovery.
Victoria Arlen, a Dancing with The Stars contestant and multi-medalist in the 2012 London Paralympic games, blessed the attendees with an incredible keynote that will never be forgotten. Victoria’s message was heartfelt, real, and relatable even though many people will never go through the trials and tribulations that she has suffered in the past 10 years. Victoria suffered from two very rare diseases that ultimately left her with a neurological disorder, spinal cord injury. Victoria has not only triumphed over the disease and beat it in the most literal way, but she is also set an example of what it means to continue to move forward and make a difference regardless of circumstance. Victoria's expression and analogy of how we should show up to our grave of having messed up hair, tattered clothes, and a worn-out body could not be more true for how each of us should live life. We should live it to its fullest even through the trials and tribulations.
The night ultimately was about raising funds for people who are suffering from paralysis; our clients. We had 48 clients that were in attendance, who showed their face, who came outside of their comfort zones, and told their stories in the most quiet but literal ways. Their presence alone indicated their support and belief in what Be Perfect does to support others, but also showed that they are in the midst of their own race as well. Often times, we each get the race we are running confused. Most people understand that it is a marathon and not a Sprint. However, what we all must understand is that even those marathons require for us to keep a keen pace and at points we need to run. While running however, we need to know when to slow down take a deep breath, and admire the little details around us. We should run from place to place, but then we need to find a way to be invested and present when we get to where we are going.
In the midst of our marathon, in the fast-paced life in which we live, it’s easy for us to be un-engaged in any given moment. We might be physically present, but emotionally and mentally somewhere else. It’s so important for us to “show up.” When we show up, it allows us to be pure, truthful, and authentic. We must rid ourselves of our distractions, be self-aware, and be mindful enough to recognize the important little details around us and understand that those little details are ultimately what makes life so precious.
Clearly, I understand now that the little details are the things that ultimately mean the most. As I stood out on the stage on Saturday night, there was 1000 little details that I made sure I paid attention to and gave the acknowledgment, at least in my own mind, that they deserved. You are the people that matter in the race that I’m running. You are the inspiration behind what gets me up every morning and makes so proud to do what I do. You are the reasons that I “show up” and I make a wholehearted effort to be my authentic self in any given moment of every day. I find the need to be truthful and pure because of you. For this I say thank you as I try to be a better version of myself every day. Yet still, I have much work to do…
What I’ve found over this 28 year journey of my life, is that often times as people we are so prone to complain about the things around us that bug us. The things around us that we wish we could change. Yet we are not willing to do anything about it. Collectively, we must “Be the change we want to see in the world.”
We all must truly ask ourselves what it is that we truly want. Often times, we know what it is that we want. We know what it takes to get there, but we are not willing to do what it takes to go get those things that we want. Often times, we know the right decision to be made, but we are not willing to make it. We talk all the time about where we want to be in 10 years from now, but are we truly doing the things on a day-to-day basis that are moving us in that direction? Or are we just assuming that things will come to fruition? We must be willing to get uncomfortable to get what we want. Uncomfortability is a sign of growth. When we become comfortable and stagnant, we fall into a routine. We do not venture out. We do not do different things. We do not challenge ourselves. We become paralyzed both literally and figuratively. We must be willing to get uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is, is the only difference where we are currently and where we want to be is the excuses that we continue to make.
I found this to be true even with myself; that I have my sites so set on the end result and the trophy that I forget to regard my journey as something that is special too. The path that I’m traveling on and every fork in the road has its own purpose. Nothing is by chance and nothing is ironic, everything is exactly how it should be. The reason things are that way is because everything is intended to be a learning experience that we grow from. There is not one moment that we can look back on our life's and say that it was irrelevant and did not contribute to who we are today. The reason that we act, the reason that we do, the reason that we react to certain things today is because of our previous experiences, good, bad, indifferent, minuscule, or grand. Yet, we choose to focus on the end result. We focus on the trophy. We are so fixated on being the hero, that we forget to slow down and take it all in. The journey, the dash, and the time in between those two dates that will be on her tombstone. The time between is really what matters…
With this in mind we must do as Confucius says, “It does not matter how slowly we go, so long as we do not stop.” Every moment throughout our journey has meaning. Sometimes these moments are more inundating than others. Sometimes we are exhausted and we don’t want to continue moving. Sometimes we want to just sit down and rest. But we must not stop when we are tired, we must only stop when we are done.
I’m here to tell you as I sit here today, now removed from the event, that I am in fact tired. Very tired. But there is not one ounce inside of me that is going to stop. I can’t stop. I won’t stop. Because of you. I have so much sweat equity into all of this, that literally if I tried to stop, I couldn’t. I have so much invested, so much to give, so much left in the tank. That I’m quite literally a machine now. Even if I tried to shut down and shut off, my mind, my emotions, my mentality, you, won’t let me. You are my sweat equity. Thank gosh for you, all of you…
Life’s about rowing … During those moments when life is tough and we are going through the roaring rapids, we must continue to row even when we are going against the current. We can’t let those roaring rapids take us down. When the water is stagnant and everything seems calm, and we are in the routine of life, those are the times when we should be rowing as hard as we can. We can’t let ourselves fall into that routine rut, where we fail to grow, fail to appreciate, fail to recognize, that those are the moments where we are required to grind the most. Life’s about rowing. We must never stop rowing and moving forward.
I once heard somebody say that they are just one voice, but if we all had that mentality what would this world be?
But, in life, it takes a crazy person, with one voice, for incredible things to happen.
We must take this mentality and apply it to the analogy of the stick on the ground. If we were to pick up that stick on the ground we could probably pretty easily break it. But, when we pick up a pile of sticks on the ground and try to break them in half, it is much tougher. That is what we need to collectively be as a unit, as a family, and as a foundation. People with many voices, with the same passion, the same dream, and the same intent to help others. As a group of sticks, we are unbreakable.
When we become that pile of sticks, it allows us to focus on our commonalities as individuals rather than our differing beliefs, morals, and values.
There is a line in the sand, a barrier that is a roadblock to many of us that we are faced with every day. The unfortunate part in all of this, we have created this line in the sand as people. Whether it’s literal or figurative. We have put up barriers. We have kept people away. We have pushed people out of our life's. We have acknowledged our differing beliefs as something that is a focal point of why we don’t associate with certain people. Why can’t we just agree to disagree?
Why can’t we agree to disagree that we do have some political affiliation? Why does it have to be that we're either Republican or Democrat?
Why can’t we agree to disagree that we love sports? Why does it have to be a particular sport? A particular team? A particular player?
Why can’t we agree to disagree that we like music? Why does it have to be a certain genre? A certain artist?
Can we all agree that we love and support The Be Perfect Foundation? Can we all agree that the mission that we are behind and the movement that we are behind is something special?
We need to retrain our thinking to find the commonalities between us; that we are registered voters, that we do like sports, that we do like music, that we do support great causes. We must find these commonalities with the people to the right into the left of us. We are more alike than we think. We have more in common than what we know. Yet, we choose to find the surface level un-commonalities and disagreements and tend to focus on those way too much. But, when we get to talking to people, when we take the time to get to know people is when we realize that we really are closer to our “enemies” than we think. The people that we truly talk illy about, in most cases are the people that are most like us. We must pick and choose in this respect, what it is that we say.
When it comes down to it, we can all agree on one thing. We all have dreams. But, unfortunately while dreams are universal, opportunities are not. Each and every day, all of us do not live a life full of appreciation and gratitude for the mere fact that we live in the locale that we live. Because of us living in the locale that we live, we are granted and given opportunities that 99.9% of the world will never have access or opportunities to receive or attain. Yet, we choose to focus on the latter… However, even with these great opportunities that we are allotted, there is still people in our own backyard who are not given the same opportunities that we are. Those are the people that we were there supporting on Saturday night. The people who are suffering from paralysis, that may not have the means to recover. That may be a product of unfortunate circumstances, a tough card dealt. While we all deal with unfortunate circumstances at times and many of us are dealt tough cards, some of us still have the opportunities thereafter to overcome these tough circumstances. Yet, there are some people that we know that don’t have those opportunities. That’s what we were there fighting for on Saturday night. We were trying to give those people opportunities of a lifetime. Opportunities to recover. Opportunities to remain hopeful.
Each and every person that was in attendance on Saturday night, or everyone else in the world for that matter, is running their own race. Each and every one of our races that we are running, or marathons depending on how you look at it, has different mile markers. To put it figuratively, we are on a lifelong journey a lifelong marathon. Many of the people that we were there supporting that night, will wake up every morning of their marathon and have chronic illness. Something that inhibits them. And for the other people that were in attendance, they will wake up every morning and have an obstacle or something that stands in their way that is trying to sabotage them getting one step closer to a finish line that we hope to reach some day. This is where we must muster up all the courage in the world to find our own magic within.
We must fight and not stop. We must continue to move forward. And when we can move forward no longer, we ask other people to help run our race for us. We must take our own magic while we can and apply it to other people’s races, to help them reach their finish line.
Each and every one of us, on Saturday night who was in attendance, had the opportunity to utilize our own magic. I tried to give a platform for everybody to utilize a bit of magic within themselves that they never knew that they had. That magic and that power is what I call “the power of influence and impact.” Each and every one of us has the opportunity to do it in any given day. In many different ways. On Saturday night, we had the opportunity to exercise that exact notion. Through one small and simple/small monthly gift, us as a unit, as a community, as a group of supporters, and as a foundation could become a pile of sticks together. An unbreakable pile of sticks. As an unbreakable pile of sticks, we could create pure miracle like magic.
As I reflect back on Saturday night and I acknowledge every little detail about the event, I sit here in an emotional place of humility and from a stance of truly humble nature. I set out on a journey 11 years ago to impact other people’s lives and I became the benefactor in it all. You are the ones who have impacted my life.
You have given me the tools to utilize my magic within, that I never knew that I had. In turn, I am able to help other people find their magic. You are helping me run my race each and every day and you are helping me maintain a positive mindset that allows me to continue to row even in stagnant water or even when times get tough. Because of the acumen of life skills that I have attained by listening to each of you, you have reminded me that I must always be present and I must always “show up.” You have allowed me to become and to always be my pure and authentic self. I am no longer going to complain about what change I want to see in the world if I’m not going to make those changes myself. I’m no longer going to talk about where I want to be 10 years from now, unless I’m willing to do what it takes to get there. I am more self-aware than I’ve ever been. But less self-aware than I ever will be, because I’m going to make a conscious effort to be a better version of myself every single day. You have my word, but I always will recognize my commonalities with the person to the left and right of me before I recognize our differences. At the end of the day, do differences really matter? We have one commonality we can always fall back onto: we are all people; who are suffering, who are hurting, who are tired, who are in the midst of a race, who all need help from time to time, but at the root of it all, most all of us are wanting to make a difference. So, let’s do this together…
I want to go far. I want to go far…
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Will you go with me? I need you. I can’t do this alone. I can’t do this as one stick. I can’t do this as one voice. But, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to become one with you.
Cheers to raising $500,000 on Saturday night to help victims of paralysis. I owe it all to you. None of this am I to be thanked for. My journey is simply a product of me being at the right place at the right time, with the right people around me. You are to be thanked more than anybody.
If you would like a full recap of the event and want to watch some of the videos that we showed, click here.