After it’s finished, sometimes I can trace a path that goes back to the possible source of inspiration. – Tracy Chapman
The BridgeMaker is three years old.
After writing nearly 80,000 words in the past twelve months, there are only two words that come to mind right now: Thank you.
This past year has been a busy one for the blog (more on that later). However, more than the blog’s growth or the popularity of any one article, what I appreciate the most is your generous support. You have inspired me to keep sharing my heart and, in the process, I’ve found my voice.
I don’t pretend to be a Zen Master, an authority on productivity or a time management expert. What I am is a 49-year-old man who opens a properly-sized window to my life. By peering through, you will see someone who is still learning how to be comfortable in his own skin; how to be a good father and someone learning how to love his wife a little more each day.
I don’t do these things perfectly; but I do them with a healing heart.
Because of my decision to write about things close to my heart, I realize I’ll never be a Top 100 blogger. I will leave that honor to others who appeal to the larger audiences. Instead, my blog is my gift to the world – all are welcome; but none are required to stay.
A good year
While the blog’s articles are its foundation, these projects helped spread the blog’s simple message for people looking to cross the bridge back to their faith, share inspiration and celebrate personal change:
- Released the free eBook, How to Love Consciously. The eBook explores the power and joy of love. It gives practical advice for improving relationships, inspiring romance and showing how love can continue to grow over a lifetime. Download your free copy here.
- Organized the 31 Days of Kindness campaign. This month-long campaign (March, 2011) encouraged thousands of people to perform one act of kindness daily. Experience the kindness here.
- Launched the Simple Path series. A series of short pieces inspired by my own life experiences, each post is a simple path to experiencing something wonderful: maybe seeing life from a different perspective, or celebrating its beauty. Read A Simple Path series here.
- Created The BridgeMaker page on Facebook. Quotes from the inspirational, empowerment tips and stories about positive life change is energizing this supportive, caring community. You are welcome to join us here.
10 inspirational articles you have missed
While I was inspired to write 100 articles this past year, I doubt you had the opportunity to read each one. Here are ten of my favorites you have may missed:
- World I Present My Daughter
I wrote this to celebrate my daughter’s, Caitlin, college graduation. It was time for Mary Beth and me to share her with the world.
Before you leave Caitlin allow me to celebrate you. Let me tell you how proud you make me and how much I love you. I know what I’m losing on Tuesday is one of the best gifts I will ever share with the world.
World – I present my daughter. Take good care of her.
Caitlin has relocated to a different city and is working hard to establish a life there. She has moved into her own condo and will be applying to graduate school later this year.
- Light Up the Sky With Your Amazing Power
Early last fall I hit the wall and my body said, “No more.” I had no choice but to listen and then rest. By committing to this faithful surrender, I learned five important lessons that helped me restore my power.
Before filling the sky with bursts of orange, yellow and red it looks to see if you are on the way. The sun hovers beneath the horizon until you are ready. Then sensing your presence, it begins to inch its way higher into the sky.
You light up the sky with your amazing power. The sun simply soaks it in for the world to see.
I’m learning to listen to my body and to tell myself that’s it okay to stop, rest and recharge.
- A Simple Path to Gratitude
An early-season Kansas City Royals’ baseball game provided the backdrop for experiencing a moment of gratitude. I encountered a father with his handicapped daughter while attending the game with my daughter, Emily. It was clear he and I were at the game for the same reason.
She appeared to be a year or two younger than my 12-year-old Emily. I have zero medical training, but his daughter appeared to have Cerebral Pailsy. They returned by the top of the seventh inning. After thanking me, the father locked her wheels, covered her in a blanket and sat down to enjoy his beer.
There was so much to be grateful for at that moment.
Sometimes the simple path to gratitude is created by appreciating exactly what we have and wishing for nothing more.
The Royals’ season hasn’t turned out as planned, but that won’t keep me and other fathers from using the venue as a place to appreciate time spent with our children.
This article, which actually reads as a poem, was written two weeks after the Great East Japan Earthquake, but before the deadly tornadoes struck Tuscolsoa and Joplin.
and pour out your love.
Kiss the souls of the brothers and sisters
who will be part of your family forever.
The moment to show
your beautiful colors
The world has seen your beautiful colors.
- Find Hope in the Red Sky at Morning
After years of working hard, the desired promotion at work still seemed so far away.
My sky had been filling with anxiety lately. The things I wanted for myself were not happening. It seemed no matter how much effort I exerted, I came away feeling empty and unappreciated.
It felt like everyone around me was getting what they wanted while I was left coming up short. I felt excluded, alone and forgotten. I felt the storm lingering over me and I was frightened it wouldn’t stop.
I was promoted three months later.
- A Simple Guide to Boosting Your Karma
I believe we reap what we sow. This article was a reminder to focus more on the positive; and less on the negative.
If you are looking for a happy life, be happy – right now. Do good things for others – right now. Be kind, smile and look for what’s right in the situation – right now. The way to the life you desire is within your control – right now.
Here’s a simple guide to help you cultivate more wholesome actions and avoid the harmful ones. Boosting your Karma is a choice. Choose kindness and then watch what happens – right now.
I still refer to the article when harmful thoughts begin to creep into my mind. Performing just one action from the guide can turn my day, and my Karma, around.
- What Can Love Do
Written a few days before Valentine’s Day, it’s a testament to the everyday power of love.
Mary Beth and I made dinner reservations at one of the trendiest restaurants. But instead of dinning on Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed the meal a few nights ago. Getting a reservation on Valentine’s Day was impossible; but with 26 Valentine’s Days behind us, we were just fine celebrating as we did.
While romance is still alive in our marriage; the most important thing to us is realizing what love can do every day.
While our marriage is still a work in progress, we believe there will be another 26 Valentine’s Days, or more, to celebrate because of what love can do. We see it at work every day.
- Living Beyond Your Skin
The first line of the article best explains the source of the inspiration, “My next door neighbor really pissed me off.” A November wind storm caused havoc in my neighborhood by scattering trash cans and their contents. When the storm was over, my neighbor made the choice to live within his own skin.
The winds are calmer now and my anger has mellowed since last week. The unexpected gift reminded me that sometimes the best way we can live beyond our skin is by showing a little forgiveness and some compassion – even when it is inconvenient.
I complimented my neighbor on the deck he built this summer, even though there were some mornings when the sawing and hammering started at 6 a.m. What he does with my trash after the next wind storm is up to him.
- What Hope Really Means
This article marked my first attempt at writing short fiction. It was fun, creatively challenging and satisfying to do.
‘I work here about every night cleaning toilets and emptying trash cans so I can sing. This is my personal rehearsal studio. The lights from the other buildings create a spotlight just for me.’ He pointed to the lights beaming through the window over his stool. ‘This place gives me hope. I may not always buff these floors, but I will always sing. And where I sing next is up to me.’
Look for more short-fiction in the year ahead.
- The Not-So-Perfect Christmas Gift
I’ve waited a lifetime to give this present. This past Christmas, I found the courage to offer the gift to Mary Beth.
We have spent 26 Christmases together, and for the first time I have found a gift I think she will appreciate the most. I found it by listening to the truth and not fear. I found it by learning that forgiveness is the right medicine for my soul.
I found the gift by using the mirror Mary Beth gave me many years ago.
My gift won’t come with a receipt or a warranty. My gift won’t come with an expiration date or a return policy. It won’t be pushed to the back of the closet or lost under the car seat. The gift won’t be in the right color or in the perfect size.
My wife didn’t return the gift.
The year ahead
There will be more projects and probably another 100 articles. But perhaps the best prediction I can make is to say I’ll be right here writing, sharing, and savoring every moment.
The bridge is open to take us from where we are today and to where we want to be tomorrow. You are welcome to walk me.