6 Life Lessons From The Slopes Colorado With The Family

Our family has enjoyed a week long stay here in Breckenridge, Colorado, at the Robrooke Inn.

A beautiful day on the chair with Jessica, Walker and Scott!

Here are 6 life lessons that keep mulling around in my mind and heart:

(1) Open Your Eyes. It was on Tuesday afternoon when Leah, Donny and I were taking in a few runs before we met up with Jessica, Scott, and Walker for a late lunch. Standing completely still at the side of a blue slope, I suddenly watched a speeding skier collide into my husband and daughter as I looked on from a few feet away. Skis flew off, and Leah was flipped from right side up onto her stomach. Leah’s first instinct was to yell at the top of her lungs: “Open Your Eyes!!!” Fortunately, there were no long-lasting injuries.  This reminded me of Tony, our Sunday ski instructor’s message to us. “98% of success with skiing is using your eyes.” Later, my mind began reeling and I soon applied this to life. Matthew 6:22-23 tells us: “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” Let’s keep our eyes wide open for all of the lessons that are swirling around us on any given day.

Have you ever worn one of these? A ski boot? Just so you know, they are NOT comfortable, but once you see the view, it is definitely worth it!!!

(2) Never Give Up! Because I had dual hand surgeries in 2010, I had not taken up snow skiing for nearly a decade. Needless to say, I was nervous, especially at age 58 about how I would do on the slopes. I even decided to take a private lesson with Jess, our daughter-in-law, who was a complete beginner and Scott, our son-in-law, who had only been on a snowboard in his past. Our instructor was awesome and encouraging as he told me it would be like getting back onto a bicycle. It wasn’t quite that easy, but I am skiing again and it feels really good. This was a good reminder to me to keep moving as I age. Don’t stop and never ever quit!

I got to take a ski lesson with my daughter-in-law and my son-in-law! What MOM is blessed with this chance? Love them!

(3) Spend Time Outdoors. Now, I know that this lesson is a given, but some of us, including myself forget the pure benefits that come with being outside in nature, breathing clean air, and taking in the beauty of creation. So, yes, this is one of my lessons from the slopes. In fact, for as long as I can remember there is a song that I have hummed to myself while I have been downhill skiing. Click here to listen to this song I learned in my youth: ‘He’s Everything To Me’.

Leah and Dad stop for a quick selfie in the beautiful Rockies!
Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.
John Muir

(4) Carve Your Own Path. We split up after lunch on Tuesday, ’cause everyone had their own idea of how they wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon. Some wanted to get in a few more runs, some wanted to go in for an apres ski beverage and snack, and I wanted to come on home to work on this blog post. In life, it is often easy to compare ourselves to others and where we are in our life journey. It is better to follow your own personal path that works for you. I read a recent blog called “Be Encouraged, You’re Better Than You Think” post that speaks to this truth reminding us that we should break free of comparing ourselves to others. There is just no good in that . Click here to read this blog post.

I LOVE this picture of my friend, Rob in CO, and I think it illustrates perfectly the truth that we need to carve our own path.

(5) Celebrate Your Uniqueness. As we skied all day on Sunday with major snow pouring out of the sky, I started thinking about the uniqueness of each and every flake that fell upon the earth around me. Click here to watch a brief video showing miraculous snowflakes. While there are so many similarities between us as people, we really are so very unique, and when you stop and think about it, that is pretty amazing! Love yourself, love others, allow everyone be who they are and simply LOVE. Love Always Wins!

On Thursday afternoon, I enjoyed meeting artist, Gabriel right around The Village Courtyard on the cusp of The Quandry Bar and Grill. Gabriel is obviously a budding artist and I was glad I seized the moment to stop and admire his work.

Gabriel celebrates his uniqueness by painting in The Village Courtyard in Breckenbridge, CO.

Our family stops for a late lunch on the mountain. I love the differences that we all have, and yet, we all love each other despite our differences!

(6) Take In  Life’s Peaks And Valleys. Just looking at the Rocky Mountains brings you to automatically think about the peaks and valleys that come with life. down then up, up then down. Yes! Life is certainly full of unexpected  twists and turns, tears and laughter. Our faith, our family, and our friendships can help sustain us each day, multiplying joy and dividing sorrow. Life is so full of peaks and valleys and I have learned that we are here to support each other during the various ups and downs that come with day-to-day life.

As we look ahead, realizing that there are both peaks and valleys helps us to be prepared. And with God’s help, we will make it through the challenges that come with the ebbs and flows of daily life.

What are some life lessons we can pick up as we go through our daily lives?

How are you and I making special memories with our families?

A Wilson/Page/Andrews Reunion in cozy Robrooke Inn, Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Posts You May Have Missed:

Happy Birthday Rocky Mountain National Park

Five Lessons From A Horse

The Long And Winding Road

Let’s Go On An Adventure

Peace Like A River

Authentic Prayer: A Continual Conversation

Coach—AND—Mentor

American, playbook, play.

With the 2015 football season in full swing, an earlier post Winning A Life Is More Important Than Winning A Game really got me thinking about how hard a coach works. For the coaches who genuinely care about each player who is under their wing, the job is even more demanding. Following the tragic passing of former UGa player, Paul Oliver, at the age of 29, Coach Mark Richt has proven that his responsibilities for his players goes far beyond the four years they play for this great S.E.C. team. [pullquote]I don’t want this to happen to another one of my boys.” Coach Mark Richt, tearing up and pounding the table during the initial meeting of The P. O. Network[/pullquote] Oliver, a graduate of Harrison High School in our community, went on to play for the Bulldogs and then on to the NFL playing for the San Diego Chargers. Sadly, Paul Oliver took his own life two years ago today, on September 24, 2013. Upon hearing of this tragedy, Coach Richt helped to create The Paul Oliver Network ( The P.O. Network): A core group of Atlanta businessmen—who prefer to remain anonymous—act as mentors to former players.

The end of my football dream was, as it is for almost every prospect, a harsh and slow reality.” Brandon Burrows, the “guinea pig” of The P.O. Network who benefitted greatly from this network of businessmen

Junior football team and coach portrait

The Oliver Tree Foundation on Friday, June 12th, 2015 held their first foundation football camp in honor of Paul J. Oliver at Harrison High School, Kennesaw, GA.

Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 NASB 

The main focus of their football camp is to teach life skills that our youth can take with them throughout their lives to overcome adversity and keep a positive outlook on life.

It is clear to most parents, spouses, players, and even fans that coaches of all sports, many times, play the role of not only coach, but also father (or mom, for the many female coaches!) and mentor. And, my goodness, the time invested in preparing for games and practices is difficult to comprehend.

Let’s remember how hard coaches work. You’re not only a coach, but you’re a father figure. You’re a mentor. Sometimes you have to be a psychologist. You’ve got to be there 24/7 for these young men—who they’re dating, their parents, their cellphone, because you’re their first line of communication.” Greg McGarity, UGa Athletics Director 

While it’s a known fact that most players need to be coached well, on Saturday, September 12, 2015 during a contest with East Carolina, Coach Jim McElwain, Head Coach of University of Florida Gators clearly took it too far when player, Kelvin Taylor made a mistake by exaggerating his cut-throat gesture following a touchdown. Telling his player to be a f—-ing man, in my opinion, his hateful gestures spoke much louder than his words.

Actions speak louder than words.” Mark Twain 

Coach McElwain went too far with his berating. Read here and see what you think. Just watch this coach’s mannerisms in this quick Youtube Video. Kelvin’s teammates’ expressions speak volumes, as well…

ALL players need Mentors and Coaches.

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This past Father’s Day, UGa player Isaiah McKenzie gave Coach Mark Richt a nice Dad’s Day shout—out by thanking him for being a father figure in his life and in the lives of many others. Another UGa player, a friend of my friend, Ryan B., Arthur Lynch openly talks about Coach Richt being a father figure for him, as well.

Coaching Word Cloud

Kudos to all coaches…

men and women,

coaches of children, teens, young adults,

and beyond.

Take time to say “THANKS”  to a coach today.

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18 Holes of Golf & 1,000 Sandwiches: Just Do It!

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It has changed my life. I now have a new normal life. Never take a minute with your children for granted. I was texting and laughing with Matt one minute and 13 minutes later, he was gone. Cathy, Matt Dyas' Mom

This past Monday, June 8, 2015 was truly an extraordinary day. A day where over 110 golfers played 18 holes of golf in memory of a remarkable young man and more than a dozen women made 1,000 sandwiches for the low-income families in our community. This day was special in so many ways, including the truth that when a plan is laid out, a huge difference can be made in our sphere of influence in just a few short hours!

October 1, 2011 started out like any other day. A fall, football Saturday, certainly a favorite day for many folks. In Carrollton, Georgia on the beautiful campus of The University of West Georgia, students, faculty, and fans were busy with festivities surrounding Homecoming Saturday. In a matter of seconds, everything changed for the family of 20-year-old college student, Matt Dyas, when a car struck his motorcycle killing him instantly. Matt’s Mom, Cathy was hours away, when she received news of the accident, having just arrived at a destination for some time with girlfriends. Matt, a 2009 graduate from nearby Harrison High School  was known for many things , some of which are his exceptional golf score as a member of the West Georgia team, his role as a younger brother to Quinn and a big bro to Mary Cat,  son to David, a friend to countless, and a grandson, cousin, nephew to many.  Most of all, Matt Dyas was known for his strong faith and his giving spirit. “Just Do It” was his mantra. Matt was also known for his interest in mission trips, venturing to both Russia and Ukraine before his passing. I would never attempt to tell my friend, Cathy: “I know how you feel.” As I have learned more about the potential stages of grief, I have also realized that everyone grieves in their own personal way. In most cases, I do believe the “shock stage” comes first to protect us from the overwhelming truth of the tragedy that has occurred. The anesthetic shock can last a few hours, or even a few days. I am certain this was the case with Matt’s family when they heard the news just minutes after he had been in touch with them through texts and phone calls. (Since posting this in 2015, I have written three posts which might prove helpful for those who are grieving: 4 Ways To Best Help The Bereaved , A Grace Disguised, and How The Soul Grows Through Loss. 5/4/16)

Over 1,000 friends and family members gathered on Monday, October 7, 2011 in memory of Matt Dyas. Quinn, Mary Catherine and many other friends wore red t-shirts with large white letters stating Matt’s birthday and his mantra: Just Do It! IMG_3636 IMG_3637Matt’s mother, Cathy, called “Ma”  by Matt since he was a boy, bravely shared a poem called The Dash with the congregation. It was a beautiful day of celebration even amidst the devastating loss that comes with losing your son.

A few months after Matt’s unexpected passing, his family began to talk about something they could do in Matt’s memory. They soon decided on a golf tournament and determined the first one would be held right around Matt’s 21st birthday, June 2, 2012.  I am unsure as to what my response would be in these same circumstances. What I do know is how this family has chosen to respond to their grief is one I can only pray I would emulate in similar circumstances.

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L to R, Matt’s sis, Mary Catherine, his big brother, Quinn, and his Ma, Cathy on June 8, 2015 Brookstone Country Club at the Matt Dyas Golf Tournament
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Matt Dyas Golf Tournament Warm-up on June 8, 2015.
It has changed my life. I now have a new normal life. Never take a minute with your children for granted. I was texting and laughing with Matt one minute and 13 minutes later, he was gone. William Shakespeare

Soon after saying good-bye to her middle child, Cathy began to consistently put up positive, challenging posts on her Facebook page: “Make a difference like Matt did! What can you do to help someone out today?” or “What random act of kindness can you show someone today? Make a difference like Matt did!” Between the inspiring celebration of life service paired with these posts from Cathy, many lives have been changed for the better since Matt Dyas took his leave so unexpectedly in October 2011.

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Matt’s Aunt Heather (L) and Matt’s girlfriend, Haley handle the check-in table at the tournament.

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Matt’s Ma, Cathy makes a sandwich for a less fortunate child in our community.
People are made of stories, not atoms. Korean Proverb

I was honored to be a part of the fourth annual Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament this past Monday, June 8, 2015. This Scholarship Fund in memory of Matt has raised thousands of dollars impacting more young people with each passing year. Seven Harrison High School seniors have earned scholarships in Matt’s name along with 2 University of West Georgia students. This fund has also sent five students on international mission trips. In addition, the Matt Dyas Memorial Scholarship Fund has helped Amateur Golfers, James White and Ollie Schniederjans, both graduates of Harrison High School , get their start with a golf career following their completion of a  degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. It is easy to see the positive, enormous ripple effect that has formed following the death of an amazing young man, Matthew Benjamin Dyas. This year’s tournament was the best yet as Cathy added the challenge of making 1,000 sandwiches for the Must Ministries Summer Lunch Program.

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Making sandwiches! Matt’s Grandmother (R , striped shirt) joined in on our project and ten-year old Ben (center) came along with his Mom, Jennifer, to help us while his big brother Josh played in the golf tournament.
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L to R, friends from the Charlotte, NC area join us for this special day, Lori and Sandra with Matt’s Ma, Cathy, and Jennifer standing in front of our 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! Thanks to Kim and her daughter, Mallori, who combined the peanut butter and jelly to make our job easier!
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Packing lunch boxes for the golfers. Chic fil A donated sandwiches!
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Rance, a young man who only met Matt Dyas one time at a UGa frat party shared at the closing of the golf tournament. This is part of what Rance told the crowd: “Though Matt and I only met once, it was like we had known each other forever, we had so much in common, and meeting Matt was unforgettable for me. I try to SHINE MY LIGHT every day like Matt did and I hope you all will do the same!”
The deeper the sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Khalil Gibran
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Cathy and me during tournament warm-up.

How will you and I make a difference in someone’s day like Matt did?

We Are Called To Be Brave And Here's An Example Of Bravery

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This quote reminds me of Aimee Copeland who was quoted as saying: “This has made me grateful for what I do still have. I’m newly thankful for things like my elbows and my right knee.”
Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life. Joni Eareckson Tada

Back in late February, 2015, I attended a two-day workshop with two girlfriends. The title of our workshop was The Daring Way: SHOW UP*BE SEEN*LIVE BRAVE, based on extensive research carried out by Brene Brown, PhD., LMSW. Brown is the author of Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and I Thought It Was Just Me. My friends and I gained much from this workshop, and even as a fifty-something year old woman, I am practicing bravery with each passing day.

LIFE calls for BRAVERY. Just listen to NPR on your way home from work, or take in a bit of nightly news. It doesn’t take long to hear ISIS horror stories and other current event stories which call for boldness and valor.

Even better, listen out with great awareness to what is going on in your own world, looking for those who are showing bravery in your own sphere of influence: The men and women who volunteer with fortitude in our military so that we can enjoy freedom in our days. The families of these veterans who sacrifice and show bravery as they live out their days with their loved one away. A young adult college student who struggles with her eating disorder every single day. A mother to six and “GoodMama” to more than one dozen grandchildren is diagnosed with esophageal cancer and passes within four short months. A son, early 20s, dies tragically on his motorcycle at an intersection near his college stadium on Homecoming Day.

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles. Christopher Reeve

A Surgeon father of 3 dies at age 40 leaving behind a loving wife and three children, fourth grade and younger. A Mama, a dear girlfriend of mine, drowns right outside the family lake house—the two kids about to start 6th and 8th grades. A Dad is jogging and is struck and killed by an early morning commuter. Our nephew, Brad, age 24 takes a fall on a Wednesday in June, suffering a TBI, and lives ten months without knowing anyone, before passing just after his 25th birthday. A young man whom we’ve known and loved since his birth, age 23, has a psychotic spiral downward, and no matter how diligent his parents are to get him help, he ends up taking his life. A Daddy to two young adult sons, an Oncologist himself, loses his cancer battle, leaving his precious wife and boys behind to be brave.

 I am sure you can think of many personal stories which you have been a part of, as I have been a part of each one I have shared here.

Transform Fear Into Action Concept

ALL of my stories and the many that have come to your mind have something in common: They all call for us as humans to be brave.

The older I get, the more I realize that life as we know it can change on a dime. When that unexpected, often shocking change shows up, we are called for bravery beyond what we might believe we can offer to the circumstances before us.

I have learned that it is a process—being brave—it may not just happen, but that doesn’t mean that bravery won’t evolve as the days go by.

Many of you may remember the story of Aimee Copeland, the athletic graduate student who was injured on a homemade zip line back in May of 2012. I suspect that Tuesday, May 1, 2012 was a day much like yesterday in Georgia. Full sun. Birds singing. High between 75-80 degrees. Aimee and some of her classmates were ready for a reward, some fun in the sun. Aimee had just completed her last final for her last class of the semester, studying at West Georgia as a graduate student. What began as a beautiful time in nature with friends turned tragic when Aimee encountered an equipment malfunction on her second pass on the line. Her fall set the stage for the development of necrotizing fasciitis which led to amputations and the failure of her five major organs. Instead of saying, “Why me?”, Aimee recognized that it could have been any one of her group of friends, but she was the injured one. Aimee also stated, “You can’t live your life being paranoid, or in a bubble. The truth is, things like this happen when you least expect it.” I assure you that the remainder of this post won’t be a downer. Instead I would like to share with you the many ways Aimee’s life journey has exhibited bravery and stick-to-itiveness, again and again.

LIFE calls for BRAVERY. It truly does.

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The joy is evident in Aimee Copeland’s face in this recent photograph by EMORY Magazine Photographer, Jack Kearse
Joy is a deeply felt contentment that transcends difficult circumstances and derives maximum enjoyment from every good experience. Charles R. Swindoll

I recently picked up a copy of the Spring 2015 issue of EMORY Medicine and read an article by Mary Loftus (page 26) about this courageous young woman. This update illustrates how one woman is responding with tremendous bravery, grit, and determination to her life circumstances. I believe there is a great deal we can learn about courage from Aimee Copeland.

The question Why? on a cork notice board

Aimee practices dipping a chip in her guacamole, sharing that eating with others is one of her greatest challenges. Photograph by Jack Kearse
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One of Aimee’s main goals is to use her chair less and less. She works hard in her rehab time to achieve that goal. Photograph By Jack Kearse
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Photograph by Jack Kearse
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Photograph By Jack Kearse
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Photograph By Jack Kearse

First, Aimee’s Timeline in brief:

5/1/12 Tuesday, zip line accident******Tuesday-Thursday, multiple visits to hospital and doctors.

5/4/12 Friday, necrotizing fascists takes over leg, leg is amputated, Aimee goes into cardiac arrest, transfers hospitals on life support, in and out of consciousness, blood vessels in hands and remaining foot die, more amputations are necessary with hope that the palms of her hands will survive.

5/11/12 Friday, regains enough consciousness to mouth the question “Where am I?”

5/17/12 Thursday, with more amputations needed, Aimee’s father told her this was necessary in order to save her life, and when he had her look at damaged hands, she nodded, and then bravely said, “Let’s do this.”

5/20/12 Aimee is removed from life support, breathing on her own.

In nearly three short years, Aimee Copeland has come such a long, long way. Aimee lives in an apartment adjoining her parents’ home, drives her retrofitted van, and uses her iPad to help her keep up with her friends, continue her grad school research, and get to her regularly scheduled rehab appointments. Being outdoors and adventurous has always been of utmost importance to Aimee and she finds ways to continue on that path. Being Brave has taken Aimee quite far since that unforgettable day when she first gashed her leg on May 1, 2012. Since then, she has been using her voice for many worthy causes including Human Sex Trafficking, teaching young girls they are more than just their body/appearance, speaking often to student groups as a motivational speaker. Copeland is studying eco-psychology and wilderness therapy, with the intent of bridging the gap between nature and accessibility. After graduating in 2016, her plans are to become a licensed clinical social worker and start her own private practice. And Aimee has an even greater vision, too! Aimee dreams of one day obtaining an enormous piece of natural land and building a sustainable, off-the-grid community open to people of all ages and abilities, including wide trails, adaptive yoga, outdoor sports, raised campsites, and a big staff of nurses, therapists, instructors who could help meet the needs of all who need assistance. Her dream is to live there, too. Aimee’s life has taught me so much about stepping up and choosing to be brave. It is my hope that you, too, have gained some inspiration from this update on her life journey.

In light of yesterday’s horrific news in Georgia, where a multi-vehicle accident has taken the lives of five promising Georgia Southern University Nursing students, these loved ones who are left are being called to be brave beyond our comprehension. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out on behalf of all the people who are suffering, who’ve been left in the wake of this tragic accident.

How are you and I preparing our hearts for bravery?
How can we encourage those in our path who are
going through a season when they are
being called to respond with courage? 

Ellie Spieth: A Hero In Her Brother’s Eyes

A native of the state of Georgia, I have always looked forward to the annual Masters Golf Tournament which takes place in historical Augusta, Georgia every Spring. The azaleas, the singing birds, the dogwoods, and the fairways this past week were as stunning as ever for the 2015 contest. As the tournament neared the end, we were gathered with some friends last Sunday night for a pizza dinner and we were all calling out: “Is the kid going to win, is he going to win?”, when Jordan Alexander Spieth, age 21, won his first major at the 2015 Masters with a score of 270 (-18). He tied the 72-hold record set by Tiger Woods in 1997 and became the second youngest to win the Masters, behind Woods.

golfer on grunge

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” Christopher Reeve

That’s all amazing, but did you know that since his remarkable win, Jordan has been quoted as stating emphatically that it is his life’s desire to be remembered more for what he accomplished off the course than on it? This is true, and he has founded The Jordan Spieth Family Foundation and is already steering his efforts and winnings in three specific directions:

(1) Special Needs Youth and Education

(2) Military Families

(3) Junior Golf

The oldest of three children, a brother Steven who plays basketball for Brown and little sis, Ellie,  Spieth credits Ellie with keeping him humble every day of his life. “She’s the funniest member of our family,” Jordan said. “It’s humbling to see her and her friends and the struggles they go through each day that we take for granted – their kind of lack of patience or understanding, where it seems easy for us and it’s not for them.” Ellie, age 14, has a neurological disorder linked to severe autism. Jordan sees that though she has many challenges in her life, she is never defeated by her disadvantage and he turns that into his advantage. Her journey has served as a touchstone for her older brother’s life, and Jordan calls his little sister his hero.

I just love hearing about people who make an intentional choice to have a positive impact on the world around them, in their sphere of influence. Spieth is a great example of that and we need more heroes in our world like Jordan Alexander Spieth! With all the bad news in the world today, it is wonderful to hear good news like this.

Dr. Phil McGraw is famous for saying: “Someone needs to step up and be a hero.”

This is no dress rehearsal and we only get one chance at this life here on earth.

How might you and I step up and be a hero by having a positive impact in our sphere of influence today?

Man and woman couple help silhouette in mountains

A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer.” Ralph Waldo Emerson