Hope for your financial life and beyond

When a Snowfall Brings Panic, Excitement and Pressure

Atlanta traffic in snow II

Downtown Atlanta Tuesday Afternoon

You may have heard a fairly substantial snowfall swept through the southeast Tuesday dropping anywhere from 1-3 inches of snow in greater Atlanta where I live. For those of you living in a mountain region in the west or north of the Mason-Dixon line in the east it’s OK to scoff. I grew up in Ohio so I know a major snowstorm when I see one.

This wasn’t it.

Except for Southerners it is. We simply don’t have the equipment to deal with the road conditions as they deteriorate.

Few salt trucks.

Fewer snowplows.

Still fewer drivers with experience in snowy road conditions.

This storm left many motorists stranded and children stuck at school throughout the night. Many roadways are still a parking lot this morning, as ice developed overnight in the below 20 degree weather.

There is a wide range of emotions produced on a days like this. I’ve noticed that which one people express depends on their situation and who they are. Furthermore, and more importantly, how people deal with the situation and handle their emotions may influence how they view the outcome of the entire day.

Emotion 1: Panic

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3 Big Victories, 3 Big Disappointments From My 2013

Times Square Ball

Adieu 2013

2013 is nothing more than a Times Square Ball drop from being in the books.

As excited as I am for 2014 to arrive, I’ve been thinking over the Christmas holidays of the incredible year 2013 was for myself and my family. As I’m sure yours was also, our year was filled with ups and downs. So today I’m going to conclude my writing for the year by sharing the biggest victories and disappointments I encountered this past year.

3 Big Victories

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What Good Is Freedom When You’re Told What To Do With It?

U.S. Constitution - We the PeopleIn the fall of 1620, a group of 102 passengers sailed from the coasts of Western Europe across the Atlantic. Their journey was filled with danger as they traveled in a craft none of us would dare think of sailing today. Much like the courageous astronauts of the 1960s, they faced considerable danger and extreme conditions as they pioneered into an unknown and mysterious world.

Colonies had been established before in the New World but none for such a reason as this. The purpose of those earlier establishments in the Caribbean, and more recently in 1607 at Jamestown, had simply been about wealth creation – find the riches of the new land and return them home for the glory of the mother country.

Simple. Materialistic. Focused.

While some on the Mayflower sought economic prosperity, there was a group aboard interested in something much deeper and profound than the accumulation of wealth. These were known as the Separatists who were fleeing religious persecution inflicted on them by the Church of England. The church in that time controlled religion, dictating to the people how, when and where they were to worship. Choose to worship in a way the church forbid, and you would face severe punishment.

So faced with bigotry and religious intolerance, they fled to a new world with the hopes of fulfilling the one deep desire burning in their hearts…the freedom to choose.

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Trayvon, Zimmerman and Our Road to Healing

On Sunday and Monday my Facebook news feed blew up.

Black White HandshakeOf course, everyone had an opinion about the much publicized and politicized court case from Florida that had finally ended late Saturday night in a not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman. Few of the opinions were intelligent enough to warrant reflection on my part. Most just expressed pent up frustration and anger, pointed in blame or cried out for justice.  It would not surprise you in the least to know the opinions from my group of friends were basically split along political and racial lines.

I was not alive in 1960s America when the years of racial tension finally exploded and produced the civil rights legislation that changed the face of America and gave an entire subset of American citizens a new reason to dream. I can’t relate to the level of violence that was present in that era. I only know what I see now in 2013 and from my vantage point, it doesn’t appear as though this country is progressing in a more unifying direction. And that’s a shame after 237 years of freedom.

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Do I Get Gold Cuff Links With That Tent?

There is nothing that quite excites the heart of every child like summer vacation. At my school, we begin the countdown right after spring break. (FYI to administrators and parents – don’t expect teachers to accomplish much after spring break. The kids minds are completely blown after that.) Now usually, when school is out each day, kids mingle around, talking to one another near the lockers, shooting hoops in the gym or hanging out for a few minutes in the parking lot. On the last day of school? It’s like cockroaches scrambling in the basement when the light is flipped on. They move at light speed off the school grounds not to be seen anywhere near the premises for the next two months.

Yes…summer is finally here!

For my family that means some vacation time. This year we are taking our bold, first steps into the realm of camping with our kids.

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Land of the Free Because of the Brave

“From these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that his nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863

I’ve never been to war. I’ve never even served. I don’t know what it’s like to stand in the heat of battle, wondering whether those moments will be my last on earth. I can’t imagine what level of courage that takes.

Yet we have had in our nation’s history men and women who faced those moments because of a deep and abiding passion for something very dear.

Arizona Memorial OverheadFreedom.

Like you, I’ve always believed in the concept of freedom. God first, country second was what we were taught at my school growing up. We even had an annual Patriotic Day school program in May to celebrate our countries’ freedom.

However, I received an education in what freedom really means several years ago when my wife and I took a trip to the Arizona Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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Remembering Boston & A 2013 Goals Update

Boston Marathon BombingHow do you respond when the atmosphere of an innocent event designed to celebrate the human spirit is shattered in a violent moment and people’s lives are turned into a nightmarish hell?

We rush to help however we can. We cry with those in pain. We give of your time and resources to those in need. We never forget.

And we move on with life. We do not let evil believe it has taken our will and our desire for freedom. We stand together. And we speak out like elite American runner Patrick Rizzo did, who when asked if he was worried about running in the London Marathon a few weeks after Boston, had this to say…

“It didn’t deter me one bit…In those sorts of situations, whether it’s an act of domestic or foreign terrorism, the idea behind that is to alter your lifestyle and tap into submission. They picked the most stubborn group of people possible [runners] to try to do that to. We put ourselves in pain for pleasure.” (ESPN – “London Shows Solidarity With Boston”)

We will keep running. We will move forward more resolute than ever before.

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When Was the Last Time You WOWED Yourself?

Bring Your Best

Can you remember the last time when you completely exceeded any and all of the expectations you had hoped for? Remember how it sort of left you breathless in disbelief? I had one of those days this past Sunday and boy, did it feel good.

As those of you who have been reading here for a while know, one of my goals for the year was to run a half-marathon in under two hours. I’ve been training for the Publix Georgia Half-Marathon in Atlanta since December and was pretty encouraged lately by my training times. Still, there are so many unknowns on race day…like your stomach not digesting the pre-race meal well, getting tripped by another runner or poor weather conditions, just to name a few.

While I felt prepared, you could not have convinced me a week ago that I would be able to pull off this kind of effort.

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I’m Turning 40 – Now What?

turning 40Is it taboo to discuss your age on your blog? If so, I’m engaging in a major faux pas today as I announce that it’s my birthday and I’m turning 40. Woo-hoo! Let’s here it for all the middle age guys out there!

I’ve always heard life starts going down hill after turning 40. I’m not sure why people say that. Is it because the average life span in America is 78, so in the mind of most people, your half way home? Is it because people believe the “fun” times of young adulthood – like partying on spring break or at Mardi Gras – are over?

Or is it perhaps that your body starts to catch up with you as more aches and pains come each morning as you roll out of bed?

Now that I’m here, I’m feeling like I don’t want to buy into the pessimism of what I’ve heard.

Thoughts on Turning 40

In the past year, I’ve done three new and remarkable things:

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A Simple Answer to Election Results (and Other Life Decisions)

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House by defeating Republican challenger Mitt Romney. President Obama prevailed despite a laundry list of national challenges that were present in his first four years in office. Here is a short recap:

– Rising unemployment

– Expansion of national debt

– Higher gas prices

– Lower household incomes

– Controversial health care reform

– Government takeover/bailout of an auto company

– Soon to be higher tax rates

– Tense foreign relations (especially with Israel)

Logic dictates these challenges would not bode well for a sitting President. How did he overcome these seemingly devastating national issues? How was he able to convince 60 million Americans he was still the man for the job? The answer lies in a simple word: pain.

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