The Power of Influence

  I took this picture in the Summer of 2014 when Hurricane Marie grew into Category 5 storm as it hovered over the Pacific Ocean heading towards Baja California. Even though this hurricane was centered hundred of miles from this spot of the California coast it left foam on the beach as each wave powered by this enormous storm dissipated on the shore. We have the same potential to influence the lives of others; constructive and destructive. We choose. 

Remembering Marie

 The noise of the growing and curious crowd, tractors building berms, and news helicopters hovering overhead still couldn’t drown out the sound of the massive waves produced by Hurricane Marie, which churned into a Category 5 storm in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles off the coast of Baja back in the late Summer of 2014. 

Lifeguards tried their best to close one section of this local beach to keep the crowds safe as the moving machines made small hills of sand to protect the homes in the crosshairs of the mighty waves.

Marie produced the surf event of a lifetime to the coast of Southern California. Instead of the usual 1-2 foot waves the locals were used to at this beach, this storm created waves 10-15 feet. More popular surf breaks along the coast were getting pounded by 20 and up to 30 foot giants.

And the surfers came. They came on the biggest day. They dreamed about this day; years for some. Many were literally in over their heads and left injured, exhausted, and disappointed. News circulated quickly that a fellow waterman lost his life that day. They underestimated the power of Marie.

The people kept coming the days that followed. Most came to marvel at one of the most powerful natural forces known around the world. Some came to ride giants. They all came to experience the force of Marie.

The Life Equation

A couple of years ago, I injured my shoulder surfing and was not able to surf for several weeks. I continued going to the beach and took photos instead while my body healed. I remembered watching the local high school surf team this day as they shouted, laughed, and scored really great waves during a winter swell. What stood out the most was watching some students stylin’ on cheap foam boards that are sold at the local Costco.

I heard a preacher on the radio say that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I have heard this saying recycled and re-quoted many times in different forms like, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but is it not true? Anything “awesome” or “epic” usually depends on how you participated in it. The kids who surfed with the foam boards were carving out waves as good as the other kids who had boards that cost 10 times more.

Times have changed and now people reject sound wisdom and will react with, “What if I don’t like lemonade?” and “Why am I getting lemonade when those people get Arnold Palmer’s?”  The victim card is way overplayed nowadays. It is time to put that card down and take that 10% of crap that has been thrown your way and turn it into fertilizer for the 90%. Grow something. Change something. Overcoming obstacles in life is not easy nor comfortable. Stop wasting energy on leveling the playing field and just play. If all you have is that cheap foam board, then use it and make it awesome. The 90% is yours.

Looking Up For Encouragement

 After a day of receiving horrible news, I just had a moment and looked up. I took this video of my view and reminded myself a few things.

  • Trials are temporary. A friend just reminded me that storms actually end at some point.
  • Always look at the big picture. It is way too easy to have my head caught up in the crisis or trouble and have a foggy perspective.
  • It’s not about me. It just isn’t.
  • I am not alone. We were never meant to do life alone. I am thankful for my wife, family, and friends who care about me.

When I look up and view the expanse of the sky and feel the wind on my face, my sigh is one of relief instead of despair. I remember that there is God who sees me and knows me by name.

Ice Cream Dream

Earlier this week I woke up to get ready for work, but I actually remembered a dream I had sometime between midnight and the morning.

I was in a 18-wheeler moving van with my wife and 2 unknown friends. We were parked at a truck stop happily chatting in the cabin of the truck when we saw a state trooper walking up towards us. Although I knew that we had not done anything wrong, the other 3 were noticeably nervous as the state trooper walked in a way that reminded me of Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane from Dukes of Hazzard.

“How y’all doin’?” the officer asked as she climbed up the cab and leaned into the open driver’s side window. We all cautiously said, “Good” in unison nodding our heads to hide our uneasy mood.  The state trooper scanned the interior of our truck cab, then after not finding what she was looking for asked, “Y’all got an ITS-IT? I know you got one.”

Shelley and my friends turned their gaze at me which caused me to realize that we knew that we had something that could resolve our current predicament. I had an IT’S-IT in my backpack.

For those of you do not know what an ITS-IT is, it is an ice cream sandwich sold at ice cream trucks, liquor stores, and grocery stores. It consists of a circle of sweet vanilla ice cream sandwiched in dark-chocolate coated crunchy-yet-soft oatmeal chocolate cookies. The way the chocolate coating breaks and melts while I bite through the cookies and my teeth sink into the ice cream is something worth trying… everyday if it weren’t for my doctor asking me if I’m keeping my triglycerides levels in check.

As I pondered on the request, a wave of rebelliousness grew inside of me as I looked at my backpack that held my lone It’s It. My wife and friends locked their eyes on me with plastic smiles that I interpreted as, “Give that woman that ITS-IT now!” I committed to sacrificing my ice cream treat by giving it to the that no-good law-woman and save my wife and friends potential trouble with the law.

As I rustled into my backpack to pull out the ice cream sandwich, I turned my attention to the state trooper who now had her mouth open for me to hand feed her the ice cream. “Are you serious?” was the non-verbal big-eyes look I gave my wife. Shelley silently mouthed these words, “Just do it.”

I awkwardly hand-fed the entire ITS-IT to the state trooper who ate it in one bite.  After a slow pause, the officer smiled and said, “Y’all have a good day,” and she walked away.

That was the dream. That’s it. ITS-IT! My addiction to that ice cream treat called an ITS-IT has now spilled over into my dream world. Maybe you do,  but I don’t know what to make of it. I think I am going to have one now.

Staying in V-formation

I think this shot illustrates the power of unity. Unity goes a long way. Literally. At least for this group of birds. Unity involves working together and then some. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. We do have to agree on the goal and how we are going to get there.

With us humans, it requires looking big picture. Big picture is usually, if not always, the greater good. It is usually win-win for everyone involved in a marriage, family, business, sports team, community group or church team. And if you want to talk bigger, then yes, our local community and even a nation of millions of people.

I’m not saying sacrifices aren’t required because unity comes at a cost. If selfish ambition is the cost, then isn’t that what has to be put aside to the agreed-upon goal to be achieved? Selfish-ambition has to be the #1 enemy of unity.

If I was one of these birds in this V-formation, I know I would be tempted to land here on the Southern California Coast and convince myself, “This place has mild weather year-round and plenty of food. Besides, that lead bird hogs up all the time in the front. Wasn’t it my turn like 4 birds ago? Hey, I could even convince a few to go with me. A few of them said they were getting bored.”

However, the “Big-picture” voice says that this destination is much more than just a place. I won’t know if I give up now. Sticking with the V-formation will get us there quicker and easier than anyone flying solo. Stay in the V.

Unity costs. Unity requires much effort and perseverance. Yeah, it takes a lot, but think of the alternative.

And if you are like me, you have experienced the alternative a few times. What’s your story? Your feedback is appreciated. Thanks.

When that homeless man is your friend


I remember the time being panned for money by a homeless man while I waited in line at a Taco Bell. We were both 20-something by then, and the moment he asked me for some change we locked eyes. I could tell by his eyes that he recognized me.

We were once neighbors and childhood friends. I can still replay the day he let me ride his motorized scooter down the alley behind his house. This day, this man acted like he didn’t remember me, and I was too embarrassed to press the issue. I gave him what I had in my pocket; a dollar and some change. He mumbled a thank you and walked away.

Even though our meeting happened over 20 years ago, whenever I am downtown I look for him. Taking this shot of this scene by the Salvation Army reminded me of him.

Low Tide

“One of the best moments that can ever happen between a father and his son is that time when the father is just a “grown-up” kid with his kid doing something like walking around the rocks during low tide.”

Navigating through the tide pools, throwing rocks, looking for stuff, etc. and the quiet moments of simply being and being together help bond the souls of the man and his child.

Read more on Steller https://steller.co/s/4pyK9aeEW6c

Hummingbirds and Hawks

Version 2

I took this picture of a hawk on my roof just moments before it joined two other hawks as they battled crows in the air across the street from my house. Their cries were so high pitched and loud that they wouldn’t be ignored this day. My family and I studied these predators and were amazed by their power and ferocity. My wife noticed, amidst all this action, a hummingbird nesting in the very same tree where the hawks stayed.

Being the researcher that she is, my wife web searched this living arrangement and discovered that a certain type of hummingbird strategically nests next to hawks knowing that the hawks will eat the animals who pose a threat to the hummingbirds. I’m thinking of something very philosophical about this coexistence, but the simple truth of it all is that this hummingbird is one smart creature.

Illustrate Your Story

This is one of my latest photo edits to illustrate a story I wrote, “Flower in a Cup.” I am a visual person. I think in images. That is how I process information best, and that is how I express myself. I have been writing sporadically for over 15 years, but consistently not until this past year. I think I found my niche to share with the world through social media, and it’s quirky one-minute fictional stories. I really can’t draw, but maybe I should invest in pencils. For now, it is my iPhone and apps to manipulate my images to illustrate my stories. I love doing it and seem to be learning a few things.

Shouldn’t each one of us be illustrating our own story? You are unique and bring that one-of-kind flavor to the world. Without your flavor, life would be bland.