In Which I Remember That It’s Christmas


It’s not like I don’t possess a calendar.

It’s not like I don’t turn on the radio and hear holiday music on a 24-hour rotation, even before December 1. It’s not like I don’t see the lights and crèche scenes and inflatable snowmen going up in my neighborhood.

It’s just that I forgot what season it really is. That it’s Christmas.

It’s Christmas.

I’ve been ignoring my own advice to “do the next thing” lately in favor of fretting about things like health insurance and finding a job I like, aging family members and a house in which the clutter seems like something over which I will never gain control, and forgetting that . . .

It’s Christmas.

I’ve fretted about approaching deadlines and not managing my time well despite intentions to the contrary. About my eating habits and books that haven’t been read or reviewed. About messages that aren’t returned and checks that haven’t been mailed. About whether I’ll ever be smart enough to pursue a dream. About what kinds of gifts to buy and finding them on time, driving an old car (that still runs well and requires very little maintenance). And in between, I’ve grieved . . . for the blogger I’ve never met, whose husband’s deterioration from ALS has recently increased so rapidly that he was just placed in hospice care. For the Facebook friend whose books I’ve read and admired and shared, whose unborn grandchild has been diagnosed with an incurable genetic condition described in medical parlance as “incompatible with life.” For the real-life friend with an undiagnosed health issue and no health insurance. For the woman less than a decade my senior who is barely making ends meet on Social Security and sometimes goes for days with no food until her next check arrives, whom I only know from a newspaper advice column.

I forgot that it’s almost Christmas.


And so a couple of nights ago, after sending up yet another brief and hasty request to heaven for direction while doing whatever else I was doing, perhaps it was no surprise that the immediate answer seemed to be: “Go for a walk.”

Which I did, for the first time in almost two months.

It was a good night for a walk. Cool but not cold. A full moon. Huge white clouds.

And lights. Inflatable snowmen. Wreaths. Trees in windows.

I needed to see the lights. To remember what season it was.

Yes, I have a calendar. But I’d forgotten that it’s Christmas. I’d forgotten who put that full moon in the sky and who breathed life into those clouds. I don’t know if all the owners of those lit up houses were thinking along similar lines when they decorated, or simply responding to tradition. It didn’t matter. I walked by their houses, slowly, and looked at those lights. Enjoyed them. And simply let myself remember why they were there. I looked up at that moon and felt small, as I should. But not in a bad way. I waved at the cheerfully waving inflatable Abominable Snowman when I was sure no one was watching. I walked slowly by the lit and unlit crèche scenes, humble plastic figures put in yards as a reminder, and humbly accepted the reminder.

That this is a season. Preceded by another, to be followed by another. And my job is to live in only one at a time.

Over and over again last week I wondered, “What do I do next?”

The answer was simply to remember the season.

Merry Christmas.

* * *

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew. “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”  – from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens



Any Excuse to Eat Candy . . . With a Little History Thrown In

I may be in my fifties now, but I’ve still got a soft spot for Halloween, even though I don’t dress up anymore, or have kids to take trick or treating. Maybe it’s because I’ve always naturally gravitated to the strange and mysterious, so I love the spooky tingles associated with the holiday. Or that it gives supposedly mature adults an excuse to let their inner kid out for a day. Perhaps it’s the whisper of old memories, traipsing under a cool night sky with my friends and feeling, for a few hours at least, like anything could happen, if we only believed . . . or the smile I still get at recalling some of my mom’s homemade costumes (hippie, anyone? Complete with a leopard-print headband?)

Of course, some people have complaints about the day, some of them quite understandable. But one I’ve never understood is that about stores stocking their Halloween wares while it’s technically still summer. I mean, come on, folks – can any excuse to eat candy ever come too early?

And while you’re munching on yours, enjoy these 31 fun facts you might not have known about the holiday . . .

English: Advertisement for Brach's candies

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

  1. The word “Halloween” comes from “Hallowmas,” a shortening of “Hallows Mass,” the feast celebrating All Saints Day.
  2. Orange and black are the holiday’s traditional colors because they represent, respectively, harvest and death.
  3. Some of the first jack o’lanterns are believed to have been made from turnips.
  4. The term “jack o’lantern” was originally a name for ignis fatuus, or “foolish fire,” the strange light that sometimes flickers over marshes and swamps. It was also a nickname for night watchmen (e.g., a man with a lantern, or “Jack of the Lantern.”).
  5. Keene, NH holds the current world record for most lighted jack o’lanterns at one time – 30,581.
  6. The record for heaviest pumpkin belongs to Swiss gardener Beni Meier, who had to use a special crane to transport his 2,096.6-pound behemoth in September 2014.
  7. The record for fastest pumpkin carving, at 16.47 seconds, was earned by Stephen Clarke in New York City on October 31, 2013.
  8. Dating to pagan times, Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world.
  9. It is also the second most commercially successful holiday in America (Christmas is first).
  10. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s the country’s third biggest party day, right after New Year’s and Super Bowl Sunday.
  11. The origins of trick-or-treating have been variously attributed to costumes made of animal skins to scare away phantoms; dressing as malevolent creatures and performing antics in exchange for food and drink; and visits by the poor to wealthy homes where they would receive pastries called “soul cakes” in exchange for a promise to pray for the souls of the family’s deceased relatives.
  12. Samhainophobia is an intense fear of Halloween.
  13. Fears of poisoned Halloween candy are almost entirely unfounded. Only two cases are known, both involving relatives and one of which was designed to cover up an accidental heroin ingestion.
  14. At least five Massachusetts towns banned trick-or-treating in 1962 due to safety concerns.
  15. Candy makers have been credited with lobbying for Daylight Savings Time to simultaneously increase candy sales and child safety. The industry disputes this claim.
  16. The current most popular Halloween candy is Reese’s peanut butter cups.
  17. More than twice as much chocolate is sold for Halloween as for Valentine’s Day.
  18. Dark and milk chocolates can last up to two years if stored in a dry, odor-free spot. Hard candy can last up to a year; unopened candy corn, up to nine months.
  19. October 30 is National Candy Corn Day.
  20. The 1978 movie Halloween was made on such a tight budget that Michael Meyers’ original face mask was one of Star Trek‘s William Shatner, spray-painted with teased hair and reshaped eye holes. Shatner is said to have been flattered.
  21. The custom of bobbing for apples is thought to have originated in a Roman harvest festival honoring Pomona, goddess of fruit trees. The first unmarried youth to bite into an apple would be the next one allowed to marry.
  22. Scottish girls once believed they could see images of their future husband by hanging wet sheets in front of the fire on Halloween.
  23. Many countries, such as France and Australia, regard Halloween as an unwanted and overly commercial American influence.
  24. While the image of a full moon is a Halloween staple, it’s also quite rare on the holiday. You’ll have to wait until 2020 for the next one.
  25. You can really get into the holiday spirit in these oddly-named towns: Frankenstein, Missouri; Scary, West Virginia; Spook City, Colorado; and Candy Town, Ohio.
  26. In Hollywood, there’s a $1,000 fine for using Silly String on Halloween.
  27. Hollywood celebrities born on Halloween include Michael Landon, John Candy, Dale Evans and Lee Grant.
  28. Barmbrack, a yeast bread made with dried fruit that has been soaked in hot tea, is a traditional Halloween food in Ireland.
  29. There’s a gene in fruit flies known as the halloween gene.
  30. The top three songs played on Halloween are “Thriller,” “Monster Mash” and the theme from Ghostbusters.
  31. More cars are stolen on Halloween than any other holiday.



“God Used My Losses”

This week I’m delighted to feature guest poster Anne Peterson. Anne is a poet, speaker, and the author of Real Love: Guaranteed to Last, Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, and most recently, her first children’s book, Emma’s Wish. Her poetry is sold throughout the U.S. and in 23 countries. I’ve been privileged to share her words in the capacity of proofreader and reviewer, and to witness her extraordinary commitment to encouraging our fellow Tribe Writers. No stranger to suffering, her story is one of perseverance and hope, and it has both astonished and inspired me. Please welcome her to Postcards From My Head.

* * *

Everyone is going through something. We don’t know the trials other people face, unless they divulge them to us. You never know what another person is dealing with.

Even when God heals our hurts, mends our broken places, we have scars. Some of them go pretty deep.

Gods Tools

Anne Peterson

Anne Peterson

For me, one of the tools God uses in my life is loss. I have lost a lot of loved ones. Consequently it’s difficult for me to trust. When I was five years old, my friend Billy ran out into the street after a ball. He never came back.

When I was twelve, my cousin Julie was killed, and when my parents went to tell Grandma, her heart couldn’t take it and she died the next day.

Years ago, there were no counselors to help children process their grief. We never learned how to deal with the losses that kept coming. We just became well acquainted with death.

Not knowing the need to work through our pain, we tried numbing it. Food was one way.

Death Kept Visiting

At sixteen I lost my mother. At twenty-four we buried Dad. Six years later we would deal with losing Peggy, but this one was complicated.

It was 1982 when my sister Peggy disappeared. She never showed up at work, nor did she show up for a dentist appointment.

Her husband told us she walked out. There was even a segment done on television, but we never believed she left.

Not surprisingly, I struggled with abandonment issues. In my mind, it was only a matter of time before everyone would leave.

Emotional Pain Hurts Deeply

My emotional pain was overwhelming. And when I hurt the worst, poems would come to me.

God provided counseling for me and with it many tools from the counselors.

I learned the value of acknowledging my pain rather than stuffing it down or denying it existed. Then I learned how to embrace my pain. I believe that was a turning point.

In his book, Making Peace with Your Past, Tim Sledge deals with those painful parts of our lives we wish were gone.

As I wrote my book Broken, it was to be a story about my sister. That is, until God told me to add my story as well.

For years I’ve spoken to hundreds of people, sharing my sister’s story. I know it by heart, my broken heart.

But adding my story was life-changing. I felt a purpose for the pain I experienced. I felt gratitude for those who tried to reach out to me.


As I wrote the book, I felt strong resistance. And yet, I pushed through—I had to.

Why? Because my intent in writing Broken was to offer something to those who were hurting. This book was not only for those who were or are being abused, but it was also for those who perhaps wanted to better understand it, so they could help someone they may know.

An interesting thing happened as I finished my book. As expected, I was totally spent. There were days I felt exhaustion. But after I rested, an interesting thing happened.

I became more aware of others and their hurts.

I still felt I needed to write, but instead of an urgency, it was more of a deliberate decision.

And another thing changed. All of a sudden, children’s books were bubbling out of me.

Day after day, I wrote children’s stories. Stories like the ones I had made up for my grandchildren.

Working Through Issues

Working through issues is so beneficial, not only for you, but for those you care about as well. I just never expected the joy I’m experiencing.

As far as the issues in your own life, have you worked through them? If not, are you ready for the hard work ahead? Will it be worth it?Real Love Cover

Yes, yes, and yes!

You won’t go through them alone. God will be with you as you process your pain.

God uses the losses in our lives. He can bring good out of our most difficult times.

God knows what you’re going through. He’s seen and even felt your pain.

Isn’t it time to see what He really has in store for you?

Trust me, it will be worth it.

 * * *


God, Im so discouraged,
the plans I had fell through,
I sit with disappointment
and dont know what to do.
I had my life all figured out,
most everything was planned,
But nothing went the way I thought
and I dont understand.
He answers with compassion,
I know you are in pain,
Just trust in me completely.
Your loss will turn to gain.

* * *

 To learn more about Anne, please visit her at or You can also read my reviews of Broken and Emma’s Wish at


Emma's Wish






Happy, Happy, Happy: The Gospel of Phil Robertson

Full-camo Phil

Full-camo Phil

 “I may be only one man reading scripture and quotes, carrying his Bible, and blowing duck calls to crowds, but hey, it has to start somewhere. It’s what makes me happy, happy, happy.” – Phil Robertson

He’s a controversial figure – considered by some to be little better than an uneducated hick, by others, a redneck bigot. He’s plain-spoken, duck-hunting, techno-phobic and rugged; raised in poverty with guns and multiple siblings in a four-room cabin with no indoor plumbing or electricity and a single fireplace for heat. His bed was shared with three of four brothers and baths were cold-water only (heated water was for cooking and dishes). Whatever grew in the garden or could be hunted was what went on the table.

As Phil Robertson says, “Where I grew up, you practically went straight from diapers to manhood.”

He’s a low-tech man in a high-tech world, so it’s hardly surprising that the first chapter of the book contains  an admonition to “Throw Away Your Cell Phones and Computers, Yuppies.” Frankly, I’m in awe of anyone who manages to live without either nowadays, as Phil does. And a tad envious. Just a tad. Because I’m also a computer-reliant animal-lover, raised in four-bedroom middle-class comfort, who dislikes hunting for sport, has held a gun only once in her life, and is fond of ducks. So it seemed rather odd even to me that the autobiography of Phil “Duck Commander” Robertson landed on my reading list. But I wanted to hear from Phil in his own words, and, as I’d rather expected, I found Happy, Happy, Happy enormously entertaining.

Happy, Happy, Happy BookGranted, Phil and I have little in common aside from our Christian faith, but his innate penchant for doing nothing halfway earned my respect. This is a man who has always followed his passions, whether for his wife, “Miss Kay,” the land from which he has drawn his living since boyhood, or the Lord. The appeal of his story is not just that of a dream come true through years of struggle and uncertainty – and what American doesn’t love such a story? It’s in our DNA – but its undercurrent of love and full-frontal commitment.

Phil holds nothing back, from his mother’s manic depression and electroshock therapy to the oil drilling rig accident that left his father in a neck to hip cast for two years . . . the “outlaw” years that nearly cost him his family when he threw Kay and their three sons out of the house . . . the drinking, the prodigal son, the times of leanness followed by a plenty that occasionally befuddles him and led, among other things, to a popular A&E network television series. The voice is homespun but this is a man with a Master’s degree who could have played pro football but followed the deepest call of his heart, even when “100% convinced Duck Dynasty would never work.”

If the narrative occasionally slows in its detail of ducks and hunting techniques, that same call will resonate in the heart of anyone longing to pursue a dream or a purpose, or simply a less “connected” lifestyle. Phil’s story may be deeply American in its rags to riches, boot-strap self-reliance, but its greatest truths are universal.  

Yes, there was a Phil before the beard

Phil before the beard





In Which I Never Thought I Would Write About Pantyhose

woman in pantyhose

About a month ago, I had a job interview.

Anyone who has ever endured one of these will testify that, no matter the amount of preparation beforehand, they are generally nerve-wracking experiences. Adding to the stress was the question of wardrobe. Everything I might have worn was either not quite suitable, too heavy for the season, or unlikely to fit after a recent weight loss.

So a-shopping I did go, only to discover that clothing designers seemed blissfully unaware that professional women my age existed. Thirteen trips to a dozen stores finally yielded an ensemble that wasn’t more appropriate for someone three decades my junior on her way to an outdoor summer party.

But that wasn’t the end of it . . .

* * *

I don’t wear pantyhose anymore, except on the rarest occasions. I don’t think most women do, especially in my native south. However, I’m rather old-school and conservative; this was an interview with a Catholic university law school; and did I mention that I’m from a generation that still does wear the dang things on occasion? Especially if you’re so fair-skinned that a coworker calls you “the whitest white person” he’s ever seen, even though you’ve lived nearly five decades in one of the sunniest states in the Union?

There was a time when I wore hose pretty much around the clock. This was back in the eighties, when I worked for a company with a dress code requiring same, especially on the “corporate” floor, where female employees were not even allowed to wear slacks. (To any young fry who may be reading this and have been known to go to work in flip-flops, I am not making this up. Things were different back then.) Plus, three decades ago my legs didn’t look much better than they do now. They may have had less cellulite, but even that is debatable.

So I wore pantyhose. In fact, I wore them like a second skin: under dresses, skirts, nice slacks, even jeans. When I belatedly discovered the blessing of knee highs, my world changed forever.

Not just for old ladies...

Not just for old ladies…

But those wouldn’t cut it for the interview, so, mentally cursing myself for throwing out the last pair of full stockings in my sock drawer, at which time I’d sworn I would never buy another because I was tired of dodging into office supply rooms to pull them up, I headed for Walgreens. They had their own brand in convenient single-serving packages for a relatively low price.

Well, they had.

Staring in disbelief at the choices before me, I wanted to shriek that on principle I refused to pay Five Dollars! for something that could be ruined in a second, but time was short, so I gritted my teeth and opened my purse, only to find that, thanks to accumulated points on my rewards card, my bill was a grand total of twenty-nine cents.

Considerably appeased, I headed for home and soon forgot the matter . . . until the day before my appointment, when I realized I had managed to exit the store with a package labeled Size A.

(For those who are fortunate enough to know little about hosiery and care even less, all I will say is that “A” is the near polar opposite of what my middle-aged body will squeeze into, weight loss notwithstanding.)

In desperation, I pulled them out of the package and began tugging them on, praying that by some miracle I could stretch them to the point necessary for an interview, if nothing more. They did their valiant best, but gave up the ghost at my hips.

Think this was a best-seller?

Not just for wearing…

Into the trash they went. Off to Walmart I went. Yep, give me good old cheap-o Walmart pantyhose, four pairs for the price of one at Walgreens. I don’t care what brand they are; they ALL run eventually.

* * *

Allison Freer addressed the subject of the once ubiquitous legwear in a recent column for XO Jane, noting that the two occasions in her life on which she donned a pair were for an uncle’s wedding and a grandfather’s funeral:

“I’ve never worn a pair of pantyhose since, and I can’t really think of a single reason to wear them in this day and age. Maybe if you are a lady lawyer trying a landmark case against the tobacco industry and you’re pretty sure they will end up making a major motion picture about you, so you want to give the costume designer a quirky character trait to work with later on?”

Ms. Freer had obviously never met someone like me.

“I don’t really remember anything about it except that the pantyhose I wore were made by L’Eggs and came in that awesome plastic egg I remember my mother having tons of around the house, as she worked in an office that required her to wear hosiery. As children, my brother and I did a lot of hilarious arts and crafts with those leftover ‘eggs.'”

I was sorry she didn’t include a photo of those crafts, but she did share a picture of her funereal stockings:

Alison Freer Stockings

Which I thought were pretty cool. In fact, I almost wanted such a pair myself.
If only I could have been sure they were suitable for job interviews . . . .

* * *

What do you think? Are pantyhose an invention of the devil, an occasional unfortunate necessity, or something in between? And if they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they invent a brand that doesn’t run?*

*Actually, those who are, like me, of a certain age may recall an early seventies brand called “Turtles,” because “Turtles never run” – get it? Even a scissors blade failed to penetrate them, at least according to the TV commercial. What ever happened to them? Did the marketers realize they could potentially put themselves out of business because their product would never become obsolete, or was it all just smoke and mirrors? Sadly, I’ll probably never know . . . .

A New View of Success for a New World: John Robbins and “The New Good Life”

“He who dies with the most toys wins.” – Malcolm Forbes

“I have no desire to replace conspicuous consumption with conspicuous frugality.” - John Robbins

* * * * *

“More than forty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described one of the foremost problems with the old good life.  ‘We are prone,’ he said, ‘to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobile rather than by the quality of our service and relationship to mankind.’ “

So quotes the man I’ve called “a gift to humanity”:  bestselling author, former heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice cream fortune, recipient of the Rachel Carson Award and the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, founder of EarthSave International…and the guy who, at least temporarily, pretty much converted me to vegetarianism after reading his Diet for a New America years ago.  For those of you not familiar with him, John Robbins grew up in wealth and privilege but decided at a young age that he wanted to pursue a different path than the one he’d inherit from his father – head of the Baskin-Robbins empire and a continued life of wealth and privilege.  Without giving too much away, he ended up with his wife, Deo, off the coast of British Columbia in a one-room log cabin they built themselves and lived in for the next ten years, during which time their son, Ocean, was born.  As the years went by, Robbins became committed to animal welfare and vegetarianism, as well as other environmental concerns, and the Robbins family expanded to include Ocean’s wife Michelle and the couple’s twin boys, born three months prematurely and suffering repeated bouts of oxygen deprivation that led to their autism.  The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less reveals enough of this background to give insight into Robbins’ character and values, but the real point for readers is something most of us already know:  “We have now entered an entirely new phase in our nation’s and our world’s economic existence.  We have come to the end of the financial world as we have known it.”

Robbins has known both wealth and what some would call poverty.  In 2001, he and his family had what he believed were sufficient income and savings prior to the twins’ birth, but the boys’ special needs, expected to be lifelong, led him to invest his money in a fund controlled by an attorney friend whom they greatly trusted.  For seven years the investment yielded respectable returns…until December 2008, when the friend called John with “excruciating news”:  The money had been invested with Bernard Madoff.

* * * * *

John Robbins

John Robbins

Robbins and his family made it through the most devastating crisis of their lives, thanks to hard choices, hard work, and the kindness of many friends who supported them.  And only two years later, he published The New Good Life, in the same calm, reasoned, sane tone that I’ve admired for years.  While the book is devoted in part to “Getting to Know Your Money Type” (disclosure:  I’m a Saver and a Vigilant) and “Four Steps to Financial Freedom,” there’s much more to saving ourselves and our planet.  Backed by the extensive research that underlies his other published works, Robbins tackles housing, vehicle purchases, public transportation, family size, green cleaning alternatives, and, of course, food, even including recipes for favorite family dishes such as split pea cabbage soup and tangy lentil-barley stew.  Using real life examples from friends as well as family, he guides the reader through a myriad of ways to make gradual changes in every part of life, that can lead to a new vision of hope as well as economic and physical health.

This is a book to read, and read again – thoughtfully, carefully, and to share with friends.  Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy as soon as you can.  Then “Go forth and be fruitful, go forth and be creative, passionate, and fully alive.  Go forth and bring the wisdom of your soul to bear on every choice, every experience, every breath, and every moment.”

Sound like a tall order?  It won’t by the time you get to the end.  And I bet you’ll find yourself numbered among the many like me who are thankful men like John Robbins are alive in this world.

* * * * *

For more information on John Robbins, his family, and his work, be sure to visit his website at and his page at

The New Good Life



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Because Dreaming and Doing Go Hand in Hand: Meet the Guys Who Want to Help You “Live Your List”

Live Your List

How many of you have a “bucket list”?  You know, that tally of life goals you’d love to achieve before you kick the bucket, as the popular saying goes.  Does it occasionally seem like  a mere catalog of wishful thinking, or have you set your list in motion but need a little help to finish it?

In this month’s installment of “Tell Me About It,” I asked authors, bloggers and speakers Jerrod Murr and Ryan Eller – two men who are the best kind of dreamers and doers, i.e., GIVERS – to talk about a cool project they call “Live Your List” – and why they’ve set out to help people just like you.

* * * * *

LW:  Jerrod, your website describes you as “not your average, shoot for the stars dreamer…Murr is a dreamer of dreamers.” Okay, that caught my attention…just what does that mean?

JM:  I find it difficult to describe yourself, so Ryan wrote this sentence for me. This is his description in his own words:

“When Jerrod and I were in college, one of our classmates described Jerrod as a dreamer of dreams, and it always stuck with me.  I try to surround myself with dreamers, and most people limit themselves to the preconceived notions of those around them.  Jerrod has no limitations on his dreams.  If he told me he was going to be the next person on the moon, I would believe him.” 

Jerrod Murr

Jerrod Murr

LW:  Ryan, on your website, Jerrod says: “Ryan gives hope to the dreamers and challenges leaders to step up and live a life of intention.”  Have you always felt it was your mission to lead and encourage others?

RE:  I come from a family of leaders.  I didn’t come from a wealthy family, a prestigious family, or even a well-educated family, but I came from a family of strong leaders.  Hard workers who have spent decades investing in other people without seeking fame or fortune.  I have been fortunate to be in an “iron-sharpens-iron” world from my youth.

LW:  Jerrod, you started your public speaking career at 14.  What were you talking about at that age?

JM:  At 14, I gave a speech to a huge crowd in Wainwright, OK, town of 300 people.  I was the Valedictorian of my 8th grade class.  I had three major points: 1. Thank you, Mom.  2. I believe in God.  3. Thank you, Mom.

LW:  Now I’ll be honest – I hadn’t heard of you gentlemen before coming across a mention of your bucket list project in a Facebook group – but I was immediately intrigued by this crazy thing you’re spearheading called “Live Your List.”  How did it start?

JM & RE:  “Live Your List” is the mantra we have adopted for our lives, business, and presentations. It’s a short way to describe living a life of intention.  We believe everyone should be proactive in how we live, dream big, set goals, play, love people, do more than you feel capable.  We, as a race, are incredibly strong and tend to underestimate ourselves.  Most of us just need a little encouragement.  The LiveYourList project is our way of practicing what we preach.  We are all about bucket lists and use that as a key concept in our life strategy.  With that in mind, the project helps people check off “buckets” and reach their dreams! 

Ryan Eller

Ryan Eller

LW:  And speaking of bucket lists…that term is familiar to almost everyone now, thanks primarily to the eponymous 2007 movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman – but do you think we’re more a nation of dreamers rather than doers these days?

JM & RE:  It completely depends on how you define dreaming.  We discussed this on a recent Live Your List podcast.  We are a nation of many daydreamers, wishers perhaps.  People who simply wish things were better or different.  The lottery winner mentality of dreaming.  But dreaming and doing go hand-in-hand.  Dreaming, for us, is more akin to vision.  You must have a vision for your life, then pursue that vision with reckless abandon.

LW:  Millions of people in this country, millions of dreams…how do you choose whom to help?

JM & RE:  Great question.  First, we can only help dreams we hear.  So go to to share your story or nominate a story.  We have a team that helps us decide which dreams to pursue.  From there, it’s a matter of resources.  We are putting up personal funds, as well as teaming up with incredible people who have offered talents and resources for the projects.  For instance, we have pilots who have volunteered to take people in the air, cosmologists who do makeovers, and farmers who let people milk cows.

LW:  Obviously the concept of giving is enormously important to you.  You are also both men of faith.  How does that drive what you do?

JM:  I wrote a book a few years ago called 30 Days to Give.  Shameless plug, would much appreciate you checking it out on Kindle or Nook.  Proceeds help the #LiveYourList project.  This book is an in-depth answer. The short answer is that our faith affects us deeply.  We believe we are called to be givers.  Case closed.  So give.  And we try our best.

LW: Where do you see the Live Your List project heading in the future?

JM & RE:  Definitely Antarctica, because we want to go there!  But truly,  the response has been incredible, and we are very grateful.  In only two months we were completing an overseas trip for someone, setting someone up to barrel race in a rodeo, sending an amazing teen to a professional basketball game, and more (secrets yet to be revealed).  We have literally hundreds of applicants and supporters, so even the sky is not the limit!  Actually, space.  Our answer is space.  That’s where LiveYourList is heading in the future!

* * * * *

Hmmm…sounds like Jerrod just may be the next person on the moon, as Ryan hinted.  How about you?  What kind of dreams and goals have you put on your bucket list?  What have you done to achieve them so far?  What would it take to bring them to fruition?  Would you be willing to help someone else cross an item off their list?  I’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about Jerrod and Ryan and the great work they’re doing (hint: it’s not just about bucket lists), visit them at and or follow them on Twitter at @Ryan_Eller and @jerrodmurr.  Thanks for your time, guys!

Next week is Book Review Monday…and I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the latest offering from a man I consider a national treasure, John Robbins, author of the bestseller Diet for a New America – and what he has to say about “The New Good Life” in a time of economic and environmental upheaval.  Hope to see you then!