Wet Walnuts.

I’m fascinated by people’s choices. I am intrigued by what people like. I love to stand in line at my favorite ice cream shop in the summertime and eavesdrop on the person ordering in front of me. The last two times I’ve listened in, the person in front of me has ordered ice cream with “wet walnuts.” It kind of made me shudder, and ask the question under my breath, “what is that?” It does not sound appetizing, especially on ice cream. I’ve never even considered ordering wet walnuts. I like to hear what others like because it may turn into something I really enjoy, even after the initial aversion.

So I had to do a little google research, and was enlightened. Wet walnuts are simply, walnuts in maple syrup (or simple syrup, or corn syrup), sounds delicious!

I’m not an indecisive person. I am a planner. I know what I want (yes, even when it comes to the ice cream shop order…). My wife Bridget? She usually waits until we are standing at the window, and the employee asks to take our order to decide to ask me, “what are you getting?” I usually reply with “I can’t tell you.” Then, she labors over the decision of what she will be having, and ends up ordering the same thing as last time (small twist in a waffle cone), because she cannot decide on what she wants. It makes us a good pair, and sometimes drives me a little (wal)nuts.

We are all different, and it makes life beautiful, and sometimes really ugly. But, we can work hard to make it better for everyone.

Increase your self awareness to be more aware of others.

Don’t judge based on your preferences, likes, or dislikes.

Respect one another.

My next ice cream order? Small vanilla with wet walnuts.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

You Are A World Changer.

Did you know that you have the power to change the world? You were made with a unique ability. Every day you can take action to make the world a better place. You can pick up a piece of litter. You can give a sincere compliment. You can teach your children. You can learn. You can listen to an opinion you may not share as your own. The list is endless. Little things done consistently cast ripples that are far reaching. Often times we think that the biggest splash, with the largest wave creates the biggest effect, but it dissipates quickly. A lifestyle of small, selfless acts compound into an undeniably powerful influence that creates a motion of positive change.

You are a world changer.

Live it.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

Parenting in the modern world.

The day that my first child was born, I called my parents as we drove to the hospital. My Dad said with a chuckle, “well Luke, it’s time for you to take a seat in the waiting room, kick up your feet, and wait for the Doctor to come and wake you up to tell you congratulations! That’s what I did when you were born!” He knew, as I did, that times have certainly changed, and I didn’t mind one bit.

As Dad made that tongue in cheek statement, it was his way of calming my nerves by getting me to laugh. He knew things had changed vastly throughout the generations that had passed. I was raised by “Boomers.” What an amazing generation of parents. But Gen X had to establish their own style of parenting. If I had to get down to one word that I believe bonds each generation of parenting, let it be this:

Love.

Be the example in loving who society deems as the unlovely.

Love through forgiveness and being forgiven.

Love through laughter, and not the kind that is at the expense of others, known, or unknown.

Love to listen.

Love while you acknowledge, and admit your failures.

Make the effort to love those whose opinions differ from yours.

Love through change.

I could continue, as could you. Love is what we all need some more of in our current state of affairs. Why not make sure it starts at home, as did the generations before us, in the waiting room, eagerly anticipating hearing those life changing words.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

I Was Made For Huggin’ You.

One of the best parts of my day is arriving home from a long day at work, stepping in the door and being immediately greeted with four big long hugs. I am a hugger, maybe you are not…nice thing about it, you get to choose who you hug. But those who choose to hug you? Sometimes that gets akward.

At this point, quarantine 2020 has left me feeling a bit unfulfilled in the human embrace category. I read a study recently by Family Therapist Virginia Satir, and to paraphrase, she noted that we need four hugs a day to survive, eight for stability, and twelve for growth.

We need some huggin’ in our lives.

When my brother Sam was experiencing the tragedy of losing his five year old daughter, my niece Megan, to an accident caused by a drunk driver, he said one of the only comforts he had was a hug from a “big, burly-man.” No words necessary. The act itself communicated the compassion.

So let me ask you, how have you hugged today? In our present time, we may not be able to do so physically, but let’s not let that stop us from offering compassion to those around us. Let’s not stop communicating. Let’s not let isolation get us to the point of thinking that we don’t need anyone but ourselves, because we need each other. Now more than ever.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

The Bucket.

How full is your bucket of emotions?

Recently, mine has been being filled much faster than normal. Specifically the negative. That means it’s been overflowing much more too. And it’s sloppy. Maybe it’s the change of scenery, or lack thereof, due to our current circumstances. Maybe it’s fear, maybe it’s my insecurity and anxiety running high, maybe it’s everything together, all at once. And I’m allowing it to happen. I’m allowing all the little things to get under my skin and fill my bucket up. I’m not sure about you, but when my emotional bucket is running to the tipping point, my family usually gets soaked.

I’m a passionate person. It’s easy to get my bucket wet. What’s not easy is running with that full bucket and keeping everyone around me from getting drenched with the negative that spills over.

I don’t want that.

I want to flood them with the positive. I want them to feel my love, not walk on eggshells.

So what do we do?

We find a valve. A way to release. To let it flow without giving those around us the ice-bucket challenge. I always go to music first. It is my primary valve. It’s my arena of peace. Maybe for you it’s literature, art, gardening, hiking, and so on. We all have something. Maybe it’s rest. We all know we could use a little bit more of that. Maybe it’s admitting to ourselves that we need professional help, and acting on it. There is not one ounce of shame in that. Your mental health is important. There is something, someone, somewhere, that is our valve. Find it, embrace it.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

It Takes a Little Crazy.

To get through this life, sometimes, it just takes a bit more of what you think you’ve got.

Recently, I’ve been singing to my plants. Crazy, right? At first, I thought so too. I’ve heard of people doing this before, and just kind of passed it off as odd and eccentric behavior. Growing up, I even loved a song written about it (“The Houseplant Song” by Audio Adrenaline).

Turns out, I really enjoy it.

For years I’ve begged my wife to have a houseplant, and after many trial-and-error experiments, she finally caved and we ended up with two Fiddle Leaf Fig plants. She studied up on them, and suggested I sing to them to keep them healthy. I was so happy to have a plant in the house to enjoy, I took her up on it. Matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much, I began sharing it on social media (find me on FB https://www.facebook.com/luke.a.thomas.12, or IG @lthomas179 and check out my stories).

Sometimes in our life it takes just a little bit of what you think is crazy to find something that brings you some joy. When you find it, don’t keep it to yourself, share it. Sprinkle that magic dust everywhere.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

Give a little.

When I was growing up, I dreamed of being a Major League Baseball pitcher (see more about that here (https://lukeandlifeblog.wordpress.com/2018/06/17/the-pitcher/).

Due to the recent turn of events in our culture, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work from home. That realm creates somewhat of a challenge when you have a young family. To say the interruptions are somewhat frustrating is an understatement. Today, as I was worked, I was reminded of how important it is to extend grace to those little ones during this time. It reminded me of how much my Dad extended his grace to me when I pestered him relentlessly to catch my fastball.
Fact is, we can all benefit from some extended grace, by giving, and by receiving.

So I challenge you today.

When you feel frustrated by something, or someone, who just may want a little moment of your attention, think of a time in which you experienced that grace, and pay it forward.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

A Friend In Need

One of the most humbling days of my life was also one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me.I had just arrived home from a three day stay in the hospital, where I was recovering from an emergency surgery for a broken hip. As we pulled in the driveway, I noticed that it had been graded. I noticed my lawn had been mowed. I noticed new mulch. I noticed all of the brush and trimming that I had not been able to care for in the past year had been taken care of. I said to my wife Bridget, “It looks like someone graded the driveway,” and she said, “Yes, and a lot more.” I broke into tears. Big, sloppy, sobbing tears (she snapped a photo of me crying uncontrollably – even as I write these words, it’s hard to hold them back). She told me that my friends had gathered and had a work day at our house because they knew I had a need, and they wanted to help. They knew I wouldn’t ask, so they took the initiative and did it. It was one of the nicest things that has ever happened to me, and I’ll forever be grateful. I learned that day that sometimes it is important to let go of your pride, and let people help you. It shaped my perspective on just how much people do appreciate you when you help them. So take today and be ready to seek help when you need it, and be ready to offer help when you have the opportunity. It makes a difference.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

Soup or Salad.

One of the first fancy dates I was ever to take my wife Bridget on was to the Olive Garden to celebrate her 16th birthday. It was a big deal for us. I had a job, was going to school, and spent every dime on her. I wanted to make her feel special and show her my love. The Olive Garden was fairly new to us, and we felt very sophisticated and mature having dinner there. As our server greeted us, she asked us the standard, “Soup, or salad?” Bridget was wearing a beautiful smile, but puzzled look on her face, when she replied, “I’ll have a salad.” I then replied, “Same for me.” As the waitress walked away, Bridget asked me, “Did you get the big one?” I didn’t think anything of it, and replied, “I got the salad,” and we kept right on looking lovingly into each other’s eyes for the next fifty minutes. As we got into the car to come home, I mentioned to Bridget that I was glad I hadn’t ordered the soup, because it would have filled me up way too much to enjoy the cheesecake that we had just ate for dessert. She said, “Soup? I didn’t see that on the menu?” I said, “What do you mean, they offered it to us with the salad!”

Then it dawned on her. The waitress had said “Soup, or salad?” Not “Super-salad.” Every time that we relive that moment we laugh.

Communication is important.

It comes in many forms.

There are two parts.

Let’s strive to be better at both today.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke

Capable of More

One the most proud parenting moments I’ve ever had was the day my son broke his arm.

Surprised?

So was I.

It was a beautiful July day, and we thought it would be a great idea to venture out to the park with our four year old, two year old, and one week old (we were sooooo over zealous, what could go wrong?). Maybe it was lack of sleep, maybe it was the sunshine, either way, it proved to be a day like no other. Let me tell you how it all went down. We began to wind down from our second park visit of the day (the first didn’t have quite enough playground equipment to keep them entertained for long), and head home, and by the smell, we realized that our one week old needed a diaper change. So as I began to change his diaper I heard Bridget frantically yell, “oh no, he fell!!” Our four year old decided he needed try the monkey bars (about six feet off of the ground). Bridget was chasing our two year old (who had the same idea as our four year old), and I was changing our new baby’s diaper.

This is where I surprised myself.

After an initial wave of panic, I jumped up, got the baby in his car seat, grabbed a burp rag from the diaper bag, went and scooped up my son and fitted a sling to support his broken arm. He had suffered a Colles fracture of both bones in his lower arm, it was ugly, without a doubt, broken. It all felt like slow motion, and even though I was very distraught for my son and our family, I was able to slow the tempo of my racing thoughts, hone in on what needed to be done, and do it. I got our family to a safe place, got my son to the hospital, and he healed up just fine.

I learned something that day. I learned that I am capable of more than I think I am. I recognized the value of keeping calm and focused in any situation, and the value of good training (I put my first aid training to work that day!).

This can apply to so many situations we face every day. We can think before we speak, we can stay calm when we are challenged with difficult situations, and we can prepare ourselves for the future so we are ready to react.

We can do this, together.

Until next time,

Luke