The Secret of Civility

More so than ever before our society is placing people in boxes; boxes of us versus them! Our influence comes twenty four hours a day from technology that is bombarding us as it carefully places our interests into pigeon holed entertainment. The way we see the world becomes more extreme as we bathe innocently in data designed to attract us. Seemingly like minded people fuel the energy gained by finding and sharing support material. Some information comes from imprudently designed falsehoods portrayed by companies/people who don’t even exist.

These boxes we separate others into can be the go-getters vs people who are struggling, people we trust vs those we avoid, groups unknown vs neighbors and friends, cowboys vs individuals who haven’t seen a horse, people who hold religious faith vs some who avoid organization. The current political environment seems to have added to the growing division. Our boxes become more extreme as political factions occur whether it is party affiliation or cause of individual preferences in debates on global warming or as seen today in discussions of gun control after the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas.  These boxes can be personal with issues based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

We blind ourselves to life as we label individuals or groups believing they are foolish for having their beliefs. After successfully placing people into boxes, we remove their humanity striping ourselves of ability to understand or enjoy an empathetic heart. We no longer believe “these people” could add anything of value to intelligent conversation. As we seek to find ways to either validate our belief or rebut their opinion; we build up fortresses around the boxes we have placed them in. Incivility grows and we gather into groups to fight against the thoughtless actions of those we now sense we are against. The greatest box becomes us vs them. What may have been seen as unkind, uncaring or selfish actions on our part become needed defenses protecting us from the enemy!

What would our world be like if we could see through clear eyes and open hearts to the things that tie us together as human beings; rather concentrate on differences? What if we sought out those things we have in common; or at least could see people as human or caring?

Fact is some found in these separate boxes are members of our family. My Aunt—who I consider a saint—would become my mortal enemy if I held no understanding of our commonalities. Our differences are stark: conservative/liberal, Agnostic/God fearing. If we didn’t share a deep conviction of love that comes through understanding hearts, our placement in boxes could suggest the value of our relationship would never exist, and we would never advance in learning from each other’s experiences. If we engaged in physical or verbal assaults blindly supporting our perspective; we well would be astonished to run into each other on the battle front representing opposite sides.

What if we placed all the boxes existing in today’s discussions into a large stadium with direction from a moderator engaged to find our commonalities. The announcement would come across the sound system, all who love the outdoors step over to the north ten yard line. Some from nearly every box would leave their group and move toward this location. There would be no separation of race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, religion or political opinion.

As you read this, did you think to yourself there are people in some boxes who don’t love the outdoors? If so, let’s keep breaking down the walls. Remember back to a time when foes became friends. In Utah we united as a citizenry when Salt Lake held the 2002 Winter Olympics, America united behind individual athletes. Barriers are missing in these times, it isn’t always sports; we break down walls to help in times of need. Think of a time you remember a small or large group unite in a time commonalities were prominent.

Still have doubt? Now the announcer says all who love dancing step to the 15 yard line, those who are broken-hearted to the twenty yard line, lonely twenty five yard line, madly in love thirty yard line. Are the barriers breaking down now? All who have saved a life thirty five yard line, been saved stand in the end zone. Those who have lost a loved one to the sideline, step parents to the goal post, those who are afraid to the center, and those who are addicts/family of addicts join those who have saved a life!  In each of these areas we will see that what had been thought mortal enemies are standing together talking about commonalities in all shapes, sizes and color. No longer are we us vs them. We are the human race filled with kindness, empathy and dreams. We all want to make the world a better place with new and ever changing achievements.

Our world could be a beautiful place if only we could see that there are more things that bring us together then we think!

Jaren

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Once upon a time

More so than ever before our society is placing people in boxes; boxes of us versus them! Our influence comes twenty four hours a day from technology that is bombarding us as it carefully places our interests into pigeon holed entertainment. The way we see the world becomes more extreme as we bathe innocently in data designed to attract us. Seemingly likeminded people fuel the energy gained by finding and sharing support material. Some information comes from imprudently designed falsehoods portrayed by companies/people who don’t even exist.

These boxes we separate others into can be the go-getters vs people who are struggling, people we trust vs those we avoid, groups unknown vs neighbors and friends, cowboys vs individuals who haven’t seen a horse, people who hold religious faith vs some who avoid organization. The current political environment seems to have added to the growing division. Our boxes become more extreme as political factions occur whether it is party affiliation or cause of individual preferences in debates on global warming or as seen today in discussions of gun control after the horrific tragedy in Las Vegas.  These boxes can be personal with issues based on race, gender or sexual orientation.

We blind ourselves to life as we label individuals or groups believing they are foolish for having their beliefs. After successfully placing people into boxes, we remove their humanity striping ourselves of ability to understand or enjoy an empathetic heart. We no longer believe “these people” could add anything of value to intelligent conversation. As we seek to find ways to either validate our belief or rebut their opinion; we build up fortresses around the boxes we have placed them in. Incivility grows and we gather into groups to fight against the thoughtless actions of those we now sense we are against. The greatest box becomes us vs them. What may have been seen as unkind, uncaring or selfish actions on our part become needed defenses protecting us from the enemy!

What would our world be like if we could see through clear eyes and open hearts to the things that tie us together as human beings; rather concentrate on differences? What if we sought out those things we have in common; or at least could see people as human or caring?

Fact is some found in these separate boxes are members of our family. My Aunt whom I consider a saint would become my mortal enemy if I held no understanding of our commonalities. Our differences are stark: conservative/liberal, Agnostic/God fearing. If we didn’t share a deep conviction of love that comes through understanding hearts, our placement in boxes could suggest the value of our relationship would never exist, and we would never advance in learning from each other’s experiences. If we engaged in physical or verbal assaults blindly supporting our perspective; we well would be astonished to run into each other on the battle front representing opposite sides.

What if we placed all the boxes existing in today’s discussions into a large stadium with direction from a moderator engaged to find our commonalities. The announcement would come across the sound system, all who love the outdoors step over to the north ten yard line. Some from nearly every box would leave their group and move toward this location. There would be no separation of race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, religion or political opinion.

As you read this, did you think to yourself there are people in some boxes who don’t love the outdoors? If so, let’s keep breaking down the walls. Remember back to a time when foes became friends. In Utah we united as a citizenry when Salt Lake held the 2002 Winter Olympics, America united behind individual athletes. Barriers are missing in these times, it isn’t always sports; we break down walls to help in times of need. Think of a time you remember a small or large group unite in a time commonalities were prominent.

Still have doubt? Now the announcer says all who love dancing step to the 15 yard line, those who are broken-hearted to the twenty yard line, lonely twenty five yard line, madly in love thirty yard line. Are the barriers breaking down now? All who have saved a life thirty five yard line, been saved stand in the end zone. Those who have lost a loved one to the sideline, step parents to the goal post, those who are afraid to the center, and those who are addicts/family of addicts join those who have saved a life!  In each of these areas we will see that what had been thought mortal enemies are standing together talking about commonalities in all shapes, sizes and color. No longer are we us vs them. We are the human race filled with kindness, empathy and dreams. We all want to make the world a better place with new and ever changing achievements.

Our world could be a beautiful place if only we could see that there are more things that bring us together then we think!

Jaren

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Our manipulated world

Suicide is on the rise and professionals say we can do something about it. Many times hope is all that is needed by those affected. This can be as simple as words from a stranger asking “are you okay?” A commonality among potential victims is that they make a pact with themselves that if one person reaches out, even a stranger; they will tell them—everything—and ask for help.

We know their despondent feelings aren’t unique as every single person in our society has felt (is feeling) despair. This emotion has occurred throughout the history of mankind. But ask yourself if you think we are living in a time of heightened depression today? My argument is that there is cause to believe we are.

In 1860, Mathew Brady used the body of John C Calhoun with a headshot of Abraham Lincoln to create the portrait used on the five dollar bill. This may have been necessary or even innocent but indicates a process that today that is ever changing. In 2004, John Kerry was falsely accused of being present with Jane Fonda in an antiwar rally with a manipulated photo. On the cover of Newsweek in 2005, Maratha Stewart’s face was placed on the body of a slimmer woman to portray that she lost weight in prison. The editor stated, “The piece that we commissioned was intended to show Martha as she would be, not necessarily as she is.”

The most prolific uses are companies editing glamour shots to improve skin complexion, hair, body shape or other features. The process of photo enhancement is used in and out of commercial applications. On the commercial side, ninety percent of our society wishes for less editing so we could see people as they are, or in other words with our individualized imperfections. As technology continues to allow greater access across multiple devises, the affect is lowering self-esteem. This is evidenced by a survey where eighty percent of women interviewed had feelings of insecurity after witnessing photos “made perfect.” We have become accustom to a practice that was once thought to be an abuse of technology.

Altered life has stepped well beyond photos into nearly every aspect of our lives. Think with me for a minute about where the make-believe has taken us. Log on to any device and see airbrushed vacations, jobs, food, and relationships. Our endless glass screens often fill our days with more data than our personal interactions. They are altering what are seen as becoming greener and greener pastures of perceived dramatic differences between us. This practice isn’t reserved for only the fun side of life but it occurs in modifying our problems as well. These life capsules are filled with significantly more drama than reality. Think what “fake news” does by modifying bits of truth into full blown outrage. We absorb this drama every day innocently unaware what it is doing to us internally. Our society—who once feared the ramifications of manipulating photos—now has entire lives transformed through an influenced reality.

Coincidently our suicide rate is of epidemic proportions. The impact is hitting our youth particularly hard as suicide is the leading cause of death in our youth ages 10 to 17. One young man who had attempted suicide stated, “ For me, it started with low self-esteem thoughts, like, I’m not doing well, I’m not enjoying this…you look for other options that allow you to do that, and suicide was one of them.” For every person who dies, there are six times as many who have attempted and are receiving treatment? In nearly every case nothing more than a sense of hope would have prevented the act.

As our medium of exchange becomes more prevalent and the impact more severe, my wish is that we are able to stem the tide and give ourselves a reality check. Technology is designed to entertain. It is only thought to be entertaining when it is exaggerating life to an extreme. Many times this manipulation can be innocent by those who only want to be popular. What we are seeing are minor motion pictures of an augmented reality. By understanding this, we are allowed to see that we really do have it as good as others. Our pastures are really pretty and green. Life is good when you think it is—not so good if you don’t think.

Don’t get lost in the magic of worlds behind the glass. Our greatest moments are the full enjoyment of life’s up and downs. Without either, life would truly be depressing.

Jaren

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HBA New Building Committee

History

My earliest recollection of the idea of a new building came when Ross Holliday, who at the time was chair of Governmental Affairs, suggested we consider the idea as a resource for non-dues revenue. Since that time and over varied conversations deliberating the virtues and pitfalls; the Board approved our new building fund. Shortly after this and early in his presidency, Jarom convened a New Building committee Co-chaired by Steve Dailey and Ross Holliday.

Prior to the first meeting, many committee members visited sites and contacted land/office brokers to see what opportunities existed in the market. As these ideas were shared, it became obvious the committee needed direction due to the variety of options available. The range of ideas spread from an acre parcel off 12300 South where we would build a single use building with limited visibility, to a ten acre parcel west at 700 W that would be developed using profits to build.

Wisely, the committee acted on defining what was agreed on as the ideal building opportunity. We felt as though efficiency would harness our diversity of interest, thus allowing for us to be nimble enough to act quickly in the hot real estate market. The basic parameters were set.  We agreed that the building should be located between Redwood Road and 1300 East, 3300 South and 14600 South. A multiple tenant building, up to 40,000 square feet, and have high visibility (ideally on I-15).

Not many in the room felt we could find a building that would contain all on the wish list but felt components of each allowed for significant improvement to our current offices. Additionally, it gave us the desired revenue and strengthened our balance sheet.

In that meeting, Steve had remembered the “Miller building” which was half built and sitting vacant. He asked if anyone knew anything about it. We didn’t. Debate ended with a commitment to reach out to the bank our group we felt was holding the asset as an REO. That night I ran into Heather Osmond in an HBA function. In our small talk I discovered she and her husband Jared had bought the building. In later discussions with the Osmond family, we were presented with an opportunity to buy. This is largely due to their commitment to our association.

Due diligence

This came fast, arguably part of the reason it has created emotional energy. Time is money to the Osmond’s. Their original plans are held at bay as we move through the delays that naturally come as an organization such as ours makes decisions on long term commitments. Pressed for time, the committee has done everything it their power to answer questions for the board as they are seeking many for themselves. While there are frustrations with the speed, it is believed to be a better path then starting from scratch. The members working on the project have the experience to handle the tasks required. Board processes are being learned. From start to finish, the current building we are pursuing can be completed within our current real estate markets economic strength. We know if we are to start this over again from ground up, it would be a two year process at a minimum. This timing could contain interest rate risk along with the unknown economic conditions some may fear.

The joint boards of the State and Salt Lake met and voted to continue with the pursuit of the office building. The parameter was that consideration be made to sell at least a third of the opportunity to an outside party. While there are differing views as to the interpretation of the motion, fact is the building committee needed to act in an ever changing environment. Many may not understand that we pulled out of the opportunity prior to the time our earnest money went hard. We didn’t have the answers to critical financial needs. In a conversation with Jared Osmond where we announced we were pulling out of the contract. He generously offered an extension if needed. We declined not having an answer. He suggested he would dig a little personally. Jared came back to us with a financing option from a conventional lender who offered terms we felt were superior to those sought after with a private party, or financially strong industry sponsor.

The lender is Central Bank. They are a strong local bank with deep ties to our industry. Their flexibility in part comes from an interest in seeing our organization succeed in meeting our objectives. The terms they offered carry interest charges that we had hoped would be donated. (Please note this was a dream, we were certainly ambitious in asking knowing it was a big ask). The charge needed to be added to our numbers. It hadn’t been accounted for previously. The terms they offer have added flexibility to more options on ownership and the disposition of assets as we move through construction. Too, they guarantee long term financing.

Central Bank has a requirement of having at least ten percent cash down. Our estimate was that this would mean $712,000. This meant both Salt Lake and the State would need to contribute their equal share. Ross and I visited knowing Salt Lake’s cash positon is stronger. We talked about whether it would be easier for Salt Lake to loan the State funds so that CD’s wouldn’t have to be cashed out. We both understood the state’s ability to contribute improved with time and that there was a day at the completion of the building we bring better understanding with the needed capital. To date, we have anticipated nothing in member donations and overstated expenses. These will lessen the need for capital if we chose to leave our LTV constant.

The building committee elected to take the changes in financing to an emergency board meeting. This method was called merely because it is offered as an option in our by-laws. The terminology may be a slight contributor to the emotion as we know many aren’t able to come with short notice. The term emergency may suggest to some “trouble” which was not the case at all.

Board meeting

The difficulty in any large group is meeting the varied needs of members. The understanding of the committee was that we would talk about the $712,000 down payment which included a change in the numbers. As Ross Holliday surveyed the group, he could see there were attendees who hadn’t enjoyed the detail of members who had been actively involved in meetings throughout the year. There is a tight rope walk which is nearly impossible to negotiate as one is providing new members enough data and burdening those with greater experience too much information. I have described the meeting as having offended both groups equally. Some remained hungry for more as others were checking out mentally.

The discussion took a turn which was unexpected for the committee. Discussions began readdressing the motion that had passed in a previous board meeting. With emotions high—for many of the reasons above—discussion led to conversations asking the State if they held a quorum; they didn’t. This naturally meant they would have to reconvene at a later time. Salt Lake voted on a motion to approve their side of the funding which gave the State help in reaching their commitment. It failed 14 yes and 15 no as recorded. There were actions and emotions that erupted from both sides which is understandable. In questioning the day’s events, members who mainly were the yes votes began seeking answers from leadership and staff. One question asked was directed toward the validity of votes from some who were felt to be new to the discussion. We learned there were two that attended, had voted and don’t hold current membership status. By-laws offer that a board member must be dues paying. The change would mean the vote was 14 yes and 13 no as recorded. Motion passed.

What to do? Leadership and staff are more interested in the stability of the association then the outcome of a vote and have chosen to re-address the motion after the State board meeting. A second motion that passed the emergency board meeting was that Salt Lake would not proceed without the States participation. This passed unanimously as recorded. There would be no reason to address a vote from Salt Lake if the State isn’t on-board with us.

Where are we today

Nate Larsen in my opinion was bold and brave in placing himself out in a public forum with his feelings. It is hard at best to be able to share comments in person let alone in this type of medium. You see some of the responses; he has received many in private correspondence as well. Those as is typical are of support and admiration. What his actions have done is engage us in philosophical debate. It has brought what are thought to be warring enemies onto the same page in healthy discussions of what is best for our association. I have stated that I know of no individual who is in support of the building without reservation and have learned the strongest no votes are a yes with some simple questions answered. We are doing finding these solutions now. I thank those who have come to my office to learn of details as I see them. These are members I hold in high regard knowing it is on their backs we are where we are today and that without them we fail going forward.

Because it is hard to bring everyone onto the same page, and knowing there are some who haven’t enjoyed the experience of understanding the sophistication of a large commercial deal. I want to attempt to answer what may be remaining questions:

  • Has the committee laid out the HBA space? No- the building is framed as anticipated for the use of the Miller Company. The committee has felt we would take approximately the same space as occupied in our current offices but have efficiencies with sharing some employees such as a shared receptionist. Our numbers show the west wing merely because we had to pick a space. We will be happy to occupy nearly any space that remains after future tenants pick theirs.
  • Are we anticipating bringing education to the new building? We understand it is very difficult to provide parking in a class “A” office environment because the ground is so expensive. The state needs to address education which we are doing. Our options include both using the proposed building for a time and due diligence on an outside location. We are confident as of this writing that we can add fourteen stalls, and that Boyer will grant us up to twenty four spaces to be used in periodically. We have asked that they give us unlimited parking from the time we occupy until they build out their offices (18-24 months anticipated). This will give the state time to ensure the viability of their education offering and to find a more suitable location if needed. I have reached out to Carlos Braceras of UDOT to see if we could use the vacant land between the parking and freeway entrance. Fact is, we are under parked for education in our current offices and would not be able to provide parking in any new office building that fits within our parameters if we desire class “A” offices. Again, it is too expensive and why many educators default to outlying areas or using campuses.
  • Do we have a partner in the deal? No- but it is the charge of the board that we look for one in an effort to mitigate risk. Nearly all who have learned of the opportunity have wanted to join in ownership with us. Examples beyond the contractors who have given numbers (Rimrock and Davies Construction) are potential tenants and the Osmond family. Jared offered to take our existing building in trade suggesting the value is higher than appraisal ($1,590,000). He also would look to buying a third of the building and/or bringing an online version of their store as a tenant. The committee knows the greatest value in the building comes at the time we have purchased and built out all but the tenant improvements. We wanted to wait for this value bump (increase) to optimize the opportunity for the association. We have many no votes that would change to support if we had such a commitment. Now knowing this disconnect, the committee is active in getting a formal commitment which isn’t binding so we can accomplish both objectives. The parties to be approached will be the Osmond’s and Davies Construction.

There may be other questions but these are the most commonly asked.

The last point I want to address is risk. This discussion can’t be held without viewing some pros and cons.

  • The pros are that we accomplish the objective of the board who established the new building committee; we create a revenue stream in continued attempts to offset the reliance on the parade and secure PAC dominance. The numbers bear this out in a conservative approach. Our projections anticipate no donations; have two hundred thousand in contingency with other minor unexpected expenses while understating revenue. And we occupy a building that is part of the most significant office/retail/residential development of our state (some say nation) as the prison is relocated. It will be an even more important geographical location bolstering value as this project is built out over the next ten years.
  • The cons are—along with what I addressed above— the threat to our future viability. This is a welcome discussion and what drives both sides to hesitancy and even points of pulling out. It is difficult at best to place the time and knowledge gained by those who are on the committee and arguably those who are in active discussions daily into the hearts of the concerned. Our banker members are hesitant. They fear what the last recession brought or others economic downturns less significant may bring. The worst case scenario presented, if we were to keep our existing building, is a sixty five percent loan to value. It would take a tremendous fall for us to reach a point of value dipping below this amount. We would have certainly discussed options prior to reaching that point if it were to occur. At sixty five percent, we enjoy the ownership of our existing building free of debt. This asset could be sold if needed. Even at an extreme discount there is still great value there. The other risk is that a major tenant fail and we are stuck without the revenues of their rents. As in the above, we have the stability of the existing buildings rents (currently estimated at $160,000 annually and not in our numbers) that could be used as an offset for the needed time. Too, as each year progresses; we have lower debt and increased revenues. This cataclysmic event can lessened by staggering our leases and seeing that we mitigate through the selection of tenants. Nothing can prevent the impossible unforeseen, but we can set in place protections as we proceed. I talk here about us keeping both assets merely to show a worst case. The options we have head are to sell the completed building for a profit at completion, turn the construction loan into permanent financing at finished value, sell our existing building and take out cash, sell our existing building and reduce the long term debt to sixty percent, reduce the debt as described and bring in a partner for one third, or two thirds. There are perhaps options we haven’t talked about or seen to date that may arise. The last con no one may have addressed is the potential unintended consequence of fallout by some whose perception is that the organization is content with the status quo. I can only state the safest way to ensure our future regardless of the outcome will be to talk through the opportunity without predetermined minds.

In my conversations I am comforted in the dedication to our association and interest we share in being a part of a team. Regardless of where we fall, my hope is that we get there with well more than a margin of a single vote. It is our future; we have had those before us take bold moves. They have paid off, let’s get to a place the future leaders look back and note that we did what was best during our time. We are in a window of opportunity rarely seen let alone taken advantage of.  Here’s a thank you from a man who has come to greatly appreciate what it is our collective efforts do for communities. We have powers higher than us who are helping at times we have felt all was lost. Keep up the good work!

Jaren

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Trademarks of remarkable people

In 1946 and at the age of 9, Ron Sellers was told by his two older brothers he was too young to shoot ducks with them. This broke Ron’s heart to the point of isolation and tears. When his father asked what was wrong, it was all he could to do explain himself through the sadness he felt in a broken heart.

You see, the Bamberger Railroad carried people from Salt Lake to Ogden passing by the Sellers home. Passengers were often in transit to Lagoon for entertainment or rode to and from the cities for work. The Bamberger’s—who owned the train—loved to eat duck and would have their conductor stop to meet Ron’s and his brothers as they commuted north. They would hand the young boys shot gun shells to use to hunt as they transported their passengers north. On the return trip, the train would stop and exchange school clothes for each duck they had caught. Ron wasn’t allowed to shoot because his older brothers couldn’t “waste” any of the shells on their younger brother. Misguided shots took away from the overall count of the day.

As Ron raised his head toward his father, and in wiping away tears, did his best to explain why he couldn’t participate in the hunt with his brothers. “I am as good as they are Dad!”

Well, I will tell you what we can do then. I will buy you a BB gun. We will file off the sites and have you shoot aspirin bottles in the air. As soon as you can hit them on a regular basis; I will have your brothers include you in their activities.

This was all Ron needed. He spent hours in the barn perfecting his techniques. He would learn the best way to slow down the movement of the bottle in his mind, knowing what point to pull the trigger and ways to keep the guns movements steady allowing for optimal opportunity. He didn’t want to fail his father’s test, so even after he felt he had mastered his ability, he continued to practice. Dad, I am ready! What? You can hit an aspirin bottle after throwing it in the air? Yes Dad every time.

His father had thought this would take a long time—if ever—to perfect. This would allow for Ron to reach an age where his chances would improve in the duck hunt. It was critical for the family to obtain these clothes as they were very poor.

Ok, let’s go see; bring your brothers. Off to the barn the Sellers went to see the sportsmanship of the youngest in their group. Go ahead; shoot a bottle for us Ron. His brothers were thinking he would fail waiting anxiously to participate themselves. Off the bottle flew into the air. As the bottle reached its apex the BB hit the bottle square in the middle. It was a direct hit. As with all brothers, they jumped in to offer that it was nothing more than a lucky shot. Off went another bottle which was hit again. This happened over and over with no failed attempts. Neither older brother could compete with Ron at this new sport.

His father had no choice but to support Ron’s efforts. Ok you two, as he pointed to the older brothers, Ron is to have as many shots as each of you as you hunt for the Bamberger’s! Ron, I want you to tell me how it goes. He was a natural, turns out it was far easier to hit a “slow moving” duck with hundreds of BB’s than a small bottle with one.

Some say the emotion Ron felt from his desire to participate triggered his natural ability. While this may be partially true, Ron suggests that a rare and deep desire is a critical element to being really good at anything in life. It may be we carry a natural aptitude toward a physical ability, but to be truly exceptional our hearts must be in play. This is the only way we use our full capacity.

During his late teens and as a driver for construction services, Ron made more money gaming workers than in his salary. He would pull onto a job site and bet $1 to any willing party that he could hit a penny thrown into the air with a .22 pistol. He never (rarely if ever) missed. For those who want to try, the secret he says is to wait until the penny hits the apex of flight where it turns to show its full broadside view. You merely wait for the time you have the highest probability of success and pull the trigger (good luck!).

At 21 Ron was introduced to trap shooting. He was a natural beating the reigning state champion in his first event. He went on to shoot trap representing Remington internationally. Over the years he has shot with all kinds, including the Prince of England. He holds six world records which include being the first to hit 100 clay pigeons in a single day from 21-, 22-, 23- and the 24-yard lines. This was done by what competitors called “a country boy with a gun held together with bailing wire and string.” He went on to hit 100 at every marker in competition. When asked how, he said “I have the ability to wait until I see the right picture before I pull the trigger.” In his storied career he shot nearly 1500 in a row!

This technique is exactly what a professional baseball player told me about hitting runs in the major league. Isolate the ball as a picture in your mind where nothing else comes into play. I remember Jerry Sloan saying with technology today we have an ability to learn every detail of an athletes unique abilities. We can see their raw talent and find ways to improve on their abilities. But, what we can’t see is where their heart is. Often an athlete’s ability comes from the heart pushing one beyond natural talents even when they are exceptionally gifted. There is no test for this, but it must transpire at some point for the athlete to be truly great.

So to be exceptional at anything we need a certain level of capability for sure. But mix talent to inner drive, or a burning desire to succeed and you will find nothing will stop you! You well may become a world champion like Ron…

Jaren

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Two (un)likely paths cross…

I know, Peppy Suzie Prom isn’t a typical name for a Stallion, but his linage was so strong this unusual title only added to his strength. Peppy was born to greatness! Many stood by anxiously awaiting as they prepared to reign in one more king; a champion of champions.

Life didn’t go that way however; you see Peppy was born much smaller than his father. The expectation of an 18 hand giant fell to guesses of 14 or maybe 15 if lucky. Those who lined up to gain favor, suddenly turned looking for other opportunities. Weeks turned into months as Peppy began to wonder where all the attention had gone. Where would life take this strong heart bound in what was assumed to be a detriment, a smaller than typical body?

Then, almost as a last ditch effort, the thought of putting him up for auction became a viable solution. This was the time two incredible paths crossed. At the auction that day were several trained horse women from Sage Creek Equestrian. These ladies were trained to see talent. Size never mattered to these experienced cowgirls for they well knew there are a variety of sizes in our human riders.

Among these exceptional women was a champion too. Not necessarily one found in riding. Her talents came from a much different sport. She led cheer squads having been crowned champions at every level. As Lindie’s eyes met Peppy’s it was as if two hearts aligned from another time. Each was feeling deep within this was meant to be and there would be a history created together.

What had been seen as a flaw in finding a home had now become the greatest asset. Lindie by stature was the equivalent of Peppy. If she topped 5’2” it was because she stood on high heels. As they would train, all who watched quickly realized the magic these two would develop together. Peppy had the blood of champions; Lindie carried the fine tuned skills of a trained competitor. Each stood up for the challenge creating magic as two bodies flowed into one. It was destiny! It was a perfect manifestation of two top athletes expressing themselves with impeccable precision.

As they grew from adolescence, they taught each other invaluable life lessons. Certainly, titles were won. Yet these were nothing more than steps on a path each was willing to take because they played as hard as they trained. The important stuff was where Peppy would step in as life got tough; he was the best listener and it meant the world to Lindie!  In trade, Lindie would care for the needs of her friend. Often, and as each knew, no one could quite understand life as they understood it together. Every time Lindie would arrive at the equestrian center, Peppy would show his excitement—standing at attention—running to the nearest fence. It was these times together both the human and equine enjoyed thoroughly.

This wasn’t the only place the two would connect as each could feel of each others needs from a distance. Lindie could feel when Peppy was in need as he could sense when life may be presenting some concern for his friend. Time passed, each got older and as they grew, so did the requirements of maturity making time much harder to be together. The connection remained, their love never ended.

Yesterday, Lindie felt her heart strings pulling. They were drawing her to her horse. She knew with certainty her friend was in need. Peppy lay on the ground in pain, age comes quicker for equine and he must have felt he was nearing the end. He had learned that when he sent out a call; Lindie would shortly come. With anxiety Lindie headed out across the mountain pass hoping with all her heart she could answer the call. As she drove onto the property, the spirited arrival wasn’t the same. It was clear Peppy was happy to see her but his actions were nothing more than a simple acknowledgement. A glistening in his eye or as seemly impossible; a sign of comfort on his face. As Lindie approached, a great relief was evident as Peppy’s heart moved from the pain toward their love feeling relief in her presence. It was as if he were saying, “I’m so glad you’re here! I really need you; I think this is the end, please hold me.”

These two hearts were speaking a language neither had known before. Peppy laid down, Lindie placed his head on her lap and they talked about little things. Things such as growing up, or how their relationship had played such an important role in each other’s lives, they remembered the good times together. Some brought tears, yet others a slight laughter even though the pain of age was penetrating their hearts. Peppy knew he only had minutes and Lindie could feel his discomfort. While she knew how much fun he would have cantering across the sky, nothing would ease the pain of thinking he would be gone. It didn’t seem fair, nothing could be done. Please Peppy, stay with me; let me fix you!

No, it is time Lindie; let me go. I have had the most remarkable life; a life of a champion! I will be there for you when needed, I promise.

A few more words were said, hearts touched and a few more memories shared. Peppy, before you go, let’s go somewhere comfortable, a place we shared together. With that Lindie got up making a gentle motion to come. Peppy with every effort of any energy remaining got up and began his voyage. This miracle was an indication of deep love; you see Peppy hadn’t been willing to move for anyone else.  Yet as he struggled —nearly failing—all could see he wanted his last minutes to be those that would be meaningful to his friend. His love trumped physical limitations as he moved ever so slowly. They walked together onto a grassy knoll, Peppy bent his neck smelling the new born grass. Then raised his head as the warm mountain breeze blew across his mane. He gave Lindie one last glance, a wink of gratitude if you will and took his last breath.

It seems as though nothing is harder in life. Then as many were feeling the void; a new stallion stood tall offering the loving support so often given by this amazing lost friend. No, Peppy can’t be replaced but certainly his legacy can be added to…

Dad

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The lynch mob who attacked Mayor Walker

Throughout most of my life I had never been able to understand how mobs could gather undertaking the things they do. As I would read stories of the past, I would marvel that—in their time—individuals were filled with enough hate to set out doing things they did. Too, I could never get my arms around how these people could possibly be so misguided. Granted, I didn’t live in their time and have the fortune of seeing backward with 20/20 vision; yet I still was without understanding.

I realize we suffer with similar gatherings today such as when terrorists execute Christians. Yet, it still escaped me on how or why. In my heart I would ask: What were they thinking? Who led them to believe the falsehoods they held passion for?

That understanding quickly changed for me when a single individual rallied a mob behind falsehoods toward me. I had presented a plan to a city council who expressed excitement for what I could bring to the community.  Together we prepared to present to the residents. What we soon learned was that we were ambushed by a very evil self-interested individual. There was so much hate garnered from the misinformation he shared that my wife and daughter (who attended the meeting with me) feared for our lives. Yes- we were here in a community along the Wasatch Front. Not a single person would listen to reason or hear of how the information they held was wrong.

Mayor Troy Walker of Draper met a similar fate in leading with his heart. He believed his constituents held similar values and would gather around him in finding solutions to societal needs. Needs other cities had dismissed? Bravely, he offered his community as an answer welcoming an opportunity to help to those in need. Much like Biblical stories used as examples of love. Giving a hand to the man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Stories the Greatest among us lived as virtues by His example.

As I watched the ungodly attack on the Mayor, his idea, and even an individaul in need; I lowered my head in shame. Unfortunately, I wasn’t surprised having gone through a similar experience, however I remained in disbelief. You see, I had just read a story written by Megan McArdle in Bloomberg (http://bit.ly/utahhomelessness) about Utah leading the nation in moving people out of poverty. It is brilliantly written, right on point, and what I daily experience in our community. To then see the evil hate filled mob gathered with closed minds and cold hearts acting uncivilly wasn’t who I had read about!

By percentage, one can successfully argue these nasty people are likely church going and may have family members suffer homelessness sometime. But no they weren’t there to learn or find compassion; they were out for blood.

My only hope is that after the emotion died, they were all uncomfortable with their actions and can find their hearts again. No- not all will. We know statistically the majority of those who act out like this represent barely 1%, but the numbers and incivility are bothersome nonetheless.

After time, many who had acted this way toward me apologized and have suggested my offering was what was best for the citizens (their neighbors). Whoever hears these stories? Mayor Walker, I hope you do! You are a good man and acted as we all should…

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The bedroom in her eyes…

The stories we have read so far are certainly interesting. Some embarrassing, which is what has brought back a fun memory for me (not so much for my wife however). We were attending the parade seeing as many homes as we could one evening late. Both my wife and I were tired and felt the home we were in would be the last for the day.

We were in the main bedroom which was spectacular as it featured everything you could imagine and more. To my satisfaction my wife had what I will describe as, “the bedroom in her eyes” as sung by Due West in their song, “I get that all the time.”

To this day I am not certain how this happened, but we were walking from the closet toward the bed. We got separated somehow in the crowd as commonly found in the evening while touring the homes. The fellow near us was dressed nearly the same as me with us both having the “almost” same build and look. My wife, gazing at the finishes and not paying attention to people; reached down and gently massaged his behind as she began to utter words…

He quickly turned around and saying, “I will give you five minutes to stop that” knowing she wasn’t cognitive of whom she was soliciting. She melted onto the floor; the rest of us died laughing. Yes, we have other memories as we are regular participants, but this is my favorite. You can bet if we make the post I will be linking to my soulmate in crime. A match certainly can burn twice…

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My first kiss

There are many things we remember as we go through life’s journey. The most vivid for me are the ones that carried a little extra emotion. My hope is that we as females aren’t alone in our ability to summon up these memorable times like the one I will share.

The parade group asked us to share something about our experiences at their show. This immediately brought back a myriad of emotion for me. My family first started going to the parade when I was in middle school. I still go to this day years later. The parade has become a tradition as I plan for it each year.

In my senior year of high school I met and began dating a boy who was in my English class. We had known about each other throughout our earlier high school years, but never really talked or met formally. We had an assignment which required a small group of students to gather after school. Brian was in my group. I will say I fell head over heels in love as I began to understand more about him.

Class ended, we had some contact, but Brian is fairly shy (or really shy) and I don’t need to say what this meant. I could see he was finding ways to be in places where I was at school events, but no formal invite to date was extended. Brian’s friend began dating my friend which is where it all started. This was a good enough reason for Brian to suggest we go out. I assume he was comfortable I may say yes. We double dated for our first date and began finding ourselves together more regularly as the school year ended.

Over the summer we saw each other, but each of our family trips was offset so we had gaps in being together regularly. As I have said, my family goes together to the parade of homes. What I found fun is that Brian’s did too. For a date, Brian suggested we take our tickets and see some of the homes we each had missed.

It was in our last home that night where my memory was created! We had seen about six homes and were nearing the closing of the homes for the day. The last one was exactly what I had dreamt about my entire life. As we walked through the home I could see myself living there forever. I mentioned this to Brian as he turned and kissed me! It was amazing making me feel the whole experience differently. Brian on the other hand had acted on emotion and was embarrassed to death. This made it even better.

Today we live together in a home as near to this dream as we can afford…

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Yes- I was left alone for a time…

When I was a child, I attended the Parade of Homes with my family and our neighbors. Each family had their own car. Initially we all traveled in our separate vehicles. As the day went along, we traded children riding in the cars so I could be with my friend and my sister with hers. It wasn’t uncommon for us to trade between cars depending on who came out of the home first.

It was in about the fifth home of the day we were having conversations about getting some lunch before the next home. I was particularly fascinated with the backyard which had the best play area I had ever seen. What I didn’t notice was that I was engaged with some that weren’t part of our group. Time must have flown by for me.  In my excitement soon I realized there wasn’t a soul around who I knew.

Anxious, I went through the home toward the exit looking for any sign of my family or the neighbors. Nothing! I went out front and down the street to where we had parked. Nothing! No cars and no family or friends to be seen. Many might not know there was a time we didn’t have mobile phones, but this was the old days and we didn’t.

At first I thought to just sit on the sidewalk where the cars had been parked, but I soon realized I was out of place there. I went back to the home and sat near the front porch.

My family and neighbors each thought I had gotten in the other car. It wasn’t until they got to the restaurant they realized someone (me) was missing. My mom tells the story that she not only thought I was in the other car, but that I must have gone to the restroom first and why I wasn’t there to order.

After a short time my mom asked if the neighbors knew where I was concerned it had taken a little more time than normal. The response shocked my mom as she heard, “no he wasn’t with us; didn’t he ride with you?”

Well, back at the home and for what seemed like an eternity, I had made a friend with the person at the door. She told me not to worry and that as soon as either group realized I was gone they would be back to get me.

Mom jumped in the car racing back to save her son. What I will never forget is her eyes as she quickly drove up near the front of the house. She was wide eyed and filled with concern until she saw me. When she realized I was OK, her face changed portraying comfort that extended into my heart. The ensuing hug is one neither of us have forgotten.

Needless to say, we had greater restrictions for the remaining homes. I have been every year since and love the parade.

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