Monday, September 22, 2008

An AH HA Moment For Me

I tend to shy away from discussing my religion in a public forum such as this one. My faith is very personal to me to the point that it is an intimate subject I rarely discuss or debate with anyone. But yesterday I came across a passage in preparation for my Sunday School lesson that really stuck with me.

To set the stage, Joseph Smith is discussing the different kinds of spirits that exist now and before the beginning of time.
"Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him;"

What caught my attention the most was the part about building up others as well as ourselves. This idea kept bouncing around in my head and I found it hard to continue. Michael Jordan was an incredibly gifted athlete and during his early years he dominated the NBA. And much like the beginning passage above, he was ambitious and striving to excel. Nevertheless he never won an NBA title even though he was clearly in a league of his own. It wasn't until Jordan started to make those around him better, that he won his first title. It was only by building up others that he became successful.

So here's the deal. From the moment we leave the womb, we are completely self centered. As we mature, we learn to be a good child, a great brother or sister. We age a little more and become parents which means we give even less thought to self, and more thought outwards, to family for instance. Then we add another layer where we become willing to work on the behalf of others, such as a neighbor, or a community. And in extreme instances, we become willing to sacrifice all that we have, including our very lives for our faith and our country. As we age, the layers get larger and larger and further and further away from the womb. What I am learning here is that the further we get from "self" the greater our joy and the larger our reward.

Enter Satan and his determination to keep us self centered. With very few exceptions, almost every sin that we can commit is a return to "self." Drug and alcohol abuse are self centered activities as they satisfy only oneself. Stealing is taking from another to satisfy self. Adultery is completely self centered, murder is the removal of these outer most layers. If you consider civil laws as well as modern and ancient commandments, almost all crimes against God and society are those in which someone is harmed as a result of anothers quest to return unforgivingly back to self. So in a very simple way, sin is just about anything that returns us to back to our base selves.

It stands to reason then, that the greatest joy we can receive in this lifetime, or in the life to come is by traveling as far away from self as possible. I've decided that this isn't always easy for me. Even after discovering this I still want the money, and the cars, and the vacations. I have a long way to go in moving towards those outer bands of true greatness. And as I write this, I am just now realizing how many people in my life are awesome examples of moving away from self. On behalf of our family, I want you to know that we have been on the receiving end of many friends and family who have stepped away from self to bless and enrich our lives. I am grateful to you all and hope from your example I can be equal to the task of blessing your lives too.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Now That's Just OFFENSIVE!

A few weeks ago I got an email from my poker group asking me if I wanted to join their Pro Pick 'Em Fantasy Football Team. Pro Pick Em' is nothing like Fantasy Football but it can still be fun at times. So I decided to register and went with my old standby name of 3rd and Schlong. Yes, it makes me laugh too however it appears that not everyone finds the humor in it. Today I received the following email.

"Would you be willing to change your pick set name to include a less sexual connotation? A parent of one of the group members is just concerned with the choice and need of such a name. Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions...
Thanks, Troy Shepherd 801-7XX-6068

Now I don't know Troy, and he surely doesn't know me because we wouldn't be having this conversation if he did. Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I will unintentionally offend everyone I meet at least once, and probably a lot more. Do I have a problem with changing the name? Of course not. I certainly don't want to intentionally upset anyone. I prefer to un-intentionally offend people. It makes me look more genuine.

But what annoys me about this request is the lack of accountability. My question is WHO exactly is concerned and why are YOU (Troy) doing THEIR dirty work? Are we in Junior High again? Help me understand why it's impossible to simply discuss this like adults. I'm stunned that I didn't get his request on a folded,piece of lined paper that is passed to me at the lunch table so that the offended author could look on from a distance. This is soooo French! So in my usual way of being a pain in the Heineken, I decided to up the ante and sent the following uncomfortable email back to Troy; "Which parent is offended?"

It will be interesting to see if Troy has the kahunas to "out" the offended. I'm betting he doesn't. The weak and spineless never pony up to confrontation and always feel comfortable pasting the blame on someone else. However, in an effort to be sensitive (and more importantly to let Troy off the hook,) I decided to change my name anyway. I am now listed as The Really Super Silly Clouds. It will be fun to see who catches the sarcasm. I've decided that it's my duty to protest living in a police state and allowing my 1st amendment rights to be assaulted by shadow puppets. I'm sure the lesson to be learned is that I should be more sensitive to other peoples feelings. But having to be sensitive to others peoples feeling makes me sensitive myself, and that, my friends, just OFFENDS me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I've been slammed the last two months, and I have been enjoying every minute of it! For a long time I never thought I would escape the clutches of the mortgage industry to do what I really love to do, which is help people with their businesses and corporations. New opportunities finally arrived in some new and completely unexpected ways and I have been having the time of my life!

Unfortunately, my blog has become a casualty of this new direction in life. So if you don't mind, I've put together a few bullets to let you know what I have been up to. Now that things are starting to get settled, I think I can get back to my weekly schedule of keeping you updated and more importantly, entertained.
  • I'm working with a company called Funding Universe which is phenomenal! I keep waiting for the shoe to drop because I never thought I would find such an awesome opportunity so close to home. In a nutshell we prepare businesses to interface with an enormous database of lenders and investors. I spend an incredible amount of time analyzing business plans, financials and marketing plans, and educating CEO's on the best way to approach our lenders and investors. I also produce a growing number of webinars that we are using to help our clients from across the country. Today my clients spanned from Tampa, Florida to Seattle, Washington.

  • One of my first clients was Dennis Scott a former NBA Star who flew out from Atlanta to meet with me and attend one of our "speed pitching" events. He was so excited that he expressed interest in having us go to Atlanta to meet with his people and possibly put on an event there. I knew I'd make it to the NBA, just not like this!
  • To provide superior service to my new clients, I broke down and joined the Blackberry Revolution. Funding Universe is paying for most of the costs so I figured it would be a good investment. So far I have enjoyed the experience and like the ability to respond to email and text messages on the fly. It will also come in handy when I need to check on my Fantasy Football Teams during sacrament meeting.

  • I had a blast "live drafting" my fantasy football team with my family this year. I hate cold weather, but FF makes it bearable

  • We went to Los Alamos for my Uncle Steve's wedding. I don't know why we keep driving these insane distances in a mini van but we do. On the way back we drove through Pagosa Springs, CO and I have decided I want to live there some day. Lisa told me that I might be living there by myself.

  • After gimping around like an 89 year old man for the past three months, I decided to go in and just get the friggin Cortizone shots. My Dr. (who is VERY nice) jabbed a thick four inch needle into my heel to hit my plantar fascia. He did this to BOTH heels and it hurt like a %&$&! Two days later I felt like new again. But the right side is flaring again so I may need to go back. Seriously, that experience sucked the wong.

  • My co-workers at funding universe sucked me in to getting a twitter account? Have you ever heard of this? They kept telling me "it's like a mini Facebook, aren't you on Facebook?" I admitted that I am but honestly, I don't "get" Facebook or MySpace. If you do, maybe I'll have my Facebook thing throw a pumpkin or an ice cream cone at you *shrugs shoulders* If you get the Twitter or the Facebook thing please tell me what I am obviously missing.

  • I took 2nd place in our poker game last month. I won some big pots, got bluffed out of some smaller ones but in the end couldn't make up the huge lead that Vern (Sharla's dad) had on all of us. $65 for 2nd place, not too bad!

  • Took the boys (all of em') fishing at Smith and Moorehouse last Saturday. Noah dipped his line for about 15 minutes and spent the rest of the day exploring the lake, stream and mountains. Eli drove me to the brink of insanity because he would NOT leave his worm and bobber alone. He would cast it out and reel it in. Cast and reel, cast and reel. Justifiably he didn't catch anything. Jack amazingly, fished the entire time with his miniature Scooby Doo fishing pole and caught two really nice pan fish on his own! He was very upset that I wouldn't let him keep his fish. He really felt that they would have a great time living at home in our bathtub and sink. Logan got dirt, diet Pepsi, fish slim and Ranch Doritos all over his cloths and hair. Of the four, I think that he had the most fun.

  • Last but not least, at Reagan's encouragement I am going to write an "I Believe" blog. This idea follows in the footsteps of the NY Times best selling book "The Last Lecture." Basically, if I were to depart this old life, what would I want people to know that I believe? It's got my creative juices flowing and I'm trying to think of the best way to format it. As I've been thinking about it my list has been growing longer and longer. I wince that the blog will be long and boring for a lot of people. But since my blog is my journal to a greater degree I've decided to include it anyway.

  • Thanks for hanging in there with me. I look forward to reading over all of your blogs and commenting on them again! I should be in high gear by the end of next week! Hugs and kisses to all of you. I love each of you tremendously!