Monday, December 10, 2018

When A Rising Tide Floats All Hopes

"On Board with Houston" by John Ross Palmer

"In crucial things, unity. In important things, diversity. In all things, generosity." 
-- President George H.W. Bush  
(June 12, 1924 - November 30, 2018)

Artist John Ross Palmer is a fifth generation Texan and a native Houstonian. As a means to help him heal after seeing the devastation to his hometown that was caused by Hurricane Harvey, Palmer created "On Board with Houston". Watching the relief efforts, Palmer was most captivated by the men, women, children and pets that had to be rescued from the horrifically high flood waters by boats. A veritable armada of mostly privately owned boats used to save neighbors and fellow citizens.

The painting features seven interlocked boats symbolizing the coordination, communication, teamwork and generosity of first responders who came, not only from Houston, but from all across the United States. "On Board with Houston" paints a positive and uplifting message about the power of communities coming together to help each other. These combined efforts have led to the rebuilding of a stronger Houston since Hurricane Harvey.

Starting in 2017, Palmer has worked closely with the George H. W. Bush Foundation to create artwork for the 20th Anniversary of President Bush's library in College Station, TX. In the wake of the storm, Palmer met with the former President at his summer home on Walker's Point to share the painting. He loved it! President Bush and Palmer hatched an idea to sell prints of the painting to raise funds for the Points of Light Foundation's Hurricane Harvey relief effort, including the Foundation's plans for a long-term volunteer program throughout Houston. 

To honor the former President and also add another inspirational element to the painting, Palmer infused small white dots amidst the letters of "Houston", representing the 41st President of the Untied States' Thousand Points of Light initiative and its ongoing efforts to support and encourage volunteerism. The painting was signed by both President George H. W. Bush and Artist John Ross Palmer on Thursday, August 31, 2017 in Kennebunkport, Maine.

We purchased this print and so can you. "On Board with Houston" prints are created, packaged and shipped from Houston, TX.

John Ross Palmer Art


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Road to Forgiveness and Peace

 "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." 
-- Mahatma Gandhi

If you happen to be one of the millions of viewers of the NBC hit show "This Is Us", you have no doubt taken notice that the plot has regularly taken nearly every character on a journey to find peace at the crossroads of forgiveness. The program is extraordinarily powerful at stirring deep emotional reactions in every single viewer. And not because the patriarch and nearly perfect protagonist dies, but because every single person who has followed the series journey can personally relate to the pain and suffering in one or more of the character's "lives".

In my own personal life experience I have discovered that nothing good ever comes from anger or the lack of an ability or desire to forgive. More often than not, the two are deeply intertwined. It is like a virus that everyone suffers from that inevitably flares up from time to time. I wish that I could say that I am immune to this condition, but I am not and neither are you. Look, I realize that there are simply some circumstances that we mere mortals just cannot find a way to get past. Sadly, as a result, ideal peace and happiness will never quite be achieved. 

This truth is known, peace and happiness are not static conditions, but rather dynamic places that we all arrive at and depart from with endless regularity; regardless of age, experience, education, faith, health, heritage, physical strength, or socioeconomic status. The characters in "This Is Us" ultimately become their best (sometimes only temporarily) when they reconcile with their own "demons"; oft times self created. I implore you, in your very real life, to pursue the best reconciliation you can muster with the people, places, circumstances, conditions, and things that keep you from being your best. I can assure you that happiness, peace, and strength will be excellent by-products. Indeed!   

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Friday, January 26, 2018

So, What Do You Do?

 "There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want." 
-- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbs 

It is official: I have finally ordered my new "so, what do you do" cards allowing me to continue my retirement in a stress and drama free lifestyle, to which I have become accustomed. Well, not counting the fact that my wife Brooke alleges that I have discovered new and improved ways of getting on her nerves. To me, I feel as though I have mastered new skills to demonstrate my undying love to and for her; all in only 10 short months.

But, I digress. 

I have said previously that I believe one of the greatest by-products of retirement is flexibility. I have become a wanderluster, I have expanded my foodie palette, and most importantly, I have become a formidable professional sleeper-inner. I am quite literally available for practically anything at anytime (after 10:00 am local time of course). Folks, these are significant skills I am talking about!

Brooke and I often get out and about in Houston attending art gallery openings, checking out new restaurants, or going to our regular haunts. We are very social and friendly, and as a result, we meet many interesting and engaging strangers. Inevitably, the number one question that we are asked by new people we meet is, "So, what do you do?"

Brooke has mentioned to me that she prefers that I NOT say, "Well, I was just released from prison and I am trying to adjust to restaurant food and a free society!" I have solved this perplexing and difficult question to answer by simply ordering my own cards that are self-explanatory. Not to mention what it has done for my street cred!

"When a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband but only half the income." 
-- Chi Chi Rodriguez

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Why Retirement Should Be A Bucket List Goal

Hard to believe it already, but I have been retired for over 9 months now. This means that many new babies have been born AFTER I officially retired. I am asked several times a week, "Are you bored yet?" The truth is that I have probably had less moments when I could say that I was experiencing boredom than when I was working full-time. The central reason is that I have simply replaced work activities with other activities. Things like more personal travel, joining my wife on her business trips, and sleeping in whenever I want (to name only a few)!

Reading many recent reports and looking at numerous statistics, one might start to believe that we are quickly nearing the point where a Time Magazine cover might proclaim, "Retirement is Dead!" The sub-title might continue with an assertion that, for most, retirement in America begins at one's death.  Sadly, I fear a vast majority of people reading this blog post may agree that the sentiment is true for them.

I am blessed to have been able to retire and I will offer one single piece of advice to everyone, regardless of your age; pay yourself first - PERIOD. I will acknowledge that there are many who have circumstances that are nearly, if not completely, insurmountable (i.e., the generational poor, the physically or mentally ill, those who lack access to adequate education, etc.). I learned from my parents that saving was the first bill I should pay every month. As I have grown older, I have been saddened to see so much squandered (subject for a future blog) by so many who could be retired today or in the near future.

Switching to a lighter note, I thought I would share my top 10 personal observations (9 months in) on why retirement should be on your bucket list:

  • There IS life after whatever you are doing and it IS better - imagine a place where the grass IS greener
  • Complete freedom and flexibility after years of the exact opposite
  • You earned it (like vacation but with no end point)
  • Everyday can start at whenever you want (for me, 10:00 is a nice round number)
  • Getting enough sleep becomes "a thing"
  • Alarm clocks are optional
  • You can binge watch or binge read and it can be on a weekday
  • Personal travel is possible and will occur more often
  • Availability for things that really matter expand dramatically and with less drama
  • At last, YOU are the boss of YOU (or your direction comes from someone not paying you for such direction - Love you Brooke) 

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Sunday, July 30, 2017

A Vacation State of Mind!

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
"A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking."
 -- Earl Wilson (American Journalist: 1907-1987)
A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking.
Read more at:

Through the whole of my career life the one thing that I have always held sacred was my earned vacation. I have met many (who shall remain nameless because they know who they are) who have sadly forfeited their vacations, or even worse, worked the entire time they were "off". Let me clarify the definition of vacation as any time off work that is used for the sole and expressed purpose of recharging one's soul enriching batteries. It has nothing to do with exotic places visited, but rather, the conscientious moving of your life into a neutral destination to find and enjoy peace. It can be enjoyed anywhere and at anytime that one makes themselves available.

Toiling continually without rest is a sure prescription for a shorter existence. Today, the majority of the world lives in abject poverty, working tirelessly just to live a subsistence life. Imagine just how much any one of these people would relish even a short period of "vacation"? Yet, many Americans with the means and the access to vacation take such a benefit for granted or let finite portions of time simply expire; Qué lástima (what a shame)!

"The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations."
 -- Adam Smith

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 
-- Matthew 11:28 (NKJV) 

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

I Regret to Inform You...

"One doesn't recognize the really important moments in one's life until it's too late." 
-- Agatha Christie

The older I get, the more thankful I become for every additional day that I am alive and for the people, places, and things that make my life a richer experience. Getting to where I am today has not come without the loss of friends and family; both literally and figuratively. It is "oh so easy" and futile to look back and harbor regrets. Worse yet is to look forward and expect regrets. Look back and see regrets as lessons learned rather than as a place to live until your last day or as a place to revisit in your future. 

There are three things that will eat away at a person's life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness; and I am not talking about the US Declaration of Independence:
  1. Anger
  2. Regret
  3. Inability to forgive
For many, the road of life is littered with the wreckage of these life sucking things! Sadly, the young are destined to take these same well traveled roads, regardless of the wise counsel of those who have traveled them previously. At 18, I knew everything. At 30, I started to have real doubts about my "genius". At 60, I am a humbled philosopher with so much more to learn.

Today, I implore you to not fail to recognize the REALLY important moments in your life. "Carpe Diem - Seize the Day!"

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Wanderlust and a Thirst for Local Knowledge

One Woman's Quest for her CTA (the acronym more traveled) -

Today, Brooke received her official certificate of designation as an official Houston CTA. For those unfamiliar, a CTA is a Certified Tourism Ambassador. I have lived here in Houston for nearly 38 years and Brooke knows more about her adopted city than I will probably ever know. Congratulations Brooke! 

Each day now, Brooke will start several conversations with the seemingly innocuous, "Did you know ___________ about Houston?" Or, "I do not think you know just how significant <insert year> was to the history of Houston?" Which of course I do not know of such significance, but regardless, I act impressed and amazed by her fountain of information. My former most popular response to her, "Yes dear!" has been replaced by the famous phrase coined by the late Johnny Carson, "I did not know that?"

When you are an AirBnB Super Host this certification comes in quite handy when asked uncommon questions like, "Where is the closest grocery store?" or, "Is the water safe to drink?" Seriously, we actually get that question quite frequently and I always quickly hide my Scooby Doo look for fear of offending a guest. Now, if this was <insert year>, that would be an excellent question to ask.

All joking aside, the vast amount of things that Brooke knows about Houston is mind-boggling. She is versed and knowledgeable in truly interesting historical facts that have changed the attitudes (towards Houston) in the minds of nearly every guest that we have had the privilege to host. Houston is richer for her enthusiasm for this great city.

Brooke Candelaria - Houston CTA
Are you curious about any Houston detail? Ask Brooke! Rumor has it that she has taught Alexa and Siri everything they know! She would make the Allen brothers proud. For more information check out

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