Archive for the ‘quote’ Category

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Dear John,

In art,Books,Community,culture,design,faith,Friends,Fun,home,movies,Parenting,quote on May 19, 2017 by mstevensrev

John,

Mr. Waters there is a god and it sure might be you and I am positive it is not the first time you have been told this (though probably in different circumstances:)

I was born in 1976 at St. Agnus Hospital in Baltimore and by 5 years old I was wandering the city blocks of West Baltimore in Edmondson, a wild thing for a white boy in the 80’s. As life moved on I became a devoted follower of you even attending movies at the Senator. As a young adult, I found the director’s cut of A Dirty Shame and your glossary of sex terms extremely helpful and still recommend it to my children and strangers when they find struggles with such naming conventions. “Full of Grace” is a regular quote in my family attributed to Pecker…and thank you for indulging my fanboy-ness but this note is about divinity, not celebrity.

This morning I realized that tonight at 40 years old I have reached the pinnacle of my life. My oldest daughter is 15 years old and deeply in love with theater and last spring at the drama auction for Ingraham High School in North Seattle I bought a “walk-on role” in the musical this spring. I was delighted to learn in fall that the musical would be Hairspray.

As a sophomore, the production has been a dream come true for my daughter, in addition to landing a role she was also given the responsibly of dance captain. Due to circumstances, she choreographed and co-choreographed several the songs including Good Morning Baltimore. As horrible people say, “the apple does not far fall from the tree” as her mother is a choreographer and movement artist.

Back to me, this week I learned and this morning it dawned on me how significant it is that my walk on role for Hairspray is during Good Morning Baltimore. Not only that but I get to be “The flasher who lives next door”. Following in the footsteps of your cameo role in the recent film.

For a kid that grew up the son of window cleaner in Baltimore my life could not be better, for that I am so grateful. I may live to see the marriage of my children, grandchildren born or even become a billionaire but nothing will compare to the moment when I walk out on stage tonight. No better script exists than my own life and this moment certainly makes me consider that all of it has been choreographed for me already. Happy belated birthday, missed you when you were in Seattle a month ago, and I do hope someday our paths will cross in person as they already have in spirit.

 

Thanks,

 

 

Michael Stevens

1004 NW 130th Street Seattle WA 98177

M: 206.390.8142 michaelstevensrev@gmail.com #mstevensrev

 

*This message was originally written on the fan page @JohnWatersFanPage where I realized that you are not on Facebook. Tempted to hand write the letter to you, but I wanted you to read every expression of my heart clearly. Many blessing enlighten one!

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The silver bullet

In art,Books,business,Community,culture,design,faith,leadership,mission,Money,principles,quote,Spiritual,Theology on September 12, 2016 by mstevensrev

23463195732_0b5aa8e114_bThe existence of this tool is far overrated. Often in strategy meetings adding that one tool is the over simplified solution for an extremely complex problem, and it is no surprise that it often does not work.

Few things work as well as compound interest. This goes for money and showing up every day to the work before you. Constantly doing your job, regularly and steadily improving small bits that can improve the whole.

For those not paying attention success does look like a silver bullet was discovered, an overnight sensation discovered, and all the lonely days practicing in the garage or at empty shows are forgotten because of the success. For those who accomplish it, they remember all the work and failure that provided the foundation for the win. Once it is achieved it means you have to go out there and do it all over again.

“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.”

-Vince Lombardi

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Encouraging words are effective

In art,Books,business,culture,design,faith,family,Friends,Fun,mission,Prayer,quote,Reading,Spiritual,swimming on August 2, 2016 by mstevensrev

iStock_000014997757Small1Two moments recently where someone offered me encouragement had immediate impact. The first was during my recent Olympic Triathlon during the swim. While contemplating giving up during the swim section of the race, I swam past one of the lifeguards and assumed I looked as bad as I felt. The lifeguard looked at me and encouraged yelling, “Doing great, you can make it.” I thought to myself, really? If this guy has said it then perhaps I can finish. It was that moment in the race where my swim improved and I got on with it.

The second situation was before an interview for the podcast this past Sunday. We recorded two in the week and after listening to the first I was focused on how I could improve. There were questions that ran on, and a number of “ums” and “ahhs” during my speaking. I was determined to focus on my speech and questions with our second guest. Before the second interview, our guest complimented me on the podcasts she had listened to and encouraged me in my voice and style. It was just the shot in the arm to focus me for that interview.

In writing this I consider how easy is it for me to find something to encourage someone else in today, perhaps it is exactly what they are in need of to perform their best.

‚ÄúAll we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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Race Lesson 2: Get expert help on your weakness

In exercise,leadership,quote,running,swimming,Uncategorized on July 27, 2016 by mstevensrev

035sports-coachIn Race Lesson 1: Go beyond your desire to quit, I mentioned the challenge that the swim leg of the SeaFair Olympic Triathlon caused me. It was great to get through that experience but it immediately led me to action for improvement. The number of years that I have dedicated to running and the expertise that I have gained in that area cannot be duplicated with swimming. Therefore my goal is not to make swimming my strength in triathlons.

To date the gains I have made in swimming have been through self study and practice, there are a few fundamentals that I understand about good form. Now that I have more experience it is time to find an expert to help me incrementally improve that area of my race. As I mentioned my overall race time was respectable, middle of the pack for my age group and the swim was exactly what I expected it to be. Therefore if I can make moderate improvements in swimming I will advance up the ladder in my age group rapidly. My self education in this area has gotten me as far as I can go, therefore it is time to seek an expert. Since my greater goal is to move beyond the middle of the pack for Olympic Triathlons and complete an Iron Man.

Over the years I’ve come to the reality that I cannot be an expert at everything, it is not realistic and therefore there will always be weakness in my life. Working in teams and the management¬†has taught me to seek those who challenge me in my weaknesses, these are people that are key to success. For example, one area you may notice is in my blog, I need an editor:) This is key when I’m developing captivating materials in my work for clients, if quality assurance is my sole responsibly we have not developed the strongest possible team.

Having people around me that are experts where I am weak is not easy on my ego, therefore I’m learning how to continue to listen and take in their perspective. Often these experts are not even directing their talking at me but rather what we are working on. When they are talking to me, they are inviting me to expand my mind and see how the world can be better because of what they uniquely bring to the table. This place of humility and openness is often more easily said then done, but even as I write about it I get excited.

In my next lesson I’d like to explore doubling down on your strengths, so pay attention for Race Lesson #3

‚ÄúHard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig. (150)‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

 

 

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Suffering: a devotional primer

In Bible,church,Community,culture,devotional,faith,family,Friends,Prayer,principles,quote,Spiritual,Uncategorized on November 15, 2012 by mstevensrev

To end sorrow is to face the fact of one’s loneliness, one’s attachment, one’s petty little demand for fame, one’s hunger to be loved; it is to be free of self-concern and the puerility of self-pity. – Jiddu Krishnamurti

God allows suffering, in particular for God’s children, to lead them to the One, Jesus who can comfort us (The Comforter), reframe our ambition (The Sermon on the Mount), fulfill our hunger (Bread of Life) and set us free for freedoms sake (Call to childlikeness). This morning my thoughts are around suffering in this world, and I offer up these thoughts on behalf of some of my closest friends who are suffering in ways far beyond my imagination can comprehend.
ImageA friend from college Tim Sayegh asked the following question on Facebook today.

Tim Sayegh: Looking forward to an open discussion tonight here at the Sayegh house on why God allows suffering Рa topic that can be very personal and that many have had to think on at one point or another. So, why does He?

Here is my answer.

Michael Stevens:¬†Great topic for family! I don’t think this answer is complete but I think there are a few places to start. (1) God is logical, therefore God has allowed people to face the consequences of their actions (the fall and sin since), this makes mercy (not getting what you deserve) and grace (being blessed though you don’t deserve it) even more amazing (2) Steve Brown, a seminary professor of mine always says, “For every pagan that gets cancer God allows a believer to get cancer, to show there is a difference in our suffering.” We suffer with hope and that should make a difference in how we suffer. Be careful because God is not a child abuser, so this answer alone falls short. (3) This is the most theological and hard for me to fully understand Col 1:24 says “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Our suffering ‘completes’ the suffering of Christ. That does not mean the Jesus sacrifice was incomplete in effect, but it was incomplete without our further suffering. In our suffering we identify and participate actively in the redemptive work of the cross. In some way suffer to ‘fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions’ is about forwarding God’s kingdom here on earth, we are active participants with Christ. I guess I understand this practically because when my wife gets sick I join in her suffering because we are ‘one flesh’, if I am Christ’s beloved there is a supernatural connection as well between my life and Christ’s.

Thanks Tim for spurring these thoughts this morning, you were used to set my mind on the Sermon on the Mount.  My prayers are for those dear friends facing extremely difficult challenges today.

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Continuing with the animal theme

In Bible,Community,devotional,faith,family,generosity,home,leadership,mission,principles,quote,Spiritual,Theology,Uncategorized,work on November 13, 2012 by mstevensrev

ImageThis morning I read Geoffrey James article,¬†The Power of Determination,¬†and was inspired. ¬†There are many challenging things happening in our world, both personally and to friends that are very close to me. “So, even if it feels like God has flushed you down the toilet, pick yourself up and keep going. As long as you’re alive and kicking, there’s always a chance that God will pick you up and bring you to a place of safety.” I recognize that my current challenges pale in comparison to the circumstance others are facing in this world. ¬†While I may be able to do little to improve their life I can be faithful and determined in my circumstances, then live with an awareness of their plight so that if circumstances allow I may be generous with all that I have been give. ¬†The scriptures tell us that we (people) are but a breath, therefore whatever challenging circumstances we face today are less than a breath. ¬†Remember 1 Cor. 13:13, And now these three remain faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

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A thanks and what I learned from my first race ultra-running and how does it apply to the rest of life.

In Books,business,Community,culture,exercise,faith,family,food,Friends,Fun,humor,quote,Reading,running,Spiritual,Sports,Theology,Uncategorized,work on October 28, 2012 by mstevensrev

Yesterday I participated in a twelve hour race less then a mile from house called the Carkeek 12 Hour, which is marketed as the worst race in the world. ¬†It is twelve hours of a two mile loop on poorly marked trails and approximately 400¬†vertical feet every loop. ¬†You begin a six in the morning in the complete dark with headlamps and go until six in the evening. ¬†And now the results, I WON, okay I didn’t win the most number of loops, I’m not even sure if I won the costume contest (I was Waldo from Where’s Waldo, pretty clever if I do say so because it was easy to run it). ¬†I am certain I WON the prize for most smack talking in the race, I think I met every runner and had a blast getting to know them, in addition I accomplished my goal for the race and finished with a smile on my face, clearly I was the day’s winner.

Before I start talking about what I learned from the experience, I’m sure some of you have some questions:

Q. Did you run the whole time?

A. Depends on what you call running.  I averaged about 4 miles per hour over my race.  So my questions is how fast do you run? I kept moving and other then some adjustments to my costume throughout the race I kept moving, there were laps I completely walk these laps often were when I was eating.

Q. Did you say eating?

A. Yes, I ate good. ¬†One of the sponsors of the race was Seattle¬†Biscuit Company,¬†@SeattleBisCo and it was amazing. ¬†I did tell them if I had a Biscuit Truck I would have a picture of someone’s butt in the logo and an¬†African-american woman named Flo serving them…perhaps for their second truck SBC will do this;) ¬†
Image
They offered us food included in the cost of the race, so I took full advantage I 
had two eggs, bacon, and ham over grits, and two biscuits. ¬†One biscuit with jam the second with Apple butter. ¬†It was amazing, many runners stick with Goo and other sports products that make me want to puke. ¬†The candy they provided was great¬†initially¬†but I noticed that I would crash from the sugar about in the second lap after eating it, so SBC was my savior and was one element of¬†the race that made my experience unforgettable. ¬†Very grateful for the amazing food and wonderful service from these guys. ¬†They even laughed when I told them that, “If I crap myself or throw up I won’t blame you guys..” That is a line that could really be taken poorly by the wrong person. ¬†So if you are in Seattle find this food truck, you will not be disappointed.

I’m glad to answer any other questions related to the race, my experience, and my training for it (actually I didn’t train specifically for this race, I’m currently preparing for my triathlon season next year…this race was just for ‘fun’). ¬†As I ran there were a few things that came to mind that I wanted to share, principles that I applied that I thought applied to both my personal and professional life, check it out.

The Plan

Going into the race I spent a good amount of time mentally planning, I don’t just hop out and try to go running for twelve hours without thinking it through. ¬†The course record was 33 laps, approximately 66 miles and 13,000 total¬†vertical…keep in mind Mt. Ranier and Pike’s Peak are 14,000 vertical feet. ¬†I knew if I ran the race of my life the best I would do is 30 laps, so while that was in the back of my mind it was not reality. ¬†I set an achievable goal of running 15 laps (30 mile), which would be the longest distance I have ever run (6,000 vertical feet which is two trips up to Snoqualmie Pass) this was a goal I would be completely satisfied achieving. ¬†Since the trails are only .5 mile from my house I spent many training runs exploring and enjoying the trails so they would seem¬†familiar¬†to me for the race, I did not run more then two laps for any training run because I didn’t want to get sick of the course before I even got to the time of the race.

During the race I executed my plan. ¬†Some ultra runners are so remarkable they can push their bodies to run an entire course like this one for the entire distance of the race. ¬†That is not me. ¬†I knew for me to survive the day walking was important. ¬†The course was marked the opposite direction of what I had trained and there were a few areas that I had never run and was¬†unfamiliar¬†with. ¬†Thankfully at the start of the race in the pitch black I was able to run the first lap with a few people including ‘Big Bird’, an extremely gifted woman ultra runner who had completed the race the year before. ¬†This lap was much faster then I had anticipated starting but it was worth it just to have someone take me through the course, honestly it was tough for me to keep up that first lap but I knew in the long term for the race it would be to my advantage as getting lost would have discouraged me from the start. ¬†After that lap I was able to reorient my mind going the opposite direction from what I had anticipated, the parts that I thought I would run downhill now became areas to briskly walk, the hills I anticipated walking now were opportunities to bomb down, within the first hour of the race I had completely adjusted my thinking and honestly I think it is one of the factors that kept me mentally fresh.

Most of my life I have lived without a plan, only in the past five years has planning enter the equation. ¬†Having a plan with¬†stretch¬†goals and achievable goals is important, otherwise as Yogi Berra famously said “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you going, because you might end up there.” ¬†This applies in my personal and professional life, plans for the next month, year, and years into the future are important. ¬†These plans are not set in stone but they are the maps for the trails of my life, I can always vary from them if I want to see a view or if a hill seems too difficult to climb at the time, but at least I know (on some level) why I am where I am at in any given moment. ¬†Even when wandering because as someone once said, “Not all who wander are lost.”

Winning and being competitive

The reality is there are amazing ultra athlete’s in the Pacific Northwest, I got to witness these men and women first hand yesterday. ¬†And yes I’ll admit many times during the day I¬†fantasized¬†about what it would mean for me to finish with the most numbers of lap, and in my fatigued state I may have even thought it was within my grasp. ¬†So I ran competitively, at the point in the race when these amazing athletes began to pass me I played a game with them, though they had no idea. ¬†They would come up behind me and as they got closer I would incrementally speed up, this had two advantages as I saw it. ¬†Here were people already working harder then I was early in the race, this meant they would have to work even harder perhaps even harder then they had anticipated. ¬†Once you see someone often you determine regardless of your pace to pass them, so you do what is necessary to get by, this meant I could ‘fool’ them into using more energy then they would prefer. ¬†Also it improved my time, even though I was not racing at the same level as these folks I was able to benefit myself and my time by being competitive with them even if it was only for five or ten minutes while they passed me. ¬†Again this was a complete personal secret that improved my time and kept me mentally fresh, it also made me better.

In life there will always be someone who is better then you. ¬†Your chance of winning often is dependent on whether they show up to the race or not, because you have no chance of beating them head to head. ¬†Whether they show up is not in your control, but if they do show up it is an opportunity for you to personally improve. ¬†Take the opportunity to make yourself better and perhaps one day you will end up being the person that everyone hopes doesn’t show up to the race.

There were two ‘official’ ways to win at the Carkeek 12 hour, most number of laps and the costume contest. While I would have loved to win both or either of the honors, I created a third way to win “Best Trash Talker”. ¬†For me this meant that I would talk with anyone where every on the course regardless of how bad or good I was feeling. ¬†While alone on the course I would imagine what fun conversations to have with others and I created a catch phrase that I stole from work “Gitty up!” ¬†When I would be passed by the most serious of runners for the second of third time I would accuse them of using their car or cutting the course short. Knowing the truth, that they were just better then me, I didn’t let a little truth get in the way of me connecting with others on the course;) ¬†This created a bond for me, one that I began to enjoy seeing these folks even though they were kicking my butt, and my hope was that they were enjoying seeing me because they knew they would get some entertainment value when they passed the guy dressed up like Waldo. At one point I came upon the aid station and said to the crew of people who were assisting us, “I don’t want to be a tattle-tail but unless Hippie Runner is a costume I don’t think anyone ahead of me in the race is actually dressed up in costume, can you disqualify them so I can win?” ¬†It lead one runner who overheard me say this say that he was dressed as Lance Armstrong and has a blood bag full of horse blood that he was going to run with later in the race.

Chris McDougall in his epic book Born to Run, discuss the evolutionary theory that humans were pack animals and each member of the pack plays an essential role for survival. ¬†At the core of the ‘pack’ theory is that we are created for connection with each other, frankly I believe connection is key for our¬†existence¬†as a species. ¬†Yes, my trash talking talking was a means of connecting more deeply with my pack yesterday. ¬†One more popular example I relate to this has to do with trash talking and the NBA. ¬†Rumor has it that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were/are two of the greatest trash talkers in the history of the game, not only two of the greatest athletes every to play basketball. ¬†I draw a connection here to their athletic performance and their connecting with people. ¬†Just to clarify, trash talking is not merely swearing at people or telling them the are worthless pieces of trash. ¬†Trash talking is connecting more along the lines of “your mother dresses you funny”. Clever thoughtful words used to engage your competition mentally. ¬†You don’t have to be a great athlete to pull this off, you have the opportunity even if you are average to make a deeper more ‘human’ connection. ¬†Since none of us are machines operating through life we have the chance to enter into another reality through engaging conversation with people. Take this opportunity today, if you have the skills in an area to back it up then the world is your oyster.

Gratitude

A few months ago I read with a book club Chris McDougall’s Born to Run, and it was the inspiration to¬†participate in the Carkeek 12 Hour. I am grateful both for the book club and the book itself to have provided the soil for me to grow as a person, I could not and would not do something so insane without others. ¬†We do not change the world (or ourselves for that matter) alone. ¬†I have hard people say, “Even the lone ranger had Tonto.” Yesterday the people that made the race possible were the race organizers (Sam and Brock) and the folks that volunteered to run the aid station. ¬†Many of these folks probably would have preferred to be running the race themselves and instead they made it possible for me to enjoy the day and have an experience of a lifetime. ¬†During the race my goal was to show my gratitude by keeping these folks entertained. ¬†Somewhere around my seventh loop I came by the aid station to check my time and laps. ¬†When they told me how many I had run I said, “Crap I am going way too fast, if I keep running this fast my intestines will fall out my asshole.” While they were still laughing I added, “I know because I’m a doctor.”

Regardless of where you are in life you did not get there on your own, I don’t care what any politician tells you. ¬†People help people and often especially as Americans we forget the fact and continue to move forward. ¬†Make sure that you find someway to say thanks, a grateful heart leaves no room for bitterness. ¬†I am so thankful for my family, friends, co-workers, race organizers, and crew that made yesterday possible and make everyday of life possible. ¬†Each one of us has dark seasons, during my darkest times I have taken to the intentional practice of gratitude. ¬†At the end of the day I will light a candle and reflect on all that I am thankful for starting with the beginning of my day and working through until the end, often I will do that twice because it is very hard for me to think in a linear manner for any length of time. ¬†Once your mind is oriented in this way go out and practice acts of gratitude. ¬†In our family we emphasize saying the words please and thank you, showing others their proper value.

C.S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. ¬†You have never talked to a mere mortal. ¬†Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. ¬†We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, is fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” ¬†Yesterday was not without me being flippant or superior toward other, therefore I know I have a long ways to go before ever achieving this goals. ¬†Regardless I am grateful to Sam and Brock and the crew who made such a wonderful event possible.