News & Updates
January 8, 2018
Who Not What
On January 7th in the year 2000, at a small gymnasium in Sumter, South Carolina, the students of Thomas Sumter Academy had gathered on a Friday afternoon to have a pep rally for their winter sports teams. In one of the final acts, a few of the school’s basketball players stole the show with a skit where they posed as highly unskilled cheerleaders, drawing laughter and applause from the raucous crowd of teenagers in the bleachers. This was nothing new for this trio of players, most notably a 17 year old Air Force brat by the name of Josh Peck. In the chaos of the pep rally, and the thunder of school spirit, nobody in that gymnasium had any idea Josh was about to change their world forever.Josh had grown up all over the world and back, as he and his mom went wherever the Air Force sent them. In his travels, he developed not only a trademark sense of quick witted humor, but also a deep sense of compassion for others. As Josh grew, he honed those skills to the point where every interaction with him would become memorable for the other person. Even the innocent fast food workers weren’t immune from Josh’s infectious sense of humor, where he would scheme up some sort of act in their brief time together that would leave them laughing, and with a story to tell.Although never the star athlete, he loved sports and was a beloved teammate, who could often be found donating his free time to coaching little kids. He would no doubt have them in hysterics, all while honing their fundamentals, and developing the same love for athletics he had. He cared deeply about those around him. That caring nature not only drove him to start bagging groceries at the local Winn Dixie just so he could pick up the tab when he and his friends went out to eat, but to also become the first line of defense in his mother’s dating life in the years following her divorce, where more than a couple potential suitors would fall victim to his exceptional quick wittedness as he attempted to scare them off.Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In the moments following that trademark skit, suddenly the world would be forced to reflect upon those feelings Josh had evoked in them over the years. As the gymnasium roared with the sound of the school’s fight song, Josh collapsed on the gymnasium floor, and in an instant, he would lose a battle he never knew he was fighting to begin with. Unbeknownst to him and his family, Josh suffered from an undiagnosed case of Marfan Syndrome, and the same enlarged heart which endeared him to all he came in contact with, would also take his life.Josh was my cousin. And I don’t tell his story for the sympathy, the fanfare, or the all too predictable “Life is short” speech. The message I want everyone to take from Josh’s story is that anyone, regardless of success, fame, or fortune, can forever change the world not because of what you are, but because of who you are. In Josh’s short 17 years on this planet, he used humor, compassion, and love, to make every interaction count. Close to a thousand people showed up to his funeral in the following days, and the family was overwhelmed with support, and stories of Josh’s kindness and humor. Josh’s compassion became a model for students at Thomas Sumter Academy, where his jersey, bearing number 14, hangs in that very gymnasium to this day. And his mother Randi, my aunt, would lead the charge in the months and years following, to have lifesaving defibrillators placed in as many schools as possible to help prevent such tragedies in the future.As for me, I have spent my life still trying to live up to that 17 year old kid. I live everyday chasing the principles he embodied, and trying to place the needs of others over that of my own, forever thankful I was able to see that even a teenager from Dalzell, South Carolina, can change the world. So remember, you are significant, you are meaningful, and although nobody has the power to change the entire world, everybody has the ability to change their world because of who they are, not what they are…even if it’s one life at a time.To learn more about Josh, go to http://joshpeckfoundation.org/-CPT Ryan
December 11, 2017
In the Moment
So life just kicked you square in the teeth. You’re a bit wobbly on your feet, a little dazed and confused, and a whole lot of embarrassed or frustrated. In the heat of the moment, you vow to change, you vow to never let it happen again, and you vow to take bold and decisive action in order to make damn sure it won’t. You go home. You look in the mirror, and in a moment of clarity, you finally admit to yourself you’re better than what just happened, where you’re at, and where you’re headed.Never forget these moments. Sear them into your memory, because in the coming days the emotions will wane, the fire will fade, and you will start to fall back into homeostasis and the familiar comfort of the norm. Slowly you will start to justify conducting business as usual again, and dismiss all of your previous thoughts and ideas as an overreaction. In doing so, that person you briefly saw in the mirror so clearly begins stepping back into the murky abyss of unrealized potential and foundationless dreams.In these moments of chaos and clarity, when all of a sudden you feel the electricity of audacity, and the rush of action coursing through your veins, you must seize the power your mind is showing you. Don’t forget how it feels. Capture it. Believe in it. Harness it into a plan of action you can systematically execute out of the ashes. The mirror to the soul is hung in defeat, and reflected upon in redemption. So when someone shows who you they really are, believe them…especially when that person is YOU.
November 13, 2017
Life has little use for promises. As soon as you think something is promised, life has a way of wiping the slate clean, leaving you with nothing more than a memory of what you thought was supposed to happen, and a feeling of breathless bewilderment. Whether its health, relationships, employment, money, success, loyalty, or even life itself, none of them make promises, they can only have promise.
Having promise and making a promise are considered to be two different things, when in actuality they are one in the same. Having promise is foreseeing a positive outcome given a certain set of facts and circumstances, combined with a vision, hard work, and a little luck. Making a promise is no different, but somehow we tend to think that it’s some ironclad agreement with the future, when in all reality, it’s merely a hopeful prediction. So when a promise is broken, it can suddenly become a major setback in our lives because we gave it power it never really had to begin with.
Start having promise instead of depending on, and being held back by the inevitable broken promises life doles out to you. Having promise allows you to have flexibility, readjust, adapt to changing circumstances, and even overcome failure. It breeds a positive outlook, sets the tone, and lays out the path forward. Most importantly, instead of worrying about the “What if’s”, it allows for the “What if’s”, enabling you to seamlessly forge ahead, immune to debilitating disappointment. Stop depending on promises you know the world can’t keep, and focus on having promise in all that you do, and you’ll find that promise had is even more powerful than a promise kept.
October 16, 2017
Regret. I may have you, but you are far from having me. Sometimes I see you at every turn, and sometimes you’re just a distant memory. But you’re always there. Just waiting to remind me of what was, what could have been, and what may never be. Although there are times when you torment me, you have also freed me more than you’ll ever know, because it was you who freed me from myself, my limits, and my fears.
All those times I didn’t know if I could try again…you were there to remind me why I should. All those times I was too scared to take that blind leap of faith…you were there to remind me of how I’d feel if I didn’t. Those few times I hit rock bottom, rock bottom so bad that it felt like even hope had turned its back on me…only you were left to will me to move forward, one painstaking inch at a time. And when I succeed…that’s when you are the loudest, proving to me that you, and all your forms, are why I’m here today.
Regret, I’m convinced you are one of the most powerful and misunderstood forces on this earth. You have been the cause of many great tragedies and triumphs alike. You have humbled the strong, emboldened the weak, and provided the world with a sense of perspective. So Regret, I’m pretty glad I have you. In all actuality, I need you. But know that you will never…ever…have me; because you may be all powerful, but watch your back, because so am I.
September 25, 2017
Be Someone Who
Starting today, don’t just be someone…be someone who. Don’t just be someone aimlessly wandering through life, taking it as it comes, lost in a revolving door going to nowhere. Be someone who is unwaveringly guided by a set of core values, sticking to them through thick and thin, no matter the odds or adversity. Don’t just be someone standing idly by, simply watching life happen, taking it as it come. Be someone who takes action. Someone who steps up when everyone else is afraid, or nobody else is willing to, and starts the movement against the odds and impossibility.Starting today, don’t just be someone sitting in silence, being told this or told that, mindlessly obeying orders without your best interest in mind. Be someone who speaks up. Be the one who tells the world what you want from it, voices your ideas about positive change and growth, and speaks up for others when they can’t speak for themselves. Furthermore, be someone who is a protector. Be someone who is not only willing to fight their own battles, but also fearlessly goes to war in defense of others, with a greater hunger for victory than if it was merely fighting for yourself.And starting today, don’t just be someone with a cold shoulder and a blank stare, who rattles the earth with confidence, fire, and action. Be someone who also walks with gentle compassion, a knowing empathy, and a sincere kindness. Be someone who people are excited to see walk in the room. Be someone who everyone wants to watch their back, who everyone wants by their side, and who everyone knows will lead from the front when the time is right. Starting today, make just being someone a thing of the past, and start being someone who leaves a legacy that will last.