Dream Big…Then Work Hard To Make Your Dreams Come True!

Dream Big…Then Work Hard To Make Your Dreams Come True!

Dental SchoolHappy Graduation from the University at Buffalo Dental School, Jake!

Talk about dreaming big and working hard to make those dreams come true…Jake has done that and more!  As a family, we are proud of Jake and are in awe of the perseverance and tenacity he’s had to achieve his dream of doing well in school!  When I asked Jake to describe his dental school experience, he replied without hesitation that it was a roller coaster ride, extremely intense, but so interesting!  I’d say Jake is definitely well prepared for life in the “real” world and going after his piece of the “American Dream”!  I suppose it’s always an ongoing process to continue to dream big in our lives and then work hard to make our dreams come true!

A Grandfather’s Advice To Dream Big

My dad spent his professional career as an educator and felt strongly that getting a good education was key to making countless opportunities available to pursue our dreams.  He wrote the following statement in his history:

“In sorting out those things in my life I value most, I consider the fine education I have received to be one of my prized possessions.  This is not intended to compare my education with anyone else’s, but rather to consider what my life would have been without it.”

My children were always happy to have their grandfather show an interest in their school classes and activities.  My dad’s considerate encouragement and occasional rewards often seemed to have a bigger impact on my kids than most of my spirited “dream big” pep talks.

A favorite song of mine is “Dream Big” by Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband.  Here are a few verses to that song:

When you dream, dream big

As big as the ocean blue

‘Cause when you dream it might come true

So when you dream, dream big!

And when you laugh be sure to laugh out loud

‘Cause it will carry all your cares away

And when you see, see the beauty all around

And in yourself and it will help you feel okay.

And when you pray, pray for strength

To help you carry on

When troubles come your way.

And when you dream, dream big

As big as the ocean blue

‘Cause when you dream it might come true

So when you dream, dream big!

Some of Jake’s dreams were fulfilled when he participated in service projects like Operation Smile in Ecuador and Hope Alliance in Peru.  Most recently, Jake went to Tennessee with some dental student volunteers and helped give care to over a thousand patients in just three days.  Through Jake’s example, I’ve learned a more meaningful definition of how to truly be in the service of others!

Dental aide in Peru

The keynote speaker at Jake’s graduation, Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, Executive Director of the American Dental Association, encouraged the graduating class of students to “Do well by doing good!”

Dream Big And Keep A Good Sense Of Humor

Dental cartoonDespite long hours spent in class and studying for tests, as well as many clinical hours, I’ve been impressed that Jake has kept his sense of humor; I’ve always said that if anyone was able to make going to the dentist “fun”, Jake could do it…and without even having to administer laughing gas!

Dr. Michael Glick, the Dean of Dental Medicine at the University at Buffalo, made a powerful statement in his closing remarks at Jake’s graduation.  He said:

“In school you are given lessons and then you take tests.  In life you are given tests that help you learn lessons.  Learn to laugh at yourself and don’t take life too seriously.” 

What I’m learning now is…

As parents, we always hope that our examples will inspire amazing dreams and aspirations in our children’s lives.  However, what I’m learning now, more than ever before, is that I am also grateful for the influence of other mentors in my children’s lives; gifted teachers have the extraordinary ability to enhance the lives of their students by expanding the view of their future!

What advice would you give a graduating student today?  Do you remember any advice you were given that helped you “dream big” in your life?


Happy Birthday Wishes And Reflections!

Happy Birthday Wishes And Reflections!

Happy Birthday CakeIt was a fun weekend for Happy Birthday celebrations and reflections!  My father was born April 27, 1914, he would have been 99 years old on Saturday!  Happy Birthday, Dad!  My dad believed his birthday was just another great day to enjoy life!  Even on his last birthday, April 27, 2002, just a few days before he died, dad’s calm demeanor and sense of humor were intact.  By this time, my father’s vision had deteriorated significantly over the past few years from macular degeneration, a hereditary condition that affects the retina.  My dad couldn’t read unless it was magnified into very large print.  Knowing that his birthdays were being cut short with his recent leukemia diagnosis, dad reflected a bit that birthday afternoon as I visited with him; we both chuckled when he said, “Maybe I’ll get a new pair of eyes in this deal!”  My father added to his birthday wish list by saying that he hoped there would be some well stocked book shelves in heaven with a soft leather chair nearby!

“We are all a reflection of those who came before us!”  

My father’s life was indeed a reflection of the wonderful upbringing his parents had given him.  In turn, as I celebrate more birthdays, I hope my life reflects the amazing example set by my parents!

Dad with ringlets cut off

The caption under this picture in my father’s autobiography states that it was taken right after his ringlets were cut off!  My dad always had a full head of thick wavy hair, he didn’t even start turning gray until he was 80 years old!  

Growing up, my mom had us make our birthday cards for family member’s birthdays.  I came across one I’d done in some mementos my mom had saved.  The coloring is smudged and my handwriting indicates I was grade school age–the real image is too faded to show, but here is the gist of my birthday card…

Crayon Happy Birthday


Asks questions


 Helps me

 Earns money

 Really fun

Good times with dad!

This picture of me and my dad was taken by my mom in an attempt to get us back on task after we were caught horsing around during a homework break where we nearly upended the lamp and flowers on the end table.  As you can see, we’re doing our best to look contrite and apologetic!?  ( I would imagine that the lamp and sofa pictured would go for a pretty penny at a vintage store today!)

If I adapted the Happy Birthday sentiment of “father” today, it would read more like this:

  Faithful         Articulate         Tireless         Hopeful         Endearing       Rare

My dad wrote this recollection on one of the last pages of his history:

“I have never had a day since my birth that I have not been blessed in countless ways!”          

He obviously had the foresight to be aware of the “countless ways” his life was blessed and make note of them!  Again, Happy Birthday wishes to you, Dad!  It was a beautiful day to celebrate your birthday!  Meanwhile, I hope you are enjoying a good book!

We also enjoyed a happy birthday celebration for my oldest daughter, Malia, and her darling family this weekend.  I remember when I was expecting Malia, (and in those days, you rarely knew whether you were going to have a boy or a girl before your baby was born) I told my dad that I hoped my baby would be his birthday present that year.  With a knowing grin, my father said that my baby deserved her own special birthday!  My cute, little baby girl, Malia, with her thick mass of dark hair and round, kiss-able cheeks was born early on the morning of April 28, 1981.  In keeping up with the tradition I started on my dad’s birthday card many years ago, I’ll write a few Happy Birthday sentiments for Malia now too!

Adorable girl, Malia

 Boating in Hyrum

My friend

Amazing mother

Loves her family

Interested in others

A beautiful daughter


What I’m learning now is…

I once heard it said that, “Your past is the landscape of your life.”  What I’m learning now is that when each birthday rolls around, (as they inevitably do…) it might be a good chance for us to reflect on our lives and enhance that landscape…as well as recommit to making it one that all our loved ones will have the opportunity to enjoy for many years to come!

Take the opportunity to spell out your loved ones names on a paper and consider the fun words you’d write to pay tribute to the unique impact they’ve had on your life.  Surprise them with your thoughts for their next birthday!   



Happy Earth Day! Tweaking The Perspective A Little!

Celebrating Earth Day But Tweaking The Perspective A Little

wheat farming

Growing up, I watched the intimate relationship my dad had with the land on our wheat farm so he could provide a good living.  I saw first-hand how my father truly respected his little corner of the earth so to speak, and the deep sense of satisfaction he received from the hard work his farm provided.

For my father, each day he was able to spend tending to his farm was an “earth day” celebration of sorts.

He recorded the following in his autobiography…

“To go out to the farm in the spring with the birds, the sky, the soil and all the machinery and get everything going, and then to see the hills cultivated in such a nice way was very satisfying.”

In considering the events of the past week, perhaps we’d all be better served if we paused a minute, took a deep breath, and celebrated earth day by looking around us and realizing once again, that we truly are blessed!  We might ask ourselves, “Am I doing what I was put on this earth to do?”   (I know, maybe a little intense–it’s just where my mind has been lately.)

As I’ve said in this previous post, I often feel a deep sense of kinship with mother earth while working in my yard.  If I get discouraged or feel a bit overwhelmed, I literally turn to earth’s dirt to give me better perspective of what a wonderful place this world really is, and how fortunate I am to share a small part in it!

Happy Earth Day–Be Inspired By It’s Beauty!

I hope that these artful pictures taken by my daughter-in-law, Whitney Wilding, and my son-in-law, Cole Gibbons, (both beautiful photographers) help us all to remember again, that no matter what, we really can all work together to make this wonderful planet earth a better place to live!


Butterfly Conservatory in Buffalo, New York


Breathtaking view in Letchworth State Park, complete with rainbow!

Big Sur-California

Big Sur, California

Flower in pond at Conservatory Garden in Central Park

Conservatory Garden in Central Park in New York City

Lower Manhattan from 850 ft

  A beautiful view of lower Manhattan!  A view Cole and Mandi see each morning!

Central Park in winter

 A winter wonderland view of Central Park!

Hurricane aftermath

 Hurricane aftermath in New York City–Mother Nature reminds us of our vulnerabilities!


What I’m learning now is…

As we look around, it doesn’t take long to realize that we are indeed privileged to live here on earth.  What I’m learning now is that more often than not, it seems like it takes some sort of tragedy or unusual circumstances to startle our senses into helping us remember the fact that we truly are so blessed!  Getting older has helped give me a better appreciation for most things in life, and yet, we are all prone to take some things for granted.  


I’d love for you to share any photos or thoughts you have about this great place we call earth!