After 50+ miles of hiking over 10 mountain peaks along with another 15 miles of paddling it feels good to be back to work.  I guess while many take a vacation away from work to recuperate I need to come back to work to rest up though in all seriousness the hiking and paddling doesn’t usually seem like much effort. I don’t think that there is a better place to recharge one’s energy than to be up on the side of a mountain or paddling along any one of our many beautiful waterways here in Maine and New Hampshire.

As vacation progressed I found myself transitioning from the awe of the autumn colors and beautiful vistas to focusing on being grateful for all that I have in my life.  Then again that isn’t too hard is it?  We live in a country where it is easy to wake up each day grateful for our many blessings.  We are fortunate beyond our imagination and in fact there are six billion people around the world that would give nearly anything to trade places with any of us.

Relationships account for the majority of our happiness, it is through relationships that we facilitate change, and it is through relationships that we are able to help and be helped.  And it is often through interactions with others that we are reminded of the many things that make life special.

As I took a 10 mile trek in Evans Notch, NH, up and around the Baldface Mountain loop I had plenty of time to think about so many of you and how you have impacted me.  It didn’t take long to realize I could never relay all that I have learned from so many of you in such a short article so I decided to reflect on the lessons that I was reminded of from those who I actually had contact with in one way or another over the two weeks.

Olivia recently wrote a paper for school entitled The Purpose of Life. I have not been able to read the paper yet but I don’t think that there is a better description than what was shared by Reverend Burt Howe as he gave the eulogy for Dorothy Philbrick on Saturday.  In fact, I attended two funerals over my vacation, one for my uncle Armand and the other for my friend and co-worker’s mom, Dorothy.  As Reverend Howe shared Dorothy’s penchant for reaching down and helping others up it could have been the same quality shared about my uncle.  Both were beloved for their willingness to lift others up – and helping and serving others is the true purpose of life.  Maybe they both understood what Booker T. Washington shared when he said, “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else up.”

3154_tonemappedsmallSpeaking of Burt Howe, he reminds me regularly through his actions the importance of making others feel appreciated and valued.  Pauline Phillips offers, “There are two kinds of people in the world.  Those who walk into the room and say, ‘There you are,’ and those who say, ‘Here I am.’” People are starving for acknowledgement and appreciation and there is nothing more endearing than fulfilling that need.

On our drive to Camden my wife Barb mentioned the tendency of Americans to be overly self-centered by spending and spending on things that aren’t really needed at the expense of being able to give to causes that they truly value.  Will Smith said, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.”  Barb’s comment reminded me of the importance of starting a budget with giving and saving at the onset then building a lifestyle on what’s left.  I think that many of us find it hard to comprehend the true power of philanthropy but giving really does open up the floodgates of happiness as H. Jackson Brown, Jr. is quoted, “Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”

My brother in law, Jeff Clark, and I hiked Tumbledown Mountain in Weld, Maine.  I had climbed it a few years ago however didn’t remember how steep the Loop Trail was – well, it was STEEP and technical.  By the end of the day we had climbed some difficult pitches, blazed some trails and traversed nearly seven miles – beyond what he would have guessed was his current fitness level.  I can’t give enough accolades for a great attitude and willingness to push on as he cramped up. Jeff commented that it is amazing what we can accomplish when we set our minds to something.  Wow, can’t be truer.  We are capable of so much more than we imagine or attempt.

I love it when others remind me that age is just a number.  My mother in law is now 76 and joined us in climbing the Beehive in Acadia National Park over vacation.  She never ceases to amaze us with her resiliency, determination, and high energy.  She seems to be 76 going on 50 and continuously reminds us of the importance of being young at heart, body, and mind.

Slowing down to smell the roses – it’s an old cliché but it sure is true that it is easy to zip along and forget the beauty around us.  Our friend Gwynne Hays came up from Florida for a few days of hiking and kayaking.  She was like a kid in a candy store.  We would be walking along talking and she would say wait, and stop to smell the autumn fragrances or to take in the beauty of the foliage.  The lesson to slow down to be in the moment and observe all the beauty around us is one that we can never be reminded of enough.

2551_tonemappedsmallAmy Mantis has been a dear friend for a number of years now and someone that continuously inspires me with her energy, ability to set and readjust goals, and to work the plans that she sets.  I read somewhere that if you don’t have a goal and a plan that any road will take you there.  Amy joined Gwynn and I on a hike up Mt. Morgan and Mt. Percival in N.H. and it is always nice to catch up with her and hear of the plans she has set.  Her current goal is attaining a George Mitchell scholarship for post graduate study in Ireland for which she has recently applied.  We can all benefit from Amy’s reminder of the importance of a great attitude, knowing what is important to us, and what we have set our minds on next.

Life is short, make sure you know and live your priorities.  My good friend Phil Laughlin had a heart attack while jogging last week.  His heart stopped beating for many minutes while his jogging partner went door to door seeking help ultimately and fortunately knocking on the door of a cardiologist who stabilized him until the paramedics arrived.  Now recovering after being placed on ice and in an induced coma Phil is in fact a lucky man.  He sets a wonderful example in many areas, all a story for a different day, but today he makes me realize that we need to make sure that we plan for the future but make the most out of every day as we strive to live in harmony with what we truly believe is most important in our lives.


Lastly, our vacation started with a visit to see our lifelong friends, Chris and Tina Naimie and a phone message from my friend of nearly 30 years Glenn Dumont who bring this full circle to the importance of relationships.  There couldn’t be more loyal friends than Chris and Tina Naimie and Glenn and Krista Dumont and they, along with many of you, remind me regularly where our true happiness is found.

Some tips from some of my many friends for making it to the top of your own climb – foster relationships for they change the world, lift others up, give more, make others feel appreciated, push your limits, plan for the future, age is just a number, be in the moment, know and live your values each and every day, and stay in touch with those you love.  Wishing each of you  a great view from the top!