Dealing with Problems

Heart-pitality

I had such an AMAZING time speaking to Embassy Suites executives today! Embassy Suites service culture is centered on “Making A Difference.” It means they charge themselves with being gracious, engaging and caring… in ways large and small, with their guests, their staff, and their communities. #beautiful

My keynote was all about Heart, and how every single one of us can always open our heart even wider. When we do we the positive impact we make expands. I also illustrated how Heart drives customer loyalty and employee retention. As I said in my keynote, great companies aim for your heart, not your wallet.

The event also marked the first time I was able to share my new book, When You Are Bursting, with an audience. I deeply appreciated Embassy Suites giving out copies to all their execs in attendance.

Always feel so honored and happy to get to add my voice to such purposeful, heart-centered conversations.

Thank you Embassy Suites. You’re an EPIC company leading the way to heart-centered business.

This is What Success Looks Like

This is what success looks like.

I bought this postcard while overseas. Look at it. Just a simple cafe with six people in it. One of them is looking out the window. Three of them are talking. Another sitting alone.

And one of them is writing – with pen and paper. This is the person of interest in the picture.

She is a single mother. She carries a heaviness in her heart. She is broke and lives in poverty. She is insecure. And she is fighting for her dream at a time in her life when she feels like a complete failure.

She is a single mother because her husband divorced her shortly after their child was born.

She carries a heaviness in her heart because her mother died recently, and her mother meant the world to her.

She is broke and living in real poverty because she is jobless – a fallout from her divorce. She has recently been diagnosed with clinical depression. Somedays she thinks about committing suicide.

She is insecure because she’s always been insecure about her dream. She’s always been afraid it’s unrealistic and that she’s not good enough for it.

If you look close at the picture, she has only one cup of coffee. That’s because she comes to this coffee house and only ever spends 50 cents for a cup of black coffee – she can’t afford more.

Look closer and you’ll see she’s writing with pen and paper. That’s because she doesn’t own a computer of any kind. She has to make do with pen and paper.

What’s missing from this photo is her child who is usually with her in a stroller. She has to bring her child and hope she falls asleep because she can only write when her baby is asleep.

All this, but she’s working on her dream the hard way.

Hard on the outside because she’s so broke. And hard on the inside because she’s so full of doubt, torment and sadness.

Her dream is to write a book. It’s been her dream since she was a child.

She’s living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Outside the window of this cafe, The Elephant House, she has a view of the Edinburgh Castle when she writes.

She’s working on a book for children. She got the idea for this book while riding on a train between Manchester and London. The idea is for a story of a young boy attending a school of wizardry. She has named the boy in the story, Harry Potter.

In this postcard, now you can see it all happening. Joanne Rowling is fighting for her dream… This is what success looks like. Someone believing in themselves.

Manifesto for a Great Life

When I was 26, at the start of my career, I wrote these exact words. I called it my Manifesto for a Great Life. They were meant to help me reach my dreams. Now at 49, I’m astounded at their Truth.

Like most 26 year olds, I had very little money, very little talent but very big dreams. Steve Montaño and I both had summer jobs at Electronic Arts testing video games. We still laugh about that job today.

I was living in the Western Edition of San Francisco, a poor neighbor wherecops told you to not walk at night because of all the shootings. My desk was made of milk crates and piece of plywood I found in an alley. I wanted so much to become a professional, inspirational speaker with a published book. And I dreamed of having a Jeep. And good looking business cards.

So many days and nights I was afraid I wasn’t good enough. And that my dreams might not want me back. I’ll never forget the hard fails on my first talks. HARD FAILS. I had the 7 credit cards I was using to fund. I dreaded the time of the month when bills were due.

But I also had inspiration, courage, and passion pumping through my veins, beating in chest. And one day I wrote out this “Manifesto,” that I hoped would help me to make it to the kind of life I was dreaming of.

I wrote the Manifesto out by hand and hung it on my wall where I worked.

Last night I found it again after years, and as I said at the beginning of this post, I was astounded at it’s Truth. Maybe something larger than me was helping me write these words back then. Giving me guidance.

This morning I thought to make it into a poster to share with you.
Live Brave!
Love, Patrick

Family, Love and Death

I’d never seen this photo of my brother and I until yesterday! A friend that I had lost touch with for 35 years sent it to me out of the blue. It is an instant absolute treasure to me. And sometimes a picture is the perfect start of a story.

My mother died about two years ago. And my brother and I were both there for the final days.

So my brother is a Dunkin Donuts guy. Me, Starbucks. It tells you a lot about us. Me, I’m stupid enough to believe you can’t get a good coffee at Dunkin Donuts. My brother doesn’t want a “latte with soy milk” or to pay an absurd $5 for it. I’ve never wandered into a Dunkin Donuts. He wouldn’t waste his money at a Starbucks. Never has. Never would.

So there came this moment near to my mom’s death, when I had to say goodbye to her. For the last time.

I had been at her side, sleeping in her hospital room for about two weeks. But now she was unconcious, heavily medicated and would not be coming back. I was leaving her, having been told by the head nurse, I needed to go home now so that my mother would let go.

So came the time for my final moments with my mother.
My brother said that he would give me all time I needed alone with her, “Call me or text me when you want to be picked up. Take all the time you need.”

It was evening. And silent when I walked in her room. My mother was still there, sleeping. under blankets. Hooked up to IV’s or some shit.

She was asleep like the dead.

At night this wing of the hospital is a ghost town.

It is dark in her room.

I walk to my mother’s side. This is the woman who birthed me. Her hair is gray. The skin on her arms hangs loose from age. I know her face so well. Even though it is the face of a tired old woman, here and now it is easy to love.

This is the blood of my blood.

I take her hand. And hold it inside of mine. It is warm. How odd that it is smaller than my hand. When I was a child it felt so big.

This is the woman who took me to the park to feed the ducks.
This is the woman who gave me a home, even when she couldn’t afford it.

This is the woman who played with me and made me laugh.
This is the woman who got me a graduation present by trading away her washer and dryer.

This is the woman who fed me. Who cooked for me. Who taught me. Who worked nights for me. Who praised me. Who always answered every single call from me with unimaginable enthusiasm.

This is the woman who gave every thing she had for me. Everything.

I want to crumble.

I don’t know how to do this.

“Mom, I want to thank you for so much.

For feeding me for raising me for always being there for me
for loving me always

for keeping a roof over our heads for

alll the times you tucked me in as a child for coming to all my track meets

for getting me to go to college for

Mom, I love you.

And I realize I can’t actually thank you
enough.

There’s too much. But thank you for being such a good mother. thank you my sweet mother.

I will miss you so so so much. And I don’t know how to do this.

How to say goodbye to you

But I love you. And I will see you again my mother.

Good by my sweet mother.”

And then I kiss her on the forehead. I take a deep breath of her in.
And next, I must find a way to stand up and walk out on my mother. For the last time ever. I don’t know if I can do it. i didn’t know you had to do things this hard in life.

This is real. It is permanent. It cannot be undone. It is an end. It is a disappearance.

I squeeze my beautiful mom’s hand. Pull up her blanket.

And walk out.

I make it down the empty hall. Down the elevator. Before I collapse onto the chair in the empty lobby, sobbing.

it is done.

I have seen my mother for the last time. And said my goodbye. I have suffered the realization that you can’t thank a parent for all they do. Even with their mistakes and weaknesses, they do too much for you to put to words. Day by day. Year by year. Moment by moment.

I wipe my face and text.

PATRICK COMBS: “Come get me.”
MIKE COMBS: “I’m outside in the parking lot”

I walk out to my older brother.

He has a look of deep compassion in his eyes.

And a Starbucks in his hand.

“Here little brother, let’s go for a drive.”

Finding Peace of Mind

I used to take some time to quiet my mind. Sit on a cushion now and then and meditate a little. It was nice enough. But nothing earth shattering. And yes, it made me a little more relaxed. But never anything worth keeping up as a habit.

But two years ago I discovered something completely worth doing… A practice of observing my thoughts – not while sitting on a cushion – but throughout my day.

And the more I listened, the less I liked.

What I heard were the thoughts of madman: Repetitive, worrisome, fearful, fantasy-based, anxious, needy, ugly, mean-spirited, argumentative, egotistical, insecure, guilty, unforgiving, greedy, spiteful, and obsessive.

Sure I had nice thoughts as well, loving, kind, romantic, generous, productive. Of course I did, we all do.

But what of all those other nasty little thoughts that were talking through out my day? What was the cost of those thoughts on my happiness, peace, fulfillment and joy?

The cost was easy to see… Unhappiness, anger, resent, sadness, worry, stress, fear… upset and pain.

My practice became a game for me that went like this:

1. I feel upset right now. What am I thinking?

2. [catch the elusive little thoughts silently running in the background but always causing the upset. Hear them for their exact wording. See them for exactly what they were, just thoughts in my head.]

3. Breathe and Breathe and Breathe. Because I learned you can’t take a deep breath and think at the same time.

And with that, I’d swap my ill-thoughts for a little silence of mind. Definitely harder some days than others.

This had the most unexpected reward…

It revealed the only enemy I’ve ever actually had. And the enemy has been there my entire life hiding in plain sight: Hiding in my head, disguised as none other than me! (brilliant btw).

The more I silenced the enemy, the more I knew what the enemy was trying to hide from me: actual freedom.

Best thing I’ve ever discovered.