Put the phone down and make a memory.

A little over 2 years ago I was privileged to witness Carolos Whittaker speak at my local church. For those of you who don’t know who Carlos is, do yourself a favor and look him up. You can find him on all of the social media platforms. He was at my church speaking about his book “Moment Maker” and this book literally changed my life.

“Every moment of every day, you have a choice to make. You can either let the minutes pass you by or you can claim them for what they are: opportunities to unlock the full depth of life’s potential.

For Carlos Whittaker, renowned blogger, musician and worship leader, and husband and dad, living deliberately is a way of life. Making moments that are significant, memorable, or impactful are a part of how he navigates each day, and it has forever changed the landscape of his story.

In Moment Maker, Carlos explains his methodology for living intentionally and claiming moments that touch the lives of others, whether that be his family, his friends, his colleagues, or total strangers.

Carlos isn’t asking anyone to make a big investment in time, energy, or money. He is simply uncovering the investment of attention. You don’t have to buy tickets to special events or orchestrate elaborate surprises. You just have to be aware―of your surroundings, the people you encounter, the things that interest those important to you, the opportunities that present themselves―and be prepared to seize those moments and see lives changed”. -Excerpt from Amazon.com-

 I’m not trying to sell you this book and I am not getting paid to speak about it. With that said I do believe this book has the power to change others lives as it has changed mine. I read through this book in about a week and finished it in February of 2015. A lot of what Carlos spoke about really hit home for me. Throughout my life I had the tendency to take a back seat and just let life happen. I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone.

For those of you who know me personally I am a huge Detroit Red Wings fan. Growing up I never had the opportunity to attend a game and see my favorite team take the ice. In February of 2015 I had the opportunity to see the Red Wings for the first time in my life thanks to my brother. My brother bought me a plane ticket to San Jose to join him and his two oldest sons at a game. I was finally going to see the Red Wings play!

The morning of the game I arrived in SJ and was picked up by my brother. We had about 8 hours before the game started so we decided to explore a little and take in the sights of SJ. I was in a city I had never been to before with my brother and his sons who were dressed from head to toe in SJ Sharks jerseys, hats and masks and I was really out of place with my Red Wings jersey. Needless to say my social anxiety was in full effect.  Every cell in my body was telling me “Go to the hotel and hide until game time”. I even contemplated not wearing my team’s jersey to prevent any unwanted attention.

Throughout this time I kept telling myself “I can live my life or it can live me”. I decided that I was in control and I would not let an amazing opportunity to pass by me because I was afraid. In 80 degree weather I walked the streets of SJ proudly flaunting the winged wheel. I received a lot of attention from almost every person I saw who were wearing teal and black. But it was worth it.

I even branched away from my brother and his kids while they went souvenir hunting and found a local tattoo shop. Still feeling hesitant and wanting to run back to the hotel I again decided to take control and walked into the shop. I got two new tattoos, “Anchors for my children” and met a really awesome artist. During the tattooing process we began to talk about sports, careers, traveling and life in general. He spoke with me about some of the struggles he had been having in his life and how his son had recently been diagnosed with autism. Having worked in mental health for years I spoke with him about options and resources to look into, and that the end of the session I prayed with him for his son. I left that shop with two new tattoos and a renewed spirit. I hope I left him feeling the same.

As the time got closer to the game I met up with my brother and his kids for dinner. We ate at Chipotle. Which was not as good as I kept hearing. I’ll take In n’ Out over Chipotle any day.  The restaurant was about 2 blocks away from the SJ Sharks arena and was filled with Shark fans. I was out numbered severely. I was still feeling good about the encounter with the tattoo artist and that gave me enough vigor to proudly display my fandom. I even bantered back in forth with a very friendly couple seated next to us.

We left the restaurant and decided to get to the arena early and find our seats. Even though I was the visiting team this was the first time I had walked into a professional NHL arena. I’ve been to pro baseball and football games before but there was something about being in an arena for my favorite sport knowing that my favorite team was close that turned me into a 6 year old boy again. Tears filled my eyes as I was overwhelmed with the sheer awe of being there. That moment was quickly interrupted by the jeers and boos I received from the hardcore Sharks fans. I reverted right back to wanting to crawl into a hole and not be seen by anyone. My brother made his way to the home team’s tunnel with his boys to watch their team take the ice and I headed straight to my seat on the upper level.

I wanted to see my team come out of the tunnel. I wanted to scream for them and let them know I was there to support them but I couldn’t. I was crippled with anxiety and buried myself in my phone looking at highlight videos and stats. Looking back now it was pretty pathetic. There I was at my first NHL game and all I was doing was sitting in a very uncomfortable seat with my face in my phone.

I was faced with a decision. I could live in my comfort zone staring at my phone or I could do something and make a memory that would be with me forever. I didn’t want my first experience with the Red Wings to be from a distance when they were so close. Instead of looking at them on a 6 inch screen I got out of my seat and walked over to the visitor’s entrance tunnel. To my surprise there were more Red Wings fans at the game than Sharks fans. I was surrounded by a sea of people all wearing the same color as me. I hung out on the outskirts of the crowd happy to have just made the walk over. I started talking to another fan there and explained I was a lifelong fan and this was my first game. Another fan overheard our conversations and immediately chauffeured me to the front of crowd right next to the railing of the entrance tunnel. The only way I could have been closer to the players was if I was standing in the tunnel where they came out. The fans celebrated me and cheered as loud as they could. As the players came out I again felt like a 6 year old kid. In sheer awe of the athletes passing bye me and then the moment that will be burned into my memory forever happened. My favorite player Pavel Datsyuk came walking down the tunnel to the ice. I cheered so loud I lost my voice within seconds. As he passed by Pavel looked right at me, smiled and nodded. I’ve never understood the absolute devotion that people have for their favorite bands or singers. I was baffled on why teenage girls would weep when they saw Justin Timberlake or Beyonce on stage but in that moment, I got it. Outside my marriage and the birth of my children this was the best moment of my life so far.

If I had stayed in my comfort zone, watching things on a little screen I would have missed out on an incredible moment. I had to make the decision to not let the moment pass me by. My advice for anyone who takes the time to read this is to make every moment count. Put the phone down and don’t let life pass you by. Get out of your shackle of a comfort zone and make things happen. You might regret it if you don’t.

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