Tag Archives: Life Lessons

Home2 Suites Hilton Making A Difference

The Home2 Suites Hilton, making a difference in the life of a young man who dreams big.

Bryson

“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.”  ~Maya Angelou

By Becky Mackintosh

I’ve done my share of traveling, from a five star hotel in San Juan, to a bed and breakfast in Edinburgh Scotland, I’ve been to Dubia, India and Mexico to name a few, and have sailed on more than a half a dozen cruise ships. What I remember and cherish most about my travels are the friendships made, the relationships strengthened, and the way people made me feel.

It’s no secret that first impressions form immediate thoughts and feelings leaving a mental image.  I have stayed at many Hilton hotels, but had never heard of Home2 Suites, UNTIL a few months ago and what an impression it has made.

It was an unusually warm November day,  I was helping a young man, who had recently moved in with our family, on his quest for a new job. We had just began our journey of dropping off resumes.  As we entered the front lobby of the newly opened Home2 Suites at Thanksgiving Point, only ten minutes from our home. we were greeted with a warm smile and an enthusiastic,

“Hello, Welcome to Home2 Suites.  How may I help you?”

With an equally broad smile and enthusiasm, this young man extending his hand as he replied, “Hello, My name is BRY-son Cornaby. I am a hard worker.  I need a job.  Are you accepting applications?”  the words flowed from his mouth just like we’d practiced.

Bryson handed her his single-page resume, put together by his job coach Terri Ann from an organization called RISE, including a summary of his many qualifications and employment such as: Chick-fil-la, Costco, Hilton Garden Inn of St. George, Utah and the Cliffrose Lodge outside of Zions Park. A pretty impressive resume for a young man who since birth has faced challenges associated with mild retardation.

More about Bryson…

Bryson grew up in Utah, yes he’s Mormon, yes he likes green jello and yes one of his goals is to marry and have a family just like every other young man.  I’ve known Bryson for several years, and if you know Bryson you know that if he dreams it, desires it, he works hard to achieve it! Accomplishing the impossible, is something he is good at. Everyone who knows Bryson loves him – he’s just that kind of a guy. He’s quite the character and just plain amazing!

I am often asked, “How did Bryson come to live with your family?”  One of our son-in-laws introduced us to Bryson several years ago.  Then one day, in the middle of October, Bryson called me from his home in Saint George, Utah and with enough enthusiasm to fill a colosseum he blurted,

“I just put in my two week notice and then I’m moving up North!”

I knew this to be code for; “I’m moving in with you and your family and I need you to help me find a new job!” I was perfectly fine with this arrangement …my family too!  We welcomed Bryson with open arms, but FIRST…

I cleaned out the bedroom of one of my grown married children to make room for Bryson and his prize possessions which included; 37 new bottles of  lotions from Bed Bath and Beyond. (Let’s just say he is a little obsessed with smelling good.) Many bottles of used and never used cologne, countless numbers of shoes, a snowboard and a coveted gift from Dr. Dre.

That’s RIGHT!  Dr. Dre!

As Seen On Instagram,  posted by Cliffrose lodge owner Breck Dockstader,

 Bryson sporting his NEW pair of  Dr. Dre Beats! 

Bryson sporting a pair of Beats “Bryson received a gift from a guest today at the Clliffrose!  Turns out he made an impression on an executive VP that stayed with us from Beats! ”  `Breck Dockstader

His first week after joining our family, we got busy helping him look for a job, dropping off resumes to higher-end hotels and restaurants, Bryson likes the best, because he strives to be his best.  We practiced saying “Hello, My name is Bryson Cornaby. I am a hard worker seeking a job.  Are you accepting applications?”  Those weren’t always the exact words that came out of his mouth, but whatever he said, worked.  He made an impression. He got a call back for an interview at the Home2 Suites Hilton at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, Utah.

Bam! He did it! He got the Job! 

For the next hour Bryson scrolled through his iPhone 6 Plus calling contact after contact…

“Hello, this is BRY-son, and guess what?”

“What?”

“I – got – a – job!”

“Where?”

“At the Home2 Suites Hilton at Thanksgiving Point!”

“Yahoo Bryson! That is amazing!” was the repeated response!

Now, five days a week, Bryson wakes up early, showers, eats breakfast, reads for 10 minutes, brushes his teeth, sprays a squirt or two or three of his favorite cologne and then WAITS watching the clock until it’s time to leave for work, never late, always early.  He loves his job, it’s rewarding to feel appreciated, valued and needed and that’s what he experiences from the entire staff at Home2 Suites Hilton, recently awarded Lehi, Utah’s 2014 Business of the year!  With a long list of charities they have contributed to in their short time of being open, is a reflection of their values and desire to make a difference in this world.  I know our family is grateful for the difference Home2 Suites is making in this young mans life and our HomeTOO Sweet!

P.S.  When you book your vacation at Home2 Suites say HELLO to Bryson!

IMG_9135Bryson Cornaby with Home2 Suites Lehi, Utah General Manager Devin Slorah

IMG_9118IMG_9117

 

IMG_9131

Bryson and staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Word Can Make All The Difference!

Rich and his son Cole

Have you ever said something that didn’t quite come out right?  Boy I have, more than once!

The other day a friend, who was not afraid to be blunt and honest, sent me the following message:

“You mentioned in your video (A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction) that ‘LIFE IS TO BE ENJOYED, NOT ENDURED’. While I like the concept and wish it were true all the time, I disagree with that, at least in part.”

FINALLY someone called me out on the one line that had bothered me from the very first time I viewed the video of my son Sean and me.  We started filming at 10:30pm without a script – we spoke from our heart.  It was late, we were tired, and it was our last night to get it done. My daughter Kelsey, who filmed the 35-minute interview, was visiting for Christmas and heading back to her home the following morning.  After hours of editing to condense the message, Kelsey sent us the now 6-minute video.   As I watched it, I felt good about the message; the only line that I was hesitant with was;

“Life is to be enjoyed, not endured”

What I thought I had said and what had actually come out, were two different things.  The option for a “do-over” was gone. I KNOW everyone has challenges both big and small and YES we are often asked to endure HARD things.  It’s what builds our character and makes us who we are.  Our option was to take the whole line out or leave it in. Obviously we opted to leave it in.  The blog article which accompanied the video got it right:

“Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured!”  

One word makes all the difference!

The friend who called me out on the line in the video, is my friend Rich, he’s someone who KNOWS the meaning of enduring hard things, he also know the sweet JOYS of life.

I replied to Rich’s email thanking him for his honesty and asked him to read my blog where I had adding the word “just” to my plea.  He immediately replied:

“OK, I definitely can get behind the “Life should be enjoyed not JUST endured.  That makes sense to me.  In fact, it’s been my experience that the traumas and challenges in life, are what give the enjoy part of life a much sweeter taste!  Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced personal growth sitting on a white sandy beach, sipping on a drink.  Instead, it’s been life’s traumas that have been the catalyst to growth and what has molded my character.  There are parts of life that we all must endure.”

You see, Rich survived a solo plane crash; this is the account in his own words:

“On September 14, 1987, I was piloting a Piper Supercub (a bush plane), looking for stray cows for my brother Pete.  Pete is a cattle rancher and had cows turned out in the Strawberry Mountain Wilderness area in Eastern Oregon.  Shortly after take off during my last flight of the day, the airplane developed engine problems and I crashed at the base of the mountain.  When the plane hit, the wing tanks burst (I had just fueled the airplane) and aviation fuel flooded the cockpit, soaking me and then exploded.  I was trapped in the airplane.  My father and brother were on horseback, saw the airplane go down, rode to the crash site and saw how bad it was.  To this day I do not know how I got out of the airplane, but I honestly suspect some kind of divine intervention.  My dad rode down the hill to a road, was able to flag down a car who took him to a house, and the people happened to be home.  He called the emergency number and an ambulance happened to be a few minutes away from me servicing a logging accident.  They got to me in record time, and took me to the a little hospital about 45 minutes away.  The last thing I remember is one of the doctors cutting off my wedding ring with a little saw of some kind. I remained in a coma for 10 days.  I was 30 years old.  My son was 9 months old.”

The results of the accident were as follows:

  • 3rd degree burns to 75% of my body

  • 47 days in critical condition

  • Major infection – cheated death twice

  • 90 days in intensive care

  • 18 months in a pressure suit

  • 2 years at the hospital

  • 33 major surgeries over 6 1/2 years

  • My wife left after 3 months (leaving my son with me)

The blessings of the accident have been many, and I almost do not have room to write about all of them.  Some of the highlights are:

  • I got to experience what it’s like to totally depend on God.

  • My priorities were instantly correct, I care deeply about people and not so much about things anymore.

  • I got to experience the deepest love, sacrifice and dedication of my family.

  • I got to spend 24/7/365 with my son for many years.  What father get’s to do that?  And because of this, my son and I are closer than any other father and son I know.  We have a tight bond between us.

  • I tend to enjoy life, including the simplest of things much more than people who have not endured a life threatening trauma.

  • I got to experience more pain than most people have.

  • I enjoyed additional depth of typical life challenges, including financial, physical, spiritual social (like how to get a date).

  • My faith in God increased, as did my confidence that even life’s biggest obstacles can be overcome.

  • I know I can get through almost anything.

  • I became very passionate about health.

  • I now have the opportunity to help others going through similar trauma’s.

Rich goes on to say:

“Today, 27 years later, my life is not without problems.  They continue to come, and I have even more great stories about the difficulties in life. However, My son, is healthy, my family is healthy, I am healthy, and I’m still very confident God is in control.  I don’t know if I would want to go through another life experience like my airplane crash again, but having already been through it, I know the benefits that came from it, it made the whole ordeal beyond worthwhile and I feel very fortunate I got to experience it.”

THANK YOU Rich for being real! Being you! And for being a living testament that “Life is to be enJOYed, not JUST endured.”

Cole_and_dadRich and his son Cole

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Watch this short video… it’s a great intro to the blog post.

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Life was meant to be enJOYed, not just endured.  

What happens when someone in your family announces they have same-sex attraction?

Do you kick them out?

Do you love them unconditionally?  

This is a very difficult subject, one that brings much controversy no matter your background. 

The purpose of this video and post is to invite families, and society in general, to reinvest in kindness.  When we look around at the amount of judgment and hatred in the world, the honest response is that we all could do better. It is my belief that we, the human race, are to LOVE one another, SERVE one another and do our very best to HELP one another with the challenges and trials that come our way.  

It doesn’t matter where you live or what your religious beliefs are; if you are rich, poor, brown, black, white, pink or green – we all have the same basic needs. We all want to feel we belong, are loved and valued.  God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”  He wasn’t just talking to your neighbor.  He was talking to you and me and even those in our families that may make different choices than we would. Intolerance is why there is so much hate, war and bullying in this world. It needs to stop.  Things need to change.

Gandhi said it best; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It was January 9, 2012, when my 24-year-old son Sean, told his father Scott and I that he was gay, in the best way he knew how.  Precisely at 11:11 pm, he sent us a private message saying;

“Hey so I’m not gonna beat around the bush too much, I’m just going to tell you something that I’m sure you already know or it has at least crossed your mind plenty of times.  I’m gay. I’m sure this isn’t the best news a parent could hear, but I feel like it’s not right for me to Not talk to you about something very real to me. I want you to know I’m very much the same weird Sean. Ha! I love you and dad so much and you’re the best parents a kid could ask for. This is why it’s taken me so long to tell you, I’m fine with the pain it can bring me at times but, I just didn’t want to hurt you cause you don’t deserve it. Once again I love you very much, but I want to keep this brief cause I am sure you’d rather talk in person and I am 100 percent fine with that. I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know.”

The sting of reading the words “I’m gay,” was masked by the last sentence: “I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know” – to me that validated how awesome, amazing and considerate my son is!  It also shed light on the fact that my son had closeted his most conflicted and torn feelings with lock and key – alone. That, I was not proud of.

Sean was correct in his assumption that this had “at least crossed my mind”.  I had often wondered about my strikingly, good-looking son that only dated when the girls took the initiative and asked him out.  It was a thought I kept very quiet, and secret, hardly daring to think it to myself.  It was something I “hoped” was not true!  But here it was in black and white – my son announcing that he was gay.  His father, on the other-hand, had no clue. Scott was honestly completely blind-sided by the news. It shook him to his core.  Not that he didn’t love Sean.  He simply had not seen this coming and it wasn’t something he’d even slightly acknowledged.

Immediately upon reading Sean’s message, I called him asking to hurry home so we could talk, face-to-face.  This was Sean’s final night before heading back to school in Hawaii. He was out visiting friends and saying his good-byes for another year. When he got home, he and I stayed up until 4am talking, crying and hugging before calling it a night and heading to the airport those few hours later. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done under the circumstances; giving him one last hug that would have to suffice for an entire year.

Going Through My Own Refiner’s Fire

As I look back on that very first conversation, I have to admit that I am not proud of everything I said. I said some things completely out of ignorance. I had never researched the subject – naively thinking that was a subject “other families” had to deal with — NOT me and my family.

First, I told Sean I loved him – and that my love would NEVER change.  I felt very strongly that he needed to know of my unconditional love for him.  But then I said some ignorant stuff, like “What are you going to do about it?” and “You are a fighter Sean – you can fight this.”  “Hang in there, this is your test, your challenge, and in the next life your feelings will match your body and all will be well.”  As these phrases spilled off my lips, I honestly thought I was giving words of comfort, not knowing each phrase was a dagger in my son’s heart.  The phrases weren’t new. He had grown up hearing them everywhere – and he had spent a lifetime trying to digest and understand why he felt the way he felt and what kind of life that meant for him.

What literally broke my heart that evening was looking at my 24-year-old son, and thinking my adorable little boy with the big smile had grown up dealing with this secret all alone – NO one to trust and talk to about it.  I cried then, and I cry still now.  Tears also come at the thought of thousands of kids and teens with same-sex attraction dealing with it ALONE, afraid to talk about their true feelings and contemplating suicide as the answer.  Death is NOT the answer.

As I have listened to my son tell of what it was like growing up “fighting an inward battle” trying to “fit in” in a world that frowns upon gays; belonging to a religion that is family-centered and strongly believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and in a family that teaches the same.  My heart breaks at the thought of my own flesh and blood growing up feeling like a misfit right in our home, in school, in society, and within the walls of our church.  Growing up he never let on to the sadness and confusion going on inside. He was a happy, active, fun-loving little boy and teenager. We just didn’t know. Even his friends didn’t know.  If an Oscar could be awarded, Sean would have won. He hid his feelings well.

The dagger in my heart are the piercing words of Sean telling of the years he contemplated ending his life so no one would ever know he was gay. It is my prayer and quest that NO ONE feels that way – Ever!

I am so thankful Sean never acted upon those dark feelings and is happy with the person he is, trying to live the best life he can,  just like everyone else.

I have Googled, read, fasted and prayed to become more educated. One startling fact that I learned in my quest to gain knowledge and understanding is that teens and young adults with same-sex attraction have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts…..THAT is unacceptable!  No one should go to bed at night thinking they are better off dead.  Never. Ever.   We need to be the change we wish to see in the world – LOVE one another, SERVE one another and HELP one another.

I have learned through the years that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. The gift this has given me is not to judge, to be more compassionate, kind and tolerant – and to treat all others the way I would want to be treated.

No matter where you stand on this sensitive subject, I pray that we may all respond with much more sensitivity and thoughtfulness in our families and in society when encountering same-sex attraction.

P.S. To my readers who are wondering about Sean’s father Scott’s reaction.  Scott had deep-rooted feelings of Homophobia, so Sean had grown up hearing his father’s unkind perception of gays, making the “coming out” all that more difficult. Once that table had been turned and Scott knew it, he blew me away with his quick quest to learn all he could about the elephant in the room. What I will tell you is that in his own due time, Scott will share his personal refiner’s fire to accepting and loving his son.  And it will be powerful and heartfelt.

P.P.S.  In April of 2013, Sean graduated with honors from BYU-Hawaii with a degree in Social Work.  He recently completed an internship at an Orphanage in Thailand and has been accepted into the Masters Program at the University of Hawaii.  Sean is a happy, easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.  He’s an Eagle Scout and has always been a leader amongst his peers.  For example, Sean paid for his college education all by himself, without student loans!  He graduated with honors, wisely debt-free, and teaching others how to do the same. Coming out has not changed Sean — it’s Scott and I that have changed. And for that, I thank my Heavenly Father. He blessed us with the gift of learning about something we thought only others needed to worry about.  I love Sean today as much, if not more, than ever.

May God bless you in all of your experiences, discoveries and life lessons.

Yours,

Becky Mack:)

Sean

UPDATE June 2014:  My husband Scott FINALLY took the time to sit down and write about his journey;  How A Father Went From Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son. 

A follow-up to this blog post: “A Follow-up to a Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

 

FYI:   Grab my eBook today for ONLY $2.97! “My Husband Wears The Short Shorts In THIS Family!” It’s parenting with humor, courage and a whole lot of love.  Also in paperback!  

 

What I Learned From A Four Year Old: True GRATITUDE

I’d like to share a story that took place in 2011 that will live in my heart forever – it’s a story of gratitude from a four year old.

My heart grew larger as I walked the streets that Mother Teresa walked in Kolkata, India. I went to India with the intention of changing the lives of others, only to discover it was my own life that was forever changed.

Never before had I seen such poverty – heart wrenching poverty. But what surprised me the most were the big smiles and the genuine love that oozed from their faces spite their obvious hardships.

It is estimated that over 100,000 children live on the streets of Kolkata. There is an organization in Kolkata that is trying to make a difference – The Towards Life Foundation. This charitable organization has built 8 one-roomed schools called “centers” throughout the slums of Kolkata to provide the street children the opportunity to go to school. Some were lucky enough to have desks, other were not – all were happy just to be in school whatever the conditions.

India School -blog

India dum dum school blog 3

I was part of the Global LifeVision-Inda team; consisting of 8 women and 1 man. We were eager to volunteer at these centers to help in anyway possible.  We arrived prior to the country’s biggest holiday – Diwali. The children at the centers are given new clothes in celebration of the Diwali festival, much like our Christmas – they exchange “sweets”, decorate the streets and dwellings with lights, and parade around in their new clothes.

On this occasion the teachers thought it would be more memorable if the visiting Americans distributed the new clothes to the students. The boys would get a new shirt and new pair of underwear, and the girls a new dress and new pair of underwear.

An unexpected surprise. 

On our last day helping at the centers, a big box was delivered with the new clothes. Each item was wrapped in a clear cellophane package with a child’s name printed on it. The clothes were placed on a table in front of the classroom in two piles. The teacher would call out the name written on the package and hand it to one of us to give to the child. Without hesitation the child would say “Namasté ma’am”, and some would bow down to kiss our feet – the ultimate sign of respect and gratitude.

As I was watching this take place and the excitement of each child as they received their new clothes. I noticed a little boy in the middle of the room inching his way to the front and jabbering in his native language, getting louder and louder while tears filled his eyes – he stayed fixated on the table displaying the clothes. I looked at the table to see what could possibly be troubling him and saw there were only a few shirts left, I thought; “He is worried they are not going to call his name.” When the second to last name was called – he lunged forward grabbing his shirt and hugging it tight, then quickly he put it into his backpack and skipped around the room one happy boy.

As I was observing this priceless moment of gratitude for a new shirt, my colleague was observing the youngest girl of the class, over in the far corner of the room. This adorable little 4 year old had removed her new dress from the cellophane wrap and very gently unfolding it, once opened she slowly slid her hands from the top of the dress to the bottom. Then she folded it back up, slid it back into the cellophane and held it to her chest rocking back and forth in delight. As my friend shared what she had just observed my eyes filled with tears. We had witnessed gratitude in it’s purest form.

My perspective changed, leaving me never to be the same. I returned home with a deeper appreciation for the things I often take for granted; my family, my health, and all our basic needs: clothes, shelter, food, and most of all the simple beauty of  …everything.