Caleb’s High School Graduation and Falling Forward

Caleb's High School Graduation and Falling Forward

Preparing for our youngest nephews graduation

Friday morning rolled around and my usual routine of making coffee, feeding the animals and booting up the computer was to change. For just this one Friday, I would not even open the auto transport office door. The night before our trip, I had set the phones to mute. I did not forward them to my cell phone, as I normally would have in the past.

My bag packed fresh batteries in the camera and my cell phone carried a full charge. I had downloaded all photos off my memory chip in the camera. After all, I did not want to run out of space at the ceremony.

It was about 8:00 AM when my parents arrived and parked the minivan in the driveway. Tossing my luggage into the back, I settled into the passenger seat behind my mom, she took first shift of being the driver. This would surely test my nerves and control I had or not over my tongue.

I will let you in on a little secret about my mom. She is in her seventies and recently told me she is developing a cataract in her eye. It troubled me that she would be driving, but after all, I am the daughter and she the mother. My sister, Cheryl and I shot each other "that look" and grinned, agreeing to go with the flow.

Giving my husband, Rich a quick hug and a kiss we shut the door and off we went on our way to Fort Bragg, California and our youngest nephew, Caleb's high school graduation.

Potty break and driver change

A few hours into the drive, we all needed a potty break. Mom and dad drove Highway 20 often whenever they traveled to Fort Bragg to visit my sister and her boys. There was a convenient gas station and store before we hit the small town called Clear Lake. Taking this opportunity to stretch our legs, refuel our snack and water supply we were ready to hit the road again.

This leg of the trip my dad would be the driver. Although my sister and I offered to drive, both parents informed us that they were fine. Looking at each other my sister made a wise crack about have loose wires (that was our code for oh no). If you happened to be on FaceBook that day, you saw my post. Now you know what I was referring to when I say she had a few wires loose in her head. (smiling)

Dad's driving was fine as was mom's while on the freeway. As we made our way around Clear Lake the highway narrowed and became curvy making the 30 MPH speed limit necessary. The drive around the lake was beautiful. Due to the increase in rain this year plants and wildflowers were greener, the colors more vibrant and beautiful.

The short drive up Highway 101 to Highway 20 took us through lush grassy meadows and thick-forested groves of tall pine trees. The last time I had been through this country was during an extreme drought and everything was dead and ugly. Now, the scenery was breathtaking and I could not help but think back of all the family vacations we had enjoyed years ago with our family.

Then, out of nowhere, my sister gasped and yelled out, "Dad, watch what you are doing"! He had reached down for a toothpick and headed straight for the mountainside. After our hearts stopped pounding out of our chests, we laughed…nervously laughed and said our prayers.

Fort Bragg, family and the graduation ceremony

When we arrived at my sister's house, no one was home. What did we ever do before everyone started carrying cell phones? Even my parents have one of their very own. We were able to track them down to a local restaurant and joined them for lunch.

By now, we were all tired of "grab and go" meals and wanted a real homemade, hot meal. My sister, her two boys, their dad, and his family were all present. We had a good time catching up on what had gone on in their lives over the past year and our meal was scrumptious, too.

It was now time to return to their home and get ready to head over to the high school as graduation started at 5:00 PM. We stopped by our hotel and freshened up, checked in and loaded our jackets and cameras. It did not take long and we were back in the minivan headed for the commencement ceremony.

Hopes, dreams and Denzel Washington

As the graduates filed onto the field to the band playing "Pomp and Circumstance", my thoughts went back to when I was the graduate. My hopes and dreams of becoming a successful businessperson was all I could see. When life did not go exactly as I had thought it would, I found myself falling and picking myself up. I wondered if life would deal a hand like that to my nephew, too.

Usually the speeches given at graduations do not really catch my attention. However, this speech did. The Chairman of the Board shared a quote by a famous actor, Denzel Washington. He had been a keynote speaker at the graduation of the University of Pennsylvania. Rich Schulman wrote, "It is no surprise that a great actor like Denzel Washington would provide some great expressions during his speech. As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported:

"Some people say that you always need something to fall back on, but he never understood that", he said.

"I want to fall forward. I figure at least this way I'll see what I'm going to hit", he said.
I wondered if the graduates were listening. This was sound advice from someone who had been sitting right where they were year's earlier and found success. He went on to say that, this is and has been the time of their life. Enjoy each lesson, embrace what it gives you whether a failure to learn by or a success to celebrate.
As the chairperson handed the diplomas to each student, a sense of responsibility came over each one. Their expressions showed all over their faces. For some this was the end of their formal education and they would move on to join the ranks of working America. For some, like my nephew it is only a rest stop, a fueling station. Caleb is continuing on to college.
My Mom, Caleb and My Dad
It did not matter the student's destination in life, each family celebrated this day with balloons, Hawaiian leis, shell necklaces and bouquets of flowers. Barbecue dinners and parties followed the formal ceremonies and the class party at the school followed those.
One of my favorite past time activities is scrap booking our travels. This hobby has found its way into our family's hearts too. My gift to my nephew, Caleb is to journal his special day with pictures for him to treasure for years to come.

Today, you get to share my gift and view it here…Enjoy!

Click here to view this photo book larger

What is the lesson for this auto transport business owner? I, like Denzel Washington, want to fall forward. I do not want to see what I could fall back on; I want to see what I will land on. I, too have failed, picked myself up and moved forward.

Making each day the best I can, I want to serve my clients with my whole heart and soul. Helping each person regain his or her health, lose weight, or build an auto transport business as we did excites me.

Whatever is in our future, we want to embrace it and share with our friends, family and clients. To serve another makes my heart beat proudly within my chest.
What is it you take away from this lesson? Please leave your comment below and join the discussion.
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Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner
Would you like to use this article on your website, blog or ezine? You have my permission to share it in it's entirety with the following attribution and a link back to our home page.
Carla J Gardiner is an ex-banker turned entrepreneur who built an auto transport brokerage and dispatch center from the ground up. With half a days training and little else Carla learned the business inside and out the hard way…by doing it. Her passion and purpose lies with the people she works with daily; the client, dispatcher, broker and truck driver. Her frustration within the industry has birthed a new division of her company; one to properly train, encourage and mentor other professionals in healthy auto transport.
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  • Wow Carla, Great post. My sons also graduated this past June and I certainly wish for them that they will fall forward…We also live in Philadelphia, so like your mention of my favorite city!
    Best of everything to Caleb!

    • admin

      Thank you Michele. Congratulations on your sons graduation, too. So cool that Denzel Washington was in your favorite city, Philadelphia delivering the graduation key note speech. I hope the graduates paid attention, because this auto transport broker sure learned a thing or two listening.

  • Excellent post Carla. Loved the entire article and surely the pictures spoke to me.  Ft. Braggs…a famous raw culinary school is there, their motel and think raw cafe there as well. Glad you were able to celebrate this special day and not have to worry about a JOB, asking permission to get off, etc. as a business owner. I hope Caleb falls forward, but sometimes it takes falling back to see what falling forward looks and feels like. 

    • admin

      Thank you Carol for sharing part of your passion, raw foods with us today. You know, I’ve visited Fort Bragg many times, but did not know they had special cafes for raw foods. It was especially nice to not have to ask a boss for time off to attend my nephew, Caleb’s high school graduation. It was a great event, fun times with family and I’m so glad I learned a business lesson from Denzel Washington’s quote.

  • Pat

    Graduations sure can be a great time in a family.  I love your quote by Denzel Washington

    • admin

      Pat I appreciate your thoughts on Denzel Washington and his quote. He is one of my favorite actors and who knew he gave key note speeches at college graduations?

  • Denny

    Amazing job Carla! Love the Denzel quote!

    • admin

      Denny you are so loyal and we appreciate your readership. Denzel Washington and the quote given by the chairman of the board was my favorite part of graduation…well, except when my nephew accepted his diploma:)

  • I love this statement: Making each day the best I can. It is true meaning of serving the best you can and it is not looking back and not really looking in the future, when you take day by day and live it to the best in the present moment, the best future works to the best anyway! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • admin

      Thank you Solvita. It is encouraging to read that our inner thoughts and feelings are shared by others. The time we were able to spend with family during a happy occasion will remain with me always. When I want to reflect on those moments, I simply open the Picture Book I made for him and enjoy all over again.

  • You’re a wonderful Aunt, Carla!!  Congratulations to Caleb!!!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Carla,

    I loved everything about this post!

    Your story telling is just a delight to read Carla. The quote…. oh my goodness profound wisdom alright…   and the scrap booking very special.

    I would also like to fall forward come to think of it. Makes huge sense. Whichever way we fall though, as long as we get back up again and keep going we can’t help but grow and prosper.

    I always tell people that becoming successful in business (or anything) is like ice skating… you won’t learn to skate unless you move and when you move you will fall  (in my case backwards, forwards, sideways, any-ways… ha ha) and unless you get back up again and repeat this until you no longer fall, you won’t learn how to stop falling. Eventually it happens and oh what joy! 🙂

    I have absolutely no doubt that you serve your clients with your whole heart and soul Carla!~Marcus

  • Hi Carla,

    The falling forward line by Denzel is priceless.

    Cut sources of retreat. You are forced to fall forward, which makes you do some pretty uncomfortable things, which in turn cause you to become pretty remarkable.



    • admin

      Hi Ryan, welcome to our adventures in auto transport and my family’s life. It’s so nice you dropped by and we appreciate that you shared your appreciation for the quote from Denzel Washington that so inspired me.