TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT

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This is me passing by a physique competition at the Wisconsin state fair. Ironically this is probably the closest I will get to being in one of these. Which is ok because it allows me to eat pizza and hot Wisconsin cheese.

Here is what occurred to me as I was passing by. These gentleman have dedicated countless hours of their days, for years perfecting there bodies. The people in the audience were there to reward them by appreciating there in efforts in one for or another. In addition there was monetary awards to be handed out. There were, I would guess, a few hundred people cheering them on. With such sacrifice this was well deserved.

This had me thinking, for those of us who dedicate years of our lives to pushing our emotional and spiritual development to the limit where is the show for that? Certainly you could share that development with the world in the form of a book, eBook or something else tangible and receive an award for that. Most of us, however, are not doing such things for rewards. Still it is important to know the human mind works harder with positive reinforcement than without it. So find a way to reward yourself for your inner development as well. Also understand that sometimes you may falter. If one of the men above does not work out for a day, or eats poorly they understand they are human. They work twice as hard the next day and just keep at it. So must you. If you slip up and find yourself getting angry, or acting harshly toward others remember we are all human. Enlightened or not. If you make a mistake in your emotional or spiritual development, do what the body builders do, work twice as hard the next day.

One other thing to keep in mind. To see these results these men worked for hours for days on end for years at a time. Quite often the same is required of us in the inner realm as well. If you do not see results right away understand it takes time, often years to fully develop. Work hard knowing the results will show themselves in time. Also make sure you reward yourself for the small victories along the way. This will keep you motivated and moving in the right direction.

THEN MAKE A NEW ONE!

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A few days ago we discussed the value of old friends. Since then a few of you have told me either your old friends had passed on or even that you did not have any. What to do when that great treasure of life is not available to you? Simply this, when you do not have a treasure it is time to invest. What do I mean? Begin to put together a team of great people that will help you in your journey of life. Napoleon Hill referred to them as a ‘Mastermind group’ regardless of what you call them, start to look for new friends. This becomes more difficult as we grow older, but it need not be. As discussed in yesterday’s post, the opportunity to meet new people is around us every day. Not to mention the more we know and experience, the more people we come in contact with and the more we have to discuss with them.

See the picture above. In addition to my sister, it features good friends of mine that I have met in the last few years of my life. Each one of them brings something to the table to make living life more of a pleasure. They both are teachers and students of mine. We teach and learn from each other’s lives and experiences. They also bring unique and wonderful gifts and talents. The decision to meet, talk and listen to both of these gentleman has brought far more into my life than had I not. To explain fully may take an afternoon, but allow me a brief example.

Starting on the far right is my friend Travis “Treezy” Jones. We met about 4 years ago when he walked into a tavern I was working at. We enjoyed some great conversation and laughs. He returned a few more times and we began to learn that we had a lot in common. We both enjoyed making people feel good and creating a positive atmosphere. Before long he also began to work at the same place. Together without really understanding what we were doing we began to attract people as much for the atmosphere we created as for the drinks being served. Through a falling out with ownership both of us left that place and lost touch. Several months passed and during which time we both developed our life philosophy. He then happened to walk into a new place I was working and explained he had started a “Bring it movement” challenging people to create positive situations wherever they go. We are working together on that and soon he will be creating a website of his own to promote his ideas.

The other gentleman is Bret. I had the good pleasure of being introduced to Bret through the amazing love of my life, Margie. Bret is a man who thinks deeply and shares often. Him and I have had several discussions on life and the people we share it with. I have know him a little over two years and learned a lot in such a little time. Bret also travels quite a bit and interacts with people he encounters along the way. Doing so gives him an unique look and life and how different people may see it differently.

My life would be much different without these two gentleman I have befriended as an adult. Taking risks and getting to know people, especially those different from you can expand your life to levels you would never know by keeping to yourself. Friendship is one of the few places where 1+1 equals far more than 2. Working together you can help build and expand each others lives to a great level. So invest today in some friends you think will bring a lot to your life and that you can bring a lot to theirs. The greatest return on new friendships? They turn out to be old friendships.

JAMES AND A CUP OF COFFEE

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Here is my current work situation,  a small table in the corner of a local Starbucks. I was deep in thought with the current post I was writing for this site when an interesting thing happened. A gentleman approached me and asked me if I could help him fix the Facebook messenger on his phone. My knowledge of technology does not rank near the top of the pile, but I told him to go into his app setting and try updating them. A few minutes later I was working away and the same kind gentleman came over to thank me and let me know that it worked. There was something in his approach and genuine sincerity that made his interruptions a pleasure. So as I watched him return to his seat a few tables away I felt the urge to share with him this site. What happened next is proof you should listen to your hunches. I went over there and give him my card. He thanked me and explained he could really use some motivation because in addition to being recently divorced he had just returned from a trip to Syria, where he was from, in which he was lucky to get out of the country. He explained to me the trouble was while he was there he was under suspicion because he was an American citizen. So he finally returns and guess what happens when a person of the Muslim faith returns from Syria? Yes again suspicion. He explained how frustrated he felt because he loved both countries and yet both of them were suspicious of him. We went on discussing our beliefs on compassion and life philosophy. We exchanged phone numbers and he even mentioned he might have an idea for my next book. All of this because I had the good fortune of helping a gentleman with his cell phone issues and trusting my hunches. There are many lessons that can be taken away from this, but I will leave today’s lessons up to your interpretation.

YOU CAN’T MAKE OLD FRIENDS

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Here is a picture of my great friend Russ and I taken a few days back. Russ recently moved out of state and was in town to attend the Wisconsin state fair.  Constantly we can hear people say, and may even say ourselves, how little we have or what we are currently without that we would really like to have. We forget how truly rich we are. There are a few things in life that one can consider a treasure. Think of an old friend. One you share plenty of memories with. One you have both laughed and cried with. How much value can be put on a person who knows you well enough to be perfectly honest with and will tell you things you may not want to hear, but need to hear? Those are things money cannot buy. In addition, Russ and I are both working our way through our own spiritual and emotional enlightenment. Our methods and even thoughts may be different, but knowing we are both going through the process helps each other. combine that will the 24+ years of friendship we share and we provide an invaluable resource to each other. No matter how much money you have, you cannot buy memories with another person. No matter your credit limit you cannot lease experiences shared and knowledge gained with another person. These are priceless gifts that can only be earned through years of friendship.

There are two lessons I would love for all of us to take away from this. The first being if you have a friend you have had for a long time, you are indeed rich. You have something you should not trade for all the money in the world. You have a treasure money cannot obtain. You are rich no matter what your bank account may say.

The second lesson is this, if you have a friendship that now has been compromised for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and understand one thing. People make mistakes. They say hurtful things. They do stupid things without thinking. Are you without a friendship do to falling out that may have happened days, months or even years ago? Remember forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. There are some circumstances where it is best to move on and distance yourself from people who will bring nothing but pain into your life. For the most part, however, pride and hurt can be overcome with patience and understanding. Think of not only what you will gain by having an old friend to lean on, but also what you will lose by not having one. Old friends are priceless treasures. I know mine is.

A TIME TO REFLECT AND GIVE THANKS

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Today is one of the days of the year that presents more of a challenge than most. On the same day both the state fair, an event I look forward to all year comes to a close. In addition, my vacation from my day job is now over and summer which I so enjoy seems to be winding down. Every year this happens. I know it is coming and I try to find ways to make them not hit me all at once. One of the ways I have done this is to reflect on all the great memories I created at the fair this year. This year the lovely lady in my life threw me a surprise birthday party at the fair. A lot of my good friends and family were there. We had a blast. I saw a classic country artist with my sister, and a popular funk band with my beautiful lady and amazing friend. There were great new foods we tried and some fun things we have picked up.

Still, it is over now. I am full of memories, but soon it will be back to work. Soon the leaves will change, snow will fall and winter will be here. This is always a great challenge to my ability to remain positive and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful to the love of my life. Finding out quirky things about the ones we love is one of the more unique aspects of being in a relationship. If you have read my blog for any amount of time you are probably well aware there is lots of quirkiness to be had in this gentleman. My addiction and focus on attending a summer festival for 11 days straight is certainly one of them. We lost some time together and at times my focus was on watching a bird show and what new foods to try more than on ways to be romantic and loving.

So now that it is over how does this wonderful woman respond? A sigh of relief? A feel screams of “Amen!”? Those would certainly be understandable. Even “I am glad to have my man back” would make sense. She did none of those. The picture above is of a card she gave me when I came in to work late at a business we do together. She let me stay late because she knew it was the last day of the fair and wanted me to enjoy myself. So instead of being happy for all that will be better for her now that my fair addiction is over she gave me a get well card. I won’t share all of the details and heartfelt things she wrote inside. Briefly she let me know how much she understood how challenging this time period may be and how much she was there to love and support me through it. Trust me there was a lot more, but that is the general idea.

Here is what my lovely lady taught me in all of this. In times when things seem so overwhelmingly bad, when it seems like every little thing is going in the wrong direction that is the greatest chance to stand up and be loving. We, and by we I am including myself, can be guilty of the urge to run the other direction when our partners are in a funk or bad mood. My love reminds me that can be one of the greatest opportunities to show you care. In addition, for me it was one of the greatest moments I could feel loved and notice what an amazing life partner I had. So I just am going to take the next few days to reflect and be grateful. Of course pass along what comes to me here.

THE LAST DAY…

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Today is the last day of my favorite event of the year, the state fair. I usually feel pretty bummed about that. Today and tomorrow also represent the end of my vacation, and summer begins to fade. Usually this is a sad period in the world of Neil. Not this year! Even though I missed fun things like celebrity cream puff eating contest I look forward to and did  go with a lot of people I wanted there were a lot of positives this year. I think this year all my study and practice on living an amazing life is paying off. Sure I’ll miss everything above and yes, i will plan better next year. Still i will fill this last day with as much joy and great memories as I can. In addition I’ll begin planning for next year right away. I even have pictures and thoughts to share on this site in the coming months!  I look forward to everything that is to come while celebrating all that happened!

GO BIG!!

I have spoken before about being involved in a cause bigger than yourself.  I was reminded of that today while strolling through the department of natural resources exhibit at the state fair today. There are lots of ideas you can do to help the place you live in.  From disposing of invasive plants, to protecting against harmful insects.
Whether you are a hunter, fisherman, camper, hiker or even backyard birdwatchers there is always a reason to take care of the planet we live on. 
A bonus of all of this? You will have a feeling of contribution and accomplishment knowing you have done your part to make this world a beautiful place. Plus there will be better fishing, hiking, camping and nature to observe. All this also translates to fresher air, cleaner water and less pollution. Something that can benefit us all.

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HAVE AN EVENT!

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This week i have spent at the state fair here. It is an event I look forward to all year. I usually spend months deciding who I will go with, what shows I want to see, all that good stuff. I have souvenirs to remind me of the fair throughout the cold winter months. This is something I recommend for everyone.

Pick a yearly event. Preferably one you can do with others. I camping trip, a vacation, even a picnic you all get together at. Why is this such a good idea? As explained above it is something you can use for joy all year round. In the months leading up you can shop for supplies, have fun planning and getting things together. Obviously when the event arrives have as much joy and create as many memories as you can. Take a lot of pictures. I always recommend that. They he preserve the memories.  When the event is over you have plenty of memories to talk about and reflect on.  Maybe even get together with some of the people to recall and laugh about the good times or even begin to plan next year’s. This will fill you with a sense of excitement all through the year! Trust me it has worked for me for the last ten years!

CEMENT BEAR

 

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Note this very scary picture above. Are you puzzled as to what is so frightening about an ordinary drinking fountain? On the surface, in the light nothing. When you can walk up, push the button and get water not even a child would have fear of such an object. Normally such things do not scare me as well.  Aside from clowns, which I am not to crazy about, I generally do not fear much. Let me share a story with you where that wasn’t the case.

One day I was camping and while setting up my tent the park ranger came by to warn of some serious problems with black bears in the area. Now let me begin by saying bears are one of my favorite animals and even my nickname. So nothing that I would normally fear. The ranger, however, was telling us that the bears had been unusually aggressive that year especially when people had food or smelled like food. I took note and made sure I had plenty of firewood to keep that going all night as well. No sooner did I get my tent set up then the rain came in. So hard I ended up sleeping in my car and not said tent anyway. It rained through most of the afternoon as well as the evening. I had fallen asleep to the sound of rain on the roof of the car which is rather soothing. I woke up somewhere around midnight with a strong urge to return all of the water I had consumed to prepare for the hike that never occurred. the good news is that is was not raining anymore, the bad news was because this was some place remote and it was late at night, there was nothing open and the only bathrooms available were the not so clean camp bathrooms that were a short distance up a walking path that was not well lit at all. When nature calls, however, we must answer. So I grabbed my flashlight and half awake I began to walk. Upon cresting the hill I froze. There, at the top of the hill right in front of me I could see the silhouette of a black bear! I could see his muzzle, his ear sticking up. I recalled how I must smell like the campfire I had cooked over. I waited nervously and waited for the bear to make its’ move. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. No such move came. Finally I slowly had the courage to raise my flashlight. What I saw was amazing. The muzzle slowly turned into a bowl with a button on the side. That ear sticking up? The very top of….yes, you guessed it, a drinking fountain. Oh come on, look at the picture can’t you see it?

Even if you think I am nuts, which on occasion I may be the first to agree with, what is the purpose of our story here today? Other than camping with Neil can be a comical affair. This is the point. After hearing the ranger’s words of warning I had been on the lookout for bears. Every sound became a bear waiting to pounce. Even a drinking fountain almost caused me to not quite make it to the rest room. which I did, but it is really hard to walk and laugh out loud at yourself while you really have to go to the bathroom. Here is my point. At sometime in our life I think all of us had a cement bear. If we go into situations with a fear, or worse yet, some sort of prejudice, quite often we will trap ourselves into two different outcomes. One, it will be a dooming self-fulfilling prophecy or two, we may see things not as they exactly are. When you find yourself looking a bad situation in the eye, ask yourself is this really something to fear or hate or is it simply a cement bear? If you are not sure, shine your flashlight on the situation. learn as much as you can and quite often you may discover it is no scarier than a drinking fountain. Every time I see one of these now I laugh and recall how I let my fears and expectations turn something so harmless into one of north Americas largest predators. Do yourself a favor, be on the lookout for cement bears.