Here is a man I encountered during a recent event at the local historical society in West Allis where I live. His name is David HB Drake. As you can see in the photo he plays several unique instruments and sings as well. What makes Mr. Drake special is that a lot of what he plays and sings are songs from the past. He also knows the story behind what he sings and passes it along to those who listen to him. To attend one of his performances is both educational as well as entertaining.
I am not sure of Mr. Drake’s age, but he is what we consider a senior citizen. In this country often that designation comes with an impression of helplessness, or someone who is passed their prime and does not have a lot to offer. The sad thing is that by taking that view we miss the great gifts these people have to offer us. The knowledge Mr. Drake has gathered has taken him a lifetime. To learn, practice and perform all of the songs he does can only be done with years of actually doing it. The passion he delivers it with is special and unique to him. A young person could not come in and do what he does. We could read books to learn the facts he delivers, but we would not experience them. The sparkle he has in his eye while telling you about what life was like in logging camps of the 1800’s cannot be read, but must be felt.
There are stories and gifts like this in every senior we know. I personally recall my grandfather telling me stories of his time in the south pacific during the second world war. Those stories could not have been read in any book on the subject and give me a personal perspective to add to what I do read about that period. Wisdom comes with time and experience and is something money cannot buy. So please treat your elders as the living treasures they are. Mine all of the ‘gold’ you can from them before they are gone. Ask questions, listen to their stories. You will not only be helping them understand and feel how valuable and treasured they are, but you will also be learning and helping yourself.
Feel free to share this post with as many as you can so we will not lose any more living treasures without experiencing the gifts they have to offer.
Yesterday the world lost a great, and one of my favorite actors. Gene Wilder was a comic genius who happens to be from my hometown. So how did this man change the world and what can we learn from him and the life that he led? Born in 1933 he was coming of age just as a world war was coming to a close, the depression had just ended and the economy was just starting to pick back up.
Mr. Wilder chose to live his gift in that circumstance and give the world what it needed, a reason to laugh. He stared in and co-wrote movies with Mel Brooks both of them showing through comedy the virtues of a race that had just been persecuted. Gene Wilder was good and living a role and developing the characters he played. He stared in several of my favorite movies and has brought joy to several of my days.
Here is the point I am making, some people may look at this man and say “All he does is make people laugh what is so special about that?”. Perhaps people say something similar about you, or maybe you even find that you say that about yourself? I have heard things from friends and people at my seminars like “I’m just a stay at home mom.”. Just a stay at home mom? You are raising the next generation and you somehow have been lead to believe that is no big deal? Are you a good friend? Do you help around the house? Do you serve customers with a smile? Everyone is good at something and that something can change the world. Maybe it just will change the world of those you know, maybe your actions will have a ripple effect and go on to change lives you may never know. My point is the best way of doing this is living the person you are at the very core. If there is something you enjoy and are naturally good at that is where you should go. It is there you can make the biggest difference.
So let us all use the passing of this great talent to remind us that we are all great talents. We all have something great to bring to the world. Feel free to share or tag anyone you know has a great talent to remind them that they change the world.
I am a person who likes nothing about winter. I am not a fan of driving on icy roads, nor freezing temperature and shoveling. I used to spend a good portion of the winter wishing it were summer. Do you know what that got me here in Wisconsin? Frustrated. It became very apparent that as much as I would have liked circumstances to change, mother nature would always follow fall with winter. Some were mild, some were fierce but they always came.
Ok great story, but what did I learn from all of this? I learned that life is a lot like the seasons, always changing. You most take advantage of what it offers you. Plant in spring, harvest in fall. When a winter period of your life comes whether it be financial or even a broken heart know that it is a season and shall pass.
Also, like the weather we can do certain things to prepare for the seasons. Meaning life does not change until we do. If I sat in my front yard in a speedo during winter complaining how cold it is and waiting for it to get warm the only things that would happen is I would either die from exposure or be taken to jail for indecent exposure because trust me, nobody wants to see me in a speedo. Instead of waiting for the season to change, I could change myself. Put a warm coat on. Spend time inside with a warm cup of coffee and my hot lady.
My point is this, we can complain about how bad it is and wait for the world to change, or we can change ourselves and create our own circumstances. We do not see the world as it is , we see the world as we are.
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This is me at one of my favorite stands at the state fair. It is called krautland. They serve a lot of tasty things many of which include… sauerkraut. Ron,the owner, and his family are some of the nicest people you will meet. If you are going to the Wisconsin state fair I highly suggest stopping by.
Ok, other than looking at this fabulous picture of me, what does all this have to do with the most difficult situation of your life? Let’s get into that.
When giving my seminars on success and happiness one of the greatest challenges people have, and the question they ask the most about is how to deal with the loss of a loved one. I am no expert in grief consoling and to me there is no ‘getting over’ the loss of a loved one. What I have learned both by study and personal experience is there are things we can do to make the person we lost live on in our hearts. Again, let me say this is what had helped me and I encourage and welcome you to leave your suggestions in the comments below. When someone close to me passes away, one of the first things that go through my mind is what that person brought to the world. What light has been lost with their passing? For example when my cousin was tragically killed at the age of 22 I realized the world had lost a great artist and vowed to do my part to help the art community that much more. When my grandmother passed away the world lost a great hostess and conversationalist. I do my best to be amazing at those two things.
Another way that I keep those I have lost alive in my heart is by doing things that I always have done with them. My grandfather was very close to me and when he passed away there were lots of memories I cherished. One of which I indulge in every august. My grandfather, like myself, was a huge fan of our state fair. Every year we would go together and sit and eat at the stand krautland. To this day once a year, at least, I visit that stand and recall the good times I shared with him there. It keeps his memory alive in my heart and puts a smile on my face as well as my soul.
These two acts help me accept and process the loss of a loved one. I hope they may be of help to you. I invite and encourage you to share what helps you so that we may help others.
In reflection it has come to my attention how many moments that seemed insignificant at the time ended up being life-changing. Here is what I mean. When a friend suggested in 2006 I see the movie ‘The Secret’ I thought it would be just another movie. It turned out to change the way I look at the world. When I ordered my first Tony Robbins product off an infomercial I thought it would end up on a shelf collecting dust. Now I practice a lot of what I learned from that. In addition I have made my life’s mission to help others learn how to better their lives and the world around them. When I started this blog which is going on 500 posts ago, I thought it would merely be an outlet for my philosophical musings. It has turned into a book A Happy Life for Busy People as well as several speaking engagements.
Even when my boss at the time told me that my hours at the post office were going to be cut from 45 a week to 10 due to down-sizing I thought that was going to be a major negative moment. It was that event that pushed me into the self-improvement field. So never underestimate the effect that things can have on you. Keep your ears and mind open. Also stay present in the moment to be able to take from life what you can. Each moment presents its own lessons and its own opportunities. Make sure to grab them all.
Lastly, some moments may not become important until long after they have passed. My grandfather was a very important figure in my life and taught me many things. Some of which I thought were crazy or even disagreed with at the time. He passed away years ago, but often I find myself thinking of things he said and appreciating them in a whole different level. He is still teaching me long after he is gone. Sometimes there are things you have to experience, or a place in life you have to be before the lesson can be fully appreciated.
The takeaway here is to soak up everything in life. It may seem insignificant at the time, but you never know when it may be just want you need!
If you read this post even semi regularly or know me personally, you know how much I enjoy our local state fair. Last year I saw the classic country western singer Kenny Rogers. There were a lot of families there. He sings such classic songs as ‘Islands in the stream’ and ‘Love’s got a hold on me’. Last night I saw the rock band Halestorm perform. Not so many families there as there songs include such titles as ‘Love bites and so do I’ and ‘I get off on you getting off on me’. So other than the fact that my musical interests are quite varied what are we to get out of this story?
Here is the thing. I assume most of you would rather take your families to the first show as one would assume that the influences would be better. Well at Kenny Rogers show he addressed the folks sitting right in front of the stage and said “Was that you singing because in all my years of singing that is the worst singing I have ever heard”. At first I wondered if he was trying some new humor or if he had just starting losing his mind. As the show went on, however, he continued to mock the singing ability of those present. He did all of this while making several mistakes on his own songs. I could not help but asking myself if Mr. Kenny Rogers was aware those were the people who paid the highest ticket prices and thus were the most eager to see him. I left with a little bit of dismay and a lot less respect for the singer.
Fast forward to last night and the Halestorm show. After a few hard rocking songs mentioned in the first paragraph the singer of the band, Lzzy Hale, stopped the show to tell everyone how much it meant to their band and the opening act that all of us attended. She mentioned several other entertainment options we could have explored and thanked us for choosing to come to the show. A theme she repeated several times throughout their performance. She also sat down and the piano and did a song to both thank her parents for their support of her musical career and to encourage other young ladies not to give up if people tell them they can’t do something. I left the show a new fan of the band and with a lot more respect for their singer. Not only for their great performance, but for their show of gratitude.
My point it is this, song lyrics are one thing, but seeing the difference in the attitudes of the performers I would much rather take my family to the second show. What we learn from what we are exposed to has a lot to do with how we are raised and what to look for. I encourage you all to look deeper into the people behind the performance.
This is a subject I have done posts on in the past, but it is so important we are going to look at it again. What it the purpose of your life? If you ask most people you know you will probably get a blank stare,a shrug of the shoulders or a simple “I don’t know”. You may get something about winning the lottery or even just making it to retirement. These are not purposes that get us to jump out of bed in the morning.
Let me put it another way. If you were playing a game and in this game there was a game board, game pieces and some dice. Someone just told you to sit down and play. You would not know where to start from. Is it the center of the board? The outside? You would not know where you are going or even how you are supposed to move or get there. Nevermind the fact that you wouldn’t know how to win the game. So, how long do you think you would play that game? Not very long I imagine. Sadly, this is what most of us do with our lives on a daily basis. We wake up with no real purpose other than to make it through the day and pay the bills. On occasion we come up with temporary goals. Maybe we are saving up for a vacation. Maybe we are going back to school. Those goals, although better than none at all, are temporary.
We need to ask ourselves what do we want our lives to bring to the world? What will people remember about us after we are gone? I suggest thinking backwards starting at the end of our lives. What would we to have done for our friends? Our spouse? Our children and the world we live in? Whatever those goals are we can start taking steps, no matter how small, to achieve them today. If you need additional ideas I suggest watching my YouTube video WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY it will give you motivation to get started today. None of us know how long we have to make something of our lives, but we all know we should start today!
Recently, as in moments ago, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Kenny, about him becoming a history teacher. I am a big fan of history so we had a very good conversation about learning from history and the cyclical nature of history. Kenny has a great love of people and a terrific personality. The fact that he will be in charge of educating our youth fills me with both great excitement and great joy.
I recall thinking to myself “I wish all the great people I know would become teachers”. No sooner had that thought popped into my crowded head then it was followed by another. “We are all teachers”. If you are a supervisor at work, perhaps a parent at home you are teaching. We teach our friends, our families and even those we just come in contact with. How and what we teach them depends on the situation and a great deal on us.
So how do we teach and what on earth are we teaching? We teach in many ways. There is of course the direct way of telling and showing people how to do things we know. Trust me, you know a lot more than you think. The other day I had to help someone order at Starbucks using all of their crazy lingo. We also teach in subtle ways. We teach by example. Children learn a great deal by watching their parents, but it is not limited to children. We can learn by watching and listening to our spouses during a disagreement. They are showing us what bothers then and how they need to be loved. How soon we get that lesson will determine how many of these ‘teaching opportunities’ we will have to go through. That’s not just for spouses either. It holds true for friends and coworkers alike. When you fail a class, you have to retake it. The same holds true for life. If we don’t learn from a situation we are doomed to repeat it.
Speaking of coworkers and spouses, mine happens to be one in the same. She has thought me the skills I needed to go from being a bartender to a dj. Hopefully along the way I brought something new to the table that she might have learned.
The takeaway is this, in life we are all students and we are all teachers. I think there is a moral obligation to pass along what we know to others. If we do not that knowledge becomes useless. By doing so we often sharpen our own knowledge and learn something new. The other night I watched my lady convey the finer aspects of the law of attraction to her son and our good friend. In doing so I think she reminded herself of a lot of that knowledge.
So learn all you can, and pass along what you do learn!
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