ARE YOU THE CANDLE OR THE MIRROR?

It took me a while to truly grasp the power of this quote. The candle represents sources of light in the world. It could be good-looking and charming authors who double as postal workers, social workers, emergency workers, great parents and teachers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone else who inspires us or makes the world a better place. In some ways I think we are all candles, or at least have the ability to be so. In being the best at whatever we do we set an example for the world to follow. Even the shyest and most reserved of us have opportunities to be kind to others.

The mirror represents those who promote those who are candles. This can range from sharing a motivational website that inspires you with others, to showing appreciation to wonderful people who make a difference in your life. Did a teacher or coach push you to be the best you can be? By telling others that story you bring to light how special they are. This holds true for talking good about anyone. Did your spouse do something thoughtful for you? By sharing the joy they gave to you it brings more light and positivity to the world. This is a double-edged sword. Imagine what we do when we complain and share with others the terrible things people do?

I find by both being a candle to inspire others as well as a mirror to reflect the flame of the fabulous people I come across is the way that I can bring the most light into the world. Starting today, do your best to not only be an inspiration to others, but to recognize and help share those that inspire you as well.

DON’T LET THE DEVIL LIE TO YOU

Ah the devil… Satan… whatever you care to call him. Some refer to this as negative side of the universe. Some just call it negativity. The name we attach to this power of evil is not important to what we are going to discuss today. What we are going to discuss is the lies we have all been fed. These come from all kinds of places, the media, coworkers, history, even well-meaning friends and family. Sometimes the voice seems to come from inside our own head.

The messages may seemed varied, but they all serve the same purpose, to lower our vibration. Whether it is politicians doing their best to convince you that a certain group of people are bad because of their skin color, religion, political belief or maybe even just based on where they live. Maybe the message is coming from the media telling you the world is going downhill fast. There is more violence than ever, there is more hate than ever. Convincing you that you have to live and walk in fear. Even our friends and family telling us not to get our hopes up about that dream we are saying or not to venture away from that seemingly safe career we have because we will fail if we try to do it on our own. They mean well, they are wanting us to be safe.

It is my belief these messages all come from the same source and are intended for the same purpose; to create a world full of fear and devoid of love. When we are divided against ourselves, when we are so busy finding reasons to hate each other it is difficult if not impossible to work together to solve the real problems that exist. Two people’s ideas put together may do a great deal to end world hunger or bring a cure to a certain disease, but if they are refusing to talk because they look different or worship or vote in a different way the world will remain darker.

I propose working together and finding the reasons to come together in a spirit of love and community to solve issues. This does not mean ignoring the problems that plague us all, but working together looking towards creating a solution instead of assigning blame. Is there more violence today or is the world better connected and we can hear about each and every incident? Are guns the problem or is it the promotion of lack of respect and sanctity of life promoted in movies, television, music and video games? I don’t pretend to know those answers. What I do know is this, by focusing on how terrible things are without an accent on finding solutions and healing the hearts and minds of people everywhere, we are letting the powers of darkness win.

So next time you hear the ‘devil’ whisper in your ear about how bad the world is, how truly bad people have become and how hopeless both you and your life are, next time you hear him whisper that you cannot withstand the storm. You need to face that demon, whether it is the media, a negative coworker or even a voice in your own head and reply with conviction that you indeed are the storm! You are a storm of love and compassion that will not be defeated. Even though you are hearing how scary and bad the world is, you will do your part to bring love and brighten a stranger’s day. When you hear about anger leading to violence and death, you can use it as a reminder to respond to hurt with empathy and compassion.

No matter what you hear about the world and people around you, the fact is that the power to change that world lies in each and every one of us. Your act of kindness and of love, no matter how small will have a ripple effect that will affect far more than you will ever know. What you may not think about is so will your anger and negative actions, even your apathy. Do not let the devil lie to you. It is you who are the storm, you who have the very power to change the world and we do so through love and compassion.

FRIENDS WITHOUT BORDERS

This here a picture of myself and my good friend Johnny on St. Patrick’s day. I was working as a DJ at a local club that night. The story I am about to tell you serves as an example of several things. First, how small indeed the world is today. Second, how foolish things like racism and prejudice are. Third and finally, the benefits of being nice and sociable.

The back story is as follows. Johnny is a good friend of my lady, Margie. He has been a regular performer at her shows for quite some time. Before I met Johnny, Margie told me, “I think you are really going to like this guy.” She was indeed correct. Before I had the chance to discover that, however, there was some waiting involved. The reason for this waiting was due to the fact that Johnny lives in Mexico and only comes to visit at most a few times a year.

Through the last couple of visits he has read a lot of my writing and has found some things he can relate to. In fact, recently he has shared my book with people in the great state of Texas as well as other places. He has offered some very insightful feedback that has caused my writing to develop in ways it may not have otherwise. We have had some great discussions including sitting down for breakfast recently. These conversations has given birth to some great ideas that have been on this blog site and in my next book.

Speaking of books, recently Johnny has informed me that he is working on a book himself. He shared the plot with me and I must confess it sounds like a great story. I’ll update details as the situation develops. We discussed writing styles, publishing ins and outs as well as other ideas. There is no doubt his book will be a success. It is in a totally different genre than I write, but we certainly had a lot to discuss as the process and struggles of writing are the same regardless of content.

Johnny’s creativity is not limited to being a potential best-selling author. He also has several CDs available on cdbaby.com just search ‘Johnny L’. The style of his music is also something I am a fan of, classic standards from Elvis to Frank Sinatra. If you are a fan of this music or just great talent in general, I highly recommend giving him a listen.

The point of this post is several fold. If I were to make a sweeping judgment about people from the great country of Mexico I might not have the great benefits that my friendship with Johnny provides. If both Margie and I were not outgoing and genuinely friendly to the people at our shows Johnny would not have spent the time to become friends with us either. If it wasn’t for technology communication between all of us would be limited to just those few times a year. Whether you are from Mexico, Jamaica or Fiji shouldn’t matter. It is how you treat people and what you can bring to their lives. Technology is not limited by borders or culture, neither should your friendship be.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM THE 4-MINUTE MILE

Let me start by letting you all in on a few secrets. First, I do not, nor have I ever run a 4-minute mile. After eating all of the delicious meals Margie makes, I would be lucky to run a 40-minute mile. Also this post is not about running, it is about the power of belief.

You may have heard how powerful your beliefs are. You may have even heard they have a large influence in your life. You may have even scoffed at these two ideas. I am here to take this one step further and tell you that your beliefs can not only influence your life, but influence the entire world! Sound a little crazy and far-fetched?  Let us look at the history of the 4-minute mile and I will let you decide for yourself.

Humans have existed on this planet for a very long time in some form for fashion. Depending on your belief the length varies, but at the very least it has been many thousands of years. In that time, prior to the above date in 1954, no human had ever run a 4-minute mile. In fact, until that date, it was believed (there is that word again) that is was physically impossible for a human to run that fast. We were told our heart would explode, lungs could not handle it and that the physical make-up would not allow it. After much pizza and rum that still holds true for me, but I digress.

Enter Roger Bannister, a British athlete set to compete in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki where he finished fourth in the 1500 meters. This strengthened his resolve to break the 4-minute mile which he did at Oxford on May 6th, 1954, running 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. He proved what many had said was impossible.

That is not the coolest part of the story. As we discussed the amount of people who ran that fast prior to that day in May were zero. Roger Bannister’s record, however, fell after only 46 days! Since then over 1000 people have raced at less than a 4-minute mile. How is this possible? Did human genetics suddenly change? Did the world suddenly get faster? How do we go from zero people doing it for thousands of years, to over a thousand in a little over 50? What changed?

The only thing that changed was the belief that it was possible. This was first done by Roger Bannister visualizing himself doing it so much that it became believable to him. After he accomplished it people everywhere now could believe it was possible for them as well. If this is true about an athletic accomplishment that has stood since the evolution of man, isn’t it true about your own life as well?  That business you want to start is not impossible. The weight loss you want to achieve, it is possible. You want to beat that addiction? It is possible! When others, or maybe even the person in the mirror, tell you something is impossible for you to do remember the story of the 4-minute mile.If you see me at the gym, forget all about a 4-minute mile.

MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR PROPERTY

This is not a post about real estate. It is not a post about home ownership. It is a post about some property that you own that you could be making money off of right now and be living in soon if that is your desire. How can I say that when I don’t even know you? Each one of us own this kind of property, some more than others, but we all own some. Some are better developers than others, but we all can grow and develop our property as well.

The property I am talking about today is intellectual property. In other words, what is in your head. You have all heard me advocate that everyone should write a book. In case you haven’t, well, there it is. I think we all have a story inside of us. Before you start comparing yourself to Herman Melville or Ernest Hemingway, that is not necessarily the kind of writing I am talking about. Plus, to be honest, I am not a fan of either of those gents. What I mean is your own personal story. Do you have a subject you are interested in? There is somebody out there eager to hear about anything. That should be apparent from the number of views that flying cat toaster video got on YouTube. Whether your interest is computers or aardvarks someone wants to hear about it.

One of my favorite authors, Bill Bryson, wrote about a walk he took in the woods and it ended up becoming a best seller. I highly recommend the audio book for long trips. You will not be disappointed. Maybe you have an adventure? People write about their high school and college days and go on to sell many copies. Do you have a lot of experience working in a certain industry? Think of all the people in that industry who could relate and would love to hear your tale.

In an age where your job could be replaced by a computer at any moment, having a book to sell can offer another source of income. Once a book is written, the only job is to market it. You do not have to rewrite the book each and every time you sell one. Being able to call yourself a ‘published author’ can add something extra to that resume should you be looking. With Amazon and lots of other self-publishing platforms, getting your story out there can be easier today then it ever was.

Writing a book is not just about money, or having a back up source of income. Sharing our stories allows us to help people who just may need what we have inside of us. Your story about the years you worked at Starbucks may just be what the stressed out barista needs to read. It may also bring to light some of the struggles employees at coffee shops go through so that customers may better understand and empathize. Reading books on subjects we know little to nothing about will help us expand our horizons. I know very little about farming, but reading a book could give me a glimpse into what is all involved in the industry. This is of some interest to me because a goodly amount of my family were farmers.

Here are two more quick reasons to write a book. Writing a book also leaves a legacy. Want to become immortal? Write a book. Your story will be kept alive long after you are gone. Writing a book also allows you to explore and live in your passion. This is great if you have an especially stressful day job. Coming home to spend an hour engaged in recording thoughts on your favorite subject can offer a great release. You will leave knowing and feeling you have a purpose greater than the 9 to 5.

Please consider making good use of your intellectual property. What the world needs more of is for people to tell their story. If you need advice from another author I am always right here to advise and encourage.

SPEAK THROUGH THE 3 GATES

This is a great litmus test to put our words through. How many times a day do we let something escape our lips that we shouldn’t? Having these 3 questions in mind would help prevent that from happening. Remember you cannot unsay something.

How do we keep these questions front and center? Use this picture as your screensaver, pertain jot them down on an index card you carry with you. Then, put it into practice. Try doing this just for a conversation here and there. Eventually, it well become a way of not only speaking, but thinking as well.

So you don’t feel too down on yourself when you first try this, allow me to share my experience. I tried this at work and all I can say is “wow!” I never realized how many useless negative things I say there! Even someone who writes positivity for a living! Although a bit taken aback, I was excited. There is so much room for me to improve my conversation skills.

Try this yourself. I’m about to meet a friend for coffee and am going to try again. I think you will notice different people bring out different conversations. I would love to hear your experience as well!

LOTION, A DISCO BALL AND BUTTER BRICKLE ICE CREAM

This is an odd group of items. Do you know what they all have in common? Let me tell you. They are all items my lady had expressed excitement for or about lately.

On the way home from the gym I saw her favorite flavor, butter brickle, was at this little custard stand. Right now we are not eating ice cream, but I knew it would not be back there for at least another month.

The light on our porch was from Halloween. Kind of cool, looks like a flame. That is if you are standing under it looking up. Otherwise, it doesn’t look like Much of anything. Margie mused the other night that it would be cool to put a disco bulb in there. Then our porch could look like a disco and you could see it down the block.

As a gift at Christmas, Margie gave me a lotion called ‘happiness’ which to be honest is what it smells like. She did this because I have seasonal affective disorder. To me winter feels like an 8 month season of depression. She found out, that she likes the scent just as much, if not more, than me.

So today I left work a few minutes early. I drove a different way home and stopped by the mall. I managed to find the store that carried the happiness lotion, they also had a gift box with a bath ball and sanitizer in the same scent! I bought it for her.

Further down the mall I found a store that sells disco bulbs. They were out. The lady informed me all they had left was the display. “That’s fine I’ll take it.” I said, not waiting for her to offer. She wrapped it in lots of paper because they had no box.

Then I drove to the custard stand. Knowing my love wasn’t eating ice cream for a bit, I asked them to pack me a pint to be eaten later. They did.

I took these items and drove – no I floated home! Why? Because I just knew the look of joy I would see on that beautiful face when I got home. I knew this because I did what I tell all couples to do – I listened.

I’ve had people, men and women, ask me, “do I have to?” No, you get to! The reason I put forth the effort is because I have a woman who takes pride in her appearance, and to me is the most beautiful woman in any room she finds herself in. She is an amazing cook and gives a meal you look forward to every evening. Most importantly, like when she bought me the lotion, she loves and she cares.

Was today a special day that she deserved to be showered with gifts? Damn right it was! She makes every day of my life special and she deserves to know that and she deserves to feel as special as she truly is.

Do you know who else does? Your wife… or maybe your husband, or a brother or friend. Maybe a teacher or pastor who inspired you? Only you know who it is. Listen to them. Learn what makes their heart sing and then help them find that song.

I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been good at this. There are so many people that have blessed my life in so many ways I haven’t always let them know. There is a few that it is too late for, but many more that it is not.

Most importantly, there is one who blesses my life each and every day. She doesn’t do it because I love it. She doesn’t do it because she thinks she is supposed to. She does it because that is who she is. That is what makes her so special and what makes her so special to me. She not only needs to know that, she deserves to.

I love you baby.