GOING INTO THE WEEKEND, LET’S TELL AT LEAST ONE PERSON HOW MUCH THEY HAVE POSITIVELY AFFECTED OUR LIFE. I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR WHO YOU CHOOSE AND HOW THEY HAVE POSITIVELY AFFECTED YOU.
There is a thing that Les Brown, one of my favorite speakers, says. When referring to his health journey and his battle with the temptation of sweet potato pie he says this, “I have lost 22 pounds, hundreds of times.” I think a lot of us can relate to that statement. What it means is that he lost the weight and then gained it back. Then he had to refocus and get back at it. Life is like that in many ways. Take getting in shape for example. Another speaker and author I admire a great deal is David Goggins. In his quest to go from 297 pounds to 185 and become a Navy seal he had a lot of training to do. On the first day he decided to run four miles. Being someone who weighs almost 300 pounds and didn’t do much cardio, you can imagine how this went. He ran a quarter of a mile, stopped turned around and walked back home. When he got there he sat on the couch and cried. It is ok to feel sorry for ourselves…for a little while. The next day he tried again with similar results. At this point many people would give up. That would be understandable. He did something different. He changed the plan and not the goal. He said to himself, “Ok, I cannot run. What can I do?” He began to ride a bike. Then he added swimming. Soon he lost some wait and was able to run a mile, then three, then six. Now he is one of the best ultra marathon runners there is.
Whether it is someone like Les Brown, David Goggins or Thomas Edison who went through countless experiments to invent the lightbulb, they all have one thing in common. What is that trait that allowed all of these men to end up a success when life would have had them believe they were destined to fail? The didn’t give up. The stayed focused on the goal. Failure is only permanent if we give up. If we don’t, failure serves as a teacher. It can tell us the way we are going about something isn’t working. That doesn’t mean the goal can’t be reached. All that it means is we have to adjust our plan. Often, even mistakes can be valuable. There is the rather well known story about how post-it notes were developed. The inventor was working on creating an adhesive that would last forever. He obviously failed in that endeavor, but look what it created!
Next time it feels as if you are failing at something in life, remember it might just be the plan that needs changing and not the goal. Look for the lessons in the failure and start again only more well-informed.
We can get so busy in our everyday lives that we miss a lot of the amazing beauty that surrounds us. The above picture is one I took while I was waiting at a red light returning from work on my off day. I was lost in my thoughts of everything that I wanted to get done when I got home along with a host of other thoughts. There are some moments I am even surprised I noticed the light is red. I do not know what prompted me to look over to my left, but I saw this face staring at me. There is something about a look that a dog can give you that can cause you to question your own behavior. This is just another reason there are days when I like animals better than a lot of people. I respected this dog’s ability to take in the world around him. Sadly, there are times when I drive to work and when I arrive I wonder who drove. This is made even scarier by the fact that I am the only one in the car.
Here is another example. This photo was taken of a goose waiting to enter the post office where I work. Just the silly nature of the moment was something that very well could have passed me by. In fact, I am sure there are a million of these moments that do pass me by that I fail to notice. We live in a world filled with distraction. If you are stuck in line at the grocery store behind the lady that has not one, but two carts filled to the top (this actually happened this past weekend) instead of taking in the moment, we pull out our phones. When we are driving we have music or an audiobook playing and seldom notice the people, or dogs, around us. In the case of this photo, I was busy doing a little landscaping and may have not even noticed this goose. I just happened to look up at the right time.
One last example. My drive to work now happens somewhere between 5 and 6 am. There is not a lot of traffic and I usually have time to think. I am working on making my thoughts far more positive and productive. Still, there are days when they are filled with thoughts of not wanting to go to work. Most days it also includes how little sleep I received the night before. This is where I was on this particular morning. Lost in thoughts that were not serving me. Suddenly, I stop at a red light on a bridge overlooking a freeway and glance this sunrise. Instead of focusing on all of the things that were not exactly as I wished them to be, I realized how much better my day would start if I focused on all of the things I had to be grateful for. I had a job to go to. There is usually very little stressful traffic at this hour. There was a beautiful sunrise to be seen. I had vision to take in this sunrise. I was driving a car I owned to take me to work. I had a home to return to. The list could have been endless, yet I had already wasted 3/4 of the journey focusing on what I was lacking.
We all know better. We know the quality of our feelings and consequently our life, would be better if only we were to focus on that which we have to be grateful for. We would enjoy and savor life if we were better able to be present and see the beauty and humor like in the first two photos above. If we were to focus on what IS working in our lives and not what is lacking we would feel so much more fulfilled and blessed. If we were to be more present and make an effort to look for the beauty and humor in life, we would enjoy our life so much more. Why don’t we? We are too busy distracting ourselves. We need to take some time to sit with ourselves in silence. We need to block out some time and write down a list of things we are grateful for in our life. We need to read and add to that list daily. We need to say to ourselves, “I am going to look for what is beautiful today.” The distractions we fall victim too not only take us away from doing this, but they often fill our time with negativity. News you receive on your phone, posts you can see on social media and many other distractions can be a terrible disservice to our attempts at living a positive and rewarding life. There is a place and time for these items (although I debate how necessary the news is) let us not let them distract us from living our lives.
I ended last week with a post about the local coffee shop and how they helped my spirit through these challenging times. I would be remiss if I did not mention my personal angel, my own little miracle, my beautiful Margie. There have been so many little things she has done throughout my healing journey I am forever grateful for. It actually started even before my surgery when she gifted me a journal and helped me on my journey to create a book about this entire journey. It will be out by July I promise you. This will not only be a benefit to you, the reader, but it helped me capture my emotions and to deal with them in a far healthier way that had I not been writing. She also gave me a shirt that said, “Never thought I would be this good looking after open heart surgery, but here I am killing it”. That is my baby, always making me smile.
She also had some very unenviable tasks. Can you imagine what it is like to live with someone who is used to working at an active job and going to the gym 5 days a week and now has to just relax for 3 months? Can you imagine how much that person may try to sneak and do things that they probably should not? How about how much you would have to cheer this person up when they feel like their healing is not moving along fast enough for their impatient liking. Having to watch the person recovering go through many different episodes of pain and telling them to go back to the hospital when the pain became too much? Especially when you consider that was the last place they wanted to go back to?
During my surgery, I was wrapped up in how scary it was to be in that situation and not be able to have any visitors. It could not have been any easier to know the person you love is going through it and not being able to visit them. Margie handled it all with grace like only she can do. When I returned she made sure I had food to feed my stomach, and provided me love to feed my soul. When we both got the coronavirus shortly after I came home from the hospital, she managed to continue this amazing streak of behavior despite coughing and not feeling well herself.
Even today, four months after the surgery, she continues doing things that really help. She has started exploring healthier ways to cook so we can make sure my heart does last as long as it can. She has been working on rearranging the house to make it more relaxing and pleasing for both of us. She continues to make me laugh and show me affection. She has been doing all of this while she goes to school two days and week and spends a good deal of time on the other days creating unbelievable cake creations.
You may not believe a person like this really exists. What would you call someone who can pull all of this off? I call her many things. I call her Margie (Margaret when she lets me get away with it), my love, my little miracle. The greatest thing and the thing I am most grateful to call her is – mine. I am so thankful that I have a woman like this to share my life with.
As most of you know, I have been on the long road of recovery from my open-heart surgery. When I say long, it has only been about 4 months. It can safely be said, these 4 months have been some of the longest of my life. Being physically limited and having to “take it easy” as the doctors keep reminding me, is a very hard prescription for a man who goes to the gym 5 days a week. There are times that the pain and reduced cardiovascular ability can lead to frustration and at its most severe times, depression. Intellectually, I know healing from this takes time and due to some complications, it will take me even longer. Emotionally, however, it can seem as if I will never get better. I put on a smiling face and am truly grateful for coming back after my brief visit to the world of death, but it can still feel very dark and hopeless at times.
In the last few weeks there has been some return to normal. 4 weeks ago I was cleared to go back to the gym, although limited. 2 weeks ago I returned to work. It was good to feel like a productive member of society again. Several of my coworkers told me how good it was to see me again and that made me feel good. Slowly, this all helped return a bit of that feeling of normal I was missing. One of the best things about returning to work is the local Starbucks location by my work. In past blogs you have heard me discuss some of the amazing people there. First, there was Deb, who is not only friendly, but has one of the best attitudes for someone who serves the public that I have seen. I mentioned the man who runs the show, Nick, the manager. He takes a personal interest in you as not only a customer, but a person. There is nothing that will get return business as sure as making someone feel valuable. That is what Nick does.
It is not just Nick that does this, but a fair amount of his crew as well. Sydney has a smile that is at once both infectious and contagious. You are all but guaranteed to walk away smiling after chatting with her. If having a good feeling in your heart is what you are after, Kryssy will do that for you. Much like her amazing manager, she really gets to know you as a person. She shows great care and concern for you as a person. The group is rounded out with many other amazing souls like Andrea, Colleen and Erika. Plus, many others that my tired brain let escape for this second. The best part about all of these people is they are genuine. They are not trying to sell you, they are just being themselves.
They showed why they are one of the best group of people in two fabulous ways recently. In doing so, they not only gave yet another example of how amazing they are, but did a great deal to help my healing journey. The first touching thing was a package that they had put together to welcome me back. This location is so busy and has so many customers that pass through their doors, to be remembered and thought of in such a way gave a lift to my spirit that was just the thing I needed at this time. They had no way of knowing, but everything they put inside this little package fit me perfectly. The gesture meant such a great deal to me. By being great human beings, they gave this crazy author and blog writer a great deal of needed positivity.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I walked in to discover they had made me their ‘customer of the week’. I am certainly not one to seek accolades (Oprah if you want to make my most recent book the ‘book of the month’ I would be happy to make an exception) but being recognized as someone who they find valuable made a real impact. Again, there are a lot of amazing people who pass through their doors and I am sure a great deal of them deserve to be ‘customer of the week’. For them to choose me, really made me feel welcomed and missed.
These 2 acts may seem small and little to the outside observer, but they made a world of difference to me. As my friends at the Oak Creek Starbucks showed, doing small acts of kindness with great amounts of love is what really changes the world. I encourage all of you who may be pondering doing something to show someone how much they are appreciated, to do it. While it may seem like something small to you, it can make a great amount of difference to them.
Just a reminder what a crucial role that water plays in so many functions. This week do your best to have at least 6 glasses of water every day. When you are drinking take a look at this chart and picture all the good you are doing for your body. Take a look online to see more benefits of drinking water. I would love to hear your favorite!
Here are some facts according to Pew research. The percentage of adults who report that they go online “almost constantly” was 21% in 2015. How about today? That amount has risen to 31%. Not to mention that is only the ones who realize and report that. Overall, adults who report they go online at least on a daily basis? That is 85%. For someone who runs a website that provides individuals tools and strategies to improve their lives, this is a good thing. Unfortunately, not all of those 85% are not spending their time online exploring ways in which they can expand their knowledge and improve themselves.
Even more depressing is the lack of compassion and human courtesy that proliferates in the online world. It would often appear that people are willing to say hurtful things to others behind a keyboard that they would never say face to face. This is just a fact of the world as it exists presently. It is my firm belief the best way to counter that is to supply inspiring and motivating material to people whenever and wherever you can. Recently, I saw a person posting that they finally got the job they had been trying to get for a long time. My first reaction was to feel happy for this person. When I looked in the comments, I saw people saying things like “Nobody cares” and “You couldn’t get anything better?” I was baffled. Why would someone even spend time to post things like this? Somebody did care. I believe not only the person who posted it, but their family and friends were probably very happy for them. They should have been. Why couldn’t get something better? Maybe they were starting out on the ground floor. Maybe they were just looking for something to support their family? Gratefully, there were many positive and uplifting comments as well. What do you think would stick in the mind of this young man? What do you think the people posting those negative comments online got for their actions?
My suggestion to all of us, is to dedicate a period of time to look for ways and opportunities to inspire and uplift people online. Look for places to leave positivity. Is there a place to cheer someone up? To congratulate them on a job well done? You could even just post a few inspiring pictures or quotes to bring joy to anyone who may come across them. It will not only make you feel good, but will go a long way into making the online world a better place.
Now back to some of the things we mentioned earlier. While 85% of people spend some of their lives online, and are so affected by it. They are still living most of their lives, we hope, in the real world. Even the 31% of folks who say they go online constantly should at least spend a portion of their time IRL (which is social media for ‘in real life’) Here is something I want to stress to all of you. It is even more important to be a decent person in the real world. Not even just decent, but kind, compassionate and inspiring. There are several reasons why we should do this. May favorite is simple and comes from the ‘Dean of personal development’ himself, Earl Nightingale. Earl said we should treat everyone we come in contact with as if they were the most important person on earth because that is how humans should treat each other. I can’t argue with the man. He also points out that to that person, they are the most important person in their life. This can be said for all of us.
I have another reason to consider. If more and more of us are spending a good portion of our lives online, we can run the risk of encountering those who are less than inspiring, to put it eloquently. If you haven’t run across a person like this online yet, rest assured you will. Some of them may even have you questioning your faith in humanity. That is why it is so important for us to be good stewards of humanity both online, and more importantly in the real world. This cannot be stressed enough. We never know what the person next to us may be going through. Starting today, I implore all of you to look for ways to inspire and uplift as many people as you can both online and, of course, in the real world. I would love to hear any ideas you may have for ways in which we can do this.