REDUCE STRESS, INCREASE JOY AND BECOME THE BEST VERSION OF YOU
A bartender and Postal worker by trade I was witness to the overwhelming negativity that is so common in todays society. A firm believer in the motto "Better to light a candle than curse the darkness" I created this site to bring some of the positivity back into the world and share with otheres.
Everyone who knows even just a little about me knows that my distain for cold weather is equal to my love for sunny warm water. This fact can make living in the location that I do a bit of a challenge.
In a state that has 9 months of winter and 3 months of questionable sledding, you can find me inside a great deal between October through May. The tricky part is that I really love being out in nature. To that end, my mother seems to not let the fact that the weather is too bad for even animals to venture out or that the temperatures mean most of nature is either frozen or covered in snow stop her from venturing outside.
On this particular day, there was an alternative reason for me to venture out into the frozen wasteland that is Wisconsin in the winter – a monolith. As you may have heard in the news recently, these curious objects have been popping up in the desert of Utah, Europe and other locations. One recently showed up in one of the locations that we like to hike.
We began in search of this local monolith on snow covered paths. As the wind whipped its fury and the below freezing temperatures did their best to creep inside our jackets we continued on, one step at a time. What I found shocking was the amount of other souls in quest of the same discovery. It was a sort of communal feeling of adventure. “Are you looking for the monolith?” Replaced ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’. Each person offering their ideas as to where it might be.
Each person shared pictures they had saved off local websites. Carefully removing gloves and exposing hands to the elements to compare the picture with the local landscape before quickly replacing the gloves and shoving their phone into their jacket. We saw a gentleman with what appeared to be professional photography equipment, a family pulling each other in sleds and a gentleman with a beard that was almost to his belly button. All looking for the monolith, none of whom found it.
Although we discovered many different surprises that frozen morning, we never did glimpse the monolith. Were our spirits a tad cold after walking away from our mission without success? Not really. Discovering how motivating a sense of adventure can be, realizing you can still hike several miles despite not being able to feel your feet and meeting other local explorers made the whole experience worthwhile.
This winter I encourage you to find an adventure to take with your friends. Get outside and stay active. It will help your body, it will help your mind and it will certainly serve your spirit!
Are you changing the world? Most of us would give an answer to the negative if asked that question. “I am just paying bills and living.” is what I have been told. Here is the shocking truth – we are all changing the world. To me it is funny that people think of grand gestures and accomplishments when they think of changing the world. While it is true those have a great impact on society and certainly do change the world, it is not the most common way the world is changed. I am going to give you two examples of how people changed the world for many without even knowing.
Recently, one of my coworkers, Jeff, called it quits after 35 years with the Postal Service. You can see Jeff in the picture above. As you can probably guess by looking at him, he was a very congenial fellow. Almost always in good humor. Jeff made coming to work a much greater pleasure. As his last few days were drawing to a close, he began to realize something he had not noticed. Jeff had spent 23 of his 35 years with the postal service delivering mail on the same route. As he delivered, he undoubtedly shared the same good humor and pleasant demeanor that he shared with his coworkers with his customers as well. As Jeff told some of his customers that he was retiring, they formed a Facebook group dedicated to making sure he had a fitting send off. On his final day at work, several dignitaries from the postal service took time out of their busy schedules to let Jeff know how much he was appreciated. Before he left to deliver one last time, I had a brief conversation with him. He told me he never realized what an impact he had on his customers lives. “Some ladies were pregnant when I first started delivering and now their children are in college.” he informed me. He was humbled at the outpouring of appreciation from coworkers and customers. “You never know how much you impact people’s lives.” he said. Jeff certainly had a positive impact on every life he touched and his presence will be missed both on his mail route and at the office where he was such a pleasure to work with.
I certainly understood Jeff’s situation. My own journey is quite similar. For the first 13 years of my career working with the Post Office, I worked in an office in the small village of Greendale. While assisting customers at the front counter, I did my best to make it the best few minutes of their day. The way I figure it, they are stuck there shipping something and I was stuck there working, we should have the most fun we can. I have a genuine interest and love for people and valued the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful folks while working there. I never thought much of it until one day on vacation.
It a sunny tropical vacation I took with my mother, her husband and my sister. I was relaxing by the pool with some rum. What did I hear? “Look it is the guy from the Post Office!” Even in a different country I ran into someone who wanted to thank me for being nice to them at the post office. I began to realize how much people appreciate being valued and treated with respect. The crazy thing is that this continues to this day. Just last Sunday as Margie and I were packing up our equipment after a night of DJing, a man came up and asked if he could ask me a question. Although tempted to alert him to the fact he just did, I assured him I would be happy to answer it if I could. “My wife told me you were the friendly guy from the Post Office in Greendale. Is that true?” I have not worked in that office for 10 years, but here it was, someone remembering me and the service I gave them.
With that appreciation comes a great responsibility. Knowing what an impact you can have with a simple interaction causes me to treat people with great care no matter where I am. When I DJ, I always encourage people. I tell Margie that I have 3 goals when we work together. I want to either make someone feel good about themselves, make them laugh or, if it is a couple, encourage a feeling of love between them. No matter where I am, whether it is the grocery store, a coffee shop or just walking down the street, I do my best to leave every soul with a little more cheer. In that way I know I am changing the world. I have seen Jeff do it, and I know that you can do it too. When you treat people with kindness and respect you change their world and positively affect the world in general. I encourage you to think of that next time you send a text message, pick up the phone or leave the house. In those moments, and countless others, you are changing the world.
Very few things can get me to drive in the snowstorm that we experienced Tuesday evening. Two things that can, however, are great friends and pizza. Those two things came together in a new and unique culinary adventure I would like to share with you.
This pandemic has forced businesses, and their owners, to take new and creative steps. A great example was brought to my attention by the owner of Transaction Skate Shop here in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. Lisa, one of the owners of this fun establishment, used this challenging time to expand her creative and business ventures. One passion this young lady and I share is the passion for great pizza. As Covid-19 began to take hold about 6 months ago, Lisa began creating her own pizza at home. When I say creating her own pizza, that is exactly what I mean. She perfected making pizza dough from scratch, then worked on recipes for homemade sauce as well!
Lisa ended up falling in love with the process of making pizza from scratch. After tasting her creations, she wanted to share them with others. Knowing that it would be difficult to create pizza in her West Allis skate shop, she shared her ideas with her friends from Sweet Basil Mke, a Thai street eats restaurant in Franklin Wisconsin. Together they came up with combining Lisa’s passion for made-from-scratch pizza with their amazing Thai and Lao flavors. I live for pizza and love the flavors of Thai cuisine. The thought that they could be combined both frightened and excited me. Would the combining the two take away from how delicious each is on their own? Would putting to two together take the whole flavor experience to new heights? With these questions in mind, I could not refuse Lisa’s offer to try one for myself.
As I bravely drove through the threatening weather, my mouth began to water. I arrived at Sweet Basil Mke, where the pop up pizza kitchen was. Normally, this family-owned and operated establishment features Thai and Laotian street eats reminiscent of the markets in Thailand and Laos. They use only high-quality ingredients from reputable sources and make your dishes fresh, as soon as you order. I am looking forward to returning to try more of these dishes as well.
This evening I was going to be spending the night at my mother’s house and thought what a great place to share these new creations. The first pizza we opened up was the crab rangoon pizza. Served with a side of sweet and sour sauce, it smelled divine. I love crab rangoonsas does my beautiful Margie. This made choosing this offering out of the 5 you can select, a clear winner. I would describe this crust, which I am told is kneaded by hand, no machine here, as more of a flatbread crust. The dough itself seems to have a flavor all its own that is there in every bite. This may be due to the slow 24 hour fermenting period the dough is put through. Great flavor takes time. Now it is time to discuss the toppings Chef Bee Praseutsack put together. The presentation was an added bonus. The white of the cheese and crab were complimented nicely with some green onions and what I would guess was wonton strips. My concern was spreading the topping over the crust would take away from the intense flavor you get when biting into a crab rangoon. This fear was completely unfounded. The crust, although thin, held up remarkably well. There was no worry about the topping sliding off. Somehow, despite being flat on a crispy crust, once you wrap your taste buds around this delicacy, you would swear you were enjoying that wonderful Asian appetizer! Adding the sweet and sour sauce almost brought confusion to my brain. “This is a pizza and yet it is a rangoon.” I kept muttering after each bite. Lucky for me, all around the table knew of my questionable sanity and not much was made of my mumblings as I chewed.
Next up was the Steak Garpow pizza. Let it be known that on a Thai menu I am often drawn to garpow options. The first thing that jumped out at me, as I am sure it did to you, was the fact there was an egg in the middle of the pizza. I am not sure what transpires in the mind of Chef Bee, all I know is I seem to really enjoy it. This pizza featured all of the toppings of a garpow dish including basil, which I thought brought an exceptional brightness to the dish. The steak was packed with flavor and very tender. The dough on this pizza was different than the first. Still thin and crispy, it was a little thicker on the edge. I found it a perfect match for this pizza as it allowed you to have somewhere to hold on to as the aroma prompted you to quickly insert it in your mouth for tasting. We were not disappointed in the least! As one person described it, “It is like they took a terrific steak garpow and placed it on a light and crispy delicious plate!” truer words have never been spoken.
As we all look forward to closing this year out and ringing in the new year, you owe it to yourself to take your taste buds on a year-end adventure. When a West Allis skate shop owner combines her made from scratch dough and sauces with the talents and fresh ingredients of a Chef who specializes in Thai and Laotian street eats, you know the result will be amazing. Below is a link to see the other 3 options and to place your order. They are only available until this Saturday, so order yours today. After that, I encourage you to stop into Transaction Skate Shop to find ways to work off your calories, or stop in at Sweet Basil Mke to explore their wonderful menu.
Last post I wrote about a local amazing store called oniomania that I had recently visited. While writing about that specific store and all the wonderful gifts they have, I got a great idea. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of experience!
How do you give the gift of experience? Think of places you have just fallen in love with. In our city of West Allis, there are many local businesses that fit that description. With all of the hard times businesses are facing, why not give the gift of an experience at a local business?
There are so many ways to celebrate with friends while supporting local businesses. Margie and I love stopping at Westallion, the local brewery, to enjoy some very festive and unique brews. We often visit there with friends and family. West Allis Cheese and Sausage is a great place to not only take friends for breakfast or lunch, but has a great little store filled with delicious gifts to feed the stomach and the soul. For our more active friends we have Transaction Skate Shop, filled with everything you could need for skating.
If you can’t support a local business in person during the busy holiday season, why not purchase gift cards to give to others? You will be both giving the gift of a great experience to someone you care about, but giving the gift of a great holiday to local business owners and your neighbors they employ. The possibilities are endless! We have great places to eat such as Urban Joe Cafe and Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, plus places to work it off like Peak Physique. Giving the gift of a great meal or cup of coffee? How about the gift of health and fitness? All well helping the business owners, their employees and all of their families enjoy the holidays more? It is a win for everyone!
It is holiday season crunch time. You know many of your favorite stores will be a madhouse of last-minute shoppers. Even if you are strong enough and brave enough to boldly enter lands filled with untamed consumers, chances of finding exactly what you want, in the color and size you want, are slim to none. There is always online! We are fast approaching, if not past, the time when we see the dreaded ‘May not arrive by Christmas’ line. Plus, how do you look online for those impossible to buy for people in our lives? We all have at least one. You can’t very well look up a gift you can’t even think of.
Today Margie and I discovered a magical solution that solves all of those problems and more! Only a few blocks from our house in the fabulous city of West Allis Wisconsin where we live we found the hidden treasure called Oniomania. A strange name, but translated as an uncontrollable urge to buy things. It is a small store. You can walk around it in five minutes. You will, however, be able to spend hours inside. Somehow fit into this small area of space are hundreds of the most unique and compelling gift ideas you could come across. Many are from local crafters and artists. They are one-of-a-kind gifts you will not find anywhere else. You will not only enjoy finding gifts for that impossible to buy for person on your list, you will undoubtedly go home with something fun for yourself. In doing so you will not only help support local business owner Andrea, but many of the independent business owners she supports by providing a platform to sell their amazing, made from the heart creations.
Speaking of owner Andrea, you would be hard pressed to find a more customer oriented person. From the moment we walked in the store she was filled with pleasantries and helpful knowledge. She had knowledge of, and helpful suggestions for every one of the hundreds of items in her store. We purchased items for people we didn’t even know we were shopping for. Two of the people who really lucked out were Margie and Neil. (I told you that you can’t help but take home something for yourself) For years Margie has been wanting one of these lamps composed of different pieces of colored plastic put together in some sort of mind-boggling puzzle formation. Not only did Andrea offer us a host of colors to choose from, she somehow managed to put them together and take them apart with amazing speed so we could see what it would look like before we took one home. Margie also purchased a wonderful pair of tropical themed socks to help me make it through the long, cold winter.
As a further testament to her generosity and commitment to community, Andrea has also been kind enough to offer my book, A Happy Life for Busy People, for sale at her store. Inside this fun to read book you will learn a host of different methods for reducing your stress, increasing your joy and becoming the best version of yourself. All of this can be accomplished at little to no cost to you in only 2 to 5 minutes a day. Couple that with the relaxing scented soap I purchased or one of the many relaxing locally crafted candles, and you have yourself a great start to the new year. Imagine being able to give this gift of happiness to someone you care about? What a better way to show you care than giving the gift of joy and happiness to those special people in your life? You will feel good doing it too knowing you helped support many local, hard-working people that make the city the special place it is.
Whether you live in West Allis Wisconsin or somewhere else, I am going to include the link to their Facebook page so you can discover and enjoy Oniomania for yourself. Whether you purchase from this particular store or another local establishment, you will find yourself filled with a lot more holiday spirit. You will be less stressed because you will be able to find that unique and special gift available nowhere else and you will have a warm heart knowing that you made the holidays a lot brighter for those neighbors in your own community. Shop local. You will find great gifts for those you care about, you will support your community and you will give yourself the inner joy knowing you will brighten the holidays for many people by picking up just one gift.
There is so much great information out there I wish I had three lifetimes to consume it all! There is information on developing wealth, discovering and pursuing your passion, how to increase the quality and quantity of your network as well as anything else you would like to pursue.
Want to be more charming? You can learn that. Want to discover how to get healthy and lose those last couple of pounds? Yep, that’s out there. Want to know how much we have learned from the ancient Egyptians? It’s out there. Want to discover why your aunt has no manners while out in public? Well…I am sure you can discover something about behavior in public.
In the not-so-distant past, like when I was a child, you had to go to the library and look up a book on the subject you wished to learn. At the very least you would have to hunt through an encyclopedia. For you younger people that is a collection of printed books that were like Wikipedia. These methods would take you hours,if not days.
Fear not! Today,as most of us know, information is a mere click away. We don’t even have to read if we don’t want to. There are services like YouTube where we can watch videos that teach us everything we need to know. Videos on avoiding bear attacks, how to build your own log cabin,or even how to politely approach your family member about those manners.
Yet, with all of this information out there, most of which can be accessed from a device in our front pocket, how come we use it mostly for discovering who sang that song we can only remember one line from? I get that, nothing can be more frustrating than singing the same one line over and over again.
With all of the information out there and knowledge to be had, I challenge you to pick something grand you would enjoy learning. Embark on a fun quest to fill your cerebral library a little more. Don’t worry, there will be no grades or even tests to take. You can learn through articles, books, audio books on the way to work or even videos in the comfort of your own home.
By increasing our knowledge base we set ourselves up to not only be a far more entertaining guest at holiday parties, but increase our chances at earning a fortune as well!
We have talked many times about how you receive what you give away. This is especially true when it comes to positivity. If you treat everyone in a positive manner, if you pay them genuine compliments, show them compassion, and give them the gift of your time, they will definitely be more likely to treat you in a similar fashion.
This doesn’t sound overly complicated, does it? Then I encourage you, I beseech you, I implore you to be as kind as you can be to as many people as you can be. The kinder you are, the more people you are kind to, the greater the positive impact will be on your life.
Why wait? The sooner you start, the sooner your life will become more positive. Even if you are happy with the life you have right now, try increasing the joy you bring to others. Try this for the next 7 days. You will create connections and joy with others that will last a lifetime!
I welcome ideas on how to bring joy to others. How do you positivity affect others? How has this impacted your life?
In my seminars and talks that I give many people are forever telling me that they wish their partner was easier to get along with. I ask them what the problem is and a good deal attribute their problems with their partner being too different from them. I am going to let you in on a little secret – that is not the problem. If you and your partner were the same your relationship would fail or fall flat in a short amount of time. It would make choosing what movie to see or going out to dinner a lot easier.
I am here to tell you the secret to compelling and passionate relationship is the differences. Yes, it is certainly imperative to have specific things in common for your relationship to succeed. Having the same values is very important. They may be to a greater or lesser degree, but knowing and understanding what your partner values is a very important aspect to a successful relationship. Sharing the same relationship goals and knowing what the future holds is also important. To, of course, a mutual respect for the other individual. The similarities are like a strong foundation. They allow you to build on this relationship.
Take the relationship I have with my beautiful Margie. People look at us from the outside and think we also get along and share all of the same interests. We have even been tagged in posts with the #relationshipgoals. Humbly, I would say they are right. We do have an amazing relationship and it gets better every day. The reason that is true is not because we get along all of the time or are really alike. Neither of those are true. It is the differences that give our relationship its spice. Just like in food, there are times when we have a little too much spice, or differences, and we end up getting burned. Just like a recipe you refine, we learn from that and move along.
Allow me to share with you some of our differences and how we actually benefit and grow from them. Let us take music for an example. We do like some of the same bands. We discovered our love for the artist Michael Franti together, and have been to see Jackyl a few times. As a general rule, Margie is more pop and r and b, while I am 80’s hard rock and country. On any given day she will be listening to Pink and Chris Brown and I will be listening to Ratt and Chris Janson. How does this benefit us? When we DJ together we are able to help a wide range of people pick songs or put a name to a particular song they are trying to think of. We also can introduce each other to new artists and songs the other may not have heard.
Then there is the speed in which we get ready. I can be ready at the drop of a hat. 30 minutes later Margie is still trying on different hats. This gives me time to do things like enjoy a cup of coffee, look up directions for where we may be going or simply warm up the car. Margie can also be sillier than I am. She feels more comfortable doing goofy things in public than I do. In this difference, she teaches me to be a little more relaxed in public and I keep her from fines and jail time.
Some differences are what make our relationship as wonderful as it is. We both like to learn but do so in very different ways. I love to read. If Margie reads, she is asleep in half a paragraph. Our solution? At night I read to her as we lay in bed together. Not only does this allow both of us to learn, which makes us happy, it is a wonderfully romantic solution to a challenging problem. She loves shopping and I love walking in nature. How do we solve this? In addition to occasionally joining each other for these trips, we use the time wisely. She spends time with her daughter who also likes to shop, and I walk in nature with my mother. Time apart makes our hearts grow fonder and we both have time with others that we love.
The problem in relationships is not the differences, but what you do with them. Differences give you contrast and variety. It is that excitement at spark. Differences in what you enjoy intimately can lead to many new and fun discoveries. Differences allow you to show love. If you do your best to enjoy something your partner really loves and you do not, how can they not love and appreciate that? You can use those differences to learn more about you, your partner and the love you share. Next time you are tempted to blame a difference for a problem in your relationship, ask yourself, “How can I use this difference to make my relationship even better?” The answers you discover may very well surprise you.
Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.
Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.
It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities ofcreating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.
Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.
Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.
Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.
Most times in our household when the question comes up, “What do you want to do for dinner?” my quick answer is “Pizza!” To me, a bad pizza is still a better dinner than one without a pizza. My first choice, of course, would be to enjoy some of my lovely lady’s culinary creations, but if the question is asked, chances are we are going to go out. In most households, pizza, burgers or something similar is usually a quick answer.
This past Monday evening, after having put a new battery in my car, I was keen to try something different. In most towns there are plenty of wonderful independent restaurants that deserve your patronage. Especially during these tough times with the pandemic, I encourage everyone to support such places as you are able and feel comfortable doing. In our small town of West Allis, Margie and I love to frequent locally owned establishments. We stop for coffee and breakfast at Urban Joe’s Cafe and visit our wonderful friend Curtis. If we feel like a beer we head to Westallion Brewery, where our friend Kim can be found serving some of their wonderfully created in house beers.
This night we wanted to not only support a local business, but try something fun and unique. We decided to visit a local Peruvian restaurant called Chef Paz. We see on social media that the establishment as well as the owner is very involved in the community and we like to see that. When you walk in Chef Paz you will notice the cozy and quaint feel of the place. The decorations are fun and you do not have to wait to be greeted. On this night it happened to be quite cold and the gentleman working even turned on a small heater by our table to make it more comfortable for us. This made us feel valued. There was even a fun little sign on the table letting you know it had been cleaned. We felt it necessary to use it as a photo prop.
As food from the wonderful nation of Peru is not something we normally enjoy, we found the options and flavors wonderful. This isn’t one of my food reviews so I will not get into great detail about the dishes we chose, other than to say they were delicious. What I will tell you is that it was fun to take our taste buds on a little journey. It may be difficult to travel these days, but you can explore some of the culture of different places through their food. Trying new dishes and local places is a great way to add a little variety into your life. Here in West Allis, winter is setting in and it is the perfect time to find and explore new joys with the ones you care about.
Another great thing about giving your business to locally owned establishments is the pride and care they show when dealing with their customers. You could really tell Raul, the gentleman who helped us this evening, was dedicated to that goal. He explained the flavor of lots of the dishes and even made a few recommendations. To him, we were just not another table. To locally owned businesses you are guests and supporters. The service we received at Chef Paz was friendly and welcoming.
We ended our evening enjoying some delicious rice pudding for dessert. There are certainly more dishes we would love to try and will return again another evening. Leaving Chef Paz that evening, we felt good about supporting a wonderful local business. We also felt like, if for just a moment, we escaped the cold confines of West Allis and found ourselves in the city limits of Lima, Peru. I encourage you to explore local shops and restaurants in your community. They will appreciate your business during these trying times, and you will enjoy being treated like a valued customer.