THE SECOND COMING

My very first book signing

This picture was taken in July of 2013. I just learned that thanks to my beautiful Margie. (She is the breath-taking lady in the photo) It was the day of my very first book signing. That day I had absolutely no idea of what I was doing. Today, July 15th of 2021, will be the book signing for my second book. This time…well I still have no idea what I am doing. What I do know is that it will be a fun event and the lady that I love will once again be right by my side. I am expecting a lot more readers will show up and I will be blessed to share my books with even more wonderful souls.

I am certainly going to share with you how everything turns out, but there is one thing I wanted to mention. I find it interesting how important moments like this serve not only as an opportunity to celebrate, but to reflect as well. Sometimes we need to look back if only to see how far we have come. This book signing was done outside a local coffee shop in the village I used to work in. It was outside and could have been wiped out by some bad weather. Didn’t think of that I suppose. Book signing 2 will be inside of a local brewery and will be immune to the weather.

When I look back, what impresses me most is not that I figured out an inside book signing might be a good idea since books don’t do well in the rain, but all the other things that have changed. When I think about that day of my first book signing, it seems like a completely different lifetime. Not only has the world changed a great deal since then, but more importantly, so have I. Using a lot of the tools I shared with all of you in my first book A Happy Life for Busy People, I transformed my life and myself into something I can be a lot more proud of. I hope to be able to say the same thing in my blog post for my third book signing. My second book, Living the Dream, has so much more information including everything I have learned in the 8 years since my first book.

Although I am finding it great to reflect on all that I have learned and how much I have grown, it also serves as a great motivation to realize there is so much more that I know I don’t know. Read that again slowly, I promise it will make sense. When we reflect on the accomplishments we made and the personal growth we have achieved up to this point in our lives, we should be proud. After taking a moment to celebrate all of our hard work, let us realize if we want to be able to have that same feeling in the future we need to work at least as hard in the present as we did in the past, often harder. Let us use the great feelings we have, and deserve to have, to drive us to continue our journey of growth and personal development.

If you happen to be in the neighborhood this evening, Thursday July 15th from 6 to 8 pm, I invite you to join us at the Westallion Brewery for the release of a great book and the exchange of some great ideas. If not, you can still purchase your copy of either of my books from the link below. Stop back to this blog to hear all about how this book launch went.

Both titles available on Amazon



CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR COPY OF BOTH OF MY LIFE-CHANGING BOOKS

A SECRET TO AN AMAZING LIFE

Today is Wednesday, the middle of the week, so we are going to keep it light. Just because we are going to keep it light does not mean we still cannot share some valuable information. Today we are going to look at one of the main secrets that I use to help keep my life amazing. This is not only something I have read about, there is a great deal of science to back it up, but something I have used, and still use, in my own life. This secret not only provides an amazing life, but it helps you live a long life too. It is why George Burns and Bob Hope lived to be 100. It is why Mel Brooks is not only still alive, but still working at the age of 95. Hopefully, this same secret will have me sharing my thoughts with you for at least another 50 years.

What is this great secret and what on earth does the picture above have to do with living an amazing life? The great secret we are going to talk about was best described by Steve Rizzo, author, stand up comedian and motivational speaker. He calls it “Getting in touch with your Humor being” I will include the link to one of his entertaining videos at the end of this blog. In short, he encourages us to find the humor in our lives. So many situations provide humor that we often take them for granted. Sometimes they require us to stop and think of things for a moment instead of rushing from one thing to another. Very often, if we approach life looking for the humor we will find it.

Now to explain the picture above. This was taken at one of the shows Margie and I DJ. Took the picture myself…in the men’s room. Let me begin by explaining that is not a place you will usually find me pulling out my phone to take a picture. Come to think of it, unless there is some very odd or strange occurrence, you will never find me taking pictures in the men’s room. No ‘bathroom selfie’s’ for this fellow. Here is why I took this picture, and more importantly, why I am sharing it with you. First of all, the obvious. It is a sign urging you to practice social distancing. This is not a problem that often occurs in the men’s room. We are all pretty good about maintaining distance. That was the first thing I found funny about the choice to place the sign there. Then I realized yet another humorous side. Not only is this social distancing sign in a men’s room, but it is taped to a condom machine. It would almost seem as if they are urging you to observe a practice that would make the need for this machine totally unnecessary.

Perhaps you don’t find this situation as funny as I did. Maybe you find it more. The point is that in the middle of this evening, it was a part of reality that I could find the humor in and that added a little bit of joy, no matter how off-color it may seem, to my life. Do this often enough and you will begin to see the humor, often the absurdity of life. This will certainly help when the bad times come. I would love to hear some of your humorous events from your own life. The more we share with each other, the more we can help our humor beings to shine through.

Link to Steve Rizzo Ted Talk

WHEN IT COMES TO PEOPLE, DIG DEEPER

I find this picture to be very true

In today’s instant gratification culture, fewer and fewer people take the time to read a book. As an author, this is not only deeply economically troubling, but emotionally as well. “I will wait until the movie comes out.” is a phrase that is heard more and more often. I can certainly appreciate that there are times when we want to experience a bout of entertainment from beginning to end and do not have the time for an entire book. Reading, however, allows us to exercise our minds in ways that watching a film never could. It is the difference between an active involvement and a passive involvement. Using our imagination to picture the story as we read the pages creates a depth (see picture above) that we simply don’t get from watching a movie. I am sure this can take things to a whole different level. I’m thinking Fifty Shades of Grey could have provided some interesting exercises in imagination.

As the old cliché goes, art often imitates life, or is it the other way around? Never was too sure about that one. The point is when it comes to life, especially in this social media driven world, this holds true. We often see people’s profiles online and think we really know everything there is to know about them. In reality, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. It is like watching a highlight reel of an athlete. You would think they never make mistakes. As human beings, we always have the urge to hide our faults, or more to the point, accent our strengths. We also have a tendency to judge based on the thought that we have all of the information. We never know what is happening behind the scene.

This week, I encourage you to take a deeper look and get to know those around you on a deeper level. Also, if you are brave enough, share a little more about yourself. Not just your highlight reel. Be vulnerable. Show the world the pain you struggle with everyday. Help the world get to know you. Just like reading a book will open up a whole other world that watching a movie never will, getting to know people on a deeper level will do the same for your relationships.

NOW IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE

My favorite quote

Above is my favorite quote. It is a guiding principle that I use when I am sharing in the field of self-improvement. When I first set out on this journey, I had little to no idea what I was doing. After over 2 decades of learning and sharing I realized this quote is still one of the most powerful. At seminars I hold, book signings, or even just in personal interaction, people often inquire as to what they can do to change the world. They come with many different motives. Some people have a great deal of hope and ambition. Others, come from a place of frustration. They see the division and hate on television and in the media and really want to do something to make a difference.

My advice to all of these people is the same – focus on changing your corner of the world. This can confuse some and further frustrate many. After all, they want to make a BIG change. I understand that thinking. Daily, I write these blogs and books to help facilitate change throughout the world. The best way to do this is to focus on what we really can change. Like the quote above, be the change you are wanting to see. You wish for a world filled with more love and less hate? Then be a more loving individual. You would be surprised at the effect that can have on others and how quickly it spreads. You wish more people would volunteer to help worthwhile causes? dedicate some of your spare time to doing the same. This may seem like you are making an insignificant difference, but stop and consider this bit of thinking. What if everyone in your city did the same thing? Focused only on doing what they can in their own lives. I live in a town of roughly 60,000 people. Imagine that many people working toward a positive change? Even half of those people, just trying to bring joy and love to those in their circle.

this is not actually Heather

Proof that you attract the people you need in your life, I would like to share an adventure that happened to Margie and I just the other day. We decided to go out for lunch at a local spot we both enjoy. We asked to be seated in a section that had a fun server. We were greeted by Heather, a very pleasant young lady that confessed to being a bit new. As she took our order the conversation turned to the weather outside. It was a particularly cool July afternoon. Weather a lot of folks would enjoy being out in. There was Mention of the vast number of positions and places that were hiring and how we wished there could be a way to connect them to all of the people standing on the corners with signs looking for work. After a contemplative pause, Heather said, “I would stand on a corner with a sign.” Margie and I looked at her with curiosity. She continued, “Yes, I would have a sign asking for change, but not monetary change, social change!” It was then that I knew the three of us would become good friends.

Heather brought up a very good point. Encouraging others for change of a social nature is another great way to improve our corner of the world. I am speaking of asking for change in an encouraging thoughtful manner. Asking your friends to help you with a cause your are volunteering for. Inviting everyone to send a thank you card to one of their friends. Asking strangers to share a smile with someone they don’t know. The best way to encourage this change and make it most likely others will join you? That is to be the change you wish to see in the world!

I know it can be tempting to look for the biggest way in which you can make a change. Just remember often the most powerful way to make a change is to change your own corner of the world. That could include holding a sign asking for positive social change, volunteering for a worthwhile cause, or just sharing a smile with a stranger. Margie and I are thankful to Heather for the great reminder of this important point. We look forward to many good conversations with her in the future!

IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO PLAN A PARTY!

Confession time. I am really terrible when it comes to planning and hosting events. First, I rather enjoy my peace and quiet time. Margie and I have very social and interactive jobs. We are always dealing with groups of people. I am also very low maintenance. For reasons of party planning, I guess that is not always a good thing. That is another reason that Margie and I make such a great team. Let me give you an example. We are at the store and the love of my life is looking at dishes. “We have dishes.” I inform her. “We need a matching set of six.” She replies as if it is something I should know. In the confusion, I mention that at our house there are only 2 people, her and I. “What if we have company?” Still confused as to what the issue is I offer that if there are more than four people we could just use different plates or bowls. After all, they should be happy that we invited them over and they are getting delicious food. That is how I would feel I guess. By the shocked look of horror on the face of the woman I share my house with, I surmised that this was not the correct answer.

I never realized what goes into planning a party the right way. Margie showed me that. From cleaning, matching dishes, matching placemats (again, something I had no clue of) cleaning the house, finding what everyone likes to drink, decorations and a million other details that I can’t even remember. People go through a great deal of planning to throw the perfect party. Well, people other than me. If you look at the list in the picture above, you can see how much details and planning can go into a celebration. Planning over one month out? Sounds pretty crazy to me, but if you want an epic party that is what you have to do.

Why all the talk about planning a party? While my birthday is this month, I am not expecting any of my followers to throw me a birthday party. Unless of course you are reading this in the country of Fiji, I will stop by, we will have a great time. No, it is the subject of my upcoming third book, Life is a Party, Put Your Name on the Guest List. Does your life seem like a party? For most people it does not. Maybe it does on the weekends when we are not working. Maybe only 2 weeks a year when we are on vacation? What if our life could feel like a party as the general rule? Seem unlikely? I put forth life would be a lot more like a party if we planned it like one. Look at the list above. It is a lot smaller than our first example, but holds many clues as to how we could live our life more like a party. Let us take a look at just a few of them.

First up, guestlist. I find it how much time people will spend thinking of what people to invite to an event that may last a few hours or at most an entire day. Most of us, however, will not compose a guestlist of people we want in our life. If your life was a party, who would you invite? Ever have a party where there is someone who is a ‘Debby downer’ and brings down the entire party? Probably not a name that would be on top of the guestlist. What about people who are rude or insulting? Again, not the people who we would invite to a party, but somehow they show up in our lives!

How about decorations? Am I suggesting you fill your house with party decorations? Not exactly…but then again, kind of. Think of what the idea behind decorations at a party are? They are there to create an atmosphere. Either to go with a theme (Tiki party anyone?) or to just create a fun and festive atmosphere. What would make a good party to you? You may even just want a relaxing party of one. Maybe some nice spa colors and scents? Maybe a bath bomb or some bubble bath? Why not surround yourself with a fun and festive mood or even a theme you like? I have a friend who likes the ‘Day of the Dead’ decorations and has their house filled with things like that. Maybe you are a fan of a South Pacific look, or beach or lake. Whatever kind of party may work for you, try to include some decorations.

Food and Drinks. This is a good one. When people think of parties, they generally think of party food and alcohol. You can’t really spend every evening sitting at home having a personal party with a glass of rum in your hand, can you? When it comes to having a cocktail, pacing yourself is the idea. Nobody likes a drunk at a party, and you certainly do not want to be the drunk at your own party, but having a glass of wine or a nice coconut rum drink (or whatever you may like) while cranking up your favorite party soundtrack with some great friends can do a lot to fire up a Wednesday. Food is another interesting animal. If you want to feel like a you’re living life as a party, you don’t want to fill up on chips and dip or lay around feeling bloated. No, you want to dance, you want to laugh. Party food can be fun and fairly healthy. I am thinking some guacamole right now. Maybe a homemade taco night? Even trying new fun festive healthy foods can make it feel more like a party.

What other aspects of a party could you include in your life? What about a party soundtrack? Push play on that fun list on the way to work and you could spend the day thinking about Margaritaville or singing your favorite dance tracks before you notice the boss is in a bad mood again. If so, just don’t invite them to your personal party. How about dressing for a party? There are so many ways to approach this. You could dress like a formal party one day, a party at the club the next or just a fun party outfit the next! Think about how much the right outfit can change the way you feel about yourself. Life can be a party, we just have to plan for it!

HERE’S THE SECRET TO SUCCESS – JUST START!

Most of us know a great deal of things that would help our lives be better than the one we are currently living. We may even know some of the steps we should take to increase the quality of our life. Yet, even armed with this knowledge, many of us don’t take those actions. As a life coach and self-improvement author, this can be one of the most frustrating things I encounter. So much so, it is often a subject of discussion with my friend Nick when we get together for coffee. The million dollar question is “If people know what to do to improve their lives, and they even know how to do it, then why are they not doing it?”

The answers can seem as complicated and wide-ranging as the people who have them. If we boil it down to the facts, it usually falls into one of two categories. How do I know this? First of all, through this website I communicate with people in over 150 different countries. These include people of all different ages, cultures and geographies. I also connect with many people at book signings and seminars. Plus, I find myself falling victim to this on occasion. If you think it is frustrating wondering why people you are coaching will not take the actions they know will improve their lives, imagine how frustrating it is when you, the coach, do not do it.

Let us look at the reasons why people will not take the actions that they know will make them happier, healthier, wealthier or whatever improvement they are looking to make. The first one is overwhelm. This is one I often suffer from. We tend to look at the entire process instead of the first step. I want to get healthy but I am going to have to eat more vegetables everyday, workout 5 days a week, drink more water and less soda. STOP! Start by making one simple change. Maybe after, or even before, dinner go for a walk around the block. This may seem insignificant but it serves many purposes. It gets the ball rolling. It starts to build momentum. Same can be said for wanting to write a book. You may think of the hours, days, months and sometimes years it will take to complete. Trust me on this one. Instead, just commit to sitting down and writing 1000 words. In many cases, you may find that this progress is moving a little too slow for you and you will find yourself pushing to do more. Add a healthy meal once a week, type 1000 words several times a week. As we mentioned before, you gain momentum.

The danger in this is on occasion the progress can seem so slow that we give up. That is because we forget our why. I have written several posts on the importance of having a strong why. I devote a whole section of it in my new book Living the Dream. For the sake of brevity, we are going to look at how to keep our why strong. The secret is to keep it in front of you. There are 2 ways you can do this, and I highly suggest you make use of both of them. We are motivated as humans in 2 ways – our desire to experience pleasure and to avoid pain. When it comes to motivating ourselves, we should use both. There is no sense in throwing away 50% of our motivation. Let us say our goal is to lose weight. Find a picture of yourself that you do not like. Couple that with a picture of your goal weight. If you don’t have one of yourself, you can find a picture of who you would like to become. Worried about not being healthy for your children or grandchildren? Maybe a picture of them would motivate you as well. You can use these same techniques for any goal you have. Many of you may say “How could I forget why I want to be healthy, I see it in the mirror everyday.” I will be the first to agree that life has a way of reminding us of situations where we might not be quite at our goals. I also know that sometimes I walk into a room and forget why I am there. It is easy to forget that we are pained with how we look in pictures and how much we want to change when there are doughnuts sitting in the break room. Keeping a visual reminder of our goals in front of us increases our chances of success significantly.

When it comes to our goals, remember it is important to just start. I love increasing my happiness and joy in my life. I saw this picture at a place Margie and I like to eat and it made me laugh. Not sure why it seemed so funny to me, but it did. I decided to take a picture of it to look at on occasion and make me laugh. Do the same with your goals. Add one thing, one simple thing. Do this over and over again. You will start to build momentum and it will gradually become easier. Also, be kind to yourself. If you forget, if you mess up do not beat yourself up. Success is seldom and linear journey. Just recommit and refocus. Keeping a picture of our goals in front of us will help that. Do your best to include the pain of what will happen if you do not reach your goal as well as the pleasure of what will happen if you do. Don’t concern yourself with everything you have to do to reach your goal, just start by doing something. You will not only feel better, you will be one step closer to success.

IT IS A SPECIAL OCCASION FOR YOU

You may be finding yourself thinking, “How does Neil know what is a special occasion in my life?” You may even think that today is just an ordinary day, that there is no special occasion. The odds of it being your birthday are about 1 in 365 best I can figure. Still, today is a very important day for you. Why? The reasons are all around us. When you think of the odds that allow you to be exactly who you are, they are more than staggering. From the moment of conception to all the experiences that have brought you to this point, they are all worth celebrating.

While it is true that a good amount of things that we encounter in life do not work out how we had hoped and imagined, they have all played a part in making us the amazing people we are today. Even the hardest lessons have given us some of our greatest gifts. If we face a particular health challenge, we can better relate and counsel those who face the same situation. If we have lost our job we face the prospect of finding a new, and often better suited job. If our hearts were broken, we have a chance to begin again with a wiser outlook as to the kind of person that would better help us grow both ourselves and our love. Even what I think is the worst pain, the pain of losing someone we love, can teach us the value of life and those we share it with.

This may sound like some new age inspirational speech, and it some ways I guess it is, but let us look how it relates to our life today. If you do not think today is a special occasion, ask yourself how it would feel if you knew you would not have a tomorrow. Now ask yourself how sure you can be that you do have a tomorrow coming? Can you be 100% sure? How about 90%? There is a great deal of factors that could sway that number in one direction or another. How dangerous your job is, the safety of the area you live in, and your current health status. Even if those are all in the positive, you still face unexpected dangers we may never consider. Car accidents, random violent strangers or a sudden unexpected health crisis. So much for the new age inspirational speech. While I am not trying to focus on the negative that may happen in life, it does not change the reality that they are possibilities. Tomorrow is not promised for any of us. Today may be the special occasion we never knew we were having.

If today were your last day with sight, how much time would you take to sit in nature and enjoy the scenery? How long would you gaze lovingly at the face of the person you love? What song would you listen to if you knew you may wake up without your sense of hearing? The risk is not only ours either. People in our lives that we care deeply for share those same inherent risks. Think about that for a minute. Today may be that last time your spouse may be able to see your smile, would you deny that to them just because they forgot to put the milk away? It may be the last time they are able to hear you say “I Love you” wouldn’t you want them to be able to hear that one more time? It may very well be the last time you can share a moment with someone. Would you not want them to know in their heart how much they mean to you and how much you love them? In my own romantic relationship, I tell Margie everyday, “There are two things I am going to tell you everyday. I need you to know how beautiful you are and how much I love you.” To this day, I don’t think a single day has went by in which I didn’t remind and show her those two things. Tomorrow, either her or I could be gone and I would not have the chance to tell her.

This may beginning to sound a bit morbid to some of you, but it is true just the same. This is not saying we should live our lives in a state of fear that something may go wrong, but with the knowledge that it might. Often, things are only appreciated after they are gone. We complain about that job until we lose it. We complain about our spouse until they are gone. We take for granted someone in our life until they pass away. Moments can sometimes become special because they were the last. The last time you said “I Love you” to someone you care about. The last time you got to see a friend’s smile. I think we should take Mr. Einstein’s advice above and live life as if everything were a miracle. You never know when moments will be last ones, so treat each one as if it were. Live, love and laugh like there were no tomorrow.

SOME SOCIAL DISTANCING SHOULD CONTINUE

I am not a huge fan of the term “Social Distancing”. It is my belief that it should have been called physical distancing. During this pandemic, I think it was important to stay as social and connected as we could. communication and social interaction is very important part of keeping our emotional and mental health running smoothly. Video chatting with family, zoom meetings with not only work, but friends as well, texting, messaging and of course a good old-fashioned phone call are so important. It can provide both us and them a feeling of connection, love and support.

Now that, in some places, restrictions and rules are being lifted we are able to gather with each other once again. In some situations, we can shake hands and give each other a hug. Which not only makes us feel good physically, but has great effects mentally as well. Even being able to see a face not covered up with a mask is almost enough to send a heart soaring. This may sound like hyperbole, but after so long of not being able to see smiles on the faces we encounter every day, it is not far from truth.

If there was one plus to having to maintain distance from everyone, it is that we had to maintain distance from those who do not serve our best interest. Whether that is someone who is a gossip and says bad stuff behind our back, or just the Debbie downer type person who always has a black to our white, being away from them probably did us some real good. As we are adjusting our lives back to what is the new normal, we should seriously consider leaving these folks in the rear view mirror.

This may sound harsh or mean to some, but it is the exact opposite. Your peace of mind and inner joy is worth so much more than you realize. Take the time and effort to recreate your life to your standards. If there are pieces, or more to the point people, that to not add to your life, it may be time to let them go. This does not have to be done in the spirit of anger or malice, but of love for yourself. We are presented a unique opportunity in these challenging times. Now that we are slowly adding events and individuals back into our lives, we can do so with the thought of building a better life. I encourage you to put you and your happiness first when it comes to forming new connections as we move forward. You deserve to have the best life possible, do not settle for anything less.

TIME FOR YOU TO CELEBRATE!

We touched on this last week, but we are going to double down today. My third book is currently in the works. I swear as an author you are either just starting a book, in the middle of a book or just finishing a book. Actually, it is usually a combination of all three. Back to our thought for today’s post. My third book will be titled “Life is a Party, put your name on the guest list”. The idea is how to live life in such a way that it generally feels like one continuous party. This is actually easier than you think it may be. As with my first two books, inside this upcoming book will be tools that will help you turn your life into one amazing celebration.

I am going to share one of the ideas that will be in my book with you here today. You must take time to celebrate. I don’t mean a slight pause on birthdays and holidays. What we are talking about today is scheduling celebration days. I suggest a minimum of once a week. We will get into what to celebrate in a second, but first let us look at why we should do this. Planning something to celebrate gives your brain and you as a whole, something to look forward to. If all you have is a yearly vacation that can make the other 11 months + a little hard to cope with. If you look forward to the weekend, but it is filled with accomplishing the chores you had no time to get to during the week, that is not much to go on either. What we need is a little inspirational fuel to power us through the tough days. If you celebrate every Friday, that means you will have something to look forward to every 7 days. If you do it twice a week, every 3 days or so you will have a celebration to look forward to. If we are honest with ourselves, isn’t easier to push through when we have something to look forward to celebrating? Providing emotional and inspirational motivation is one reason to schedule celebration days.

The next reason is the actual day itself. How do you feel when you are celebrating? Excited? Happy? Perhaps even a little grateful? Who wouldn’t want to feel this way more often? The second ‘why’ of living life in celebration is the feeling of elation that comes with it. Keeping in a positive emotional state can do so many wonders for us. Increasing our life expectancy. Strengthening our immune system so we stay healthy. Science has even shown it can help speed healing and recovery from illness. Being in a positive emotional state can also help us get along better with others. We become more compassionate and understanding. We are just more fun to be around as well. It is also good if you are looking to attract the partner of your dreams. There is no better accessory one can put on than a smile. Happier people are just more attractive. When we are celebrating something we are in a healthier, more positive emotional state.

Can you imagine life as a state of celebration? How can we do this and what on earth can we be celebrating so often? Glad you asked! The list of things to celebrate is endless. Even if you find yourself living a life that is far from your ideal, you can still find things to celebrate. Our friend for self-improvement, Google, can help us. Look up “holidays for _____” and just put in tomorrow’s date. There will be a list of holidays that you never knew existed. For example, tomorrow will be July 6th. Holidays on this day include International Kissing Day. Think of the fun ways you can celebrate this day! Come home and instead of complaining about the work day, plant a passionate kiss on the lips of your spouse! Maybe even follow that with a card that says how much you love their kisses. Don’t have a special someone in your life or wish to use your mouth in a different way? It is also Fried Chicken Day. Treat yourself to your favorite chicken spot. Maybe try recreating grandma’s fried chicken recipe.

What if none of these holidays work for you? Perhaps you are single and your ex was a butcher so you have decided to become a vegetarian? No fear! There is so much around us to celebrate it is almost criminal that we are not always in a state of celebration. The origin of the word ‘celebrate’ comes from Latin and means frequented or honored. How many people in your life can you honor? Think of how you would feel if one of your friends informed you they have decided today they are going to celebrate you, especially if it is not your birthday? How would you celebrate a friend? Take them out for coffee or dinner? Do a post of appreciation on social media? Send them a card? Maybe a small token of appreciation? The possibilities are plenty! We can even celebrate our favorite celebrities! Pick a favorite actor and set aside an evening and a bowl of popcorn and have night watching a few of their films. This can be done with singers or even authors and blog writers!

Having someone or something to celebrate not only gives us something to look forward to, but allows us to exercise our creative muscles in deciding how to celebrate. We can celebrate our favorite animal. We celebrate our favorite kinds of food. I am looking outside the window right now appreciating how lovely the trees look. Could somebody really have a day celebrating trees? Why not! Can you imagine living in a place with no trees? Not so pleasant. How would you celebrate trees? I am really not sure, but it could be fun to come up with an idea. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on what you can celebrate and how. Please feel free to share them in the comments below!

DO YOU NEED A TIMEOUT?

Do you recall the idea of getting a time out from when you were a child? The version may differ slightly, but generally involves having a child sit on a chair in a corner when they misbehave. My first recollection of having a timeout happened in preschool (I am sure I have several before that, but my memory is hazy) The teacher had left the room for a few minutes and I decided to lead the entire class out of the school on a impromptu field trip to a local park I knew of. This was not done out of any reaction to authority or a desire to cause trouble. Those skills would come along later in my life. It was done because I genuinely wished to share my enjoyment of the park with my classmates. I can only imagine the feeling the teacher had returning the classroom to discover all of her students missing. I can further muse as to what her thoughts were as she saw us walking down the street outside her window. Whatever those thoughts may have been, the result for me was one thing – timeout.

To this day, I still do things that would put me in a timeout chair. Ask Margie and I am sure you would get a good sized list. The idea behind a timeout chair is twofold to my best estimation. First, it is to show the person there is consequence for their actions. “You must sit here while the rest of the kids get to play” kind of thing. I am not sure how affective that part might be. The other part of serving a timeout is to give you ‘time to think about what you done’. The prevailing thought would be that this young child would use this time facing the corner or whatever to think about why they did what they did, how it impacted others and what would have been a better solution. Most of the time I believe children spend thinking of how upset they are at their teachers or parents and pondering if dragons or unicorns really exist.

As an adult, nobody is going to ‘give you a timeout’. That may seem like a good thing until you really think about it. With nobody watching our behavior, things can go sideways in a hurry. We need to give ourselves timeouts on occasion. I think this would be a healthy idea. Yelled at your spouse instead of handling it in a healthy way? You get a timeout. Hit snooze on your alarm clock one too many times and were late for work? You get a timeout. Sacrificed your family to put in extra hours at work for a long period of time? You not only get a timeout, but might actually need one. Nobody is going to tell us we need a timeout as an adult, I would guess, but ourselves. Matthew McConaughey calls it our own personal Jiminy Cricket, referring to the insect that served as the conscious of the wooden boy in Pinocchio. We must serve as our own judge and jury. If we are honest with ourselves (something that make take a little time if we are out of practice) we know when we have done something that doesn’t live up to our standards. In other words, something that deserves a timeout.

We have done some blockheaded move that deserves a timeout. What then? Just like when we were children, we should find some out of the way place to sit and think about what we did, the effect it had on others and how we could have done it better. As you can tell by the pictures in this post, I have an idea where my timeout chair should be. That is the caveat here. It does not have to face the corner of a white wall, it doesn’t even have to be uncomfortable. It should just be a place free of distractions that allows us to be alone with our thoughts for a while. That could be a chair on the beach, a bench in a park or even sitting in our car in a parking lot while we figure things out. This is a good practice to share with others. It may very well help them in their own lives.

Time alone with our thoughts should not be viewed as a punishment. After viewing a ‘timeout’ through the lens of our childhood this may take some recalibration. It should be viewed as a chance to learn and grow. To turn a mistake into a lesson and a chance to do better the next time. Think about where your timeout spot could be. Perhaps give yourself several options to accommodate weather and other obstacles. I would love to hear about where you have decided your timeout spot should be and what you will do during your timeout to make it valuable to you.