GUESS WHAT TIME IT IS?

Today is the first of July. This also happens to be the month in which I was born. One of the things I have learned from the love of my life is that it is ok to celebrate this occasion all month long. As she informs me, “It is not your birthday it is your birth month” I am not sure how she came up with this and I do confess to have found it rather silly to begin with. Like many things she has brought into my life, upon further inspection I have come to see the great gift in this. We spend 11 months of the year sacrificing our health, our time and our well-being for others, for our work, for our world in general. We should, at the very least, take one month of the year to celebrate and focus on ourselves. It is a great recharge and recalibration of life. Discovering and being reminded of the gifts we bring to the world is not only important for the way we live our lives, but would certainly take more than a day. So I say, celebrate your birth month!

Michael Beckwith, one of my favorite mentors, encourages us to ask ourselves what we can celebrate everyday. Can you imagine if everyday of your life was a celebration? It really can, and should be! There is so much in our lives that we can be grateful for we really have a reason to celebrate everyday. Even if you are short of reasons to celebrate, just look up holiday on ____ and put today’s date in the blank. There are holidays everyday of the year. July 1st, for example, is National Postal worker day. That is a double for me. It is my birth month and I am a postal worker! It is also National gingersnap day, National creative ice cream flavor day, and for my friends north of the border, today is also Canada day. What fun ways could you celebrate all of those? Imagine doing this daily? Life would be one continuous celebration!

Back to the birth month idea. Imagine if you could come up with 30, or in the case of my birth month 31, ways in which to celebrate yourself? How good would you feel about yourself at the end of the month? How might that good feeling impact the way you interact with the world? I can assure you that a confident and happy Neil interacts with the world a lot better than a self-conscious and doubtful Neil. For my friends that are a bit too humble to dive into this right away, their are still ways to celebrate. Celebrate all of the ways you make others happy. Celebrate the ways in which you make a good spouse. Celebrate ways in which you can bring your gifts to benefit the world. Celebrating yourself does not have to be an exercise in ego, but taking a break from focusing on your faults and starting to focus on your finer attributes. You may discover this feels so good that you decide to do it more often.

It is true there can be a great deal of growth and self-improvement by studying our faults. There is, however, a totally different kind of growth that can be had by focusing on our gifts and talents. Developing them can leave us not only feeling happier and more fulfilled, but increase the way in which we can contribute to the world. Another great thing to keep in mind for our more humble-minded friends. This month of self-celebration can result in us being able to better share our gifts with the world or at the very least show up as a happier, more self-confident version of ourselves. Can you think of 30 or 31 ways in which to celebrate the awesome person you are? I believe you can and you should!

Let us all decide to use our birth month to our advantage. What if July is not the month you were born in? It’s ok, I give you permission to borrow mine. Plus, let’s face it, you haven’t celebrated a birth month up to this point, you deserve a bonus one this year. Starting today, think of one way a day to celebrate how you are awesome. It may seem like a challenge at first, but it can be fun as you get used to it. If you want to be really brave, share this experiment with others. Get you spouse or your coworkers involved. Encourage them to celebrate themselves everyday for a month. Offer ways in which you think they are amazing and ask them the same about you. Share your celebration with those you care about. Celebrate them as they celebrate you. It will end up with both of you feeling better about each other and yourselves. I encourage you to do this with everyone in your life. Can you imagine how good your friend will feel if everyday in their birth month you text them something you admire about them? Imagine the great work this could do in your intimate relationship? Celebrate my friends. Please leave both the ways you are celebrating yourself and what you are celebrating in the comments below.

WHAT IT IS

Romance is a very important aspect of the relationship I share with Margie. In fact, I would say we both try to ‘out romantic’ each other. This not only forces us to use our already creative noggins, but if we want to really ‘outdo’ the other we really have to do something else very important. In this case outdoing your partner means making them feel even more loved than they did before. In that case it is a win/win situation. To do this we must really listen to what the other enjoys and to some extent what it is they do not enjoy.

A great example was on display these last few days. Margie wanted to do something special for my birthday. This becomes tricky because we are always doing little things to make each other feel special on a daily basis. When holidays come we really have to search and think of ways to take it up another notch. Margie knew I needed some time away from working as I have been pushing very hard at several projects lately. She thought “What would be a great place to take the man I love.” From what she told me she considered many different factors to make this decision.

We spent 2 wonderful days at a place called “Lazy cloud lodge”. Which, as the name would dictate, is predicated on doing…well…not much of anything. There was a Jacuzzi tub and fireplace in the room. She took me out for dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant on my birthday and for a delicious breakfast the following day. We did a little shopping. We went for a walk down by the beach. All of this was great but it is not what made me the happiest.

What made me the happiest was the little things. Before we left she was so sweet as to call my mom to make sure that she did not mind if we were out of town on my birthday. Then, she melted my heart by shopping for and packing some snacks for us to enjoy as we drove along and to eat in the room. Then there was all of the effort that went into planning what she did. She knew I would be tempted to work, or at least workout, and picked a place that was focused on relaxation. She thought about the fact that I love nature and this place had a nice patio with woods behind it, a waterfall with large fish in it and many other natural aspects. She ordered some happy birthday balloons. Let’s face it, everything is happier with balloons. On my birthday when she would have liked to been with me the entire time, she made a sacrifice. You see, I love the sitting in the sun soaking it in. Margie, on the other hand, can get sunburn just by thinking of the sun. She told me, “You go enjoy the sun.” She stayed in the cool air-conditioned room. I sat in the nice swinging chair until missing my lovely lady on my special day just became too much.

She doesn’t know this part, although she will when she reads this, but the whole time we were gone I had an image stuck in my head. We have a little wooden sign above our television that reads, “This is my happy place”. All I could think about when relaxing on the patio, sitting in the hot tub, enjoying the wonderful dinner and breakfast or walking through the shops was this sign. Not because all of those places made me happy, which they did, but because of who I was with. You see, being with Margie is my happy place. Even when things don’t go quite according to plan, if we have each other I am happy. Yes, she is romantic ( I always try to outdo her in that category but don’t tell her that) That is important and impresses me, but it is not what makes me love her the most. In this case it was the thoughtfulness and considering others. It was the fact that she listened to what I like and tried to work that into what she had planned. It was all of her adorable actions to make sure that we not only had a good trip, but that I felt special.

If this weekend reminded me of anything, it was these two things. First, that Margie loves me. She not only said it this weekend, but even more important, she took actions to show it. All of the things she had planned, and even some things we did that she didn’t have planned showed me that. Second, it reminded me that regardless of where we are geographically, being with her is my happy place. Even if I was on a beautiful tropical island I wouldn’t be happy. (Maybe for a little while) That is what love is. Love is having someone special to share all of those memories with. Not only loving memories, but silly memories. Memories of when things didn’t go so well but you faced them and made it through them together. Love is not only romancing each other, but laughing together, being adventurous together, crying together and just sharing life with each other.

To my special love of my life – Thank you so much for making my birthday special. Not only for taking me on an amazing trip, but for sharing it with me and for just being you. When all is said and done, you are my favorite gift. Not only on my birthday, but each and every day.

IS THIS WHERE WE WANT TO GO?

Today is my birthday. 45 years of fun on this planet. Normally, I have a YouTube video for you all, but today my lovely Margie is taking me to some unknown destination. I will keep you all posted as to where that is.

In the meantime, there is something I would really like to discuss with all of you today. As I am sure a lot of you do, I happen to reflect a great deal on my birthday. For many, it is a time to look back at the year. If that is you, I hope you are doing it with a sense of gratitude for all that you have had in your life. The peaks and the valleys. We learn and grow from everything. For some it is a time to look forward. How many more years on this round ball of fun do I have? Some just like to celebrate the present! I made it another year. Still undefeated. I like to do a little of all three.

To begin with I like to look back on the past year and celebrate how much further I am than I was a year ago. It is true not everything may have gone as I had planned, but even the lessons taught me things I needed to move forward. There are things that I had planned to do this year that did not get done. That should do one of two things. Make me decide that may not have been as important as I thought, or increase the passion and sense of urgency to get it done in the coming year. Which leads us to looking forward to the year ahead. I do so by reviewing a lot of my actions. Asking myself the question quoted in our first picture – Does this support the life I’m trying to create? There are some that are indeed moving me in the right direction. Maybe I just need to be persistent in my actions. This could be applied to my going to the gym six days a week. Sure, I am not where I want to be, but I am moving closer to the body I want to create. Then there are actions that may need to be tweaked a little. My book and writing promotions. I will need to do slightly different actions if I would like to expand the influence of my message.

Then there are the actions that I am doing to maybe please others or that just do not serve my purpose. Spending too much time concerned with items at my day job or on pleasing other people. Yes, even someone who has been in the self-improvement field for over two decades can use some reflection and improvement.

In closing, I would like to leave you with a short birthday wish list, if I may. To help me celebrate my 45 years on this planet I would love any suggestions or assistance in helping me to spread the message of positive self-improvement and life-fulfillment that we share here on this blog. Although it is my birthday, I want to leave you the gift of one of my favorite quotes. It demonstrates the kind of thinking I do my best to foster here, and will be looking to build on in the next 45 years.

IF I WOULD ASK FOR ANYTHING FOR MY BIRTHDAY

Today is my birthday as some of you may know. I really enjoy birthdays as I grow older. I think that is because it becomes less about the ‘stuff’ and more about spending time and receiving love from people who mean a great deal to you. I was lucky to experience that last night due to the efforts of my lovely Margie.

If I were to ask for a gift on this birthday it would be inspired by the quote above. Mother Teresa knew a thing or two about giving. She dedicated her entire life to giving to those who needed it most. It is in this thought that I would ask all of you to do one thing in honor of my birthday – GIVE. It doesn’t have to be something crazy outlandish, just something positive. Give an extra tip to your server, bartender or barista. Give a sincere compliment or genuine smile to a stranger. Give the gift of encouragement to somebody who really needs it.

Whatever you give, do so with love. Pick something or someone that means a great deal to you or who you appreciate and give from the heart. It is what the world needs more of and that is what I would ask as a gift from you on my birthday. I am going to let you in on a little secret. This giving has a very interesting side-effect. I promise you giving with love will leave you with a heart filled with joy.

I recall two such examples in my own life. I helped at a meal program once a month for several years. When I was there I used all my customer service and people skills to provide the patrons there with the best experience they could have under the circumstances. Recently, at the coffee shop I write at there is a man who is destitute and sits outside by himself. I have watched him pick up garbage and throw it away. He even picked up my coat for me once. This is a good soul who has found himself on hard times for reasons that are none of my business. One day I inquired if he would like something to drink. He informed me how much a hot chocolate would mean to him. I happily got him one. Here is a man who spends his time making the place look better and is kind to everyone who passes by him. It felt so good to be able to do something nice for him. The next time I saw him there I just ordered an extra hot chocolate and brought it out to him. He was so overjoyed. Not with the hot chocolate, but by the fact I  remembered him and what he drank.

Doing something for someone who can do nothing for you is not only a good thing to do but personally gives me a feeling of joy and inner peace that not much else can match. I wish for you that same feeling. Give something today. Again, it does not have to be a big something, but do so with a great amount of love. That is what I would ask of all of you for my birthday. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

A GREAT CELEBRATION!!!

I work a lot to help bring joy and happiness to others and to the world at large. It can sometimes be a rather large task. One of the things that really keeps me going is the love and support of the beautiful woman in the pictures above. That is the love of my life, Margie. Today is her birthday. I celebrate this day with a great deal of joy because if it were not for this wonderful woman, I would face a far greater challenge doing what it is I do.

Whether it is reassuring me when some negative soul reports my writing as offensive, when not as many people show up to a seminar as I had hoped or when books sales or views on my website are not going as I hoped, she is always there to remind me of the good I do and how many lives I touch. This has been the greatest gift she can give me is to love me in an encouraging and supportive way.

It is her birthday, but I am the one who is celebrating. Her being born means that I am the one who received the most amazing gift. This beautiful, wonderful and loving woman I am blessed to call my own.

I love you baby and I am going to celebrate your birthday right along side you because I know the miracle it brought me, you, my little miracle.

MY FAVORITE GIFT

Every year I have 2 interesting challenges, my mother’s birthday is February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day. The love of my life, my beautiful Margie, seen in the picture celebrates her birthday on today, December 15th. Which, if you are keeping score at home is a mere 10 days before Christmas.

I used to quip that December and February were my poorest months. That may seem true for obvious reasons. In reflection they are actually 2 of my richest months. How can that be? Allow me to explain.

It took the love of this beautiful woman to remind me that the greatest gifts are people and not things. While I would love to give this woman the world, but budget is somewhere closer to a plastic globe.

By celebrating her birthday today (as with my mother 2 months later) I realize I am celebrating the greatest gift I ever received, this beautiful woman sharing her life with me.

As Christmas comes around it is a good reminder how no material item, no matter how expensive or even how thoughtful would be more valuable than the life and love I have with my Margie.

I would love to say happy birthday to you my love. No matter what gift I can come up with, I will still feel like the one who is getting the best present. Today we are celebrating the birth of the woman who brings so much joy into my life. I love you baby.

IS NOW A GOOD TIME?

Our last post was a little lengthy, so we will try to keep this one short and to the point. Today is Monday, the beginning of a new week. Time to start to be refocused. It is also August 14th, a great time to start to be refocused! What makes today so special? Everything and nothing. Confused? Let me explain.

We often wait for moments like New years day, our birthday, or even the start of the week to begin our new goal whether that be a healthier life, a more positive attitude or any other journey worth embarking on. The truth is by waiting we are just losing momentum. If you were offered to start your dream job on a Thursday would you decline because it wasn’t a Monday? If you were to win the lottery on the 3rd, would you pass because it was not the first? Of course you would not. The same holds true with anything we wish to begin.

Most of us have heard the expression “It’s 5 O’clock somewhere.” Meaning anytime is a good time to begin to celebrate. I couldn’t agree more! I want to remind you of another expression, “There is no time like the present!” If you have the urge to begin to eat healthy for example, capture that feeling by at least doing one thing towards that end right then and there! If you wait until New Years, your birthday or even next Monday, a lot of things can happen to drain that enthusiasm. Let’s make August 14th the day we turned our lives around!

THE GREATEST GIFT 

It has been a year already. It has been a year since I was able to celebrate the birth of this wonderful lady. The woman in the photograph is my lovely lady Margie. As you are reading this we are enjoying ourselves in Las Vegas. It was a trip I planned for sometime. Every year I do my best gift ever. This year I finally have it all figured out!

So a trip to Las Vegas is the best gift ever? In short, no, but then again…yes. Please let me explain. This is something I would like to share with all of you gentleman out there. The best gifts you can give to the lady in your life are not the most expensive, the most elaborate or the most material. So why a trip to Vegas and what is the greatest gift ever? A trip to Vegas is because with the exception of when she was a toddler my lady has only been to the states surrounding the one we live in. She has not been on a plane since she was one. Why is this the greatest gift?

Here is what is important. As a gentleman I realize the greatest gift I can give the lady in my life (this applies for friends and family too) is the gift of the experience. The greatest gift you can give is one of respect, time, attention and love. So this was not just a trip to a city that sparkles like my lady, but a chance to give her experiences she has not had. A chance to expand her world. An opportunity to bring something new into her life. The greatest souvenir we will both take home from this trip? It is the greatest gift. The gift of loving memories.

Happy birthday baby. That is the gift I wish to give to you today. The gift of my time, my attention, my respect and my love. I would wrap up all the memories we are going to create on this trip if I could, but since I can’t I will just wrap you in my arms and tell you I Love you.

NOW IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE!!!

Yes this is me. Why do I look so happy? I’m celebrating. Why am I celebrating you might ask. Well, today is my birthday. I have made it through another year of trails and challenges. I am reasonably healthy and have some great people in my life. Still that is nit the reason I am celebrating in this photo. As you may have guessed I am celebrating my cup of coffee I am holding. I had been craving that very coffee for a while and finally stopped on my home from work. That also happens to be my ‘on the way home from work’ face. It also happened to be a sunny day out as you can see in the picture. I am a big fan of the sun.

What does all of this have to do with living an amazing life? Here is something that I learned that I want to pass along to you today. It is something that has added a lot more joy to my life and only takes a little bit of effort. The best thing about the effort it takes is that can also be fun. Here is what I learned in the last year or so. If, for example, I had been craving that coffee a year ago I would have purchased one and said “Great! Now let’s enjoy it”. I would have drank it and moved on. After all it is just a cup of coffee I wanted. Same with the weather that day. I may not have even noticed it. A lot of us only notice things like our health when they are bad. I may have only given a passing notice to the weather or none at all and just went home. Here is what I learned. If you take time to savor and celebrate daily things take on a whole new meaning.

So how can we celebrate things in our life more? In the above example when I got the coffee I took time and sipped it noticing every little detail. I tasted it and thought about the experience of buying it. I enjoyed the aroma and the feel. As for the weather? I took time to feel the warmth on my skin and thought of days gone past in the sun. I noticed how beautiful everything looked lit by the sun. If this all sounds a little over the top to you, ask yourself why. We should take the time to enjoy all of the good things in our life. Savor every drop of joy out of life you can. How many times to we replay hurtful or sad events in our heads? It is time to take back our joy! As a birthday gift to me, please start focusing on all you have to celebrate in life and share your ideas in the comments below. Feel free to share this post with your friends and help them celebrate life as well.