GET INSPIRED

The above quote was one of many to be found on the table of a new coffee shop I visited. This coffee shop is called Inspired. If you read the last post Margie had taken me on a little getaway for my birthday. We went to the town of Lake Geneva here in Wisconsin. As we were doing a little shopping we happened past this coffee shop where there was a young lady offering us samples of some tasty drinks they had. This may not seem to out of the ordinary. What made this a little different was the young lady offering us the samples.

This young lady was everything you would want in a worker offering samples. She was friendly. She was knowledgeable about the products she was selling. What made this young lady special was she also had down syndrome. I recall reading about this coffee shop some time ago but the memories were a bit hazy. It was a hot day and we were in need of a beverage so we stopped in. As Margie found us a seat I went to order an iced chai tea. When I came to the counter I was greeted by a very friendly face that inquired as to what I would like to drink. I passed along my order and informed them that was my first time to there establishment and could they fill me in as to what they were all about.

What was said next is what made me fall in love with this place. It turns out that this was not only an amazing coffee shop with fun quirky signs on the tables that made possibly the best iced chai that I had the pleasure of enjoying, but something far bigger! Their mission as you can see in the picture above was to “help adults with disabilities to live with a greater purpose and achieve their individual best in a thriving work environment.” As I was told, the individuals working there are being trained in customer service and baristas to help them have a more potentially rewarding opportunity down the road.

I am a big fan of helping out where you can and making life better for those we share the planet with. I applaud the owners of Inspired Coffee for having a dream that was bigger than just themselves. I have previously written about the Guardians of Children, a motorcycle club that raising money for the victims of child abuse and their families through rides, soup tastings, raffles and other such activities. Inspired Coffee is yet another group of angels as far as I am concerned. They have taken the experience of going out for a cup of coffee and turned it into an opportunity to help adults with developmental and physical disabilities a place where they will not only be job trained, coached and over time, placed into a fully integrated work setting, but equally as important, it is a place they are celebrated. You can see the pride the employees have in doing the jobs they are doing.

This coffee shop was not only clean and extremely well run, but had the most smiles on employees faces I have seen in any coffee shop I have ever been in. As I mentioned earlier in this post, they created the best iced chai that I ever had. It is my opinion the beverages at Inspired Coffee taste so amazing because of a combination of two very important facts. First, the pride and love their great employees put into making every order. Second, the knowledge that with each cup you buy, you are helping the lives of an adult with disabilities. The next time I find myself in the town of Lake Geneva, I will definitely make Inspired Coffee one of my required stops.

I know many of you may not live in close enough proximity to this wonderful place to enjoy a beverage there. I also know many of my readers would really enjoy knowing more about this wonderful place and how they can do their part to support not only the business, but more importantly, the lives of those who are employed there. With that in mind, I have included a link to their Facebook page at the end of this blog. It would do your heart could to click through and read some of the great stories. Maybe even order a bag of coffee or other products to be shipped to you. I bought an Inspired bracelet to remind me of this great place and the importance of helping and inspiring others.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPIRED COFFEE

JUST LOOK IT IS EVERYWHERE!

In today’s world it would seem everywhere we look there is something ugly to behold. There is, of course, this terrible world-wide pandemic. There are politicians busy accusing each other of the worst crimes instead of actually trying to solve some. There are even some murder hornets flying around somewhere. With everyone wearing masks, it is hard to even catch a smile when you could really need one.

While all of this is true, there is something else we really should be focusing our energy to look for – beauty. It may seem hard to focus on beauty when there are a million chicken littles screaming at you from the television, online and a million other sources. It serves us well to remember an axiom we often repeat on this website. What is wrong is always available, but so is what is right. It may be more of a challenge, but there is a lot of beauty to be found. The picture above was the sky I saw on the way to write this very blog. I found it striking and wanted to share it with all of you.

The beautiful smile of a loved one. This is my lovely Margie. Her smile melts my heart and is one of the most beautiful things I am blessed to see in the world. Being stuck in quarantine will allow you to learn a lot more about those you share your home with. Put that knowledge to good use by using it to place more smiles on their faces! Be it a roommate, a brother, a sister or the love of your life. When they do smile at you, make sure to appreciate the beauty of it.

Speaking of friends, friendship is a great thing of beauty itself. Above is a picture of my good friend Russ and myself in the mountains of Sedona, Arizona. We had a great hike and a great time overall. I am not sure when the next time we will be able to get together again. Rather than focus on that, I am going to focus on all the good memories of that trip and be grateful I can still pick up the telephone or send him a text.

What about all of those challenges? Even in those there are beauty. As you can see I have had a hard time finding an open coffee shop in which to write. As I was speaking to my friend Pat today, we both commented on how the people that work in some of the most difficult situations are still quite friendly. I believe I have mentioned it in a previous post, but the workers at Starbucks have to wear masks for their entire shift. They are behind the counter with steam and heat. They are running around and serving people, a lot of whom are very stressed themselves, yet most of the ones I have dealt with have been very pleasant.

My point is this – that in a world that seems to be ugly and dark, there is plenty of love and light you just have to look for it. I would love to hear about some of the beautiful things you see in the comments below.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BIT OF NOTHING

Some people may incorrectly assume that because I have been in the self-improvement field for over two decades and have written over 1300 blog posts and 2 books on the subject that I have it all together. Nothing could be further from the truth. I occasionally lose control of my emotions, I do not always remember to keep my focus on what I have to be grateful for. In short, I am a flawed and imperfect human just like everyone else. I am a perpetual student of the game. Always striving to learn something new from someone new. Quite often I find that hearing the same information presented in a slightly different way can make all the difference. That is why there is so much room for different people in this field.

All of the learning takes up a good deal of time. I listen to different meditations as I am falling asleep. I listen to motivational speakers at my day job and as I do chores around the house. I am always learning something new. Even if I listen to an hour talk and gain one line of information it is worth it. I do my best to record what I learn to share both on this blog and in the books I write. Even when I am watching a movie my brain is on the lookout for some insightful piece of information I can share with all of my followers. This can, on occasion, drive Margie a little crazy.

I spend mornings at the gym 6 days a week. Then I am off to my day job. After which I eat dinner and run off to a local coffee shop to write these posts and to work on my next book. Combine that with being a DJ every Saturday and Sunday and you can see that free time is at a premium. Throw in a couple of articles for different publications, appearances on podcasts and some social engagements and sleep becomes a luxury I seldom acquaint myself with. Every spare minute is consumed with my passion of gaining and sharing knowledge. You will find me in front of a coffee cup and behind a computer. This is the situation as I am typing this. As you can see in the picture below.

This Sunday, however, I was reminded of something I had completely forgotten. Sometimes you need a little bit of nothing. We had to DJ that evening and Margie was finishing up another marvelous cake creation. The weather was wonderful outside. The sun was warm and there was a gentle summer breeze. I wanted to be outside, but didn’t feel like working. The novel idea that some people just sit and relax came to mind. I grabbed a book I had been reading for about the third time. This may seem like working on gaining information, but reading is my guilty pleasure.

I informed the love of my life that I needed to just get away and relax. I was glad to find her not only understanding, but encouraging. My first attempt failed when the location I went to was closed. Lucky for me there was another coffee shop down the road with a west-facing balcony. I ordered my iced coffee inside, said hello to our friend Scott who happened to be there and took my leave to the patio. I sat for a few moments before opening the book. I listened to the birds singing and felt the nice breeze. As I opened my book and began to read I felt completely consumed. The outside world seemed to disappear and the author’s words came to life. At the end of each chapter I again returned to the world of the coffee shop patio. The birds were there to greet me. (As were the people in the drive-thru)

Here is what is worth noting. When I returned home from this hour-long moment of relaxation, I felt like I had slept for several hours. My body was refreshed. In addition, so was my mind. Ideas seemed to come to me faster than I could record them. Ideas for my next two books began to take shape. Then it occurred to me. While writing my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I had done this quite often. That is where a lot of the ideas for the book came. I knew and taught the importance of self-care, I just had forgot to take some for myself. I have decided there will be at the very least once a week where I will leave the computer at home and take a good book, or maybe just a journal with me. I will relax in a coffee shop or at a local park. Taking in the beauty of nature and allowing inspiration to come to me. It is a practice I recommend all of us do.

DAY 3 OF THE JULY WORLD-CHANGING CHALLENGE!

Today is one of those positive things that just come to you, or in this case me. My day started out like any other, waking up early to go to the gym. On this fine morning I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get my workout in. I had to stop at the mechanic as my battery in my Ford Escape had seemed to have broken free of its confines. I made it to the mechanic with time for them to look at it and still make it to my day job at the United States Postal Service. Fortunately for me, the repair only took a matter of minutes and they were able to correct the problem for the moment.

While this was good on one hand, it left me with too much time to go to work, but not enough time to go back home. I decided I would visit the Starbucks that is conveniently located next to the Post Office I work at. I parked and began to walk up. There were two young ladies already sitting outside enjoying the sunny day. They informed me that only seconds before a lady had rushed to the door and taped up a sign that said “Sorry closed” and locked the door. I chuckled thinking to myself, “Perhaps they knew I was coming.” They only other thing open in near proximity was a sandwich shop. I availed myself to one of their delicious offerings and took it outside to sit in the sun. Only moments into enjoying my unplanned lunch, the manager of the now closed coffee shop came out and inquired if I would be interested in a free Nitro coffee. After affirming quickly she disappeared inside again. When she came out she explained that the hot water heater had exploded and the entire store was under water! She knew I was a good customer and wanted to make sure I still got something. Sitting in the hot sun, the cold coffee tasted ever so good.

This was a positive event for several reasons. First, I got a free delicious coffee. You can never go wrong there. Second, it reminded me how important it is to be nice to everyone you encounter. (More on that tomorrow) Had I not been a frequent and nice customer, I doubt there would have been such an offer made. It was also impressive that the manager took the time to think of me while she was busy trying to salvage items in the face of the oncoming flood. I left with a very positive feeling and it was a great start to the rest of my day!

I hope you are having great luck finding one positive thing you can post. Do not forget to share them online and spread the joy this first week of July!

DAY 2 OF OUR FUN JULY CHALLENGE

Day 2 of our challenge! I hope you made it through day 1 without posting anything negative and remembering to share at least one thing positive online. With most of us still quarantined at home, life exists to a greater degree online. Therefore, the positive changes we are making can have an even greater impact.

I have a great deal of positive to share today. I am going to start with this morning. For the last few years I have had a lingering calf issue. I enjoy jogging despite not being built for such endeavors. After a week or two of jogging I would always get a terrible pain in my calf that would last roughly 2 weeks. This on again, off again training did not allow me to get into much of a rhythm. The last time this injury happened I was alone on a local hiking trail here and over a mile from my car. A long painful limp back, plus the fact that it turned black and blue, prompted me to say, “enough is enough!” I went to the doctor only to discover I had a strain and slight tear in my Achilles tendon. Without physical therapy I risked surgery and weeks of being off my feet all together.

All of this may not sound positive to you, but to me it was. Not only did I finally learn what the problem was, I had a plan to correct it. I found myself at the sports medicine center and in the capable hands of Griffin. After several questions and a complete exam, he developed a plan for my recovery. He informed me that in about 4 to 6 weeks I should really be seeing improvement. I was given several exercises to do at home and soon should be running, jumping and playing with the other kids!

The next bit of great news is that I finally have my ‘office’ back. That was a line I borrowed from my good friend Scott. Since March, the coffee shops here have been closed to inside seating. Recently, they just opened up with social distancing practices in place. Although writing at home with a beautiful lady can be fun, it can also be quite distracting. I always want to give her my attention when I am in her presence. When I am by myself in a coffee shop I tend to disappear in my own little writing world. Sometimes this can be quite amusing as I look up and all of the people around me have changed and I was completely unaware. This is not where the good news ends!

Another great thing about today’s visit is the thoughtful nature of my beautiful lady. When she heard that Starbucks was opening she wanted to buy me my first coffee. She presented me with a gift card at lunch the other day. As I am writing this, I can’t help but think of her thoughtfulness. Not to mention she is on my screen saver. Filled with love, writing just seems to flow.

That is 3 pieces of positive news! I have already found myself looking for things to share that are positive. I hope you are having luck finding your positive news. Feel free to share your positive stories in the comments below, but don’t forget to share them online as well!

WHEN TIMES ARE CRAZY, HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?

As an author one of the most difficult parts of the world today is that coffeeshops are closed. I usually write most of these blogs and my books at Starbucks or some other local coffee shop. Lately, I have been putting my K-cup brewer through the paces while doing the same to Margie as well. It can be easier to get distracted at home, especially with such a silly and beautiful lady in the next room or even sitting next to me. So how do I keep my focus and motivation to write when the world is so crazy? There are a few answers I am going to share with you so that you may be able to use them to keep motivated on whatever projects you may be working on in your own life.

The first thing to establish is your ‘why’. Why is it that you do what you are passionate about? For me it is helping others see the beauty in themselves, others and the world around them. When life seems to be going good, I want to share that with others. When life seems to be crazy and difficult like it is now, that makes me feel like what I do is even that more important and I am driven that much more. Find your ‘why’. It is one of the most important discoveries you will make in your life. I promise you.

Another area to explore is what benefits you gain by doing what it is that you do. In the case of writing, I find an area of creative release. Not to mention I get to enjoy a tasty hot beverage in my wonderful Winnie-the-Pooh coffee mug. Remember the beautiful lady we discussed earlier? You can see her creative creation in the upper right corner of the picture. As I sat and wrote, she sat and sketched. It is important that in a relationship, even though your release might be different, to allow room for each other to explore. It is fun if you can occasionally do this together, but remember to respect the fact that everyone needs their time. Another great benefit I achieve by writing is I am able to connect with people around the globe. This excites me more than I can convey. I love meeting people from different locations and cultures and learning what they have to teach me. The fact that I can do this all while inspiring and motivating them is amazing! That may be the greatest benefit of all – happiness. Whether it is my joy at connecting with them, or their joy that I can play a part in, the fact that together we create and share joy makes the world a better place.

I hope these two items will help you to stay focused and motivated despite what may be happening around you. I would love to hear more of what you do to stay focused and motivated in the comments below. By sharing our great ideas with each other we can all be more productive and happy together!

VULNERABLE = STRONG

I am always interested in highlighting some of the great people in the city of West Allis Wisconsin, where I live. The gentleman on the left is Curtis. Together with his wife Danie, they run the local coffee shop/café called Urban Joe’s. From the first moment I met both of these amazing people one thing became apparent – they get it. What I mean by that is that they truly understand what is important not only in business, but in life. When you dine or just enjoy an amazing coffee or cocktail at Urban Joe’s you will be treated to more than just great food and beverages. You will be treated to some of the best customer service in the city. This is not by accident. Curtis and his wife understand the value of a customer and of a person.

It is the second part of that last statement, knowing the value of a person, that I would like to expand on today. After just a few visits to Urban Joe’s it became apparent to me that Curtis also understood the importance of introspection and quality conversation. He is one of the people who are not only easy to talk to, but really listens and gives thought to what you are saying. Between the two of us there is never a shortage of topics. Through the years we have discussed everything from our visits to the gym, my writting and most recently my interesting adventures in purchasing a new vehicle.

It was during the discussion about my vehicle purchasing that Curtis brought up some poignant matters I would like to share with you. As he offered his outrage with some of the customer service I had experienced in my quest for a new form of transportation, he mentioned the struggles he faced while looking to hire a new member of their staff. We discussed how difficult it is to find individuals who have a sense of ownership over the job they do. Some of the challenges were making your job a priorty, realizing the workplace is not a platform to express one’s political or social beliefs, to the ability to interact and value the customer not only as a source of revenue but as a person. Something he and his wife are not only good at, but take pride instilling in their employees.

It is important to note that while I was enjoying this coversation with Curtis, we were also joined by my mother. We all came to the conclusion that there may not be enough importance placed on physical human interaction. A great deal of our social interaction comes in the form of social media and other digital platforms. Sadly, this can often be a place where manners and common courtesy are sacrificed in the name of social stature or even convincing someone your political opinion is the correct one. Curtis lamented the fact there were not more people who met ‘over a cup of coffee’. Not only would this be good for business but it would strengthen our human connection.

Why is a strong human connection so important? It is so important it can be a matter of life and death. When we form strong bonds it allows the opportunity to be vulnerable. On social media, and now often in the real world, people are afraid to ask for help. It would appear we are more worried about appearances than what is healthy for us. Without fostering deep personal relationships we can be left feeling things like hopeless, alone and depressed. We fear that asking for help can make us appear weak. The opposite is actually true. Being able to admit a situation, or sometimes life in general, has gotten the better of us takes a great deal more strength than pretending everything is ok. We can look to many people such as Robin Williams and Kate Spade who seemed to have it all but lacked the ability or resources to ask for help.

It is for these and many other important reasons that we should “Put down the phone and pick up a coffee cup.” as Curtis mentioned. Developing deep personal relationships can help us notice when something might not seem right with someone closest to us. Allowing people to share their emotions, fears and concerns over a lunch or a nice cup of coffee may be life-saving. It what can often be a digital and pharmaceutical world, we must remember the importance of developing and maintaining close personal relationships. It will benefit us. It will benefit the lives of those we love and care about.

I want to thank Curtis for this great reminder and the great conversation we shared. I want to thank the entire Urban Joe’s staff for being an example of what caring and wonderful people are like. If you need a reminder of what it takes to develop great relationships, you want to enjoy some great conversation filled with wit and wisdom or you just want a great cup of coffee, you owe it to yourself to stop in to Urban Joe’s today and ask for Curtis or Danie.

THE 2 REALMS OF EXISTENCE, WHEN AND WHERE TO USE EACH ONE


I would like to begin this post with a mea culpa of sorts. In my books I advocate using the separation of mind and body to our advantage, especially in stressful situations. In fact, I have been quoted as saying “There is no law that says your mind and body have to be in the same place at the same time.” This is indeed true and can be helpful when you are in a stressful situation. It can also be used for motivation. Please allow me to explain both.

Let us say your boss is pressuring you for a deadline, or just being the pain bosses can be on occasion. As you practice patience and compassion in an effort to remain employed, you can go somewhere else in your mind. I transport myself to a beautiful beach in Jamaica sipping out of a coconut. It also reminds me that the job I am working will help me get to that destination. When I am working out at the gym feeling like I am going to have to start breathing through a brown paper bag and wondering if I wouldn’t be better off at home laying on the couch eating a pizza, I think of that same beach. This time I imagine how I would look sitting on the beach in my current shape. Usually, that is enough to help me power through the remainder of my workout.

So far this all sounds pretty good doesn’t it? There is one word of caution. In using this I have become a little too good at it. What do I mean by that? There are times when it serves us to have our mind at body in the exact same place and time. For sake of continuity and because I love writing about the tropics when it is below freezing here in Wisconsin where I live, we will stick with the Jamaican beach example. Let us say you finally reach that fabulous vacation you have been saving for. Now you are on the beach with the one you love enjoying the sun and frigate birds. It would serve you well to be both physically and mentally present in the moment. Paying attention to all that is transpiring and soaking in the ocean water and the memories. You should make an effort to not only remember, but relish in the sun on your skin and the joy in your heart.

What do we as humans tend to do? We do the exact opposite. When the boss is yelling, everything is in chaos and you have only been at work for an hour, what do we think about? How little your pay seems to match what you have to put up with? How many hours you have yet to struggle through? Wait….is that clock actually going backwards? Why are there not more windows in this office? When we finally make it to vacation or even just home from the office do we focus on all of the great things we finally have in our grasp? Often, the answer is ‘no’. We then think of how much the vacation is costing. We worry about the pet we left back at home. Or worse yet, we begin to have thoughts of having to go back to the office.

We can do a lot to correct this lack of being present with exercises to take control of our mind. A daily practice of meditation, even 5 minutes a day to start, can be very helpful. If you are unsure or just not familiar with meditation there are several CDs you can purchase (Brain sync is one of my favorite companies) or even just look at guided meditation on YouTube. Then you just pop on some headphones, sit back, relax and follow along.

Even more simple is taking time to be fully in the moment. As I write this I am sitting at a coffee shop. I can pause and notice the mingling of music and the blend of voices. I can feel the fabric of the chair I am sitting on. I can smell the aroma of fresh ground coffee beans. I can even pause, take a sip of my coffee…feel the texture of the cup against my lips, notice the temperature, smell the scent of the coffee and taste the mix of the slight bitterness of the coffee mixed with the mellow flavor of coconut milk I added.

Try doing this while engaged in a host of different events. You could try it while you are at a stop light. Notice the feel of the steering wheel in your hands. Smell the air in your car. Do you have the windows open? Can you smell fresh air? Can you feel a breeze? Maybe you are in a cold climate like me and can feel the heat coming out of the vents? Notice the sound of the engine, the passing cars, the birds chirping outside. Just make sure you notice when the light turns green again or you might also be able to notice the sound of the horn of the driver behind you.

Start practicing the separation of mind and body at the appropriate times. When you work, work hard. When you play, play hard too. Soak in the joy when it is there and escape back to it when it is not.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FULL OF IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!

A WEST ALLIS HIDDEN GEM

Do you enjoy a great coffee shop? Maybe a cafe with healthy and delicious food is more your thing? Are you looking for a relaxing place with craft beer and hand-crafted cocktails?

What if I told you there was a place you could find all of these under one roof and they would all be served with the most amazing customer service?

This does exist and you can find it closer than you think. Click the link below to read my review of one of the most unique and amazing places I have reviewed yet!

CLICK HERE TO DISCOVER YOUR NEXT FAVORITE PLACE

AN INJECTION WE ALL NEED

In my book A Happy Life for Busy People, I advocate creating a ‘happy playlist’ for when life throws you a challenge. This also works well when your inspiration seems to be lacking. When Margie and I are about to DJ a show and I am just not feeling it I usually make some of the first few songs we play ones that get me fired up so I can do a good job for the people that are there for the show. Sometimes you just need a little injection of inspiration, and often times music is a quick and easy fix.

There is another element that I rely on to give me an extra boost of inspiration and that is people. Before we all bust out into a rendition of Use Somebody by Kings of Leon, let me explain what I am saying. After a tough day at my job in the US Post Office, or even after a long seminar or book signing I cannot wait to get back to the loving arms of my beautiful Margie. She can be so good at providing a sense of peace and repose. She also can provide love, encouragement and humor. I am grateful for her each and every day.

Just the other evening I had the pleasure of getting together for coffee with my good friend Nick. Both of us share with each other our thoughts on spirituality, motivation and all things metaphysical. When I leave the company of my good friend I not only am fired up to share some of the great conclusions we discussed, but also have learned a great deal by sharing a hot cup of coffee and a great conversation with my friend. I am also very grateful for Nick and the conversations we share.

Think about your life, do you have certain people who bring out the best in you? Maybe you have others that inspire you to be your best? It might serve you well to make a list of those people and what joy they bring into your life. Then, make a conscious effort to spend more time around them. Your life will automatically become one filled with passion and inspiration.