A POLITE REMINDER

Here is a picture I took of the clouds above the local Starbucks I was meeting my mother at. In fact, I am actually writing this post at a different coffee shop not far from this one. As the month comes to a close, I want to give a friendly reminder to all of us, myself included. In this new economy, we have switched from the problem of businesses being able to open, to one of them being able to find employees to serve the customers they have. This is something to keep in mind as you are served not only at your local coffee shop or restaurant, but also at grocery stores when the lines seem a bit longer than normal. Most of the business owners I talk to would really like to have more help to serve you, but they are unable to find some.

While we are experiencing longer wait times than usual or slower service let us try to keep one thing in mind. We are being served by the people who did show up. The ones who are often working double shifts or longer hours. The ones who are doing not only there job, but often the jobs of two or more people. If we encounter an employee who seems a little less than full of sunshine, let us try to remember they are probably working twice as hard as normal and running on less sleep as well. It would be easy for us to be filled with anger, but let us do as the Dalai Lama suggests and show our strength by expressing patience. Perhaps offer a ‘Thank you’ and some encouragement. Employees working short staffed often feel burnt out and under appreciated. They need our patience the most.

As the month rolls on, I ask you to keep in mind the struggles of the workers who are doing their best to serve us every day in all of the locations we go. Just to help with the tranquil mood, I am going to end with another picture of the beautiful sunset I witnessed outside of the coffee shop that day that I met my mother.

FARWELL TO A LEGEND

He looks a little older these days

Most of you have heard me mention my friend Curtis before. I first ran into this gentleman on a trip to the local establishment Urban Joe’s Cafe,. Throughout the years I have known this man I have watched him navigate his way through school, maintain a fitness routine, become a father all while working full-time as the face of the franchise, if you will, of Urban Joe’s. This past Saturday was his last day. Curtis, his wife and young son are moving next month to start a new chapter of their lives in sunny Las Vegas. Although the restaurant will continue to offer the mouth-watering cuisine prepared by chef Carlos, and the same charming atmosphere, it will no doubt miss the personality of Curtis.

Curtis and his wife, Danie

Curtis has done a great deal to become more than just the face of Urban Joe’s, but a piece of the fabric of the community. When people think of the city of West Allis, they can recall a visit where they received great food in a pleasant place. What made Urban Joe’s so special when Curtis was there was his ability to care for his customers. To make them feel less like a number and more like a friend. To that end, he became a pleasant part of the people’s lives that live and work in the city. I know several people who, when visiting the city, make it a point to stop and see Curtis. They do so because everyone likes to be treated with respect. They like to feel valued and cared about. Those are qualities that you cannot put a price on and ones that will surely be missed with the departure of this wonderful family.

While the city of Las Vegas is going to gain some amazing and wonderful people, the city of West Allis will have lost a great deal of it’s warmth and welcoming nature. Whatever city you are from, I am sure this has happened there as well. Great people come, bless us with their gifts of love and hospitality and move on to share it with a new city. That means a great responsibility falls on the hearts and shoulders of the people left behind. It is why we must work to provide a warm and welcoming feeling to everyone we meet. We not only represent ourselves, but the places we work and the cities we live in. We should remember how we like to be treated and feel when we go somewhere. Let us provide that feeling to others. We need to work together to make sure the light of love and welcome shines bright for all we come in contact with.

On a personal note, I know Margie and I are going to miss seeing Curtis and Danie as we consider them good friends. We wish them and their family great health and fortune in their new adventure. Margie, my mom and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Curtis on his last day at Urban Joe’s. We will certainly continue to support this local business but we will always miss the presence of our goods friends. Those who have had the pleasure of knowing Curtis and Danie no doubt feel the same.

HOW A STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE IS CHANGING THE WORLD

This is actually the Starbucks by my work

Most days after my day job at the Post Office I like to stop and unwind with a nice cup of coffee. It is rather convenient that about 2 blocks from the office I work at there is the Starbucks you see pictured above. The staff there are always pleasant and I have had many great conversations with several of them. Today’s post comes from a recent conversation with a barista named Deb. I mentioned the pleasant staff, Deb is certainly an example of that. Always greets everyone as they walk in and has a great memory for the names of several of the regulars.

Back in the days when you could sit in a coffee shop

On this particular day, Deb and I exchanged greetings. My answer to the question of “How are you doing?” that day was my usual “Living the dream!” (which if you are keeping score at home is the title for my soon to be released second book) Deb looked at me and exclaimed she was living the dream too, ‘one cup at a time’. I let that sink in. Considering we were in a coffee shop where she was serving customers, it was good to be living the dream one cup at a time. I let her know how much I enjoyed that response. Little did I know there was an even more amazing side to it. She used to work at a different Starbucks location (ironically one that was by an office I used to work at) While at that location she tried doing something a little extra. Do you remember when they used to write your name on the cups? Now it comes on a sticker, which I feel is not nearly as personal. This time as Deb was marking the cup she decided to add a little smiley face. Nothing too crazy, just a little gesture of happiness. The reaction from the customer told her that it was surely a gesture that was appreciated. “When I noticed how much that meant, I started doing it to more cups.” Deb explained to me. I thought about how I felt when I received a smiley face on a to go cup or even the bill at a restaurant. That simple gesture not only lifted my spirits, but made me feel more valued as a customer.

Does putting a smiley face on a coffee cup amount to changing the world? I began to do the math. If Deb did this to a mere 3 customers per shift and she worked 5 shifts a week, she would bring joy and a little bit of unexpected happiness to 15 people a week. If we were to multiply that times the 52 weeks in a year and throw in a few extra smiles during the holidays, we would be approaching 1000 people. How do you think the world would change with a 1000 people experiencing a little extra joy? What would the ripple effect be? Would they pass that smile on to someone else? Would they take it home to their family at the end of the day? if you work with the public, I know it can often be a trying affair. It is, however, a situation filled with opportunity! When I used to work the counter at the post office, I would often stamp a smiley face on the customer’s receipt. I was always amazed at how much that meant to my customers. It was my intent, much like Deb, to make sure they knew they were not just another customer, but a valued person and that their time and business was appreciated.

In today’s mask-filled pandemic world, a smile can be a rare and valuable treasure. If you can’t share one with your customers on your face, we must be creative and find other ways. They are always appreciated even more so now. A simple gesture of kindness can change someone’s day. You do that enough and you too can change the world.

THE ENDING OF AN ERA

As a youngster, I have memories of this place called Skelly’s in my hometown of West Allis, Wisconsin. It was a small breakfast place. When you walked in you were greeted with the smell of frying eggs and buttered toast. If you wanted something healthy, your only option was to go somewhere else. I love places like that. Warm, comforting with a little greasy breakfast. Something about a diner just takes you back in time.

When I was still quite young, Skelly’s closed for good. I don’t remember much about that except one day it was just gone. When you are young I suppose that is how things go. Things are here one day and gone the next. There was a similar place down the road a piece, called The Cup and Saucer. Same sort of food and also went out of business when I was young. It wasn’t until I grew up (physically) that I began to recall and long for a place like Skelly’s.

Then, at that same very location opened a wonderful new cafe – Urban Joe’s. I do not recall the first time that I visited this wonderful place, but I do know I have not stopped visiting since. Unlike Skelly’s there are plenty of healthy options. (One of my favorites is the Mediterranean egg white sandwich. They also serve Valentine Coffee, which happens to be my favorite local coffee to drink. (I even have a Valentine Coffee sticker on my laptop) The best part of Urban Joe’s CafĂ© is the service that you receive there. It comes courtesy of the husband and wife team of Curtis and Danie. Both treat you as if you were more family than customer. I always enjoy encounters with them both. Curtis and I can maintain what amounts to rather entertaining banter the whole time that I am there. Margie and I actually have plans to go there a week from today.

Sadly, for those of us here in West Allis, Curtis, Danie and their young son will be moving to Las Vegas in May. This will spell the end of the era of Urban Joe’s. I heard rumors it may become a taco restaurant. Perhaps it shall keep its name and format, but without these two behind the counter things will certainly not be the same.

Unlike when I was a young child, I can see and appreciate this ending coming. Although knowing ahead of time allows me time to soak in a few more wonderful meals, cups of great coffee and experiences at Urban Joe’s, it is also bittersweet. Knowing that time is limited can be a somewhat sorrowful feeling, but it also reminds us how everything in our life is transitory, if not fleeting. Whether that is a friendship, a relationship, a job, a vacation and even more to the point, our own lives, everything comes to an end. Let us not view this as a somber thought, but let us use it as motivation to live every day – no wait, every moment – to the fullest. Be present when we are enjoying all of the moments of our life. Urban Joe’s may never be the same. Curtis and Danie may certainly be leaving. That is just going to inspire me to enjoy every moment I have left in both that establishment and with these wonderful people Margie and I have been fortunate enough to befriend.

YOUR TRUTH MAY NOT BE THE ONLY TRUTH

For years I have been telling you how important focus is for impacting your life. (with language and physical movement being the other two) With today’s technology, we can find any information we are looking for. This not only comes in handy for those arguing far-fetched political ideas, but any other subject as well. The dangerous part of this is that if our primary focus is how terrible the world is, with just a click of a mouse we can find information to support that theory. It is actually even easier than that. With online news delivered right to your phone, many people wake up, roll over and read about violence, environmental disasters and other such unpleasant topics.

Here is a statement that, if we remember it, will make our world, and those in it, a lot easier to understand and deal with. If we fully understand this statement, we can have compassion for those who are different than us. The statement is this – our truth is not the truth. What does that even mean and how can understanding it have a great impact on our life? Let us start with the first part of that question, what does that mean. You would think facts are facts. Once we read them that has to be the truth right? Not so. Let me give you a quick example from a book I was reading and you will be able to better grasp what we are working on here.

Let us suppose you have been applying for months to get your dream job. Today is the day! You have an interview this afternoon. You drive a good 30 minutes to the location. You are running a little early so you decide to stop and get a cup of coffee. You are so nervous you can hardly contain yourself. You order your cup of coffee and and wait. A few seconds later you are handed a steaming cup of delicious coffee. Within seconds a young man bumps your arm and spills the coffee all over you. It is on your white shirt, down the front of your pants and scalding your leg. “Watch where you’re walking!” you yell. “So sorry.” is all the young man can say before quickly walking off. It is too late. The damage is done. Your choices now are showing up for perhaps is the most important interview for your life with coffee stains all over your clothes or trying to reschedule and interview at the last minute and hope they will oblige you. All the fault of some young kid that was not paying attention, right?

Not so fast. Let us look at this from a different angle. Instead let us be someone watching this happen while drinking our hot tea and writing a blog that will go on to positively affect the lives of thousands. We notice a man come in the coffee shop. We notice him because we saw him walk past the door, realize it and have to turn around and come back in. Once in line he seems nervously agitated. He is fidgeting as we waits his turn, clearing mentally preoccupied with something else. He orders his coffee and as he offers to pay drops his credit card. “Damn it!” he yells. Rather upset with something that doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal. As he waits for his coffee his eyes seem to have a glossed over look as if his body was there, but his mind was somewhere else. Finally, he is handed his coffee and quickly turns and runs into a young man who was walking by, spilling his coffee all over himself and the floor. “Watch where you’re walking!” you hear him yell.

In the first example, when we were the young man on the way to the important interview, the fault seem to be entirely with the young man. When we were the person watching the situation unfold from in front of our laptop, the fault seem to be a little on both individuals. Which is the truth in the drama at Starbucks? The answer is both…or neither. There is an entirely different viewpoint that could be explored if we were the young man who did the spilling, or the worker behind the counter or any of the other people in that coffee shop at that moment. Imagine magnifying that by thousands, or millions of lives looking at a global issue and see how many versions of the truth their can be. All of them equally as valid as our own.

Whether you decide to Google “Why the work sucks” or “Why the world is amazing” you will find answers to both. So, does the world suck or is it amazing? It depends a great deal on what our focus is on. Remember, our truth is determined a great deal on our life experiences, our beliefs and opinions applied to certain situations. Others have different life situations, beliefs and opinions and can view the same exact situation in an entirely different light. Both are true. Knowing this we cannot only understand that our truth is not the only truth. Keeping that in mind we can hopefully develop and appreciate the fact that others have lived a different life that has been shaped by different experiences. To them their truth, although different, is just as real.

3 PEOPLE, 3 LOCATIONS, 4 ADVENTURES

In the past, I have written a good deal about the walks in nature that I enjoy so much. It not only provides a good source of exercise, but stress relief, entertainment and spiritual fulfillment as well. In this post I would like to share with you the story of a few of these walks and the things I noticed they all had in common as well as what makes each on a unique adventure in its own right. I have noticed each walk contained four of the same elements. They each had people, places, exercise and conversation.

The first adventure in our story came on a Monday morning. There is a park that I drive past daily on my way to work. It is called Falk Park. It looks quite small from the side of the road. As with most natural areas I pass, there was a voice in my head saying “That looks like fun. I really should explore there.” I contacted my regular fellow explorer, who also happens to play the role of my mother. She wasn’t quite sold on the idea of exploring what could be a small park. Weeks went by and I kept driving past thinking the same thought. I eventually looked up the park on a map only to discover that there seemed to be a healthy bit of green behind that roadside entrance. I looked at a few photos and saw wooden bridges, creeks and a host of other interesting views. As I relayed this information to my traveling companion we decided to venture out that Monday, which is my off day from the Postal Service.

When it comes to walking with my mother, exercise is generally the main facet focused upon. We walk at a good clip not shying away from hills and valleys. This is good as it keeps us healthy and able to walk further. The sad part is that often we miss some things due to the speed. On this day it was a new place and we were both excited to walk. As we set out the scenery changed often from woods to prairie and back again. We discovered one trail ended up right behind an Ikea store. Soon, there was an unscheduled break for personal relief and refueling. Stopping by our local Valentine coffee shop, we were caffeinated and ready to explore some more. The conversation consisted mainly of observing all of the new scenes we were taking in. This included a stop and comparing of notes with a fellow hiker. Four and a half miles later we returned to the car having exhausted most of the trail possibilities.

The second walk happened the following day. I was joined by my good friend Nick. The journey again began at a coffee shop on the east side of Milwaukee. Regretfully, we were on a limited time frame because of Nick’s professional responsibilities. That was just fine as any time with a good friend is time well spent. We both grabbed a delicious beverage and began what was certainly a more leisurely stroll towards the shoreline of lake Michigan. As we walked the conversation consisted a great deal of ways of improving ourselves and the state of my next book. We strolled down to the lake and the turned and walked through the neighborhood surrounding it. Nick saw several people he knew and we exchanged pleasantries. The great thing about walking with Nick is the conversation is always positive and free flowing. I leave with a great deal of inspiration and ideas for writing. I do so hope he is as least half as blessed with the situation as I am.

Our third adventure took place the next day. I had such a good time with Nick, I decided to suggest the lake front for a walk with my mom. She was up for the stroll as she had just done ten miles the day before in a state park. I picked her up and we began our journey at the same coffee shop as Nick and I had. Carrying a full cup of coffee tended to slow our travel speed a little. As we began to walk the lake front we noticed people availing themselves to the brew pub and its refreshments. It was an unexpectedly warm day in early November and it appeared that everyone was trying to make the most of it. There seemed to be an aura of joy and easy-going nature in the air.

As we walked along the lakefront we took in visions of the downtown skyline, spoke with people walking dogs, noticed how many more people we enjoying this trail than the ones in the woods that we usually travel on. The pace was still brisk, but the conversation was plentiful. We talked about other places we have walked, the weather and were we should go next. There were brief strolls through areas covered by trees, but most of the time we found ourselves on paved paths shared by walkers, joggers and bicyclists alike. It was quite a different vibe than our walks in the woods, but still a very nice one. We walked along the shoreline for a little over two miles until it ended at the Milwaukee location of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We watched and marveled at the wonderful security measures in place outside the building and then turned around to make our way back.

The last of our adventures for this blog finds me joined by a very familiar companion – me. In other words, I was walking by myself. It was again an unseasonably warm day and I could not pass the opportunity to enjoy some time outside. Just about ten blocks from my house in West Allis Wisconsin, is a small park that has a very ‘neighborhood’ vibe to it. I decided that a quick walk around there is just what was needed. As I set out I started my health app to track my distance and pace to make sure I got a small amount of exercise out of this walk. It was indeed the slowest pace of all four walks. I have a tendency to stop and take in different scenes as well as explore different things just off the beaten path. On this day I discovered a wonderful painted rock that was places by a local rock-painting club that Margie and I belong to. Fittingly, it was painted with the word ‘Love’ as I was loving this stroll. (walk may have been a little bit ambitious on this day)

The conversation on this day was mostly internal sans a few greetings to passing neighbors. I noticed that while walking by myself I tend to be very introspective. I tend to be that way in general, but something about walking by myself in nature brings it out even more so. The idea for this very blog came about as I was overlooking the lagoon. As I continued on I was struck by how many of my community were enjoying the park on that afternoon. Then I recalled that living in a place where the weather can be described as nine months of winter and three months of very poor sledding, they were probably equally as excited to enjoy the day as I. The sun made every glance look like a scene from a jigsaw puzzle. I captured a few of the ones that I thought were the best and sent them to Margie who was busy at home.

The interesting point out of all of this is that you can do the same activity and have a completely different adventure. The people you share it with, the conversations you have and the places you go can make all of the difference. Even if they are completely different, they all serve their own purpose. You can get a good workout one day. You can stop and marvel at nature the next. Perhaps even ponder life and its great mysteries as you walk with a good friend. As for the conclusion of my last walk, I found myself a little disheveled, but very relaxed. If you happen to see me and any of my walking companions out on an adventure, feel free to say hello or even join us for a few paces. You might end up in my next blog post.

FINDING JOY WHERE THERE WAS NONE

Above is a picture of a trail I was walking on this past Monday. As you can see, the trees are turning colors and many of them have already lost their leaves entirely. It is fall here in the city of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This means temperatures are starting to dip, birds are packing their bags and flying south for the winter ( I am a little bit jealous but I will get over it ) Snow will soon cover the ground and there will be a few days when even stepping outside will be hazardous to your health. This is truly not the climate for me. I suffer from a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is where feelings of emotional depression and hopelessness can creep in as the seasons change. In short, my mood tends to drop with the temperature. This has something to do with the bodies reduced exposure to sunlight they say. All I know is, for me, winter sucks.

As I continue to further my plan to become a best-selling author and move to San Diego, I am also on the lookout for ways to make living in a northern climate more bearable. My beautiful Margie bought me a “Happy Lamp” which mimics the sunlight. As a matter of fact, I am using it as I write this blog for all of you. I make sure to exercise daily, take vitamin D and do all of the other things they recommend. Still, at times especially after the holidays, I can find myself in a serious funk! As I was walking on this breezy fall day watching the leaves fall from the trees I noticed something off to the side of the trail – a mushroom growing right out of a tree!

As you can see in the picture above, it almost looked fake. My mother, who was walking with me at the time, laughed with me as we marveled at the strangeness of it. About a mile further down the trail I saw something else, a sign in the middle of some tall grass. This indicated there was some additional side trail we had not known about earlier. Although we choose not to explore it that day due to an over consumption of coffee prior to heading out on this walk, we certainly made a note of it. Here is the funny thing, neither of these things would have been noticeable if the leaves had been on the trees or if the grass had been full and green. It was only through the ‘death’ of the season that we discovered these things.

I began to ponder as we walked along. Thinking as I walked, which I so often do. This is true for the passing of the seasons, but it is also true in many other areas of our lives. When we lose a job, we not only develop a sudden appreciation for the reliable income that comes with a job we must go to everyday, but we also are forced to be creative in our search for new employment. We brush up both our resume and networking skills. Perhaps we consider taking a new course or starting that side business. We may even have an opportunity to pursue something more in line with our passions. It is only with the loss of the job that all of this is usually made possible.

Even the sad situation of losing someone we care about brings many things to light. Memories and things you may not have appreciated about that person. Love for, and the importance of, life itself. The value of the relationships we have with others. Making sure that we live our lives in such a way that we give the most to others while we are here. All of these very important, and often positive, events seem to occur after we lose someone close to us.

Could any of these things happen without the loss? Perhaps. I could venture off the path while I am walking and see what I find. We can always start our passion based business or brush up our resume while still employed. Perhaps there are also ways to more fully appreciate the fragility of life without losing someone who means so much to us. These things are possible, but are often only brought to light through a loss. It is a great lesson the change of seasons can teach all of us. Even a future best-selling author in a state with 9 months of winter and 3 months of very poor sledding could come to appreciate some aspect of winter.

The point here is that in many situations that we feel a loss of joy, there are gifts to be found. In every challenge there is the seed of equal to or greater opportunity. This winter, in addition to the steps I am already taking, I will look for additional gifts the cold weather reveals. Snuggling closer to the beautiful woman I have in my life. Appreciation for the wonderful meals I can enjoy without leaving my house. The simple pleasures of a hot cup of coffee on a cold winter day. That is not to say that I would pass on that ocean front villa in the islands, but until then I shall look for the joy where there once was none.

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.