GET THE ANTIDOTE BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

There are plenty of toxins floating around today. I am not even speaking of the covid-19 pandemic we are in the middle of. No, I am talking about emotional and spiritual toxins. There are news stories about violence in your city and throughout the world. There are demeaning and disrespectful political comments. There is even the sad news about this corona virus and how many lives have been lost. Somedays we are exposed to more things that are hazardous to our emotional and spiritual well-being than we can handle.

I have a suggestion that can help us be proactive and save us from a good deal of emotional and spiritual suffering. You know how it feels when after a hard day at work you come home to see climbing death tolls on the news or hear some elected official calling other people names. It is a anchor to your already sinking soul. You see the fear in the eyes of people on the street about a virus that seems to be growing stronger by the day. Even little things that used to lift your spirits such as the smile on the face of a stranger are now hidden beneath a mask. The world can seem to be growing darker by the day.

What we need is an antidote. What do I mean? While an antidote is something taken to counteract a particular poison. We are familiar with being bitten by a venomous snake and then having to get a dose of antidote. What about the venomous people and things we encounter everyday that poison our spirit? Is there an antidote for them? There sure is! Much like each poison has its own antidote, so does each spiritual poison. They also vary from person to person. This is where you get to be an explorer and discover antidotes for you. This is an adventure you should undertake without delay. You certainly wouldn’t want to wait until after you get bit by the snake to start looking for an antidote. While we all may not be exposed to venomous snakes, there are a few snakes in the grass in every community. We all are vulnerable to certain toxins depending on our particular situation.

Let me share some personal examples of toxins in my own life and the antidotes I have put in place to counteract them. My day job is at the United States Postal Service, my night job is DJing. Although there are plenty of nice people I consider friends at both locations, there are also those who may call my faith in humanity into question. Add those to the inevitable sunshine challenged individuals we all come in contact with and you can find yourself feeling rather antisocial. That is the effect of the toxin of unpleasant people. What is my antidote? I have a group of people that always do a great deal to restore my faith in humanity. Here in West Allis Wisconsin, where I live, there are 2 options I use. (there are more, but for sake of brevity we shall stick to two) My friend Curtis at Urban Joe’s cafĂ© is always full of good humor and serves amazing food and coffee with a smile. If I need an emotional lift, not to mention a great breakfast or lunch, I stop at Urban Joe’s and see Curtis. The same is true of my friends Ricky and Jodi at Peak Physique. It is a local gym that can help find ways to keep you fit during quarantine. Both of these folks are great at bringing a smile to your face. Ricky and I have had great conversations exchanging information on sources of self-improvement. Just a few stops around the neighborhood and I have an antidote for the poison of unpleasant people.

What about all of the stressful news we are exposed to on a daily basis? Hard to avoid seeing less than inspiring items on television, online or even to some extent on social media. Luckily for us, there is an item that can be a great antidote for the toxin of negative news. It is the show Positively Milwaukee. I have written about this show before when I was fortunate enough to be invited to be a part of it. For those of you who may have missed that post, allow me to share a brief description of the show. It is a show that highlights some of the most positive people, places and events in the city of Milwaukee. It is hosted by a young lady named Carole Meekins. She is passionate about sharing positivity and it shows. Every Sunday morning she is there supplying an antidote for all of the negative news we may be exposed to. What if you do not live in Milwaukee? You certainly can still benefit from this show as the episodes are all available on YouTube as well. I will share the link to the episode I appeared on at the end of this post. I encourage you to check out as many other episodes as you can. Each one will bring a smile to your face and joy to your soul.

Whether it is finding people like Curtis, Ricky and Jodi in your own community or discovering a wonderful gem like Positively Milwaukee, I implore of you to find your antidotes today! Some other suggestions are things like joining positive pages on Facebook, following positive people on Twitter and just finding other things that bring us peace and happiness. I would love to get more ideas of antidotes from you. Share what you do to counteract the negativity in your life in the comments below.

SEE THE EPISODE OF POSITIVELY MILWAUKEE I APPEARED ON BY CLICKING HERE

CHALLENGE OF THE HOLIDAYS

We are closing in on my favorite holiday – Thanksgiving. I love the idea of taking a day out of our busy year to focus on being grateful. Just like many holidays, the focus of the holiday has shifted from being grateful to cooking a large meal. This year, much like everything in life, things are different. Physical distancing and the fear of the virus has put limits on family gatherings. I always try looking at the positive side of everything and there is something positive to be had in this.

The one way to appreciate anything is to do without it for a period of time. If our significant other goes away on vacation we realize how much their presence means in our life. Even our job, which can often bring us a great deal of frustration, can be appreciated with a period of unemployment. This year, we have many things that have been taken away from us by this terrible pandemic. The plus side is that we can be reminded how much we have to be grateful for. There are so many things that we may have taken for granted that now we can feel how much we miss them. On a positive note, it has also forced us to find new and exciting ways to stay connected even when we have to be apart physically. Finding ways to put technology to work through zoom meeting and even video calls to stay in touch with friends and family. Using technology for the purpose of bringing us closer is yet another thing to be grateful for.

There are also old-fashioned things that we may have forgotten that can benefit us greatly in these chaotic times. Sending someone a greeting card in the mail to say nothing other than I love you, I miss you or I am grateful to have you in my life. Cooking a home cooked meal together and then sharing that meal with friends and family as you spend the evening watching a movie together. Maybe enjoying playing board games together and learning about each other while laughing and having a good time. Finally having time to catch up on those good books you have been meaning to read and never seem to have the time for.

Whether it is enjoying and benefiting from new technology that allows us to remain close even when we have to stay far away, or going back to the older technology that allows us to reconnect, these crazy times have given us a lot to be grateful for. I would love to hear some of the things you remain grateful for or even new things you have discovered you are grateful for here in 2020. I believe if we all share what we are grateful for we can help spread the feeling of gratitude in the world as we head into the new year. Please share what you are grateful for in the comments below. Is it a tradition you are still able to do during the pandemic? Is it the memories of holidays past and gathering together with family? Are you grateful for a special someone in your life that is making your world a better place? We all have something to be grateful for even in the craziest of times. Share yours with us and let us spread love and light the rest of the year.

AN IMPORTANT ELECTION DAY REMINDER!!!

Let us all remember this

In the United States, today is election day. It seems every four years when we choose the leader of our country things get more tense and divided than the election before. Civility and respect tend to disappear and are all too often replaced by things such as insults and in the worst case violence.

Win or lose, this last year has been tough on all of us. There has been,of course, a terrible pandemic that has affected everyone in the world in some fashion. There have been losses, both financial and of life. Dreams have been shattered and lives turned upside down.

With all of these trying circumstances, you would think it would help feed feelings of compassion and a desire to help each other. I believe that is yet to come. Although we may differ greatly on the paths to take, I believe we all want the same things. We would like an end to the pandemic. We would like an opportunity to pursue our dreams and see our friends and family again. We would like to see the smiles behind the masks once more.

Our plan forward

While we cannot force things to change, there are certainly things we can do until that happens. We can fill our hearts with hope for s better future and for it to arrive sooner than later. We can pray, whatever our faith may be. We can pray for the health of the world. We can pray for the healing of our, and other’s hearts. In the meantime we can fill our lives and our world with as much joy as possible.

It is our love and compassion for each other than has not only helped us get through the most difficult times, but has lead to the greatest breakthroughs and advances in history. In a world that often seeks to divide us, let our love be stronger than their division.

TAKE A GETAWAY TODAY!!

On occasion, it would seem my ideas run in a rather odd streak. They either happen while I am in the shower with no way to record them, or they happen just a minute too late. The idea I wish to share with you seems to have fallen into the latter category. As you read this I will be enjoying my first day back at work after a well-deserved two week vacation. Normally, this vacation would have been spent enjoying a great deal of time at our local state fair. Sadly, due to the corona virus, this year that fabulous event has been canceled.

This marks the second straight time my vacation has been altered due to circumstances beyond my control. Last year Margie and I had planned to visit the lovely tropical destination of the Bahamas. As it happens, the resort and part of the island we were due to visit was destroyed by a hurricane that had settled over the island. We had planned to explore going in March, but then we both had Covid-19 and were in quarantine. I guess that would make three vacations that have been postponed or canceled all together.

You may guess that all of that postponement of pleasure would have me feeling rather frustrated and irritable and you would be right. Being the optimistic, solution-oriented person I am, there is always an attempt to find a creative solution. In the first 12 days of my vacation there was an amazing and brief getaway with the love of my life a few towns away. I was determined to enjoy the last few remaining days experimenting with different states of repose. My house is located next to an open field. I took out this wonderful zero gravity chair and decided to sit in the sun. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine that I was laying in the tropics. Although the sun felt warm, it was hard turning the sound of the passing cars into boats on the ocean. Then it occurred to me, I put in some earbuds and looked up beach/ocean sounds on YouTube. Before long I was whisked away with tropical birds and ocean waves. I swear I could even small the salt water.

After a few minutes of this blissful mental escape I took it to the next level. No longer was I relaxing at a posh resort in the islands. No, this time I was on the deck of my own house overlooking the ocean. One of my neighbors was unwittingly participating in my fantasy and happened to be grilling out. The scent of the food cooking on the grill had me imagining Margie, or the maid if she wasn’t feeling up to it, in the kitchen preparing a fun lunch for when I had my fill of sun. The following day I even sprayed some sun tan lotion on for the coconut smell. (For the record, this is something I do not usually use as it is not needed for me) There I was, actually in West Allis Wisconsin where I live. In my mind, however, I was laying on the beach in… Jamaica, Fiji, the Maldives or any other tropical location of my choice.

If you are in need of a vacation, do what I did. Recreate the experience as much as you can. This can be as simple as looking online at resorts you may want to stay in and watching videos on them. (This is something I do way too often) It works even better if you can involve more of your senses. I had the feel of the sun, the smell of the grill and the sun tan lotion, the sound of the waves and the sea gulls in my ears. The more senses you can involve, the more real the experience becomes. Next time I will try to work in the taste of the rum. (I recommend Blue Chair Bay toasted coconut white rum) I only wish I would have thought of this great idea on my first day of vacation. Right now we could all use a getaway, let us do our best to give it to ourselves.

MAKE THE WORLD MORE BEAUTIFUL

Today’s world may seem like it is on the brink of collapse. With COVID-19, murder hornets, doomsday media and politicians impersonating chicken little on every television station things can seem fairly grim. What may appear even more daunting is the ability to turn it all around. There are certainly things we can do to limit the amount of negativity filling our eyes and ears. Turn off the news, or at the very least limit our exposure to a certain amount of time each day. Get rid of Negative Nancys on social media. Fight our urge to post the latest hot button negative topic we have just read.

These are all great ideas and will help us limit the bad but the question still remains, what can we do to start a positive shift in the world? Trying to change the negative can not only be exhausting, but a complete waste of energy and time. An axiom that I not only teach, but have had great luck in following can serve us well in these trying times. The best way to reduce negativity is to increase positivity. Simply by adding kindness to your world, you will not only make your world better, but make the world better for others. This may seem small if not even insignificant. It is not. Consider the ripple effect. If you restore someone else’s faith in humanity with your kindness, this in turn will help them from adding more negativity to the world. This is turn will limit the negativity those they come in contact with will experience. Multiply that by one person you come in contact with every day and that will be 7 people a week, 30 people on month and 365 people a year! You can begin to see the power of this.

It is true they may be in a rush to relieve themselves. We have all been there and it is not fun. They could also be driving on the way to say goodbye to a loved one who is fighting for their last breath. Perhaps they just said goodbye to a loved one and their mind is not focused on driving. Most of us have been there too. How would it feel is someone added even more stress to that situation. Maybe they are just someone full of anger and rage. If we add even more to that feeling, what do you think will happen when they get home to their family? How will they treat the next person they come in contact with? Now, how do you think an act of kindness and understanding will affect them? How about seeing a smile through a car window? In an age where actually seeing a smile on someone’s face is rare, that could really help.

Another aspect to consider is the difference your actions make in the world of another. As mentioned often in this blog I have a way to diffuse my stress when people drive creatively around me. I jokingly say to myself, or Margie who happens to be in the car often, “Maybe they have to poop.” It is a little something silly that changes my state but it does a lot more. It reminds me there are two sides to every story. I could just assume this person is a jerk for driving in a rude and unsafe manner. I could even honk, wave with one finger or some other dazzling way of letting them know exactly how I felt. Will it help them drive safer in the future? Perhaps, but highly unlikely. What is far more likely is that it will increase the amount of anger and stress they are experiencing and will increase their reckless driving.

The point of this post is to never underestimate the power of seemingly small acts of kindness. It may not seem like it will change the world, but that is exactly what it does. We especially change the world for the person whom we act kindly to. In turn, they act more kindly towards others. This spreads and the kindness makes a far bigger difference than we can imagine.

CHANGE THE WORLD. BE KIND TO ONE ANOTHER.

USE THE TIMES

Another post helping us to find peace and light in a dark world. There are lots of things we are all very excited to get back to. I, personally, am excited to have our state fair next year as well as the bicycle expo they hold there. I am sure you have a list of things that you were looking forward to, or are still looking for that were canceled or have been postponed. Concerts, festivals, parties and many other things have been put on hold until we have a better handle on this virus.

It is a great time to pause and be thankful for what we do have. Think about all of the technology. As we are stuck inside we have cable/satellite television with a million channels to watch. We have the internet where we can look up and increase our knowledge on any subject we desire. YouTube allows us to watch videos on just as many subjects. Even our wonderful smart phones that too often keep us apart from each other we can now use to call/text/video chat with those we care about! Just moments ago I received a text from my Grandma about vision boards she uses. (Yes, she is cool and enlightened that way. Feel free to be jealous)

Most of you reading this have your health. Even if it may not be to the degree you would like, you still have it. As most of you know, I had the Covid-19 in March and am so grateful to have not only made it through, but to have been able to share my journey. Gyms might be closed, but most parks are open for hiking and exploring. We can ride our bicycles, jog or a million other ways to appreciate nature. Speaking of nature, it has benefited from our staying inside a while.

I would love to know more about what in your life you are appreciating right now. What have you maybe taken a little for granted that now is a valuable part of your day?

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.

YOUR PASSION

In today’s world things can be very dark. It can seem that there is no good news to be had. We can struggle to find something to keep our spirits up. One way is to help others regain their smile. We discussed a little about how to do that in the last post. If you did not read it, it would be worth checking out. Many of us find ourselves without places to go or people to see. It can feel dark and alone.

One way in which we can put some more joy back into our day is to pursue our passion. I know many of us think we do not have time to pursue our passion. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Even if it is taking time to write a few words toward that book we have always wanted to write. It could be fun to try our hand at photography. Get out in nature and capture some of its beauty. Even researching a topic that we are interested in to learn more about it can bring us a sense of joy.

Another very positive step is to increase the depth of our relationships. If there is one thing we are all passionate about it is the relationships we have with others. Our friends would love to engage in some wonderful conversation with us. As I write this I am thinking of some of the friends that I have know the longest. One of the funniest things that popped into mind is that I do not know any of their favorite colors. Calling some of them just to let them know you were thinking of them can make a real difference. You can recall some of the fun memories you share and maybe plan some new adventures for when things return to normal.

There is, of course, the most emotionally strong relationship in our lives. That is the relationship we share with the person we love. Quarantine can be very hard on a relationship if you are not prepared for it. When we go from spending 12 hours with the one we love to spending 24 a lot can change. One way to assure that change is positive is to continue to learn about the person you love. Sure, you may know their favorite color, but what about their favorite smell? Do you know what their favorite memory of your love is? Planning adventures, be they everyday or intimate, with your partner can be one of the most enjoyable things to do. I am a big fan of the personality test books. You take a simple 10 to 20 question quiz and it reveals different aspects of your personality. Perhaps you can even learn more about yourself!

Lastly, this is a great time to deepen your spiritual relationships. We all too often focus on the material aspects of life. Social obligations can force us to put our spiritual needs on the back burner. When we are feeling down, it is our faith and our feeling of spiritual connection that can keep us going. Perhaps reading the spiritual texts that our faith has. There are many inspirational journals and workbooks to help us along the way. Even spending time meditating our our spiritual beliefs can make a big difference. Do not really have any beliefs? Now may be a good time to explore different schools of thought and see what might be right for you. Find what it is that brings you inner peace, let that be your sanctuary.

WE CAN STILL SMILE OUT LOUD

Earlier this month we did a post on the importance of a smile and the power it has to change the world. Speaking of the world, we find ourselves in a world that has made sharing a smile very difficult when it would seem the most needed. Due to health and safety practices we must follow in order to get the world coronavirus pandemic under control, masks have become a feature of many people’s lives. The city I live in just made wearing a mask mandatory.

Whether you go out for coffee, a quick trip to the grocery store or even a quick walk in the park, you may see many people with masks covering a good deal of their face. This is needed to help us get back to being safe and healthy. On top of quarantines and stay at home orders, not being able to see another person’s smile is a sad way we may feel more disconnected. As with every great challenge in life, this one also provides a great opportunity. While it may be true that we cannot see each other’s physical smile, we can still hear each others smile if only we choose to smile out loud.

What do I mean by ‘smiling out loud’? In the time I have spent in the Caribbean, in the southern part of the United States and even to some degree in the western part of the United States, people are more likely to greet you. In the Midwest, where I live now, it would seem not as much. As we are feeling more and more separate from each other and as the time we must endure physical distancing, it is more important than ever to treat each other with dignity and respect.

A simple greeting is a way of smiling with your voice. When we pass someone say “hello” or “Good morning” “Good afternoon” or whatever pleasant greeting you choose to use. In a world where we are all longing for not only a sense of normal, but some face-to-face human interaction, that small, seemingly insignificant greeting can be like a dose of medicine. There are plenty of people who are feeling lost and alone. We need to bring a smile to these people even if we can only do so with our voice for the moment.

As an added bonus, do your best to say your greeting with a smile on your face. What good does it do to smile if you have a mask covering it? Just because someone cannot see your mouth does not mean they cannot see your smile. You see it in someone’s eyes, you can even hear a smile in someone’s voice. Every step we can take to make the world a brighter place during this trying time we should. If you have any addition suggestions on how to share a smile when someone may not be able to see your face, please leave them in the comments below. We must all stick together to make life better for everyone.