LOCAL MASTERMINDS WORKING TO BETTER THE CITY

The internet defines ‘mastermind’ in 2 distinct ways. noun – a person with outstanding intellect and verb – plan and direct (an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise) In the city where I live, West Allis Wisconsin, we have a local group of masterminds who fit that definition exactly. The group is called “West Allis Masterminds”. It consists of a small group of local business owners from the city. Recently, I sat down with the group’s founder, Ricky Grabow, to learn more about this amazing group, who they are and what they are doing to improve the city.

My first question to Ricky was what exactly is the West Allis Masterminds? As I discovered, not only are they people of outstanding intellect, but they are owners of local brick and mortar stores located in the city of West Allis. How does such a group come together and why the name masterminds? Several years back the city had decided to disband its local chamber of commerce. When Mr. Grabow heard of this, he saw a great opportunity to establish a group of people that are not only vested in the city, but dedicated to its success. The exact mission statement of the Mastermind group reads as follows, “To provide West Allis small businesses a supportive community that ensures long term success and survival.” That certainly fits the second part of our definition of mastermind, plan and direct an ingenious and complex scheme or enterprise. In this case they are planning and scheming ways in which to improve the climate for small businesses in the city by working together cooperatively.

Ricky is the owner of Peak Physique a local gym here in West Allis. He is not only vested in the city, but has a passion for seeing it, and those in it, do well. I asked him how he chose the name for the group. He said it was inspired from the 1937 Napoleon Hill classic Think and Grow Rich. In which Mr. Hill advocates forming a group of individuals all with different opinions and talents dedicated to a common purpose. In this case that means Mr. Grabow contacted other West Allis business owners who also wanted to work together to not only improve their chances for success, but the chance for other local businesses to succeed as well.

There were several local businesses that were involved from very early on. Westallion Brewing Company and their owners were eager to help out. They often do many things to promote and benefit the city. Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli was another business working within the group. Mike, the owner, is not only a great businessman, but one of the friendliest people you will have the pleasure of meeting. Andrea and her business Oniomania, a small boutique on the east side of the city was another early member. Lisa and Josh from Transaction Skate Shop were also eager to help Ricky in his mission. These five businesses were soon joined by others and continue to work to improve the environment for small business.

Being a man of specifics, I wanted to know what steps they were taking to improve the climate for local businesses and how people can become a part of their efforts. The first way in which they are assisting local businesses is by providing a platform on which they can network with each other. In this way, the businesses can discover ways in which they can both support each other and work together to increase business in the city as a whole. Local business owners are encouraged to attend one of their monthly meetings and become a part of this amazing group. The next one is April 22nd at Westallion Brewing Company at 2pm. There is no cost to attend the event or be a part of the group and it is a fun and unique way to get to know fellow business owners.

The current goal the group is working towards is developing a stream of revenue to be able to provide new businesses with grants to assist them in getting started. They are also focused on being able to provide assistance to businesses that may be struggling in these current and difficult circumstances. I was curious as to how an average citizen could play a part in the efforts of the group. Once again Mr. Grabow had an answer. Starting June 8th, the group will hold a vendor fair showcasing many of the amazing businesses that are a part of this group. These will be held in the beer garden right outside the restaurant Public Table. Past events have not only featured beers from Westallion and amazing gift ideas from Oniomania, but also massages from Susan of Massage MKE. It is a free event where you can browse and experience many of the amazing businesses present in the city. A portion of the revenue will go towards the group and their goals. You can enjoy a good meal, a tasty beverage, a relaxing massage and do some shopping all while helping support the health and vitality of the city and its small businesses.

If you would like to know more about the group, the fun things they have planned and how you can be a part of the great positive changes they are striving to make in the community, I will include a link to the group’s Facebook page at the end of this blog. I am very proud to be in a city that is filled with such caring business owners. They are people dedicated to not only the health of the local business community , but the city as a whole. I strongly encourage you to learn more about the group and attend one or more of their vending fairs.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT WEST ALLIS MASTERMINDS

A VITAL COMMUNITY

Time is one thing that always moves on. In the photo above you see the intersection of the streets of 70th and Greenfield in the city of West Allis taken in the early 1900s. The Bank is still there. It is now BMO Harris, not First National. It also doesn’t look nearly as cool though. The building that says Schurs was for a moment a diner called Skelly’s that served delicious greasy breakfast. I recall walking in there and always smelling eggs and toast. The street lights also look a great deal different.

Some people may lament over the passing of time and the changes it creates. Not only is this a fools endeavor, as the only thing constant is change, but it robs us of a chance to focus on some of the positives. Yes, the bank looked far more impressive to me in the picture above than it does now, but it also has a little seating area it didn’t have before. I sure love little places that you can stop and get breakfast and would have loved to go to Skelly’s with Margie. What is there now is a nice place called Urban Joe’s. Not only do they serve wonderful breakfast and great coffee, they do so with a smile.

2 great local businesses

It certainly doesn’t do us harm to fondly remember the businesses of yesteryear, but let us celebrate and support the businesses of today. We may not have a Shur’s or Skelly’s anymore, but we do have plenty of other amazing businesses. We have Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli where you can explore the crazy possibilities of creating things with… you guessed it peanut butter and jelly! Trust me when I tell you that you will be in for some delicious surprises. There are also great gyms like Peak Physique where you can learn everything from kickboxing to yoga and so much more. Ricky, the owner, is passionate and knowledgeable about fitness and would love to help you.

Supporting local businesses is one way to have a vital and healthy community. What I think is even more important and constructive is to get to know and support your neighbors. There are plenty of fun and exciting ways in which to do this. True, we may never go back to the days of leaving our doors unlocked, but we can make our towns a lot friendlier and safer by connecting with those in our community.

Supporting local businesses and getting to know their owners like Mike from Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli and Ricky from Peak Physique is a good start. I suggest adding connecting with other neighbors through groups on social media such as Facebook and Nextdoor. You can also join local community groups. We have several in my city such as East Allis Association and Women’s Club of West Allis. There are countless others that all represent one possible fun way to get to meet and know your neighbors. Taking classes at your local recreation center is another great way to meet those who live near you. Even simply taking a walk through the neighborhood can introduce you to a host of new smiling faces.

Everyone wants a safe, strong and vital community. It is up to us to create it. Support local business, get to know your neighbors and join groups that make a difference. Be a part of the solution and you will feel better about the town you live in.

A MOMENT OF REFLECTION

In the spirit of ‘Throwback Thursday’ I wanted to take a moment to look back at this blog and see where we have come from and where we are heading. Just like when you are walking up a steep hill and running out of energy, it can help to stop, look down and see how far you have already climbed. To me, growing this blog can sometimes seem like climbing a hill. Although I am extremely passionate about helping others and learning and sharing ways to improve our lives, the business of growing an audience can, on occasion, feel daunting. How I measure success in my writing, speaking and coaching business is the amount of lives I have touched. When it comes to this blog, the metrics are pretty much the same.

Lucky for me, I can see the stats daily. This not only shows me how many people my words are reaching, but also where these people are! So far we have reached over 150 countries and all 7 continents! Imagine how thrilled I was the day I received notice that someone at a base in Antarctica was reading what we share here. Still no Greenland. Perhaps everyone on that island country is living the life of their dreams. I must confess as to not having the pleasure of visiting there. I look to having more ‘meet and greets’ and book signings in many more locations as soon as the world goes back to a degree of normal.

Back to our friendly stats. As you can see I began this blog in 2012, eight years ago. That seems like a different lifetime entirely to me. When I began it served more as a place to record not only the best of what I had discovered in the world of personal-development, but my own thoughts of many of the challenges facing the world today. I began that year on Thanksgiving and by the end of the year had over 100 people visit this site. I was shocked to discover there were that many people interested in discovering secrets to an amazing life. Fast forward several years and we had grown our community to almost 15,000 visitors. I was excited to share with, and learn from so many wonderful people. My goal this year is to double the size of our community. Imagine having that many minds sharing secrets that have allowed them to lead an amazing life?

As we look ahead I am excited to see what the future holds. I would love nothing more than to continue to develop this online community and discover more ways to be of service to all of you. With that in mind, I humbly request you share this site with anyone you might know who would enjoy learning and sharing with us secrets to living an amazing life. This site is completely sharable on all social media platforms. Feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and anywhere else you think would be served with a little light and love. If you have any suggestions to increase our following or add to what you would like to see on this site, I encourage you to leave them in the comments below. Once again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for a great 8 years and look forward to an even better next 8 years!

WHERE TO SPEND YOUR ENERGY

Last post we spoke about resisting posting or responding to negative content online. We also mentioned using these platforms, whether they be Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, to spread love and appreciation we may be hesitant to voice in person. Today we are going to expand that principle. We are going to ‘take it outside the classroom’ as they say.

As responsible human beings we always want to fix what is wrong. That is a good urge and one I could certainly get behind. The method in which this is often done can be focused incorrectly. We worry about fighting a world in which all people are not treated equal. That in itself is a rather noble pursuit. In my opinion our focus should be on creating a world where everyone is treated equal. This may sound like the same thing, but it is not. Instead of focusing solely on eliminating hate, we should spend the bulk of our time on spreading love.

This may seem difficult to do when we look at issues of things such as racism, spiritual persecution, bullying and other societal behaviors. It would indeed be rather overwhelming to change all of that, but what we do have complete control over is ourselves. Let us focus on creating the new that we desire with our own behavior. Do we desire a world that is more loving and accepting? Let us be more loving and accepting ourselves. Let us join groups and organizations that promote unity and love.

Beginning today, let us focus our energy on growing the new world in which we wish to live. Let us do it by both changing our own actions as well as promoting and joining forces with individuals and groups that do the same. Instead of focusing on fixing what is wrong, let us instead focus on growing what is right.

HAVE YOU LOST IT?

Although this photo may sound a bit harsh, it is still very true. It never ceases to amaze me how many of us will sit behind our keyboards spewing words that are not only negative, but can be both mean and hurtful. It seems almost daily I read comments on people’s political or spiritual beliefs that I would imagine would not be said in a face to face meeting.

That is not to say you have to agree with everything that everyone says. Quite the contrary. It is the variety of opinions and beliefs that make this world a beautiful place. Ask yourself, if this person expressed this opinion in person what would I say? Even if it is something you disagree with, would you even bother expressing that? If so, would you do so in a hurtful angry way?

The same holds true about what you post. If you have a negative opinion about something will you feel the need to share it with every person you come across? Would you do it by calling those people names to their faces? It is very important to remember that seeing your words in black and white can be even more hurtful to someone than hearing them in person. Before you type that phrase or respond to that post or comment, ask yourself, “Would I say this if we were in person?” Chances are the answer would be ‘no’. Let it go. The world has more than enough anger and hate.

If there is any advantage that we can use behind a keyboard, it is to overcome the shyness of expressing our love and appreciation for each other. It may seem awkward for some of us to tell someone how much they mean to us. In today’s society this is not often the norm. Sad, but that is the case. Let us use social media and our online presence to remove some of the uncomfortable feelings associated with that. You can tell your friend how amazing they are or how much you love them online without having to worry about being uncomfortable. The great part about sharing positivtiy online is it can be reviewed at a later date should the receiving party need to hear it again. (That being said, you can also see the danger of posting hurtful things online)

Having a reputation of spreading the positive online will have people wanting to have you as an online presence in their lives. After all, there is no shortage of negative things available to read online. Having even a brief positive thought to read is a pleasant escape. Even if the positive thought expressed is not about the person reading it, just the fact that there is a positive post can make them feel good.

Let us not lose our basic human decency just because we do not face immediate consequences for the words we type. Fight the urge to respond to every negative post and comment. Do not add to the problem. Do not say anything you would not say if you were face to face. If you are going to use your social media for anything, why not use it to express thoughts of love and appreciation you may be uncomfortable doing in person. They will make the receiving party feel good and you will not have to worry about feeling awkward. If each one of us reading this would take these actions we would go a long way to making the world a more positive place.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR LIFE SUCKS?

Today’s post may sound rather negative on the surface. We here at Secret2anamazinglife.com do more than just share knowledge. This website serves as an online community. We share ideas, we share challenges but most importantly, we share solutions. We also share encouragement. We share inspiration. We share motivation. The posts themselves are only one part of the equation. The comments on this website and its corresponding social media pages form a collective group of people determined to live the most positive and rewarding life they can. They are also compassionate souls that understand life is not a competition. They understand that one of the secrets of an amazing life is the ability to help others and the joy and peace that gives us. At the end of this blog, I am going to provide a link to our Facebook page Fall in Love With Your Life. I would encourage anyone wanting to be a part of this wonderful group of people to join.

This brings us to the subject of today’s post. Has your life ever sucked? I would be bold enough to assume the answer is yes. Even in the best of lives, the world can sometimes get the best of us. We may be focused on gratitude and using the power of positive thinking. We may be able to see the beauty in ourselves, others and the world around us. We may meditate, walk in nature, practice altruism and live a life a spiritual fulfillment. We may be doing everything right and out of nowhere life can sucker punch you right in the gut. I am not saying this to sound negative, but instill a sense of urgency in you. Urgency for what? I am so glad you asked. Knowing that at some point life will deliver a challenge that may momentarily get the best of you, it is important to prepare for such an occasion. How do you prepare for life sucking? That is a million dollar question. Let us get into it.

Recently, I had the honor of being on the television show Positively Milwaukee. This is one of my favorite shows and it was quite an honor. One of the things I shared with the viewers is the importance of preparing for emotional challenges. As I told the wonderful host Carole, the time to learn to swim is on the shore, not when the boat is sinking. Let me explain what I mean and then I will relay to you a personal example of what a big difference this can make.

Every month you know you will have bills to pay. In order to prepare for that, you save some of the money you bring home from working. What if you just spent as you pleased on whatever you wanted and said, “I will worry about those bills when they come.” I would venture you would find yourself sitting in a dark house pondering how to heat Ramen noodles without electricity. The same can be said for emotional challenges. That is why working on ways to reduce stress and increase joy in your life should be a daily endeavor. If we just wait for the moments when our joy is challenged to create a solution, life will be a far more difficult and dark place. If, however, we are always on the lookout for, and putting into action ways to fill our life with some emotional sunshine, when the darkness comes we will be far more prepared to return to the light.

This may sound good in theory, but let me show you exactly how it works in practice. Today I had a really great day. I began work at 5 a.m. Okay, that part was not exactly great, but I was on time, the day went by pretty much without any major problems. After work, I was able to come home and kiss the lips on the most beautiful face of the woman I love. While she readied herself for our evening together, I enjoyed a walk in nature with my mother. The weather was warm and sunny, just the way I like it. After the walk I picked up my lady and took her to the cinema. We have not been to the movies, which we love, since the beginning of the corona virus. We watched a movie we both loved and enjoyed each other’s company. We then went to Starbucks to meet a very nice couple that were having Margie make their wedding cake. When the details were worked out, I dropped Margie off to shop while I wrote.

Driving home to grab my laptop the oddest thing happened – I became extremely sad. It was as if a wave of sadness had washed over me. The really frustrating thing was that I had no idea where this feeling came from. By all accounts I had one of the best days I have had in a long time. How can you deal with a negative feeling when you don’t even know the source of that feeling? Sure, it would be easier if I knew what caused me to become overcome with such emotion, but it was not entirely necessary to change it. Here I was, home alone and feeling down. Margie had bought me one of those ‘Happy Lamps’ that mimic sunshine for my seasonal affective disorder. Although today that shouldn’t have been an issue as it was warm and sunny, I plugged it in next to my laptop. Behind me I noticed my daily motivational calendar. Everyday it displays a new and inspiring quote. Todays? “Every day may not be good…but there is something good in every day.” I decided to enjoy some tea as I wrote. I looked at our rather vast selection of tea we have and found some called Cup of Sunshine. As you may have guessed by the name, it is a mood-enhancing herbal tea. As I sat in the ‘Happy Light’ sipping my cup of shine pondering my daily dose of inspiration my mood slowly began to shift.

As I wrote the notification sound on my cell phone went off. It was from a motivational YouTube channel I subscribe to. They had just uploaded a new video. I decided I could do worse than to listen as I wrote. The video was all about the importance of how we view things. It was rather striking as that was what I had just wrote about. Like a sign I was doing the right thing. I began to not only lose my feeling of sadness, but it was being replaced by a feeling of purpose and inspiration. My mood was rescued by the tools I had put into place long before the feeling ever arrived. You can do the same starting right now. Do you like unicorns and rainbows? Subscribe to a social media page focused on those. Do you enjoy stand-up comedy? Subscribe to a YouTube channel that features different comics. Fill your life with things that inspire and move you. Take actions such as meditating, reading inspiring material and maybe even purchasing some artwork that inspires.

The most important decision I made that changed my state was choosing to have people in my life that are kind, compassionate and inspiring. Throughout my little ordeal I was messaging Margie at the store. Her words and ideas of encouragement and love did more to change my state than the amazing tools mentioned above. I received another notification on my phone. My friend Alisa had commented on something I wrote that added so much more to help even more people than the post itself. You may think I am lucky to have a loving and caring woman in my life. You may think it was a stroke of good luck that I have a like-minded and intelligent friend to comment on my post. Although that is true to some extent, the more important fact was that I chose to include these people in my life. Margie and I work at our love and relationship in such a way that way have a closeness and can understand what will help each other when we are feeling down. Alisa and I share through comments and conversation ideas that not only help each other, but those who read what we write as well.

Know that you too will have times when life gets the best of you. There is not much we can do to entirely prevent these from happening. By preparing and having inspiring and stress reducing tools and people already in our life, we can shorten the duration and intensity of these episodes. That will make our entire life more amazing. I would love to know what you do when life sucks and you find yourself in a funk. The more we share and learn from each other, the better all of our lives will be. Speaking of sharing and learning from each other, remember if you are interested in joining our online Facebook group of caring people, click the link below!

CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR FACEBOOK GROUP ‘FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE’

MY EXPERIENCE ON POSITIVELY MILWAUKEE

Recently, I had the great pleasure to become a part of one of my favorite television programs, Positively Milwaukee. This show airs every Sunday morning on the local NBC affiliate WTMJ. The show is hosted by one of the most talented and passionate journalists I have had the pleasure of associating with, Carole Meekins. In 2012, I created my blog Secret2anamazinglife.com. For the last 8 years I have shared tools and secrets that will help the average individual reduce the stress and increase the joy in their life. In addition, I share stories that show the beauty in ourselves, others and the world around us.

Imagine my utter delight to discover there was a television show, and Facebook page, dedicated to highlighting the positive people and events of the city I live in. It was my new ‘must see TV’. Monday through Friday we may be inundated with the crime, corruption and violence that fill our television screens and social media page. Every Sunday morning at 9 a.m., Positively Milwaukee is there to save us. Like a gentle rain on a hot summers day, it is there to quell the fires of rage that can erupt with over exposure of negative news. Positively Milwaukee brings peace and hope to hearts around the city that have become overwhelmed with fear, sadness and despair.

In my seminars, talks I give to companies and communities as well as the one-on-one life coaching I do, I always advocate that people have 3 things in their life daily. I believe you should have something to be grateful for, something to look forward to as well as something to inspire you. Positively Milwaukee accomplishes all 3 for me. I am grateful to have a resource that not only shows me people and organizations doing great things for our community, but often ways that I can get involved. I look forward each week to discover who or what Carole Meekins has discovered and brought to our attention. Lastly, I find so many of the stories, as well as the job they do putting the show together, quite inspiring. Including Positively Milwaukee in your life can go a long way to helping you become happier and more inspired.

Imagine my feeling of elation when I was asked to be interviewed for this wonderful program! I am always excited to share my message and tools of positivity, and to do so on such a wonderful platform was a great opportunity. It began with a conversation with Carole several days before the filming. Watching her on television you can certainly pick up on the passion she has for the work that she does. Nothing could prepare me for the wonderful and engaging person I experienced in this conversation. From the first ‘hello’ I found her to be funny, insightful and caring. Most importantly, she was genuine. Carole Meekins truly cares about her city and the people in it. When the day of filming had arrived, we met with Jeff who was to do the filming and provide us with a connection to Carole. Our interview had to be done remotely due to the current pandemic. Jeff was not only extremely knowledgeable and great at his job, he was friendly and informative. As Jeff set up the equipment necessary to conduct the interview, he also did a lot to explain how it was going to work and take a lot of the worry out of the process. The actual interview itself was easy and felt as if I was talking to an old friend. Carole Meekins is not only a brilliant journalist, but a thoughtful and divine human being.

Walking away from an experience like that had me both nervous and excited. Not knowing how the finished product will look is always a bit unsettling. Would my message come across clearly? Would the camera add 20 pounds? Would people know that Jeff and I had the same color of shirt on that day? All of those fears were completely unfounded. The job done by those working on the show Positively Milwaukee could not have been any more amazing. Putting my interview together with pictures and videos from both my website and my YouTube channel they created a flawless presentation that was even more impactful than my interview alone. I will be eternally grateful to the hard-working staff of Positively Milwaukee for providing me an opportunity to help those in search of a more rewarding and fulfilling life.

It is my sincere belief that Positively Milwaukee is a treasure to the city and that Carole Meekins is its crown jewel. By sharing the good that is in the hearts and actions of the people of the city of Milwaukee, they give many the urge to better themselves and all of us hope for a better future where we can all be good to each other.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE EPISODE OF POSITIVELY MILWAUKEE I WAS FEATURED ON

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

HOW I BEAT CORONAVIRUS IN 4 WORDS

For those of you who do not know, my name is Neil Panosian and I was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 18th. As of right now I am all clear and recovered. Still getting back to tip top physical shape after 3 weeks of inactivity, but that will come. I am no longer contagious and depending on the day, I am considered to have some sort of immunity. Every day I wake up I am so grateful my symptoms were not worse and that I made it through. 10,000 people in the United States so far were not that fortunate and my thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and family.

I want to share with you what I believe was my secrets in making it through. The interesting thing about the 4 words that I am about to share with you is that they not only got me through this virus, but they are the same formula that gets me through many challenges of life. If you are as unfortunate as me and become infected with this virus or know someone who has, please share this information with them. If you are spending time at home as we all should be, you can put these 4 words into practice in your own life to conquer whatever challenges you may be facing.

The first word that I used was preparation. Was I actually preparing to get a virus? Not exactly. I was taking all of the steps you were supposed to. I washed my hands often. Did my best not to touch my face. It is amazing how much you do this without ever noticing. As we did karaoke Margie and I wiped the microphones with disinfectant wipes. (Although someone at our Friday show did use half of our container to clean their hands after eating wings) Still, working with the public and at the Postal Service somehow I managed to get it. What is important to note is how I lived my life prior to coming down with this virus.

My way of living includes going to the gym here in West Allis, where I live, roughly 5 days a week. Some weeks it might be 4 times, sometimes it might be 6 but I go there on a regular basis. When I am there I actually am one of the people working out, not texting while sitting on a machine. I do it for the stress-relieving benefits. After a hard workout the other challenges in my life seem a little easier to deal with. The side effect of all this running, lifting and stretching is that I can enjoy my beautiful lady’s cooking without gaining too much weight. It also means I am doing my best to keep both my heart and lungs strong. Being that I have both asthma and heart issues, this is a big plus. I also do my best to eat right (sans the occasional pizza) and take a few vitamins. Before bed every night I meditate and follow other self-care routines. Couple these with my loving relationship with Margie and you can see I live a fairly healthy lifestyle.

When the virus hit me I was in decent physical shape. My asthma was controlled the best it could be and my heart was as strong as it gets. I liken this to learning to swim. The best time to learn to swim is on the safety of the shore, not when the ship is sinking. If I had waited until I got sick to try and be healthy I believe the virus would have had a far more severe impact on my body. That is why it is so important to use the time we have to prepare ourselves for challenges before they come. The better we are prepared to meet challenges, the more likely we are to overcome them.

The second word that I used to beat the coronavirus may be the most important one. That word is purpose. While waiting for my test results to come back I asked myself 2 very important questions. 1) How can I use this? and 2) What is good about this? I knew if I indeed had the virus I would share my journey here on this website. I would do so with an attempt to calm a lot of the fear that people may have facing this situation. I guess the good would be that having the virus would allow me to speak from experience. I would be going through it. I would struggle with the shortness of breath, the cough, ,the lack of smell and taste and the dizziness. I could tell everyone how tired you would get walking from the kitchen to the living room. If I tried something and it worked to help my symptoms, maybe it might help someone else?

One of the biggest things since I have recovered from the virus is attempting to donate my antibodies to help critical patients. If I can donate plasma and it may help save the lives of two other people, I would be selfish not to do that. I am still waiting to hear back from a few of the places that I called. I guess this process is still a little fluid. Being able to potentially save 2 lives, if not at least help them recover quicker feels like a true blessing. To think of the joy this would give their families and hopefully save them from the sorrow of losing a loved one fills my heart with happiness and gave me a purpose to getting better.

Word number 3 in my healing journey was persistence. When I was not feeling so good, especially the first week, I was tempted not to share my journey. I certainly did not feel like setting up my laptop, or making myself remotely composed enough to go in front of a camera to shoot a YouTube video. When this happened I thought of all the preparation I did that allowed me to be able to keep the symptoms to a level they were at. Most importantly, I thought of my purpose. Why I would use this virus even more than it was using me. I thought of the people who were out there that were scared watching the news and hearing nothing of the people that recovered. I thought about those who would fear what would happen to them if they got the virus. I thought of those, who like me, already had the virus. They may feel alone and scared. Having to be away from family and friends with a sickness that we know so little about. If, by logging on to my website or seeing my posts on Facebook, it helped them to see they are not alone, then I had served a purpose.

With every blog post and every video came not only well-wishes that I was extremely grateful for, but questions. I knew if I was home scared and had a question I would want it answered as quick as possible. This allowed me to persist in logging on every day and answering those questions. I once heard Earl Nightingale say “Persistence is another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” If there was one thing I had through this, it was faith. I am not sure what you believe in, God, the Universe, the divine power, to that end it doesn’t matter to me. What I did know is the creator had me get this for a reason and I believed that reason was to help others. That faith translated into persistence on days when I was tempted not to post or answer questions and just spend the day in bed.

The final word in my healing journey was perspective. Like all of us this virus and the challenges it has brought with us has also brought with it a change in how we see the world. Recently, I went for a walk in the park. This experience was appreciated more than ever. After roughly 3 weeks in the house I cannot explain how good it felt to be in nature. After not being able to do my 5 days a week in the gym, it felt so good to get my heart pounding and my lungs working. Every neighbor, or at least most of them, seemed to say “Hello” or some other greeting as they passed. It is not that I look friendlier than your average person, but I think everyone is just grateful to see new faces. Perhaps they were as grateful as I was to be out in fresh air. I watched the geese, ducks and seagulls on the lagoon and thought how blissfully unaware they were of all the societal drama unfolding around them. I watched the squirrels running around gathering food and attending to their usual spring preparations with a greater regard for something routine.

One of the biggest changes in perspective was how I viewed all of the news. I rarely saw stories of people going through the virus and how they were coping. There were not even that many stories of what to do once you had the virus. I was one of the fortunate ones that made it through, but all I heard were numbers of cases and deaths. Rarely would there be anything about those, like myself, who made it through. I knew it was even more important to share my story and to give people hope to help balance out the fear. As I return to work at the post office and am dealing with the fallout from my illness there, I feel it will be important to share this story too. That way something may be done to protect those workers who face uncertain reactions from both bosses and coworkers once they return.

Preparation, Purpose, Persistence and Perspective. These four word were the key to overcoming the virus for me. They are also my keys to overcoming the daily challenges we all face. I encourage everyone to take a look at there own lives and apply these four words as well. It may very well be the difference to falling victim to a challenge verses having the strength to overcome one. Next post we will look at a secret ingredient that also played a big factor in allowing me to beat the coronavirus. It also allows me to live a life filled with joy each and every day, whether sick or healthy. Be sure to look at that. As always if you have any questions about the virus, my formula for dealing with it or self-improvement in general, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I am here to serve.

KEEP THE DARKNESS AT BAY

I saw this picture on the Facebook page of my local neighborhood association. (That would be the East Allis Neighborhood Association.) I found it to ring so true. A lot of us can fall into the rut of thinking there is nothing we can do to change the world. This is far from true.

One of the problems that can generate such thinking is having us think we need a grand gesture in order to make a big difference in the world and the lives of those in it. It is the little things that make the big differences. To prove this is more than a cliché saying that you can find on a Hallmark greeting card, I am going to share two personal stories with you that reflects how this can work both positively and negatively. I think once you see both sides of the equation you will begin to not only intellectually appreciate this, but understand it emotionally as well. This is important because once something gets into our spirit we are more likely to act on it.

I am going to start with the negative example for no other reason than we can end on a positive note. The other day at work I was checking with a group of mail carriers to see if they had anything to go to the other post office to which I was headed. That day I happened to be wearing a new colgne that I just purchased. I am not sure how you are, but I am always a little nervous when trying a new fragerance for the first time. As I passed one of the carriers she expressed her displeasure on how it smelled to her. Not that big of a deal. Normally that would just be a valuable source of feedback. It was, however, they way it which she did so that made all the difference. Instead of letting me know she did not find my new scent pleasing one on one, she began yelling to the whole post office about how terrible it was. To her this was no big deal, but it threw my day for a loop. Considering I have never said anything but compliments to this lady, it really got under my skin. Her small act had a rather big impact on my day.

On the exact opposite side of the coin, I would like to share a great example of how a simple act can make someone’s day. I was at home and had just stepped out of the shower. Wearing just the bare essentials, shall we say, I was digging in the closet for a shirt to wear on a special date I was taking my beautiful lady on. That very lady stuck her head in the room I was in to check on my progress of getting ready. Observing me looking for my shirt in the closet she remarked, “You look very sexy my love.” Mind you her and I always do our best to make sure we point out things we love about each other often. She doesn’t often use the word ‘sexy’ and that really made me feel good. I work hard to look appealing for her and to know that was working really meant a lot. For the rest of our date I had a smile in my heart thanks to her off-handed compliment.

Whether it is paying someone a compliment, picking up a piece of trash to help the neighborhood look better or making a small charitable donation, it is the little things that make a big difference. You may think how can picking up one piece of trash make my neighborhood look better? If we extrapolate that over a few hundred neighbors that is a lot of trash! Now what if those same 200 or so neighbors decide picking up one piece of trash is not worth the effort? Now you have 200 pieces of trash floating around the neighborhood. The same works for the charitable donation. I have roughly 40,000 followers for this blog in about 100 countries. The thought of what it would be like if each one sent me $5 has not escaped my thinking. To them $5 would most likely not be that big of a deal, but multiply that times 40,000 and it becomes substantial. If they all decided that donating $5 would not make much of a difference, no money would show up at all. Think of how this works for your favorite charity next time you ponder if your small donation would make a difference.

We may all not be able to do the grand acts we desire, but we can all do something. By doing even a small something we become part of the solution. If we decide that a small act is not worth bothering with, we remain part of the problem. Do what you can with what you have today and know even your small acts can have a great impact.