IS MY CORONAVIRUS JOURNEY OVER?

This is me holding a copy of my book during a video shoot for a position I am applying for. As you can see I am also wearing the amazing smiley face shirt that my lovely Margie bought for me. The attention to happiness is not only for the video I was shooting, but it is also because I believe my journey with coronavirus is almost at an end.

Tragically, I heard the news was not so good for a different local family. A young lady lost her battle with this virus. It really touches home when someone in your community loses their life to the very condition you also have. I am so grateful my symptoms did not develop into something more severe. As I forge ahead with finding out the details on where I go from here I will make sure to keep all of you posted.

The health department told me I would be cleared 3 days after displaying no symptoms. My primary care doctor has cleared me to go back to work on the 31st. It is strange that there is no actual test to clear you. Instead we are to rely on time elapsed since my symptoms were first shown (14 days) and since I last experienced them (3 days). I have also learned that 2 of the countries who displayed some of the lowest mortality rates with the virus (Germany and South Korea) have done so through extensive testing. On a personal level, I find that our country being one of the wealthiest in the world has no excuse for not having more tests available. It is my sincere hope that we have all learned something very valuable with this crisis.

On a professional level, I hope we have learned to take care of health care workers by making sure they have the right protective equipment and medicines they need to diagnose and treat those infected. In the same light, I hope we come to better appreciate the ‘essential’ workers such as grocery store employees, gas station workers, people involved in the shipping industry and others who still had to show up when others were at home. Next time we go out to eat or even just for a drink or cup of coffee I hope we leave a little extra tip for these folks whose income was eliminated when businesses shut down.

On a social level I hope we better appreciate the time we spend with friends. Going out for coffee with those you enjoy will become something you treasure instead of something you take for granted. Seeing the smile on a friend’s face in person and being able to give them a hug will feel more like a gift and less like something that happens every day. May we take the time to gather more often and relish those times more when we do.

On a personal level may we have come to discover, or rediscover the beauty and wonder of those we share our house with. Not only does this strengthen the bonds of our relationships, but it certainly beats being cast for a reboot of The Shining. In my quarantine with my beautiful Margie I have been reminded what an amazing cook she is. I have enjoyed some of the most tasty dishes as she helped me regain my strength. I also found so many different ways in which I find her beautiful to me. Just last night she demonstrated what talent she has at drawing. This is something she rarely has time for. Even the frustration of having to maintain ‘proper social distance’ from each other made us appreciate how much we enjoy each others touch.

I hope when we look back on this period of time years from now we remember the many things we learned. It is my sincere hope we also reflect on the appreciation it gave us for the many things, and people, that we might have taken for granted. It has taught me that even having a potentially deadly virus can be turned into the blessing of helping others if you approach it the right way.

FALL IN LOVE WITH YOUR LIFE IN 30 DAYS (IDEA #1)

We begin this series with an idea that came to me as we were doing our 30-day Gratitude challenge. This idea will take a small amount of work, but the return on your effort will bring you closer relationships, happiness and a surprising amount of good fortune. I promised these ideas will be quick and simple but will have a big impact in your life and this first one is a great example.

Out of all the areas of our life, our relationships with others have the biggest impact on our life. It can be our greatest source of joy if we take care of our relationships. It can also be the biggest area of stress and sadness if we do not take care of them. Today’s idea will make sure in about 5 minutes a day we will breathe new life into every relationship we have. We will do so by increasing the closeness in that relationship and make the other party feel great about themselves. By the end of 30 days we will have a group of friends that are closer than ever and it will only take 5 minutes of effort a day on our part.

Does this sound like an impossible task? It is easier than you think and the results will surprise you. Let me off a word of encouragement and instruction as we begin. If you forget to do the exercise on a particular day, fear not. You can either do two the next day or extend the 30 days an extra day. We all forget or have tough days. If you do have a tough day, spending 5 minutes doing this exercise may help turn that day around. Now that we have covered the paramters, let us get into what we will be doing in these 30 days.

Before your 30 days are set to begin, there are a few things you will need to get ready. Go to your local store (Walmart, Meijer, Kroger or any other store will do) and pick up a box or two of thank you cards. These cards do not need to be fancy. Then compile a list of those people in your life who mean a lot to you. You will not need all 30 in order to start. Just a few will do. In this world of Facebook and email, it may surprise you how few addresses of your friends you know. If you do not have their address, just ask. Tell them you are going to send them a little something. Some people may need reassurance you are not going to sell them anything or put their name on a mailing list. This has nothing to do with either of those things.

Perhaps you have put together what we are about to do. Every evening you are going to write out one card thanking a person for what they bring into your life. You will address it and drop it in the mail the following morning. It is true we can do this via messanger, text or email, but in a world where those are all too common, an actual letter will help you stand out.

Instead of the usual bills and advertisement that we recieve in the mail, imagine opening a simple thank you card letting you know you are appreciated and why. How would that affect your day? How would it change your feelings towards the person who sent it to you? Now multiply that times 30 people, imagine the impact that would have on your life. This does not have to be limited to friends and family. You could send a thank you card to the staff at the local coffee shop you write at. You could send one to the teller at the bank that always provides service with a smile. You could pass a card to a coworker that makes your days on the job a little more bearable. The possibilities are endless.

At the end of 30 days you will have warmed the hearts of 30 people that share life with you. This will lead to 30 more smiles. It will help bring joy to 30 people when they think of you. It will help 30 different people understand they make a positive difference in the lives of others.

How do you think this will change your life? Your relaltionships will improve. Strangers will become friends. Friends will become like brothers. By taking merely 3 to 5 minutes to write a simple thank you card and listing some of the reasons you appreciate them, it will affect their lives and yours positively. I look forward to hearing who you send cards to and how it impacts their life and yours.

Tomorrow we will look at a way to magically transform your most important relationship in a mere 30 days.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING 🙂

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #29)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Another list that could be quite long. How do you pick just one? The good news? You don’t have to pick just one! If you are anything like me, there are just people you are grateful for. You think they are awesome and they make your life amazing. You just know that, but how many times have you sat down to actually say that? Better yet, how often do you tell them? I once had someone tell me, “I would tell somebody that I am grateful for them, but it just feels so weird.” That may be true for the reasons we mentioned last post. We are out of practice. I always respond by asking those people how they would feel if someone told them how grateful they were to have them in their lives. “I guess it would be a little weird, but it would feel good.” is usually the answer I get. If it would make you feel good why are you depriving someone else that same feeling?

We only have one more day of this 30-day gratitude challenge left. Perhaps you could start a 30-day challenge of telling one person a day that you are grateful for having them in your life? Who would you start with? Are there certain people you have in your life that always make your day a little more pleasant? Sometimes we may not even encounter these people, but just knowing they are there or reflecting on memories we have with them makes our lives better. Stopping for even 10 minutes to think about the people we are grateful for in our lives will definitely change our state for the better. It will also help us to realize how many amazing people we have in our lives. Journal about it and it will become even more powerful!

I am going to include the smallest of lists here. Trust me if I wrote everyone I was grateful for this would turn out to be my third book! If you don’t see your name on this list, trust that I am still very grateful for you. I am grateful for my friends Russ, Nick and Kelly (a.k.a. Kaitlyn Sr.) for having deep and insightful conversations. I am grateful for my friends Kelly and Sonny who do so much to help the victims of child abuse and their families. I am grateful for my friend Shannon who turns me on to great books to read as well as helps answer many of my questions on nature. I am grateful for my friend Kurt who is always available for a conversation. I am grateful for the coworkers who make my day job more amusing. I am grateful for my friends Alisa, Mary and Amelia who are brave enough to share their answers of what they are grateful for on Social Media. I am grateful for my new friend Eduardo who not only provides insightful comments on my website, but offers compliments as well. I am grateful for my mother who is not only up for most adventures, but keeps the attitude “It will be ok.” 

No gratitude list of mine would be complete without mention of the most beautiful, wonderful person in my life, Margie. Not only I am grateful she is in my life, but there are so many reasons I am grateful she is. She provides encouragement when I need it. She pushes me when I might not want to do what I should. Margie loves me even at times when I probably do not deserve it. I am grateful for the delicious meals she cooks. I am grateful for all of the crazy things that she does that make her one of the most unique people I have ever known and give my eyebrows a chance to get some exercise. I am grateful (and very proud) to have such a beautiful and sexy lady to call my very own. I am grateful I am having to cut this list short or this could be my fourth book. How grateful to have a partner so wonderful that listing all of the reasons you are grateful for them would fill an entire book!

How about you? Who are some of the people you are most grateful for? Call them out! Let them know right here and now how grateful you are for them! It will make you feel grateful and them feel great!

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING! 🙂

GROW LIKE A SHARK!


If you haven’t already, take a moment to read the quote in the picture above. In my both of my books I advocate a very important principle called “Pick Your Posse”. In which I give you some simple steps to surround yourself with positive and driven people to make your life even more amazing than it is today.
It is said that you are the sum of the 5 people you surround yourself with the most. I have met a lot of people who doubt that this is true. I am not 100% sure the exact number is 5, but let me assure you that you are indeed affected more than you might realize by the people around you. To help you realize how this happens let you provide you with an example. While working as DJs Margie and I are surrounded by both a lot of people and a lot of couples. Often, these couples are not their best after having consumed some cocktails. We have seen couples both verbally, emotionally and more often than I care to see, physically abuse each other. This could leave us with 2 conclusions. First, you see this often enough and it can’t help but dampen your enthusiasm about love and relationships. Second, you do leave with a feeling of gratitude (always a great and powerful emotion) saying to ourselves, “I am glad you are not like that man/woman.” or more to the point, “I am glad we are not like that couple.” This is good and does serve as a great warning of what could happen if we don’t work hard. there is a downside to that.
In our grateful attitude about being more emotionally mature, respectful or whatever difference may set us apart from those couples, it can leave us blind to, or lessen the concern for, issues we could be improving on. Instead of being concerned that our communication may be slipping from the great standard we like to keep it at, we may feel content that we are not screaming at each other like the couple we saw last night. Perhaps we have let our work commitments take us away from being as affectionate as our partner may like. We may not be as concerned because we are not grinding against someone else like that couple last weekend. I equate it to running a race against people you know you will always beat. Sure, you may win every time but will you get faster?
Do not get me wrong, there are lots of amazing couples we are blessed to have join us every weekend. In fact, we encourage them to come back every weekend. Watching them love and respect each other can inspire us and give us new ideas on ways that we can do the same for each other. We make it a point to search out and spend as much time as we can with couples that are even more loving and connected than we are. It not only reaffirms our faith in love, but pushes us to up our game when it comes to love.
This is just one example. The same holds true for keeping your faith, gossiping about others, staying positive, staying driven in your business or any other area of your life. Here is a great piece of wisdom. Whatever area of your life is lacking, begin by surrounding yourself with people who are exceling in that field at a high level. By associating with them you will both learn and be motivated to excel yourself. Pick your posse carefully. If you need help doing this feel free to pick up a copy of my book for additional tips.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!

AN INJECTION WE ALL NEED

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

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

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

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

ARE REAL FRIENDS FOUND HERE?

Today’s post is going to look at one of the more hotly debated places to make friends. In fact, this is not actually a geographical location at all. The place we are talking about is online. I have heard people say that online friends are not real friends. Perhaps this stems from the fact that people can be less than truthful about who they are. Profile pictures can photo shopped, facts can be embellished, even names can be changed. I can understand all of these concerns. Even in the ‘real world’ people can be dishonest and deceiving.

With over 7 billion people on the planet I feel it would be doing ourselves a great disservice to only count those among our physical location as friends. There are people who live halfway across the world that might hold the information we need. The person that could relate to your situation the best and offer you some insight and encouragement may not only be outside your city, but might be outside your country. Personally, I work with an amazing publisher in Los Angeles, Aura, who has helped my writing to grow. I speak with an author in Romania, Andrada, who is going to interview me in the future and who understands the struggles of being a hard-working author.

This website you are now reading has allowed me to interact with people on 6 different continents and over 100 different countries. By remaining open to learning and becoming friends with these wonderful souls my life has improved by leaps and bounds! I look forward to traveling to Fiji in the near future and have already made some connections there through my writing. I have learned about different cultures, food, music and holidays. Being a self-improvement author and speaker, I have also seen how much we all have in common. Everyone has the desire to feel important. Whether you are a farmer in Greenland or a prince in the UAE, we all wish to be loved.

Today, the love of my life reminded me of something even better than all you can receive by being friends with those halfway around the world. That is being able to give. While having dinner with Margie and my mother, my love stated that I have no idea how many lives I have touched without even knowing it. My mother brought up the ripple effect. How every life we touch can end up touching another. Through this giving we can improve the lives of an entire community clear across the world. Seldom does it matter where an inspiring word comes from if sent with love and good intentions.

Are online friends real friends? I say absolutely. Some of my greatest advice and most wonderful inspiration has come from afar. We must remember to maintain a sense of balance with friends online and friends in the physical world. I encourage you to reach out to people in different countries and cultures. Join online communities dedicated to your interests.

TRANSFORM TOGETHER

There are many good places to meet friends for social reasons.Here is one that not only accomplishes that, but has an added bonus of science. The science behind making good friends? Before we get ahead of ourselves, let me back up and talk a little more about the social pluses of today’s place to make friends. Today’s place to make friends and generally improving your life is the gym. Before you start rolling your eyes and clicking off this website, let me assure you I can relate to your doubts.

At the gym I am usually in a state close to hyperventilating, dripping with sweat, smelling less than ideal and in short, not my ideal self. Why on earth would this be a good place to meet someone? First of all, chances are most people there are in a similar state. Second, all of you already have one thing in common, you are chasing the goal of being healthier. Sure, your goals may be different. It may be you are facing a serious health condition, maybe you are trying to get in shape for your Jamaican vacation or you just want to fit into the clothes in your closet better. That gives enough variety to start some interesting discussions.

Here comes the science. The first one has to do more with working out than making friends, but it good to know just the same. It would fit under the category of psychological science. When working to obtain our fitness goals having a workout partner dramatically increases our chances of success. We find it easy to make excuses to ourselves, but most of us tend to feel a lot worse if we let someone else down. Having a partner that can not only talk us into the gym when we don’t feel like going, but hold us accountable when we don’t make it, will have our butts cursing on the treadmill far more often than when we try to go it alone. Adding to the fact two heads are always better than one when it comes to figuring out how to use that complex machine you never see anyone on but looks like it could really help your fitness.

The second half of the science as to why the gym is such a good place to make friends is even more impressive. When we exercise the brain releases ‘feel good chemicals’. These chemicals are called endorphins. No, they are not the cute animals that swim around the ocean. Those are dolphins. They do, however, cause very similar reactions in our bodies and brains. Endorphins, again the chemical not the aquatic animal, interact with receptors in your to reduce your perception of pain and trigger a positive feeling in the body. They have been compared to a natural form of morphine.

Imagine everyone you meet being on morphine. There would be a lot less conflict and a lot more mellow happy people. That is exactly what happens after we work out. It is also something I recommend couples try working into their routine. Spending time around someone who has just experienced the rush of chemicals compared to natural morphine should be pretty easy. If both parties are experiencing that feeling such as a workout partner or your loving spouse, great feeling are bound to occur. As the new year approaches lots of your friends will join gyms and those gyms usually run specials to get people to join. Why not find a friend to make that commitment with you? Can’t find a friend who is looking to get healthy? Join yourself and begin to talk to people there. Trust me when I tell you most people would be more than happy to talk about their workouts, diet and fitness routine. I don’t know if this is due to endorphins or just the fact they love to have people working with them.

Try taking and making friends at the gym. You won’t be disappointed. As an added bonus, you will become healthier and happier yourself.

SOME FRIENDLIER THAN OTHERS

Last post we talked about the experience Margie and I had making friends at the concert for the band Jackyl we went to. Today I would like to discuss a little bit about the band itself. The band Jackyl started in the early 90’s. They have pretty much been on tour since. They have two world records when it comes to touring. 100 concerts in 50 days and 21 concerts in a 24-hour period.

After spending more than 25 years on the road touring how can they continue to pack shows? A lot of bands in that time have fallen victim to changes in the music scene, the aging of their fans and many other variables outside of their control. During this time other bands were coming and going Jackyl kept doing what they do, namely traveling from city to city entertaining fans and releasing new music.

What is their secret? There are many things you could point to such as the universal appeal of some of their songs, a feature on the television show Full Throttle Saloon, and the powerful personality of their lead singer. While all of these items might and probably contribute to their lasting success, for me the one thing that separates this band from the others out there is what they do after the show is over and the music has stopped.

With many bands you have the opportunity to win a ‘meet and greet’ session with the band. Radio stations give this away, or some bands allow you to purchase an extra package that includes such privileges. With Jackyl, it is included with each and every show. As the singer says, “I want to stay and shake everybody’s hand for coming.” Whether you enjoy their music or not, whether you agree with their opinions or not you have to admit that does show a level of caring for the fans that few, if any, bands display.

It is by going out of their way to meet new people and make new friends that this band has been able to stay on the road selling out shows for over 25 years. At the last show I watched a whole club full of fans, some who even had quite a bit to drink, form a perfect line to meet the band. They were each greeted, received a handshake, autograph, picture and whatever else they were seeking. It would be understandable if after traveling on a bus all day, being on stage and performing all night that the band would want to just go back on the bus to go to sleep. They understand that it is the fans who allow them to make their living doing what they love. By taking extra time to express their gratitude when they must be exhausted is what makes this band stand out.

As a side note, for this extra effort the band Jackyl is now in possession of an autographed copy of my first book A Happy Life for Busy People.

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR OWN COPY OF A HAPPY LIFE FOR BUSY PEOPLE

FRIENDS THROUGH A PHOTO BOMB

This moment, and the friends that we made, happened while Margie and I attended a concert for the rock-n-roll band Jackyl. As you can see in the picture above, while we were taking a picture at the concert a young lady jumped into our picture. It was fun and silly. We talked to her and the gentleman that was with her. Before long we were discussing what we all did for a living, how many shows we have been to, did we know the opening acts and many other details. They were very nice people and as the crowd began to pack in it was helpful to have someone of a friendly nature around you.

The gentleman in front of us was in a wheelchair and needed some special considerations. As he was asking for some assistance we struck up a conversation. Much like the people behind us, he had looked up the opening bands online and had for more information than we had. While waiting for the main act to come on stage we discussed which opening act we liked best and why. Again, it was fun to make some pleasant casual conversation with those around us.

Even at a great rock-n-roll concert things like photo bombing and assisting people who are physically challenged can lead to some friendly conversation if you only provide a little interest in those around you. I wouldn’t recommend jumping into people’s pictures as a means of starting a conversation, but if someone does it to you have fun with it. Margie and certainly did and it made a great time even better!

HERE TO SERVE MORE THAN FOOD

Next up is an opportunity that nearly everyone could take advantage of. Last post I mentioned being a bartender was one of the best ways I knew to meet people. Another one is being a server. Who goes out to eat? Everyone! With just a little bit of effort, parties on both sides of this transaction can make new friends. Allow me to explain what I mean by sharing a recent experience I had.

It was late at night and Margie wanted to go shopping for Christmas gifts. I needed to get a few things written and all of the coffee shops I usually do such things at were closed. Fortunately for both of us there was a 24-hour store and restaurant across the street from each other and just a few miles from our house. I grabbed my computer and Margie grabbed her purse. I dropped her off at the store and we promised to keep each other posted.

As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed there were not many cars other than mine. When I made my way inside I had to wait a few minutes for the host to come out from in back. With this time, I observed that there were no other tables seated at the moment. Right after I was seated a young lady came up to the table and inquired where my lovely lady was. Margie and I had been there a few weeks before and had obviously made a good impression. After explaining that she was shopping and I was there to write she introduced herself as Chrystle and went to grab some coffee for me.

I began to set up my computer and get started. I was currently working on a restaurant review for the website Chow Down in Milwaukee. Moments later my server had returned with the coffee and took my order. I was into a groove when she returned in what seemed to be an impossibly quick amount of time. Setting down the food she inquired as to how my writing was going. I assured her it was going quite well as I took the first bite of the fruit bowl I had ordered. “What are you writing?” she inquired. As I told her I also mentioned this website and the fact that I had recently completed my second book. A second table walked in at that time and she looked torn. Excited she would be finally able to make some money, but evidently with more to say to me, she excused herself and I returned to recalling my experience at a Mexican restaurant from the day before.

Just as I was getting back into a groove, lost in a zone writers love, I heard a voice from my right. “Everything still good?” I told her it was. “I have always wanted to write a book.” she said. This was obviously more of an opening than a statement given the fact she remained in front of my booth staring down at me. Deciding my moment in the zone had ended and my time to discuss writing with an aspiring author had begin, I closed my laptop and said, “Oh really?” You may think at this point I was frustrated or bothered, but if there is one thing I enjoy as much as writing it is inspiring and encouraging other people to do the same.

“I wrote a story once when I was in school. The teacher said I should have it published, but my mother forbid it from happening.” she continued. She had apparently picked up on my willingness to discover what she had to say about writing. “Why would your mom do that?” I genuinely wanted to know. After responding with what seemed to be a dismissive answer aimed at avoiding opening another conversation more than avoiding answering the question I had asked, she continued. “I have a great idea for a book, but I do not think I could write it.” “I want to write a book called Single Mom Made Easy.” She went on to explain she was a single mother of several children including one with cerebral palsy.

“I am in and out of hospitals a lot and it is often hard to find a qualified babysitter, but life is good you know?” Admiring her attitude I had to inquire what allowed her to think that way despite all the challenges she faced. “It is all a matter of perspective.” she said. She mentioned all she had to be grateful for and all the positives in her life. Suddenly she recalled the other table and apologetically took her leave. I was left with an idea for this post and a genuine desire to encourage this young lady to pursue what I felt would be a very helpful and life-changing book for many single parents and parents of children with disabilities.

As the night went on we exchanged ideas for books and outlooks on life. I also shared my publishing experience and mentioned a few resources she could take advantage of. With a willingness to be open and a genuine interest in the person we were in contact with we both left better off. It is my true hope she decides to put her thoughts on paper and bring them to the world.

It is far too often I witness people treating servers in a dismissive or worse submissive manner. These are hard-working people who are on their feet all day and have a lot to offer. By taking a few extra moments to genuinely appreciate them we could make not only a new friend, but a connection with someone who also meets many people throughout the day.

As a server, you have a unique opportunity to connect with the people you serve. Inquiring about the person and not just what food they wish to consume, could lead to wonderful connections and friendships. It also will help the bottom line when it comes to the gratuity.

Dinning out can be an opportunity to do more than just fill your belly with good food. With a little extra effort and care you can fill your life with more connections and rewarding friendships as well.