DON’T START TO MOLD

This post I cannot claim entire credit for. In fact, it was a great collaboration of ideas. My friend came up to visit from out of town and within five minutes of sitting down together we were coming up with great ideas to assist people in living more positive and rewarding lives. Interestingly enough these ideas were not solely generated by things we have read or learned in some random seminar, but by our own life experiences.

Allow me to let you in on a little of our conversation. Mold, mildew two words that seldom if ever garner a positive response. How do these conditions exist? Moisture is trapped on a surface and is not allowed to evaporate or escape. Eventually mold and mildew begin to form. Once they take hold they grow and spread rapidly. Unless the area is treated with a special cleaner (I have found the one above to work especially well) and well ventilated. In other words, the moisture must be allowed to escape and evaporate or the mold will reappear.

As most of you know this is not a website dedicated to bathroom cleaning, but to becoming the best versions of ourselves. How do the two connect on this issue? It refers to grieving. Not so long ago my friend had lost his mom. In a vain attempt to maintain an image he fostered he fought his grief. He kept all the tears he had inside for fear of appearing weak or sad. Much like our example above, by keeping his tears, or moisture, inside of him he began to form mold and mildew inside his spirit. It continued to grow and overcome him from the inside. killing off his happiness, his ability to socialize effectively with others. He even tried to treat the problem by drinking. It was no more effective than washing mold with water. It may looked good at first, but the mold came back stronger than ever.

It wasn’t until my friend finally let his tears flow, until he got that moisture out of him that he was able to move forward. The mold and mildew inside his soul dried up and went away. He was able to become happy again. Not that he still did not grieve and miss his mother, quite the opposite, he was honest about those feelings and allowed them to show.

If you have pain, if you have grief, do not hold in your tears. Do not let society or others dictate how you express that grief. If you do your soul may begin to mold. Let your tears flow. Be honest with your feelings. If you need help, please seek help. Whether it is the shoulder of a good friend, a support group or one on one therapy, give your grief an outlet. Then and only then will you be able to heal.

WHAT NOW?

When I decided to be a motivational speaker I thought it would be an easy and natural progression. Taking the material in both my book and website and sharing it with people would be simple and enjoyable. What challenges could come from sharing how to live a more positive and rewarding life with others.

I have discovered being able to appreciate the beauty in others and express that beauty in the written words has bestowed upon me one of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding honors I have faced. In the past 12 months I have spoken at 5 funerals. Being asked to speak about the life of someone who everyone in attendance cared so deeply for is both a tremendous honor, and great responsibility. One that I do not take lightly. It has also taught me to learn and think a great deal about how I approach the subject of death. In doing so, I have discovered what will not only help ease the burden of grief we feel when we lose someone we love but will help them live on every day in our lives. I would like to share what I learned with all of you in hopes it may help you or someone you know who may be experiencing the grief of losing someone you love.

On May 8th our family experienced a great loss in the mother of my lovely lady, Margie. Shortly after her mom’s passing, Margie asked if I would like to speak at the funeral. I must confess to having cringed a little. Being that my love and respect for both of those ladies was quite high, it was an honor, but it would be an emotional challenge to deliver. Certainly, when asked to perform such an important honor, it is hard to say no. As I began to think about what I would say, a new challenge presented itself. I was about to compose words about the woman the lady in my life was lucky enough to call her mom. Nothing but the best would do. The words came to me at 3 o’clock one morning. I grabbed my laptop to capture them.

In all my writing I try to give the reader something they can use to reduce the stress, or in this case grief in their life and add some joy or positivity. Fortunately for me, Margie’s mother, Ruthanne, led life that provided most of what I needed to say.

Most eulogies include memories of the person they honor. I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to answer the question that all of us, in some form or fashion, have in our hearts and minds when we lose someone we love – now what? What do we do now that we have lost a great parent, grandparent, spouse or even dear friend? How do we keep them alive both in our hearts and the world around us? How can we help their legacy live on?

I am going to share what works for me in hopes that it may help you. I have found although honoring someone with a memorial or candle-light vigil is thoughtful, the event is over in a day. For me, the best way to keep someone alive in our hearts and in our daily life is to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I would like to explain this further by using the life of Ruthanne as an example. I must add Ruthanne gave more light in her 79 years than most people could do if given 179 years. Her life could best be summed up by recalling her last few days with us here on earth.

When Ruthanne was told her time on earth was ending, she voiced two desires. It wasn’t a fancy car or an exotic vacation. She wanted to go to the casino and karaoke one more time. She wanted to die as she lived, feeling the joy in her life, surrounded by the people she loved. Ruthanne understood that joy and peace are more important than status or wealth.

When it became clear she was not going to leave the hospital we asked her if she would like us to bring her anything. Her answer spoke volumes. She said quite firmly, “I don’t need things. I need people.” Ruthanne understood the material gifts we are given we cannot take with us, but the lives we touch and the memories we create is what will live on long after we are gone. She knew the most valuable gift we can give someone is our time and our love. That is what she wanted from us.

It was not receiving that gift that most concerned Ruthanne. Every person who visited her in the hospital asked her the same question, “How are you doing?” You might think she would lament the conditions that plagued her or the time she had left. Not once did I hear this. Instead, she asked people how they were doing. She did not do this just for conversation, but with the genuine sincerity of someone who truly cares. She asked to see pictures of babies and how their jobs were going. Ruthanne understood how important it is to let someone know they are loved and significant.

If you attended Ruthanne’s funeral or visited her in the hospital you would notice the people she surrounded herself with came from every race, culture and creed. Ruthanne may joke with you about your look some days, but she would never let how someone looked stop her from loving them. Although a Christian, she would not let believing in a different faith stop her from loving you. Ruthanne gave us the gift of acceptance.

Sometimes, those she loved let her down. They may have been in trouble with the law, developed habits or addictions they shouldn’t have, or even hurt her or the ones she loved. I think at some point all of us that knew her failed to live up to our own standard. What did she do when this happened? She loved us anyway. Ruthanne gave us the gift of forgiveness.

With all the gifts mentioned above that she gave us, it is easy to see why at the 79th birthday party Margie threw her over 100 people showed up. If I were to guess almost three times that many either visited or sent well-wishes when she was in the hospital. With that much love and popularity you could not blame Ruthanne if she would boast with the rest of them. When she was told people had to leave her room because more were waiting to visit her she would tell us, “I don’t know why people love me so much. I am just me.” Ruthanne gave us the gift of humility.

Ruthanne gave me those gifts and I must add giving birth to the most beautiful woman I share my life with. Sadly, she will no longer be here to teach me these gifts in person. It falls upon me and those she knew, in her honor and memory, to share these gifts with those lives we touch. Every time I am accepting, forgiving, every time I make someone laugh or remind them how important and loved they are, I will think of and thank Ruthanne for being a living example of these virtues and many more.

When we lose someone we truly love, let us all work together to replace the light the world has lost with their passing. It will not only help ease our grief, it will keep them with us every day we share the gifts that they gave us.

QUICK! DO IT NOW!

One of the greatest challenges about showing people how to reduce their stress and increase their joy is convincing them of the importance of doing it now. After all, if your life is fairly happy why would you worry about techniques to handle stressful situations? You have enough on your plate with your job, the kids and figuring out if your favorite show is on Netflix. You will worry about it when life becomes stressful. The analogy I often use in my seminar is this, when would the best time to learn to swim be? While you are safe on the shore or when you are in the middle of the ocean in a boat that is sinking? When you are on shore it may seem silly to worry about swimming, but trying to learn as sharks are grabbing bottles of meat tenderizer is not ideal in anyway.

This became very apparent to me this past week. A lady I had been in a relationship with for 20 years, and then remained friends with for 4 years after passed away after losing her battle with cancer. It was a very hard and trying moment for me. Lots of feelings came up that were not fun, regret, sadness, frustration and lots of other not so pleasant emotions. All of this is natural and certainly ok to feel when someone passes away. Thankfully, I am blessed to be in a relationship with a lady who really knows and cares about me. Not only was she supportive, but gently reminded me of everything I have learned, teach and believe. The tools I have learned and developed that help the spirit stay resilient and to help heal sadness.

Before we continue, allow me to share a few of them with all of you as someone may be going through the same thing, and most certainly we all will at some point in time. When someone passes away we are all left with the question as to how to carry on their memory in both our hearts and the world around us. Personally, I have never been a fan of sorrowful days of mourning or candlelight vigils. Not that there is anything wrong with those, but I believe the best way to honor someone who has passed away is to try and rekindle some of the light the world has lost with their passing. Did they have a good sense of humor? Work on sharing yours a little more. Did they love animals? Maybe you can contribute to an animal charity?

I am grateful for two things in this very trying time. First, that I have a loving and wonderful lady in my life who can walk the fine line of being supportive and reminding me to use what I know to help myself as well as others. Second, that I have spent the last two decades learning and developing techniques to help keep a positive outlook in the face of trying times. If I had waited until after the funeral to try to discover ways to help me heal, I would be swimming with the sharks.

I encourage you to learn now. You never know when life will give you something major to deal with. Losing someone close to you, losing a job, or maybe even a relationship ending. If at that time you already have some tools in place, recovering from those situations will be a little less painful. There is always a sense of loss and sadness, and that is certainly more than ok. It means you cared for that relationship, job or the person who passed away. We must learn how to not only heal ourselves, but help others to do the same. I encourage you to start now. Feel free to click on the link below to order my book A Happy Life for Busy People, read the posts featured on this site or take other steps to learn effective ways to reduce stress, increase joy and become the best version of yourself. Love and light to all of those struggling.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF MY BOOK

THE MOST DIFFICULT SITUATION YOU WILL FACE 

This is me at one of my favorite stands at the state fair.  It is called krautland. They serve a lot of tasty things many of which include… sauerkraut. Ron,the owner, and his family are some of the nicest people you will meet.  If you are going to the Wisconsin state fair I highly suggest stopping by. 

Ok, other than looking at this fabulous picture of me, what does all this have to do with the most difficult situation of your life? Let’s get into that. 

When giving my seminars on success and happiness one of the greatest challenges people have, and the question they ask the most about is how to deal with the loss of a loved one. I am no expert in grief consoling and to me there is no ‘getting over’ the loss of a loved one. What I have learned both by study and personal experience is there are things we can do to make the person we lost live on in our hearts. Again, let me say this is what had helped me and I encourage and welcome you to leave your suggestions in the comments below. When someone close to me passes away, one of the first things that go through my mind is what that person brought to the world. What light has been lost with their passing? For example when my cousin was tragically killed at the age of 22 I realized the world had lost a great artist and vowed to do my part to help the art community that much more. When my grandmother passed away the world lost a great hostess and conversationalist. I do my best to be amazing at those two things. 

Another way that I keep those I have lost alive in my heart is by doing things that I always have done with them.  My grandfather was very close to me and when he passed away there were lots of memories I cherished. One of which I indulge in every august. My grandfather, like myself, was a huge fan of our state fair. Every year we would go together and sit and eat at the stand krautland. To this day once a year, at least, I visit that stand and recall the good times I shared with him there. It keeps his memory alive in my heart and puts a smile on my face as well as my soul. 

These two acts help me accept and process the loss of a loved one.  I hope they may be of help to you.  I invite and encourage you to share what helps you so that we may help others. 

GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR!

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These three people are all very different as you can see. The one on the left is my beautiful lady Margie. She is the most amazing djs you have ever met. She helps people discover they have a truly beautiful voice inside them and encourages them to expand outside of their comfort zone. She also creates cakes that are nothing short of a miracle. The joy in people’s hearts and on their faces when they receive one is such a great feeling to witness. She brings so much light into the lives of others it is amazing. She also does an amazing job of supporting the man in the middle, that would be me. I relate all the positive ideas I have learned and are continuing to learn through this website, YouTube, in my book and soon in seminars. More on that in tomorrow’s post. This blog is about neither of these two people however.

It is about the gentleman on the right. His name is Travis “Treezy” Jones. I wrote about him a few posts (see ‘then make a new one’ August 20th) for those of you who may not have read that post let me share a bit about him. Mr. Jones is a very talented performer and comes to lots of shows that my lady is the DJ at. He always reminds people to be positive and bring the best out of themselves. In a bar environment this can often be a challenge as you might imagine. A lot of what he tries to impart on the souls of others tends to get lost in the music and the alcohol. This is unfortunate because a lot of what he says can be life-changing and transformative. In the last few months Travis has had to deal with a lot of personal challenges. Remaining positive, something that came to him so easily seemed to be a lot more difficult. We sat down and spoke several times. As often when two like-minded people who come from different experiences get together a lot of great ideas are formed.

So what did we come up with? What great idea was created? Before I give you the quick answer, let me ask you a question. Have you ever wanted to get in on the ground floor of something? Have you ever wanted to be a part of something and watch it grow? Maybe even to your part to help that cause? Well, now you have that chance. In our discussions we decided Travis needed to reach more people. Not only did his original message of positivity and bringing your best still ring true, but what he learned from all of his personal challenges could really help others. So what did he do? He created his very own website! Now his words of wisdom can reach a worldwide audience. The website is called bringitivity.net I encourage you all to check it out. In fact, I would recommend following it. Many people give up and begin to follow a dark path when faced with challenge. This man chose to not only rise above it, but in doing so help others. His message is one we could all stand to hear. So whether you are in Brazil or Greenland do yourself a favor and give Mr. Jones and his ideas a look. They just might change your life.