WHO’S DRIVING?

This post is going to be very simple. This picture was captured at a red light. I sent it to my lady in an attempt to bring a smile to her face. She told me to her it looked like the dog was driving the car. To me that made the picture even funnier.

I encourage you to be on the lookout for funny scenes like this. Trust me, they are everywhere. You don’t have to take pictures of them, but you might want to so you can smile at them later. Share them with friends. This will do a few things. One, it will give you an album of pictures that can make you smile when you need it, which is always good. Second, it will get your brain in the habit of seeing the silly side of life. With reminders on every corner of all the trouble in the world, this can be a great skill to have. I bet after doing this for a while, you will see your mood get better and better!

Feel free to share what you do to stay focused on the silly side of life and feel free to share any fun silly pictures you have in comments below.

FOREVER YOUNG

I’m sure we all know some old 18 year olds and some young 80+ year olds. What is the secret to staying young? Mindset. Ok, that sounds easy but how does one keep a young mindset? This can be a challenging thing to do the older we become. Pain, heartache all can leave one feeling older by the minute.

In my life there have been three great keys to staying young. First, surround yourself with people who have a young mindset. There is nothing better than a friend who encourages you to laugh and to live. Take chances, try new things.

The second key to staying young has been learning to take care of my body. To live life to the fullest you need energy. The best energy can come from being physically fit and healthy. You do not want to run out of gas climbing the mountain of success. Incorporate a daily walk in the park into your routine. Even 10 minutes of exercise can get you on the right path. Eat healthy meals more often. Trust me, some of them taste amazing.

The third and final key to staying young may be the most important. Grow and maintain your sense of humor. There is no anti-aging product that works as well as laughter. It truly is the best medicine. Taking life too seriously is the quickest way to grow old before your time. Watch a funny movie with the one you love. Draw a silly picture. Learn one new joke a day. Just keep that smile on your face.

Feel free to share any tips you have for staying young in the comments below.

BE THE LIGHT

Often in these posts you hear me speak of finding your purpose. It is a great first step I recommend for any of us working to discover an amazing life. Knowing the ‘why’ in our lives can be the most powerful force to drive us. When I mention this to some people at my seminars or in the course of everyday conversations I am confronted with people who often times are searching for what is right in front of them.

Some of the time the problem is the fact that we are stuck in reaction mode. We are fighting an illness, reeling after a job loss, or even stuck on the pain from a bad break up we have had. Recently at a birthday party for a friend of ours I was speaking with a good friend of mine Jimmy. Let me tell you a little something about Jimmy. He is an amazing soul. When I first met him he was always making people laugh and was really the light of the party. Still is, that is when he chooses to be himself. Jimmy was in a bad break up. The lady did not appreciate or value what an amazing man he was. This should have been her great loss, but instead it is ours. Why? Because my good friend began to doubt himself. Suddenly he felt as if nobody valued him and he began to act accordingly. Sadly because he kept to himself and did not engage people the way he used to they also stopped engaging him. This only reinforced Jimmy’s belief that they didn’t want to be around him. All the while his friends were missing the Jimmy that made them smile. By sharing his gift and being himself Jimmy made the world a brighter place for everyone. Letting someone else control, and therefor steal his happiness made the world a darker place not only for Jimmy but for all of his friends as well.

There are also people who tell me they are like Jimmy. They say things to me like “all I ever do is make people laugh” or “all I ever do is help people to feel good about themselves and believe in themselves. I never can figure out what my great gift is”. Let me ask you this, if a brain surgeon was trying to operate in the dark and his friend was holding a light so he could see what he was doing who would be more important? Of course the man holding the light would not know the first thing about the complex ins and outs of brain surgery, but can you imagine trying to operate in the dark? Just couldn’t happen.

What does all this have to do with us and living an amazing life? This is a question you should be asking at the beginning of any of these posts. In regards to this one, please allow me to explain. Jimmy had a great gift of bringing people laughter. That is a very precious gift. By not valuing what he brought to the table and allowing someone else to dictate his self-worth he is not only cheating himself, but cheating his friends and all the people he comes in contact with as well. You see laughter cannot be bought, and not everybody has that gift. It can heal us from emotional and physical pain and lighten even the heaviest of hearts.

As for the second example, if ‘all you do’ is help others smile and believe in themselves you may be the most important part of their lives! I personally could not name all of the people that keep my spirits up and allow me to bring these messages to you. Whether it is my lovely lady at home, people I see when I DJ, or even the valuable souls I only communicate by phone, text or message. They shine the light on me and allow me to help others. I cannot state their importance enough.

So if you help others, if you make people smile you are a treasure. Sure it may not be as glamorous as brain surgeon, but if you can help a brain surgeon have the confidence in himself needed to operate than you are just as valuable. Even just being friendly can make the difference in the life of someone who thinks nobody cares. You never know it may even save their life and nothing is more important than that.

So please continue to be the light in the lives of others, you may never know the change you are helping to create, but truly you make all of the difference. As someone affected by your light and inspiration I just wish to thank all of you.

Feel free to share this post with someone you consider a light in your life and let them know how much of a difference they make.

YOU CAN’T MAKE OLD FRIENDS

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Here is a picture of my great friend Russ and I taken a few days back. Russ recently moved out of state and was in town to attend the Wisconsin state fair.  Constantly we can hear people say, and may even say ourselves, how little we have or what we are currently without that we would really like to have. We forget how truly rich we are. There are a few things in life that one can consider a treasure. Think of an old friend. One you share plenty of memories with. One you have both laughed and cried with. How much value can be put on a person who knows you well enough to be perfectly honest with and will tell you things you may not want to hear, but need to hear? Those are things money cannot buy. In addition, Russ and I are both working our way through our own spiritual and emotional enlightenment. Our methods and even thoughts may be different, but knowing we are both going through the process helps each other. combine that will the 24+ years of friendship we share and we provide an invaluable resource to each other. No matter how much money you have, you cannot buy memories with another person. No matter your credit limit you cannot lease experiences shared and knowledge gained with another person. These are priceless gifts that can only be earned through years of friendship.

There are two lessons I would love for all of us to take away from this. The first being if you have a friend you have had for a long time, you are indeed rich. You have something you should not trade for all the money in the world. You have a treasure money cannot obtain. You are rich no matter what your bank account may say.

The second lesson is this, if you have a friendship that now has been compromised for whatever reason, do yourself a favor and understand one thing. People make mistakes. They say hurtful things. They do stupid things without thinking. Are you without a friendship do to falling out that may have happened days, months or even years ago? Remember forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. There are some circumstances where it is best to move on and distance yourself from people who will bring nothing but pain into your life. For the most part, however, pride and hurt can be overcome with patience and understanding. Think of not only what you will gain by having an old friend to lean on, but also what you will lose by not having one. Old friends are priceless treasures. I know mine is.

A TIME TO REFLECT AND GIVE THANKS

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Today is one of the days of the year that presents more of a challenge than most. On the same day both the state fair, an event I look forward to all year comes to a close. In addition, my vacation from my day job is now over and summer which I so enjoy seems to be winding down. Every year this happens. I know it is coming and I try to find ways to make them not hit me all at once. One of the ways I have done this is to reflect on all the great memories I created at the fair this year. This year the lovely lady in my life threw me a surprise birthday party at the fair. A lot of my good friends and family were there. We had a blast. I saw a classic country artist with my sister, and a popular funk band with my beautiful lady and amazing friend. There were great new foods we tried and some fun things we have picked up.

Still, it is over now. I am full of memories, but soon it will be back to work. Soon the leaves will change, snow will fall and winter will be here. This is always a great challenge to my ability to remain positive and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful to the love of my life. Finding out quirky things about the ones we love is one of the more unique aspects of being in a relationship. If you have read my blog for any amount of time you are probably well aware there is lots of quirkiness to be had in this gentleman. My addiction and focus on attending a summer festival for 11 days straight is certainly one of them. We lost some time together and at times my focus was on watching a bird show and what new foods to try more than on ways to be romantic and loving.

So now that it is over how does this wonderful woman respond? A sigh of relief? A feel screams of “Amen!”? Those would certainly be understandable. Even “I am glad to have my man back” would make sense. She did none of those. The picture above is of a card she gave me when I came in to work late at a business we do together. She let me stay late because she knew it was the last day of the fair and wanted me to enjoy myself. So instead of being happy for all that will be better for her now that my fair addiction is over she gave me a get well card. I won’t share all of the details and heartfelt things she wrote inside. Briefly she let me know how much she understood how challenging this time period may be and how much she was there to love and support me through it. Trust me there was a lot more, but that is the general idea.

Here is what my lovely lady taught me in all of this. In times when things seem so overwhelmingly bad, when it seems like every little thing is going in the wrong direction that is the greatest chance to stand up and be loving. We, and by we I am including myself, can be guilty of the urge to run the other direction when our partners are in a funk or bad mood. My love reminds me that can be one of the greatest opportunities to show you care. In addition, for me it was one of the greatest moments I could feel loved and notice what an amazing life partner I had. So I just am going to take the next few days to reflect and be grateful. Of course pass along what comes to me here.

CEMENT BEAR

 

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Note this very scary picture above. Are you puzzled as to what is so frightening about an ordinary drinking fountain? On the surface, in the light nothing. When you can walk up, push the button and get water not even a child would have fear of such an object. Normally such things do not scare me as well.  Aside from clowns, which I am not to crazy about, I generally do not fear much. Let me share a story with you where that wasn’t the case.

One day I was camping and while setting up my tent the park ranger came by to warn of some serious problems with black bears in the area. Now let me begin by saying bears are one of my favorite animals and even my nickname. So nothing that I would normally fear. The ranger, however, was telling us that the bears had been unusually aggressive that year especially when people had food or smelled like food. I took note and made sure I had plenty of firewood to keep that going all night as well. No sooner did I get my tent set up then the rain came in. So hard I ended up sleeping in my car and not said tent anyway. It rained through most of the afternoon as well as the evening. I had fallen asleep to the sound of rain on the roof of the car which is rather soothing. I woke up somewhere around midnight with a strong urge to return all of the water I had consumed to prepare for the hike that never occurred. the good news is that is was not raining anymore, the bad news was because this was some place remote and it was late at night, there was nothing open and the only bathrooms available were the not so clean camp bathrooms that were a short distance up a walking path that was not well lit at all. When nature calls, however, we must answer. So I grabbed my flashlight and half awake I began to walk. Upon cresting the hill I froze. There, at the top of the hill right in front of me I could see the silhouette of a black bear! I could see his muzzle, his ear sticking up. I recalled how I must smell like the campfire I had cooked over. I waited nervously and waited for the bear to make its’ move. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. No such move came. Finally I slowly had the courage to raise my flashlight. What I saw was amazing. The muzzle slowly turned into a bowl with a button on the side. That ear sticking up? The very top of….yes, you guessed it, a drinking fountain. Oh come on, look at the picture can’t you see it?

Even if you think I am nuts, which on occasion I may be the first to agree with, what is the purpose of our story here today? Other than camping with Neil can be a comical affair. This is the point. After hearing the ranger’s words of warning I had been on the lookout for bears. Every sound became a bear waiting to pounce. Even a drinking fountain almost caused me to not quite make it to the rest room. which I did, but it is really hard to walk and laugh out loud at yourself while you really have to go to the bathroom. Here is my point. At sometime in our life I think all of us had a cement bear. If we go into situations with a fear, or worse yet, some sort of prejudice, quite often we will trap ourselves into two different outcomes. One, it will be a dooming self-fulfilling prophecy or two, we may see things not as they exactly are. When you find yourself looking a bad situation in the eye, ask yourself is this really something to fear or hate or is it simply a cement bear? If you are not sure, shine your flashlight on the situation. learn as much as you can and quite often you may discover it is no scarier than a drinking fountain. Every time I see one of these now I laugh and recall how I let my fears and expectations turn something so harmless into one of north Americas largest predators. Do yourself a favor, be on the lookout for cement bears.

TRADITION VERSES GROWTH

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Tradition, i am a big fan. It ties us to people and things we love. It helps us honor the past and keep in our cultures alive. They give us something to look forward to. I have my own traditions that were both handed down to me and that I have started. Funny thing about traditions, sometimes they just seem to start themselves. My state fair going had me thinking of this. One year back in 1996 I decided that since the state  fair is something that makes me happy I will just go every day it is going on. I had not realized this would carry on for almost a decade now, but it has.

Here is the next question. What happens when tradition suddenly stands in the way of growth? I have been fortunate that through change in jobs, change in life companions and change in living conditions have all still allowed me to continue one of my favorite traditions. Still with all of the life changes I have went through there have been some traditions that have been lost. I know my life is poised to be better than it has ever been. Still there are things that I enjoyed that are no longer possible to do. For example, I used to work in a small community where they had this great little coffee shop I would go to on lunch. You get into these little routines and you really look forward to them. They had some gatherings I would always attend. Since switching to a different office due to downsizing I am unable to go to them. Also I met the fabulous lady in the picture above. Funny thing about other people, they come with their own traditions too. Now sometimes they don’t always work together either. So you are faced with both doing your separate traditions, which would limit your growth and experience together or forging new traditions and learning each others. Here is where the work is. It takes love, understanding and patience to make this work. Much like anything we discuss here, your state of mind and attitude about the situation will do the most in determining how the outcome will be.

Traditions are a great thing. Hang on to as many as you can. If you find yourself faced with deciding between being able to grow and celebrating a tradition it is time to ask yourself some serious questions. What was the tradition all about? Is there another way to still accomplish the same thing while adjusting to growth and change? Was the tradition tied to a person? Is it time to surrender that tradition to a memory and begin a new one? Often times if we think of what the purpose of our traditions were we can find new and healthier ways to accomplish the same thing. Find new traditions to start with the ones you care about that will bring all involved joy and good health.