WHY BE YOUR BEST?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my good friend Russ. We have known each other for roughly 30 years. Whenever we talk I always gain a great amount of inspiration and clarity. Not only on life itself, but on me. A friend who has known you for that length of time can really share some insightful things. I am always grateful for that. In our most recent conversation, Russ noted that I am “always positive and encouraging” While this may be a slight exaggeration, it is indeed my goal.

After some discussion as to why this is I had what can only be described as an ‘A-ha moment’. I told him the reason why I appear to be positive all of the time is because I bring who I am to everything I do. For example, my goal in writing these posts is to share knowledge I have come across in hopes of helping all of us live a more amazing life. Why? The reason is simple. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it. When I DJ, my goal is to help every person I come in contact with feel better about themselves or about life in general. Same thing at the post office, when I go out for coffee or grocery shopping.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. Earlier in my life, I brought myself everywhere I went as well. The problem was I was not the best version of myself. This is a very important reason to always be your best. You follow you wherever you go. We can do our best to pretend to be somebody else, but at the end of the day our true persona will always shine through.

There is another very important reason to always do your best to be the best version of yourself. Inevitably we will be faced with challenges and disappointments in life. We will lose a job, a relationship will end or worst of all, we will lose somebody we love. When we are the best versions of ourselves it will save us a good deal of heartache. One of the worst feelings anyone can pile on a bad situation is regret. If we lose a job that is not the time to say to ourselves, “I wish I would have performed better.” If we lose a relationship it is a little too late to say, “I wish I would have been better for that person.” At funerals would you believe loss is not the most painful feeling? It is regret. I wish I wouldn’t have spoke harshly to that person, or I wish I would have said I love you one more time.

Chances are in your life all three things will happen at some point. If they don’t we can certainly practice gratitude, but that is another topic. If we are normal adults these situations will all happen. If we do our best at our jobs and still end up losing them at least we can say, “Well they lost a good employee!” and it will certainly help us land our future occupation. Even if your boss is a jerk, even if you dread going there, do your best. Not for them, but for you. The same holds true in a relationship. You may spend all of your energy and romance on someone and they still might break your heart. It is sad but true. How much better would it be to realize they just lost the best thing they will ever have. Not to mention it will save you years of beating yourself up over “I should have” and “What if…” When it comes to the loss of a loved one there will always be pain. That pain will only be compounded if we honestly did not give our all to that relationship. We will always wish we had more time with that person and did more, but if we did our best we can have peace in our hearts.

I urge you to call that person that needs to hear from you. Give your effort at work. Think of, and act on romantic notions you have with your partner. Even if things end badly, you will have the confidence and inner peace of knowing you did your best.

WHEN THE NIGHTMARE BECOMES THE MIRACLE

Every day as part of my day job I drive several miles. On this daily commute I listen to the country music station. Whether you like that music or not, I would like to share a very interesting thought that was brought to light by doing just such a thing. On this particular day the song Living by Dierks Bentley came on. This song is about the difference between just ‘being alive’ and really living. In the lyrics he references really noticing a tree he has seen a thousand times, stopping to enjoy the rising sun and “Drink it in like whiskey”. There is also a mention of stopping to watch a bird on a branch and watching it fly away.

My favorite part of this song is about his lady. After noticing all of the amazing things in nature he goes back inside to fire up a pot of coffee (nature and coffee can you see why I like this song?) As he is doing so his lady walks in wearing his shirt “Like she always does” the song says. Suddenly he is overcome with love and gratitude for her. He kisses her like it is the first time and tells her he loves her and can’t live without her. He also mentions that he knows he doesn’t express those feelings enough.

 This song reminded me of the countless stories I have read or heard about someone confronting their mortality and suddenly looking around and seeing the beauty in everything. Often when we are confronted with or overcome our greatest nightmare, that is when we begin seeing miracles everywhere. When there is the possibility that this may be your last day on earth suddenly everything becomes a treasure. The smell of a summer breeze, the smile on a loved one’s face or in the case of the song, sunshine, trees and birds. Why does it so often take death to make us appreciate life? The truth is these miracles are around us every day.

I would like to also take a moment to discuss the other verse of the song. The one where his lady walks into the kitchen wearing his shirt and he falls in love with her all over again. When you think about love it really is a miracle. No matter how amazing of a person you are, having another person be able to be around you everyday can present its challenges. To have that person not only tolerate you, but to look forward to see you and enjoy your company is a miracle.

I am grateful through practicing living a life of gratitude and doing my best to be present I have had some amazing gifts bestowed on me. Most obvious is my beautiful Margie. When I look at her and think of how hard she works and the amazing things she creates, the beauty just flows from her. Just this morning in the kitchen she had been up for over 24 hours making cakes and DJing. Her hair was put up she was wearing a shirt she didn’t mind getting full of dye and frosting. As I watched her knowing that she was pushing herself to not only earn income to help our household, but to bring joy to somebody (or in this case multiple somebodies) special day, I couldn’t help but thinking “Damn, I have one amazing and beautiful woman.” I told her that, which is something I wish more men understood to do. She couldn’t imagine after not sleeping, her hair a mess and not being dressed up  how she could be beautiful to me. If she only knew. Actually she will know when she reads this.

The point today is that life and love are two miracles that are around us everyday. There is a difference between just being alive and truly living. It is my suggestion that we use the power of gratitude and living in the present to give us this amazing life. It is difficult to do all of the time, but the more you practice it the more your life will be amazing.

I would LOVE to hear your stories of when you were not just alive, but truly living.

ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S HARD

In this blog we explore many ways in which to have an amazing life. A lot of that focus tends to fall on how to have an amazing relationship. After all, relationships, more than anything else, have a great impact on our lives. Let us be honest, if our relationships are less than amazing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for our lives to be amazing. That is why I recommend relationship building as a life-long study regardless of the field you are in.

Even in the best relationships things can go south. Despite our best efforts, despite all of our best intentions and study, things often zig when they should have zagged. It happens. When we find ourselves in a state that seems to be less then amorous with our partners it can be easy to stray from the things we know we should do. The ironic part is that is when it is most important.

One of the things I always do for Margie is open her car door. To me it is a sign of respect. It is a little thing I can do to show her how much I value and treasure the lady she is. Another thing we do for each other is kiss each other at red lights. This does two very important things. First, it places a loving action in what is generally a mundane and occasionally stressful activity. Second, it turns red lights from something to dread, to something to look forward to.

When things in the relationship are running on less than ideal terms certain thoughts come to mind. I am reminded she is physically capable of opening her own door and how nice it would be to get into the car and relax myself. There are times when I could look straight ahead and focus on the waiting for the red light to change instead of leaning over to kiss her. It is these times, however, when it is most important to do these actions.

This is why. When I open the door for her even when we are not seeing eye to eye, it shows her that even though I may not be happy with the situation, I still respect and honor her as my lady. When I lean over to kiss her at a red light on a night we might not be on the best of speaking terms it says, “Even though we not be liking each other a lot right now, I still love you.” It is vitally important to maintain little actions that show respect and love in times of discord. Quite often these can soften the hardest of hearts, even if that one is your own at times.

Here is a great side-effect that arises from maintaining these loving actions. At the end of the day you can look back and know that despite circumstances, you were the best version of yourself. You can also be confident that you did what was right for your relationship. It would be easy, and even excusable, to forgo certain loving actions when you are angry. What it will not do is give you an amazing relationship. That, as we discussed earlier, will make it very difficult to have an amazing life.

KEEP THANKING

As I returned to work from an extended vacation, I began to return to my normal routine. Part of the routine is after I shave I use this fabulous item. ‘BeardSconsin old fashion small batch beard oil’. I must confess a little over a year ago I had some confusion as to what beard oil actually was. It was obvious it was some oil you put on your facial hair, but why?

At a local October fest celebration there happened to be a stand selling this item. I asked questions and was informed as to all of the benefits of beard oil. Smoothing facial hair and the skin beneath it. This product was offered in a wide array of scents and I was afforded the opportunity to smell them all. The old fashion scent was the most pleasing to me.

In a surprise move, Margie decided to purchase this for me and give it to me as a surprise. It is little things this that keep our relationship alive and well. Then again, in reflection perhaps she was hinting my goatee was out of control or even smelled bad? Regardless, it was a sweet gesture and I greatly appreciated it. That evening I tried the oil for the first time and was amazed at how well it worked.

To this day every time I pull it out of the cabinet in the bathroom I cannot help but be taken back to the evening she surprised me with it. I also feel that same feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the nice gesture. This went on for months. Recently, I scolded myself. “You should be telling her how grateful you feel.” I realized by not doing so I was keeping all of these wonderful feelings of love, gratitude and appreciation to myself.

In the days and weeks that followed, I have thanked her a few times. She may even be growing tired of hearing of it. Still, it is important to convey great memories and especially feelings of appreciation whenever we have them. It is a gift to ourselves and to those we love.

Here is my suggestion. Pick an item that has a positive strong memory attached to it. Whenever you see or handle that item allow yourself to be transported back to the moment in which it came into your life. Feel all of the great feelings of love, joy, gratitude or whatever else it conjures up. Do this every time you come across this item. It could be a coffee mug given to you by your children. It could be the picture of the one you love in your purse or wallet. The possibilities are endless. When you are done enjoying these feelings, make sure you convey them to those involved.

You can even try picking a different item each week or month. It will not only add joy to your life, it will add it to those you share it with. It will also help strengthen your relationships. I would love to hear about your experiences and what item or items you have chosen.

DON’T WASTE IT!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This picture really sums things up quite well. Here is something to think about, the hourglasses in this picture could easily be reversed. As I was preparing to write this I learned a close childhood friend of mine passed away on his 41st birthday. It would be nice if we all had hourglasses or some other sign to know when our time was about to expire.  Here is the thing that is rather sad, as people see that your time is drawing to a close they are more likely to tell you they love you, spend quality time with you and share emotionally with you.

Why is that sad? It is sad because we should not wait until the sand in our hourglass is running out to treat each other that way. It is easy to remember when your 80 year-old relative is in the hospital, but like the passing of my friend shows, it can be any time. Treating each other with dignity, compassion and respect should be a daily activity.

Here is another thought to ponder, not only are we unable to know when the sands of time are running low for those we love, but we never know how much sand we have left ourselves. Try asking yourself every morning if today was my last day what would I want to tell those I love? In what ways would I go out of my way to spread love? The crazy thing about asking that question is one day you will be right.

 

 

 

DON’T WASTE $86,390


Building on our last post, this is another way of looking at how negative people can affect your life. When someone spends time gossiping or complaining to us that is like the $10 that was wasted. When we spend time upset or thinking about what they said, that is like throwing the other $86,390 away.
Time, in fact, is worth far more than money. We can always find a way to earn more money but time, once it is gone, is gone forever. We never know when we will breath our last breath or something may happen to dramatically alter our lives. Is losing even more of our precious time here worth someone else’s negativity? That is like good money after bad as they say.
When some of your time is wasted do not waste even more by being upset about it. Learn from it, use it and then move on.

YOU ARE SPEAKING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE


This blog post was inspired by two people. First Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book yet I highly suggest you add it to your list of books to explore. The second person is my mother who also has not read this book and reminded me that a lot of other people haven’t as well.

Let me give you the summary of this book. Keep in mind this is the very abridged version and there is so much more amazing information to be had by reading this book. The premise of this book is that everyone expresses and receives love in one of 5 ways. This may seem confusing if you have never considered the concept before. It should be crystal clear if you ever done your best to do something loving for that special person in your life only to have them seem to be mildly affected at best, or totally unaware of what you were doing at worst.

Perhaps you have heard “I was trying to show I love you.” and thought to yourself, hopefully not out loud, “Yeah, never would have got that.” It can seem as if you and your partner are speaking two entirely different languages. In some respect you are. Hopefully, it is not shocking for you to learn men and women are different. It should also be noted every person depending on their upbringing and life experiences are different. Certain things mean more to one individual than another. All of this information should be common sense. Why is it so far fetched to think that when it comes to expressing and receiving love we can be equally as different?

In his book, Gary Chapman states that there are 5 basic ways in which people both express and receive love. They are – receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service(devotion) and physical touch. Most people tend to be a mix of these to some degree, but one of them usually takes priority. For example, you may like it when your husband gives you a hug, but you really feel loved if he would help you with the dishes. You may feel loved if your wife brings you home a small gift, but it would mean a lot more if she would take the time to sit down and tell you why she loves you and what it is that you do that makes her feel loved. Maybe your examples are exactly the opposite. The point is everyone is different and that is perfectly wonderful. Complicated, but wonderful just the same.

Why take the time to learn your partners love language? The reason should be obvious, but it case you missed it we will cover it again. When you express love to your partner you want to do it in the most intense and concise manner possible. You also want your partner to feel as loved as possible. There can be very few things as frustrating as trying to be loving to your partner and they don’t feel the love you are doing your best to convey or at least not to the extent you feel your efforts warrant. It is not either person’s fault, you are both just speaking entirely different love languages.

As if this wasn’t complicated enough there is one more caveat to the equation. Nobody said love was easy, just worth it. Everyone not only receives love in a different way, they also express it in a different way as well. To make matters even more tricky, those ways may be entirely different as well. Funny thing is, we may not even realize what language we speak. Luckily, there is a quick and fun quiz you and your partner can take in the back of this book to help discover what your love languages are.

Once you learn what your partner’s love language is you can not only make them feel more loved than they have felt in a long time, but you can do so with less effort and less frustration on your behalf. If that sounds like a win/win it is because it is. As a side bonus, this works with friends, relatives and anyone else in your life, not just your partner. Knowing what makes your boss feel loved and appreciated could really help you out as well. Want to make your mother-in-law or father-in-law feel special and loved during the holidays? Learn their love languages.

There are several ways to accomplish this. Of course you could buy those you love in your life the book The 5 Love Languages. This can be pricey and in the case of your boss may be a little awkward. There are, however, other ways. First, the obvious is pay attention to what lights people up. Does a heartfelt thank you note cause their eyes to beam? Maybe picking up a small something that reminds you of them next time you are out will make them feel very special? Experiment. You will have fun as you learn and you will make people feel good while doing it. Lastly, you could buy yourself the book, learn your love languages and be better able to express what is important to you to the ones you love. Once again, they learn and you can feel more loved, win/win. You can also try working some of the questions in the quiz in your conversation with them and learn that way.

Regardless of what route you choose to go, learning your partners and your own love languages will make life more enjoyable and easier for everyone. I strongly suggest checking out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Draw your own conclusions. I would love to hear what you take away from this amazing book.

NOT ALIKE BUT TOGETHER

Here is some information that will save you a lot of stress and a lot of lost time with the one you love. When it comes to any relationships, but more so in intimate relationships.

Think together and do not think alike. Sometimes differences in opinions, styles and manner of accomplishing goals can feel like obstacles just screaming to be solved. “If only I could get them to do things my way.” This can crop up in both the little and the big things. I can tell you this, the time you spend trying to ‘correct’ or change your partners behavior is wasted time.

Margie and I can go through periods where is seems like we disagree on everything from the percentage of chance there is a dead body in the dumpster to how criminal it is to use a tortilla without warming it up. If we spent all of our time trying to have the other do things the way we do them we would miss out on time that could be spent watching a movie, walking in the park or many more activities that will bring us joy.

How do you not let these little things crawl under your skin? I have found several ways. One, understand that is exactly what they are, little things. At the end of the day what difference will it make in your relationship if your spouse folds a towel different than you do? Does that change the person they are? If it does for you there may be other issues that we need to look at.

Also, this is a great opportunity to practice several things that can help with the longevity of a relationship. What things am I talking about? How about acceptance? Being able to accept that the person sitting across from you can somehow exist without the aid of a caffeinated beverage and that is ok. It is also a chance to practice patience. Do they clean things in a way you know they shouldn’t be done? Maybe it is time to focus on what you have to be grateful for, like the fact they are cleaning at all.

How about communicating? We are going to discuss this in a little more detail in an upcoming post. Does your spouse not put the same importance on body language that you do? Perhaps they are more physical and you are more verbal? This is a chance to basically learn and teach a new language. When you talk to your spouse about what means love to you it is important to understand that may be different. Here is where being a great listener comes in. By discovering how you and your partner differ when it comes to expressing and receiving love, you can open a whole new level to love. Imagine if you try to force them to express love and feel love in a different way? That would be terribly unrewarding for both parties. When you understand the differences here you can better express love to your partner and realize when they are trying to express it to you. Thus, you increase the total amount of love in the relationship.

This works fine for the little things, but what about the big things? Spiritual beliefs say? Remember differences help us expand our way of thinking. As long as the values are not radically different it is certainly ok to have different approaches in this manner. Again, it provides us an opportunity to use compromise and to seek a deeper level of understanding for our partner. Having someone who approaches the world in an entirely different manner can offer you more insights than a narrow approach of the exact same way of thinking. 

The more we understand our partner and how they differ from us, the greater we can love them. Whatever your goals in your relationship are, having two unique approaches will offer more wonderful discoveries along the way to accomplishing them. Imagine how much deeper your partner’s love for you would be if they saw you were trying to understand and appreciate the differences you share without trying to change them?

LOVE YOUR CITY, LOVE YOUR LIFE

I am always on the lookout for ways to promote the great city I live in. Most of us can be unaware of many of the great things the cities we live in offer. The news and social media may highlight areas that need improving, but if you dig just a little bit deeper you will find a host of reasons to love your city. I am going to show you how to capture these as well as how to use them to create fun and exciting moments with your family. Further more we are going to look at how doing this can transform other areas of your life as well.

The above picture was taken at an event called Beecher Street Bash. The event is held in my hometown of West Allis Wisconsin. The event was created by a gentleman named Mark Lutz. Mark owns a business called West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe. For those of you who read my food reviews on Chow Down in Milwaukee you already know what a wonderful place this is. For those of you who might have missed it, let me assure you if you are looking for a great place for brunch or to pick up some locally produced gifts for others or yourself you would be hard-pressed to find a better location.

Once a year Mark, along with the other business owners, close down the street in front of their businesses and throw what amounts to one amazing customer appreciation block party. There are offerings to be had for a mere $2! This year included delicious food such as brats, meatballs, spicy watermelon and chicken wings. There was also a band named AcousticClowns entertaining the crowd. Despite my unique fear of clowns, the music was quite fabulous. Neighbors mingled about including the mayor, members of the common council and other business owners. It was a great chance to enjoy some great weather, food and company.

This is just one of many great events that the city offers. I am going to share with you something my beautiful lady Margie and I do that helps us make the most of the few months of good weather as well as our busy schedule. Once a month we sit down and look at all of the events happening around the city. We learn about them through the city newsletter, recreation department catalog as well as social media outlets such as the group West Allis News, Events & Stuff. We compile a list of places we would like to go and things we would like to try. We have a great new brewery in town called Westallion Brewing Company that offers tours on Saturdays and puppy playdates on Sundays. It seems every month there are new places opening to eat. There are live concerts in the park and classes on everything from Yoga to making things out of clay.

In your city there are probably similar events as well. With a little digging such as subscribing to news letters, looking on social media and checking your local library you too can compose a list of amazing things about your city. After a few months of doing this you will not only get to know many new places and faces, but start to really develop a love for the city you live in. Margie and I are already looking forward to trying the new beer gardens as well as the new old-fashioned butcher shop as soon as that is open.

Here is a little secret for you to use. As well as this works for falling in love with your city, it will work for any other area of your life. Looking to increase the love between you and your spouse? Once a month create a list of things you are grateful for them and things you are looking forward to, or would like to try with them. Want to dread your job less? Once a month compose a list of things you are grateful for at your job, or good things that happened there, even just a kind word from a coworker. You would be surprised at how taking a few minutes once a month can help you discover all the wonderful things in your city and in every other area of your life.

HOW THIS MAN CAN IMPROVE YOUR RELATIONSHIP

I know you may be thinking how can an old man with a crazy beard and mustache improve my relationship? Look he even has his arms crossed and does not look very open to communication. At least that is what I would be thinking.

This man is Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, Russian physiologist. He is best known for his experiments in classical conditioning. More to the point he was the guy who did the experiments with ringing a bell and giving the dog some food. First the dog would salivate only when the food was presented but sooner or later even the sound of the buzzer would cause the dog to salivate. It was a great example of using positive reinforcement to create a desired effect.

Here is the uncomfortable truth – it works just as good in humans. This is not a bad thing. We can use this information to improve our relationships. Do you mean we should train our spouse like the dog in the experiment? Well…actually…kind of. Let me explain. Let us say you like it when you partner calls to check in and see if your ok. Maybe that makes you feel loved and cared for. Next time your partner does that show them a great loving sign of appreciation. Do you really like it when your spouse brings you home little surprises from the grocery store to show they were thinking about you? When they present them to you reward them with a big hug or kiss. In other words, reward their behavior with positive reinforcement.

When I share this idea often people tell me that they feel they are tricking or training their partner. To that end I say this, when your partner makes you feel loved or appreciated for doing a certain thing do you not want to do that thing more? I know I do. Conditioning someone to do something you enjoy by making them feel good is a win/win situation. Both parties leave the situation feeling better than they did before and the likelihood such event will happen in the future only increases.

What if you would like your partner to do something they currently do not do? The standard operation procedure is to yell or nag or even just say in a forlorn tone how you wish they would do this or that. Using positive conditioning is not only a much better way, but will once again leave both parties feeling good with no hurt feelings or disagreements. Let us take a look at how this would work with our above examples.

You would really like your partner to call and check on you once and a while. It would make you feel like they really care about you and love you. They really do love and care but they just do not know you would like them to show you in such a manner. I am all for direct communication in a relationship, but sometimes a little grace and tact can go a long way. In this example when your spouse is out or running late you call them. When they assure you that they are ok follow it up with a statement similar to this, “I am so glad you are o.k. I just wanted to call because I wanted you to know I care and was worried.” Same with the grocery store example. If you would like them to bring you a little surprise to show they are thinking about you, try doing it yourself first. Give them the surprise and say, “I couldn’t help but get this for you. I was loving you so much and couldn’t think of a better way to show you than picking you up a little something.”

After a few times of doing this, your partner may very well pick up on that and do the same for you. Here is the great thing about this, they will also get to feel the pride of thinking of and doing the action themselves. Anther win/win situation. Whatever the situation in your relationship, always do your best to use positive reinforcement. That way both parties have a chance to feel good while improving the relationship.