MY FAVORITE GIFT

Every year I have 2 interesting challenges, my mother’s birthday is February 13th, the day before Valentine’s day. The love of my life, my beautiful Margie, seen in the picture celebrates her birthday on today, December 15th. Which, if you are keeping score at home is a mere 10 days before Christmas.

I used to quip that December and February were my poorest months. That may seem true for obvious reasons. In reflection they are actually 2 of my richest months. How can that be? Allow me to explain.

It took the love of this beautiful woman to remind me that the greatest gifts are people and not things. While I would love to give this woman the world, but budget is somewhere closer to a plastic globe.

By celebrating her birthday today (as with my mother 2 months later) I realize I am celebrating the greatest gift I ever received, this beautiful woman sharing her life with me.

As Christmas comes around it is a good reminder how no material item, no matter how expensive or even how thoughtful would be more valuable than the life and love I have with my Margie.

I would love to say happy birthday to you my love. No matter what gift I can come up with, I will still feel like the one who is getting the best present. Today we are celebrating the birth of the woman who brings so much joy into my life. I love you baby.

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN

Fear not. This is not a picture of me. As I write this the temperature outside is a pleasant 60 degrees. Very warm for Wisconsin on the 4th of December. As you are reading this, however, the reading will be 30 degrees less. Yes a drop that big in the space of 24 hours. What is really challenging is the fact that the week ahead features high temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s. Those are average for this time of year and living here most of my life I should be used to that by now, but I am not.

As a person with Seasonal Affective Disorder, my mood tends to dip with the temperature. Knowing this can fill me with a sense of tread as the days get closer to the end of the year, but it also gives me time to prepare. I know I am not likely to see a day like the one we are having today until the month of May. So what can I do for the next 5 months to avoid slipping to a further degree of insanity than my normal state? One cannot certainly change the weather. Closing my eyes and chanting “I think it’s warm” over and over again wouldn’t get me very far either.

If cursing mother nature doesn’t help, what does? When you are faced with challenges you cannot change, then the only option is to change yourself. I am going to begin to plan fun things with the love of my life. Being the budget of an aspiring world-famous author doesn’t include money for many tropical vacations, I plan to visit the local horticultural building here (called the Domes) where there are living plants all year around. There will be more movie nights indoors. Maybe a bundled up adventure in the woods. While this does not replace the joy of riding my bike in the sunshine, these activities will bring me great joy.

Another option is to plan for when the weather is warm in order to make the most of the nice weather. Trips we want to go on. Maybe a road trip when the snow and ice is off of the roads. Getting in shape so I can better enjoy the warm weather when in comes. I have a calendar that I actually mark each day I go to the gym. It will keep me motivated in the cold weather.

The point is this, even if you are faced with a challenge that seems to be insurmountable you can always find ways to adjust. Winter will never be my favorite season, but that does not mean I cannot find ways to discover happiness while it is here.

 

DEATH MAKES YOU YOUNG

 

 

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This title may have you scratching your head and wondering if I have returned to drinking large amounts of rum. I can certainly understand if you were thinking both, but the reality is far more inspiring.

How can death make you younger? Truly, that sounds close to insanity. This touching and inspiring story is not mine, but was emotionally relayed to me by a gentleman at a show that my lovely lady and I were DJing this past Sunday. This man came in with a group of people and signed up to sing a song. Fairly straight forward at this point. In this group there was a gentleman who was a little older than the average person that comes to our shows. When he stepped up to the microphone he seemed to just exude not just happiness, but a true passion for simply being there. No matter what seemed to be going on around him, the smile never left his face.

A while later the younger gentleman came up to sign him up to sing again and what he told us was such an inspiring tale I implored him to let me share it with all of you. He was kind enough to agree, so for that I am grateful. The older man was his father. He had been in the hospital fighting some serious issues. A formerly healthy man had found himself down to 150 pounds and fighting for his life. In two separate instances, his wife, the young man’s mother, was asked if she wanted to ‘pull the plug’ and end his misery. She replied defiantly, explaining her husband was a fighter and she was sure he was not giving up so neither was she. The doctors were not as hopeful as she was and tried to ease her into accepting the inevitable. She knew the man she loved better than them and was having none of it. Sure enough with the love of his wife and son, as well as others this gentleman continued to fight and pulled through.

This truly was a great story, but what does it have to do with growing younger? Recall the way I described how the gentleman had approached singing that night. He never lost his smile and seemed to just radiate passion for simply being alive. After hearing his story it is easy to understand why that might be. As beautiful as his state of being was, it had an even greater aspect, it was contagious! As his son told his story, tears filled his eyes. “Look at him.” he said as he pointed to his father. “He is just so happy to be alive.” You could tell his son treasured each day with his father as what it was, a gift that almost taken away by illness.

It was not just this man and his son that was affected by his ordeal. Him and his wife were like teenage lovers. The whole evening they looked at each other with love in their eyes and joy in their hearts. You could tell this woman who made the ever so difficult choice of not pulling the plug when her husband was suffering so greatly, was truly living the dream. She now had more time with the man she loved and almost lost. I do not know what their relationship was prior to this, but I imagine like many others it might have fallen victim to the law of familiarity. There is a lot of love, but even subconsciously, we begin to take the person and even the love a little for granted. We assume they will be there tomorrow and the next week and next year. It seems only an experience such as the one this couple went through can move us out of this rut.

The takeaway today is this – let us not wait for a tragedy, or near tragedy of our own to begin to fall in love with our life and those inside of it. Hopefully, this story will do for you what it did for me, that is realize how quickly something, and someone can leave us. This year I have lost 3 people very close to me. One was in his 80’s, one was only in her 40’s and one was in between. As truly heartbreaking as these loses were, the end result was the same; I had the great urge to run home and wrap my arms around my lovely Margie and remind her how beautiful and loved she is. It inspired me to laugh more, to love deeper and to not take anything or anyone for granted.

It is often through our greatest loss, that our appreciation for what remains can be rekindled. Life has a way of blinding us to the beauty that surrounds us everyday. You could certainly think of those who have already crossed over and what we wish we could have shared with them, but let us not forget all those who are still in our lives and mean so much to us. Take a few moments and ponder how much your life would be turned upside down if you lost that job you always tread going to. Look into the eyes of those you love and ask yourself what if you lost them today? What would you most regret not telling them. Most importantly, tell them now. Realize it is never too early to let someone know how much you love them and never too late to fall in love with your own life.

On a side note, the young man told me something else that really touched me. His father read one book before he went into the hospital and again while he was recovering, my book.  A Happy Life for Busy People To be a part of such a heart-warming story means more to me than I can explain.

THE ESSENTIAL CHANGE

My second book opens with the statement –

unless you change yourself, nothing will change; once you change yourself, everything else will change

This is a very important thought for several reasons. First, saying, or even thinking things like “I’ll be happy when…” hands over control of your life to other people and situations. Why would you let others decide whether or not you can enjoy your own life?

Another reason to realize you are the only person responsible for the quality of your own life are problems. When I hear people who consistently blame others for the situations they find themselves in, I know these people will never live a happy and successful life.

Let us be honest here, people can be jerks. They can say rude and hurtful things to us. They can put us in uncomfortable situations. What control do we have over that? A great deal. We can take a hard look in the mirror and see if there may be any truth to the things they are saying. If so, we can use it as constructive criticism.

What if there is no truth to what they say and it is just mean? Then we can raise our standards as to who we have in our lives. What if this person is our boss or some other person not so easy to dismiss? We can use that person for our own development. Practice our patience, controlling our anger, or having compassion for those who don’t deserve it. We can do all this while working to improve our situation.

Sometimes they are there to teach us a lesson. Such as no amount of money or job is worth our dignity. No amount off affection is worth any amount of abuse. These are all very difficult situations, but waiting and relying on the other person to change will most often result in no change.

Working on myself has lead me to my greatest improvements and my greatest joy. When I became a better man, my job became better, my relationships improved. I noticed when I treated others better and gave more to them, I received more in return.

To this day, I spend the most time and effort working on myself. Every improvement in myself touches and improves every area of my life.

YOUR PROMOTION

 

THE ESSENTIAL KEYS TO SUCCESS KEY #3

One of the things I am asked the most is “How can I quickly change my life?” Such a tricky question because your life up to this point has taken years to develop. Still, I understand we live in that nanosecond world where we expect change instantly. It is with this understanding that I have distilled my essential keys to success. These represent the pillars that most of my teachings are based on. Each one is a powerful belief that you can adapt into your life that will have a profound effect.

This is a way to not only leave yourself feeling good, but to affect a great deal of change. This essential key to success is as follows promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate This does a few things for you. One, it has you feeling good because you are focused on what it is you love. How many times have we been victim of listening to someone tell us all about what they are upset about or what they dislike? This seems to happen a lot in politics. There is an axiom that where focus goes energy flows. Therefore, if you are focused on what you dislike you are actually giving it your energy. Have you every heard a celebrity say “Any press is good press.”? That is true, because by focusing on who they had an affair with, or how many times they have overdosed it keeps them foremost in our thoughts.

How much sweeter would life be if we focused on what it is we loved and promoted that? Do not like rude customer service? Make sure to mention and thank the person when you receive good service. This simple change will turn your frustration into gratitude and your frown into a smile. As an added bonus, you will begin to promote what you love and you will find those very things multiplying in your life.