STARFISH STORY

In my work there are many days in which I feel I am not creating the impact I would like. Stats may be down on my YouTube channel or blog post. Maybe there are not ‘likes’ or comments on a particular post and I can wonder, “Is anyone reading this?” My goal is to help create a world filled with positivity in which people can coexist despite their differences. I enjoy facilitating dialogue between parties in an effort to create an understanding, or at the very least a sense of compassion.

Most of us have days where we feel that we are just not making a difference. It can be professionally, personally or something different entirely. It is on those days I am reminded of the story above. There have been days people have come up to be and mentioned how my writing has affected them. Some say it has helped them make it through a hard time. Others mention that it helps them keep perspective. One gentleman even told me this website and what I write here helped him think twice when he pondered taking his own life. Often I find myself being humbled by these compliments. It is then I sit back, and like the little boy, can say “I made a difference to that one.”

Another aspect of helping that one person we must keep in mind is the ripple effect. By inspiring, helping or saving one person, you never know what they may go on to do for others. It is like the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. We not be able to see what the world would have been like if we had not been there, but rest assured you make a difference.

While I would enjoy thousands of likes and views on YouTube or Secret2anamazinglife.com, I must remember the difference I made in the lives I have and use that to continue. Every time I get behind the keyboard I think of the soul who feels they have no reason to go on. I imagine sitting across the table from the teenager who is pondering taking their own life after being the victim of a bully. I think of the single parent who just lost their job, or the person who just lost their spouse of many years. It is for these wonderful souls and countless others that I write what I do.

I encourage you to remember that if you positively affect even just one life, you are changing the world. I am constantly reminded how little we know how many people we affect when I run into someone who tells me although they never mention anything online, the read what I write everyday and it makes a big impact in their life. I usually respond that I never even knew they read my writing. I am sure there are many more people we all positively affect that we never know.

Keep being a light in the world of darkness. If someone has inspired you, let them know. It may be just the motivation they need to keep going. I personally cannot express how much it means to me to hear how my writing affects people. Every time I do I want to run to my laptop and write some more. I want to take a second and thank each and every person who has inspired me.

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT?

This is me. Not a very glamorous photo I know. Today at the gym I noticed my heart rate was a tad high. Ok maybe more than a tad, around 220. I felt fine but by the advice of my young lady I called the doctor and was told to go to the hospital.

After several tests and despite assuring the doctors i was able to walk, having to use a bed pan for the first time. Eventually the verdict was I have a bad heart valve, enlarged aorta and a-fib.

In fact, below is a picture the doctor drew of my heart

Not quite what you hope for. While contemplating everything this means for my life, a few things occurred to me. First, I am so grateful to have my beautiful Margie and so many friends and family that care about me.

Second, and the message of this post is how urgent it is to get my message out to the world. My desire to help and inspire as many people as possible has never been stronger.

I’ll keep everyone updated on my condition, but know I’ll be working harder than ever to share as much knowledge with all of you. Again, my heartfelt gratitude to all of you who sent me well-wishes. Be kind to yourselves and each other.

WHY I DO WHAT I DO

Early in my writing career, and every so often to this day, I ask myself the ever important question, “Why do I do what I do?” This may seem like an odd question to be asking yourself, but knowing yourself and why you do things is important to developing a strong why. Having a strong why is what will keep you doing what you are called to do long after the urge to do it has passed.

My answer is really twofold. The first part is a spiritual one. I believe this is what the creator has called me to do. I was given a gift to be able to find the light in even the darkest situation. This didn’t happen overnight and on occasion takes longer than on others, but eventually I see the positive in everything. I was also bestowed with other gifts as well. When I was a small child riding the city bus with my mom she quizzed me on vocabulary and now I have a rather large vernacular. In what can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse, I am very empathetic. I feel the pain others go through and as such, have a strong desire to make this world a better place.

On the more secular side of things, I have a very strong desire to share what I learn. Why? Why not just keep that knowledge to myself and use it to create a life I love? I certainly have done the second half of that. I do indeed love the life I live. It is not without its challenges, but I love it. My life is in a constant state of improvement. That in itself is exciting to me. I know that no matter how good or bad of a day I am having, I will learn something in the future that will allow me to reduce my stress and increase me joy even more.

Back to the question at hand, “that’s all great, but why feel compelled to share it with others?” Those of you who know my story will have some idea why. My life as a writer and seeker of light began in the darkest of situations. My job was being downsized, my health was in serious trouble and my relationship was in the dumpster. It was out of this despair that a determination to learn how to transform the life I was living to a life I would be loving was born.

As I began to learn and apply things my life began to transform. I noticed the people that were in my life had a lot of the same struggles I had faced. Wanting to see everyone experiencing the joy I was, I began to share everything I was learning. In return, some amazing things happened. First, people shared with me things they had learned and we compounded our knowledge. My friends Amelia and Sharon come to mind. Second, I found myself surrounded by people who were not only grateful, but becoming more joyful and positive, just like I was. This was not only more pleasant to be around, but helped make my journey that much easier and more enjoyable as well. Truly proof you receive that which you give away.

These are the main reasons I do what it is that I do. It is also reasons that all of you should do what it is you have been called to do as well. When we share our gifts and knowledge with each other, we not only brighten each other’s lives, but begin to create a shift in the world at large. We create a ripple effect and the gift and knowledge we share can touch the hearts and lives more people than we will ever know. I can’t think of a stronger why to share the gift of you with the world.

WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

These last few days have been filled with sadness as we have been mourning the loss of Margie’s mother Ruthanne. I have always been someone who searches for the light in the darkness. There is no more difficult time to do this than when we lose somebody who means so much. If there is anything my faith has taught me is that there is always something to be grateful for.

Of course we would all very much like to have Ruthanne back to hear her sing one more song, laugh one more time with us or even just to put things in perspective the way only she could do. Thankfully we have lots of videos, pictures and memories where those moments will live on. In addition to the great lessons in life that she has left behind, there is another gift I have discovered in the midst of this somber time.

While making arrangements for the celebration of life planned for Ruthanne, there were generations worth of pictures to sift through. I am a big fan of history to begin with, but being able to see first hand the family history of the woman I love is something truly special. Of course we would love to have Margie’s mom present to go through these photos with us, especially to enlighten us as to who some of the less familiar faces may be. Yet, it is through her passing that the gift of discovery and in some cases revelation of many family facts and stories.

On a more personal note, I could not be more grateful and excited to learn more about where the love of my life came from and the people, places and events that help shape her into the amazing woman she is today. Plus, adorable baby pictures like the one above are hard to pass up. I was honored to get to know her mother and see how Margie learned a lot of the traits that make her the woman I love. I am also humbled to be the man she chose to have by her side as she goes through with what is the most difficult time of her life. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge I am gaining by listening to the stories (and Storys) and looking at the pictures will help provide me with more and better ways to help provide her the love she needs as her heart makes the long journey towards healing.

STOP WAITING!

Last post we discussed enjoying the process. That is, whatever goal you are chasing, whatever you are trying to accomplish, whatever outcome you are working towards, remember to focus on the enjoying the journey. Celebrate small victories. Understand challenges and what may seem as temporary failures are really learning opportunities and stepping stones to where you wish to go.

Why is this so important? It is paramount! Up to 90% of our life is spent on the journey from one point to another. If you catch yourself uttering phrases like, “I will be happy when..” Stop right there. By stating that you will only be happy when the goal is achieved, the destination is arrived at, you are postponing your happiness. Who decides when you should be happy? You do! You do this by assigning meaning to daily events. The difference between happy, successful people and those who feel life is hard are whether or not you do so consciously.

We do not get to decide what circumstances arrive daily, but we do get to decide 100% on what it means to us. It is the difference of life happening to you or you happening to life. If you are living in reaction you are giving up control of your emotional well-being to other people, other circumstances, the weather and a million other sources. It is our decisions, not our circumstances that should control our life. Do not wait for the weekend, do not wait for graduation, to not wait until you are married or get that dream job. Decide to be happy starting today, starting right now.

If you wait to be happy in your relationship until you are married, you may never get there. Decide to create as much happiness in your relationship starting today and when wedding bells chime, your heart will be exploding with more joy than you can imagine. Postpone your happiness until that dream job arrives and you may not only be passed over for a more enthusiastic and cheerful candidate, you may even lose the job you are not enjoying now. Decide to find even the smallest things to enjoy and be grateful for in the job you are in now, and you will find yourself receiving praise from those around you and you will find in a short time you will have outgrown your position!

The most important benefit of this decision will be the improvement in the quality of your life. You will have good days and bad days. What is for certain, when you adopt this attitude, you will grow on each and every one of them. You will also find your hardest days will be your greatest blessings. Develop an attitude that says ‘Either I will win, or I will learn’

WHY NOT?

This picture really says it all. If you are alive right now, you should be enjoying your life to the fullest. Sure, you might not have the perfect body, you might not have the perfect job and unless you are as lucky and blessed as I am you might not have the perfect mate. So what!

You are alive and the possibility to improve exists. You can become healthier, wealthier and whatever else you are chasing. While working towards whatever goal you have there is one thing you should had to the top of any goal, no matter what that goal is. What should be included in any list you have whether it is goals, to do, or even shopping lists, somewhere on that list you should have some version of these words – enjoy and have fun during the process.

Why? A better question is, “Why Not?” We only go once around the ride and if you are not finding ways to enjoy your life, you are wasting it. Want to get in shape? Maybe start walking with a friend? Sharing your progress online with a supportive group of people. Looking for that perfect person to share your life with? Maybe find entertainment in the ‘unique’ people you will no doubt have to go through. Stuck in a job you dislike? Be grateful for as many things as you can in that job even if it is just the motivation to look for something better for yourself.

I know people who actually do the very opposite of this. See if this sounds familiar. You are at a fabulous all-inclusive resort in the tropics. The sun is shining, the love of your life is across from you with a big smile on their face. Suddenly, from the table next to you a voice can be heard. It is a man complaining his burger is too well done. Not only is he complaining about it, but he seems to be almost obsessing about it. Then he adds how dry the bun is. Forget that the weather is perfect, you can smell the ocean and flowers and birds are everywhere, his hamburger is dry. Sound ridiculous? Some people really live this way. Don’t be one of them. If your burger is dry, take a nice slow slip of rum and say to yourself with a chuckle, “Next time I will get the jerk chicken.”

How can we enjoy the process? There are several ways. Ask yourself questions like these, “What can I be grateful for in this situation?” “What can I find that I love?” Also look for the humor is challenging situations. If all else fails, shake your head and say, “At least I am going to have a good story.” Remember every bad day only serves to make us more grateful for the good ones. Let us all remember to enjoy our life to the fullest.

THE ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO FIRST TO CREATE AN AMAZING LIFE

Through the course of my writing here and in my books you will find a wealth of tools to help improve the quality of life. Use any of them and they will increase the level of joy, satisfaction and success you have in your life. There is one thing that will make all of them work even better. It is the most important thing you can do to begin to live a life you not only can be proud of, but enjoy living. It is so important that you should add it to every goal you write down, every New Year’s resolution you have and make it a part of your daily routine.

What could be so important? Before you start wondering if this is something you have ‘time’ to do, let me reassure you that it will take no extra time at all. It will take some extra effort in terms of remembering, but even putting forth this effort will bring a smile to your face. It would not be too over the top to say this would be a matter of life and death. Reason being, when you do this, life comes alive. You have excitement. The little things not only cease to get you down, you can view them in a more positive light.

Here is, in my opinion, the most important thing you can do to transform your life positively. Enjoy the journey. That may sound very simple and basic, but it is life altering. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’ll be happy when…” Roughly 90% of our life is spent on our way from here to there. Even when you achieve the goal you are working towards, you can end up with a feeling of let down if you are not prepared with another.

If we spend 90% of our lives on a journey, we should do our best to find ways to enjoy that journey. A great example is when I began focusing on gratitude. If I chose to wait until I developed a grateful attitude to be happy, I would miss all of the great things I discovered on my journey there. Even when I messed up and began to focus on what I perceived as being ‘wrong’ with my life, I was excited because I knew that is what would eventually fade away.

As well as any tool of self-improvement has worked for me, enjoying the process of using it has been the greatest thing I have learned to do. When you are enjoying the journey of life, challenges become redefined as stepping stones. This may seem like putting on rose-colored glasses, but that is not true. We can seldom control, and then only to a limited degree, what happens in our life. What we have complete control over is what it means to us and how we can use it.

One of the journeys most of us seem to be on is one of becoming more financially comfortable. Instead of saying “I’ll be happy when I can afford a new car.” Which I did utter with the PT cruiser quite a bit, soak in that feeling. Not that you should relish in a bad feeling, but realize that is what it is showing you. Then focus on how great you will feel when your goal is accomplished. About the 832nd time my PT cruiser was at the repair shop (Only a slight exaggeration) I remember thinking how terrible it was to have to take time off of work to spend money so I could get to work. Then I remembered, I was one step closer to getting there. Of course I would loved to not have been there, but it was teaching me patience, allowing me to practice a lot of the tools I write about, preparing me to be grateful for the car I would have, among a million other things.

You may be thinking that is easy for you to do, but not me. It wasn’t in the beginning. Sitting in an auto repair shop watching your Jamaican vacation take the shape of a new muffler, it is hard to discover the joy in that. I managed to, and if a man with seasonal affective disorder can do that in the middle of the Wisconsin winter, so can you. It takes asking yourself new questions. “How can I use this?” “What else could this mean?” Not only asking yourself these questions, but coming up with positive answers. Trust me when I tell you this doesn’t happen overnight so do not get discouraged when the first answer you brain spits back at you is “Nothing! This situation sucks!” Certainly, it may not be your first choice, but what you do with that situation is 100% up to you. If you just sulk and dwell in the negative emotion it first gave you there is nobody to blame but you. This is not an easy change and will take a lot of practice, but enjoying the journey of life will transform your life and make everything else more enjoyable.

If I had one gift to leave this world when I am gone, it would be to help everyone enjoy the journey more. To that end, please not only share your suggestions for doing so in the comments below, but your challenges as well. Let us start a healthy conversation and help each other enjoy the journey we are all a part of, the journey of life.