MY MOST IRONIC POST YET

Going into the new year a lot of us think of things we would like to change about ourselves or our lives. If you follow my work at all one of the axioms I base my work on is that it is far more productive and successful to add positive things to your life, than to work on removing negative. Just how the brain is wired. Recently, I sat down with Margie and discussed things I would like to add to my life in the coming year. This is where this post becomes ironic.

I told Margie there are three things I would like to get better at in 2018. I would like to spend more time both reading and writing, I would like to spend more time in nature (hiking, camping or even just sitting), lastly, I would like to spend more time just thinking.  When composing my last book it was often just sitting in a park watching the birds, or Starbucks sipping a coffee pondering life’s great mysteries that some of my best ideas came to me. As any supportive spouse would do, Margie simply replied (she has a gift of keeping things simple which is very helpful dating someone like myself) “Well you should do that then.”

In an effort to quickly make use of this sentiment of hers before it changed I decided to do that today. I had a survey I had to complete, then I was just going to relax and think. The advantages of this is that it engages your subconscious mind to begin thinking about what you are pondering. This is especially useful if you are spending time on things like worthwhile goals you are aspiring to, ways in which you can be of more service to your world, or even just how to make someone’s day brighter. What happens is your subconscious mind will begin to think of this very thing, and continue to do so in the background while you go about your day. Then, at what seems like an random moment, an idea will pop in your head that is a solution to what you had been pondering. This works especially well if you are an author.

Do you see my dilemma with this? As this idea occurred to me, another voice in my head spoke up. It never amazes me how many there seems to be in there. This voice said, “You should write a blog and let everyone else know this.” Which, as you can tell by what you are reading I decided to follow.

As ironic as writing about taking time away from writing is, it brought to like another principle I spoke about at my last author symposium. When we use our brains the in the same fashion over and over, like finding daily things to be grateful for, we begin to train them to do so on their own. Before long, even if it is subconsciously, the voices in our head (assuming you have more than one like myself) will begin to ask, “What can we be grateful for?” Same holds true with me being diligent in my writing and spending over twenty years looking for ways to improve life and then sharing them with others.

My message for you hear is to take time to just think, but know it may be a struggle with yourself at first. I am going to prepare to DJ now, so I will continue to work on carving away time to think again tomorrow. Have a great week my friends!

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 IS JUST WHAT YOU NEEDED

Fun… that’s so childish. What does fun do? Provides us an escape. Fun gives us a chance to use our imagination and see the future we would like to create. On the practical side, fun allows us to sneak in some physical activity while enjoying ourselves. We can learn and develop skills all while having fun.

Let me ask you this, when are we most in need of all of these things? When we are children and have little to no responsibility, generally walk everywhere because our legs are too short to reach the pedals, or when we are adults and face the pressures of work, bills, family and fixing the car we are now able to drive?

Another thing that seems oddly more difficult to do as adults is make new friends and bond with the ones we already have. Margie and I began hosting a board game night and had the great honor of being joined by our friends Beth, Terri, Shawn, Josie, Mimi, Michelle, Beto and others. We laughed, drank copious amounts of wine and rum. The best part? We all laughed, and got to know each other a great deal better through this fun.

What does all of that do? The obvious answer is relieve stress, create good feelings and smiles. Maybe not so obvious is that it allows us to get to know our friends likes and dislikes. It allows us to build the level of trust and connection between all of us. The crazy thing? It’s all fun!

So, make sure you schedule some fun in your life! It will help your physical and mental health as well as strengthen your relationships! Now to get some wine, rum and friends together for the next game night!

USE YOUR PAIN

This man is Inky Johnson. I highly recommend you look up his story, but I will give you a brief outline here. Inky was born into challenging situations to say the least. A very poor neighborhood, 16 people living in a two bedroom house. He had to sleep on the floor. Once a week he got to sleep in a bed…with 5 others. He was surrounded by family and friends going in and out of prison. Truly a recipe for disaster.

Inky decided to take a different path. At the age of 7, with some help from a coach, he decided he was going to play professional football. He practiced every day. Often running light pole to light pole with no shoes on. Eventually he received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. With 8 games to go he was told he was going to be a first round pick. Imagine being told finally you will be able to erase generations of hurt, pain and financial suffering for your family. He immediately called his mother and grandmother to inform them they would no longer have to live in poverty.

Two games later while making a tackle that all changed. Inky felt like he had the wind knocked out of him. He woke up in the hospital where he was told he had to be rushed into surgery or he would die. Waking up from  that the doctor said he had some bad news. Considering he was still alive, Inky was confused. The doctor explained he had sustained nerve damage and would no longer be able to play football again. Imagine being that close to helping your family, having worked all your life, never cheated and it is stolen away in one play.

The reality of what he was left to deal with sank in when the doctor informed him “Son, you will never be able to use your arm again. You will never be able to use your hand again.” Inky’s reply?  “No disrespect sir, but I am going to use this arm and hand everyday. I am going to use it to inspire people. I am going to use it to help people not give up.” Today Inky Johnson is a motivational speaker and has several videos on YouTube.

When I heard that I had to fight back tears. Wow. I pray that I would be able to see things that way. Which is ironic, because that is what I am challenging all of us, myself included, to do here today. We have all had pain in our lives. Most of us not to the magnitude of the story above, some even worse. My question to you is this, what are you going to do with that pain? My answer is this, you went through the pain, put it to use for you. Use what you have went through to inspire and push you. Use it to motivate and give hope to others. DO NOT WASTE YOUR PAIN.

Maybe someone broke your heart? Use it to not only motivate you to make your next relationship your best relationship, but to help those who are also heartbroken. You lost your job? Use that as a tool to motivate you to chase a job you would enjoy. Do so while maybe helping at a meal program helping those who are in an even tougher situation. Turn your pain from a liability into an asset.

FOR EVERY LEVEL, THERE’S ANOTHER DEVIL

I recall a few years ago having a discussion with my friend Travis. At the time we both wondered why it seemed that people who are trying to good end up with some of the worst things happening to them. It is a question that millions have pondered since the beginning of time. Why do bad things happen to good people? While pondering this I was struck with a line of inspiration, as if I was receiving an answer to that very question. It is that very answer I am excited to bring to all of you. This single answer, which Travis and I discussed at length, has changed my life and helped me survive what has been a very rough year. I hope by hearing the answer I was given, it may do the same for you and the ones you share it with. Here is what came to me after years of asking this question –

The devil doesn’t bother with you unless you are a threat

Now I am not telling you what to believe, mere how the answer was conveyed to me. Feel free to call it negative source energy, the universe whatever allows you to digest the point here. For years I looked around and saw some of the hardest working people I know faced with economic challenges. I have seen some of the most enlightened and compassionate people I know faced with illness, sickness, death of loved ones, job loss and every other imaginable obstacle you can think of. To be honest, it frustrated me. Ok,, it actually did more than that, it pissed me off. How unfair was it that all of these people who were trying to make the world a better place by either helping others, or just being a great person themselves face such tough times? Meanwhile, those who seemed not even to value the life they were given, not to mention others seemed to catch breaks? Reading that you can catch a glimpse as to the spirited conversation my friend and I were having.

Let us get back to the answer to this question. Think of politics. The parties usually argue and put down only those they feel stand a chance at costing them the election. Sports teams put the most effort into developing a plan to beat the teams that will prevent them from winning a championship. The same is true when you are trying to make the world a better, more positive and rewarding place, whether that is by directly helping others, or leading by working to be a positive example yourself. Let us think of what the world would be like if we had more kind, compassionate and enlightened leaders in the world. There are certain people who would not be very happy with that.

Sometimes it has to do with profit, sometimes it has to do with jealousy. When people succeed in anything be it financial or even inner peace and joy, it shines a light on the fact others have not succeeded in that same field. Instead of asking or working to find a solution as to how they did it and use their success for inspiration, a lot of people find it easier to tear them down as it somehow helps them feel better about their own position. Sound a bit harsh? Check out the tabloids in the grocery store. Do they ever tell you the story about the soon to be world-famous author who went out and partied and ended up wearing his girlfriends glittery top? No, his life may be no better, or even worse than yours. Achieve any kind of success and people start looking for you to fail.

This is why, when you meet a positive person understand they may have had to overcome some of the greatest struggles you have ever heard of. It is easy to be cynical or negative. It takes no courage, no persistence, no faith. Remember the title of this post, for every level, there is another devil As we make our way through life working to grow and better ourselves we will be faced with an ever increasingly difficult ‘devil’. It is there to test our resolve, to help us grow our resolve. It would be easy to just throw in the towel and resort to being negative. That is the easy way out, and that is what some are just waiting for you to do. The more you wish to do, the more you are going to have to face. It may seem like a sign to give up, but it is actually a sign that you are getting ever closer to your goal. DO NOT GIVE UP

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.

 

WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION?

Have you ever thought about the quote above? Most of us live our lives trying to meet the expectations of our boss, our peers, or even our family. This can often leave us trying to meet goals that do not align with our values. This cannot only make it very difficult to achieve, but leave us feeling defeated and like we failed. Not only are these feelings unpleasant to experience, they can dampen our ability to push forward. It was Winston Churchill who defined success as “Going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” I am rather found of that quote. If we can keep our enthusiasm for another day, to me, that is a success.

My favorite quote about success comes from Earl Nightingale which reads, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.” Meaning if we have a clearly defined goal and are working toward achieving it, we are, by definition, a success. If you googled ‘success quotes’ you would uncover a million more. What matters most is what you consider a success? Is it pleasing your boss? Is it living up to the goals of your friends? Or is it something bigger?

To me, a successful life begins with successful days. Put enough together and you have a successful life. What defines a successful day? Perhaps you did something to make your spouse feel loved and beautiful? Then the day was a success. Maybe you did something stupid that upset your spouse, but you learned from it and now you can do better in the future? Again, that day would be a success. If you are like me, you might even do both in the same day.

The point is here that you get to define what success is for you. The more you look for accomplishments, the more you can develop a mindset to chase bigger and better ones.