HERE’S YOUR NEW JOB!

As most of you know, I am a big fan of Mr. Fred Rogers. For the younger generation that follow me who may not have ever heard of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, it was a children’s show on public television. On this show Mr. Rogers taught kids very valuable life lessons. Things like how to express your feelings. The importance of maintaining a positive attitude. He also spoke of complicated things like death and divorce. He discussed these topics in a simple way that children could understand them.

In my mind, this had to be a very difficult thing to do. As adults we tend to over complicate nearly everything we do. Taking a complicated subject, such as divorce, and breaking it down to help children understand what is going on takes a lot of work. Mr. Rogers also broke down many barriers before their time. When people of different races were not allowed in the same swimming pool and tensions were high, Mr. Rogers invited his neighborhood friend Officer Clemmons, who is African-American, to soak his feet in the swimming pool with him. They sat and talked. Not about Racism or even the current pool segregation. Instead they talked about how hot it was. When Officer Clemmons remarked he did not have a towel, Mr. Rogers quickly volunteered to share his.

This may not seem like anything so remarkable on the surface, but in 1969 when the episode aired, it was. People of different colors were not supposed to swim together and certainly not share a towel. Now take time to think that this was on a children’s television show. People in their formative years were watching this. They were not hearing an argument as to what was or should be. They were not being preached at. They were being shown an example of how people should treat each other.

Leading by example was something often seen on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. I recall an episode where he visited a restaurant to show children what that was like. He was courteous, and well-mannered. He didn’t say, “Now this is how you behave here.” He just did. Another thing I recall from both that episode and others, was how he seemed in awe of everything and everyone. Some may take a person making a sandwich for granted. Not Fred Rogers. He genuinely complimented the people throughout his entire visit. He also seemed entirely grateful. He seemed to find joy in the smallest things. From everything I have seen and read, Fred Rogers was this type of person off the screen as well.

Here is where you and your job comes in. Mr. Fred Rogers died in 2003. He was a dynamic man with a heart bigger than most people I can think of. His ‘Neighborhood’ was a fictitious place, but it doesn’t have to be. Each one of us can be the Mr. Rogers of our own neighborhoods. We can teach by example. We can treat everyone we meet with reverence and respect. As one of my other mentors, Earl Nightingale, said, “We do this because that is how people ought to be treated.” Treat each day and thing as a miracle – because they are. Foster an attitude of gratitude. There is always so much to be thankful for. When others try to divide us, love one another. A loving example can be just as powerful as a speech, sometimes even more so.

This piece of advice was given by Mr. Rogers during many crisis. It couldn’t hold more weight today. In this social media driven world we can tend to see and focus on only the bad and negative. That is very easy to do, it is plastered all over the place. One way we can be like Mr. Rogers and help us all to have more ‘beautiful days in the neighborhood’ is to look for the helpers, the people who are helping. Find the people helping to clean up the environment. Find those trying to help the old and sick. Find those who are trying to bring people together instead of driving them apart. Join these people. Support these people. Most of all – become one of these people. In short – become the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood.

WORK ON YOUR DIET AND CHANGE THE WORLD

Here is one of those fabulous things I happen across on my social media viewing. I was blessed to have many friends who shared this exact picture. More importantly, I believe they also genuinely feel that way. Once again, I must mention how grateful I am to have people in my life that feel and act this way.

In a world where many people may feel confused or concerned how to speak to and treat one another, there is one guiding principle that can make things a little easier and a lot less stressful. That principle is to have a genuine love and appreciation for all of us sharing this planet. It can be a hard thing to do at times, but if you can show love to everyone, including those who may seem not to deserve it, you will have a truly amazing life.

I know you might be thinking, “That sounds great Neil, but how can I learn to do that?” A first great step would be to watch your diet. You might be wondering how watching what you eat can help you to become a more loving and compassionate individual. Your diet is not only the food you consume. Your diet also consists of the music you listen to, the books you read, the people you hang out with and everything you consume not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. At the end of this post I will give you a little healthy treat for your diet. Make sure you read on for that.

If you spend your time in fear of what words or phrases may be acceptable these days, or you just are concerned with saying the wrong thing, there is a simple solution to that as well – become an encouraging. This world that can seem crazy and chaotic is woefully short on reasons to be encouraged. Help someone heal. Help them believe in themselves. If this is your intentions, your heart will guide you to the right words.

By having and more importantly showing love for each other, we do something wonderfully important – we help people believe in themselves. There are many great agents of change, spiritual and cultural leaders that have doubted themselves at some point. Without their contribution, the world would have been a darker place. The great thing about this is that there is always opportunities to help someone believe in themselves and in turn help them change the world.

Don’t believe it? Think of some of these examples. You encourage a young lady who is learning the art of cake decorating. Instead of giving up when her wedding cake looks more like abstract art than a culinary masterpiece, she tries again. She remains confident and goes on to create edible works of art. How does this change the world? Imagine the joy that adds to every special occasion her cakes are a part of. They will add something special to every event. A heart-melting sigh when the bride and groom see their cake on their wedding day. The ear to ear grin on the young child when they see their favorite character sitting right on top of their birthday cake.

Perhaps it is a young writer? Maybe pondering if the words he shares truly impact the lives of others. How would an encouraging word help this young fellow and how would it then change the world? Perhaps it would encourage him to continue to develop his craft and keep sharing his words knowing someone is listening. Then those words could reach a lost and lonely soul halfway across the world and bring them joy. Those words could then be shared from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Changing the day for many.

These are totally random and hypothetical examples, but they hold true just the same. We never know what someone is facing in life or where their heart and mind may be at. Maybe it is encouraging someone singing on a microphone for the first time, or the lonely kid sitting by themselves at lunch. Just letting these people know that you have love for them will make their world brighter, the world as a whole brighter and just might save their life.

As promised I am going to give you a little something good to add to your diet and will help you to remember to encourage and have love for people of all kinds. If you click the link below you will be treated to a great performance by the artist Michael Franti. Not only is Michael a great ambassador for love and peace, he represents a lot of us. He was adopted as a young child. His mother was European and his father a mix of African and Native American. He has a sister who is a lesbian and a brother who is a police officer. Well-rounded you might say. I strongly encourage you to click on the link below to listen to this song for yourself. Feel free to leave your comments and suggestions for encouraging and having love for each other below.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW AND LISTEN TO THE GREAT MICHAEL FRANTI SONG

IT’S SUCH A GOOD FEELING

People laugh when I mention that Mr. Rogers is one of my favorite philosophers. They say things like, “You mean the children’s television show guy?” While it may be true that Fred Rogers was the host of a television program meant for children, I am going to show you an example of why his knowledge is just as good, if not better, for adults. We are going to explain this fact using the song that was sung at the conclusion of every episode of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

We will start with the first line. It’s such a good feeling to know you’re alive. How many of us start the day like that? When we wake up, what is the first thought in our minds? Is it “Another day of work again?” or “I would have had much better sleep had they just stopped snoring?” When really these are all great gifts. Many people would love to have a job. Sure, the one you have might not be your dream job, but you are getting paid and in many cases have things like insurance or retirement. Snoring might not be the best sound to fall asleep to, but it is also an audible reminder that you have someone who loves you enough to not only sleep next to you, but accept you with all of your imperfections. To lastly, the greatest gift of all, the gift of being alive. Our lives, bodies, relationships and jobs may not be exactly what we want, but by waking up every morning we have a chance to improve them and to bring joy to others.

Now let us tackle the second line. It’s such a happy feeling you’re growing inside. One of the people who started my journey into self-improvement was Tony Robbins. He says that happiness can be summed up in one word – progress. When we feel like we are progressing, or better put, growing inside, we feel happy. This brings us a sense of pride. What many of us fail to realize is that we are always growing inside, or at least we could be. Everything from painful experiences to the mistakes we make can help us grow. This is only true if we learn from them. Next time you find yourself feeling bad, just ask, “What can I learn from this situation?” By doing so you will be progressing to become a better version of yourself. You will not only feel a sense of pride, joy and accomplishment, you may actually feel yourself growing inside.

And when you wake up ready to say,”I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” I love this line! I once did a video for my YouTube channel (Neil Panosian) called waking up in Neutral. One of the most important things we can do when we wake up is set a positive intention for the day. What do 90% of us do, however? We wake up in neutral. That is we let the world decide what kind of day we are going to have. If we are late, spill our coffee, get stuck in traffic or a million other little things go wrong, our day is shot. How different would it be if we woke up and said to ourselves, “I am going to have a great day no matter what!” or more simply “I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” Even though those other things may still go wrong, they will not affect us as greatly.

It’s such a good feeling, A very good feeling, The feeling you know, that I’ll be back, when the day is new. The last part of that is very important. I’ll be back when the day is new. Having something to look forward to is a key ingredient to having a happy life. Knowing that you will have a friend (or television neighbor) that will return to your life is a very intense joy that many of us fail to treasure as much as we should. After waking up and deciding it will be a snappy new day, the very next thing we should focus on is what we have to look forward to in the future. It could be something that afternoon or further in the future When the day is new.

And I’ll have more ideas for you. New ideas and thoughts are also something we should both be grateful for, and look forward to. Perhaps the solution to a question that has been bothering us may come to light. Maybe a wonderful poem or lyrics to a song? Perhaps, like in our household, an idea for a new flavor of cake and cupcake or idea for an intriguing blog post. Hearing new ideas from our friends can be exciting too. They have a completely different life and way of looking at things. By listening to them we expand our own world in ways we never could have imagined. I hear from people and Online Neighbors thanks to this blog post. I am blessed enough to hear from people across the country and the world. I may hear from someone in Italy about a great hard rock band I have forgotten about or someone in Peru with a delicious recipe I would like to try. Their ideas make my life better.

And you’ll have things you’ll want to talk about, I will too. Much like the previous line, I am so grateful for the wonderful neighbors I have met through this blog. Having conversations with different people helps me think and know what to write about. A conversation with a good friend can make us feel better when we are feeling down, can help us become inspired when we need to be and can even give us some helpful advice and encouragement when we need it. Realizing everybody has things they will want to talk about can remind us that we should spend equal amounts of time listening as well as sharing.

I hope by breaking down this song from the program has given you a glimpse into why I believe Mr. Rogers can be a blessing and a teacher to all of us. His ability to break down and teach what I like to refer to as Human fundamentals is a rare and valuable gift. How many adults do you encounter in a week who could stand to watch episodes that teach ‘What to do when you are mad’ or just gain knowledge of how to be a better neighbor? Pull up the video of this song online and play it whenever you need a reminder of how to have such a good feeling!

CLICK HERE TO WATCH MY YOUTUBE VIDEO ABOUT WAKING UP IN NEUTRAL

CHILDREN ARE NOT THE ONLY BULLIES.

When I look back at my formative years, I am not sure there is too much that I am extremely proud of. As the years went by a lot of things seemed to change as happens with most people. Some seemed to improve, such as my ability to use humor in a constructive and healing way. Some things seemed to go in the opposite direction. When I was in third grade the teacher kept my stories when the year was over because she liked them so much (This is true. My mother will vouch for me) By my senior year in high school my English teacher informed me she prayed to God I would never have a career in writing. Some things didn’t change. Once, on a Facebook post people were asked what they remembered about me. A lot of them said my hair, but some said that I always seemed positive and nice. (who would have guessed I could’ve turned that into a career) In my yearbooks people made mention that I was always questioning everything and that I asked too many questions. I guess that didn’t change either.

One thing I am very proud of is that I never heard I was a bully to anyone. In my memory, I never thought of myself above anyone. There was enjoyment to be had in the company of almost everyone I am came in contact with. The same holds true of me as an adult. I do my best to find the good in every person I meet. There are a few who make me work harder than others. If I can’t find something to like in someone I find that to be my failure, not theirs.

Growing up all kids were not like me. I am grateful for that or it would have been pretty boring. Unfortunately, some kids were bullies. Especially when I was very young, there were kids I would dread even seeing and do my best to avoid. As I grew older I realized the best way to avoid having to deal with bullies is confront them. Not in a physical way, but by realizing bullies are generally people who have more problems than those they attack. It is by accenting the flaws of others they hope to hide flaws of their own. In many ways their insults and hurtful behavior are nothing more than a cry for help. This is hard to imagine, especially as a young child whose last name resembles that of a Disney character. When I would confront them it would usually be with a question as to why they say such unpleasant things. I would often follow that up with a compliment, which is what most bullies crave most of all. I would say something like, “I really admire your _____ and can’t understand why you feel the need to be so mean.” Even if that didn’t stop the action at that moment it usually provided food for thought at the next encounter.

As I started to mention earlier, I did not have much trouble with bullies. In part, I guess that was because I genuinely cared for everyone, even most of the bullies. When I ask you how things are going, I stop and listen to the answer. It was hard to pick on someone who cared about your well-being. I also understood that usually their cruel actions were nothing more than a thinly veiled mask for their own insecuries. I would usually find something good about them and pay them a compliment. Many times instead of picking on me they would open up and share some of their issues with me. I enjoyed helping even if it was just really listening to what they had to say. I truly hoped by relieving some of their pains, it may reduce the pain they inflicted on others.

Well, that is all done and over with now that I am older right? Wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recall when I first started working for the United States Postal Service. In the office I worked there was an undertone of anger and hostility. Some of the rudest most insulting people were sad and lonely. In the world of being a DJ, I see it every night. Add alcohol to the mix and people’s insecurities are heightened that much further. The more insecure they feel? You guessed it, the more they seem to take it out on others. Some do not even realize they are doing it.

The sad part is they never healed from childhood. What they have failed to realize is that the pain they are inflicting cannot help them at all. Sure it may feel good in the short term. It may even hide some of their flaws they are so afraid of revealing. What it will not do is help them heal. Sadly, the effect it has on those they act out against can also be negatively life-transforming. It also trickles down. When they hurt others, those people either withdraw or then go on to hurt others. If you extrapolate this over time, the trend and amount of bullies will only increase.

Why are some children and some adults so mean and cruel? I believe the answer can be found in two words – fear and ignorance. It can be scary to face our own insecurities, much less share them with someone who may be able to help us. That takes a great amount of courage. What takes less and almost no courage is to find someone we perceive as weaker or in a lower social standing and put them down to make ourselves feel better. At the end of the day when we are in our beds, those actions will only intensify our feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The other side of the coin is ignorance. Even if we develop the courage to express ourselves, to show others our faults and be very strong as to ask for help with them, how do we do that? Those answers are best left to professionals and can be as complex as the people asking them and the problems. What we can do to help stem and stop the spread bullying is to be kind to everyone we meet and make an effort to listen to and provide a safe space for people to share their feelings and problems. I am going to leave you with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers to end this on an uplifting note.

WHO IS YOUR HERO? WHAT IS A HERO?

I was watching an interview with Sammy Hagar, I’ll share the link at the end of this blog, and these two questions came to mind when it was over. Think what you will of his music. ( I am personally a fan) or which version of Van Halen you like better (I am a fan of both) but after listening to this interview you can’t help but love the guy. Small bits of information I picked up are how he donates to food banks in every town he plays in and often goes down in person to help. Why? As he says, “There is much more to charity than just writing a check.” Not to mention he set up an entire business (Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar and Grill) where the entire profits go to help children with terminal illnesses and their family. That, to me, is a stand up guy.

As I drove home I thought about the word ‘Hero’. Lately, a lot of attention has been given to that word. For once I am happy to say I think we have our head on straight as to how we are thinking about it. Perhaps because a lot of the folks we usually give those titles to, such as professional sports players and reality show actors are out of the picture and deemed ‘Not essential’ that we are able to focus on those who really make a difference. A lot of those in the medical profession, lower paid employees who show up daily just to make our lives easier, and anyone who puts themselves in danger so that our lives may be easier. Are these people your heroes? What makes them a hero? These are the questions that popped in my head as I drove home.

I thought about those whom I consider a hero. A name that comes to mind is Fred Rogers. Host of the television show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. I admire him for his deep-rooted care and concern for youth. How he worked so hard to use the medium of television for something good. His ability to find the positive in even the darkest situation. One of my favorite things about both the man and the show was the importance he placed on what I refer to human fundamentals. I am pretty sure that is a term I just created, so allow me to expand on it. Human fundamentals are basic skills we all should learn to be a good…you guessed it, human! Many think of Fred Rogers as someone who just spoke to children, but I think his messages resonate just as much, if not more, with adults today. How many of us know someone who might benefit from the episode “What to do when you are mad”? There are many adults who are afraid to talk about their feelings and even if they could wouldn’t know the first thing about how to do it. He used to end each show by saying “You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” How many people, ourselves included, could stand to hear that message?

Another name that comes to mind when I think of heroes is Mother Teresa. She was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. I always admire those who dedicate their lives to a spiritual pursuit even if I do not necessarily agree 100% with the dogma that comes with such things. What makes Mother Teresa special in my eyes is her social work that was done with a spiritual motivation. In 1950 she founded the Missionaries of Charity. It was a group of nuns that were active in over 133 countries as of 2012. They did far more than just preach and share their religious beliefs. They managed homes for those unfortunate souls dying of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, leprosy, tuberculosis and many others. They also ran schools, medical clinics, soup kitchens and a host of other useful services. What really impresses me about her is that she encouraged and let everyone know we are all capable of doing great things. We do them by doing even the small things with great love.

These people did not do any of what they did for fame and fortune. Although they did realize that the fame allowed them to do even more good. I am just a humble author and blog writer, but I do must best to use my gift with words to help as many people as I can and to make the world a better place the best I can. Those mentioned above, along with a host of others, inspire to do so. To me, what makes a hero is genuine integrity. Fred Rogers was the same person off camera as he was on camera. His concern for youth and for the world in general was genuine. Mother Teresa dedicated her life to helping the souls that many looked down upon. Sammy Hagar used his fame and fortune to help those less fortunate. I am sure all of these people have flaws, as we all do, but to me they are heroes for their integrity. Their desire to do the right thing. More importantly, wanting to it not for fame or fortune, but simply because it is the right thing to do. To me that is a hero and all of you out there doing what is right, simply because it is right, you are a hero in my book.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE SAMMY HAGAR INTERVIEW THAT INSPIRED THIS BLOG

BEST NEWS SO FAR IN MY JOURNEY WITH CORONAVIRUS

That’s me rocking the quarantine look. Today is roughly day 6 since being diagnosed with coronavirus. It is the best I have felt so far. Shortness of breath is hanging on, but getting better. As an example, last Monday I took out the garbage and didn’t even get back to the house before feeling winded. Today, I took out both the garbage and recyclables and was just a little short of breath when I got back inside. This may not seem like a big difference but I sure felt better. The dizziness is also getting better. It seems less intense and certainly less frequent. Also, my sense of smell seems to be returning slowly. This symptom is the worst. It affects your sense of taste as well. I am hoping it continues to get better every day.

People are asking me what Margie and I are doing during this time. We are doing the same as many of you. We take turns watching movies, we play games and are creating and enjoying meals together. We also have read to each other. Margie has a hard time staying awake during reading so I usually read out loud to her. I rather enjoy this as I feel it is an activity that brings us closer together and we both get to learn something in the process.

One of the books I read during this time was How to live to be 100…or more. It was written by the comedy legend George Burns. I was never a big George Burns fan until recently. Not only does his humor amuse me, but in many ways his relationship with his wife Gracie Allen reminds me a fair deal of Margie and I. People ask how we can work together, live together and sleep together without killing each other. This quarantine time was not that big of an adjustment for us because we do spend a lot of time together. (about the only time we are apart is when I am at the post office) Doing so takes a great bit of effort and comprimise. I am sure a lot of you are discovering this as we speak. I think it is a great way to get to know your partner and strengthen your relationship.

Today we also left the house for the first time. We both walked around our neighborhood. It felt good to get some fresh air. My shortness of breath would not have allowed me to go much further. It is funny to think that just 2 weeks ago I was running on a treadmill and now it is tough to walk a few blocks. It makes me grateful for my health. I am also grateful that my symptoms were mild enough I could breath, especially with my asthma. It also made me grateful for the neighborhood I live in. Margie and I live on a busy street, but the streets behind us is a rather closed in little neighborhood. It is a shame we do not take the time to walk there more often. I hope these coming days will get us a chance to see and meet more of our neighbors (from at least 6 feet away) and say hello. I recall a conversation I had with a former alderperson who said the best way to improve your neighborhood is get out in it. I couldn’t agree more.

Speaking of getting out in your neighborhood, I aim to do that as soon as possible and I encourage all of you to do the same. When this world regains a sense of normalcy, I encourage all of us to get out and support the local businesses in our neighborhoods. They are certainly going to need our help. It is not just the business and business owner (who is often a neighbor) that you will be supporting, but you will be supporting all of your neighbors who are employed there. Small businesses are what drive the economy. It is important to take care of them. By doing so we are taking care of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. Mr. Rogers would like that I dare say. If you are reading this and you live in my neighborhood, Margie and I look forward to meeting and getting to know a lot more of you. So if you see us out supporting a local business please come up say hello and introduce yourself. Let us use this challenge we have all faced to build a better world.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #8)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

There is an obvious answer here and that would be my book, A Happy Life for Busy People. It is true I am very grateful for that book. It has opened so many doors in my life and introduced me to so many wonderful people. It is also owned by rock stars, movie stars and billionaires. If you would like your own copy there will be a link at the bottom of this post. Yes, that is one of the books I am most thankful for.

There are, however, a handful of books that I would recommend everyone read. Let us start with my favorite book of all time, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I read this book on average once a year. I gain something new everytime I read it. That is the amazing thing about a great book. You always gain something new from them each time you read them. Not because they are different, but because you are. I also loved the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. This law of attraction classic is filled with great basic ideas and formulas. The World According to Mr. Rogers is another favorite filled with great stories and fundamentals. Anyone who knows me knows that I am also a big fan of the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne. Not only are they uplifting and full of joy, they often have great lessons hidden in their pages.

 Books are stored knowledge. You can save yourself years of work by reading the lessons someone who went before you wrote. You can escape by slipping into pages that transport you to entire different worlds. You can learn, you can be inspired. There are so many books to be inspired by. Which are some of your favorites?

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING

BECOME LIKE GOD


I must confess to making today’s headline a little click bait. Looking at the quote above by one Fred Rogers (whom most of you know is one of my favorite philosophers) it might not be that far from the truth. Whatever your spiritual belief might be, I think we can all agree that seeing the best in our ‘neighbor’ is something very special. In a world that seems to focus on our differences and who we think is to blame for what, it becomes even more special. I am sure Mr. Rogers would agree.
There is a positive flipside to seeing the best in everyone and everything. Your world looks a lot brighter. When your world looks a lot brighter, you feel a lot better. When you feel a lot better you treat others better and your world becomes…well…better.
This is where a lot of you may come in and tell me that would be ‘looking at the world through rose colored glasses’. You may be right. Looking for what is right with the world can seem like a delusion of sorts, especially to those who have never done it. Looking for and appreciating, especially out loud, what is right in others and the world around us does not mean ignoring what is wrong. In fact, knowing what is wrong can be very helpful to note ways in which things can be better. What is advocated here is to not focus on what is wrong.
It is here that pessimists and even realists may say I am being willfully ignorant. Maybe so, but it feels good and leads me to have a better life. I know there are lots of things wrong with people and the world they live in. I chose to focus on what is wonderful about both and solutions for what is not. There are plenty who fill the role of spreading gossip about others and their faults. I choose to do the opposite. My world is not any less real.
Here is a third bonus to this behavior. You will become a lot more popular. After all, who would not want to be around someone who sees the best in everything? Be like God and notice and grow what is right with each other and the world.

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?


I have always been a big fan of Mr. Rogers as most of you know. I find his teachings of personal and relational fundamentals good for both children and adults. Another thing I enjoyed about that television show was the neighborhood. Not only did most of the people make an effort to get to know each other, but they seemed to work even harder at treating each other with kindness, dignity and respect. One couldn’t help to walk away from an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood without thinking how great it would be to live in a neighborhood like that.
Whether you were watching that show, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet or countless others where they left their doors unlocked and people regularly greeted each other in passing on the street or in the grocery store, you couldn’t help but feel a little sense of envy. I am sure we all wished we lived in communities like this. The problem is short of moving every couple of years to stay ahead of the spread of crime and anonymity would be difficult to do from a financial standpoint. What other solutions are there? I always strongly advocate doing our best personally to make our neighborhoods better. That means working to get to know your neighbors. Be helpful and friendly when the opportunities present themselves. Be a part of the solution instead of the problem.
Still, individual efforts can only take us so far. Wouldn’t it be great if these individuals had a place to gather and work together to transform their neighborhoods into something better? I am here to tell you there is and they are called – Neighborhood Associations. In West Allis Wisconsin where I live we have a few of them. I proudly belong to one called the East Allis Neighborhood Association. There will be more information on how to join this fabulous group in a moment. First let me tell a little bit more about Neighborhood Associations.
A Neighborhood Association is a group of neighbors who get together to share their ideas, thoughts, feelings and work cooperatively to make their neighborhood a better place to live and work. In the specific example of the East Allis Neighborhood Association, they recently transformed a plot of land into a butterfly garden. This not only improved aesthetics of the neighborhood, but give a home to all-important pollinators. This spring they worked with another group to hold an Easter egg hunt at a local park. It gave the children a safe and enjoyable outing and allowed the parents to meet and develop a sense of community.
This Neighborhood Association is a not-for-profit organization run by residents and business volunteers only. The dues and donations help fund events and projects, like the ones mentioned above and so many more, to better the neighborhood and community. How much are the dues to be a part of this great solution to help make our neighborhoods a better place for all of us? They are a mere $10 for residents and $20 for businesses a year! What a better way to show both your neighbors and your customers that you care for the community you are in and want to work to make it even better?
If you want more information on joining this fabulous group feel free to email them at EANAWestAllis@gmail.com or call Robin at (414) 617-8357 or Jon at (414) 430-0282. If your neighborhood does not have an Association, perhaps talking to neighbors and setting one up could help improve your community. Personally, I am both happy and proud to belong to an organization the provides so many ways to volunteer and improve your community.

ONE CHANGE THAT COULD CHANGE EVERYTHING

It is always entertaining to discover the ways that some of the most life-changing knowledge comes to our attention. What is even more amusing is that often these moments stem from what can initially be defined as a negative experience. Another example of modern day alchemy. We all have the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one. Before I lose everyone completely, allow me to share with you the exact experience I had and the realization that came out of it.

The other afternoon I was riding my bike in the park. It was a rather hot day and I was taking my time enjoying nature in all its glory. Ahead of me was a young man around the age of 6 I would guess. As we rounded the curve in the trail there were a few birds sitting on the grass. As the young man approached them he yelled “Get out of here stupid birds! You are ugly! Goodbye stupid ugly birds!” It appeared the young man had really no malice in his words or towards the birds, but hearing that made my heart sink. My first reaction was to feel bad for the birds. I know this may sound silly as birds to not speak the same language as humans, but sending out that negative energy towards another living thing cannot be constructive. A little while later down the path, when asked his opinion of a certain tree, the child replied using the same descriptions of ‘stupid’ and ‘ugly’. Again, it is my opinion this was more a product of environment and not any malice as the young man seemed rather happy at the time.

As I found my own spirit a little brought down by the young man’s words it got me thinking. In the past I would have felt a little foolish, or even weak for allowing another person’s words and actions affect me. Now I realize it is just part of my gift as an empath and spiritual person. The event stuck in the back of my mind as I went about my day.

3 a.m. found me awake and reading on the couch when the experience popped back into the front of my mind. I began thinking how someone should tell the young man about the law of energy. It may sound silly to do so to someone at such a young age, but if we wait often habits and language patterns can become set and harder to change. What is the big deal about what words we use? Imagine several random people coming up to you and informing you that you are ugly or stupid. Can you imagine how you would feel after that? Even if you give their opinion much weight, it still would not be a good feeling. Now, imagine several random people coming up with wonder in their eyes and informing you how beautiful or inspiring you are. Can you think about how that would feel?

Words do not only affect others. When we, like the young man in the story, go around calling everything stupid or ugly. When we look for things to criticize about people, places and things. Our world becomes filled with things that we see as ugly, stupid or some other negative description. Can you imagine how it would feel to be surrounded by ugliness and stupidity every day, all day? By speaking in such a manner and seeking out the faults in everything we chose to do that to ourselves.

With my feelings working their way downward as I was thinking about all of the people who do this to themselves as well as how often I still find myself doing the same thing, a great realization came to me. If we can make our lives a living hell by the words we chose to use, could we use that same power to transform our lives to one of beauty and joy? Of course we can. There is always two sides to every story.

Immediately my mind began to work on how this could be put into use. The answer was simple. To create joy and positivity all we have to do is the opposite of what brought us the pain and negativity. In this case, what if that young man was taught to find the beauty and magnificence in everything he saw? What if we all learned how to see everything as a miracle. It was Albert Einstein who said, “There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as thought everything is a miracle.” If one of the smartest minds on the planet lived by this concept, I felt it might be wise for me to as well.

Today I am going to begin to look at the beauty in everything I see. In addition, I am going to use words like ‘wonderful’ and ‘beautiful’. If we find the beauty in everything we see, no matter how hard it may be, our lives will be filled with a great amount of beauty and joy. Can you imagine how different it would feel if we were surrounded daily by everything we thought was beautiful? Our lives, in turn, would become beautiful.

One great key to finding the beauty in even the toughest situations was supplied to me by a quote from Mr. Rogers. This quote was sent to me by a neighbor who knew I was a fan of the children’s television show host. The quote was “Frankly there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” Perhaps if the young man in our story know that birds he was calling stupid could navigate 2000 miles without the use of a map he may not think they were so stupid after all. The greatest irony of all. After all the knowledge that came out of the afternoon in the park, the young  man’s words became a thing of beauty for all they taught me and all I could share with you.