COFFEE WITH NEIGHBORS

I belong to a website called “Nextdoor”. It was designed to be a site you foster a feeling of being neighborly. In that spirit, I decided to share most of my tips for positivity I share on here with my neighbors. It was my hope that would lead to a neighborhood full of people who knew how to reduce stress, increase joy and become the best versions of themselves. In short, to a more positive and healthy neighborhood.

Sadly, there were a few jaded souls who did not enjoy seeing my daily offerings of positivity. These folks were so appalled by my free motivational and inspirational offerings they reported them and attempted to have them removed. It got so bad that I decided to leave the Nextdoor community.

It was with good fortune, however, I remained in contact with a few select individuals from that site. Specifically, one named Jon. Jon owns a local bar/restaurant called Johnny Hammers. He decided it would do a great deal of good to gather the people in the neighborhood who spoke online in a personal setting. So, he set up an afternoon gathering of coffee with the neighbors.

I had that great pleasure of attending my first one. There I met wonderful young ladies named Judy and Jesica. My neighbor Shane. Later we were joined by Kristin and her sons Chris as Tyler. Kristen is one of the leads on that Nextdoor site and was able to explain ways in which we could all use the site to more positively interact with each other.

In addition to this fine group of people we also met a couple who were reopening a local church in the area. They were kind enough to share their plans for the community.

Although I still have great misgivings about the cliquiness and malevolent behavior of some people on Nextdoor,I do see where it could be a great service to the community. I am also very grateful to Jon for setting up the in person meetings. I look forward to meeting more neighbors in the future. If you see such meetings in your neighborhood I would encourage you to attend them. If you don’t, I would encourage you to start one.

SPREAD THE LOVE

The photo on top is how my car used to look. After a wonderful Valentine’s day present from Margie it now looks like the second photo. It is my passion to reach out, connect with and help as many people as I can. To that end, if you happen to live in my neighborhood and see my car feel free to say “Hello” and introduce yourself.

The point of today’s post is this, let the world know who you are. Let the world know what you love. I see political bumper stickers bashing this person or party. I see signs protesting certain agendas and individuals. That is all well and good, but instead of being anti this or that, what if we focused more on who we are and what we wanted?

Celebrate the love. Instead of anti-war, let us be pro peace. Let us fill the world with signs promoting all that we want to create  and not that which we would like to see destroyed. One of the axioms in my new book is “promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.” In addition to sending out a more positive vibe to the world around you, it will also make you feel better. It is also my sincere wish that we allow others to love and be what makes them happy, even if it is different from what we love or who we are.

Also, if you see a truck passing by with a small business advertised on the side, let us increase our sense of community by patronizing that business. Small businesses do wonders by not only supporting your neighbors who own them, but the neighbors they hire, and the local businesses they support. Working together we will not only help each other prosper, but foster a great sense of community.

There we have it my friends. Support and promote who you are and what you love while allowing others, even those you may differ with, do the same. Help support local businesses and by doing so create and foster a greater sense of community. Most important, don’t forget if you see this truck stop and introduce yourself, feel free to let me know any subjects you would like to see addressed on this website. Don’t live in the neighborhood? Feel free to do so in the comments below!

THE 4 LETTER WORD THAT NO LONGER OFFENDS ME

For those of you afraid to open this post at work, or to show the children have no fear. As a bartender and DJ I must confess to having uttered my fair share of four-letter words in my day. As an author and motivational speaker I try to find more intelligent and creative ways to express myself today. This post is not, however, about those kinds of four letter words. This post is about a four-letter word that used to frighten me far more growing up.

What is this scary and offensive word? GOAL. When I was growing up and I am sad to admit through a good portion of my early adulthood this word is something I not only shied away from, I ran in the opposite direction! Why? In school goals are things we were graded on. Your goal was to get an A on the test. If you scored a B- you did not meet the goal. Your goal might have been to complete your paper or project in three weeks. If you were a student like myself, the day before at three o’clock in the morning you were up driving your mother crazy as she drove you crazy with such inspiring phrases such as, “You had three weeks to complete this paper. Why didn’t you start earlier!” I actually recall trying to write a paper on ‘Bucky-balls’ or spherical fullerene molecules named after Buckminster Fuller. Working with my good friend Russ, and only after completing his paper and being wired on espresso in the wee hours of the morning I turned in a paper that opened with the question, “Bucky-balls chemistry’s next big thing or kinky sex toy?” This sounded great between Russ and I the night before. The chemistry teacher, however, did not enjoy our humor. I did not do well on that goal.

As you can see my history with the word ‘goal’ has not been the best. Introduce Earl Nightingale. Even a passing reader of this site has heard me mention his name countless times. Earl was a motivational speaker and author among countless other occupations. I encourage you to listen to his great work The Strangest Secret In it, Earl informs us the difference between successful and not successful people is that those who succeed have goals. Naturally, this made me want to assume the fetal position in the corner, but I listened on. He explained goals in a way that helped me not only not be afraid of them, but understand how they can serve us.

Here is what he said, and please understand I am paraphrasing. Imagine a ship about to start a voyage. There is a captain at the helm. He has a destination all mapped out and knows exactly where he is going. In the event he gets off course, he can make corrections and get back on course. The odds are 9999 times out of 10,000 he will get there. Now imagine a ship without a captain at the helm. It has no crew or destination. We just start the engines and let it go. If it makes it out of the harbor at all it will crash or end up on some deserted shore a derelict.

The ironic thing is most of us begin our day like the second ship. We just start our engines and away we go. Imagine if we began our day more like the second ship. With our end goal for the day, week or year mapped out in front of us. If things happened to get off course we can make adjustments and get back on course. With this analogy I could see the power and benefit of goals. I now look forward to coming up with goals and working to achieve them.

I encourage you to do the same. Write down a goal and look at it as you start your day. Notice how you are doing. If you find you have gotten off course, that is ok, just make the necessary corrections and you will be on your way again in no time. If you get completely lost, feel free to utter another four-letter word of your choosing, and start out again.

LET’S GET STARTED!!!

Last post we talked about improving our lives. Here is one simple way we can do just that. Work on strengthening our decision muscle. It is true one decision can literally change our lives. The decision to say “It’s over!” or “Let’s begin!”. Can you think of some decision you have made that has totally changed your course of life? Going to work at a certain place of employment? Dating a certain person?

Let us decide to make one new decision that will positively affect our lives. Before we do so, however, let us look at what it actually means to decide. According to membean.com “The root word cis and its variants cid and -cide come from a Latin root which means to ‘cut’ or ‘kill.’ A decision, for instance, is a ‘cutting off’ of all possibilities except for one; if you are decisive you have ‘killed’ all other options.” Think of that, you have killed all other options.

I like to use the word ‘declare’ more than the word ‘decide’. I feel it has more emotional power. If you decide you are going to be more healthy, you could decide tomorrow you are going to eat a whole pizza. On a side note, these two things have both happened to me in the past. When you ‘declare’ something it is like shouting it from the rooftops. You are saying “this is how it is going to be no matter what.” If you are faced with an obstacle you work around it. If you do not succeed at some point, you pick yourself up and start again.

Great lives were created one decision at a time. Let us all choose one decision to change our life today. Feel free to share your inspiring decision in the comments below.

DROP YOUR BUCKETS 

“Neighborhoods are going down hill.” “things aren’t what they used to be.” How many of us have heard, or even said things like this? Do you believe these statements to be true? Accepting these statements as true can leave us with a feeling of helplessness and despair. After all crime is on the rise in a lot of both rural and urban areas. In my own fabulous city of West Allis Wisconsin homicides went from a mere one in 2015 to 6 last year. Burglaries were up almost 100 in the same time frame. That is what the news will tell you. Still, in the same time robberies fell by 37%, assaults fell by over 14%, and theft of vehicles by 11%. So the news is both good and not so good. There is also news of them adding a new off-road ambulance and several businesses with more on the way.

Is this about seeing the glass half-full when it comes to your home town? In a way. It is also reminding us to look a little deeper when we are given certain facts, they may not be the whole story. (see the crime statistics above)

This is but a small fraction of what we can do to restore our faith and outlook in our hometowns. I highly suggest contacting your local government and finding out what their plans are. In West Allis for example, the mayor coupled with other local politicians and business leaders have launched a strategic 5 year plan to improve the quality of life in the city. Knowing what is being worked on behind the scenes can often give you a feeling of hope for the future.

What happens if you are not satisfied with what you discover the local government is doing to improve your fine city? What can you do? That is the very question you should be asking, but let us type it in a slightly different way. What can you do? Sure we can all find things maybe we think local law enforcement could be doing better, but how many of us would be a part of a neighborhood watch program? People are quick to complain how rundown their neighborhood may look, but are they keeping their own property up to serve as an example and to inspire their neighbors? If you really want to make an impact, perhaps you should consider becoming a part of the solution. By that I mean becoming a part of your local government. Something I plan to do in the near future. Not only will it allow you to have a bigger impact on positive change, but also allow you to see the challenges the city faces from angles you may not have considered or knew of.

While speaking to a local alder person I learned one of the best things you can do to improve your neighborhood. Sit on your front porch. Really? I can hear you ask. Yes, by making a presence you will be able to not only better observe things that might need attention, but also get to know more of your neighbors and create more of a sense of community. One of the major complaints people voice is that neighborhoods are not as close as they used to be. It is up to all of us to change that. Attend local block parties or inquire at your local chamber of commerce. Most of all support and frequent local businesses. I do most of my writing at coffee shops located in my fine city because I want them to succeed and to continue to employ the fine people they do. I also DJ 2 out of 3 nights at places located in my hometown.

John F. Kennedy once said the famous line “Don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” This is true at the local level as well. It is only by working together we will reclaim and improve our communities. Feel free to share this post as well as share your ideas in the comments below.