GO BAREFOOT!!!

I learned a great secret! The other day my lady was cooking up a delicious meal and I decided to sit in the sun and read one of my favorite books. About halfway through my time reading I decided to take off my shoes and put my feet in the grass. I had not done that in years. In our busy lives we can become disconnected with some of life’s simple pleasures.

Between the good book I was reading and the feeling of the grass between my toes I felt amazing. What have you not done in a while? I suggest revisiting different aspects we have gotten away from. I also suggest getting back in touch with nature. Is there a favorite tree you like? Get out and walk up to it. Grab the kids or the one you love and go for a walk in the park. Maybe just go for a stroll yourself noticing nature. Hear the songs of the birds. Feel the wind blowing against your skin. See the trees on the horizon and notice how beautiful they are. Literally stop and smell the flowers.

Please share with us things you haven’t done in a long time that you may enjoy. Take those shoes off and walk around the grass!

IN THE COMPANY OF ANGELS 

Angels, what exactly are they? If you look up the definition online it will tell you they are “spiritual beings superior to humans in power and intelligence.” Where do angels come from? You can often hear people say when someone has passed away that they have become their guardian angel. I’m not 100% sure that this is true as I am still alive, but it is something that certainly sounds wonderful.

This post is not about death, what happens after we pass away or even angels in the biblical sense. It is about our daily angels. Daily angels are the people I truly believe bless this world. When you see a young person open the door for an elderly or physically challenged person, to me that person in acting angelic. There will be a section in my upcoming book filled with examples of these people and what we can learn from them. I’m going to include a few of them here as well, both specifically and the kind of people in general that I believe qualify as angels.

The other night I was out with my lady at a friend’s birthday party. A gentleman I have known since I was very young, grade school age, came up to talk to me. Not only was he effusive in his praise, but let me know that he was proud of the life I was living and the accomplishments of both my lady and I. He shared a lot of the good memories he had of us and left me feeling very happy and good about myself. Someone who brings only joy and positivity to others and helps them feel good about themselves fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say Scott is a living angel

My aunt has never really had a high paying job, lived in a glamorous house or even driven a car. On top of this she has had five different kinds of cancer and beat them all. How does she manage to do this? A great (although strange at times) sense of humor. She makes herself and others around her laugh. She never gave in to any of her health challenges, and continues to live on the ‘sunny side of the street’. Maintaining and sharing a positive attitude in the face of such personal challenges fits my definition of an angel. Therefore I would say my aunt Virginia is a living angel.

One final personal example. Sometimes doing the simplest acts with the certain attention to detail and compassion and love for your fellow human beings makes you an angel in my book. There are two gentleman I routinely run into at coffee shops I frequent. They serve delicious drinks and they do so quickly. If you love coffee as much as I do that can mean the world, but it does not make them an angel. What does is their attention and care for their customers. They get to know you, care about you and are not afraid to show it. When you can make customers feel like friends and bring people joy while you are merely doing your job that fits my definition of an angel. Therefore, Curtis and Kyle are living angels.

Whether you bring light into the world with a smile for those you meet, listen to a friend who is sharing their troubles or a host of other selfless acts I believe that is what makes an angel. Let us recognize all of the people in our lives who fill our souls with love and hope on a daily basis. We are daily in the company of angels.

This post would not be complete without the mention of two very important things. First, my own personal little angel, my love, my Margie. I could tell you all the hard work she puts in around our house in terms of keeping it clean and full of love. I could tell you the countless smiles she has brought with all the effort she puts into her cakes that bring joy to the lives of everyone who orders one, but I need to let you in on something else. Currently I have been going through a lot of personal challenges in my own life. Some that must also make life very difficult for her as well. The more love, patience and understanding she shows me on a daily basis the more I see I am blessed to have my own little angel next to me every day.

The final piece of information I am going to leave you with is this. The world never has enough angels. If you can’t seem to find all that many in your life I encourage you to really begin to look for them. If you are overwhelmed with gratitude for all the angels you see, let them know. Whether you fall into either category, or somewhere in between, do yourself and the world a favor, become an angel. Look for ways you can serve your fellow human beings with love, compassion and joy.

Feel free to recognize some living angels you know in the comments below or by sharing this post with them.

LET THE BEAUTY SHINE THROUGH

I took this picture the other day. Immediately I noticed the daisy. It is as if it were growing straight out of the rocks. You could say it is the rocks that made the daisy stand out. If this flower had been in a meadow it may not have grabbed my attention so much. This struck a chord in me. Beauty can often best be appreciated where there is none. For those of you who are a fan of rocks, I apologize and am not calling them ugly. Even if you are a fan of stone formations, you must admit the daisy does jump out in the picture.

This is not a blog about gardening, rocks or flowers, but one about improving our lives and ourselves. So, how do the two come together here? If we pay attention to the media at all we are filled with stories of hate crimes, war and other not so fabulous information. I don’t even watch the news, but see these things as I log into my email. It can make you feel there is no point in trying to be positive, that the world is going in the wrong direction. Even in our daily personal struggles life can seem overwhelming. We take one step forward and can fall three steps back. You can be tempted to throw in the towel and give up. Your life can seem like…well…a pile of rocks.

This is where the picture comes in. In a world, be it personally or globally, that can seem negative at best, hopeless at worst it is easy to just become another ‘rock’. It is also easy to save expressing our beauty around people that we know we receive it well. There are pluses to that. It helps us gain confidence and expressing our beauty anywhere is better than not expressing it at all. When we express our beauty in a place that truly needs it that is when we truly stand out. In fact, it is the very troubles in our lives that can make our beauty the valuable gift it is. Look at the daisy among the rocks. In a field of daisies we would be hard to pick out just one even though they would all add something special.

A real world example I can think of is Mother Teresa. She could have helped any part of the world. What makes us remember her is her choice to help those who were in some of the ugliest situations. She chose to help the people of Calcutta in India. Her foundation, Missionaries of Charity helps those suffering and dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis. As well as soup kitchens and orphanages. Those in the foundation take a vow to provide “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”. Wouldn’t it have been easier to teach children of wealthy parents to read? Absolutely. That would have been a noble deed as well. By expressing her beauty in a place that needed it most she did more than give medical attention to the sick and dying, she gave them something far more valuable. She gave them hope and beauty they needed. She was there daisy among the rocks.

Now you do not have to move to a poor country and help the poor (although the world always needs more of that) to take from this example. Just know when you are tempted to give up in the face of negativity and challenge, whether that challenge comes from abroad or right in your own life, be the daisy. Give beauty to a world that so badly needs it.

WHY ME??? WHY YOU???

The other day I had a discussion with my friend Terri. We discussed how both of us have bought ‘new to us’ cars that have proven to be lemons. Mine is a PT Cruiser who in the first 5 months of owning has cost me $2000 in repairs and still runs rough. Daily I am looking forward to going back to driving an SUV. Terri’s plight is much the same. She bought a car and now things have started to go south.

What does our car trouble have to do with living an amazing life? Terri asked me a very thought-provoking question. That question was this, “How to keep calm, cool and collected when life is throwing me disappointment and struggles?” This is an excellent question and one I think we have all asked at some point or another. No matter who you are or how together you have your life, at some point life will hand you a bunch of lemons in the form of challenges and disappointments. This is never fun.

How do we stay calm, cool and collected as Terri so wonderfully put it? The first point I suggest is to gain perspective. In our situations, we bought a car that turned out to be not what we had thought. This can be especially hard when you are truly excited and then get let down. By her sharing her story with me, we found out neither of us were alone in our troubles. This can be a healing itself. The next thing we need to do is work on what questions we ask ourselves, or more importantly, what answers we give ourselves. It is all to easy to ask the question “why me?” when things go wrong. God knows I asked this when I found out all that needed to be repaired on my car. What you answer is more important. I am a fan of putting everything that happens to me in my life to work for me. When I asked myself, after my last vehicle was totaled while parked in front of my house by a elderly man visiting from Greece as I was sleeping, why did I get a car that was filled with issues? Truly neither of them were my fault. I could focus on how unfair it all was and how much of a victim I was, but that would not serve me and only serve to make me feel helpless and terrible.

Here is another secret, what you focus on in any given situation can literally transform that situation. What should we focus on? Here are two things I suggest; first, what you have to be grateful for. In my case, I was not in the car when it happened. His car was so badly damaged he could not drive away and not be held responsible. He and everyone else was safe for the most part. Let me be perfectly clear right here, this is not an easy habit to do. Focusing on what you have to be grateful for in the middle of a challenging situation takes practice and patience. When you master it, however, it will soften the blow of disappointment you encounter.

The second thing I recommend focusing on is what is positive about the situation, or another way to word it is how to use what happened. What did I find positive about my car being totaled while I was inside sleeping? Like I mentioned, I was inside sleeping for one. Another is maybe there was an impending problem with my car that could have surfaced while driving 70 miles per hour on the freeway, that now will never happen. Another great thing that happens when challenges arise is you find out who really supports you. This is something that can only happen during a challenge. Someone can tell you they will be there for you, but until the ‘chips are down’ you never know for sure. In this case there were so many who were. There were also other benefits of this awful situation. I became better at dealing with rental car companies. Something I just would not randomly do. Also got practice researching used vehicles to purchase. Obviously I still have a way to go on that one. There was the extra practice in asking for and receiving help. I have written about that in the past, but allowing others to help you can be giving them a great gift as well.

All of those skills I would not have had a chance to learn if my car had not been unfairly totaled. Did it inconvenience me? Absolutely. It happened in the coldest month of the year. Did that suck? Yes indeed. Still I gained valuable skills and appreciation for both patience and people. My love and I had to learn new fun ways to entertainment which serve us to this very day. Even having the new car problems has put me into contact with some truly amazing people.

We all will have challenges in life. Remember you are not alone. Take time to focus on what will serve you. Be grateful for the lessons and look for the positive. This will not be easy, but if you keep at it the rewards will be a far happier, and yes more amazing life.

THINK OF THIS…

Here is a quote I have always enjoyed. So much so it is in my book A Happy Life for Busy People. What I am encouraging you to do today is stop and think about this for a minute. Let us picture taking one of those wonderful long hot showers. Maybe in one of those spa showers where water comes at you from every angle. Using your favorite body cleanser lathered all over. Before I lose you in a blissful shower fantasy, let me ask you a question. Even after this amazing shower how would you feel 3 days later if you didn’t bathe again? Probably not so fresh. Why not? Well as we go through life working, playing or even sleeping there is dirt, sweat and even oils from our own bodies that start to collect and make our appearance, if not our smell unpleasant to be around.

The same holds true for our emotional well-being. Even if you just finished reading an amazing life-changing book (please see above) or attended a seminar by said author, things may not last so long. Is that because the material didn’t work? Absolutely not, no more than the soap did not work in the afore mentioned shower example. You could leave the book or seminar very motivated filled with great tools to positively change your life. That might last 2 days, or even a week. Eventually, however, you will get ‘motivationally dirty’ again. Just like the dirt that collects on the body, there is emotional dirt that collects in our spirits. Negative coworkers, the media, traffic jams. They can all chip away at the feeling of happiness and motivation we have. That is why it is so crucial we replenish our emotional and happiness reserves.

How can we do that? Keep something motivational to listen to in the car. Maybe subscribe to one of the free apps on your phone that sends you inspiring quotes every day. I certainly recommend signing up to follow this site daily to fill your inbox with tips to improve the quality of life every day.

So next time you find yourself feeling a little down, remember to take your motivational shower and wash off all that negativity.

CHANGE A CHILD’S LIFE!

Working in the tavern industry becomes less and less of an appeal to me with what at sometimes seems to be a daily pace. One of the great things about working in this industry though is on occasion you meet really amazing people. Some of them have been featured in my past blogs. Yesterday’s in fact! If you wish to read that one you can check it out here IT WORKS! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

Today I wish to discuss another amazing individual my lovely lady and I have the pleasure of seeing as we do our shows. His name is Jerry Musolf, but he goes by Sonny. He is a really great friend by all standards. Friendly, helpful, always willing to lend a hand or a smile whichever is needed. Sonny also rides a motorcycle when the weather in this state allows. As such, you will often see him wearing a vest with patches of different sorts on it. One such patch on his vest looks like the one above. During one show Sonny had asked me to read a fundraiser announcement for a charity he belongs to. Always happy to help people doing good I did. Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another friend of ours was wearing a sweatshirt from the same organization. That prompted me to inquire as to the what the group was all about. I was told to ask Sonny for all the details. What he shared with me is what I am about to share with you.

What influence I have in the world as an author, speaker and the use of this website I try to use for good. One of the causes that always is near and dear to my heart is children. They are innocent victims and often there is not enough support when they need it. If you read my post earlier this month about doing the Warrior Dash to help St. Jude children’s hospital that offers care to sick children and their families.

Another area where children suffer, and often alone is child abuse. Especially if the person doing the abusing is a family member or an adult the child trusts. In addition to the terrible physical aspects of child abuse the emotional and psychological effects can be just as or even worse and last a lifetime. What children need is a sense to feel safe. They need a group of adults they can trust.

This is where Guardians of the Children come in. Let me begin by sharing their mission statement with you. “The mission of Guardians of the Children (GOC) is to recognize and react to child abuse and educate the public to do the same; to serve as advocates to provide strength and stability to families in crisis; and be the answer to the prayer of an abused child or teen for courage, support and protection.” That all sounds good, but what does it actually translate to?

I am going to share both items available in the group’s literature as well as personal stories Sonny has told me. The group partners with other child abuse agencies to raise awareness of the prevalence of child abuse. The use donations they receive for birthdays, basic needs such as clothing and hygiene supplies, literature to promote child abuse awareness as well as activities for the kids. The strive to give these children the same opportunities that your own children have, a normal life and a family that loves and cares for their needs.

The last line is what really impresses me. This group often becomes the family these children so desperately need. The go to court with the children so they are less afraid. They often supply the children with a teddy bear (one that has been hugged by all the members of the group) to hold when they are alone and feeling scared. Each child also receives their own little vest with a patch that says “Little guardian”. The group also provides safe and fun activities for these children such as Easter egg hunts, fishing trips, roller skating and so much more.

In a world where there are far too many innocent child victims it does my soul good to know that such a group exists. On a personal note, I am proud to be the friend of a gentleman who is part of such a community. Below I will share both the national 24-hour child abuse hotline as well as links to both the national and local chapters of this amazing group. It is my sincere desire and hope that many of you will not only share this post, but chose to become a part of this group either through joining or donating. Together we can make this a better world for all of the children

24-hour child abuse hotline 1-800-252-5400

local chapter of Guardians of the Children

Guardians of the children Hawg city chapter

National website for Guardians of the Children

WHY FIGHT IT?

I hear many people say they don’t like or are afraid of change. This makes as much sense to me as being afraid of breathing. Change has to happen. Learning to embrace change is one of the best things you can do to make your life easier. Sure, it is nice to be able to count on certain things. Sometimes the desire to avoid too much change can cause us to work harder, but then we must understand working harder to have a greater control over our environment is also a change. So was learning how to walk, talk, use the bathroom by ourselves and lots of other things we now take for granted. If we get a raise at work, that is a change.

What most people mean is that they do not like change that does not feel good to them. Children say they wish their parents never got divorced. Would you rather they stay together if they were unhappy? We all have people we wish would have never left us and passed away. Even in this there are valuable lessons on loving the people left behind even more. Change is not always easy and not always enjoyable, but we can always use it to our advantage if we learn and grow from it. Lose your job? Maybe you should look at going to work for yourself, or brushing up your skills. Experience a health scare? Maybe you should take the time to take better care of yourself.

When a challenging change comes know that we can either let it drag us down or use it to push us forward. Change is like a wave, we can either drowned or learn to surf. One way it destroys us, the other way we put it to use for us. Next time you are faced with what seems to be an uncomfortable change, ask yourself “How can I use this to surf?”