A DEDICATION TO AMY

I realize reading a blog post on a Sunday here is most unusual. We are going to take a break from our gratitude list to discuss a very special friend of mine – Amy. I had met Amy through my lovely lady, Margie. Right from the beginning, Amy and I clicked. We had many conversations  about life, friendship and philosophy. Throughout it all, Amy was always grateful and kind. You can see this in the picture of our messages above.

Amy had a host of health issues she battled. These both restricted her movement and caused her a great deal of pain. She never let that stop her from fulfilling her passion of creating hand-made stuffed animals. Margie purchased a penguin for me that she had made. The quality was amazing. Amy created every animal conceivable from buffalo to mythical creatures such as dragons. In doing so, she brought joy into so many people’s lives. One of the many great things about

Amy is she was always open about her struggles and how she was facing them. I have a Facebook group where people come to share what inspires them and the struggles they may be facing getting there. It is a great online community that helps everyone who is a part of it. When Amy joined she gave herself over completely. She not only shared her struggles so that others may learn from her, but she listened and did her best to help others with their struggles as well. In doing this she became friends with many of the members including my frind Cari, another amazing caring soul. I can only imagine how difficult it may have been for Amy to do this while she was going through her own struggles but she did. Many people would be focused on  and consumed by their own pain and unwilling or unable to comfort others, not Amy.

It made me proud to have a friend that was so giving in a time where she had the right to be a little selfish. She made all of us proud with her creations that will give joy to the lives of all of them who have the privilege to have one. I am sure everyone who recieved one, much like myself, had an additional bit of happiness in their lives.

Amy also was kind enough to let me know how much my work affected her and how grateful she was for that. Many of my readers never say a single thing in regards to how my work may play a part in their lives. That is ok as long as they are reading and it is offering something to make their lives better. Amy, however, would take the time out of her busy day to let me know how she was usuing what I wrote about and how it both worked, and what did not work for her. I was always so grateful to her for hearing this and told her so. It makes what I do fulfilling. It is also my inspiration to keep writing and bringing all the material to the world that I do. It is people like Amy who keep me inspired to do so.

Sadly, last week we lost Amy. She passed away unexpectedly. While she was here she made a great difference in many people’s lives. She brought joy and happiness with her creative creations she shared with the world. She brought feelings of empathy, love and compassion to all of those she touched in our online community. She also brought a great feeling of value and appreciation to this writer. Amy will be missed greatly. It is my sincere hope that she knew how much she brought to the world and how much she helped every life she touched.

With the loss of those who know and care about, I find there is always a lesson. In Amy’s case I feel there are a few. First, use the gifts you have to bring joy to others. Whether that is sewing amazing animals, baking a great cake, singing a song or any other talent you may have. Second, is to offer those you meet who are struggling with a sense of understanding and compassion. Lastly, is to let those around you who affect you positively know. In expressing your gratitude you offer a great gift that means the world to the other person. I know I will miss these gifts Amy brought to the world but will do my best to instill them myself. I encourage you to do the same as a dedication to Amy.

2 GREAT EVENTS, 1 GREAT CITY

This past Saturday in West Allis, Wisconsin where I live there were two great events I was fortunate enough to be a part of. One was a public event held at a local brewery, and the other was a private event. Both Highlighted some amazing aspects of our city.

The evening began with a celebration of the 244th year of the Marines at Westallion Brewing Company, a local brewery right here in West Allis. Call it a birthday bash for the Marines. This included live music, a special beer release with a local Marine sniper named John Matter, a color guard, and a ceremonial cake cutting (Margie worked very hard to create a cake to honor this occasion) and so many more great events. It was great to see so many veterans gather and be able to exchange stories. In times like these, it is great to see a business take time to create an event to honor those who have done so much to serve this country. Westallion Brewing Company does a lot for the local community and to foster the spirit of community.

That brings us to the second event. For the last four years our good friend Carolyn has hosted a Friendsgiving. The event is just what the name suggests, a gathering of friends who are grateful to have each other in their lives. Everyone gathers together and brings a dish to share with the others. There was laughter and a celebration of friendships new and old. The food was all delicious and the memories were even better. Whether they had family to celebrate with or not, this event had everyone feeling grateful to be at such a gathering.

This city is grateful to have amazing people like Kimberly and Erik, the owners of Westallion Brewing Company, who do so much for this great city. We are lucky to have people like Carolyn who value and want to celebrate their friendships. I feel lucky to have my Margie, who worked so hard to get that cake done on what was a crazy busy weekend for her.

This city, and every city, including yours, has many great people. These people do much to make the city more than just a place to work and live. I would love to hear about who you think makes your city great and why.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FULL OF IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING

LOCAL LOYALTY


Above is a picture of the local diner named Michaels Family Restaurant. Nestled in the fabulous community of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This is not so much a food review as it is a value review. Michaels is, as the name suggests, a warm and friendly family restaurant. As my lovely Margie enjoyed a well-deserved weekend away with her daughter, I took my mom out to breakfast here. Although our hostess was a tad sunshine challenged, our waitress, Julie, could not have been more friendly and helpful.
What makes this place a destination I feel compelled to write about is the local aspect at work. In an age where Wendy’s has recently joined McDonald’s and Taco Bell to start serving breakfast, it is far too easy to make our morning meal an after thought of something we do along the way. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. As I write this I just enjoyed a ham and swiss sandwich at Starbucks. This might be good for being both efficient and productive, but does not give us an amazing life. Yes, being efficient and productive can be part of an amazing life but at the sacrifice of being present, it can leave us wondering what happened to the morning.
In this post I am going to advocate taking at least a few morning to sit down and enjoy a breakfast without being rushed. Why do it at a place like Michael’s? I will give you a few good reasons. First, this place is a great value. Virtually the same price you would pay for some reheated breakfast sandwich at a chain or fast food place, you can get a warm, home-cooked meal served to you by one of your smiling neighbors. That leads us to the second reason to visit Michael’s Family Restaurant in the morning, it is supporting a local business. There are plenty of opportunities for you to save a few cents here and there by giving business to the chain establishments. That is ok too as they employ a lot of our friends and family. That being said, there is something special about a locally-owned family restaurant that has been there for over 30 years. Some of my first memories include going there with my grandfather when I was young. He understood the importance of supporting a local business and seems to still be teaching me long after his passing. I have enjoyed several mornings catching up over breakfast with Margie, the love of my life, as well. All the way up to yesterday when my mother and I shared a nice meal to start the day.


You can make memories in a chain restaurant or even running around trying to accomplish everything on your to do list but you deserve to give yourself a few minutes at a local establishment supporting your neighbors while enjoying their company. If you are in West Allis Wisconsin, I recommend stopping by Michael’s Family Restaurant. If breakfast isn’t really your thing, that’s ok. They also serve lunch and dinner with the same warm community spirit. Unable to make to the fine city that I live in? That’s ok too. Find a local restaurant in your neighborhood and enjoy some time with those you love.

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

GOODBYE TO A DEAR WRITING COMPANION

It is with great sadness I have to announce the passing of a close writing companion… my laptop. A good portion of these blog posts as well as my second book was composed on this fine machine. Sadly, one day we discovered my companion and I have different tolerances for heat. Since then this computer has went to the great computer store in the sky. As we wait for the replacement to arrive (a switch from HP to Lenovo) there may be a slight delay in our daily motivational material. I look forward to returning to you once again and appreciate your patience during this difficult time.

ARE YOU A KING OR QUEEN?


These days on social media people have pictures of lions and phrases “I am a king” or “I am a queen” At the gym there are t-shirts with phrases like “train like a beast”

Everyone wants to seem like a ruler and conqueror. It is powerful to conquer fitness and weights, or maybe even your business. The most difficult struggle and yet the most essential is to control one’s emotions. Being able to conquer your mind and control your loss focus allows you to do everything else better.

If you are trying to seem powerful, I suggest working to gain control of the man in the mirror. It may be one of the most difficult yet rewarding challenges you’ll ever face.

YOU ARE MY HERO

In today’s world it seems a different superhero movie comes out every week. Add to that the countless sports that seem to hold championships. Recently I even saw a video game championship played out in front of a completely filled stadium! I’ve always questioned watching people play poker on television, I can’t bring myself to watch other people play video games on TV, much less stand in a packed stadium to do so.

It would seem the world is in great need of heroes. Guess who my hero is? It is you! The irony of all the hero worship I see is that heroes surround us everywhere and every day. You are one of these heroes!

How can I say you are a hero when I haven’t met a lot of you? I know you’re a hero because we are all struggling to get through this life. You might be a kid in the West Bank trying to get a great education while your country is being torn apartby civil strife. It may be you are a farmer in the Congo trying to make a living. Perhaps you are a single mother working three jobs just trying to support your family.

It is not always life challenges that make you a hero. Maybe from the outside your life looks great, but inside you are battling depression. Today might be another day you gave in to an addiction and you are trying not to lose hope. There are health challenges, financial challenges, social challenges and a mmillion other issues we are all doing our best to make it through.

When you see the employee at Starbucks keep their smile as a customer screams at them because their coffee has 2 ice cubes instead of three. That takes patience and they are my hero.

Whether you are working on keeping your faith or healing a broken heart, keep going because you are my superhero. Remember everyone we meet is working to overcome something. Treat them as the hero they are. That includes you.

THIS LOSS IS OK

Another one of those times I read a sign and had to stop and ponder. There is a great amount of truth in this statement. When you are your authentic self, what you have is based on truth. When you do your best to be someone you are not, you may pull that off for a while but anything you gain will be based of that lie.

The same holds true in situations when your priorities change. It pays to be upfront and honest about that as well.

If anything in your life is currently based off of a reality that is less than true, what you have is weak. It will only last as long as you can manage to keep up the deception. Not only is this bad karma to put out in the universe, but it creates a large amount of undue stress in your own life. Having to not only remember who we are supposed to be , but then also acting on that mirage is stressful.

Do yourself a favor and be the real you. Not only will it strengthen the relationships you have, it will also reduce the stress you have in your life.

YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE

It is easy to look in the mirror and see all of our faults. Not only is this easy, but it seems to be a trait of human nature. If you are lucky enough to either not own a mirror or be one of the rare few who are not focused on your faults, fear not there are plenty of others, the media included, who will be happy to point them out for you.

I am here to tell you something you do not hear enough. You are perfect the way you are. I know that may seem hard to believe, but you are. Yes, there is always room for improvement. Yes, things might not be as you wish them to be. If this is true how can I say you are perfect? Simple, the life you were given was made for you. You may have been born with a physical or mental challenge or limitation. Certain situations may have happened to you that are beyond your control. You may have experienced terrible loss. You may have financial troubles. You may have went through physical, emotional or sexual abuse. These things are all terrible and should not happen to anyone.

If this is the case, how can our lives be perfect? Those challenges and limitations were not given to us to stop us, they were given to us to either serve us or help us serve others. Often times both. Some of the most inspiring people I know show me how their physical or mental challenges do not stop them. Not only does it allow me to feel grateful for my own health, but reinforces the fact I should not allow any of my health limitations serve as an excuse.

Some of those closest to me have went through terrible situations. Things they, nor anyone else, deserve to go through. Not only have many of them served as a great example of how to overcome those challenges, but they offer a hand in helping others facing challenges of their own. This is help that would certainly not be as beneficial had it come from someone who had not faced that situation. It has made them emotionally stronger. Some of them had to work through a great deal of pain, both physical and emotional. Through these struggles they have learned so much about themselves and help come out as stronger individuals.

No matter what you are facing at the moment, understand it was given to you for a reason. You are perfect. Even your mistakes can provide you examples in forgiveness and humility. Please feel free to share this message with those who need to hear it.

A GREAT DAY IN A GREAT CITY

Most of you know how much I enjoy my city of West Allis Wisconsin. Yesterday was an exceptional day even by those standards. It began when a poem I had written was to be stamped in the sidewalk outside of liberty heights park. As Margie and I arrived, we were joined shortly by our friend Terri, which was a pleasant surprise. As we waited for the city crew to arrive with the concrete we were also joined by our friend Carol. Soon the city crews arrived as did my mother.
As Margie filmed, the city crew began their amazing work preparing and pouring the concrete. In what seemed like a matter of seconds the concrete was both poured and smoothed. Barricades were set up and our crew as well as the city crew gathered around the barricades to wait for the concrete to dry. Innocently walking down the street looking at her phone was one of our neighbors. As she walked around our group, then the city workers and finally the barricades only to plunge her foot into the newly poured concrete garnering shocked expressions from all in attendance. As the city crews came to repair the damage and the concrete continued to settle, we decided to pay a visit to the Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli. There we were greeted by my long-time friend Jodi. We got freshly brewed, wonderful hot coffee. We shared some conversation that included the hilarious events that had just occurred. Before we knew it, the time had arrived to return for the actual stamping.

After a brief interview and some remarks of congratulation, Margie, my mother and I began to head to lunch. On the way there, Margie, as she can sometimes do, mentioned to a neighbor that my poem had just been stamped in the sidewalk. This gentleman, who introduced himself as Israel, was pleasant and engaging. After informing him we almost decided to put the hammock on his porch to use, the conversation turned to the changes in the neighborhood and how it can be improved.

We left with well-wishes all around and headed to one of our favorite spots, Urban Joe’s Café. There we were greeted by another amazing neighbor, Curtis. In addition to being a great neighbor he is also the face of and great customer service provider for this establishment. We regaled him,as well as our server Carol, with all of the afternoon’s adventures. We enjoyed a wonderful selection of more coffee (a poet/authors source of inspiration) as well as a delicious breakfast sandwich and salad.

My evening was finished off with a workout at the local Xperience gym and a pizza from the West Allis location of Marco’s Pizza. (Please pause to appreciate the irony of the last two events happening back to back) It is very few cities that can foster appreciation for art by placing poetry throughout the city, have amazing city workers who cannot only create this, but repair the actions of inattentive pedestrians. The city is also home to a deli that features the art of the peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a café that features great food and coffee, both locations also have great customer service. Top that off with a state-of-the-art gym and tasty pizza place and you can see why I am so happy with the city I live in.

In closing I want to express a large amount of gratitude. First for my friends Terri and Carol who took time out of their busy day to share this event with me. Next to the great city workers for all of their hard work and understanding. I also want to thank the neighbor who stepped in the concrete. Without her we would have had a lot less laughs and memories. Thanks to Jodi, Curtis and Carol for providing friendly and caring service to highlight an already amazing day. Thank you to our neighbor and new friend Israel for his great conversation and excitement over my poem. I am grateful for my mother for not only showing up in support, but paying for lunch to help celebrate. Finally, a great deal of thanks for my lovely Margie whose excitement rivaled that of my own. Her support makes everything I go through worth it. I hope wherever you are reading this, your city has amazing people like this.