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.

WHAT ARE YOURS?

This is a simple truth we don’t always appreciate. Our strongest thoughts, which we can call our beliefs, tend to lead our lives.

Scientists estimate we think 60,000 thoughts per day. Ironically, they also estimate that 95% of those thoughts are ones we thought the day before. When you consider we often drive the same way to work, sleep on the same side of the bed and a thousand other habitual things every day, it is not that surprising.

Here is another interesting fact, a lot of our thoughts are contrary. We are taught haste makes waste, but we are also taught he who hesitates is lost. Is it any wonder our lives can seem chaotic at times?

Of the thoughts that fit into the subconscious 95% we repeat everyday, how many are positive and empowering? This is another reason create a positive life mission statement or at the very least, print out an inspiring quote that you can read to start your day. If our life goes in the direction of our strongest thoughts, let us think thoughts that make us the strongest we can be.

WHY IT WORKS: VISION BOARD

To discuss this point we must bring in your refrigerator. Yes you heard me right. I need you to think  about your fridge. What color is it? Does it have two doors? Do they open left to right or right to left? Now think about your car. What color is your car? What color is the interior? When I asked you to think of each of these items you had a picture in your mind, didn’t you? You did not think of “I drive a Honda CRV.” You actually pictured your car.

The reason this happened is because we think in pictures. Now if I were to ask you what your mind looks like most of us would conjure up a thought of the brain. Why? Nobody knows what the mind looks like. The mind is not the brain, but it is the closest thing we can come up with.

What does all this have to do with vision boards and living an amazing life? Let us think of what success looks like for us. Do you have a clear picture? For you it may include more money, a bigger house, a fancy car or a million other different things. If they are just abstract thoughts that your brain does not have a picture to correlate with, it will be a thought of very little power. This is why we need to get clear as to exactly what we are looking for. What does ‘more money’ look like? What would you like your house to look like? Brick? Field stone? How many bedrooms? A hot tub maybe? What kind of fancy car would you like to drive? What color would it be?

This may seem like trivial details to some. If you are familiar with the law of attraction, however, you will understand how important this can be. From a scientific standpoint, without a clear picture of your goals in your subconscious mind your brain will not know exactly what to work towards. You may have periods of productivity followed by what seems to be regression and chaos. It is the ‘one step forward, two steps back’ situation.

Enter the vision board. In a nutshell a vision board is a board with pictures of all of your goals on it. Not only will this help you see your goal (it is hanging on the wall in your hallway) but it will do so with no work on your part. You just walk up and look at it. This helps program the images of success into your subconscious mind. Now, even when you are unaware, your brain is laser focused on your goal and will be constantly on the lookout for things that match it.

When you wish to put your mind to work for you, the first thing you have to do is speak its language. As we discussed earlier, we think in pictures. By showing you brain pictures of your goals daily (you standing by the car of your dreams, the house you want to build, etc.) you are speaking them into your mind. That my friends is how a vision board works.

WHY IT WORKS: REREADING THE SAME BOOK

It is important to know more than just what works, but why it works. If you are anything like me, knowing why something works provides more motivation to actually do it. If you are like me you also like to crank 80’s glam metal at 4am on your way to work, but our post today is more about the first point.

I have been advocating reading powerful books for years. Personally, I read my favorite book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, at least once a year. People may think I’m crazy. “You’ve read that book like 5 times already! You are good at making friends so why read the book?”

After I inform them I have read the book 8 times and that is why I am good at making friends, then they assure me that I am crazy.

My sanity not withstanding, there are several reasons I do this. First is because my mind tends to wander. I read something and start thinking about it. Before you know it, the next few pages have gone by and I don’t recall much of what I read.

Here is another reason that was just made clear to me this morning. When we read a book for a second time it is not just because you may have missed something, but because you are someone different.

This may sound absurd but it is true. Since you have last read the book you have had countless life experiences that have forced you to grow and evolve. It doesn’t even take that long. As it was said about Napoleon Hill’s great book, Think and Grow Rich, the hand that turned the last page is not the same hand that turned the first page. The person has learned, has experienced more of life. They are a different person.

The more you learn and live life the more valuable information becomes to you. The more you are exposed to it, the more it becomes a part of your life. Do yourself a favor and pick up your favorite book again. Trust me when I tell you the person who reads it will be entirely different.

It is important to note this works even more in regards to audio books and programs.

YOU ARE SPEAKING A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE


This blog post was inspired by two people. First Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages. If you haven’t read this book yet I highly suggest you add it to your list of books to explore. The second person is my mother who also has not read this book and reminded me that a lot of other people haven’t as well.

Let me give you the summary of this book. Keep in mind this is the very abridged version and there is so much more amazing information to be had by reading this book. The premise of this book is that everyone expresses and receives love in one of 5 ways. This may seem confusing if you have never considered the concept before. It should be crystal clear if you ever done your best to do something loving for that special person in your life only to have them seem to be mildly affected at best, or totally unaware of what you were doing at worst.

Perhaps you have heard “I was trying to show I love you.” and thought to yourself, hopefully not out loud, “Yeah, never would have got that.” It can seem as if you and your partner are speaking two entirely different languages. In some respect you are. Hopefully, it is not shocking for you to learn men and women are different. It should also be noted every person depending on their upbringing and life experiences are different. Certain things mean more to one individual than another. All of this information should be common sense. Why is it so far fetched to think that when it comes to expressing and receiving love we can be equally as different?

In his book, Gary Chapman states that there are 5 basic ways in which people both express and receive love. They are – receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service(devotion) and physical touch. Most people tend to be a mix of these to some degree, but one of them usually takes priority. For example, you may like it when your husband gives you a hug, but you really feel loved if he would help you with the dishes. You may feel loved if your wife brings you home a small gift, but it would mean a lot more if she would take the time to sit down and tell you why she loves you and what it is that you do that makes her feel loved. Maybe your examples are exactly the opposite. The point is everyone is different and that is perfectly wonderful. Complicated, but wonderful just the same.

Why take the time to learn your partners love language? The reason should be obvious, but it case you missed it we will cover it again. When you express love to your partner you want to do it in the most intense and concise manner possible. You also want your partner to feel as loved as possible. There can be very few things as frustrating as trying to be loving to your partner and they don’t feel the love you are doing your best to convey or at least not to the extent you feel your efforts warrant. It is not either person’s fault, you are both just speaking entirely different love languages.

As if this wasn’t complicated enough there is one more caveat to the equation. Nobody said love was easy, just worth it. Everyone not only receives love in a different way, they also express it in a different way as well. To make matters even more tricky, those ways may be entirely different as well. Funny thing is, we may not even realize what language we speak. Luckily, there is a quick and fun quiz you and your partner can take in the back of this book to help discover what your love languages are.

Once you learn what your partner’s love language is you can not only make them feel more loved than they have felt in a long time, but you can do so with less effort and less frustration on your behalf. If that sounds like a win/win it is because it is. As a side bonus, this works with friends, relatives and anyone else in your life, not just your partner. Knowing what makes your boss feel loved and appreciated could really help you out as well. Want to make your mother-in-law or father-in-law feel special and loved during the holidays? Learn their love languages.

There are several ways to accomplish this. Of course you could buy those you love in your life the book The 5 Love Languages. This can be pricey and in the case of your boss may be a little awkward. There are, however, other ways. First, the obvious is pay attention to what lights people up. Does a heartfelt thank you note cause their eyes to beam? Maybe picking up a small something that reminds you of them next time you are out will make them feel very special? Experiment. You will have fun as you learn and you will make people feel good while doing it. Lastly, you could buy yourself the book, learn your love languages and be better able to express what is important to you to the ones you love. Once again, they learn and you can feel more loved, win/win. You can also try working some of the questions in the quiz in your conversation with them and learn that way.

Regardless of what route you choose to go, learning your partners and your own love languages will make life more enjoyable and easier for everyone. I strongly suggest checking out The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Draw your own conclusions. I would love to hear what you take away from this amazing book.

A WEST ALLIS HIDDEN GEM

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BE INDEPENDENT

Today in the United States of America we celebrate our country’s independence from England. To my friends in the United Kingdom I am sure it is not as celebratory of a day.

Today I want to talk about personal independence that I feel is so important. Remembering we are free to make choices in our lives. We can be happy independent of our circumstances. It was the first lady of this great country Martha Washington who said “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself. For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

Make the decision to love independently of any family history of animosity. Just because your family may hold beliefs about certain races or faiths does not mean you have to follow that train of thought. You are free to love who you wish to love.

Most importantly, think independently. In this day and age we can all fall victims to following the example of the political party we belong to, what is preached in our churches, mosques and temples. To disagree and question is ok. To make the decision to follow in blind faith is also ok. Just make sure that it is your decision.

On this day of independence make sure to take control of your heart, mind and spirit. Become a independent kind, loving and thinking individual.

NOT ALIKE BUT TOGETHER

Here is some information that will save you a lot of stress and a lot of lost time with the one you love. When it comes to any relationships, but more so in intimate relationships.

Think together and do not think alike. Sometimes differences in opinions, styles and manner of accomplishing goals can feel like obstacles just screaming to be solved. “If only I could get them to do things my way.” This can crop up in both the little and the big things. I can tell you this, the time you spend trying to ‘correct’ or change your partners behavior is wasted time.

Margie and I can go through periods where is seems like we disagree on everything from the percentage of chance there is a dead body in the dumpster to how criminal it is to use a tortilla without warming it up. If we spent all of our time trying to have the other do things the way we do them we would miss out on time that could be spent watching a movie, walking in the park or many more activities that will bring us joy.

How do you not let these little things crawl under your skin? I have found several ways. One, understand that is exactly what they are, little things. At the end of the day what difference will it make in your relationship if your spouse folds a towel different than you do? Does that change the person they are? If it does for you there may be other issues that we need to look at.

Also, this is a great opportunity to practice several things that can help with the longevity of a relationship. What things am I talking about? How about acceptance? Being able to accept that the person sitting across from you can somehow exist without the aid of a caffeinated beverage and that is ok. It is also a chance to practice patience. Do they clean things in a way you know they shouldn’t be done? Maybe it is time to focus on what you have to be grateful for, like the fact they are cleaning at all.

How about communicating? We are going to discuss this in a little more detail in an upcoming post. Does your spouse not put the same importance on body language that you do? Perhaps they are more physical and you are more verbal? This is a chance to basically learn and teach a new language. When you talk to your spouse about what means love to you it is important to understand that may be different. Here is where being a great listener comes in. By discovering how you and your partner differ when it comes to expressing and receiving love, you can open a whole new level to love. Imagine if you try to force them to express love and feel love in a different way? That would be terribly unrewarding for both parties. When you understand the differences here you can better express love to your partner and realize when they are trying to express it to you. Thus, you increase the total amount of love in the relationship.

This works fine for the little things, but what about the big things? Spiritual beliefs say? Remember differences help us expand our way of thinking. As long as the values are not radically different it is certainly ok to have different approaches in this manner. Again, it provides us an opportunity to use compromise and to seek a deeper level of understanding for our partner. Having someone who approaches the world in an entirely different manner can offer you more insights than a narrow approach of the exact same way of thinking. 

The more we understand our partner and how they differ from us, the greater we can love them. Whatever your goals in your relationship are, having two unique approaches will offer more wonderful discoveries along the way to accomplishing them. Imagine how much deeper your partner’s love for you would be if they saw you were trying to understand and appreciate the differences you share without trying to change them?

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.