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.

IT’S WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND

With all the talk of the enviroment and recycling there is a lot of talk on what we leave behind.

Ironically, this thought is little transfered into our personal lives. There is so much importance placed on the here and now, in instant gratification that the absence of what effect we will have on the future is understandable. I have even heard people say, “What do I care about how I will affect the future? I’ll be dead.”

I take a view more akin to one of the great leaders of the Sioux nation – Sitting Bull, who said, “Let’s put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children.”

In knowing you have done something to make the world a better place for having been here, I think that goes a great way to fostering an inner peace.

Recently, I entered a city-wide poetry contest. I, by no means, am a poet. I am a self-improvement author specializing in stress reduction. Still I wanted to leave a positive mark on the city for years to come. That was fitting because the winner will have their poem stamped in the sidewalk.

My poem won! Which of course fills me with a great deal of pride. What is more important to me was the content of my poem. In it I explain what makes a city great is not the buildings or streets, but the people that fill them both. If our desire is to live in a great city, one of the most important things we can do is to be the best person we can be.

I urge you all to think of what legacy you wish to leave behind. What will your life bring to future generations?

WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHY?

“It matters not who you love, where you love, why you love, when you love, or how you love, it matters only that you love”

-John Lennon

A few months ago I had written about a class reunion I attended. I’ll spare all my friends and myself the year for purposes of imagining I am still young. After that a group of us wished to continue to get together. I invited a few people and one in particular was greeted with much chagrin. “Why did you ask him along? He is always such a jerk to everyone?” was pretty much the general consensus. I admit this gent was not the most enduring fellow and I could understand why people may feel as they do. Then I began to think, should we only show love and kindness to those whom we feel have earned it? True a seed grows the best in fertile soil, but is a garden not most appreciated in the city? I once heard a saying that I am about to totally screw up but the idea went something like this “If you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours they need it more than you do” In an earlier post I had written about two of my friends Kim and Stephanie who do so much for others I am often compelled to let them know that they are truly angels without wings. They usually accept these compliments as well as the ones they receive from others with modesty and grace befitting the wonderful people they are. Their kindness comes naturally and so quite often is taken for granted, so I find it important to stop and appreciate it. I know my life would be a lot less without them in it. Still I have a few people on the opposite end of the spectrum. They do not seem to do much for others, or show much concern for anything that does not serve them. As a general rule I do not have many of these people in my life, but I have learned a new an interesting thing about these people. Sometimes they have some of the greatest response to compliments out of anyone. Just the other day I was having breakfast with one of these people and had mentioned I was really happy to hear of a nice thing he had done for a mutual friend of ours. Just the mere act of being recognized as a kind person seemed to improve his disposition and foster a new sort of altruistic side of him as soon I discovered he had done the same favor for 3 other of our friends. My point is this, we all have a wide array of different people in our lives. Some kind and deserving of our love, some not so much and several in between. Show them all a little love. The ones who deserve it are often taken for granted for all the amazing things they do and a little appreciation and love will let them know it makes a difference and will make it easier to continue being the people who bring so much to our lives. Those who seem not to be deserving of any love, perhaps just a little will soften their hearts and bring the biggest change. So like the famous singer of the Beatles said “It matters only that you love” I encourage you to pick at least one person from each group this weekend and show them a little love. You always benefit by brining more love into the world.

SMILE

“Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love”

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa has always been a great source of inspiration to me personally.  Her service to people most of the world would rather ignore is to me the definition of compassion.  Like other aspects of her life, this quote gives us a great way to bring light and love to the world.  A lot of people ask me “what’s the big deal with a smile?” I always tell them, if you feel a smile is no big deal then why not share one with everyone?  Let’s be honest, can’t you remember at least one time when you received a smile at a most unexpected time?  Maybe from a stranger?  I must confess to being guilty of not sharing my smile as often as I should, but when I do, it never fails to amaze what doors it opens.  I have made more new friends with a smile, then with most anything else I can imagine.

A HAPPY CD

This little project takes a few minutes, but to be honest can offer years of rewards.  Everyone, no matter how positive or enlightened has a bad day.  Just the other day I was informed my job may be eliminated.  It happens, sometimes outside circumstances throw us for a loop.  What to do then?  There are steps we can take to ‘soften the blow’ of these less than cheery days.  Working with either your gratitude journal, or vision board is far more effective when you are in a positive state of mind.  So I strongly suggest in being proactive and having several tools ready for days when we are just not on top of our game, for whatever reason.

Music has a strong influence over how we think and feel.  Everyone has different tastes.  In fact, my sister and I regularly debate the merits of different musical artists.  Weather you like rock or country, jazz or hip-hop, there are songs we all enjoy dancing to and that make us feel happy and alive.  Now I’m not talking about just songs like “Don’t worry, be happy” although if that works for you, use it.  One of my favorite is “Toes” by Zac Brown as it makes me think of a tropical vacation.  Whatever your taste, take time to compile a list of all the songs that inspire you.  This can be done in an afternoon or over several days.  Then either burn them all onto a cd, or add a playlist to your favorite mp3 player.  My only caution is to avoid songs that contain angry or negative lyrics.  Not to say that music does not have merit, I certainly find some to be great for working out to, but in this case keep it happy and uplifting.  Then when sad, angry or anxious feelings come knocking, as they do for us all, you have an hour or so of music that can alter your state.  Now I am not saying this will fix or even change whatever is the cause of your feelings, but it can but you into a better state to deal with them. Combine this with some of the other tools we have listed or that are yet to come and you will conquer whatever life will throw at you! Stay strong, stay positive my friends!