IT MAKES YOU THINK

Today I looked down in my car and what did I find? A DVD I had rented from the West Allis Public Library on Bob Marley that was supposed to be returned days earlier. As I happened to be out driving around, I decided to return the movie and take care of any fines that may have accumulated. As a dedicated life-long reader, I absolutely love going to the library. You have access to almost every piece of information you can desire and it does not cost you anything. Unless of course you forget a Bob Marley biography in the back of your car for two weeks, and then it runs you $5.

My point is that the library is a goldmine when it comes to individuals seeking knowledge of any kind. The library I use in my hometown of West Allis Wisconsin is particularly amazing. They have a separate floor just for children’s learning. They have several computers you can use to access the internet, print documents or anything else you may need. There are also conference rooms available to rent, educational programs on a wide variety of topics not to mention the volumes of different media available to rent, including an amazing book called A Happy Life for Busy People.

On this day, however, I learned something far more important. After paying the fine for my forgetfulness I was on my way out of the library when I noticed a mother and son behind me. I stopped to hold the door for them. It was then I noticed the young man had down syndrome. His mother was leading him by the hand informing him it was time to go. “We have had enough learning for one day.” she informed him. It was his reply that stopped me in my tracks. “I love to learn mom!” he reminded her.

It was then I began to think of all the different students of life the library caters to. I must confess I had not stopped to consider those with special needs and how eager they thirst for knowledge. It was then I felt a great sense of appreciation and respect for those who spend their time and have the patience to bring the world of knowledge to those who may have extreme difficulty in assimilating it. This mother had taken her son to the library and helped him increase his knowledge and expand his mind. Which happened to be the same reason I was there. I thought of the patience it must take parents and special education teachers. They are helping empower those others may cast aside. They are not only helping them learn, but giving them reasons to be proud of themselves. I know how great it feels to learn something new and obviously, this young man felt the same.

It gave me a great sense of pride to have such a brave and hard-working young man as a part of my community. Last post we spoke of not giving in to your limits and this young man was doing just that. It made me so happy and proud to have amazing parents, teachers and young men like him in my community. It also made me appreciate the Public Library in yet another way. If you know a parent or teacher of a child with special needs, please take a moment to thank them for their work and dedication to make the world a better place.

WHAT IS YOUR STORY?

This blog post created itself last night. After Margie and I had finished our Wednesday night show and found ourselves driving with our friend Kelly. We began sharing defining moments from our childhood that defined who we are today. It caused me to reflect on a few moments that I would like to share with you. More so, it made me think of something far more important that we will get to right after this moment of reflection.

For those of you who may have been reading my writings of late, I have shared the story of my senior year English teacher. On the final day before graduation, she pulled me aside and said in an almost pleading tone, “I pray to God you will never have a career involving writing.” Given the evidence up to that point I would have been inclined to agree with her, but here we are.

Another fun story involved a teacher I had for business. She was a kindly lady. She kind of reminded me of someone’s grandmother from a Norman Rockwell painting. My relationship with this wonderful woman was great. We laughed, smiled and shared many good conversations. I would have said I was the perfect student with one glaring exception. In this class it just so happened I was surrounded by friends of mine. It also happened these were friends that like conversation as much as I did. Daily we shared conversations about life, love and our pursuit of happiness. When the time came out for giving everyone a grade I still recall what this teacher wrote. Written next to my grade was the comment, “Neil will do a lot better in life when he understands you can’t make a living discussing life and its challenges with people.” Once again, here we are. Discussing life and how to positively approach and overcome its challenges. Granted you might be reading this in Greenland, South Africa or Fiji while I am here in West Allis, Wisconsin, but virtually we are engaged in this conversation.

Let me share a more comical example from my youth. Second grade I do believe. I had a good friend who had just moved away and I found myself in trouble for something. That part seems to remain vague. As punishment I was to stand with my back against the wall and watch the other kids enjoying recess and playing on the playground. Sounds a little cruel in hindsight but I guess it served as a lesson – almost. As I was standing there I thought of a joke. One of the kids walked by and I told him my joke. He thought it was so funny he went to bring other kids to hear it. Before recess was over I found myself doing what could be described as a forced stand up comedy routine.

I saved this example for last because it was by far the darkest example. I was part of a group called ‘peer helpers’ in high school. The program was designed to help students who were facing addiction, abuse or any other emotional trauma. To me it sounded like a great idea on the surface. It became apparent very quickly that I disagreed with the approach of the program. It seemed to approach the issues from that of the adults who formed the group and not of the youths facing the challenges. I soon politely left the group. All would have been ok with one exception. I really did have the desire to help and still talked to many of the kids I had met in the program. I tried methods I believed might reach them. This was especially true because most of them had stopped asking for help from the Peer Helpers program.

Again, this would have all been good, but my locker happened to be right across the hallway from the lady who was in charge of the program. Once she noticed that quite a few of the students who left her group were coming up to my locker and asking questions she stormed over. She issued what can only be viewed as a veiled threat. She yelled how dare I think I could help kids better than she could and I better stop what I was doing “or else.” I really wasn’t trying to do anything but help people the best way I thought I could. I continued to do so with a little more discretion. Two days before I was set to graduate I was summoned to the principle’s office. When I arrived the teacher was there along with several police officers. This teacher, this adult, this individual who is supposed to be an example told all of them I had threatened to physically harm her. Not only was that a total lie, but I had no malice towards this woman, merely a difference in philosophy. Luckily, with the support and sworn statements of my character from other instructors I had and her changing her story several times the matter was all but dropped.

What is the point of all of these stories? The point is that anyone of these stories could have had a very negative impact on my life. What made the difference is that I chose what they meant to me. My high school English teacher could have prevented me from ever starting this site which has close to 1000 posts. What she told me could have dissuaded me from ever writing my book A Happy Life for Busy People. My business teacher tried to convince me there was no future in listening to the challenges people face in life and trying to help create solutions, but that is the basis of all I do.

Through my punishment that day in second grade I learned the power of humor to reach people. I also learned that sometimes when the world seems to be taken away from you, the best solution is to make the world come to you. It is a theme that kind of plays throughout the videos on my YouTube channel. It also showed me new and wonderful ways to make friends. The lesson that if you can introduce your material to enough people it can really change your situation didn’t escape me either.

The final dark situation could have steered me in many different directions. I could have decided not to trust authority. Certainly learning that ego can override professionalism and make people act in ways they shouldn’t. I could have decided that it meant if I try to do things on my own in a way I feel will help the most people it will lead to trouble and could land me in jail. Of course it also showed me the value of displaying and acting with the best character and highest standards.

What is your story? What events have transformed your life? Have you let them decide what you can or can’t do? Are they putting limits on your life or are you using them to motivate you? The story of our lives should not be told through the mouths or actions of others. Realize you are not a victim of your past but a victor over it. You have made it to today despite what you have been told and what has happened to you. Do not let your past or those in it steal your power for a strong future. Find the empowerment in every challenge you have faced, or may now be facing.

ARE YOU THE CANDLE OR THE MIRROR?

It took me a while to truly grasp the power of this quote. The candle represents sources of light in the world. It could be good-looking and charming authors who double as postal workers, social workers, emergency workers, great parents and teachers, religious and spiritual leaders or anyone else who inspires us or makes the world a better place. In some ways I think we are all candles, or at least have the ability to be so. In being the best at whatever we do we set an example for the world to follow. Even the shyest and most reserved of us have opportunities to be kind to others.

The mirror represents those who promote those who are candles. This can range from sharing a motivational website that inspires you with others, to showing appreciation to wonderful people who make a difference in your life. Did a teacher or coach push you to be the best you can be? By telling others that story you bring to light how special they are. This holds true for talking good about anyone. Did your spouse do something thoughtful for you? By sharing the joy they gave to you it brings more light and positivity to the world. This is a double-edged sword. Imagine what we do when we complain and share with others the terrible things people do?

I find by both being a candle to inspire others as well as a mirror to reflect the flame of the fabulous people I come across is the way that I can bring the most light into the world. Starting today, do your best to not only be an inspiration to others, but to recognize and help share those that inspire you as well.

A WONDERFUL NEW AVENUE TO JOY…

Every so often I discover new and exciting tools that one can add to your life to increase the amount of joy and light.  Here is such an avenue that many of you may enjoy exploring.  A good friend of mine is a reiki master and medium.  She offers both Reiki sessions.  Which for those of you who do not know involves working with the bodies energy to heal and energize.  She also offers readings of different kinds.  Without explaining it in an incorrect fashion I encourage all of you to take a look at her website and decide for yourself.  It might be just what you need!  Not to mention she also has rates for parties, so if you wish to bring some friends along you can share your experience with each other.  I think exploring every different chance to better our lives is worth a look, so feel free to check out her website and let me know what you think.

http://www.hopefulspirit.net