DO IT BECAUSE YOU ARE WATCHING

Today we are going to discuss one of the greatest secrets to an amazing life. This secret will allow you to have more free time, get things done with ease, not worry about the opinions or judgement of others and have a lot more confidence in yourself. Sound interesting? I assure you that this secret will bring you all of that and more. This secret to help you achieve an amazing life is a disciplined mindset. When I first heard of this secret, I thought it would do the exact opposite. A lot of this has to do with our association of the word discipline. When we think of the world it is most often associated with a form of punishment.

The discipline we are discussing here is self-discipline. The self-accountability we have. Although we can be tough on ourselves when we make a mistake, in general we are very lax on the discipline it takes to prevent us from making that mistake. When I first looked into self-discipline I thought it would take away a lot of my freedom. I came to discover the opposite is true. In the morning if you make your bed, get your workout in you not only can celebrate that you accomplished something and already have a win, but that you held yourself to a standard. If you find yourself sleeping in and waking up at the last moment, how does your day feel? Do you feel like you have lots of time and are not rushed? No. You feel like you are racing to do one thing after another. That is not freedom.

The hard truth is that discipline equals freedom. When you focus and accomplish the things you know you should do in a day, you have the freedom to spend the rest of the day as you please. If you procrastinate and hit the snooze several times, if you only work hard when the boss is watching or any other type of situation where you think you are giving yourself freedom, you will soon discover that freedom is at a sacrifice of your freedom later in the day. If, on the other hand, you continue to be self-disciplined, things will begin to take care of themselves. You do not have to worry if the boss is looking over your shoulder. You are doing the best job you can because that is your standard. You do not have to worry about trying to fit everything into a day because you have worked hard and were disciplined to begin with.

We have discussed at length what you stand to loose if you are not self-disciplined, but let me share a few things you will gain if you maintain self-discipline. These are personal examples that have happened in my own life since I have embraced self-discipline. The first is the gym. Let me tell you that leaving my warm bed with my hot Margie in it is never easy. Who would want to leave a beautiful woman and a comfortable bed to go outside in cold weather to go to a gym and put your body in an uncomfortable situation. I know the benefits exercise gives me both physical and mental, but those are hard to keep in mind when you have the arms of the one you loved wrapped around you. After forcing myself for several weeks to get up and go, the weirdest thing happened – it became easier. It is just what I did. I worked out first thing in the morning. Here is an additional reward. I had more energy to enjoy my time with Margie. I also wasn’t taking time away from us in the evening and had time to enjoy things such as watching a movie or enjoying a nice dinner. A huge plus was that I felt better about myself. I knew I was living up to my standards in that area.

My favorite example is the relationship I have with Margie. This is where being disciplined can offer some of the biggest rewards. Everyone knows about the ‘honeymoon period’. You know that feeling of floating through the clouds in love. Nothing seems to bother you. How long does that last? 6 months? 6 weeks? Eventually, it fades. In our relationship I have discovered a way to not only keep that feeling alive within myself, but keep it alive in Margie as well. You guessed it, self-discipline. How is self-discipline romantic? Most of us go the extra mile only when the situation calls for it. A birthday, Valentine’s Day or some other holiday. Forgot the time and came home a little too happy and a lot too late after a night with the fellas? These are times we make sure to do the extra little things. However, if we practice self-discipline in our relationships and make sure to do the ‘little things’ with focus and never let ourselves slip, it takes the relationship to a whole different level.

Is it any wonder that the Honey moon period starts to decline a little after we become a little less attentive to the little details? We hold doors only if we find ourselves to be in the position to do so. We only send a loving text if it is a special occasion or we know they are having a hard day. Familiarity can lead us to take certain things for granted. How many of us truly listen to our partners and try to learn new things about them after years together? We assume we know everything about them. Why spend all of that energy and effort? The reward of being self-disciplined in a relationship far outweigh the effort. If you hold the door for your partner even if it is raining or snowing, or even if you may not be too happy with them at the moment it sends a very clear message. That message is, “I respect you not only when it is convenient, but at all times.” Even though it may not be expressed outwardly, that goes a long way. Random acts of kindness and romance tell your partner that they mean as much to you, hopefully even more, than when you were in that honey moon period. Listening with an intent to understand and learn instead of just replying will keep you informed of your partners changing needs and likes as well as make them feel valued and like an important part of your life. How do you think someone who feels respected, important and valued act? Imagine if you are disciplined with actions and words that remind them they are both loved and beautiful. How will that impact your relationship? The honey moon period may change, but it will never end.

When we practice self-discipline in our life we will not only gain more freedom, we will develop more confidence and live a more rewarding life. What are some areas of your life that you need to practice better self-discipline and how can you do it? I recommend reading the book Discipline Equals Freedom By Jocko Willink. There are lots of great ideas in there.

I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL ALONG! (YOU MIGHT BE TOO)

Prayer. No matter what your spiritual beliefs, prayer is usually a very important part of it. I recall as a little fellow I was taught to pray to God for what you wanted and needed. Almost as if the almighty were some kind of Santa Claus in the sky. As I grew a little older and found myself in high school, prayer showed up a little less regularly. It was usually the day before a big exam. One of those, “Please God let me pass English class so I can graduate.” sort of things.

It always seemed a little odd to me to approach the supreme being in such a begging type fashion. It wasn’t until I pursued my quest of spirituality outside the walls of the building of organized religion that I really came to understand prayer. One book I recall reading at a young age was The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. I was always a student of science and often struggled with melding both science and religion. This book went a long way to helping that process. Inner dialogue, of which prayer is even though it is directed at a supreme power, utilizes the subconscious mind. If you are a spiritual sort, you must ask yourself why did the power that be give us such a mind?

Another thing that I have learned by being exposed to many different spiritual beliefs is that you should not pray to change others or the outside world. One, this is trying to project your will and beliefs on others, and that is just not nice. Instead, I focus on the one person I can change – me. Instead of praying others were more polite and considerate, I focus on becoming more compassionate and understanding myself. Instead of asking the Great Spirit to give me an easier life, I pray that I may have a stronger soul. When life becomes overwhelming I focus on finding the beauty and learning the lessons. A little divine intervention is often needed, and I feel is a fair thing to request in suplication.

This may sound odd to many of you, but one of the areas in which this pays the biggest dividends is in my romantic relationship. First of all, it is my opinion that the divine placed in my life a woman who is beautiful, creative and easy to love. In order to never lose that ‘honeymoon phase’ and let little annoyances grow over time, I pray to see the beauty in those too. If there is any area of our live that serves as a merciless mirror to see the parts of ourselves we may not be the most proud of, it is our intimate relationships. The person closest to us sees all sides of us at all different times. That is why I pray daily to be the best man I can be for the woman I love. There are also thoughts and prayers that I may never miss the beauty in all that she does. Whether that is her love of family and friends, her silly sense of humor or her spontaneity, I never want to miss the beauty she shows.

There are so many things partners can do that may be cute at first, but grow to really grind on us and begin to tear away at our love and passion. You may get annoyed at the many loud sounds arising from the person slumbering next to you, but that means you have them in your life. You may become frustrated when they fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and you lay awake counting more sheep than exist in all of Ireland. That means they feel safe and comfortable enough around you. Your partner asks you to run to the store after a grueling day at work? They rely on you and you have a chance to do something to make their life easier.

Now we come to the most powerful prayer of all, that of thanksgiving. In this blog I have had countless posts on the power of gratitude. It can change your entire life quicker that anything else I know. There are many ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. You could start a gratitude journal, you can write what you are grateful for each day and why. You could create a vision board with pictures of everything you are grateful for. I like and personally recommend all of these items. That being said, one of the most powerful daily practices is to spend time each day offering up a prayer of thanksgiving for all that you have. This does not have to be anything overly religious or formal. Just make sure it is heartfelt. When you thank the divine power you believe in for what you have in life, magic happens. When you can become grateful and thankful for everything in life, or better yet for life itself, you will know peace.

This is a more spiritual post than I normally have, but I think realizing the power of prayer is important aspect of self-improvement. Do not treat the Divine as a Santa Claus in the sky. Instead use prayer to become the best version of yourself. Pray to develop an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for all that you have. Doing this will not only add to whatever faith you follow, but will bring you a great deal of inner peace.

2 SECRETS TO AN AMAZING RELATIONSHIP

Here is a subject on which I feel I can speak with great authority. I say that for two very good reasons. One, I have a relationship, that although is far from perfect, it is amazing and we are working on making it better every day. The second reason is that I have screwed up so much in the past I have quite a few ideas of what doesn’t work in creating an amazing relationship. In this post we are going to unlock two insider secrets that if you put them into play, I promise will not only improve your relationships, but will improve your life. As an added bonus, it will also improve your most important relationship. That is the one with the person in the mirror.

In this blog we explore ways in which you can live a more amazing life. There is no greater area of your life that influences whether your life is amazing or not than your relationships. Although we are going to look at this from the point of an intimate relationship, you can apply these two secrets to any relationship from friend to coworker and watch them blossom into something very special. In fact, if you honestly give these two secrets I am about to share with you an honest try for 30 days, I promise you that your life will be better than it has ever been. One of these secrets will not only make you more popular, but will give you the appearance of having an almost supernatural power to make anyone feel special and appreciated. The other secret will not only take your relationships to a whole new level, but will have you happier, healthier and more full of inner peace than you thought was possible! Sound like a lot of hype? I promise you that it is not. Remember, I have been on both sides of the coin. I know what doesn’t work and have made most of the mistakes. (Sorry baby, but I am sure there are still some I am have yet to get to) and I have also used these tools, and continue to use them, to create some of the most rewarding and dynamic relationships I have even had. Are you ready to learn these simple yet powerful secrets so you can put them to use in your own life? Before we jump in to what they are and how to use them, a quick warning is needed. These secrets are deceptively simple. You may hear them and assume you already are using them. Let me assure you that odds are you are not. You may also assume that since they are so simple they will not work. Not only am I living proof, but the countless people I have shared these two secrets with can attest to their magical quality. Heed these two warning as you read on and I promise you that your life is about to transform.

LISTEN

The first amazing tool is to listen. Before you start telling me how you have been listening to your spouse complain for years, let me stop you. This is a different kind of listening. This type of listening will help you get inside your partners head. It is active listening, or as I like to call it, listening with a purpose. The picture above is of myself and my love Margie. Fear not, her tongue is not normally blue. I want to share a quick story about how listening changed my relationship with this beautiful young lady. Early in our relationship I found my self at the grocery store wanting to bring her home a little something to let her know I was thinking of her. The sad part was I did not know what she would like. What kind of cereal did she like? I didn’t know. What fruit might she enjoy? I was clueless. I made up my mind to focus on what she seemed to gravitate towards next time we were at the store together. When I did the information was overwhelming. As we walked and did our normal shopping I suddenly heard her tell me about her passion for black olives and why Lucky Charms should be considered a healthy cereal.

I was so happy and excited with all of my new found knowledge that I couldn’t wait to go to the grocery store again and be able to pick out something she would like. I must confess that I almost missed the true value of this. It does not just have to be limited to the grocery store. I began to listen to find our what made her happy. I watched as she seemed to brighten up around certain flowers. I learned that when she is stressed shopping at the craft store is good for her. Not so good for the bottom line, but I digress. If you listen to your partner to discover what they like and what they don’t, what makes them happy and what makes them mad. Recently, I recall hearing Margie mention she wanted a water bottle that broke down how much water she should drink by certain times of the day. Without saying I word I looked online and found one in colors she enjoys. The effect on your partner is the true reward here. They will not only be happy you are doing more of what makes them happy and less of what makes them mad, but they will feel listened to and valuable. For your benefit, you will now have the ability to bring joy and happiness to your relationship almost at will. The great thing about this is that the more you listen and learn, the better you will be at making your partner feel loved.

BE THE BEST VERSION OF YOURSELF

This secret I have only really come across recently. When things seem to be struggling in your relationship, focus on yourself. It may be true that your partner is treating you unfairly. It may be true times are just rough. What is a certain truth is you have no control over your partner nor outside circumstances. Trying to get and maintain control over either of those things will not only drive you crazy, you probably will end up a jerk as well. What you do have complete control over is yourself. Why is this important? If you are working on improving yourself, it is pretty hard not to win the admiration of your partner. If you work on getting in better shape and becoming healthier you will have more energy to bring to the relationship. Maybe you could work on expanding your knowledge base (Learning new things). That will provide more stimulating conversation in your relationship. How about working on your relationship skills in general? There are plenty of fun and amusing guides on how to become more romantic, adventurous, charming and whatever else you may wish to be.

What if you do all of this and your relationship still falls apart? Believe it or not, this is the best part about using this tool. If you truly work to become the best version of yourself and things do not work out, you can be confident in two very important things. First, if the relationship did not work when you were the best version of yourself, than it would not have worked at all. The worst thing about the end of a relationship is saying the ‘should of’ and ‘what if’. If you did the best you could, you should have no regrets. The second thing is even better. If you continue to work on yourself to improve every day and things do not work out with your partner, you are going to be in a far better position to start your next relationship. I enjoy learning new ways to make my love smile. Everyday at the gym I know I am working to be a healthier and happier version of myself. On the days I do screw things up, I am always eager to learn something new about improving myself and what I bring to our relationship.

In the end, becoming someone who can listen with a purpose and constantly improving ourselves will not only benefit our relationship, it will make us better and more powerful people. Being able to listen to someone, not to reply, but to learn and understand is so rare it could be considered a super power. Developing the drive to work on ourselves everyday will not only set us up to have our partner falling in love with us all over again, but at the end of the day we will be a better person. Practice these two relationship tools. They really are the secret to an amazing life.

ARE YOU A GOOD ONE?

Whatever you are, be a good one. It seems like a pretty obvious statement. After all, we would never want to be a bad one of anything I would guess. Sometimes the simplest statements can be some of the most profound. That holds true in this case as well I feel.

Let us look at ‘what you are’. In life, many of us play several different roles. As a personal example, I am not only the creator and main content provider behind this website, I am also an author of 2 books, I am a food critic for the website Chow Down in Milwaukee, I am a Postal worker and DJ as well as writing for several magazines. Looking at that in print it seems like a bit too much. That is without factoring in the speaking and seminars that I do. How do I not become overwhelmed? I just focus on what I am doing at the moment. If I am writing a book, I do my best at that. Working at the Post Office, I do the same. As I write these blogs I do my best to convey something that is both entertaining and useful.

What are your roles? Are you a CEO? A bartender? A parent? A grandparent? Whatever it is, we should do our best to be a good one. We are all someone’s friend. To that end, do your best to be a good friend. This seems rather obvious but have you ever really sat down to think about how best to be a good one? This occurred to me on the way home from writing the other night. I asked myself, “How can I be a good friend?” Are there ways I could listen better? I could communicate how much people mean to me and how important they are.

One of the ways I have unconsciously used this to make the biggest change in my life is in my romantic relationship. Asking myself, and the love of my life, how I can be a good man for her has brought about some of the greatest breakthroughs. Whatever roles you fulfill in life, stop and ask yourself how you can be a good one.

Two quick closing thoughts. Ask yourself this question often. As we grow and learn in life more ideas will come to us. There is always room to improve. Include others in the asking too. They may offer suggestions to help. Lastly, remember the quote doesn’t say “Whatever you are, be a perfect one.” If you make a mistake that is alright. In fact, mistakes allow us to be good ones by providing us a chance to demonstrate being humble and gracious. Admitting, and better yet working to atone for and correct our mistakes, makes us a good one. We might not be a perfect friend, a perfect parent or a perfect spouse. If we are doing our best to be a good one, we will get better and soon our life will be amazing!

YOUR PASSION

In today’s world things can be very dark. It can seem that there is no good news to be had. We can struggle to find something to keep our spirits up. One way is to help others regain their smile. We discussed a little about how to do that in the last post. If you did not read it, it would be worth checking out. Many of us find ourselves without places to go or people to see. It can feel dark and alone.

One way in which we can put some more joy back into our day is to pursue our passion. I know many of us think we do not have time to pursue our passion. It is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. Even if it is taking time to write a few words toward that book we have always wanted to write. It could be fun to try our hand at photography. Get out in nature and capture some of its beauty. Even researching a topic that we are interested in to learn more about it can bring us a sense of joy.

Another very positive step is to increase the depth of our relationships. If there is one thing we are all passionate about it is the relationships we have with others. Our friends would love to engage in some wonderful conversation with us. As I write this I am thinking of some of the friends that I have know the longest. One of the funniest things that popped into mind is that I do not know any of their favorite colors. Calling some of them just to let them know you were thinking of them can make a real difference. You can recall some of the fun memories you share and maybe plan some new adventures for when things return to normal.

There is, of course, the most emotionally strong relationship in our lives. That is the relationship we share with the person we love. Quarantine can be very hard on a relationship if you are not prepared for it. When we go from spending 12 hours with the one we love to spending 24 a lot can change. One way to assure that change is positive is to continue to learn about the person you love. Sure, you may know their favorite color, but what about their favorite smell? Do you know what their favorite memory of your love is? Planning adventures, be they everyday or intimate, with your partner can be one of the most enjoyable things to do. I am a big fan of the personality test books. You take a simple 10 to 20 question quiz and it reveals different aspects of your personality. Perhaps you can even learn more about yourself!

Lastly, this is a great time to deepen your spiritual relationships. We all too often focus on the material aspects of life. Social obligations can force us to put our spiritual needs on the back burner. When we are feeling down, it is our faith and our feeling of spiritual connection that can keep us going. Perhaps reading the spiritual texts that our faith has. There are many inspirational journals and workbooks to help us along the way. Even spending time meditating our our spiritual beliefs can make a big difference. Do not really have any beliefs? Now may be a good time to explore different schools of thought and see what might be right for you. Find what it is that brings you inner peace, let that be your sanctuary.

1 ANTIDOTE FOR FEAR

As you can see I got this picture from a website I follow called Metal Motivation. I highly recommend you check them out. A lot of good material there. This photo brings to mind a good counter to fear – hard work. When I find myself in a situation that brings a fair deal of uncertainty to my life, I immediately get to work. Not in a crazy random fashion, but by taking steps to either address the fear, or at least improve myself and my situation. Tony Robbins once said “Progress equals happiness.” Not only is that true, but it does a hell of a number on fear too. Let us take a look at a few examples.

Today people have a great deal of fear about the coronavirus. While most of us cannot get to work on finding a cure or vaccine, we can get to work on improving our situation and ourselves. One of the best things we can do is work on our health and strengthening our immune system. Ways we can tackle this are making sure we do our best to maintain our physical fitness, eat healthy and make sure we are getting the proper nutrients. Although this will not make certain that we do not contract COVID-19, it will provide us with a better chance of making it through. Combine this with the recommended safety measures and you will take a great deal of fear out of the situation. After all, fear compromises your immune system.

Another situation many of us are rightfully concerned about is employment. Will our job be eliminated? Maybe it already has been and we are worried what happens when the unemployment runs out. As we wait for the world to reopen, and the economy to get back to fully operational there are many things we can do to put ourselves in a prime situation to thrive once it does. There are plenty of places offering free courses to help expand our knowledge base. If logging in to an online university is not your style there are plenty of free videos on YouTube to aid us in learning a new skill. Perhaps brushing up our resume and applying for new jobs is something we can put our time to use. Networking, making connections, exploring employment sites. Working hard on all of these things can give us a little more feeling of control.

Lastly, after spending some time in quarantine with our significant other, we may worry they might become disenfranchised with us. If this time together has you concerned about your relationship in any way, there is one solution. GET. TO. WORK. Yes, relationships are work, but that work pays some of the highest wages. Keeping the one you love happy will ensure that your castle remains a sanctuary and not a battlefield. There are many books, cds and even DVDs you can pick up to give you some pointers to improve your relationship. Still, with all of the media and online tools available, relationships are not ‘one size fits all’. That is why my main suggestion to anyone looking to help their spouse fall in love with them all over again, or even just to strengthen the love they already have is to listen. This may not sound glamorous, but it is a golden ticket when it comes to love. You can learn so much when you listen from a position of seeking to understand and learn. Perhaps you wife mentions loving fresh cut flowers, pick a fun and cheery bunch up on your way home. Maybe your husband mentions his favorite kind of beer…you are getting the idea. People will generally share their likes, dislike, wants and don’t wants if we just listen closely. Then there is the ultimate, the gift of truly being heard. Just pausing to listen without any other purpose than to let your partner be heard and understood.

Whatever element of your life you may be feeling fear in, combat it with a lot of hard work. It will offer you a feeling of control and you will end up a better person at the end of the day.

IF I DID SOMETHING WRONG

It never ceases to amaze me how many times this shows up in my life. In the past, it used to show up in my life. On occasion it still does, but for the most part I have learned the importance of expressing one’s emotions. I know in the grips of painful emotions this is not always easy. It took a great deal of effort and a good deal of patience and help from Margie to help me develop this skill. Here is what I learned. If you are able to express yourself in a healthy constructive manner your results will be far better.

How often have you heard one of your friends tell you about someone who is really doing something to upset them? When you ask if they have told them, the answers vary. Sometimes you hear things like “They should know!” or “They could tell by how upset I am.” These always make me laugh. How can someone be so upset as to tell an uninvolved third party, but not the offending party? I get it. I was guilty of this in the past. You may very well think this person knows, but never under estimate the ingnorance of some individuals. You really cannot hold someone accountable unless you are 100% sure they know what they are doing. Let me be specific here. The only way to be 100% sure is by telling them.

Here is where it can get a little tricky. Simply telling them what a jerk they are being or how much they are upseting you will only make things worse. Think of how you would feel if someone had to tell you that they were upset with you. That is a good measure of how to say something. Often, being told you are doing something that upsets someone can put us on the defensive. Nobody likes to think of themselves as ‘the bad guy or girl’. That is why it is helpful to begin with a phrase like, “I’m sure you don’t mean to, but I want you to know it upsets me when you ___” or even ask for their input by saying something like this, “It upsets me when you ___. I am sure that is not your intent, but how do you think we could fix that?” Be open to understanding that you may play a role in helping. Perhaps approaching things from a different perspective. In some cases it may require patience, compassion and understanding from you as the person works with you to resolve whatever issue is bothering you.

On the opposite end, when someone comes to you with something you are doing that upsets them it is important to exercise the same things. First, remember they may do so with more of a confrontational style. Not everyone has learned the proper way to express their hurt and pain. Realize by bringing it to you they are really having a cry for help. It may seem and feel as if you are being attacked, but remember this person is in pain and may not be acting in their best nature. This can be very difficult to do. Being able to do so, however, will make people feel more comfortable to come to you in the future. This will not only make your relationships better, but it will help you grow as a person as well. At some point, you could even use this as a teaching moment. Saying something like, “I really appreciate you letting me know that I have upset you. That wasn’t my intent. In the future could you please let me know before you get too upset. I do not want to risk losing you as a friend.”

Being able to do these things is not easy. It will take patience and having a thick skin. You cannot take the way people bring their pain and upset to you. Especially before you have a chance to discuss that aspect with them. Being able to do so will allow them to feel more comfortable to do so in the future. When bringing up your own upsets, remember to ask yourself, “How would I like to be told about this?” That will insure you do so with attention to the other parties feelings. Following these rules will transform your life for the better.

WHILE THEY ARE HERE

Here is a picture of my mother and I. While at least the bottom part of my head. As you can see we are out to eat. The place we were eating at, Crawdaddy’s Roadhouse, is a local favorite here in the city of West Allis where I live. They feature amazing Cajun cuisine, live music and super friendly service. Sadly, the owner of this establishment, Jonathan Klug, recently passed away at the young age of 51. Before he opened this amazing restaurant, Jon messaged me and asked if I would come and do a review. It is not often a restaurant owner would welcome a food critic, but so confident was Mr. Klug that he did. Let me tell you he had the right to be. Crawdaddy’s Roadhouse became a favorite with the group of coworkers whom I brought there the first time I went. Groups of family and friends I entertained there always walked away full and happy.

This post is not only to honor that great man, but to share with you something very important. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, that is my mother sitting next to me. She joined a group of coworkers as well as Margie and myself to dine and review the restaurant that day. We joked and laughed as the night went on. She has attended other restaurant reviews I have done in the last few years as well. She always has interesting and insightful things to offer. Being a former personal banker, she knows the importance of great customer service and how it can impact the overall experience you have in a business.

This is yet another picture of my mother. I have to be sneaky and catch these moments because she is NOT a fan of having her picture taken. What is even more important than capturing such moments is sharing them. Sure, parents can drive us crazy as I am sure we can do to them. They are forever worrying about us making the same mistakes they made and we are forever wishing they would let us live our lives unfettered. Especially when we are teenagers and think we have this whole living life thing down pat. The truth is, those who have come before us have the benefit of experience and are offering advice they think will only add to our joy in life.

This picture was taken during an event called the Soup Crawl. It was a brand new event our city wanted to start. Area businesses made soups and offered them at locations up and down main street. For just a few dollars you could sample ten soups all while seeing the city and meeting your neighbors. My mom and Margie even were able to make a bracelet at a local jewelry store. My mother has taught me the value and pleasure of experiencing and being involved in local community activities. We often dine at local places like Urban Joe’s Cafe and even work out at the gym in our city of West Allis.

We also enjoy getting out in nature. This is a local park we walk in. Being physically active as a family serves many benefits. It can do a lot to help us prevent and limit the effect of some genetic issues our family is predisposed to. It also can be a great stress reliever. Nature is a great therapy providing physical fitness, oxygen, scenery, a sense of well-being as well as allowing us to meet some of our unique animal friends. Doing so with your parents can help both of you to be around to enjoy those pleasures for years to come. Being able to relax over a cup of hot coffee after a walk in the woods on a chilly spring or fall afternoon allows us a chance to discuss all of nature and it’s wonders.

Celebrate important events together. This is us at a ‘birthday party’ for Smokey Bear. It was taken at the Wisconsin State Fair, which my mom and I have been going to for…oh…the last 44 years together. We enjoy attending the food awards they do there every year as well as fun events like a 75th birthday party for a bear that helps us prevent wildfires. This year she also came over to Margie and my house for New Year’s Eve. We all were able to toast in the new year, enjoy a wonderful meal Margie created and watch a movie. A few years ago she even stopped by as we were working to bring in the New Year. These are memories that will be cherished. If not always with pictures, due to her not being a fan, at least in memories. We are working on planning a vacation together as well.

It is important to create memories with your parents as often as you can. Just as the untimely passing of our good friend Jonathan Klug reminded us, time can be more fleeting than you know. Take time to enjoy the company of those you love before either one of you is gone. Creating memories and capturing them can be one of the most valuable treasures in life. Something all the money in the world cannot buy once someone is gone.

CREATE A LOVE STORY

This is one of my favorite pictures. I was sitting outside a local coffee shop, I believe it was a Starbucks, enjoying the sun and a good book. You will notice my bookmark that day was a picture of my lovely Margie. It happens to be one of my favorite pictures of her. Although I must confess, having a picture of the most beautiful woman in the world blowing you a kiss can be a rather distracting choice for a bookmark.

I took this picture to show Margie that as I was relaxing soaking in the sun she was never far from my mind. Not only is that statement 100% true, it made her feel loved. For those of you who know us personally as a couple, or even if you follow us casually on social media, you will know this is just one of many such things we do to show each other that we are thinking about and loving the other. We do our best to find new and exciting ways to show our love every day. It not only keeps the relationship fresh, it provides us the ability to remind the other they are loved. This can be important during a trying episode, when either one of us is stressed or even on a sunny cheerful day when we have to be apart.

How many times have you seen the lateset romantic comedy, or watched your favorite romantic movie, and thought, “I wish I had a love story like that!” I am here to tell you that you can have one. You just have to create it. Sure, wisking your loved one away to a tropical escape where you drive them around the island in your Italian sports car may be beyond your means, but that is not what is truly important. A few posts ago we demonstrated how being an active listener in relationships can be transformative. Taking this knowledge and putting it into action can make all of the difference.

How would it feel if your spouse listened to what favorite treat you liked from the grocery store was and brought it home for you? What if you casually mentioned that you would like music from a certain artist and a few days later the latest CD of that artist comes home with the one you love? What if you lost someone you love very much and your partner anticipates the hurt and sense of loss you may be feeling during the holidays and has a local artist render a great drawing of the two of you for a Christmas gift?

Everything from knowing that you like soggy french toast, to buying you items adored with bears and pizza because they know they are two of your favorite things and saw them when they were out and thought of you. These things go a long way to creating a love story. How can you create your love story? I suggest sitting down by yourself with pen and paper and ask yourself what you can do to creat your own love story. Can you create a piece of jewelry for the one you love? Is it opening the door for them even when it is cold and raining? Small acts of giving when done with great amounts of love can transform a good relationship to a great one. Not sure of what some romantic ideas would be? Dust off that movie and see if there are certain things you can incorporate into your own relationship. Google ‘romantic gifts/gestures/ideas” Read books about helping your partner feel loved. Most importantly, listen and remember when they tell you what is important. Sometimes…just listen. Create your own love story today.

VULNERABLE = STRONG

I am always interested in highlighting some of the great people in the city of West Allis Wisconsin, where I live. The gentleman on the left is Curtis. Together with his wife Danie, they run the local coffee shop/cafĂ© called Urban Joe’s. From the first moment I met both of these amazing people one thing became apparent – they get it. What I mean by that is that they truly understand what is important not only in business, but in life. When you dine or just enjoy an amazing coffee or cocktail at Urban Joe’s you will be treated to more than just great food and beverages. You will be treated to some of the best customer service in the city. This is not by accident. Curtis and his wife understand the value of a customer and of a person.

It is the second part of that last statement, knowing the value of a person, that I would like to expand on today. After just a few visits to Urban Joe’s it became apparent to me that Curtis also understood the importance of introspection and quality conversation. He is one of the people who are not only easy to talk to, but really listens and gives thought to what you are saying. Between the two of us there is never a shortage of topics. Through the years we have discussed everything from our visits to the gym, my writting and most recently my interesting adventures in purchasing a new vehicle.

It was during the discussion about my vehicle purchasing that Curtis brought up some poignant matters I would like to share with you. As he offered his outrage with some of the customer service I had experienced in my quest for a new form of transportation, he mentioned the struggles he faced while looking to hire a new member of their staff. We discussed how difficult it is to find individuals who have a sense of ownership over the job they do. Some of the challenges were making your job a priorty, realizing the workplace is not a platform to express one’s political or social beliefs, to the ability to interact and value the customer not only as a source of revenue but as a person. Something he and his wife are not only good at, but take pride instilling in their employees.

It is important to note that while I was enjoying this coversation with Curtis, we were also joined by my mother. We all came to the conclusion that there may not be enough importance placed on physical human interaction. A great deal of our social interaction comes in the form of social media and other digital platforms. Sadly, this can often be a place where manners and common courtesy are sacrificed in the name of social stature or even convincing someone your political opinion is the correct one. Curtis lamented the fact there were not more people who met ‘over a cup of coffee’. Not only would this be good for business but it would strengthen our human connection.

Why is a strong human connection so important? It is so important it can be a matter of life and death. When we form strong bonds it allows the opportunity to be vulnerable. On social media, and now often in the real world, people are afraid to ask for help. It would appear we are more worried about appearances than what is healthy for us. Without fostering deep personal relationships we can be left feeling things like hopeless, alone and depressed. We fear that asking for help can make us appear weak. The opposite is actually true. Being able to admit a situation, or sometimes life in general, has gotten the better of us takes a great deal more strength than pretending everything is ok. We can look to many people such as Robin Williams and Kate Spade who seemed to have it all but lacked the ability or resources to ask for help.

It is for these and many other important reasons that we should “Put down the phone and pick up a coffee cup.” as Curtis mentioned. Developing deep personal relationships can help us notice when something might not seem right with someone closest to us. Allowing people to share their emotions, fears and concerns over a lunch or a nice cup of coffee may be life-saving. It what can often be a digital and pharmaceutical world, we must remember the importance of developing and maintaining close personal relationships. It will benefit us. It will benefit the lives of those we love and care about.

I want to thank Curtis for this great reminder and the great conversation we shared. I want to thank the entire Urban Joe’s staff for being an example of what caring and wonderful people are like. If you need a reminder of what it takes to develop great relationships, you want to enjoy some great conversation filled with wit and wisdom or you just want a great cup of coffee, you owe it to yourself to stop in to Urban Joe’s today and ask for Curtis or Danie.