NEVER CUT DOWN A TREE IN WINTER

This is a very important statement to ponder. You may even wish to print it out and keep it somewhere as a reminder. As I write this I am sitting in a newer Starbucks that has windows almost everywhere. This normally would be ideal, except it is like winter in Wisconsin where I live. Add to that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this disorder, more commonly known as S.A.D., is allow me to explain. S.A.D. is a condition that physically changes a person during the dark dreary months of winter. There are changes in hormonal levels that cause irritability at best and can bring on seasonal depression at worse. 

As you may imagine, this can be quite a challenge for someone who lives for inspiring and encouraging others. That challenge is compounded by living in a state that seems to have winter 9 months out of the year. We are working on changing that. (San Diego stay tuned) I can be in moods that are less than ideal in the coming months. Fortunately for me, the passion I have leads me to look for solutions instead of just acknowledge the problems.

It has also instilled in me a passion for controlling my emotional states. This can be helpful all year long. It is often tempting to make a decision when we are in an extreme emotional state. Especially when we are angry. The adrenaline these emotions give us can leave us feeling more powerful and motivated. Generally, this is a positive aspect of life and can be great if we use it to go to the gym and have an intense workout for example. This is why it is so important to have a healthy way of dealing with anger put in place before it occurs.

Extreme emotional states can twist our perception of reality. We tend to see things different than they really are and very often worse than they really are. Remember just as we have days that are meant to challenge us and make us grow, so do others. A good portion of the world has not learned to use challenges for growth. Sometimes their ignorance may manifest as poor treatment of you. Instead of getting mad and treating them harshly, why not use their treatment of you as an example of how to use challenges for growth. In my past, I did not always respond to challenging situations in a healthy way. It was those who responded with patience and understanding that taught me far more than those who responded with anger of their own.

Here is another reason, albeit a bit more selfish one, to not respond in anger. It saves you from looking like a fool. We all know a couple that personifies this. One day they are posting how terrible each other are on social media. They next day they are madly in love. Not only does this make you look silly, it weakens your relationship and calls into question the integrity of your character. Although having it in black and white for the world to read is pretty dramatic, the same holds true for what you say in person. If you are having a disagreement with someone be it your friend, spouse or coworker and you proceed to share the details and bad mouth them to everyone you see, it does not reflect as poorly on them as it does on you. Imagine what the person you are talking to will think when you have a disagreement with them? Fight to master your emotions. It will serve you, it will serve those who are in your life. 

YOU ARE NOT A MISTAKE

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

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

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

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

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

DON’T JUST SEE THE MIRACLE… BE THE MIRACLE

I heard this verse while listening to a video by Les Brown and it really struck as something I needed to share. I think for a lot of us, and certainly those of you who have been following this blog for any length of time, we know what we put out in the universe comes back to us. Put another way, what we give is what we get.
Not long ago I posted a blog featuring the “Golden Rule” in all of the different religions. The message is the same although the wording may be slightly different. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Looking at this logically we can certainly understand it to be true. If you are a person who is generally nice and caring towards people, they tend to be generally nice and caring to you. Yes, there are exceptions but for the most part this is how it goes. Wherever Margie and I go we are treated to warm and wonderful words and actions. Why? When we go places we do our best to treat others with warmth and compassion.
It also is one of the keys to success for all of our businesses. Whether it is me writing, her making a cake or both of us when we DJ, rather than just ‘going through the motions’ we want everyone to feel loved and bring something special into their lives. In return, most people enjoy coming to our shows, her cake business has been exploding and my writing continues to impact lives. We use the gifts that we have been blessed with to serve and bring joy to our brothers and sisters on this planet. We approach everything we do with a genuine desire to make someone’s life better. It reminds me of this great quote from Zig Ziglar.


What about those people who don’t eat cake? Maybe they don’t sing karaoke or have a desire to read. How can we positively impact their lives? The first biblical quote can answer that question – we pray for them. Whatever method you employ for supplication, sending out love and positivity to those you share life with can only come back to bless and serve you. We should all be cheering for each other in life and doing what we can to make each other’s lives better.
This inspired one more passing thought. If we are so familiar with the benefits of giving to others to the benefit of ourselves why is there not more of that done in the world? My only answer to this question is to offer you my solution, start yourself, start today. Offer up prayers for others, throw out all the positive vibes you can to as many people as you can. In return, your life will surely be blessed.
One prayer we might really wish to make is to those who are practicing this law in reverse. Those who spread lies and gossip. Whether through ignorance or malice, they are bringing about not the ruin of those they are speaking about but the ruin of their own lives. Soon they will find themselves on the receiving end of their own negativity. They will find themselves living a lonely and sad existence. If only they had desired what was best for others, than they too would receive what is best for themselves.
Today do yourself a favor and put this law to work for you. Look for ways in which you can bless and bring joy to the lives of others. Let the words that come off your tongue be positive and full of blessings for others. Soon your life will be nothing short of a miracle.

BECOME LIKE GOD


I must confess to making today’s headline a little click bait. Looking at the quote above by one Fred Rogers (whom most of you know is one of my favorite philosophers) it might not be that far from the truth. Whatever your spiritual belief might be, I think we can all agree that seeing the best in our ‘neighbor’ is something very special. In a world that seems to focus on our differences and who we think is to blame for what, it becomes even more special. I am sure Mr. Rogers would agree.
There is a positive flipside to seeing the best in everyone and everything. Your world looks a lot brighter. When your world looks a lot brighter, you feel a lot better. When you feel a lot better you treat others better and your world becomes…well…better.
This is where a lot of you may come in and tell me that would be ‘looking at the world through rose colored glasses’. You may be right. Looking for what is right with the world can seem like a delusion of sorts, especially to those who have never done it. Looking for and appreciating, especially out loud, what is right in others and the world around us does not mean ignoring what is wrong. In fact, knowing what is wrong can be very helpful to note ways in which things can be better. What is advocated here is to not focus on what is wrong.
It is here that pessimists and even realists may say I am being willfully ignorant. Maybe so, but it feels good and leads me to have a better life. I know there are lots of things wrong with people and the world they live in. I chose to focus on what is wonderful about both and solutions for what is not. There are plenty who fill the role of spreading gossip about others and their faults. I choose to do the opposite. My world is not any less real.
Here is a third bonus to this behavior. You will become a lot more popular. After all, who would not want to be around someone who sees the best in everything? Be like God and notice and grow what is right with each other and the world.

WHY BE YOUR BEST?

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with my good friend Russ. We have known each other for roughly 30 years. Whenever we talk I always gain a great amount of inspiration and clarity. Not only on life itself, but on me. A friend who has known you for that length of time can really share some insightful things. I am always grateful for that. In our most recent conversation, Russ noted that I am “always positive and encouraging” While this may be a slight exaggeration, it is indeed my goal.

After some discussion as to why this is I had what can only be described as an ‘A-ha moment’. I told him the reason why I appear to be positive all of the time is because I bring who I am to everything I do. For example, my goal in writing these posts is to share knowledge I have come across in hopes of helping all of us live a more amazing life. Why? The reason is simple. I want to leave this world a better place than I found it. When I DJ, my goal is to help every person I come in contact with feel better about themselves or about life in general. Same thing at the post office, when I go out for coffee or grocery shopping.

This can be both a blessing and a curse. Earlier in my life, I brought myself everywhere I went as well. The problem was I was not the best version of myself. This is a very important reason to always be your best. You follow you wherever you go. We can do our best to pretend to be somebody else, but at the end of the day our true persona will always shine through.

There is another very important reason to always do your best to be the best version of yourself. Inevitably we will be faced with challenges and disappointments in life. We will lose a job, a relationship will end or worst of all, we will lose somebody we love. When we are the best versions of ourselves it will save us a good deal of heartache. One of the worst feelings anyone can pile on a bad situation is regret. If we lose a job that is not the time to say to ourselves, “I wish I would have performed better.” If we lose a relationship it is a little too late to say, “I wish I would have been better for that person.” At funerals would you believe loss is not the most painful feeling? It is regret. I wish I wouldn’t have spoke harshly to that person, or I wish I would have said I love you one more time.

Chances are in your life all three things will happen at some point. If they don’t we can certainly practice gratitude, but that is another topic. If we are normal adults these situations will all happen. If we do our best at our jobs and still end up losing them at least we can say, “Well they lost a good employee!” and it will certainly help us land our future occupation. Even if your boss is a jerk, even if you dread going there, do your best. Not for them, but for you. The same holds true in a relationship. You may spend all of your energy and romance on someone and they still might break your heart. It is sad but true. How much better would it be to realize they just lost the best thing they will ever have. Not to mention it will save you years of beating yourself up over “I should have” and “What if…” When it comes to the loss of a loved one there will always be pain. That pain will only be compounded if we honestly did not give our all to that relationship. We will always wish we had more time with that person and did more, but if we did our best we can have peace in our hearts.

I urge you to call that person that needs to hear from you. Give your effort at work. Think of, and act on romantic notions you have with your partner. Even if things end badly, you will have the confidence and inner peace of knowing you did your best.

WHEN THE NIGHTMARE BECOMES THE MIRACLE

Every day as part of my day job I drive several miles. On this daily commute I listen to the country music station. Whether you like that music or not, I would like to share a very interesting thought that was brought to light by doing just such a thing. On this particular day the song Living by Dierks Bentley came on. This song is about the difference between just ‘being alive’ and really living. In the lyrics he references really noticing a tree he has seen a thousand times, stopping to enjoy the rising sun and “Drink it in like whiskey”. There is also a mention of stopping to watch a bird on a branch and watching it fly away.

My favorite part of this song is about his lady. After noticing all of the amazing things in nature he goes back inside to fire up a pot of coffee (nature and coffee can you see why I like this song?) As he is doing so his lady walks in wearing his shirt “Like she always does” the song says. Suddenly he is overcome with love and gratitude for her. He kisses her like it is the first time and tells her he loves her and can’t live without her. He also mentions that he knows he doesn’t express those feelings enough.

 This song reminded me of the countless stories I have read or heard about someone confronting their mortality and suddenly looking around and seeing the beauty in everything. Often when we are confronted with or overcome our greatest nightmare, that is when we begin seeing miracles everywhere. When there is the possibility that this may be your last day on earth suddenly everything becomes a treasure. The smell of a summer breeze, the smile on a loved one’s face or in the case of the song, sunshine, trees and birds. Why does it so often take death to make us appreciate life? The truth is these miracles are around us every day.

I would like to also take a moment to discuss the other verse of the song. The one where his lady walks into the kitchen wearing his shirt and he falls in love with her all over again. When you think about love it really is a miracle. No matter how amazing of a person you are, having another person be able to be around you everyday can present its challenges. To have that person not only tolerate you, but to look forward to see you and enjoy your company is a miracle.

I am grateful through practicing living a life of gratitude and doing my best to be present I have had some amazing gifts bestowed on me. Most obvious is my beautiful Margie. When I look at her and think of how hard she works and the amazing things she creates, the beauty just flows from her. Just this morning in the kitchen she had been up for over 24 hours making cakes and DJing. Her hair was put up she was wearing a shirt she didn’t mind getting full of dye and frosting. As I watched her knowing that she was pushing herself to not only earn income to help our household, but to bring joy to somebody (or in this case multiple somebodies) special day, I couldn’t help but thinking “Damn, I have one amazing and beautiful woman.” I told her that, which is something I wish more men understood to do. She couldn’t imagine after not sleeping, her hair a mess and not being dressed up  how she could be beautiful to me. If she only knew. Actually she will know when she reads this.

The point today is that life and love are two miracles that are around us everyday. There is a difference between just being alive and truly living. It is my suggestion that we use the power of gratitude and living in the present to give us this amazing life. It is difficult to do all of the time, but the more you practice it the more your life will be amazing.

I would LOVE to hear your stories of when you were not just alive, but truly living.

ESPECIALLY WHEN IT’S HARD

In this blog we explore many ways in which to have an amazing life. A lot of that focus tends to fall on how to have an amazing relationship. After all, relationships, more than anything else, have a great impact on our lives. Let us be honest, if our relationships are less than amazing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for our lives to be amazing. That is why I recommend relationship building as a life-long study regardless of the field you are in.

Even in the best relationships things can go south. Despite our best efforts, despite all of our best intentions and study, things often zig when they should have zagged. It happens. When we find ourselves in a state that seems to be less then amorous with our partners it can be easy to stray from the things we know we should do. The ironic part is that is when it is most important.

One of the things I always do for Margie is open her car door. To me it is a sign of respect. It is a little thing I can do to show her how much I value and treasure the lady she is. Another thing we do for each other is kiss each other at red lights. This does two very important things. First, it places a loving action in what is generally a mundane and occasionally stressful activity. Second, it turns red lights from something to dread, to something to look forward to.

When things in the relationship are running on less than ideal terms certain thoughts come to mind. I am reminded she is physically capable of opening her own door and how nice it would be to get into the car and relax myself. There are times when I could look straight ahead and focus on the waiting for the red light to change instead of leaning over to kiss her. It is these times, however, when it is most important to do these actions.

This is why. When I open the door for her even when we are not seeing eye to eye, it shows her that even though I may not be happy with the situation, I still respect and honor her as my lady. When I lean over to kiss her at a red light on a night we might not be on the best of speaking terms it says, “Even though we not be liking each other a lot right now, I still love you.” It is vitally important to maintain little actions that show respect and love in times of discord. Quite often these can soften the hardest of hearts, even if that one is your own at times.

Here is a great side-effect that arises from maintaining these loving actions. At the end of the day you can look back and know that despite circumstances, you were the best version of yourself. You can also be confident that you did what was right for your relationship. It would be easy, and even excusable, to forgo certain loving actions when you are angry. What it will not do is give you an amazing relationship. That, as we discussed earlier, will make it very difficult to have an amazing life.

KEEP THANKING

As I returned to work from an extended vacation, I began to return to my normal routine. Part of the routine is after I shave I use this fabulous item. ‘BeardSconsin old fashion small batch beard oil’. I must confess a little over a year ago I had some confusion as to what beard oil actually was. It was obvious it was some oil you put on your facial hair, but why?

At a local October fest celebration there happened to be a stand selling this item. I asked questions and was informed as to all of the benefits of beard oil. Smoothing facial hair and the skin beneath it. This product was offered in a wide array of scents and I was afforded the opportunity to smell them all. The old fashion scent was the most pleasing to me.

In a surprise move, Margie decided to purchase this for me and give it to me as a surprise. It is little things this that keep our relationship alive and well. Then again, in reflection perhaps she was hinting my goatee was out of control or even smelled bad? Regardless, it was a sweet gesture and I greatly appreciated it. That evening I tried the oil for the first time and was amazed at how well it worked.

To this day every time I pull it out of the cabinet in the bathroom I cannot help but be taken back to the evening she surprised me with it. I also feel that same feeling of gratitude and appreciation for the nice gesture. This went on for months. Recently, I scolded myself. “You should be telling her how grateful you feel.” I realized by not doing so I was keeping all of these wonderful feelings of love, gratitude and appreciation to myself.

In the days and weeks that followed, I have thanked her a few times. She may even be growing tired of hearing of it. Still, it is important to convey great memories and especially feelings of appreciation whenever we have them. It is a gift to ourselves and to those we love.

Here is my suggestion. Pick an item that has a positive strong memory attached to it. Whenever you see or handle that item allow yourself to be transported back to the moment in which it came into your life. Feel all of the great feelings of love, joy, gratitude or whatever else it conjures up. Do this every time you come across this item. It could be a coffee mug given to you by your children. It could be the picture of the one you love in your purse or wallet. The possibilities are endless. When you are done enjoying these feelings, make sure you convey them to those involved.

You can even try picking a different item each week or month. It will not only add joy to your life, it will add it to those you share it with. It will also help strengthen your relationships. I would love to hear about your experiences and what item or items you have chosen.

DON’T WASTE $86,390


Building on our last post, this is another way of looking at how negative people can affect your life. When someone spends time gossiping or complaining to us that is like the $10 that was wasted. When we spend time upset or thinking about what they said, that is like throwing the other $86,390 away.
Time, in fact, is worth far more than money. We can always find a way to earn more money but time, once it is gone, is gone forever. We never know when we will breath our last breath or something may happen to dramatically alter our lives. Is losing even more of our precious time here worth someone else’s negativity? That is like good money after bad as they say.
When some of your time is wasted do not waste even more by being upset about it. Learn from it, use it and then move on.

NEVER STOP


Here is something that takes strength to do, but can transform your life! Not being a bad person because of bad people. This is again a reminder that is is crucial that we be selective with who we surround ourselves with. It is a lot easier to not have to guard against the effect of bad people when there are no bad people around. Of course inevitably we will come across that one individual that may be so unhappy with themselves and their own life that they wish to spread that feeling to others.

You know the type, you hold the door for them to be kind and helpful and they take it as an insult that they can’t do it themselves. I have actually witnessed someone at a coffee shop screaming at the employee because they thought their coffee was 3 degrees to hot. I am not sure if they carried a thermometer in their pocket or had some super power that allowed their tongue to take accurate temperature readings to 3 degrees, but either way is that worth treating someone so harshly? I think not. I am just generally happy there is coffee that someone else made for me.
The sad part is when you hear the employee utter something about how terrible working with the public is. It is true there are a lot of sunshine-challenged people in this world, but let us not let them hold more weight than the amazing people we meet everyday. In the case of holding the door, I have been tempted to let the door shut on my ungrateful worldly neighbor at times. What would this accomplish? Adding another unpleasant person to the world is not what is needed in that situation.
I know it can be difficult to maintain a smile when it seems the world is doing its best to wipe it off your face. I do my best to remember if I respond in kind to their unpleasant treatment of me, or worse allow it to bring down my positivity, than I am letting their negativity win. That will not only prove them right in their negative thinking, thus reinforcing it, but also bring down our emotional well-being as well. Considering a negative emotional state can lead to a suppressed immune system as well as heart and digestive issues is this really worth while? Let us be a ray of light to their darkness. Never let anyone take that away from you.