TRADITIONS

The Holiday season is almost upon us. At local stores decorations are starting to go up, I even heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day. With the holidays coming up we can find our minds turning toward traditions. There are many different kinds of traditions. There are traditions based on our different faiths. This can encompass many different things from fasting, praying, style of dress and many more. These traditions are very important for cultural reasons. The connect us as a faith-based community and refresh our spiritual nature. There are also different family traditions. These can include shopping for holiday gifts together, creating a holiday meal together or just gathering at a certain family members house for great times. The traditions here can be as unique as the family itself.

The tradition I would like to discuss today is more individual. It can be between spouses, brother and sister, friends or even an individual tradition. The picture I used for this blog post is one of Margie and me at one of our favorite breakfast places. We have been going there since shortly after we met. Sadly, this day we missed another tradition of ours which was an event called ‘Cider Sunday’ in which a local nature preserve celebrates all things apple. We also have other traditions that we have began. Most of them both add love to our life, as well as keeping that love fresh and fun. Do you have something like this with the love of your life? Maybe a special place you go on a birthday? Maybe an event you look forward to attending every year? Do you celebrate the first day of spring by having a picnic in the park for example?

If you do not have a romantic tradition, or would like to include more, why not get together with your love today and discuss that? This also works with brother and sisters, friends, coworkers and anyone else you would like to include. My suggestion is this, create traditions that help that relationship grow. Maybe something that fosters a feeling of gratitude and appreciation in the relationship, or perhaps a way to grow and learn together? In the case of romantic partners, use Margie and me as an example. Create traditions that feed love and keep it fresh and growing.

Personal traditions may be something that is not as familiar with a lot of you, but I think they can have a great impact on our lives. Perhaps start a tradition of keeping a gratitude journal every night or at the very least once a week. A daily or weekly meditation practice could serve you as well. They can be traditions that add joy to your life. I do things to celebrate the first day of spring and summer each year. I also attend a bicycle expo every year as it helps me look forward to spring and being able to get out and ride.

Feel free to share any traditions you have with us in the comments below. Whether they are Faith, family, romantic or personal. This way we can all inspire each other with great ideas!

 

THE LATEST SUPERHERO I MET

This is one of my favorite quotes. Someone who is physically capable has no reason to at the very least return their shopping cart to the cart corral. I stand corrected. There is only one reason – laziness. If you are so inconsiderate to other shoppers and parkers, not to mention the store employees who have the job of collecting these carts, then perhaps you should try doing their job for a week. It also shows a pattern. If you are too lazy to return your shopping cart, what other corners are you cutting in your life? That is the thought behind the above quote.

A successful person is one who will do what is right and what should be done even when it may not be the easiest thing to do. They will not only think of just themselves, but of the others who could be impacted by there actions. Can you imagine how you would feel if your brand new car was dented and scratched by a shopping cart someone carelessly left in the parking lot? What if you had a sore back and had to park further away because all of the close spots were taken by random carts left by strangers. Maybe you might not even have a cart to use because they were spread throughout the parking lot? Careless actions like this also cause prices to rise. Stores must replace or repair carts that have been damaged or stolen. That price is often passed on to all consumers. Something I am guessing our lazy friend had not thought about.

This leads me to share an amazing story I witnessed the other day. I was picking Margie up from the local craft store as she was picking up supplies for her business while I was writing. As I got out of my car I saw a lady who was easily in her 80’s walking with a walker. Do you know what she was doing? Pushing both her walker and her cart up to the store to return it. My only regret is I did not arrive sooner to help her. She laboriously made her way back to her car with her walker. She had every excuse to leave her cart in the middle of the parking lot, but she didn’t. To me, that woman is a superhero.

Ask yourself next time you are tempted to do a job half way, “What does this say about my character?” Chances are if you are skipping things you deem unimportant, you are also cutting some corners in your life where it really matters. Remember character is built by the actions we take when nobody is watching.

WHEN LIFE IS A PILE OF…

This is an emoji of… well… a pile of poo. This is insanely popular for some reason. Margie has even received several orders for cupcakes in this design. I am using it for when our life feels just like a pile of poo. Your car breaks down, a relationship ends, you lose your job or even worse, you lose someone you love. Sometimes the poo really adds up in a hurry. At this point, life really starts to stink, both literally and figuratively.

We all have these periods. Even though it may not seem like anybody is having a worse time than we are, there are people out there who have it worse. Certainly not what we want to hear when the poo hits the fan in our life, or even worse, when we feel like the fan. However, a change in perspective can give us pause to think. So, your car broke down? There are people who cannot even afford a car, much less repairs. There are people, lots of them in fact, who have to walk miles every day for clean drinking water. It was Gandhi who said, “I cried because I had no shoes, then I met a man who had no feet.” No matter how dire our situation, there is always something to be grateful for. Your relationship ended or someone you loved passed away? Remember they say It is better to have lost in love, than never to have loved at all. There are people who never find that special someone to love. There are people who never have their parents in their lives. Be grateful for every day you experience love. Even if that love changes it does not mean it has to stop. Try finding just one thing to be grateful for. It will lead you to find another and then another.

Even if you are having trouble finding something to be grateful for, you can still use the poo in your life. How on earth do you use poo in life? Here we are obviously speaking in metaphors, but using a literal comparison can help. We are talking about poo situations in our life as we discussed above, but we can use the same logic as we do for the organic matter itself. I do not recall if it was Meijer, Walmart or somewhere completely different, but I found myself strolling through the garden center fantasizing that I had the ability to grow things when what did I see? Poo! bags and bags of the stuff. Ok, here it was called manure and did not have an emoji on it, but the contents was the same.

That is when the light bulb went on. If we literally use poo to grow stuff in our gardens, why do we not use it for growth in our lives as well? Just like our last post when we discussed failure, if we just dwell on the poo in our lives it would be like sitting in that manure. Just try and picture sitting in a pile of manure and complaining how awful it is. If you were to plant a few seeds in that manure instead of just complaining about it what may happen? You would grow new and wonderful things! Things that would smell far better than the poo itself.

What does that all have to do with our lives when they seem…well..in the toilet? Plenty! If a relationship fails, you can use what went wrong to improve your future relationships. If you did something that brought about the end of the relationship, do not do that thing again. Maybe you were just connected to the wrong person. Going forward be aware that you may wish to start a relationship with someone more aligned with your goals and values.

Did you lose your job? Use that to brush up on your interviewing skills. Perhaps you should consider going back to school? Maybe taking that time to finish the book you have always wanted to write? When you start looking for a new job, apply in a field you enjoy and not the one that just pays the most. In that way the loss of a job can serve as the growth of a new and more rewarding career!

Did you lose someone you love? That is always hard and very painful. If you find yourself sad a great deal of the time, remember that is ok. If your heart feels broken, that just meant it has loved. Be grateful for all of the moments you shared with that person. I have an article coming out next month on this very subject. I can tell you one of the best ways to ease burden of loss is to try and replace some of the light that person brought to the world. Did your grandmother always make people feel welcome? Then you should do that. Did your brother have a great sense of humor? Then focus on bringing laughter into the lives of others. Another emotion that comes up when we lose someone we care deeply for, and I speak from experience, is regret. We find ourselves uttering the all too common phrases “I would’ve/I should’ve/I could’ve” Use this to motivate yourself to live in the moment and put all your love and effort into the relationships you have now. That person may be gone, but they can certainly help you make the most of those you love that are still with you.

Use the poo in your life my friends. Just like the manure in the garden center, use the poo situations in your life as fertilizer to grow new and wonderful things. Pain and challenge can be one of the best catalysts for growth.

MORE TIME DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Ah… the holiday season. Filled with great joy, family and feelings of love and gratitude. Sometimes, however, it is also filled with stress, feelings of being overwhelmed and stress. It seems we need another hour or a couple of hours in our days to get everything done. There is shopping, finding the perfect gift for people we discover we do not know as well as we thought we did. Often there is either travel, or preparing for the arrival of people who are traveling to see us. We have to shop and prepare meals considering everyone’s likes, food allergies and culture restrictions. Not only do we have all of these things to consider, but we also have our regular obligations of work, housecleaning and parenting as well.

Sadly, there is no way to extend the daily deadline beyond 24 hours. How then, can we gain more time during the holidays? The man above you might recognize, his name is Albert Einstein. world-famous physicist. He developed the theory of relativity. I found this hard to grasp when it came to time. How can time be relative? Is not an hour always 60 minutes?

I found the answer, and a great explanation on the theory of relativity in a most unlikely place. There is a home-improvement store here called Menards. On the bottom of all of their sales ads they have motivational sayings in real fine print. One fine day while pondering why I even live in a place where I would need a snow blower, I found the answer I was looking for. On the bottom of the page read “How long 3 minutes is depends on what side of the bathroom door you are on.” While I would love to claim credit for that great bit of wisdom I cannot.

How does this translate to the relativity of time, and more importantly, how can it help us gain more time during the holidays? Think of that situation if you will. Yes, it is odd that a self-improvement website will ask you to think of spending time in the bathroom. I don’t know about you, but sometimes that is when some of my greatest ideas come to me. Have you ever had to use the bathroom when somebody else is doing the same? Every second can seem like an eternity. If you are the person on the inside the time would certainly seem different, yet they are exactly the same amount of time.

That is the most poignant example I have seem, but doesn’t the same thing happen to us during the holidays? It seems when we have one more place to stop and it closes in a half an hour that is when we get into the line with the sweet little old lady paying for her cartload of groceries with change…of which she has to count out by hand. Wait, did she just loose count and have to begin again? How long have I been in this line? How about preparing meals. I have experienced this first hand. Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean I actually prepared the meal. Watching Margie work so hard during the holidays to make sure everything is done at the same time, and that time being close to when our guests arrive is crazy. Especially when you have to consider everything cooks at a different rate.

You may be thinking this is great Neil, and I have spent part of my holiday time reading this article and other than a entertaining bathroom analogy, you haven’t told me a single thing I can do to help my holiday craziness. Fair enough. Let us explore a few simple things we can do that will not only help us make better use of our time, but take the stress out of the time that we do spend, allowing us to enjoy more of what this time of year is all about.

The most important thing that can change our holiday is focus. When we are stuck in the slowest line in the store, focusing on that can only raise our stress level and blood pressure. What if we chose that time to try and focus on what we have to be thankful for. During the holidays that is something we all can count on and is a great gift to give ourselves. Even just a distraction whether it be reading those informative magazines telling us what the royal family is doing, or where Elvis, who is really alive, is spending his Christmas. Try to find the most interesting or amusing headline. Think of a nice thing you can say to the cashier, who truly is under a great deal of stress themselves.

Another great thing we can do is think about the outcome we are striving for. Is the goal to provide a tasty and enjoyable meal our family can gather around and share the holiday? Then does it matter if the steamed vegetables end up being part of dessert or the gravy is not as smooth as we would like? Sure, it would be great if the meal was perfect, but that is not what the holidays are all about, and nobody will expect that. What if something goes terribly wrong? One year my aunt was supposed to watch a pot of soup that was baking as the rest of us went to pick up some other relatives. She…well…I am not sure what she did other than it wasn’t watch the soup. It burned and had to be thrown away. The entire pot tasted terrible, but there was other food and it is still a story we laugh about today.

That brings us to our last point, find ways to laugh. Nothing is that serious and it is often things that go wrong that make the funniest and most entertaining holiday memories. Find a way to laugh, it will make a great holiday gift to everyone you share the holiday with. In that vein of thinking, try finding ways to genuinely compliment as many people as you can. Know and understand each of us face unique holiday stress and all of us would appreciate some kind words.

Please feel free to share your holiday stress relieving ideas in the comments below. Working together we can make the holidays better for everyone.

1 GREAT REMINDER

Every now and again life provides a great reminder of what’s important. While sitting outside waiting to pick up someone I got such a reminder. There was a man pushing a shopping cart up a steep hill. In my state I was thinking “This poor man has to push a cart full of groceries up a hill instead of driving them where he has to go.” The weather was nice and he had a lady following him, I am assuming they shopped together.

I started to wonder, did neither of them drive? Maybe their care was in worse shape then mine? Maybe there was a legal situation that prevented him from driving? I wondered how he would make it if the weather wasn’t so pleasant out. Would he have to skip his shopping? Being an empath, I started really feeling bad for this man. Putting myself in his shoes. Although my car is on it’s way out, it still gets me from point A to Point B.

What happened next was like a wake-up call from the universe. This man I was feeling so bad for did something I never would have expected. He pushed his shopping cart ahead of him did a 360 degree turn and kept pushing it up the hill. In other words, having to push his groceries home he was having as much fun as he could. Life is about enjoying the process. Here I am the man who really believes whenever you set a goal you should ask yourself, “How can I have fun along the way?” This man who was doing what he had to for whatever reason, was finding a way to have fun with it. Therefore, as I continue my quest for a new car, I shall endeavor to have fun while looking and not get so frustrated.

Whatever you are doing, ask yourself, “How can I have fun during this journey?” We would all benefit from that

WHY I SHOP AT MEIJER MORE AND WALMART LESS

Here is a picture of the new Meijer store that opened not far from my house. For years my lady and I shopped at Walmart. Mostly because we are DJs and it is open 24 hours a day, has very reasonable prices and a pretty good selection. 

So then Meijer opens up. They are closer to home, also have a wide selection and are open 24 hours for our convenience. Although their prices are slightly higher, I prefer to shop there. Why? Is it because it is closer to my house? That’s convenient, but not the reason. Is it because it has a Starbucks inside? Fun, but again not the reason. 

These stores, although seem similar, have one major difference. This point was driven home to me today in my recent shipping trip when I returned to Walmart for something. 

When you enter the Meijer store, like Walmart there is a greeter. At Meijer they greet you and ask if you would enjoy a copy of the latest sales flyer. Every employee you run into says “hello” and a few even ask if you need help finding something. 

When we used to shop at Walmart the customer service there was so poor that is became the subject of many jokes. Cashiers not only skip any greeting or conversation, but quite often any eye contact as well. Employees can be found huddled around the front door smoking and using language that would make a sailor blush. On my most recent trip I saw roughly 20 employees. Cashiers, people stocking and even a ‘greeter’ at least in title, not actual action. None of the employees spoke a word to me and only one out of the entire group managed a smile. 

Now I am not putting down employees of Walmart in general, or even the ones at this store. What I am questioning is what certain corporations make a priority. Perhaps the powers that be at Walmart assume people will go there whether their people are friendly or not as long as the prices are low. Which could probably be true in several cases. Maybe they don’t focus enough on the well-being of their employees to keep them smiling? Whatever the answer may be, today was a stark reminder as to why I  will continue to spend my hard earned dollars (even if it happens to end up to be a few more) at Meijer. Dignity, happiness and respect are free, but to me they are more valuable than any roll back at the store founded by  Sam Walton. 

SUNSHINE WARRIOR 


After learning and teaching ways to be more positive in life I have come to a important conclusion – it is a constant struggle – for anyone who has embarked on this journey this is not too shocking. When you make the decision to live a more positive, loving and passionate life something strange happens. At first people pat you on the back and say things like “good luck” and “that’s great”. It all starts off well and good. Fast forward at most a week or so and things change. People begin to get less comfortable with your decision. I’m not sure why this is.  I have a theory or two. Perhaps they realize how much their own lives are not full of joy and fulfillment. Perhaps in some strange way they feel if you succeed it somehow means they fail.  Another interesting thing people tend to do, even well-meaning people, is they begin to show you examples of how dark the world can be. You begin to hear things like “How can you be positive when ___ happens?” or look how bad the world is getting and they sight some recent negative event the media is feeding off of. The truth is there is good and bad in the world. Light and dark. Positive and negative. Whether you are spiritual, or not that is easy to see. You meet nice people and experience nice things and you also face challenges and meet people so unpleasant conversations with them leave you wanting a shower.

So what side are you going to be on? Make no mistake, what you choose to focus on decides a great deal of your life. What meaning you assign to things decides how they make you feel. This is the most important decision you can make in your life. Why? It determines how you feel. There will always be wins and loses what they mean to you will determine how they affect you. If you believe the world is out to get you and always to expect the worst you will feel one way. We all know some people who actually do not allow themselves to be happy even when something good happens. They always look for what could go wrong. I knew a man who won an all-inclusive vacation. I was happy for him, but he did not seem so happy. “Yeah, but I have to pay the taxes” he informed me. The taxes amounted to $100. He, and his wife, were going to Jamaica airfare, hotel, meals and cocktails for a week for $100 and he was sad. These are the people who fall victim to the world around us. The negative mind programing we see on TV, online and in the papers everyday. Still, we all know people who remain happy no matter what. If they get a flat tire they muse that it may have prevented them from being in an accident further down the road. Some people call this naïve, but it is no more fanciful than focusing on the negative.

So what side do you find yourself on? Daily in the news we hear of tragedy, hateful speech, how the environment is falling apart, how morals are decaying and a host of other dark and negative events. Seldom to we hear about the people that come together to help the victims of violence, a new inspiring speech that was given, or how some high school students are coming together to clean up a river. These things are not ‘good news material’ they do not sell.

So what do I believe? What does the man who brings these words to you think? Here is what I believe. Make no mistake, your joy, your well-being, your very spirit is under attack. We are in the eye of a hurricane of hate and negativity. The world has become darker in many ways. I think a lot of that is owed to the focus on what is wrong in the world. It has dimmed the light of hope in the hearts of many. Which is why my motivation for writing only grows stronger. We need more people to spread joy, to focus on what is just, good and right. We need more healers of all kind. We need people to bring us together to stand against those trying to tear us apart. Before you jump to sign up let me assure you of one thing, this is not for the faint of heart. In order to be a source of light in a dark world you must be brave. You will find yourself ridiculed. You may often find yourself being attacked by those closest to you and on occasion even standing alone. Many souls find themselves negative and uninspired because today that is the easy way. To be an inspired soul and even greater to inspire others takes courage, takes inner strength and not everyone is up for that.

If you find yourself disgusted with both what you read and see in the news as well as on the streets I urge you to become a sunshine warrior. Put on the armor of positivity. Be warned, however, we are out numbered and the fight will be both long and difficult. You will not come out unscathed. The reward for this fight is your life, and the lives of those you care about and come in contact with. Whether we live in a world of darkness or a world of light depends greatly on whether we choose to join this fight. There will be many who will complain about the world as is, but there will be very few who are brave enough to do their part to change it.

If you find yourself tagged in this post you are a sunshine warrior. Do your part and share and tag those you feel show the courage to bring light to our world.