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.

LOVE IT ALL…YOU REALLY CAN!

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I was out the other day with my lady and we came across this sign. I must confess I cannot recall where. I may have to all her after I finish writing this post. I remember looking over to the love of my life and saying “I need to take a picture of this”. At the time I just knew I really liked the sign, but the more I think of it, the more it speaks to me. Last post we talked about the importance of what we focus on. We also discussed that we need to acknowledge problems only enough to create and begin working on a solution.

Here is another way I choose to look at challenges in my life, as opportunities. If you were suddenly granted all of our heart’s desires after a while life would become boring. You wouldn’t want the future to come because you know it would all be downhill from there. challenges (I’ve stopped calling them problems years ago) show us areas that life can get better in. If you don’t feel you are where you want to be financially, that’s great! Why because in addition to all you have to be grateful for now, there will be a time when it will be even better! Haven’t found the relationship you want? Great! That means as you work on becoming the best you that you can be there will be a time in the future you will have the perfect partner to share it with. This is why when people who feel they have hit rock bottom and everything in their life is no good (I believe there is always something to be grateful for and someone who always has it worse) they are at the perfect position for a breakthrough because everything can only go up!

So remember, just because your life is not perfect, does not mean it is not wonderful. As you focus on what you have to be grateful for and celebrate in your life, remember to embrace the challenges as they show you where life can be improved and only get better. Share this with all your friends to show them how wonderful life truly is!

2 LESSONS FROM THE GROCERY STORE

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This is Mr Pig. The mascot of Piggly Wiggly grocery stores. What does a grocery store have to do with living an amazing life? Two things really. First of all, what do most of us bring with us to the grocery store? If you said shopping list you are right. Why do we bring a shopping list? So we remember what we are there for and can get it in an efficient manner. What happens if we forget? We have to go all the way back to the store, or worse yet make something else for dinner. It is no wonder grocery lists are as important as they are. It gives us focus and reminds us what we are there for. What does all of this have to do with life? The same people who never forget their grocery lists are the same people who tell me they are too busy or do not need to write down their goals in life. So to recap  making sure we pick up apples is more important than reminding us what our main goal in life is? We all need reminders  in black and white of where we want to take our lives and why. It keeps us focused and on track. So I encourage you to write down the ingredients you need to live the life you want.

The second thing we can take away from the grocery store is this, pay as much attention to what you put in your head as you do your body. Diet and nutrition are a multi billion dollar a year industry. There are new diets popping up daily. Yet people who are so vigilant about not eating anything they deem bad for them still watch the news, or violent things on TV. They are not careful at all about what they put in their heads. What is the use of a healthy body if you are sad or depressed? The mind and the body are connected. I admire people who take care of themselves physically, but let us not forget about a mental diet as well. So next time you find yourself debating about buying organic, think about what you choose to put in your mind as well.

Please feel free to share this post with others and remember “Savings are big when you shop the pig”