WHY THE WORLD SHOULD BE A SPRING SHOWCASE

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Tonight I went to an elementary school spring performance. In addition to singing contemporary favorites such as Uptown Funk, the children from k-4 to third grade also performed some of my favorite classics like Brown bear, Brown bear.

Two things jumped out at me during this show. First, I had all but forgotten that I had attended this very school. Although when I was there it was grades seven and eight, the look had remained virtually unchanged.

The second thing I noticed was the talent of the children. It was amazing. I found myself dancing in my seat. Well, at least as much as I am want to do. Another thing I noticed was that I was in a very good mood. That made me take a break from my legendary chair dancing to sit up and take notice. Every time that I find myself in an extreme of emotion, be it good or bad, positive or negative, I stop and notice what has lead me to that point.

In this case it was a very good mood I found myself in. Was it being back in a place I had been so long ago? Not quite. Days weren’t always rosy in middle school. As we approached the door I pointed out to my lovely lady, Margie, an area where I had indulged in a rather intense physical interaction with another fellow student. “You were in a fight?” she asked incredulously. Anyone who knows me will understand seeing me engage in a physical altercation is a stretch these days. Even though back then it may have not been.

Ruling out the power of nostalgia, I moved on. Being that I was rather sleep deprived, I decided just to relax and really be present for the show. Then somewhere between The hungry caterpillar and I Bought Me a cat, it occurred to me. It was the show itself that was inspiring me. Not just the positive and light-hearted lyrics, but the scene itself. Children were putting their hearts and souls into their performances. They were doing this out of nothing but personal pride and the desire to make their parents proud of them. The parents also made me proud. As children can so often do, when they are supposed to hold up a picture of a bowl of soup during a song, it winds up being in a position that would leave more soup in your lap than in your stomach. Despite this, the parents glowed with pride and cheered for not only their child, but each and every child. They did so knowing the reasons the children were doing it were pure and innocent.

There was a bonus item of joy I noticed it not only filled my heart with a personal sense of joy, but made me proud of the parents and even more so, the students. In each group there were several children who seemed to suffer from some form of challenge mentally. Not only were they allowed to join the other students in the production, which made me proud of the job the teachers did, but as they were often wandering all over the stage involved in what seemed to be their own little show, the students not only remained focused, but often encouraged and embraced these children so different from themselves.

I began to wonder why the world itself is not more like this ‘Spring Showcase’. Imagine if we all worked with a heart filled with joy and a desire to make those closest to us proud of the job we did? What if we encouraged everyone who worked hard, doing the best they could, even if it didn’t turn out perfect and they did hold up the picture of a cupcake instead of string beans. What if we accepted those around us that were different and even invited them to be a part of our world while living the way they were created to? This was an example of the way the world should be. The greater question is how do we carry this behavior into the adult world?

WHY BOTHER?

Last post we investigated why it is important to give all of yourself when it comes to your relationship with the one you love. We learned that it allows them to give all of themselves to us, we learned that by not doing so we end up drawing into our lives the very circumstances that we are trying to prevent. That is certainly important when it comes to our romantic partners. Most of the time we are not only sharing our hearts and souls with each other, but also our homes. Not only is it very important to keep someone who lives in the same house with you happy, but they are probably thinking something very similar.

What about the other people in our lives? What about our friends? Why is important to put so much effort into our friendships? In case you didn’t read the last post let me refresh some of the points that apply equally to friendships as they do to romantic relationships. There are friends we might be afraid to trust completely because they might take advantage of our trust and hurt us. Unlike the romantic partner, there are less repercussions if they do. We do not have to go home to our friends. The connection is generally not as deep as our romantic relationships and therefore the ending of a friendship is usually less painful than a romantic relationship. Same with sharing ourselves with friends. The less we tell them, the less information they would have to use against us should they decide to do so.

To a lot of us this may seem very safe and logical. The less we give people the chance to hurt us, the less we will be hurt. Seems to make sense, right? Wrong. By doing this we are not only short-changing ourselves out of the deep, meaningful relationships we could be enjoying, but we are also hurting others and increasing the chances that we will be hurt in the future. Wait, what?

That’s right. So far we have been looking at this from only one side of the equation. Let us look at the other side for a second. If you feel that your friend views you as untrustworthy or at best does not trust you completely, how would that make you feel? Do you think you would feel like extending your trust to that person? You would probably end up feeling like they do not hold you in that high of regard. Now follow that up with them not completely sharing themselves with you. That could leave you feeling that they think you are either not worth knowing that information, or again cannot be trusted with it. Do you think you would share things about yourself with them? Probably not. This would leave us with very shallow and incomplete relationships at best. It also leaves the door open to upset or anger people even by accident. If you do not know what a person likes or dislikes, their opinions on certain matters or even their fears and joys you could say something you truly regret even not trying to do so.

We have exhausted why it is important not to not give ourselves to friendships. How it can end up increasing the chances we will get hurt instead of keeping us safe as we may think. What advantages, if any, can we gain by trusting and giving ourselves completely to our friendships? I give you exhibit A in the picture above. This is a story that is so exciting I can hardly wait to share it with you. While Margie and I were DJing at a local establishment on Sunday night, my good friend Cari messaged Margie and asked her what door we use when we come home as she had a surprise for me.

When we arrived home around 2 a.m., after what was a very busy evening I was exhausted. Currently, the date here is January 95th, or so it feels. We should be having highs in the mid 50’s but they had been barely above freezing with the sun so fed up with the long winter it decided to take a vacation. I have Seasonal Affective Disorder, so prolonged cold weather minus the sunshine can be quite trying for me and those around me. At this point if you would like to light a candle for Margie it would not be a bad idea. Because I do indeed trust my friends with this information and share it with them as well, Cari was able to do something so thoughtful and amazing. I arrived home to see the above signs taped to my front door! They ranged from reminding me warm weather was coming, to the fact that the cold weather is what makes the tropics so special to me. She added the Wisconsin State Fair, which I love as well. She even encouraged me by reminding me how much my writing touches her and others.

That night I fell asleep with a heart filled with gratitude for the caring and loving friends I have. The reminders and motivation served their purpose, but so did the fact that I have such a great friend. Her efforts did more than she could possibly imagine and her timing could not have been more perfect!

My point is that this all would not have been possible if I did not open my heart to my good friend. It would not have happened if I did not trust her enough to share not only my joys, but also my struggles and fears. It is true that not many friends can be as awesome as Cari, but by trusting and sharing with your friends you give them the opportunity to be so.

CHASE YOUR DREAMS!

Today is the first day of spring. This happens to be one of my favorite days of the year. Although meteorologically this does not often mean much in the fine state of Wisconsin, it officially marks the end of winter. We have trees budding, flowers blooming and birds singing to look forward to.
It is with this sense of renewal and rebirth, I want to bring another rebirth to your attention – YOUR DREAMS. Even if you are not as bad as I am during winter, the lack of sun and cooler temperature can dampen enthusiasm for even the noblest of causes. Perhaps your ‘winter’ has lasted several years. Perhaps you view that dream as having died. Just like the plants that seem to have ceased living, your dream may very well just be waiting to bloom again. I urge you to take a new look at dreams you may have thought have passed you by.
Perhaps you are thinking time and these dreams have passed you by? There are countless stories of people in their later years going on to create dreams. Colonel Sanders is a fine example. Born in 1890 Harland David Sanders held many jobs. He cleaned ash pans on the railway before becoming a railway firefighter. Was that his dream job? No. At night he studied law at La Salle University. He became a lawyer until a courtroom brawl with his own client ended that. Did he think his dreams died then? No. He even was involved in a shootout with his competition in the service station industry. A man lost his life and Sander’s competition was sent to jail. He opened up a factory selling acetylene lamps. Shortly after Delco introduced an electric lamp and he was forced out of business.
It was not until 1952 that Colonel Sanders franchised the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. If you are keeping score at home that would make him 62 at the time. At the age of 72 he sold KFC for $2 million dollars and served as an icon until his death in 1980. Proof dreams can take a lot of challenging situations, and a lot of years to come to light.
Whatever your dream is, just get started today. Breath life into that dream no matter how ridiculous it may seem. Maybe your dream is to be the next great publishing tycoon? Start a local newsletter. Maybe you want to bring joy and positivity to all you meet? Start a motivational blog. Whether your dream is to be a giant of industry or the world’s greatest parent, chase that dream today. What the world desperately needs is people chasing and living their dreams. If you come across someone who is on the verge, or maybe already has given up on their dream, encourage them. Use your candle to light theirs.
HAPPY SPRING TO EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. MAY ALL OF YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE!

SIGNS OF PERSISTENCE 

This picture may look a little humorous at first glance. I must admit a small smirk coming across my face the first time I read it. That feeling was followed quickly by a feeling that can only be described as “Yeah, you go!” in a cheering sort of fashion for the plant.

Now that you have a glimpse into my head and the thoughts I have looking at images on the internet, what can we do with that? Great question. This website is all about finding ways to live an amazing life. This includes discovering ways to make that journey more automatic and to take away some of the effort off our will. It also includes learning ways to keep our spirits up and stay motivated along that journey. Which can often be difficult if we don’t lock ourselves in a room and listen to Tony Robbins CDs all day. Something I must confess to doing during particularly trying times. Sadly, that is not always an option. In the real work we find things such as social obligations, family obligations and that ever present friend work.

What does all of this have to do with a plant growing in concrete? I believe in the power of symbols and using them to our advantage. There is a friend I know who every time they see the symbol of a heart they pause to be grateful for the one they love. It is something that makes them feel good, improves the feelings in their relationship and really requires very little effort. The fun part? They said they see more hearts now then they ever have! Back to our friendly plant in the asphalt jungle. Recall the feeling I told you I got looking at the picture? It was way in the beginning so I will mention it again. It was a feeling of cheering for the plant. Recognizing the plant was overcoming imposing odds to still succeed. It was showing things in nature and the universe can thrive where they should not be able to.

I suggest you adopt this perspective. Every time you see a plant growing through concrete remember that you can still succeed even if the odds are stacked against you. Pause and take a moment to realize just like that plant you can overcome the odds and thrive. Before long you will start to see these plants everywhere. Your feelings of being able to overcome great odds will increase. Feel free to share symbols you use or are going to start using to add joy and peace to your life in the comments below. You may inspire other readers as well.

URBAN JOURNEY 

This post was inspired by my friend Curtis. We were discussing things we enjoy in our fine city and he mentioned his favorite place for chicken wings. Both of us being a fan of this food we exchanged ideas as to where the best ones may be found. An exchange of ideas that most of us have in one form or another several times a week. Although not necessarily with Chicken wings.

What he said next really gave me an idea. “Boy I wish I could take time off to travel the city and try all of the different chicken wings.”. The place Curtis works at is a coffee shop (not surprising I am there) They also happen to have amazing food and a super staff. The place is called ‘Urban Joe’s’. Rather a clever name I might add. So we are going to call this idea an urban journey. Plus, “Curtis’ cool idea that I am stealing and tweaking a bit to make a life enhancing idea” just doesn’t really have a flow to it.

So here is the idea in brief. Do just what we decided to above. Go for chicken wings? Well yes if that is what you like. Don’t like chicken? Maybe a vegetarian? Perhaps you are better at sticking to your healthy eating pledge than I am? Fear not this idea is bigger than chicken! Ok, most things are bigger than a chicken but I was speaking philosophically and not literally.

Here is the idea in broader terms. Pick something you like. Museums, parks, coffee shops. (If you live in West Allis Wisconsin or anywhere close I recommend Urban Joe’s and talking to Curtis). Then pick one day a month and explore all those ideas relating to your pick. You will be surprised at what you may learn about your city and yourself. I recommend picking a friend, or your loved one to do this with. Sharing adventures and both looking for places to explore together makes it even more fun.

Perhaps you could start a journal about your experiences or maybe a little scrapbook? Photo album? As the weather warms up and we spend more time outside let us do so by getting to know our cities and our neighbors!

Feel free to share your ideas for your urban journey in the comments below and please feel free to share this post with others you think may enjoy this idea!