GET INSPIRED

The above quote was one of many to be found on the table of a new coffee shop I visited. This coffee shop is called Inspired. If you read the last post Margie had taken me on a little getaway for my birthday. We went to the town of Lake Geneva here in Wisconsin. As we were doing a little shopping we happened past this coffee shop where there was a young lady offering us samples of some tasty drinks they had. This may not seem to out of the ordinary. What made this a little different was the young lady offering us the samples.

This young lady was everything you would want in a worker offering samples. She was friendly. She was knowledgeable about the products she was selling. What made this young lady special was she also had down syndrome. I recall reading about this coffee shop some time ago but the memories were a bit hazy. It was a hot day and we were in need of a beverage so we stopped in. As Margie found us a seat I went to order an iced chai tea. When I came to the counter I was greeted by a very friendly face that inquired as to what I would like to drink. I passed along my order and informed them that was my first time to there establishment and could they fill me in as to what they were all about.

What was said next is what made me fall in love with this place. It turns out that this was not only an amazing coffee shop with fun quirky signs on the tables that made possibly the best iced chai that I had the pleasure of enjoying, but something far bigger! Their mission as you can see in the picture above was to “help adults with disabilities to live with a greater purpose and achieve their individual best in a thriving work environment.” As I was told, the individuals working there are being trained in customer service and baristas to help them have a more potentially rewarding opportunity down the road.

I am a big fan of helping out where you can and making life better for those we share the planet with. I applaud the owners of Inspired Coffee for having a dream that was bigger than just themselves. I have previously written about the Guardians of Children, a motorcycle club that raising money for the victims of child abuse and their families through rides, soup tastings, raffles and other such activities. Inspired Coffee is yet another group of angels as far as I am concerned. They have taken the experience of going out for a cup of coffee and turned it into an opportunity to help adults with developmental and physical disabilities a place where they will not only be job trained, coached and over time, placed into a fully integrated work setting, but equally as important, it is a place they are celebrated. You can see the pride the employees have in doing the jobs they are doing.

This coffee shop was not only clean and extremely well run, but had the most smiles on employees faces I have seen in any coffee shop I have ever been in. As I mentioned earlier in this post, they created the best iced chai that I ever had. It is my opinion the beverages at Inspired Coffee taste so amazing because of a combination of two very important facts. First, the pride and love their great employees put into making every order. Second, the knowledge that with each cup you buy, you are helping the lives of an adult with disabilities. The next time I find myself in the town of Lake Geneva, I will definitely make Inspired Coffee one of my required stops.

I know many of you may not live in close enough proximity to this wonderful place to enjoy a beverage there. I also know many of my readers would really enjoy knowing more about this wonderful place and how they can do their part to support not only the business, but more importantly, the lives of those who are employed there. With that in mind, I have included a link to their Facebook page at the end of this blog. It would do your heart could to click through and read some of the great stories. Maybe even order a bag of coffee or other products to be shipped to you. I bought an Inspired bracelet to remind me of this great place and the importance of helping and inspiring others.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT INSPIRED COFFEE

JUST LOOK IT IS EVERYWHERE!

In today’s world it would seem everywhere we look there is something ugly to behold. There is, of course, this terrible world-wide pandemic. There are politicians busy accusing each other of the worst crimes instead of actually trying to solve some. There are even some murder hornets flying around somewhere. With everyone wearing masks, it is hard to even catch a smile when you could really need one.

While all of this is true, there is something else we really should be focusing our energy to look for – beauty. It may seem hard to focus on beauty when there are a million chicken littles screaming at you from the television, online and a million other sources. It serves us well to remember an axiom we often repeat on this website. What is wrong is always available, but so is what is right. It may be more of a challenge, but there is a lot of beauty to be found. The picture above was the sky I saw on the way to write this very blog. I found it striking and wanted to share it with all of you.

The beautiful smile of a loved one. This is my lovely Margie. Her smile melts my heart and is one of the most beautiful things I am blessed to see in the world. Being stuck in quarantine will allow you to learn a lot more about those you share your home with. Put that knowledge to good use by using it to place more smiles on their faces! Be it a roommate, a brother, a sister or the love of your life. When they do smile at you, make sure to appreciate the beauty of it.

Speaking of friends, friendship is a great thing of beauty itself. Above is a picture of my good friend Russ and myself in the mountains of Sedona, Arizona. We had a great hike and a great time overall. I am not sure when the next time we will be able to get together again. Rather than focus on that, I am going to focus on all the good memories of that trip and be grateful I can still pick up the telephone or send him a text.

What about all of those challenges? Even in those there are beauty. As you can see I have had a hard time finding an open coffee shop in which to write. As I was speaking to my friend Pat today, we both commented on how the people that work in some of the most difficult situations are still quite friendly. I believe I have mentioned it in a previous post, but the workers at Starbucks have to wear masks for their entire shift. They are behind the counter with steam and heat. They are running around and serving people, a lot of whom are very stressed themselves, yet most of the ones I have dealt with have been very pleasant.

My point is this – that in a world that seems to be ugly and dark, there is plenty of love and light you just have to look for it. I would love to hear about some of the beautiful things you see in the comments below.

SOMETIMES YOU JUST NEED A LITTLE BIT OF NOTHING

Some people may incorrectly assume that because I have been in the self-improvement field for over two decades and have written over 1300 blog posts and 2 books on the subject that I have it all together. Nothing could be further from the truth. I occasionally lose control of my emotions, I do not always remember to keep my focus on what I have to be grateful for. In short, I am a flawed and imperfect human just like everyone else. I am a perpetual student of the game. Always striving to learn something new from someone new. Quite often I find that hearing the same information presented in a slightly different way can make all the difference. That is why there is so much room for different people in this field.

All of the learning takes up a good deal of time. I listen to different meditations as I am falling asleep. I listen to motivational speakers at my day job and as I do chores around the house. I am always learning something new. Even if I listen to an hour talk and gain one line of information it is worth it. I do my best to record what I learn to share both on this blog and in the books I write. Even when I am watching a movie my brain is on the lookout for some insightful piece of information I can share with all of my followers. This can, on occasion, drive Margie a little crazy.

I spend mornings at the gym 6 days a week. Then I am off to my day job. After which I eat dinner and run off to a local coffee shop to write these posts and to work on my next book. Combine that with being a DJ every Saturday and Sunday and you can see that free time is at a premium. Throw in a couple of articles for different publications, appearances on podcasts and some social engagements and sleep becomes a luxury I seldom acquaint myself with. Every spare minute is consumed with my passion of gaining and sharing knowledge. You will find me in front of a coffee cup and behind a computer. This is the situation as I am typing this. As you can see in the picture below.

This Sunday, however, I was reminded of something I had completely forgotten. Sometimes you need a little bit of nothing. We had to DJ that evening and Margie was finishing up another marvelous cake creation. The weather was wonderful outside. The sun was warm and there was a gentle summer breeze. I wanted to be outside, but didn’t feel like working. The novel idea that some people just sit and relax came to mind. I grabbed a book I had been reading for about the third time. This may seem like working on gaining information, but reading is my guilty pleasure.

I informed the love of my life that I needed to just get away and relax. I was glad to find her not only understanding, but encouraging. My first attempt failed when the location I went to was closed. Lucky for me there was another coffee shop down the road with a west-facing balcony. I ordered my iced coffee inside, said hello to our friend Scott who happened to be there and took my leave to the patio. I sat for a few moments before opening the book. I listened to the birds singing and felt the nice breeze. As I opened my book and began to read I felt completely consumed. The outside world seemed to disappear and the author’s words came to life. At the end of each chapter I again returned to the world of the coffee shop patio. The birds were there to greet me. (As were the people in the drive-thru)

Here is what is worth noting. When I returned home from this hour-long moment of relaxation, I felt like I had slept for several hours. My body was refreshed. In addition, so was my mind. Ideas seemed to come to me faster than I could record them. Ideas for my next two books began to take shape. Then it occurred to me. While writing my first book, A Happy Life for Busy People, I had done this quite often. That is where a lot of the ideas for the book came. I knew and taught the importance of self-care, I just had forgot to take some for myself. I have decided there will be at the very least once a week where I will leave the computer at home and take a good book, or maybe just a journal with me. I will relax in a coffee shop or at a local park. Taking in the beauty of nature and allowing inspiration to come to me. It is a practice I recommend all of us do.

DAY 5 OF NO NEGATIVITY, ONLY POSITIVITY

Many followers of this blog have heard me speak of my friend Scott. We happen to share the same office, which is the local Starbucks in West Allis were we live. This gentleman is always a great source of conversation. Although this may limit the amount of progress I can make in a given evening, I always leave with an inspiration for a future endeavor. Such is today’s post. In case this is the first day you happened upon this, we are spending the first week of July refraining from posting anything negative online and instead finding at least one thing positive to share.

Today’s post was inspired by the previously mentioned gent. We were discussing the changes in the world we have noticed since the beginning of the corona virus. We discussed the new set ups in places we visit and then the subject turned to masks and the wearing or not wearing of them. Some stores require them, some do not. As we were having this discussion we made mention of the fact that the employees at this Starbucks had to wear them. As they worked behind the counter in a very hot environment, wearing a mask must have been a little south of torture. What we both found fabulous is that you would not have known it by their attitude. Each person who worked there was friendly and helpful. I am sure the amount of tips they are making has declined and they must have their share of disgruntled customers, but still they remain friendly.

The subject turned broader to mention of the employees at gyms, restaurants and other places. As the meat-throwing ladies or viral videos of customers screaming about having to wear a mask for the brief time they are in a store is what seems to capture our attention, it would appear we are missing a large segment of people who actually are appreciating and understanding each other. Our focus should go to that. It may not sell or create viral videos, but it is a great display of humanity.

We have all heard of the examples when altercations and disagreements can turn physical with people of different beliefs both of the virus and politics. What I have witnessed on a greater scale is people being understanding. Some of this can be attributed to the media coverage, some to us living more of our lives online. Here in the everyday real world I find things to be much different. At the gym where I work out people are all very careful to make sure they wipe down each machine before and after use. I see people letting people go ahead of them and doing their best to respect each other’s space. If there is a positive side effect of all of this craziness, I hope a new appreciation of one another’s company and the treasure that is becomes part of the ‘new normal’.

DAY 3 OF THE JULY WORLD-CHANGING CHALLENGE!

Today is one of those positive things that just come to you, or in this case me. My day started out like any other, waking up early to go to the gym. On this fine morning I had to get up a little earlier than normal to get my workout in. I had to stop at the mechanic as my battery in my Ford Escape had seemed to have broken free of its confines. I made it to the mechanic with time for them to look at it and still make it to my day job at the United States Postal Service. Fortunately for me, the repair only took a matter of minutes and they were able to correct the problem for the moment.

While this was good on one hand, it left me with too much time to go to work, but not enough time to go back home. I decided I would visit the Starbucks that is conveniently located next to the Post Office I work at. I parked and began to walk up. There were two young ladies already sitting outside enjoying the sunny day. They informed me that only seconds before a lady had rushed to the door and taped up a sign that said “Sorry closed” and locked the door. I chuckled thinking to myself, “Perhaps they knew I was coming.” They only other thing open in near proximity was a sandwich shop. I availed myself to one of their delicious offerings and took it outside to sit in the sun. Only moments into enjoying my unplanned lunch, the manager of the now closed coffee shop came out and inquired if I would be interested in a free Nitro coffee. After affirming quickly she disappeared inside again. When she came out she explained that the hot water heater had exploded and the entire store was under water! She knew I was a good customer and wanted to make sure I still got something. Sitting in the hot sun, the cold coffee tasted ever so good.

This was a positive event for several reasons. First, I got a free delicious coffee. You can never go wrong there. Second, it reminded me how important it is to be nice to everyone you encounter. (More on that tomorrow) Had I not been a frequent and nice customer, I doubt there would have been such an offer made. It was also impressive that the manager took the time to think of me while she was busy trying to salvage items in the face of the oncoming flood. I left with a very positive feeling and it was a great start to the rest of my day!

I hope you are having great luck finding one positive thing you can post. Do not forget to share them online and spread the joy this first week of July!

DAY 2 OF OUR FUN JULY CHALLENGE

Day 2 of our challenge! I hope you made it through day 1 without posting anything negative and remembering to share at least one thing positive online. With most of us still quarantined at home, life exists to a greater degree online. Therefore, the positive changes we are making can have an even greater impact.

I have a great deal of positive to share today. I am going to start with this morning. For the last few years I have had a lingering calf issue. I enjoy jogging despite not being built for such endeavors. After a week or two of jogging I would always get a terrible pain in my calf that would last roughly 2 weeks. This on again, off again training did not allow me to get into much of a rhythm. The last time this injury happened I was alone on a local hiking trail here and over a mile from my car. A long painful limp back, plus the fact that it turned black and blue, prompted me to say, “enough is enough!” I went to the doctor only to discover I had a strain and slight tear in my Achilles tendon. Without physical therapy I risked surgery and weeks of being off my feet all together.

All of this may not sound positive to you, but to me it was. Not only did I finally learn what the problem was, I had a plan to correct it. I found myself at the sports medicine center and in the capable hands of Griffin. After several questions and a complete exam, he developed a plan for my recovery. He informed me that in about 4 to 6 weeks I should really be seeing improvement. I was given several exercises to do at home and soon should be running, jumping and playing with the other kids!

The next bit of great news is that I finally have my ‘office’ back. That was a line I borrowed from my good friend Scott. Since March, the coffee shops here have been closed to inside seating. Recently, they just opened up with social distancing practices in place. Although writing at home with a beautiful lady can be fun, it can also be quite distracting. I always want to give her my attention when I am in her presence. When I am by myself in a coffee shop I tend to disappear in my own little writing world. Sometimes this can be quite amusing as I look up and all of the people around me have changed and I was completely unaware. This is not where the good news ends!

Another great thing about today’s visit is the thoughtful nature of my beautiful lady. When she heard that Starbucks was opening she wanted to buy me my first coffee. She presented me with a gift card at lunch the other day. As I am writing this, I can’t help but think of her thoughtfulness. Not to mention she is on my screen saver. Filled with love, writing just seems to flow.

That is 3 pieces of positive news! I have already found myself looking for things to share that are positive. I hope you are having luck finding your positive news. Feel free to share your positive stories in the comments below, but don’t forget to share them online as well!

WHEN TIMES ARE CRAZY, HOW DO YOU STAY FOCUSED AND MOTIVATED?

As an author one of the most difficult parts of the world today is that coffeeshops are closed. I usually write most of these blogs and my books at Starbucks or some other local coffee shop. Lately, I have been putting my K-cup brewer through the paces while doing the same to Margie as well. It can be easier to get distracted at home, especially with such a silly and beautiful lady in the next room or even sitting next to me. So how do I keep my focus and motivation to write when the world is so crazy? There are a few answers I am going to share with you so that you may be able to use them to keep motivated on whatever projects you may be working on in your own life.

The first thing to establish is your ‘why’. Why is it that you do what you are passionate about? For me it is helping others see the beauty in themselves, others and the world around them. When life seems to be going good, I want to share that with others. When life seems to be crazy and difficult like it is now, that makes me feel like what I do is even that more important and I am driven that much more. Find your ‘why’. It is one of the most important discoveries you will make in your life. I promise you.

Another area to explore is what benefits you gain by doing what it is that you do. In the case of writing, I find an area of creative release. Not to mention I get to enjoy a tasty hot beverage in my wonderful Winnie-the-Pooh coffee mug. Remember the beautiful lady we discussed earlier? You can see her creative creation in the upper right corner of the picture. As I sat and wrote, she sat and sketched. It is important that in a relationship, even though your release might be different, to allow room for each other to explore. It is fun if you can occasionally do this together, but remember to respect the fact that everyone needs their time. Another great benefit I achieve by writing is I am able to connect with people around the globe. This excites me more than I can convey. I love meeting people from different locations and cultures and learning what they have to teach me. The fact that I can do this all while inspiring and motivating them is amazing! That may be the greatest benefit of all – happiness. Whether it is my joy at connecting with them, or their joy that I can play a part in, the fact that together we create and share joy makes the world a better place.

I hope these two items will help you to stay focused and motivated despite what may be happening around you. I would love to hear more of what you do to stay focused and motivated in the comments below. By sharing our great ideas with each other we can all be more productive and happy together!

LOCAL LOYALTY


Above is a picture of the local diner named Michaels Family Restaurant. Nestled in the fabulous community of West Allis Wisconsin where I live. This is not so much a food review as it is a value review. Michaels is, as the name suggests, a warm and friendly family restaurant. As my lovely Margie enjoyed a well-deserved weekend away with her daughter, I took my mom out to breakfast here. Although our hostess was a tad sunshine challenged, our waitress, Julie, could not have been more friendly and helpful.
What makes this place a destination I feel compelled to write about is the local aspect at work. In an age where Wendy’s has recently joined McDonald’s and Taco Bell to start serving breakfast, it is far too easy to make our morning meal an after thought of something we do along the way. I am just as guilty of this as anyone. As I write this I just enjoyed a ham and swiss sandwich at Starbucks. This might be good for being both efficient and productive, but does not give us an amazing life. Yes, being efficient and productive can be part of an amazing life but at the sacrifice of being present, it can leave us wondering what happened to the morning.
In this post I am going to advocate taking at least a few morning to sit down and enjoy a breakfast without being rushed. Why do it at a place like Michael’s? I will give you a few good reasons. First, this place is a great value. Virtually the same price you would pay for some reheated breakfast sandwich at a chain or fast food place, you can get a warm, home-cooked meal served to you by one of your smiling neighbors. That leads us to the second reason to visit Michael’s Family Restaurant in the morning, it is supporting a local business. There are plenty of opportunities for you to save a few cents here and there by giving business to the chain establishments. That is ok too as they employ a lot of our friends and family. That being said, there is something special about a locally-owned family restaurant that has been there for over 30 years. Some of my first memories include going there with my grandfather when I was young. He understood the importance of supporting a local business and seems to still be teaching me long after his passing. I have enjoyed several mornings catching up over breakfast with Margie, the love of my life, as well. All the way up to yesterday when my mother and I shared a nice meal to start the day.


You can make memories in a chain restaurant or even running around trying to accomplish everything on your to do list but you deserve to give yourself a few minutes at a local establishment supporting your neighbors while enjoying their company. If you are in West Allis Wisconsin, I recommend stopping by Michael’s Family Restaurant. If breakfast isn’t really your thing, that’s ok. They also serve lunch and dinner with the same warm community spirit. Unable to make to the fine city that I live in? That’s ok too. Find a local restaurant in your neighborhood and enjoy some time with those you love.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH MORE IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!!

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 MY HERO

In today’s world it seems a different superhero movie comes out every week. Add to that the countless sports that seem to hold championships. Recently I even saw a video game championship played out in front of a completely filled stadium! I’ve always questioned watching people play poker on television, I can’t bring myself to watch other people play video games on TV, much less stand in a packed stadium to do so.

It would seem the world is in great need of heroes. Guess who my hero is? It is you! The irony of all the hero worship I see is that heroes surround us everywhere and every day. You are one of these heroes!

How can I say you are a hero when I haven’t met a lot of you? I know you’re a hero because we are all struggling to get through this life. You might be a kid in the West Bank trying to get a great education while your country is being torn apartby civil strife. It may be you are a farmer in the Congo trying to make a living. Perhaps you are a single mother working three jobs just trying to support your family.

It is not always life challenges that make you a hero. Maybe from the outside your life looks great, but inside you are battling depression. Today might be another day you gave in to an addiction and you are trying not to lose hope. There are health challenges, financial challenges, social challenges and a mmillion other issues we are all doing our best to make it through.

When you see the employee at Starbucks keep their smile as a customer screams at them because their coffee has 2 ice cubes instead of three. That takes patience and they are my hero.

Whether you are working on keeping your faith or healing a broken heart, keep going because you are my superhero. Remember everyone we meet is working to overcome something. Treat them as the hero they are. That includes you.