KEEPING IT LOCAL

This first location to find new friends is as old as this country itself. The first place to find new friends is your local watering hole, corner bar, tavern or whatever term you see fit to call them. I am not someone who frequents taverns often. Working in a bar two nights a week can be sufficient for the most part, but there is a lot to be said for the mix of people you can find here.

After bartending for over 23 years, I can safely say it is one of, if not the best place to meet a great mix of people. If you need a mechanic, you know one. If you need someone to take care of your lawn, chances are one will stop in. Need to know someone who works on the railroad for your child’s school report, yes one probably has stopped in. Not only are local bars a great place to meet a wide variety of people, but they are a great place to get the vibe of the city you are in.

One evening Margie and I decided to look into a few local places we had been meaning to try. The first up was a place called Phylos. I recall this place as a young man. The sign outside left us curious about what was inside. With slogans such as “Stuff to do” and “Stuff to eat” we wondered what was included in both. Coming inside it was brought to our attention immediately that this was a place where everyone seemed to know each other. After just a few minutes of feeling like outsiders, we were greeted by the lady behind the bar. Although her physical stature was modest in nature there was no doubt she was definitely in charge of the place. Wearing a shirt with the slogan I used to be a people person, but people ruined it for me, you could tell this lady came with an amount of sarcasm.

The people around us seemed more than willing to chat and were quite welcoming. We not only had our suspicions of the bartenders sarcasm confirmed we learned she was the owner, and had been for more than 3 decades. Lois as we learned her name was also doubled as the cook on the grill behind the bar. The food smelled wonderful although we did not try any. We also learned the rocket on the front of the bar used to be a feature inside that customers could ride. Now Lois claims she is saving it. “What for?” I asked. “That is my ride out of here one day!” came the reply. As we enjoyed our beverages the other customers asked a few questions in a genuine attempt to get to know us. Taking interest in everything from Margie’s cakes to my recent winning of a city-wide poetry contest.

Second stop was a place called GM’s Dog House. Margie and I were beckoned there for an East Allis Neighborhood Association meeting they were holding. An organization I am happy to belong to. As soon as I walked in I was greeted by a young lady, Dolly, who I had the pleasure of serving several years ago when I was a bartender at a bar down the street. If you are to judge by outside appearances, the Dog House would be something you may consider passing by. It seems like your normal local corner tavern. Once inside you discover it is bright, clean and has a great selection of beverages to choose from.

Shortly after saying hello to Dolly and her friend Paul, a gentleman named Robert who used to work on my car came up to say hi. He was there with his wife Amy, who had read my book A Happy Life for Busy People. Add this to the wonderful folks who were there for the neighborhood meeting and we knew just about everyone. Craig and his wife Robin along with Jon and his wife Marie who own another amazing establishment called Jonny Hammers. Which according to my lovely lady, has some of the best wings in town.

The first bartender we met was the Melissa, who owns the bar with her husband Glen. She was welcoming and very proud of the place, as she had the right to be. She informed us of some of the fun options for entertainment. They included a wheel you could spin to win prizes. Margie even won a free drink, while I won the chance to enjoy an evening with neighbors and my beautiful lady. We also had the pleasure of being served by Nicole who played a game of bar dice with us and also shared a smile and friendly word. Margie also informed me this place had the cleanest lady’s bathroom of any bar she had ever been in. What was supposed to be a quick stop turned into several hours of connecting with old friends on one side of the bar, while making new ones on the other.

Whether you drink or not, corner bars can be a great place to meet people in the community as well as get a great feel for the city. Something you will not find in large clubs or chain establishments. With an open mind and a little conversation you can make a great deal of new friends.

Local bars not your thing? Come back tomorrow to learn of another place where friends can abound!

SECRET LANGUAGE

There are things we do as children we could stand to do more as adults. Playing outside, using our imaginations to solve problems come to mind. I am going to share another one with you today. Once again I am going to use the two people in the picture above as an example. That would be Margie and myself. Before we get into the idea I want to share with you, allow me to give you the all important back story. When Margie and I met and after we started dating we initially saw each other at work. Work in those days saw Margie behind the DJ booth and myself behind the bar. It was at a place called The Hideout. It was a small corner bar but between the two of us we packed the place most nights. This was great for business and for our pocketbooks, but not so great for being able to love each other.

The dilemma we faced was the only time we really got to see each other was when we were both so busy it was hard to even say ‘hello’ to each other. Both being creative souls, we came up with a unique solution – a secret language. Something you may have used as a child when playing games or forming secret clubs. Margie and I came up with hand gestures that we could use with each other across the bar to say simple things like “I love you” or “I’m missing you”. We continue to develop our secret vocabulary to this day. Thankfully, we no longer work separately. We DJ sitting right next to each other. Although still working in the bar industry which is a challenge to even the best relationships, we have moments where we cannot hear each other or may have to be away from each other. There are also moments when we are out with friends, or at social events where we may be across the room wanting to let the other know we are thinking about them.

Developing this unique form of communicating allows us to keep loving when it may otherwise be a struggle. It is also a fun way to be creative in our relationship. Having something that is uniquely between us also creates a special bond. Create signs that can communicate with your loved one. It is fun, creative and can really come in handy at certain times.

JUST PUSH THE MUTE BUTTON

The other night we tested our new equipment while DJing. I am still learning all of the buttons, knobs and controls. One of the controls that I have figured out is the button you see lit up in this picture.

What this button does is mute whatever channel is operating. In this case happens to be my microphone. When you push the button and the red light comes on you cannot use that channel. In this case even if I had the microphone on and the volume all the way up you would not be able to hear me. That is beyond my regular projection.

This would be about all to this post if this was a blog about being a DJ or sound equipment, but it is not. It is a blog about improving your life and steps you can take to do so. Sometimes improving our lives involves a mindset change. A different way of looking at things. Here is how these two items correlate.

During the course of our show I spoke to two of my friends about negative people in their lives. One of them spoke to me about how they feel some people who perform rather well judge her. Certainly, we do everything at our shows to make sure the focus is on fun and enjoying yourself. A night out with friends should be just that. Personally I do my best to find something nice to say about everyone who performs. The goal of myself and my lovely lady Margie is to have people feeling better when they leave than when they came in. We do our best to make sure our shows our judgment free zones. You are welcome to come and perform no matter what your level of ability. We also encourage everyone to…well…encourage everyone. We hope people will think of our shows as much for the karaoke aspect as much as an opportunity to make new friends, have fun and be supported.

The other touched on an aspect that we also work very hard to limit and do without at our shows – gossip. She informed me that is why she prefers to come to our shows verses some others she has been to. When you work at several local bars there is always some amount of “He said/she said” or “Did you hear what she said about her?” kind of thing. It can creep into the act of merely trying to put on a good show and I must confess can be frustrating when you try to deal with it. We are blessed that Margie and I have made it clear that we want nothing but positive vibes at our shows and that gossip is not welcome. For the most part we are fortunate that most people respect that as well.

What does all of this have to do with a new mixer? Most of all the little red light and mute button pictured above? This is where it gets fun! Sometimes having a picture or analogy in your head can serve you quite well. In my case, when people around me start speaking negatively about someone, or gossiping in my head I push that button and the little red light comes on. In effect, I mute them. After which time no matter how much they tell me, or how loud they choose to tell me I simply can’t hear it.

I shared this idea with the two ladies I spoke with and now I am sharing it with you. When someone comes to you with an earful of gossip, or some negative conversation I encourage you to simply push the mute button. Do not let any of that to even enter your mind. The good news that the mute button on the mixer, as well as the one in the mind can be pushed again, allowing them to be heard, provided the person stops with the negative input. Just like a poisonous plant will only grow if it has access to food and water, negative conversation will only grow if it has an audience. Sure, there will always be people willing to listen to such nonsense, just make sure people know you are not that person. Watch the joy in your life increase tremendously.

I welcome any analogy or ideas you have for limiting negative people and their influence on your life. Please share with our readers in the comments below. I can assure you that there are a lot of people who are struggling to deal with this very topic.