A GREAT LESSON

Yes, you are about to witness another post involving the Wisconsin State Fair. It is my favorite place after all. Even while ‘on vacation’ I still notice things that we can all gain motivation from. Take the example in the two pictures above.

I found this display behind one of the barns housing animals. It was a place where the people exhibiting their animals could thank those people who helped them on their journey to the fair! A lot of the signs you could tell were composed by young people. What a great lesson to teach these children? Instead of focusing on whether or not your pig or cow came in first, to appreciate all the work that went into just getting there. To remind them of the sacrifice of a lot of people made so their chance was possible.

Not all parents reading this have children in 4H or FFA, but in any case it is a good lesson to impart. Starting children out in the practice of gratitude early not only helps the parents have a more grateful child, but as the child grows into an adult it will help them to remain focused on what they have instead of focusing on what they lack.

What a great gift to give to a child, a tool to help them remain positive even in tough times. There is nothing, in my opinion, that can transform a life for the better than fostering an attitude of gratitude.

What if you don’t have any children or what if they are grown adults? The same holds true for friends and coworkers. Helping anyone become more grateful will make their life so much better. It will increase joy and decrease stress. A regular reminder of what we all are grateful for will help us all. What a great conversation to have as well. I would much rather listen to someone telling me what they are thankful for rather than listening to them complain. Let us all work together to help each other become grateful.

A FISH, A RACING PIG AND ALBERT EINSTEIN

“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid” – Albert Einstein

This quote from Albert Einstein is one of my favorites. It demonstrates a very important fact that we all could benefit from remembering. We must remember that every person we meet is amazing a special in their own way. Every job is very important. I believe in was Mother Teresa who urged us to do small things with great love.

This point was brought to my attention as I indulged in 2 of my favorite past times. Watching a pig race while attending the Wisconsin State Fair. Pigs are some of my favorite animals. They almost always seem to be enjoying life to the fullest, are the consummate underdog, and are very intelligent. When you are at the fair you can see pigs in many different fashions. Some are in barns on display. These are usually checked out by animal lovers and looked at with distain by city folks sensitive to certain smells. They can be found smiling on many signs and shirts advertising a million different foods and products. A smiling pig is a hard thing for many people to resist. Speaking of food, you can also find pigs in some fashion on a breakfast sandwich, on a burger, or even on a stick.

These definitions are where most people classify pigs. A humble, yet adorable animal. If you put a racing sash on them such as the one above and have them race each other for Oreo cookies something else entirely different happens. Thousands of people pack bleachers to standing room only during the 11 day run of the fair. During their 5 performances a day one can hardly find a seat if you do not get there early. They yell, jump and cheer for their favorite pig to make it around the track first.

What happened? This is the same pig many of those very people would not even go into a barn to see because of the smell. In a different role, however, they became something to cheer for. Something to sit in the hot sun just to watch. People can even buy souvenirs after the race.

In life we all can be like the pigs. Sometimes it can seem the world is against us. It may seem like there is nobody in our corner cheering for us. If it is because we live in a place that resembles a barn and we have an unpleasant odor, the solution is fairly obvious. Most of us, however, are just living the wrong role. Investigate your strengths. think of what you do well. Know what gift you bring to the world and live that. Before long, you too may very well have people lining up to cheer for you.

GATHERING POWER

This is a picture of me at my favorite place, Wisconsin State Fair, at one of my favorite stands, El Jefe corn stand. Normally I preach about living in the moment and savoring each and every second you can out of life. As a general rule taking pictures of everything or being on your phone takes away from that. Just like any rule, however, there are a few exceptions. The fair is an event that happens once a year for eleven days in August. I make the most of this by even taking vacation from my work and going every day for the last eleven years. Some people think I’m foolish, some people think I’m crazy, but I don’t really mind. If something makes you happy and doesn’t harm others or yourself than do it to the fullest.

The time of the fair seems fleeting to me because I do enjoy it so much. Combine that with the fact that the weather is usually the kind I enjoy, warm and sunny and one can understand that it is the perfect coming together of many things I enjoy. Nature, food, sun, warmth, music, more food, Rum, friends, and many other fabulous things.

Here is the trouble and where the exception to the rule comes into play. In Wisconsin our state fair lasts eleven days, and winter seems to last about eleven months. For someone with seasonal affective disorder who really dislikes cold that ratio can be tough. What can one do? I can’t extend the fair or shorten winter. This is where a lot of people would resign themselves with a “it is what it is” type mentality. Not me! Finding ways to capture the spirit of summer and the state fair is my goal. One way is certainly to be present and create the most wonderful memories possible. Another is to collect memories such as souvenirs, and photos.

I know there are a lot of people, like myself, not really keen on having pictures taken with themselves in them, but in this case it can be a powerful tool. When the snow is flying in December and a January I can look at this goofy picture of myself and reflect. Even just going there in my mind can help.

So, make sure you remain present and get every drop of joy and fun you can out of life, but also make sure to stop, if only occasionally, to take a little bit with you. Feel free to share your ideas for taking happiness with you.

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO

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Last post we discussed having something to look forward to. This post we will give you some ideas on just how to do that. Is there something you particularly enjoy? A hobby? Do you enjoy reading? Fishing? For me it is the Wisconsin State Fair. Write down a few of yours. Let us take fishing for example. Do you have friends who enjoy your hobby as well? If so, make a point to get together with them to discuss the ideas we will mention here. If not, perhaps it is time to look into making some fun and fabulous new friends? This can be done by joining local fishing clubs, or perhaps an even online forum.

Now begin to think about how you can enjoy this hobby all year long. I recommend setting up things throughout the year to celebrate your passion. In the case of fishing, perhaps you can gather a group of like-minded friends to plan a yearly fishing getaway? Even breaking this down to planning meetings to get you excited. Taking time to read up on new places to fish. A shopping trip to stock up on new equipment you may want to try out.

Perhaps you can’t always get away? How about subscribing to a fishing magazine? Once a month you will have something to look forward to and enjoy even if you may not have time to grab a rod and reel. Spending an afternoon to read up on the latest equipment, stories of great fishing trips and pictures of all the fish waiting out there for you to catch.

You could also consider starting a blog on the subject of your choice. Not all about setting up your own blog? Join an online forum. You can check in and chat with others while sharing fishing (or anything else) stories. Learning and living the life even while you are stuck in the 9 to 5. You can make new friends, learn new facts and just enjoy hearing new stories.

Doing this will give you several things to look forward to all year long. Do you have a particular passion you enjoy? How do you enjoy it, or could expand to enjoy it more often? Feel free to share it with all of us in the comments below!

KEEP THEM COMING!

KEEP THEM COMING!

20170409_124751This is a picture of the annual bike expo I attend. In recalling the first time I attended I assumed it was just row after row of bicycles you could buy. At that point I was beginning my passion for the sport. Soon I discovered there is a world inside of this sport. Inside the expo, which happens to take place at the Wisconsin state fair my favorite place to be, there are stands for different charity rides, stands for different bicycle shops, magazines relating to the sport, even clothing and accessories.

  • Here are a few things that make the bike expo something I look forward to each and every year. First, it happens just as the weather is starting to warm up. Despite living in a state that feels like it is winter eleven and a half months a year, I am really a sunshine and warm weather person. Seeing all this fabulous equipment designed to be used in warmer temperatures lifts my spirits and takes my thoughts to wonderful rides out in nature. Mini mental vacations are something I advocate regularly, and this provides a good one.

In addition it motivates me to return to the sport. Something for the last 2 years I have been a bit lax in. this spring finds me in the best shape I have been in for almost 10 years. I did it using several of the tips I share on this website, so I am looking forward to getting on my bicycle and exploring my neighborhood and the trails in it. This makes the thought of getting in better shape actually exciting and something to look forward to.

A third thing I enjoy is meeting people involved in the sport. They have people who give demonstrations on everything from how to change your bicycle tires, to healthy eating. You meet people who share different trails you never knew existed, some are even close to home! You can easily hear recommendations on everyone’s favorite things to drink, trails to ride, places to visit and a million other areas involved directly, or indirectly with cycling.

What is the point of all of this? How do I use my passion for a bicycle expo to live an amazing life, and more importantly, how can it help you do the same? Allow me to share with you. During the winter my sense of positivity can be a bit challenged. Some days it can seem the temperature will never be above freezing and I will never see the color green again. Knowing this about myself I try several things to help myself. This year I took a trip to Las Vegas with my beautiful lady. I often visit the local Horticultural exhibit here which is filled with living plants 365 days a year. In addition I try to give myself things to look forward to. I also like to take that one step further and examine the reasons I have to look forward to them. This is a step that takes life from great to phenomenal. Instead of just ‘looking forward to the bike expo’ I think about trails I would like to learn about, perhaps a new shirt or biking jersey I would like to purchase. I take stock of any bike parts I may need.

Thinking of all the little things involved in a pleasurable experience grows that feeling. It also can take it from a single day or weekend into a week, or even longer. My greatest example is the afore mentioned Wisconsin state fair. It is my single favorite thing to attend each and every year. Anyone who knows me remotely well, understands I begin planning for the next year the day after the current year fair ends. What did I not get to see? Was there a food I wanted to try? Something I wanted to purchase? Then right about now discount tickets go on sale. I make going to purchase them a special day. Around June, the preview book comes out. I like to sit down and learn what things are new and what I am going to look forward to doing. I have state fair shirts I wear that remind me of the good times to come as well. There is even more, but you can see how I have turned a once a year event into a virtual all year celebration.

So I encourage you to come up with a few things to look forward to. We will get into that a little more tomorrow, but start to come up with a few ideas now. Even think of ones you already have. The holidays maybe? Family vacation? Start to examine all of the fun you have during these events and how you can begin to expand them to enjoy all year long? Maybe sit down with your spouse to look at fun vacation destinations? Look at pictures from vacations past and discuss the new fun things you will do this year!

Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.

TAKE IT WITH YOU

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This is my coffee mug this morning, and my hand holding said mug. Notice the fun state fair logo? When I took this picture it was early in the morning, about 37 degrees, snowing and I was on my way to work. Most importantly, I was happy. Why, when I am not a fan of winter, or snow was I so sunny on the inside? There are several reasons, the people I surround myself with, my belief system which has taken years to come to fruition and little reminders and symbols I bring with me. I am a huge fan of the state fair here in Wisconsin. It is during the warm summer months, there is generally no snow in August here. For some reasons I also enjoy balloons. They tend to make me happy. This coffee mug has the state fair logo, a balloon and even a pig, which although this one looks slightly guilty of something, they are an animal I enjoy seeing at the state fair.

So what difference does this coffee mug make in the overall course of my day? It does two things, it holds my coffee, which is a very important job and it also serves as a small reminder of all these little things that make me smile. Why is that so important? If you are going to have a travel mug full of coffee to take with you anyway, why not have one that makes you smile? There are plenty of little things we come across throughout our day that can challenge our inner sunshine, so fill your day with as many symbols and reminders of joy as you can. You can put a smiley face on your dashboard, or picture of your loved one in your visor. Little flower on your desk at work? Whatever symbols mean joy and happiness to you. So take them with you. Leave them all over. Remind yourself of everything that makes you happy and everything you have to be grateful for in as many ways as you can.

Feel free to share this blog post with others and please feel free to share your symbols of happiness with us in the comments below.

A TIME TO REFLECT AND GIVE THANKS

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Today is one of the days of the year that presents more of a challenge than most. On the same day both the state fair, an event I look forward to all year comes to a close. In addition, my vacation from my day job is now over and summer which I so enjoy seems to be winding down. Every year this happens. I know it is coming and I try to find ways to make them not hit me all at once. One of the ways I have done this is to reflect on all the great memories I created at the fair this year. This year the lovely lady in my life threw me a surprise birthday party at the fair. A lot of my good friends and family were there. We had a blast. I saw a classic country artist with my sister, and a popular funk band with my beautiful lady and amazing friend. There were great new foods we tried and some fun things we have picked up.

Still, it is over now. I am full of memories, but soon it will be back to work. Soon the leaves will change, snow will fall and winter will be here. This is always a great challenge to my ability to remain positive and I am grateful for that. I am also grateful to the love of my life. Finding out quirky things about the ones we love is one of the more unique aspects of being in a relationship. If you have read my blog for any amount of time you are probably well aware there is lots of quirkiness to be had in this gentleman. My addiction and focus on attending a summer festival for 11 days straight is certainly one of them. We lost some time together and at times my focus was on watching a bird show and what new foods to try more than on ways to be romantic and loving.

So now that it is over how does this wonderful woman respond? A sigh of relief? A feel screams of “Amen!”? Those would certainly be understandable. Even “I am glad to have my man back” would make sense. She did none of those. The picture above is of a card she gave me when I came in to work late at a business we do together. She let me stay late because she knew it was the last day of the fair and wanted me to enjoy myself. So instead of being happy for all that will be better for her now that my fair addiction is over she gave me a get well card. I won’t share all of the details and heartfelt things she wrote inside. Briefly she let me know how much she understood how challenging this time period may be and how much she was there to love and support me through it. Trust me there was a lot more, but that is the general idea.

Here is what my lovely lady taught me in all of this. In times when things seem so overwhelmingly bad, when it seems like every little thing is going in the wrong direction that is the greatest chance to stand up and be loving. We, and by we I am including myself, can be guilty of the urge to run the other direction when our partners are in a funk or bad mood. My love reminds me that can be one of the greatest opportunities to show you care. In addition, for me it was one of the greatest moments I could feel loved and notice what an amazing life partner I had. So I just am going to take the next few days to reflect and be grateful. Of course pass along what comes to me here.