Friday, August 26, 2016

Where's Your Crack?

"There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in."

from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Boogie On for Better Brains

Ok, so it’s Thursday in my world and probably in yours. The weekend is close, but still a day away for most of us. If you live where I do, near the coast of North Carolina, it’s hot as blue blazes right now…and God Bless the people who have to work outside.

So, how can you get a little bit of summertime, a little bit of joy, a little stress-reducer right now? Music on . As soon as you finish reading this you need to go to and play some music. 

I’ve spent part of my morning using as the background for my work. So far, I’ve hit the Moody Blues (Question), Gene Chandler (Does She Have a Friend for Me?),  Nickleback (Just to Get High), Billy Joel (You’re Only Human) and a bunch of others.

Now, you’re smart folks so you know that music affects us in all kinds of ways.  It affects a wide variety of areas of our brains which I will not go into unless you want to spend the rest of this blog reading phrases like “dorsolateral frontal cortex,” which…I’m just sayin’…make MY brain hurt.

But, the fact that music can instantly put us somewhere great in our minds (and the cool thing is that part of our brain actually thinks we are there) is such a miracle…and we can access it anytime we want…come on!!! That’s about as cool as it gets!

And, right now, we could use some cool.

So, I’m clicking on the soundtrack from Happy Feet and watching the penguins dance to Boogie Wonderland.

Stay cool!

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Faith or Hope...Which Are You?

Here’s the question: Do you have projects, dreams, goals, relationships you’re trying to succeed at; some issues in life that are really important to you? Hang with me for a minute and think about this.

What are you relying on to reach your goal?

Check this out: “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 King James Bible

Newer Bibles quote the verse as “faith, hope, and love,” but for now…let’s focus on Faith and Hope.

Do you have Faith you’ll reach your goal, or are you relying on Hope?

Increasingly, here’s what I’m thinking: Faith does not have a time limit, while Hope does. 

If you Hope something succeeds, that’s a wish. You wish things will work out…and we all know how realistic wishes are. And, you probably have a time limit on it. You may not realize it, but at a certain point you may give up Hope.

Faith is very…very…different. There is no time limit on Faith. If you have Faith the situation will work you KNOW in your heart of hearts it will happen…it’s just a matter of when. And, by having Faith you are willing to deal with the difficulties you encounter, suffer through the difficult times because, again, it’s just a matter of time before your dream is a reality. 

Most of the belief systems followed throughout the history of mankind say what I just said in one way or another. Faith, the deep belief that the situation will work out, attracts the thing you want.

Hope, on the other hand, comes with doubt. You Hope it will work, but hey, it might not. And, you’re only going to give it just so much time before you’re thinking, “Nope, this isn’t going to happen.’

Again, belief systems show that the doubt you feel attracts what you fear.

Soooo….whatever you are seeing as your future, do you have Faith…or, are you Hoping?

If you are Hoping it will all work out you better Hope the Charity thing works…’cause you are already starting the race at a disadvantage.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Nothing's New

On Thursday night I was in Raleigh presenting the seminar, “ABCs of Starting a Small Business” for Wake Technical Community College.

A woman arrived at the classroom very early; over half-an-hour before the program was scheduled to start. 

I asked her what type of business she wanted to create. She told me and I remarked that the idea was something really needed and that the industry was growing like crazy. 

When she gave me a quizzical look I told her that a young friend of mine had started a business like she mentioned and was wonderfully successful with it.

She said, “Somebody’s already doing this?”

I’m hoping what I was thinking was not showing on my face…it wasn’t good.

I simply replied, “Yep, lots of folks, and I believe there is room in the marketplace for other competitors.”

During the program I watched her—she was sitting on the front row right in front of me—and from the look on her face she spent most of the 2 hours considering the impact of the realization that her idea was not the first time anyone IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE had thought of it. 

And she was amazed.

In today’s internet-ruled world it is absurd that anyone with an idea would not take a moment to check online to see who else has created something similar OR EXACTLY LIKE what they are thinking about. 

A totally new idea is rarely totally new. It is usually a spin-off of another idea. So, why not take a moment to see who else has solved the problems you need to solve before you spend tons of time trying to solve them. 

I just don’t get that sort of ignorance in today’s world. And, ignorance is not a bad word here. It simply means you don’t know that you don’t know.

In today’s information packed environment there is no excuse for not making efforts to know.

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Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Be a Dope?

There’s a great little place down the road from me. The Chubby Buddha has really cold beer, an over-worked air conditioner, a reasonably good juke box and, hanging on the wall—one of my personal markers for a quality bar—the print of dogs playing poker.

It’s close enough and the traffic is usually light late in the evening so sometimes I’ll take off on my bike and be sitting on the back porch at Chubby Buddha in about 10 minutes. 

I’m usually there for only 1 or 2 beverages and then I head back…which is when the adventure begins. The road I take out of the neighborhood has some homes and lights, the road I take back in, doesn’t. Also, there are huge, old, gnarled trees with limbs loaded with moss overhanging the road.

It is so dark coming in that you literally cannot see five feet in front of you. The first couple of times I tried to ride home this way I was a little intimidated by the wall of darkness I rode into at the mouth of the street. In fact, after riding off the road and into the grass (and a ditch) I started getting off my bike and walking it through the darkness. And, at about midnight, 1 am, it is really, rrreeaalllyyy, quiet. 

At this point you’re thinking, “Why be a dope? Why not just take the same way back in that you took out? It’s safer.”

Tru dat.

Buuuutttt, this has become a wonderful learning experience. Due to the environment, my senses are running wide open and I’m exercising some basic, primal skills. It’s also a low-risk (relatively), easy way to address basic fearful feelings (think dark and quiet), practice some problem-solving skills (how do I get through this and not mess up?), and slow down (not something I’m good at).

Here’s the main lesson I’ve learned: As much as Focus is understood to be a key to success; keep your eyes on the prize, bring all your power to bear on the challenge—sometimes the best thing you can do is relax, slow down, simply keep your eyes and ears open, and keep moving. 

I noticed after a few trips through the darkness that looking straight ahead—as anyone would and should when riding a bike—didn’t work . The total darkness meant there was nothing to see that I could orient myself with. 

I found, though, that if I looked up I could see little patches of night sky and catch glimpses of where the tree limbs on each side of the road touched; they were signaling the middle of the road. So, I’m slowly riding along looking straight up.

(Do I worry about dogs, cats, etc., in the road? No, they do better in the dark than I and will get out of the way and/or let me know when they are in my path)

Do you have a challenge in life that’s really wearing you out? Maybe, instead of doubling down and picking up the pace, the best thing to do is slow down, keep your eyes and ears open, and simply keep moving.

Enjoy the ride.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Just Something to Think About

Considering the last two weeks, I'm just sayin':

"Political designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."
George Orwell

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What's Hiding In Your Head...and Your Heart?

What’s going on in your head that no one knows about? 

Nooooo, I’m not talking about you Repubs spending last night wearing your Trump masks and flipping The Bird at the television throughout the Democratic Convention.

I’m not talking about you Dems mooning every news story about Trump…course, you ARE spending a LOT of time de-pantsed, now aren’t you?

(Stick with me on this…it’s a little long, but you’ll like it)

You may be like me; there are lots of times when we’re in line at the grocery store or sitting in the crowd at an event and we look around at our neighbors and think WTF?!?!?!

Just kidding…

I don’t know about you, but I wonder, “What are they thinking? What gems, treasures and great discoveries are hidden in their minds.” 

I think about what ideas they have that might never be revealed…much to the detriment of their  lives and, sometimes, the world. 

Here’s the best example I have: For most of his life, Mr. Vollis Simpson lived in Lucama, a little town just south of Wilson, NC; less than a mile off I-95. One of his sons, Mike, was a great college friend and I was in his wedding. 

When I met Mr. Simpson (as a Southern male, I’ll keep referring to him as “Mr. Simpson” because he was my elder and, definitely, my better) and shook hands with him, I thought, “This man has the biggest and roughest hands I’ve every encountered.” Later, I learned where the roughness came from. He was one of 12 children and was expected to work from the time he could walk (and pretty much impressed that work ethic on his children). Mr. Simpson left school in the 11th grade. He owned and operated a machine shop where he created machinery for heavy equipment and for hauling large trucks.

From the night before the wedding, through the next day, I don’t think I heard Mr. Simpson say two words, nor did I see him smile. He was obviously more comfortable in overalls than he was in a suit. If you had seen him in line at the grocery store you’d think, “Another big-ole country guy.” It wasn’t a bad or disrespectful thing at all, just an immediate impression.

There was nothing to indicate what was going on inside his mind.

What I later learned was that he was the most creative person—and one of the greatest surprises—I’ve ever encountered in my life.

By the end of his long and productive life in June, 2013, at 94, he had become one of America’s most unlikely art stars. His giant whirligigs made from metal scraps are not only seen in The Whirligig Park in Wilson, they whirl in a variety of locations around the country, including the Fearington Village south of Chapel Hill. 

According to his obituary in The New York Times, “His 55-foot-tall, 45-foot-wide ‘Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ is on permanent display at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, and his works are part of several other collections, including the American Folk Art Museum in Manhattan.”

When his wonderful wife, Jean, was asked in the Times interview how he came up with his creations, which clicked, clacked, spun and jangled, she said, “It was just in his mind and in his brain and it just came out.”

it just came out

“He did it for his own pleasure in the beginning,” Ms. Simpson said in the Times. “It caught on and people liked it. It went from there.”

Mr. Simpson didn’t call’em whirligigs. “Didn’t call it nothing,” he said in a 2010 Times interview. “Just go to the junkyard and see what I could get. Went by the iron man, the boat man, the timber man. Ran by every month. If they had no use for it, I took it.”

Finally, he thought of them as windmills. Art experts viewed them as outsider art or visionary art. Later, they looked at them as giant interpretations of the old whirligig toys. 

While he started creating his art in the 1970s, the Times noted that, “he built his first windmill to power a large washing machine for soldiers’ clothing while he was serving in the Pacific during World War II in the Army Air Corps. He made it from parts of a junked B-29 bomber.” 

When he started putting’em up on his family farm people thought he was crazy. “Everybody made fun of me and laughed at me,” Mr. Simpson said in a documentary paid for by the North Carolina Arts Council. “I didn’t pay ’em no damn mind.”

didn’t pay’em no damn mind

Years later, after he was discovered some of his windmills would eventually sell for thousands of dollars. While he wondered if his creations would eventually simply rust and fall down, that’s not happening. In addition to the park, Wilson now has a Whirligig Festival each year that replaced the Tobacco Festival. If you don’t know North Carolina or Wilson, and you have no inkling of the importance of tobacco in the history of that part of the state, I can assure you that that fact alone shows how one man can do something that moves an entire community into the future.

One of the great regrets of my life is that after I found out about the whirligigs I did not go back to Lucama to see Mr. Simpson and talk about his efforts. Because of that loss I now pass no opportunity to ask people about their creativity, their ideas, and how they might have an impact.

I’m always amazed at how often people think their ideas are simply oddities, little nothings to be tossed aside like a used napkin…what seems to amaze them is that I’m interested. And, how easy it might be to see if the idea might work…if nothing else, just of the fun of it. 

I’m also amazed at how many people won’t pursue an idea because they don’t think it’ll make a million dollars. SCREW THAT!!!! You have to realize that the little idea may lead to another and then another…and then, you never know.

I recently made a mobile with seashells, sticks and fishing line…just to see if I could do it. It was fun and it was great!!! 

Your ideas are important. Maybe not to the world…yet…but to you. 

What are you hiding in your mind?

As for what other people might think…

don’t pay’em no damn mind

Check out The Whirligig Park:

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