Monday, August 31, 2009

Maybe You Should Be a Circus Clown

Maybe you should be a circus clown. Or a doctor. Or a priest. Or a world-traveler. Or, simply, a fun-haver.

Aristotle said, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.”

I spent almost all of this weekend asking myself what I should be doing. I know, I know, some of you don’t get into this type of navel-gazing but every now and then we hit times in life at which we need to ask the big questions. I’m at one of those times now.

At 4 am this morning I was in the middle of doing exercises to try and get some answers. Google the phrase, “How do I create a personal mission statement?” and you'll see a ton of free resources. I went through about six sites doing the exercises, culling the best info and suggestions, and thinking about what was popping out.

One of the best exercises pushed for answers to two questions: What is your vision of the good life? How will you know when you get it?

One of my favorites was also two questions: Where do you want to go? Who do you want to take with you?

I don’t have all the answers, or the definitive one, but I am getting closer. I can feel it.

We’re rapidly closing in on Labor Day, the traditional end of summer and what used to be the beginning of the school year. I think a lot of us Boomers (or at least those of us who are football fans) still begin our year around Labor Day. So, it’s time for a new day, and maybe a new direction; a new experience.

If you don’t spend at least a little time trying to figure out your roadmap for where you want to end up then you can end up just about anywhere and you’ll be…somewhere. Is that going to get you where you want to go?

And that circus clown idea is looking better all the time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Are You a Donut?

Everyone knows the adage, “You are what you eat.” And, even though there are those blessed individuals who seem to be able to eat any and everything and remain thin, for the most part it’s easy to tell what people eat and what type of life they live, health-wise, just by looking at them.

But, fewer people understand and believe a much more important—and much, much older—thought, “You are what you think.”

As a Bible verse says, “It is done unto you as you believe.” James Allen, one of the founders of the positive thought movement, wrote the classic As a Man Thinketh (you can download a free ebook of As a Man Thinketh…Google it).

The basic truth is that we become what we spend most of our time thinking about. If you truly see yourself as a wonderful, positive, active, loving person your mind moves you to act in that fashion. When you act positively and others see and experience the actions they perceive you as positive. Their reactions toward you reinforce your belief that you are the type of person you believe yourself to be, and so on.

However, if you are confused or negative, or if you see yourself as fat, or if you—on some level—believe yourself to be the person you were in high school or college, or when you were with that person who made you feel bad, you’ll act like that.

And you can do all the smiling you want to and it won't matter. A very wise woman I know says that sometimes peoples’ “smiles don’t go all the way to their eyes.” They pasted on the smile but don’t really feel it. So, you can be smiling on the outside and crying on the inside as the song goes. And it shows.

The most wonderful thing about being human is that you can change who you are by changing your thoughts. There’s a whole body of knowledge, scientific and anecdotal, that proves the fact. The key is a cliché; Think Positive. Because, if you Think Positive, you tend to act positive. And (wait for it, here’s another cliché) acting positive is Being Positive. If you want to know how to do it look for books by Zig Ziglar, Bryan Tracy, John C. Maxwell, T.D. Jakes and others. Go to the self-improvement section in any bookstore and skim some books.

So, are you a doughnut or an apple? Are you a flame-up or flame-out? Are you here, or are you gone?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's Hotter'n Hell Day

Today is the Hotter’n Hell Hundred Bike Race in Wichita Falls, Texas. It’s the largest sanctioned century ride in the country. The event draws over 15,000 riders and spectators.

Wichita Falls is northwest of Dallas, up near the Oklahoma border.

Now, let me get this straight. It’s late August…in Texas…and people are going to get on bikes and ride 100 miles. In the daytime.

I’ve got to tell you, there are some tough things going on in my life right now. But, the one thing I’m not going to be doing is getting on a damn bicycle in 150 degree heat and riding 100 miles.

I know it isn’t the weekend yet, but let’s have a beer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Warped Are You?

How warped are you? I heard the word recently and started to think, “Is warped good or bad?”

The definition of warp is interesting. There’s the one most of us know which is, “a distortion, a mental twist, an aberration.” But the nautical definition of warp is, “a rope or line run from a boat to a dock, buoy, or anchor and used to warp the vessel into position.” Here’s how I interpret it: A warp is a device used to steady and secure a larger object moving within a fluid substance. As humans moving through a fluid existence we need things to secure us to reality.

So, is warped good? Well, obviously, if others are hurt by someone’s warpedness (if that is not a word it should be and is now) then it’s not a good thing.

But, I think that most of the time being warped is a good, even great, thing. Being warped means you're different…and not just a little different, but different in a way that either no one has thought about or so far out on the fringe that your warpedness easily and clearly stands out. Warped can mean that you are reaching out to a different, possibly better, future.

When someone tells you you are warped it’s usually because you are doing something they wished they had the courage, imagination, motivation, simple chutzpah as my friend David would say, or cajones (look it up in the Spanish/English dictionary) to do.

By the way, when you say chutzpah you have to sound like you’re getting ready to hock a loogie!

I’m betting that Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius were all called warped in their day.

Warped is different. Warped is special. Warped is fun at Mach 3 with your hair on fire. Warped is out there. Warped is deviant behavior smiling at the Political Correctness police.

Here’s the deal: If you take warped and add one letter, “p,” and reverse two letters, “r” and “a” you get wrapped. As in, all wrapped up. Tight.

I’ll take warped over wrapped any day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10 Days to Go!

I've said in previous blogs that you won't hear me use the word passion in any context other than romance.

However, if I DID use it I’d be spoutin’ it now like a baby spittin’ green pea Gerber at his mama.

Now, don’t click away just because of what I’m going to say…..College football is only about 10 days away! Ssshhhhhhh. Don’t say it real loud….college football is only 10 days away.

I know, I know…some of you unbelievers…oops…uh…wonderful folks may not like college football or appreciate its spiritual qualities. God Bless You. (If you are a Southerner you know that God Bless You is a catch-all phrase…you can use it in a variety of ways…some not so complimentary.)

At halftime of watching the Jets and Ravens in a preseason game last night I was going through my mail and found this season’s Carolina Tar Heel football tickets. Even getting the football season guide a week ago didn’t light me up. But, seeing those little pieces of cardboard that provide entry into heaven finally got me cranked.

I mean, here’s the deal: you’ve got the weeklong anticipation of going to the game; having something worth reading in the sports section (baseball and golf...pleeeeezzze); getting up on Saturday morning and turning on the Stones’ “Start Me Up”…loud; a blue sky; an optimistic, cheering crowd (at least for the first couple of games); the band; girls in sundresses (at least for the first couple of games); tailgating; seeing old friends; fighters flying over; kickoff; the anticipation before a big play; touchdown celebrations; testosterone by the tankerful (and that’s just the girls from Meredith College); hotdogs from the concession stand; green grass and lots of different colored uniforms; and, last but not least, singing the alma mater at the end of the game…win or lose.

Now, if that ain’t America then grits ain’t groceries.

Do you have something in your life that does that for you? If you do, God Bless You. If you don’t, wellllll, God Bless You.

Monday, August 24, 2009

What Will You Do?

I was sitting in church yesterday when I heard a comment that, I’m sure, made one of those little light bulbs pop off over my head. Here it is: The most important comparison you can recognize in your life is the difference between what you can do and what you will do.

As humans we are capable—we can do—so much more than we ever accomplish. We are magnificently designed creatures of infinite capability. Think about it…we’ve walked on the moon AND we think the Three Stooges are funny! Well…ok…at least most of us guys do.

But, the limiting factor is what we will do; what we are willing to step out of our comfort zones and try? And I can tell you from personal experience that trying to step out of your comfort zone is a killer. Depending on the importance (and you may not consciously realize how important) of a habit or style of life or physical need your environment, family and friends, mind and body will seem to conspire to keep you in that comfort zone. You’ll find all kinds of obstacles in your way, people you love will tell you that you are crazy, your mind and body may do everything from shoot your blood pressure sky-high to convince you that you are having a heart attack….just to keep you in that comfort zone.

Your willingness to step out of the comfort zone into the new is going to determine what type of life you have. And sometimes the pain, or the risk of the pain, just isn’t worth it.

Voltaire said, “The good is the enemy of the great.” That’s one of those wonderful quotes that sounds good when you read it or say it to an audience. And the truth is that in many cases you can get from good to great. Just realize that saying it and doing it are two totally different things.

Look around your life. What will you do to have a more Perfect Workday and a better life?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Flatback Fun

After reading the title you should probably get your mind back on the straight and narrow. I'm going to talk about sleep.

It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do for your life outlook. I've been running pretty wide open over some rough terrain for too long and last night it caught up with me. I had let myself get pretty worn out. I had not been getting enough sleep, and had forgotten one of the basic Perfect Workday points: Keep tabs on your energy level.

The mattress I slept on at home last night was made in the plant I visited and spoke at yesterday. Park Place Corporation in Greenville, SC, has the largest mattress manufacturing plant under one roof in America (150,000+ sq. ft.). Watching a mattress like mine made helped me understand why it sleeps so well. A wonderfully high-quality product. The group I spoke to was Carolina Bedding, Inc., a group of fun, energetic people who, along with their president, Mark Henderson, and national sales manager, Twig Rollins, have a great business model.

We talked about how their product helps people have better lives. If you can't get a good night's sleep you can't operate efficiently and effectively in your life. It's like driving a car with bad gas.

How'd you sleep last night? Did you wake up feeling rested or did you slog out of bed feeling like you just laid down?

One of the best comments I heard yesterday was, "People who buy a luxury car don't know it but they spend about $2000 on those great-feeling seats, and they only spend an hour a day in those seats. Then, they'll turn around and buy a mattress, something they spend 6-8 hours on, and they buy the cheapest one they can find." Doesn't make sense.

If you want a Perfect Workday or a great life, or both, you have to pay the price. It may be expensive and sometimes painful, but in the end you have a much better chance of getting what you want and deserve.

The interesting and most valuable lesson I learned yesterday came from the Carolina Bedding folks. Sometimes getting what you want doesn't have to be painful and expensive. They have an outstanding product and through an innovative business model they are able to sell it at an extraordinary price. The experience proved to me that whether you are talking about mattresses or life you can get what you want if you are willing to do your homework, look outside the box, and make a decision. It's all about paying the price; it just may not be the price you thought you'd have to pay...and, ironically, sometimes it may not be as expensive as you thought.

Be smart. Look around. Pay up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Your Wattage?

Am on the road most of this week. Drove from Geenville to Greenville yesterday. NC to SC.

Yesterday morning I ran across a line in my daily devotional that talked about "shining your light." The line essentially said that if you will shine your light it provides illumination for others to shine their lights.

So, what's your wattage?

How bright is your light now and how bright can it be?

There certainly are times when we feel that our lights are not very bright. At those times we have to shine whatever we have and hope it lights the path for ourselves and others.

Lately, my light has seemed like a strobe light; bright sometimes, totally dark at others. The dark times can be extraordinarily scary; the bright times are often so bright that they blind me to the right direction. That kind of light allows furtive steps but keeps me from striding confidently into the future. I'm trying to lower the amount of time between bright flashes and tone the bright flashes down so that I can get my bearings.

What's your wattage?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Again, In Praise of Gravy

A few years ago I had my cholesterol checked at a health fair and it was so bad the nurse said I might as well have gravy running through my veins. I started taking meds for bad cholesterol and now pretty much have it under control and every time the nurse sees me she says, “Hey Gravy, how’s it goin’?”

Her observation couldn’t have been more appropriate because I LOVE GRAVY. I mentioned it awhile back in another blog but it certainly bears mentioning again.

Think about it. Something as simple as gravy makes everything from baked chicken to plain rice taste like grandma’s house! You could put gravy on celery and your fiber content would go sky high! How great is that!? As far as I’m concerned gravy should rank up there with the wheel as one of man’s (or, in this case, probably a woman’s) greatest invention.

As far as I ‘m concerned ketchup is a type of gravy and it goes with EVERYTHING!

There’s a restaurant in Raleigh named Gravy. I haven’t been yet but it’s on my list of places to go just like Mecca is on the list for Muslims.

The only bad gravy I’ve ever had is poi (pronounced, “poy”). It’s a gooey, snot-tasting kind of substance that makes up a large part of the Hawaiian diet. I tried it a couple of summers ago on a trip to the islands. I tried to explain to a cook that if they’d mix some beef gravy in it everyone would eat it. He said, “Everyone but you already does.” Well, there you go.

So what does gravy have to do with having a Perfect Workday? Simple. Any day that I can have some gravy; beef, chicken or turkey, is a good day. I’ll bet there is something simple that, if you have some of it, or do some of it, you’ll have a good day. It could be seeing a specific sight, taking in a certain fragrance, eating a food you like, experiencing a favorite tactile sensation, or talking to a special person (notice that these are all sensory sensations).

Whatever your personal "gravy" is, try to incorporate some of it into your day. You may not want to do it every day because you might get tired of it…or not.

I could eat gravy every day and I’d love it. In fact, I’m going to have gravy for lunch…on a salad. What?! You didn’t know that any type of dressing is basically gravy?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Laughing at Life

I love healthcare people.

Spent two days this week doing full-day programs for the executive masters program at UNC's School of Public Health. I had docs, nurses, hospital administrators, psychologists, consultants, and a variety of other health-related professionals in the classes.

I love presented for these folks because they have seen everything (with the nurses, they have literally seen everything) so I can get a little more open, a little wilder, and a little more direct with them. I can't do that with bankers and CPAs.

These folks were pretty cranked up about the changes going on in healthcare. Their advice....don't get sick any time soon. And it isn't that they can't take care of you or me; it's that, all things considered, we are all better off healthy. That sounds trite, but it's true.

Here's my and your assignment for the weekend: Walk a little more, drink a little more water (and don't worry about it being bottled water..tap water across the country is safer than a lot of the bottled water we drink), take a multi-vitamin, and find something to laugh about.

A wise person told me on Thursday that my most recent blogs were really serious and that I needed to go back to some of the more lighter heart stuff...I haven't been feeling very light-of-heart lately, sooo, that's my assignment to myself this weekend. I'm going to look for some reasons to laugh...and I'm going to keep looking until I find them.

Zap me at mike@perfectworkday.com and tell me your reason to laugh. It can be a joke, a funny story, something silly that happened recently...anything.

I can use'em.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Tear Down This Wall!" President Ronald Reagan

Today is the anniversary of the creation of The Berlin Wall. On August 13, 1961, the East German government closed the border between the east and west sectors of Berlin with barbed wire to discourage citizens from moving to the west. Later that week they began building a concrete wall that would last until November 9, 1989.

All too often we build walls in our lives with assumptions, ignorance, neglect, and fear. The walls can last for hours, days…years…a lifetime.

Once we become comfortable with the wall it’s difficult to tear it down even if we know that tearing down the wall would create a better life. For decades the East Germans and Russians knew life would be better for all if there was no Berlin Wall, but they were too heavily invested in appearances, politics, and ego to destroy it. Finally, President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev made it happen.

Questions for today: What walls keep you from having a more Perfect Workday? What walls have you built in your life? Are you afraid of destroying the wall? Have you become too comfortable behind it?

What might your world look like if the wall came down?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

New Beginnings

“The beginnings…of all human undertakings are untidy.” John Galsworthy, English novelist

This is the third and final comment about William Bridges book, Transitions. The third stage of change is New Beginnings.

Bridges points out that it would be nice if we had clear paths to show us the way to New Beginnings. We don’t have options that are different colors like the states in the old US maps we saw in school.

And there is no service that calls us or sends us an email and says, “Ok, The Neutral Zone has ended, it’s time to start your New Beginnings.” We seem to get inner signals, little hints, that something is changing. I love Bridges comment, “The most important of these signals begins as a faint intimation that something is different, a new theme in the music, a strange fragrance in the breeze.”

For good or ill I’ve always been a big fan of omens. I think it isn’t that I think God sends us a sign so much as I believe we know what we want in life even if we can’t articulate it, and we see, hear, smell, touch something that connects with that thing we want. We then have the feeling, “Oh, that must be a signal that I should …..”

It’s important, though, to distinguish between a real new beginning and a defensive reaction to an ending…the need to do SOMETHING.

The wonderful thing about New Beginnings is that they often bring with them a gift of life. New Beginnings replace the sadness and loss of the Endings, and the lethargy and confusion of The Neutral Zone, with a new energy and focus.

It’s on to something new, and life begins again!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Neurtral Zone

I’m sticking with the William Bridges’ book, Transitions, for the today and tomorrow.

The second area we encounter during a time of change according to Bridges is The Neutral Zone. The tough thing about The Neutral Zone is that it is…well…tough. Bridges recommends a few strategies to get through The Neutral Zone: find some time on a regular basis to be by yourself, take this time as an opportunity to find out what you really want, make no dramatic decisions (this is called rushing to action), and relax (maybe even take off on a short retreat) and simply work through the time doing whatever simple things you do to get through your day.

The Neutral Zone is a time to adjust to the Endings and prepare for New Beginnings. The worst part of The Neutral Zone is that if you are an action-oriented person you want things to MOVE and they don’t. This can be excruciatingly stressful.

Someone who kinda takes things as they come may have an easier time with The Neutral Zone.

Here’s a connection that fits this time of year: College football coaches say the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores. The best thing about The Neutral Zone is that it is the doorstep to New Beginnings.

The workplace is changing so dramatically and so quickly that we are often in Neutral Zones, not of our own making. Learning to deal with the anxiety and ambiguity of today’s workplace…today’s life…are skills for the 21st Century lifestyle.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Is the End

A weekend of reading.

I’ve been reading William Bridges book, Transitions, again. This is probably the best book about change ever written. Bridges research on a variety of cultures and philosophies of change identifies three areas in the change process: Endings, The Neutral Zone, and New Beginnings.

Everyone is going through one of the three change zones in some area of life. Especially in a tight economic time with precarious employment situations the simple fact that it’s a new day in the business world means the old way has ended…and tons of folks are having trouble with that thought even if they still have jobs.

The Endings can happen emotionally, physically, spiritually..in every area of life.

Here’s one of the cool things from the book: Bridges says that if you look at some of the different Endings in your life (finishing high school or college, romances ending, parents dying) you’ll very often see that you have a style of how you deal with Endings. Maybe you plan for them, or they just happen and you deal with them, or you deny them and quickly move on to the next thing.

What’s your Endings style? Knowing your style can help you anticipate and plan for how you will deal with change. And we’re all in for change of one type or another.

The silver lining to Endings is that they are the first step toward a New Beginning.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Better Late Than Never

4 o'clock on a Friday is probably a little late for doing a Friday blog. But you know what, better late than never.

Late bloomers are those folks who, like simmering pots, take awhile to get up to boiling temperature. The number of folks who didn't hit their stride until their 50s, 60s, 70s, or later is legion. In business, sports, the arts, spirituality, and other important pursuits and areas of life it might take some people awhile before they get it, before they understand their power, or before they put 2 and 2 together.

Once these folks understand what they want and how the game works, though, you'd better watch out! They can get up to speed and pass many of their contemporaries like lightening.

The writer George Eliot provided my favorite all-time quote: It is never to late to be who you might have been.

Better late than never.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Tell Me Something Good

Even though we are seeing some good news peeking through the headlines…green shoots…as some people are calling them, lots of folks are still talking about all the bad stuff.

I understand. We aren’t out of the woods yet on a whole range of issues; global, national, state, personal, but we can see glimmers of light.

Not long ago I ran into a friend who said, “Tell me something good.” I discovered that that is now his basic greeting to almost everyone. Making “Tell me something good” your opening greeting is a great habit to get into for a couple of reasons.

First, it puts you into a positive frame of mind. Second, it startles a lot people who are walking around just waiting to spread bad news or pessimism. Next, it puts the other person in a positive mood. Finally, and most important, it makes you what Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective People) calls a “transition person.” You are creating a transition from negative energy to positive energy. And that is an extraordinarily good thing.

So, tell me something good!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Enough is Enough

What is enough?

There’s a story about a billionaire giving a party on one of the New York islands a few years ago. Authors and friends Kurt Vonnegut (Breakfast of Champions, Slaughterhouse Five, and others) and Joseph Heller (Catch 22) are talking. Vonnegut tells Heller that the guy giving the party made more money in one day than Heller had made in the whole history of Catch 22. Heller famously replied, “Yes, but I have something he will never have…enough.”

The story comes from a book, Enough, by John Bogle, former CEO of The Vanguard Group and the inventor of the index mutual fund; a very rich guy. Bogle’s 2007 book was an effort to help the financial wizards who pushed the economy into the mess it’s in now understand that it ain’t all about them getting embarrassingly rich. Bogle wanted to help them think about how much is enough.

You are reading this blog so you probably have enough. You are able to read; you have access to miraculous technology; more than likely you are decently fed; you probably sleep in a warm, safe place with little worry that people will come to your home and try to kill you; and more than likely, you have people who love you (however difficult it may be for you and them at some times). Anything over and above those blessings is a bonus.

Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers, have written another book titled Enough. It’s a searing indictment of the policies and attitudes that have created a world in which we have enough food for everyone but 25,000 people starve every day. They point to why, on a basic level, millions of people don’t have enough.

Obviously, the two Enough books are at opposite ends of life's money/stuff/blessings continuum.

So, what is enough for you and me? I have waaaaay too many books, CDs, movies, files, pictures…too much stuff. I eat too much, drink too much, smoke too many cigars, piddle away emotional energy, and am not focused enough. What’s enough for me?

I’ve been thinking for months that my main goal in life right now is to have a feeling of contentment that includes relationships, work, and the home environment in which I live. It’s not that I want to be giving up, or slowing down, or settling, or going survivalist. And it isn’t that I don’t understand that at some future date the enough of now might not be enough then…or, it might be too much and it’s time to pare down. What I’ve come to understand is that the energy I’m frittering away in so many areas could be focused on a few issues that matter to me and in which I can make a difference.

Life is flying by.

What is enough? And if you can identify it, are you willing to be satisfied with it?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Fightin', Racin' and the Future

“In the early days they’d just as soon fight as race. They’d even stop the race and fight.” Junior Johnson, NASCAR Legend

Junior Johnson was one of the creators of modern stock car racing and was the focus of author Tom Wolfe’s heralded 1964 Esquire magazine article, “The Last American Hero Is Junior Johnson.” A bad movie based on the article was made in 1973 with Jeff Bridges as Junior.

Today, drivers do some bumping on the track, or, “rubbin” as some fans refer to it, but most of the fighting, what little there is, usually happens in the pit area.

Johnson’s quote is a great example of how the stress and craziness of competition cause participants to forget why they got into the race, or game, in the first place. In football, one of the fun things to do (and a great strategy to get your opponent out of his game) is to slap an opposing player at the end of a play, when the refs aren’t looking, and then yell. By the time the ref is looking over at who yelled the opposing player is retaliating and they get the flag.

In the early days of NASCAR the fightin’ was part of the racin’. The purses were not that big and men raced because…well…they liked to race. Today, fightin’ doesn’t look good on ESPN and sponsors don’t want spokespeople with black eyes and missing teeth. Fightin’ is no longer part of racin’. The game changed.

Has your game changed? If so, maybe the things that got you where you are won’t get you where you want to go. (Which by the way, is close to the title of a pretty cool book by Goldsmith and Reiter, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There…came out two years ago.)

A psychologist friend of mine says, “The things a child learns to survive may not, as an adult, help them to thrive.”

What habits, attitudes, thoughts, actions, people, ideas, jobs, responsibilities, beliefs do you need to let go so you can move ahead? If your game has changed it might be time for you to change.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Hey, Fatty!

Myrtle Beach was great this past weekend. I enjoyed the company of one of my best friends, played terrible golf, enjoyed some great beach music, shot Roman Candles on the beach, slept in a meat-locker-cold hotel room, and consumed WAY more food, beverage, and cigars than was good for me.

However, the highlight of the trip was a visit to Brookgreen Gardens. A 78-year old, 50-acre sculpture garden, it's located about 10 miles south of Myrtle Beach on Highway 17. Brookgreen Gardens is a treasure that I was introduced to as a child. I try to make a pilgrimage once a year. Some of the sculptures are bigger than busses and the power of many of the pieces is awe-inspiring.

One of the new, most compelling pieces, is a small sculpture titled, “Soft Serve.” Imagine a Dairy Queen cone of vanilla about two feet tall. The the top swirly part has a little face and there is a navel in the overlapping, bulge of ice cream near the top edge of the cone. You can’t look at the work without smiling or laughing.

The piece won the Margaret Hexter Prize for artist, Jeremy Davis, of Middletown Connecticut. Davis points out on the title card that his work addresses the issue of being fat; not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. He uses humor to address a difficult topic in such a way that it isn’t an accusation or put-down. He says, “As a society we are constantly seeking consumables: things with which to stuff ourselves, things that are not good for us; things of which we always want more.”

I started thinking that we are often fat mentally and emotionally. I have too many books. I’ve got to pare down the collection and get leaner. I’ll never read them all.

In a work setting we might spend too much time searching for just the right piece of information that we think we MUST have to make a decision. When, in fact, we have enough information, we just don’t want to make the decision.

Many of us have become too fat regarding credit cards and our credit obesity has gotten us into trouble. As a nation we have become too fat with debt. Frugality, financial leanness, is the new watchword.

Some people would say that our tendency to political correctness and to trying to satisfy every whim of every fringe group is a type of emotional, political, and societal obesity.

In what part of your life might you need to go on a diet? I’ll go first. I’m going to start culling my books and video collection today.