Monday, January 4, 2021

10 Ways to Have a Great '21

 

Monday, January 4, 2021

If you celebrated the New Year throughout this past weekend…as I did…you awoke this morning knowing that today is the first real day of 2021.


So, are you planning on ’21 being any different than ’20?


Obviously, there are some things that will bring change: Fewer ludicrous tweets from the White House and, hopefully, a return to some sense of societal normalcy as the vaccine is produced and distributed.


But, how will this year be different for you? What will this be “The Year of ________” for you?


C’mon, you can do it, ‘fess up. You know you’ve been thinking about the resolution thing. Most studies about New Year’s resolutions say 80% of the population makes a promise to themselves about how they’ll change something this year and the vast majority forget or break the promise by the end of February.


I can’t tell you how many folks I’ve told about being a gym rat and the fact that we call the big jump in new faces in January, “Resolution Rangers.” The parking lot will settle down in February.


If you truly want your life to be better on Monday, January 3, 2022, try any of these:

  1. Commit to a theme. For you, what will this be the year of…Health, Finance, Career, Family, Spirit, Community, Romance, Learning? Pick one, and be specific in that area. Then, come up with a simple plan.
  2. Stop doing some things. Just for the fun of it, come up with a list of 3-5 things you’ll stop doing this year. Make’em easy, better chance of your really doing them.
  3. Neglect some things. You know those things you worry about? Neglect some of them and see what happens. Maybe they didn’t matter at all. You’ll be surprised. I promise. And, for you smartasses who immediately said, “Well, I can’t neglect paying my bills!” I say, “Take one hour to look over your bank statement and…”
  4. Simplify, simplify, simplify. If The Rona has taught us anything it’s what we can do without. Give stuff away, donate it, throw it out, pass it along. Someone needs what you don’t.
  5. Cut some people out of your life. Yep. The Negative Nellies, the Conspiracy Cowboys, the Facebook Follies. Zip. Gone. See ya, and wouldn’t wanna be ya! You’ll thank me, I promise. I cut a couple of folks from the team at the end of ’20 and I ain’t missin’ them.
  6. Reconnect. Who are two people from your past you’d like to reconnect with. Take the time to do it. I rarely use the phrase “truly blessed,” but this year I’ve reconnected with two wonderful high school pals, Laurie and Anne, stunningly intelligent, and they were two of the delights of my ’20.
  7. Move. You don’t have to hammer it in the gym or run a marathon, but if you can’t get off your keister and move around for 30 minutes a day you’re a sadder sack than I thought. Invest in Audible and/or Masterclass, get some cheap earbuds for your phone and make yourself fitter, smarter and more entertained by listening to a book while you move, which leads to…
  8. Learn something new. Check out Dr. Sonjay Gupta’s book, Keep Sharp. Learning helps our brains and our brains define our lives. Take advantage of Youtube, Pinterest, medium.com (one of my best, cheapest indulgences) and other sites.
  9. Ask for, and offer, help. The Rona has isolated so many of us in a variety of ways. The isolation is killing some of us. Look back over this list and find an area you’d like to know more about. Find someone who knows something about that topic and ask for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised. Now, look inside and ask, “What do I have to offer?” and then ask, “Who might need what I have/know?” This is a great way to stay get and stay connected.
  10. Take Action. Newton's first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. Do something. Sixty seconds from now, when you’ve finished reading this, find something in your home/office and move it to a new place. Simply changing your environment a little can often inspire a lot.

Good luck! 

And, have a great ’21!!!


PS: I had my first win of the year this morning before 8 am. Wrote a check and got the date right! Wouldn’t you love to have a dollar for every person who writes “2020” on a check today?


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Is This What Love Feels Like?

 

When was the first time you asked yourself, “Is this what love feels like?”


My first time was mid-summer, ’67. I was 15 and walking through the pavilion at Goldston’s Beach, White Lake, NC with a girl I had just met; she was 14. 

Earlier that day I watched her emerge from the water wearing a white, two-piece bathing suit and looking for all the world like Botticelli’s Venus.


Now, let’s be honest…I may or may not have had a clue what Botticelli’s Venus looked like. I mean, I was into history and kinda into art so the possibility is open for discussion. But, if someone had pointed to her and said, “Don’t you think she looks like Botticelli’s Venus?” I would have said, “Of course!” simply because whatever it was sounded rare and beautiful and, well…she was.


An Eastern North Carolina summer night at White Lake simply felt like the canvas on which love should be painted. The warm, soft breeze occasionally pushed her bangs away from her face; the music of what we would later call The Summer of Love provided an oh-so-appropriate background; the fragrance of grilling burgers and cotton candy was convincing evidence that that is what heaven smells like. 


We were strolling and I’m stealing glances at her by checking out her reflections in the big, glass windows at the few shops in the small park. Her hand brushed mine once or twice and I distinctly remember later feeling like a loser because I did not have the courage to gently fold hers in mine.


The pavilion had a small, outdoor dance floor and I’m sure I did not have the courage to ask her to dance. I do remember Windy, by the Association and The Letter, by The Box Tops.


Another strong memory is having 15 year-old male thoughts when I heard Wild Thing (The Troggs), Hanky Panky (Tommy James and the Shondells) and Lil' Red Riding Hood (Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs) and internally chastising myself because that’s not how you think about someone you feel this way about.


The one sound that stood out--and continues--more than any other, was her laughter. We tried the bumper cars and every time we banged together she exploded in laughter. It sounded like what angels probably sound like when joyful.


The folks who own Goldston’s Beach are selling all the amusements, including the Merry-Go-Round. A friend’s posting of the photo above tripped the trigger on my memories. 


The girl and I have remained wonderful friends for over half-a-century; her laughter still sounds like angels. Our paths crossed quite a few times, but never in ways that led to holding hands permanently; probably a good/bad thing at the same time. She is happily married and I could not be more delighted for her.


Now…well…there are always a few summer days when I think about Goldston’s Beach and bumper cars and cotton candy in the air. There are still days when I wonder…is this what love feels like?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

But..what about...me?


Every morning I read from one of the 20 or so books in my "days of the year" collection. 

There's the spiritual thought-of-the-day book, the funny quote-of-the-day book, Your Daily Rock by Patti Digh and a "Today in Business" book. 

Some days the messages seem to align with a central issue...on those days I pay special attention because I I get the feeling something or someone is speaking to me...today the issue is me.

Each of the readings affirmed and reaffirmed my value as a person. 

The 13th Century Persian poet, Hafiz, said, "I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being."

Reverend Janet Beach wrote, "The best gift I can give myself is to be me, not what others want me to be."

Lady Gaga was straightforward, "Don't you ever let a soul in the world tell you that you can't be exactly who you are."

For those of us of a certain age the good intentions of our upbringing told us that thinking of ourselves was/is selfish, self-centered, "not the way good children act."  We, too often, resist looking inward and smiling. 

Today, for a moment, let's understand that it will be difficult to find our way along our paths if we don't realize that the feet we must put in front of each other are our own.

As Sam Howell, the young quarterback phenom for the UNC Tar Heels, said, ""You have to believe in yourself before everyone else is going to believe in you.” 

Today, do it for you...and, I'll do it for me.




If you find value in today's message please share.








 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Gifts In the Closet

 

I had never met my first college roommate until the day we shook hands in the room we would share for a semester. He was a country boy (I was little more) from a big family who had never slept in a bed by himself until he came to Carolina. Once he set foot on campus at UNC he did not go home for the 3 1/2 years it took him to complete his degree.  

Years later, when we crossed paths, he told me his parents had put his gifts from 3 Christmases in a closet and they were waiting for him him when he finally returned. I often think about those gifts, bought with love I'm sure, gathering dust in the closet.

 Too often, we let the little things of life--and big things--waste away in our closets. We don't even consider writer Mitch Albom's wisdom, "You can find something truly important in an ordinary minute." 

The gifts we get of taking a breath, looking around, feeling the sun on our faces and recognizing the smile of another sit in our closets waiting to be appreciated.

When you see the period at the end of this sentence (you looked, didn't you?) take a moment to sit back, take a deep breath and think about one thing you have to be grateful for today.

(If you think this might help someone, share it with them, it might be the one gift they get today.)

Friday, September 4, 2020

Even Bad Movies Can Be Good


 How Do You Know was made in 2010 and, if you check the stars, had a lineup that destined it for--if not greatness--at least, respectability. Instead, the movie cost $60 million to make and brought in $48 million...it lost $12 Million Dollars!

I'm sure we could offer a list of suggestions of what the producers could have spent that $60 million on...yes?

Here's the entire movie in one sentence: Reese Witherspoon is a star member of the US Olympic Softball team who gets cut, gets depressed, and finds love with an unlikely partner (no, not Jack Nicholson). That's it, that's the movie. I'll tell you up front...I didn't make it through the whole thing. It was kinda cute, but not that cute.

However, the wonderful actor, Tony Shalhoub, has a bit part as a psychologist and he offers a line that, as far as I'm concerned is the best thing in the movie. It is one of those lines that should have God prefacing it with, "Now, you should pay attention to this."

Witherspoon's character goes to see Shalhoub the shrink, realizes she doesn't want the counseling, but asks in a roundabout (one of the reasons the movie tanked) way, "Is there a general question or thought or bit of advice that could help anyone in any situation at any time?"

Shalhoub says, simply, "Yeah. You have to figure out what you want and how to ask for it."

That's it.

The line echoed in my head as I walked out of the room, I was thinking about it when I fell asleep, it was my first thought when I awoke and I've been thinking about it all day.

"You have to figure out what you want and how to ask for it."

The "what you want" could be THE ONE THING or it could be the primary thing in each of the different areas of life; physical, mental, spiritual, professional, family, community and any other area that is important to you.

The "how to ask" is interesting...it could mean, literally, asking in the verbal sense along with, of course, who you should ask.

But, it could also infer action...if you know what you want and focus on it and do the things you need to do to get it then, quite often, you'll end up with what you want. You've, essentially, asked the universe through your thoughts and actions and the universe has offered up the reward.

(And yes, I know that right now you Negative Nellies are thinking, "Nooooo, sometimes you work your tail off and don't get...blah...blah...blah. I get that...but, if you spent as much time trying as you do whining you'd get a lot more of what you want...trust me.) 

"You have to figure out what you want and how to ask for it."

A few months ago I saw a graphic that said, "The pandemic is the world putting everything on hold to give you a chance to get your sh** together." 

I'm taking that advice seriously. And, part of me getting my sh** together is trying to figure out what I want for the decade or so have left to be relevant in life. 

I'm getting close to an answer...and, I'm getting close to figuring out how to ask for it.

How about you?

IF you see value in this, if you know someone it might help...pass it on.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Removing the Cobwebs

 

        My friend, Lily, lives in a place surrounded by wonderfully big trees. The shade is comforting and calming. The wind and rain often turn the forest into an orchestra creating symphonies that are joyful and scary at the same time.

However, the shade and moisture encourage the local spider population to weave cobwebs like politicians spreading conspiracy theories; they are anywhere and everywhere.

So, Lily bought a “Webster” web remover. It’s a brush on the end of a telescoping handle. Cost about $12 (they range from $12-50) and took about 30 seconds to put together. It took about 3 minutes to clear out her cobwebs and those of her next-door neighbor.

Here’s my point: We all have cobwebs in our lives; those clinging, grasping entanglements—mental and physical—that keep us from moving ahead, from making progress, from being who we know we can be. 

Would you spend $12 to be free of some of those infernal frictions? Freedom might be as close as standing up for yourself, changing your mind/attitudes, going for a walk, turning off the TV or Facebook, or paying some bills. 

And yes, sweeping away those cobwebs might cost more than $12 or $50, but how proud would you be to stand in front of your door or your mirror and say, “Yep, I that’s my place!”?

 

Web Removers on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=webster+web+remover&crid=1YF07FYRFVXSE&sprefix=Webster+web%2Caps%2C538&ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_11