Monday, October 31, 2011

Is a Burning Bag of Poop on the Porch a Trick or a Treat?

Get this, there’s a new phone app that allows parents to track their kids on Halloween night. If the app had been in existence a little over 40 years ago my parents would have figured out that I was the one who put the burning bag of poop on the Roberts’ front porch.

Fun Facts to Know and Learn---Halloween has a variety of historical links: Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruits and seeds; the festival of the dead called Parentalia; and, the more accepted, the end-of-summer Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-an or sow-in). There was a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen. To ward off these spirits, the Irish built huge bonfires and invoked the help of the gods through animal and perhaps even human sacrifice.

Halloween is also thought to have been heavily influenced by the Christian holy days of All Saints' Day (also known as Hallowmas, All Hallows, Hallowtide) and All Souls' Day. Falling on November 1st and 2nd respectively, collectively they were a time for honoring the Saints and praying for the recently departed who had yet to reach heaven.

(please note that I’m not that smart so the historical notes came from Wikipedia)

So, how’d the whole costumes on kids and trick-or-treating thing start? There were so many tricks being done on Halloween ( a favorite was pushing outhouses over when people were in them…I LOVE that!) in the early 20th Century that towns started having fall and Halloween festivals for families to keep the hooligans busy.

Now, to my point: Halloween can be a time to dress up and be someone or something else…to fake it. Truthfully, fake it 'til you make it can be an extraordinary strategy for success, especially in times of change. In a tight situation you ask yourself, “If I was Bill Gates or a smart executive or Seal Team Six or a patient parent or a Werewolf or a loving spouse or a writer or a sexy French maid who…..(ok, you get the idea). How would I act?”

And then act the part.

You’ll be surprised how soon you’ll develop the confidence you need to act in that manner on a consistent basis.

Halloween can be a great time to be something else, something better. Every day can be that, too.

Trick or Treat?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Viagra, The Wisdom Drug?

There’s a Viagra commercial running now that touts this as being “The age of knowing what to do,” for men of a certain age who might need a boost in at least one area of life.

What if Viagra did make us smarter? If only finding answers to difficult questions was as easy as taking a pill.

We all find answers in different ways. Sometimes we feel the answer in our gut, head, heart or hands. Other times we simply have to choose and hope.

Maybe it’s as easy as taking a nap. In the new issue of Scientific American Mind an article is headlined, Answers In Your Dreams. The article says that while we sleep, “we continue focusing on all the same issues that concern us while we are awake.” It advises us to pose a question to our minds before we go to sleep and let our subconscious work on it.

YAAAAWWWWNNNN!!! I feel the need for a nap, don’t you?

Or, we could just pop a purple pill. NOT THAT I NEED VIAGRA, YOU UNDERSTAND! I’M JUST SAYIN'!!

Have a great weekend. See you Monday.

PS….I’ve always preferred powdered rhino horn to Viagra…I’m just sayin’.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ouch!! If You Stick Me With That Needle Again I'll........

I have a friend who’ll stick a needle in you in a skinny minute.
She directs a lab for a medical practice and she’s really good at drawing blood…I mean really good. She can do it so fast and so easily that you hardly feel a thing. She takes great pride in handling patients other lab techs can’t or won’t work with.

Another friend could sell Obama’s healthcare plan to the Republicans. He is unbelievably positive and motivated and he’s been extraordinarily successful in sales.

One of my great friends is a DJ and he does tons of weddings and celebrations. It isn’t his fulltime job, but his ability to play just the right song at the right moment and his line of patter helps make great moments even better and more memorable for hundreds of people every year.

I think I’m reasonably good at public speaking and writing. I’m not General Patton at the podium or Hemingway at the keyboard, but I believe I can put together a coherent message in educational, entertaining and informative ways (that’s paraphrasing Mark Twain, by the way).

We’re all good at something. It may not make money but it’s a talent or skill that gives us pride and in which we can find a sense of joy.

If you aren’t using your gift you should look for it (it’s that thing people tell you you’re good at or, when you do it, you feel like you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing), find it, and use it.

It’ a…gift; a present. So, use it in…the….present. Now.

What’s your gift?
Are you using it?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If You're Waiting On Willpower, You're Crazy

So many folks rely on willpower to get them through difficult situations. Whether it’s losing weight, slowing down on drinking, easing away from a relationship or changing their behavior at work they think, “I can tough it out.”

Unfortunately, willpower is not one of the stronger resources on which you can rely. Everyone who’s ever tried to lose weight know how easily willpower slips away when we’re tired or stressed or Mama says, “A second little helping of pie never hurt anyone."

However, add some knowledge and skill to the mix and you can equal exceed your power of will. The multiple authors of Change Anything point out that there are six categories of knowledge and skill, in addition to will, that can help you, as the book says, change anything.

I won’t go into all of them now, maybe on another day, but here are three that can help:
- Make good things closer and more convenient and bad things harder and farther away.
- Change the cues that prompt you to exhibit behavior you’d like to change
- Decide who in your life is an accomplice (they enable negative behavior) and who are friends (coaches and fans).

Those simple tips can help you change anything in life and you aren’t relying on willpower to resist what can be very difficult challenges.

What do you want to change?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Get the Depends and Geritol!

Is "Teenage Genius" an oxymoron?

New research into educational advances show that today’s average teenager would have been judged a genius in 1900. The research was part of broader studies proving that, believe it or not, we live in a smarter, safer, less violent world than in past centuries.

Ok, Ok, I hear all you cynics with the smarty-pants comments. But, you’re not going to hear that from me…at least not today. I’m convinced that positive thoughts can lead to positive actions which lead to a more positive, better world. So, all this is a good thing.

Really, though, a genius?!

I’ve seen pictures from 1900 and young guys wore their pants around their waists, 9-year olds didn’t dress like Lady Gaga, no one had cellphones attached to their hands, and no one said, “Whatever,” every other sentence.

Wait, did I sound like a cynical, old sluggo just then?

Damn. Get the Depends and the Geritol.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Do I Smell Like Gravy?

My wonderful neighbor make a Rice Pak for me to use on my back injury (dinged it skydiving).

It’s like a hand towel that has been sewn into compartments and you put rice in them. Put the Rice Pak in the microwave for 3 minutes and it comes out radiating moist heat. It’s great!

There's been two wonderful side effects to my Rice Pak. The fragrance of the rice and an extraordinary realization.

I’ve talked here before about my love of gravy. I’ll put it on anything! Gravy is an enchancer. Spaghetti sauce is gravy for noodles. Salad dressing is gravy for lettuce. Make-up is actually gravy for womens’ faces. Gravy is…well…you get it.

So, in addition to the wonderfully relaxing feeling I get from using the Rice Pak I’ve been jolted into the realization, “This is what gravy feels like when it’s spread on rice!”

No wonder I like gravy.

Spread some positive vibes like gravy over your office stress….well…uh…ok…maybe that’s reaching on the gravy metaphor a little.

Have a great Monday.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Football, Faith and Fantasy

As the scandal in Chapel Hill involving the athletic department and the football program drags on many reports suggest that the university will need to win back supporters it has lost.

I am one of the lost. For the record: I’m an alum (Class of ‘74). I am an adjunct faculty member of The Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. I could also be classified as a supporter and longtime fan for 40+ years. I’m a member of the Educational Foundation (The Ram’s Club); on the day of my first marriage, September 19, 1981, my bride and I strolled through Kenan Stadium wearing tux and wedding gown (a victory over Ohio University); the final weekend of my second honeymoon was spent attending the Carolina/Clemson football game in 1996; a few years ago I was featured as the Carolina fan in a spread in the News and Observer about ACC fans; I have a very large Ram’s Head Tattoo on my left shoulder; and I served eight years as the president of my fraternity alumni association at UNC-Chapel Hill.

While the media has done a great job of chronicling every little detail in the series of events creating the situation few have noted the process fans, alumni and supporters have gone through in order to be lost.

In his books, Transitions and The Way of Transition, author William Bridges explains the process people move through when significant change happens in their lives. The process can certainly be applied to what has happened in Chapel Hill since Summer, 2010 when the athletic department revelations began to surface.

To say things have changed for many Carolina supporters would be a gross understatement. But, the changes aren’t the issues, it’s the transitions that create stress and problems. Changes—the revelations about various ethical and legal transgressions, Head Coach Butch Davis’ firing, Athletic Director Dick Badour’s resignation—are all external. Transitions are internal. Transitions are what people go through in their minds and hearts when some part of their lives end. Being lost is part of a transition.

A transition begins with an Ending (Bridges’ term) that redefines reality. In many cases the ending is the end of a fantasy. The ending for thousands of Carolina fans, alumni and supporters has been in how they see Carolina in their lives and, in some cases, how they see themselves. Unfortunately, many of us are realizing that what we believed was a fantasy.

Bridges notes six Dis’s we move through in times of transition. All six, and one more, are starkly evident for many Carolina fans.

Disorientation: When stories appeared about possible misconduct among athletes and coaches first appeared many folks thought, “What the heck is going on?” As the revelations became allegations, the NCAA stepped in, lawyers are being quoted and university officials are bobbing and weaving the questions changed to, “What the hell is going on in Chapel Hill?!”

Disenchantment: “This is not the Carolina I know,” was the comment I heard from a fellow-alum. That thought was the mantra of disenchantment and the end of the fantasy for many of us. The raw feeling of disenchantment is disappointment. We had always thought we, Carolina, were above the sort of thing we thought about when hearing about USC, Oklahoma, SMU, Miami and the other universities that have permanent files at NCAA headquarters. I’ve seen the process of transition, and the loss of the fantasy, played out with friends who have been members of the military, executives with well-known corporations, professionals in a range of specialties and who have had their spiritual faith shaken.

Disrespect: This is my addition to Bridges’ six Dis’s. The disappointment of disenchantment has led to disrespect. Athletes we admired showed they were not worthy of our admiration. Officials we trusted were not overseeing an agency funded by our tax dollars and contributions, and supported by our faith.

Disidentification: Why would you want to be identified with something you disrespect and in which you are disenchanted? Like many Carolina fans and supporters I was heavily invested in the fantasy that we were special. Our file, if there was one, was never in the same drawer at NCAA headquarters with those other scoundrels. Now, we’re one of the scoundrels. This may be the most damaging area of transition. When one very important life area is questioned, an issue that has been part of the foundation of who you are, it’s a quick jump to start looking around at other areas and wondering how solid they are.

Disengagement: Empty seats in Kenan Stadium, fewer dollars contributed. This is the first fall in over 40 years that I haven’t cared whether or not I was in Kenan Stadium on a gorgeous, Carolina Blue sky, fall afternoon. And I while I understand that much of the Carolina Nation is simply saying, “Let’s just get to basketball season and everything will be alright,” I’m ambivalent. We’ll have a great season, go to the NCAAs and maybe win it all. I hope we do. But, while no allegations have been leveled against the basketball program, it’s all part of Carolina and there’s some luster that just isn’t there.

Disloyalty: Some Carolina fans see the simple act of questioning what is going on in Chapel Hill as disloyalty. Obviously, it isn’t. Most of us have not lost the love we have for Carolina but the fantasy is over, the curtain has been pulled back and the Great Oz of the commercialization of college sports and its effects are clearly in the open now… and we don’t like having our dreams taken from us. The feelings are not disloyalty, they are part of the grief process due to the loss of the fantasy. It is less an issue of the university having to win back lost supporters; it is very much an issue that, as supporters, we have lost part of the fantasy, part of ourselves, of what Carolina was about in our lives.

Discovery: The most difficult time of transition is, according to Bridges, the Neutral Zone. Moving through the disorientation, disenchantment, disidentification, disengagement and possible disloyalty cause anger, anxiety, denial; all the stages of grief. However, sooner or later the transition ends and we arrive at a New Beginning (Bridges’ term). Thousands of Carolina fans are still sitting in Kenan Stadium at football games while others have discovered new ways to use their Saturday afternoons and tens of thousands will be glued to televised games when basketball season starts in a few weeks. However, the greatest discovery many people are making is something most of us have known all along. Watching an athlete perform while wearing Carolina Blue is a very small part of what Carolina is really all about.

A key to moving through transitions is looking for what is not, or has not, changed. What hasn’t changed is that The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is about helping young people create lives they could not have imagined when they arrived in Chapel Hill. It’s about smart people doing smart things that improve the lives of Tar Heels, Americans and people around the world.

The final step of a transition, the New Beginning, is simply the Ending of the previous reality. Let’s hope this New Beginning helps us understand what is truly important about Carolina and what is an attractive and entertaining sideshow.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Moammar Gadhafi and the Pompitous of Love

If you’re a shrink—professional or amateur—you’ll have a field day with this one…

This morning, when I opened the newspaper to see that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi (the crazy guy with dyed-black hair that looked like Larry’s in the Three Stooges) had been murdered by rebels I immediately thought of the Steve Miller song, “The Joker.”

In the first verse he sings about “the pompitous of love.” Pompitous is a neologism, a made-up word, and only God knows what Miller meant by it other than a reference to one of his other songs.

My connection, though, was that with Ghadhafi, life and love sometimes we don’t know when to let go. We want to hang on for a whole range of reasons, some that make sense and some that don’t, and we often hang on too long. In America we have the mythology that giving it one more shot will win.

In The Personal MBA, author Josh Kaufman talks about sunk costs in business. We spend so much trying to make a go of a venture, but at some point we come to the realization that it just won’t work. Unfortunately, we often double down to try and win our losses back. It never works. Sunk costs are what we’ve sunk into the venture and we might as well chalk them up to experience and move on.

It’s really, really hard to do that though.

But, you know what? Wherever on the spiritual plane Moammar is right now I bet he’s wishing he was sitting in exile in some mansion in the south of France thinking, “Those bastards never really appreciated me.” We all think that about the sunk costs.

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the beginning of fall. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Head Down and Moving Out

I’m presenting 3, 3-hour seminars in 3 separate towns today.

This is a rarity, 9 hours of teaching in one day; it’s just the way the schedule turned out.

All 3 seminars are fun and easy to teach and I have good groups waiting. This is one of those days in which I have to just put my head down, keep moving, keep talking, and by 9 pm tonight I’ll be done and headed home.

Some days are like that for a lot of us, just keep moving and get it done.

But, all of us don’t have days like this. Tens of thousands of Americans are waking up to another day in which they don’t have a job, they don’t have the privilege and pleasure and hope of making a living.

So, I’m lucky and even you don’t particularly like what you do, if you’re getting ready to go to work or at work right now, realize how fortunate you are.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mensa Candidate at the McDonald's Counter

A group of waitpeople in San Francisco is pushing for minimum tips of 25% and want restauranteurs to automatically include the amount on restaurant and bar bills. Some of their group want the tips deal to apply to fast food workers like the Mensa candidate at the counter who attempts to take your order.

Most of their logic is based on a slower economy and the need for more income. No argument there.

Is it just me, though, who believes that a tip is supposed to be for service above and beyond just taking your order, bringing it to you and checking on you once or twice. Isn’t that what they get paid for, anyway.

I’ve worked as a waiter and I’ve run a restaurant so I get the fact that service people are only paid minimum wage. And I’ve experienced situations where I gave someone extraordinary service and they stiffed me. The worst table you want is a group of well-dressed, middle-aged women, believe me. But, that’s the ups and downs of the occupation.

If you automatically spot someone 25% they start believing it’s part of their salary, that they’re entitled to it. Then, if you try to adjust it at a later date, unless the adjustment is upward, they’ll scream that things were always this way and that you’re messing with their entitlement. A staggering percentage of the American population thinks that way today and our country is the worse for it.

If you get good service, recognize it. When that happens the server is more likely to give good service the next time, hoping to get rewarded again. The cumulative effect is a better server, more satisfied customers, a more successful business, and more customers which means the server gets more opportunities.

This doesn’t just work with food and drinks. Try it in your work setting. Catch someone doing something right and praise them. Do it every day. You’ll get a better workplace.

Who do you need to catch doing something right right now?

I HEARD THAT!!!! You were thinking, “Mike, no one around here does a damn thing right!”

Gotcha. Catch the least-worst person doing something right. Try it. Right now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Shut Up! No, You Shut Up! No! You......

Are you really listening? Or, are you thinking about what you're going to say when they finally shut up?

Sometimes we have to shut up ourselves and just get it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shave a Cat and Make a Finger Puppet

Kaori Tsutaya, a catlover from Japan, has written Crafting With Cat Hair: Cute Handicrafts to Make With Your Cat. The book is about using the hair cat owners find all over their pants, coats, couches and beds to make finger puppets, book covers, tote bags, pin cushions and other crafts. She points out the best months for hairballs (April and May) and that you shouldn’t shave your cat to get the hair.

Actually, the whole “shave your cat” part creates my favorite visual image.

I’m starting off the week with this priceless information for a reason.

If Ms. Tsutaya can fantasize a shave-your-cat hobby that can eventually be turned into a Burberry rain coat no idea you have is too outrageous to be considered.

Hey, I’m jumping out of airplanes at 60-years old. If I can do that your dreams are possible, too.

What dream have you bounced around for years? What practical step can you take this week that would at least give you a feel for making it real?

You’re sitting at a computer right now, take a moment and Google something that has to do with your desire or idea. That’s a practical step.

Shave your cat…I just love that.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Woke Up and Got Up

On a summer evening in what now seems like another life my stepson, Joseph, was asked, “What did you do today?” Joseph was 17 at the time and enjoying the summer. He thought a moment and said, “Woke up and got up.” As far as he was concerned, that was a successful day.

I was reminded of that moment recently when I again read the Woody Allen quote, “Ninety percent of success is showing up.”

In his new book, Up, Down, Or Sideways, author Mark Sanborn asks, “What are the three or four things you are doing every day to insure your continued success?”

I can tell you right now that with all due respect to a 17-year old Joseph and Woody Allen, if the only things you are doing each day are waking up, getting up and showing up there will come a day when they haven’t been enough.

Last week a Greenville, NC, man bought at a lottery ticket at a convenience store near his home and won half of the $114 million mega prize.

Unfortunately, life is rarely like that. You don’t usually do one thing and have it pay off bigtime. Success in life is usually based on the cumulative value of lots of little and big efforts.

So, what are the 3-4 things you do most days that lead to the success in work, health, relationships, spirit, knowledge and fun you hope to enjoy?

Have a big weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How About Now?

Have you ever had one of those moments when life, God, inspiration, conspiracy theorists, Big Bird or whoever you think really runs things was sending you a message?

I got one this morning.

An article in the paper screamed at me….READ THIS AND PAY ATTENTION TO IT!!!

It was a piece about the most famous rabbi in history, Rabbi Hillel. In the first century his teachings revolved around a few basic questions. The one that exploded out of the paper for me was, “If not now, when?”

In one way or another we’re all waitin’ on something; some question to be answered.

If not now, when?

If it really isn’t now and you can tell me when I get to decide if I want to wait until then or I can prepare for that time.

It’s the not knowing that saps our strength and conviction. It’s the confusion that dilutes our motivation. It’s the questioning that steals our courage.

What’s your question? And, if not now, when?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The One Thing Is the One Thing

Yesterday I presented a customer service program at a community college. The group was fun and smart with a wide range of occupations.

At the start of the program I simply asked, “What’s the most important thing in customer service?”

After a wide-ranging discussion the key issue came down to ….. Be Nice.

If you’ll Be Nice folks will show a lot of forgiveness, understanding and patience.

Be Nice.

What about in your personal relationships, not just work?

Be Nice.

What about to strangers, even when they are buttheads?

Be Nice.

Sounds too simple to work doesn’t it?

Be Nice.

Have you been nice to folks today?

Here’s a thought that is so sick it borders on hilarious….If you are nice to folks and they act really surprised what does that say about how you’ve been treating them?

Be Nice.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quitters Never Win, And....

In 1972, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I sat in our kitchen at home with my parents and announced that I wanted to step away from college for a year. I had joined a fraternity and was having more fun than the law ought to allow, I was not going to class very regularly (they just seemed to be so time consuming), and I realized that wasting my parents’ hard-earned money was not a good thing on a wide variety of levels. It was a fully thought-out, mature decision.

My mother wouldn’t hear of it. She said, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit,” and that, as they say, was that. I returned to Chapel Hill in the fall.

My reaction to the situation was an immature one, though. I thought, “If they don’t respect me enough to take my decision into consideration I’ll just have a large time.” I did exactly that for the next two years, didn’t graduate on schedule, stopped out of college for 4 years and came back and graduated in '79.

That kitchen conversation was 40 years ago and I still think my original decision was correct and would have led to a more mature outlook on life.

I have a wonderful quote on the bulletin board in my kitchen, “By all means consider your feelings, but be guided by your judgment.”

Most of the time we truly do know what’s best for us. Having the courage to fight through our impulses, fears, unrealistic dreams and what other people (even those who love us) think can be so difficult that, at times, we’re paralyzed when trying to make a decision…and the bigger the decision the more powerful the paralysis.

There’s a decision floating out there that you have to make, isn’t there? What do you know is the right thing to do?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Sittin' On Ice

My first solo skydive was a success!

Am a little dinged up from my amateurish landing (will be sitting on an ice pack for a few days) but I walked away laughing that the only way I could have been farther away from the landing area would have been to have landed in another zip code.

But, if you can walk away from a parachute landing…and laugh…that’s a good thing.

As I’ve noted before, I’m learning all kinds of life lessons as I jump into this new “hobby.” One of my great instructors, Randy Hamberlin, a former paratrooper and Vietnam Veteran, offered the best lesson yesterday. (Randy asks all kinds of questions that I don’t have a clue how to answer and never once has he made me feel like a dope.)

Hamberlin asked, “What do you think we’re teaching you?”

I figured it was a trick question and “skydiving” was not the answer, so I said what I thought and, for once, got it right… “how to be safe doing this.”

Hamberlin’s expression never changed. He said, “Yep. We’ll teach you a little bit about how to skydive. But, what we’re more interested in you knowing is how to get up and down safely.”

Is there an activity in life…your work, for instance…that you think you’re doing for one reason but, in fact, you’re doing for another? You may think you’re there to make a living, but you’re really there for the sense of security? If so, where’s the feeling of security coming from? If you have a relationship or family, what’s the primary purpose in your life?

Not many people want to ask those types of questions, especially after they may have invested decades in a life based on what other people expected of them. The key is to get more of what your real motivation is and less of the other silliness.

Last weekend Hamlin mentioned a Duke University professor who studied extreme sports participants and why they got involved. (My definition of an extreme sport is something that can get you killed. Skateboarding is not an extreme sport.) The professor said, “Some people live life holding onto ropes and they get to a point at which they have to let go.”

Not everyone needs to let go. But, if you’ve got that dangling feeling it might be time to look for another rope.

Gotta go, time to change the ice pack.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Depend on the Suits in NY and LA?

I’m getting more sleep, feeling better and getting more done.

The way I’m doing it may not be a secret to some but too few are using this strategy...I'm recording more programs.

Here’s the deal: I’m doing a better job of watching the few TV shows and sports events I like when I want to watch them and not necessarily when they’re scheduled.

If you don’t know how to record programs, learn. The few minutes it takes to master the simple skill pays off in hours of sleep and time you can use to get more important things done.

If you have a great Internet connection maybe you can watch some of them on the Web.

Life’s too short to wait for a TV program to come on. Record it and watch it when YOU want to, not when some suit in NY or LA wants you to.

Have a big weekend! I’ll be getting to bed early Saturday night so I can skydive on Sunday so I’ll be recording the Texas/Oklahoma game and watching it later.

See you Monday.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Can I Do?

Two of my friends are facing serious health issues. One guy just received a Parkinson’s diagnosis, the other friend is bipolar.

We often don’t know what to say in times like these. “I’m sorry” seems too little and an overreaction comes across as pity or, worse, condescension.

In both cases I simply asked, “What can I do?”

We almost always know what we need and too often other people don’t have a clue.

With both friends, at least for now, what they needed were two things: for me to listen, and distraction from the current situation.

So, I listened and told them jokes and tales about my skydiving adventures.

Before long both were laughing and I could see their stress levels, at least for the moment, dropping.

What you have to realize is that, as much as you’d like, you can’t cure or fix other people. They know it and you know it. What you can do is take them to a place where, again, at least for a moment, life is close to what it was before they entered their new reality.

Everyone has someone who needs a call and a, “What can I do?”

Pick up the phone or send a text. Do it right now.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hearing Their Heads Rattle

This morning, the wonderful cartoon, Pickles, showed a grandmother talking with her young grandson.

She said, “Nelson, it’s just silly for a boy of your age to want to grow a mustache. And it’s even sillier to think that putting bacon grease on your lip will make it grow.”

The grandson says, “Grampa said it would work.”

Grandmother, “Grampa said, huh? What do I keep telling you about Grampa?”

Grandson, “He talks just to hear his head rattle.”

That’s not a bad bit of advice to consider when encountering a lot of the people we come in contact with.

I’m all for the, “We’re all God’s children and there’s something special about each one of us,” philosophy. But, let’s be honest. It can take waaaaaaayyyyyy too long and too much effort to discover what that little gem of specialness might be in them.

Maybe them hearing their head rattle is the best thing that will happen to them all day long. So, God Bless’em. Smile and move on your way.

Of course, if you’re hearing rattling in your head…well,…I’m just sayin’.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blue Hairs on the Boulevard

An older couple just walked by on the sidewalk in front of The Cottage. They were holding hands, cruising along at a steady speed, and just as they passed by my front yard they entered a sunlit area. Wonderful scene.

The cynical side of me thought they looked like an ad for a retirement community or a preneed company.

The other side of me was so envious that I wanted to chase them down and ask, “How’d you do it? How did you weather all the craziness and stresses and conflicts all the…


I got an answer I didn’t expect. The folks are in their mid-70s. They’ve been married for only five years. They knew each other as couples for years and when their spouses died they found each other and created a new, different kind of relationship. He’s recently had a stroke and she’s easing him back to health.

Walking back in The Cottage my thought was, “It’s all a journey. You just never know where the journey will take you.”

Where’s your journey taking you?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hate to Admit It, But I'm a Hater

I know it’s immature to be, but mature to admit being, a hater.

I’m not a hater about everything and everyone. I don’t hate people simply due to their race. I’m not a misogynist or a xenophobe (if you’re a Duke fan, those words mean hating someone just because they’re a woman or because they're from another country).

Wait a minute, that last comment showed that I’m a hater towards Duke and Duke fans…well, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But, I digress….

I questioned going to my high school reunion because I knew there’d be some folks there who were bullies in jr. high school and I still hold grudges against those bastards.

Mostly, my hates are directed towards slights and perceived insults…and that silliness is slowing me down. I need to work on letting it go.

This morning I may have found an answer. Every Monday I receive a wonderful email from the folks at about practical knowledge. Today, this was the lesson:

Forget the Past

A wise man once sat in the audience and cracked a joke.

All laughed like crazy.

After a moment he cracked the same joke again and fewer people laughed this time.

He cracked the same joke again. This time there was no laughter in the crowd.

He smiled and said, "When you cannot laugh on the same joke again and again, then why do you keep crying over the same thing over and over again"?

Forget the past and move on!

Author Unkown

What do you need to let go of?