Tuesday, December 29, 2015

I'm Going In the Gym Business in 2016

I wanted all of you to know this first...on Friday I'll be opening my new business...it's a gym called Resolutions!

Resolutions! will have gym equipment for the first two weeks and then it turns into a bar for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Present for You!

It's the holidays!!!

Here's a wonderful (and inexpensive) present for yourself...get a copy of The Perfect Workday Ebook at Amazon.com for only 99 cents for the next month! Over 350 tips, tactics and ideas for having a better workday!

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy Kwanzaa! Merry Ramadan!

Choose whichever one is appropriate.

Monday, December 21, 2015

In this Season of Yes, Just Say No

Christmas is the season of Yes. We want to be able to say Yes to everything from granting every Christmas wish to having another piece of pie, because it’s…well…Christmas!

But, the other day I ran across an interesting quote from Warren Buffett. He said the most successful people say No to almost everything. Now, I have to admit, he was talking mostly about business ideas and deals. His whole point, though, was that we have a finite amount of time, energy, and other resources, and by saying Yes to lots of different things we spread ourselves so thin that it’s very difficult to succeed at some of the things that have the highest potential for success.

Now, believe me, I get the idea of saying Yes to life; to trying new things, to understanding that Live, as in Living Life, is an active verb. But, even in that context, we can say Yes to so many things that the important things get short-changed.

I realize that this thought goes against the grain for so many of us, but, in this season of Yes we might be well-served to say No every now and then. No to one more party (and maybe driving home drunk), No to one more contribution (to the charity at which the director gets paid more than the needy receive), No to buying one more present (for someone you really don't care that much about)…so we can say Yes to the really important things....like that extra piece of pie.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Caught In the Hall In my Boxers

This is pretty long, but I was telling the story to a friend the other day and he said, "You have GOT to post this!"

So, here we go......

I was bent over, placing a tray of half-empty coffee cups, half-eaten muffins and bagels, dirty utensils and empty milk cartons on the hall floor outside our cruise-ship cabin when I heard the door click shut behind me.

To be honest, the door, or lock, I should say, wasn't behind me, it was about 10 inches from my head, or really, my ear. So, when the metal of the lock met the metal of the door facing I heard two clicks. It was almost as if they spoke, "Hi there." Click, click. "You're back." Click, click. Or, "Stu-pid." Click...click.

I don't speak fluent door lock, but I'm pretty sure it was, "Stu-pid."

If you've ever had a situation like this happen to you, you know there are, basically, a couple of ways it can go: 

1) You can be wearing your cargo shorts and a Key West Green Parrot Bar t-shirt, the one that says, "EXCESS in Monderation," and your hair's a little messy and you feel pretty sheepish. You knock on the door and your cabin companion comes to the other side of the door, but doesn't open it. They do the whole, "Who issss iiiit?" and you say something reasonably cute such as, "It's Saaaanntttaaa! I couldn't find the chimneeee!" And they open the door and you both laugh and they say, "You are such a dope!" and you both do another little laugh and you walk in the cabin.

Or, there's the way it happened to me.

2) The only thing you have on is Minion boxer shorts. This look works if you're 8 years-old and helping mom by taking the tray outside after breakfast. It works less well if you're a 63-year old, short, thick, gray-haired man who simply thinks the Minions are hysterical and doesn't expect a lot of folks to see him in his prized Minion boxers. Next, the chance of knocking and having your travel companion come to the door is pretty much impossible since she's stting on the balcony with the outside door--think of a bank vault door--closed.

All I was going to do was put the trash outside, do a good deed, clean up a little. I mean, what's wrong with that? What's the line, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

So, whataya do in a situation like this? You do the only thing you can; you man-up, act like nothing's wrong, like you walk around in nothing but Minion boxers...all...day...long,  and go looking for someone who can let you back in your cabin.

My first thought is that I could knock on the doors of one of our neighbors and ask them to lean around one of the partitions that divide our balcony from those on the left and right and ask my friend to come open the door. Unfortunately, the door on the right has a doorhanger reading, "Cruisin'," which means they are out; and the door on the left has, "Snoozin'," which means they don't want to be disturbed.

We are mid-ship, so when I look left and right, up and down the hallway, it looks like a mirrored view of miles of carpet and hundreds of doors. The only anomaly, the only blip on the screen, is Ferry, the Phillipino maid, and her cart. Ferry, who is loading towels on her arm to carry into a room, seems about as far away from me as Charlotte is from Raleigh, except there is no curve in the hallway like there is in I-85 at Greensboro. She is, in fact, so far away that I can't just call, "Hey Ferry! Could you help me please?!" My only choice is to do a Bataan Death March to where she is, risking folks coming out of the hundred or so rooms between me and her.

We've enjoyed meeting Ferry. She's wonderfully professional and cordial and makes little animals out of towels and leaves them in the room at night for us to find when we return from dinner. I'm sure we're the only ones she's doing it for.

As I start walking in Ferry's direction the hall telescopes like the scene in The Shining. I'm walking so long I think, "Maybe I should have brought the rest of that bagel and what was left of the butter and jelly as provisions." But, I don't have any pockets in my Minion boxers. I mean, if I'd've had pockets I'd've brought a key, right? It feels like I've been walking for a day or two. It's hard to tell on a cruise ship because, like Vegas casinos and Subways, there aren't any clocks so it's hard to have a good sense of time.

As I drag up to Ferry's cart I notice a half-finished bottle of water, THANK GOD!! AN OASIS! But, just as I reach for the water, Ferry walks out of a room with an armload of dirty towels. She stops and stares at me  with an, "I didn't know they made Minion boxers in that big a size," kind of look.

"Yes?," she asks.

I offer, "Uh, hi Ferry. I'm sure you have this happen all the time. I've locked myself out of my cabin. Can you help me?"

Big smile.

She offers, "I never have this happen!"

"Really?" I ask, "How long have you worked for the cruise line?"

"Sixteen year."


"Could you help me get back in my cabin. I've locked myself out."

She's still looking at the Minions.



"No. Only cabin steward, Wayan, can unlock door. You call room on phone."

"Mmm...that won't work. My friend is on the balcony reading and has the door closed."

Ferry says, "No problem!"

For whom?

And she adds, "I call Wayan," and walks through a door with a Crew Only sign. 

At this point a door behind me opens and I hear a little girl yell, "Look daddy! That man has Minions!"

As I turn I see a young family pile out into the hall with their pool gear. The little girl, about 10, is wearing a Minions bathing suit. I'm trying to get small enough to hide behind the laundry cart and she's pointing back and forth at her suit and then my boxers; suit-boxers, suit-boxers, suit boxers. Dad's big, about 6'4" or 5," around 280, and looks like he's had a beverage or 9 at various times. Mom is about half dad's height, weighs about 70 pounds and is dragging a snivelling little boy who looks about 5 who's whining, "I DON'T WANT TO GO SWIMMING!" 

I do the little alligator arm wave and mumble, "Locked out."

As they turn up the hall dad gives me the, "Better you than me," look. When they make the turn to the lobby mom looks up at Shamu and asks, "You remembered our key, right?"

About 5 minutes later, Wayan shows up, all smiles, and trudges with me back to our cabin. As he unlocks the door he says, "No problem, Mr. Mike. I do all the time." A gentleman.

When I open the vault door and step out onto the balcony my companion asks, "What took you so long? You planning on wearing those Minions all day?"

You know, it feels like it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Juuuusssstttt About There!

 I was at the gym this morning and noticed a young friend standing and staring out the window. I asked what he was so locked in on.

He explained that life had been going great and he saw some opportunities for it to get a lot better…but then one obstacle after another popped up and he felt like he was back where he started.

I know exactly where he’s at. I’m working on a new project and it’s as if challenges large and small are coming and knocking on the door and saying, “Pay attention to me.”

In the past, I’d let all that stuff slow me down or defeat me…and the truth is, I’ve let it slow me down this time. But, over the years, I found that whenever I’m working on a  project, just about the time I think it’s ready to happen something arrives to stand in the way of success. It’s happened so often that now, when I can see success on the horizon, I start looking around for the clown car of problems to pull up. 

I have to keep reminding myself—and I’m doing it even as I’m writing this—that a few things work: 
First, take stock. Do a To-Do List of what needs to be accomplished. I did one this morning and have two pages. 
Second….DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING! Don’t worry whether it’s the most important thing or not. Just get moving. This blog is me getting moving.
Third…as your momentum builds, start targeting the items on your list that either provide the biggest payoff or conquer the biggest problems.
Fourth…check your rewards list. When you complete a project or just one step, give yourself a reward. Too often we believe that, as adults, we’re supposed to slog through all the work and when we finally finish one project, we should start another one. I call this the Slay One Dragon, Bring On Another One Strategy of Life! Rewards are positive ways to keep motivated.

At this point I have my To-Do List and finishing this blog is my DO SOMETHING! ANYTHING! step that builds momentum. 

Time for a reward.  Did I throw that chocolate away?!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Were There Buffets on the HMS Bounty?

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” Mark Twain

Just returned from a cruise! Left Ft. Lauderdale on Dec 6 and returned on the 12th. In between, we hit Key West, Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

Semi-random thoughts:

At various points along the way, both on the ship and off, I kept remembering Mark Twain’s quote about travel. In fact, every time I left the buffets I kept thinking about his use of the word broad. I brought 4 pounds home with me, but if it hadn’t been for all the walking we did the damage would have been a lot worse.

The main thing I brought home was a profound sense of gratitude. As beautiful as some of the places are we kept thinking Dorothy’s belief that, “There’s no place like home.”

If you live in a place in which tourism is the main industry, and the location is essentially Turn 4 on the Hurricane International Raceway it doesn’t take much wind and rain to blow your life up. 

Once you get away from the flash and dash of the ports in Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and see how so much of the population lives, you think, “Never again will I complain about the cable going out.”

Our cabin had a balcony and, especially on the two days we were at sea, it was great to sit and watch the ocean go by. At night, we’d see blinking lights on the coasts of Florida, Cuba, and Mexico. I kept thinking, “What was it like hundreds of years ago to be on some sort of sailing vessel and sighting land and wondering if there was anyone there? And if so, were they friendly? And, if you knew people were there and you knew they weren’t friendly, believing you could hop in a row boat and go see ’em and claim their land for your country?”

Believe me, I get the political incorrectness and moral issues of that attitude. But, going back to Mark Twain’s thought, would I be thinking in those terms if I hadn’t made the trip? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be able to connect the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and touches I’ve had in the last week with the thoughts.

Maybe you can’t take a cruise in the near future, but you can get out and walk around. You can go somewhere new for a day, afternoon, or a few hours. Try this…go to the mall and don’t look at it as a grinding, overcrowded, holiday-driven drudge…go and look at it as an adventure. You’ll be amazed.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

What Do the Stars Say?

Over the weekend a friend was talking about stars aligning…you know, the stars align to make certain things happen.

My point is that the stars can be wherever they want to be, but if you don’t act all the stargazing in the world won’t make things happen. 

What matters is action, what we do. And yes, sometimes the action doesn’t work..and, yes, sometimes we don’t act as quickly as we should. 

If we keep moving, even though we stumble at times, in the direction of our dreams…well…Thoreau said it best:

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

Enjoy the stars, but keep moving.