Saturday, December 31, 2016


“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My last blog suggested that we all look ahead and think of goals we’d like to accomplish in 2017. Asking the simple question, “Next year this time what do I want to be able to look back on and be proud of?” is a great start to planning.

However, you can also benefit from looking back at 2016 and asking three simple questions: 
- What am I proud of (accomplishments)? 
- Who am I thankful for? 
- What am I glad is over?

I have a few things I’m proud to have accomplished this year. 

There are some folks who, during difficult times, have been extraordinary friends. 

The last question may seem negative, but it comes more from a sense of relief, escape, and freedom.

And yes, I’m so damned glad to get out of 2016 I feel like I’m running for the county line with my pants on fire.

Here’s the question: What are you glad is over? Take that sense of relief, say a toast to it tonight at midnight (or whatever your personal midnight is ‘cause you know some of you will never make it to 12 am), and move on.

So, 2016, SEE YA! Wouldn’t want to be ya!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

So, I was trying to jump over the hood of a Porsche and....

If you watch a human of almost any age try to jump over something—a toy, a stream, a fence, a large bonfire or the front end of an expensive car (wait…maybe that was just me in college)—we’ll usually back up a few steps to get a running start.

Every year, my attitude about this week, the time between Christmas and New Year, is that it’s a running start for the coming year.

For a lot of folks, though, this week is a throwaway—literally and/or mentally; it’s kind of a no-man’s-land in terms of work depending on what you do. 

If you have a great job you might be able to take the whole week off. Or, this could be just another work week for you. 

But, what if you took a little time this week to not just fantasize about what would happen if your favorite team made it to the National Championship Game (again, maybe that’s just me), or why no one this Christmas was smart enough to know what you really wanted was the commemorative poster of Charlie’s Angels (no comment), but you spent, oh, maybe an hour or two coming up with some specific goals for 2017 and a couple of steps that would get you closer to the goals?

What do you want 2017 to be like personally, professionally, physically, spiritually, financially, socially, and intellectually?

Pick a couple of areas and simply let your mind roll around in them. And remember, don’t set your goals too low…you might be amazed to discover how far you can jump if you get a running start!

(I made it over the bonfire…didn’t make it over the expensive car’s hood)

Have a great and safe New Year!!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Older Woman Leaned to the Young Man's Ear and Whispered....

A young man was amazed at how wise an older woman he knew seemed to be. She always seemed to know the right things to do. 
So, he asked, “How did you get so wise.” 
The woman laughed and replied, “By making good decisions.” 
The young man did that quick nod we all offer when we knew the answer all along and he asked, “But, how do you know how to make good decisions?”
The woman gazed into the distance and slightly smiled as if remembering a difficult lesson learned and simply said, “Experience.”
The young man, frustrated, asked, “How did you get experience?”
She looked at him kindly, put her hand on his shoulder, leaned to his ear and whispered, “By making bad decisions.”

We all make decisions that, when viewed in retrospect, we think, “Nope, shouldn’t’ve done THAT!”

But, we also have decisions about which we think, “Well, HELL YEAH!! I’d do that again in a skinny minute!!!”

Believe me, you aren’t the only one. My motto has long been, “If you don’t go, you don’t know,” so I have a long list that includes both those types of responses.

Most of the folks we live with and around don’t have the courage to go. They are afraid of what will happen, who will talk about them, what they’ll think about themselves in the morning. 

Now, let’s be honest here. Some of you are doing that grown-up thing right now where you’re thinking, “Well, Mike, if I’m thinking of drinking shots of Drano should I go ahead and do it to see if I like it?”

Remember when you were young and you wanted to do something and your reasoning was that Mike was doing it so you should be able to do it too? And the grown-ups in your life asked,  “If Mike was going to jump off a bridge would you?” (and yes, I’ve jumped off a bridge and out of a plane) Those folks with the Drano question are the successors of the bridge people. So, let’s do a shampoo-on-the-shower-floor slide away from them for a minute.

Whatever the experience was that you thought, “Nope, shouldn’t have done THAT!” I’m willing to bet you now know to either not do it again or modify it so the damage isn’t as great as it was the first time.

But, what if you looked at situations like that as simply experiments.; and yes, some experiments last too long and have a high cost in emotion and money. They were still experiments, though.

They were experiments in figuring out what type of life you are having and want to have. Great scientists, coaches, business and government leaders are careful when labeling attempts/experiments as failures. Everyone knows the Thomas Edison comment that he didn’t have failures he had simply found 10,000 ways not to make a light bulb.

Some of you may not want to hear this, but the Affordable Care Act is not a failure. It’s an experiment in figuring out how to provide insurance for millions of people in a country that has an aging population. 

You have to examine the experiment and ask, “What would I not do again? What would I do again? What did I learn? What can I offer others so they don’t make the same mistake?” 

When I wrote Heartbreak Top 10 and The Best Small Business to Start Right Now! (both available on, they were written so others could benefit from mistakes and successes I have had. 

So remember, the woman at the beginning was right on the money. When you make decisions that don’t turn out as you hoped they are simply part of your experience, which, if you learn from them, can help you make better decisions.

Here are the basic questions for today: What decision have you made in the last 6 months that has led to experiences you would label Great or Bad? What was great about the decision or what was bad? What did you learn? Would you do it again? If so, how might you do it differently?

If you know someone who might benefit from this blog, please pass it on.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Edison and Opportunity

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

Thomas Alva Edison

Monday, October 24, 2016

Loving an Inanimate Object

Considering that some of you know what my sense of humor is like you’re reading the title and already getting worried. No problem. I’ll behave on this one.

Hurricane Matthew’s devastation has touched thousands of people in a variety of ways. On Friday afternoon I realized how it had touched me.

I stopped by the mini-warehouse in which I had stored most of my belongings when I had to move last March. I discovered that about 80% of what I had stored had been destroyed. 

Evidently the water had gotten up to about 10 inches inside the storage units. Bookcases, thousands of dollars in books (many are beautiful coffee table editions), a 75-year old radio that belonged to my grandmother, a photo album my mother created for me before she died, mattresses, and a range of other belongings are now gone.

Now, many of you know how I love books so you understand my sense of loss. Few experiences bring me the joy of being in a bookstore. In fact, if you took all my other possessions and left me with my books I’d be happy.

By the way, the irony is that Saturday morning I got a call from the storage unit owners to ask if I had stopped by. Two weeks after the storm they were calling to inform me that there might have been some damage. Thank you for the timely alert.

Interestingly, on Sunday, while on a trip to Virginia (Go Heels! they beat UVA 35-14!) I stopped by the museum complex in Richmond to see a Thomas Jefferson exhibit. When I stepped up to the desk to get our tickets I was told the museum was having it’s annual….wait or it….used book sale. 

At $10 for a box of books I was in heaven. In fact, I found 3 of the books water had destroyed and was able to replace them. 

All you can do in times of loss and waste is get back up and keep moving. I recently saw a great line that said, “The definition of greatness is getting knocked down 5 times and getting back up 6.” 

Am on the way back up; you can be, too.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Why Did God Do This to RobCo?

"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." Michael Pritchard

Please keep my friends in Lumberton, NC, in your thoughts and prayers My hometown is underwater and without power. It may take a week to restore power in some areas. Over 1,000 people were stranded and are being rescued by boat crews. Many of the stories I've seen on the major network news shows have focused on the poorer neighborhoods, but from what I understand many of the homes in a couple of the nicer communities have 5 feet of water in them. Few have been spared from the damage.

Makes you kind of wonder about the grand scheme of things. Lumberton is the county seat of Robeson County, one of the poorest counties in the nation. Any list of negative community issues you see will probably have Robeson County somewhere in the Top 10.

The event sets up some interesting questions/thoughts; some of which are based on faith...nor not:
1. Some of my more literal-thinking friends might ask, "What did RobCo do to deserve this?" Things were already incredibly difficult for a lot of folks.
2. "Why would God do this to us?" Good question. Followed by, "What's God trying to tell us?" And then, "Is God punishing us and, if so, what'd we do?"
3. "Why didn't someone plan for this possibility?"...another good question...
4. "What can we learn from this?"
5. "Who will help us?"
6. "What's next?"

Here's my stab at answering some of them
1. RobCo didn't do anything to deserve what happened; that's a knee-jerk, emotional response.
2. God didn't do this--if He/She/IT did it at all--to punish anyone or teach a lesson (other than, if you live near a river in an area blessed with hurricanes every year you'll get some flooding). I'm about as far from a Bible-thumper as you can get, but I can tell you that whatever that Spirit is that's out there--if you believe in IT--doesn't do things to punish us. IT's all about good.
3. If you have a highly-paid group of county commissioners who squabble and can't come to decisions about things that really matter it's hard things that really matter. Also, if your county is one of the poorest in the country it's highly likely that the resources to create an infrastructure that can withstand what hit RobCo won't be available on the local level nor allocated on the state or federal level until it's too late.
4. See Answer #2 above...if you live in low-lying areas and it rains this is what happens. That sounds cold-hearted, especially to folks who can't afford to move, but it's a fact.
5. You, your neighbors, RobCo folks who left but will return to some degree the state and feds. The key to the state and fed money, though, will be to watch it very closely when, or if, it does show up.
6. Two news areas to watch: In 48 hours you won't see any more stories in the national news. The silliness of the election will continue to overwhelm the media and there will be the usual murders/carwrecks/disasters-on-the-other-side-of-the-world that will dominate the news. In a week you'll see very few in local/regional news. A year from now someone will do a retrospective to show how people have or have not recovered. Locally, some folks will rebuild, some won't be able to rebuild and they'll live with what they have left. Some will move.

Considering the economic situation in RobCo the bigwigs won't pay much attention to it as time moves on. To the big boys and girls the damage in Lumberton is not 9/11. But, what we need to remember is that to the people who live in Lumberton, to the people of Godwin Heights, Tanglewood, East Lumberton, North Lumberton, and South Lumberton, this IS a 9/11 event.

Here's what we need to consider: Right now emergency teams from the National Guard, power companies, EMTs, DOT, and other government agencies are focused on RobCo and, especially, Lumberton, in order to get the area back to minimal levels of power and living conditions. When a lot of us need to get involved is when the teams leave. A month from now those of us who are Lumbertonians and are living outside the area need to come together to see what needs to be done and how we can help.

Again, keep these folks in your thoughts and prayers. Go Pirates.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Flan and Busting Her Fanny

During Hurricane Matthew’s visit to North Carolina a friend and I visited some folks for dinner.  Among the guests were two sisters, 13 and 10. They were a delight; high energy, smart, articulate, and engaging!

As you can imagine, these young people, closed up inside a house during a storm, were zooming around the house burning up energy. They were both wearing socks and they enjoyed sliding on the hardwood floors…until…Flannery, or Flan, the younger, took too quick a turn.

As seems to happen in moments like this time slowed down. I looked over just as Flan’s feet flew out from under her. She was too far away for me to reach out and grab her, and it seemed to take forever for her to hit, butt first, on the floor. 

In an instant after she hit the floor, though, her face went from stunned and surprised to…a big smile! She reached under a couch and said, “Lisey (her 18-month old cousin), I found your ball!!”

Instantly, she had turned what could have been a negative situation (she crashed and burned in front of her sister and a group of adults) into a wonderfully positive one. 

I immediately thought, if most adults could exhibit Flan’s coolness under pressure we’d all be in much better shape.

What kind of challenge are you running into now? What's the silver lining? Whose ball can you find under the couch?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today I Will Do....

This is a quote you see in a lot of gyms...I've always loved it:

"Today I will do what others won't
 So tomorrow I can do what others can't."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Wisdom of 2-Ply

To be honest, I’ve fought writing this blog for a couple of weeks. It’s one of those topics where a lot of folks will see the title and automatically go, “ick!”

But, you're still here reading aren’t you?

Here’s the deal. A couple of weeks ago I got home really late, was draggin’ tired, and I’m…sitting…and…mmm…thinking about the fact that 2-ply is one of life’s wonderfully simple pleasures. And, I must say, I congratulated myself on appreciating this small, seemingly insignificant gift from the paper companies.

Even though Queen Elizabeth I's godson invented one of the first flush toilets in 1596, commercially produced toilet paper didn't begin circulating until 1857. Quilted Northern, formerly Northern Tissue, advertised as late as 1935 that their toilet paper was “Splinter-Free!”

Which brings to mind the fact that the 1-ply in my elementary school definitely was not Quilted Northern!

But, I digress…not long ago I had the opportunity to again encounter 1-ply; I think it was at a highway rest area. And, I’m thinking that, yeah, if you’re buying a gazillion rolls of tissue for the whole state, then 1-ply is a good use of taxpayer dollars. 

Later that week, though, I ran across 1-ply in a friend’s home. Now, this is someone for whom the choice of 1-ply or 2-ply, if it’s based on financial factors, is not going to have trouble buying 2-ply.

And I’m thinking…why?

Why not treat yourself to 2-ply if the difference in cost is so small? Now, my more logical, mature, financially astute friends will offer, “Well, if you add up the difference over the course of a year…” I get it. If I add up the difference in 1-ply and 2-ply over the course of a year it’s probably enough to buy another 8 rolls of 2-ply. So what? 

Buying 2-ply vs 1-ply is a wonderful example of doing small, inexpensive things to treat yourself. To remind you that YOU are a good person, you deserve good things, and you deserve to be happy!

I don’t know what it is about paper products, unless it’s the fact that they are relatively inexpensive, but another friend said that one of the small things that makes her feel prosperous is having Kleenex in every room.

What small purchases, gestures, items, and/or activities help you feel positive and prosperous? They don’t have to be expensive in terms of money, time or space, but they connect with you and make you feel good.

So, I’m going to continue to buy 2-ply; AND LIVE IT UP!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Mother Teresa and Your Dream

Today, September 4th, Mother Teresa was declared a saint by the Catholic Church.

Few of us expect to be declared saints (although we all know some folks who believe they are already there) and Mother Teresa was no different. She simply--and that word certainly seems to be inappropriate in this case--did what she saw needed to be done, and in doing it she helped thousands.

If you read some of the reports about her organization, though, you don't get totally glowing descriptions. The comments range from extraordinary and wonderful to frightening and hygiene conditions resembling a concentration camp.

So often, if we have the courage to live our dreams life may not turn out to be blue birds and lemonade. Sometimes it comes out as vultures and battery acid. The key is to keep trying; to keep moving toward what your vision of the dream might be.

Mother Teresa heard the critics but, to her, the cries of the needy--the people whom her dream told her to help--were louder.

Mother Teresa:

If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
There are no great things, only small things with great love. Happy are those.
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Where's Your Crack?

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

from Anthem, by Leonard Cohen

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Boogie On for Better Brains

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

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

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

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

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

And, right now, we could use some cool.

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

Stay cool!

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Faith or Hope...Which Are You?

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

What are you relying on to reach your goal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Nothing's New

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And she was amazed.

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

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

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

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

If you believe this blog has value please Like it and pass it on.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Why Be a Dope?

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

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

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

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

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

Tru dat.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the ride.

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Just Something to Think About

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

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just kidding…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

it just came out

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

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

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

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

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

didn’t pay’em no damn mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you hiding in your mind?

As for what other people might think…

don’t pay’em no damn mind

Check out The Whirligig Park:

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Inman!! Don't Stick Your Head In There!!

There’s a wonderful family living behind me. The young couple has two small boys. The older is Inman.

The other day I heard the mother’s voice coming from the backyard., “Inman!!” She yelled, “Don’t stick your head in there!”

Since I didn’t immediately hear screams I figured that wherever Inman was trying to stick his head couldn’t be that bad. I also remembered all the times my brother and I stuck our heads and limbs in places we probably shouldn’t have.

When we’re young we’re fearless. We don’t understand the consequences and pain that can come from some of our actions. We’re curious and thinking only of the…What happens if?

What if I stick my finger in a pencil sharpener? What if I try to swim to the other side of the pool? What if I ride my bicycle by the rope that holds a LARGE fan to the roof of a tobacco warehouse and  grab the rope and swing off like I’ve seen in the movies? (I can tell you what happens. If the rope is tied in a slip knot it comes loose, the fan falls, hits the bicycle and crushes the handlebars, dings and breaks your foot, and you end up on the warehouse floor about 20 minutes away from a visit to the ER.)

As we get older the fear of embarrassment, consequences and pain tend to overwhelm the YEAH! feeling we get when we take a chance and it works as well or better than we expected.

We also get so slogged into the repetitive nature of life that any exploration or chance we could take is a change. And…we…don’t…want…to…change.

Whether it’s work, relationships, health, food, or spirituality, sometimes it’s a good thing to stick your head in there and see what happens. You might learn something, you might have a YEAH! experience…you might even call a friend over (or your little brother as was my case in a lot of situations) and say…

…“Hey, Joe, stick your head in there.”

Where will you stick your head today?

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Friday, July 22, 2016


Ha! Gotcha to read! This is a little longer than usual, but hang with it....

Considering some of the challenges I’m running into in life right now I’ve been thinking about this quote: 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” 

The quote is often attributed to Plato. (no, kids, not the planet…that would be Pluto…well, it used to be a planet and then a bunch of pointy-headed scientists said, “Noooooo…”….it’s really a…mmm…sorry, I digressed)

Anyway, Plato was a Greek philosopher.

Others credit Philo of Alexandria with…(Dang! Will you kids at the back of class calm the hell down!! No! That’s not Philo Bedow, the character Clint Eastwood played in Any Which Way But Loose…and yes, Sondra Locke was pretty hot in that, and the orangutan knocked out the bad guy and…whew! sorry! go off on a tangent again.)

Sooooo, the quote was probably created in the 19th Century by Ian McLaren, the pen name of Reverend John Watson, a noted clergyman.

But, here’s the interesting thing (and yes, if you’ll hang with me I’m going to make a point)….here’s Watson’s whole explanation…read it through TWICE and then I’m going to give you two very different ways to think about the quote:

“This man beside us also has a hard fight with an unfavouring world, with strong temptations, with doubts and fears, with wounds of the past which have skinned over, but which smart when they are touched. It is a fact, however surprising. And when this occurs to us we are moved to deal kindly with him, to bid him be of good cheer, to let him understand that we are also fighting a battle; we are bound not to irritate him, nor press hardly upon him nor help his lower self.”

Here’s the first point: What if we looked at each other at work and remembered the quote? 

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” 

You know that person who gets on your last nerve at work? What if they are having health issues, personal/family problems? Financial worries? Spiritual issues? 

Would you cut’em some slack if you knew that? Would you—and me—understand, “I’m running into issues just like they are?” Wouldn’t that bring you a little closer to each other?

And, yes, I get the automatic reaction of, “I don’t want to be closer to them?!!” I get ya, but the farther away we get from each other the worse life gets for all.

Which brings me to the second point. What if we remembered the quote:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

And we remembered it during the election season/process? You know those folks who are adamantly for Trump and opposed/loathe Hillary, or are sure it’s Hillary and stunned/disgusted by Trump? What are their lives like? What experiences are pushing them to make the decisions/statements they do?

The farther away we are, the worse life gets for all. 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a couple of things in life that seem to keep me constantly girded for battle. Increasingly, I’m trying to remember the quote;

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Maybe They'll Get Hit By a Truck!!! Yeah!!!

Yesterday, I said I’d offer a practical way to move away from worry. 

And no, this doesn't involve miracle cures, the offending person being hit by a truck, winning the lottery, or not having to vote and make a choice in November. 

The best way to get worry out of your head is one of those, “I knew that,” solutions. It’s…


Whether you’re trying to get a squawling 2-year old to stop crying or an 82-year old Alzheimer’s sufferer to stop wandering, the solution is the same…redirection.

We all know our minds can only hold one thought at a time. We think we can multi-task, but we can’t. We simply switch from one thought to another so fast that it seems that we are getting more than one thing done, or thought about, at a time.

So, if you want to move away from worry, you’ve got to find something else to focus on. You can read, watch a movie, do something physical (walking doesn’t do it for me, I can walk and worry at the same time), do something spiritual, engage in an activity with others….there are tons of things you can do or think about other than the worry issue. 

This method is especially effective if you choose an activity that is new to you. Your mind locks in on how to work through an activity you are unfamiliar with.

Will the worry thoughts return? Absolutely. And, when they do, you have to redirect your thoughts to what is going on in the moment, right in front of you.

If nothing else, move your body. If you are sitting and worrying, get up and walk around. If you are standing and worrying, do something in which you move your arms. Movement takes brainpower and your thoughts get pulled away from the worry issue.

This takes us full circle, back to yesterday. At some point you are probably going to have to confront the worry issue. Some people go their entire lives dodging issues, but the challenges almost always come back to bite them sooner or later. 

Go back to the blog yesterday and check the only two questions that address worry: Is this something you can do nothing about? Or, is this an issue you can do something about? 

If it’s the first one and you can’t do anything about it, get moving!!! Redirect with action of some type to get your mind off the topic.

If you can do something about it, THEN GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!!!

One last thought: What if? What if you were not the one worrying? What if the worrier was one of your best friends and you knew what they were worried about, and they asked, “What should I do?” What honest, focused, loving advice would you give them?

Now, give that advice to yourself…and take it.