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


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 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 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 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 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:

Monday, August 31, 2020

What's Your Gate?

Too often this is life. You're walking around in the yard thinking, "I've got to get the heck out of here, but how do I get through the gate?"

Maybe one or more of these 10 attitudes are fencing you in:
1. Negative're standing on the porch looking at the back of the gate and thinking, "I bet the damned gate is locked!"
2. Giving up too soon..."Every time I want to do something there's a gate I've got to go through. It's just too much trouble."
3. Living in the past...."The last time I tried to leave the gate was locked."
4. Self-limiting behavior..."I've never tried to open a gate like that before."
5. Negativity..."Even if I get out of here I bet there's nothing fun to do once I'm outside."
6. The Blame Game..."It's Their Fault for putting a gate up in the first place!"
7. Resisting Change..."The gate used to open the other way...(sniffle) BUT THEY CHANGED IT!"
8. Honoring Others' Priorities Over Their Own..."I should probably wait until everyone else wants to leave."
9. Doubt Their own Instincts..."I bet I could just walk right through that gate! Naaah, that would never work."
10. Search for the Easy Answer..."You know, I bet I could just walk out of the yard without going through the gate." (Amazing how often that works!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Best friends forever. What happened to that?

We all have someone in our lives we've bumped into. 

Well, maybe we didn't just bump into them, maybe we crossed swords with them.

Whatever happened, and however you describe it, you and they are on the outs.  

Recently, I saw a quote, "Best friends forever. What happened to that?"

I have a "best friend" whom I've known all my life. Back around '83 we had a bump up and it was a dozen years before we accidentally crossed paths. We made up and were fast friends for about 13 years. 

Then, I made a life decision that took me out of his orbit, he said some mean-spirited things and now, 11 years later, we still haven't spoken. 

I've reached out every year by email to wish him a Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas...crickets. For all I know he could have died, but we have some mutual acquaintances so they'd probably say something.

Here's the point...none of us are so well-friended that we don't need another friend. Plus, we don't need the stress of thinking about what I've just been writing about.

So, during the next week I'm going to reach out again and see how he's doing.

Here's my challenge to you: Pick someone with whom you've had a bump up...float a small--or large--effort to reconcile. See what happens. The simple act that you tried makes you the bigger person.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Can You Escape?

The picture here is of my storage unit. It's exactly 6 miles away. I'm pretty fortunate that it's climate controlled and in a reasonably nice section of town. But, there's no electricity so the TVs don't work and I have to bring a battery-powered radio.

However, if you notice, I have a ton of books, some dumbbells, there's a couch on the right-hand side and a fold-up TV tray I can use as a desk. The light in the hallway is motion sensitive so it doesn't go off until long after I leave.

During this crazy time we all need somewhere to which we can escape. It might be your bathroom, bedroom, closet, garage, attic, car, a walk, doesn't matter. You just need somewhere you can get away from it all; at least for a little while. 

And, I don't necessarily mean the escaping you do online. More often than not you're going to see things (political, etc.) that crank you up.

I'm talking about just. getting. away.

Now, I hear ya. If you have small children or are caring for someone you have to be close. If that's the case you have to escape into your mind. 

But, be careful. One of my psychiatrist friends says, "When you're in your own mind you're behind enemy lines."

Try this: Find a picture of a place you would like to go. Outdoor scenes are best. You might want a picture without a lot of other people in it. 

Find a few minutes in which you can breathe deeply and really get into the picture. Imagine sun on your face and sand under your feet if it's a beach scene. Get into the cool air if you are in the mountains. 

If you can do this simple exercise for only 2 minutes (your mind will wander and you'll have to bring yourself back) you'll find yourself slowing down...getting a little calmer. It's a simple mindfulness exercise. And, Studies show that if you do it twice a day your blood pressure starts going down.

Not a bad trade-off for a couple of minutes.

This is a time in which lots of us are out here near the end of our the saying goes, "Tie a knot in the rope and hang on!" 

My suggestion is tie that knot verrrry slowly and focus on it. 

You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If You Are Having One of Those Days

Some thoughts from a blog waaaay in the past...

Need a Thought for the Day?

I'm having one of those days in which I need a lighter thought; something to take my mind off what is going on and put it onto something that has nothing to do with the challenges I'm facing.

If, by chance, you're having a day like that, too, here are some of the thoughts I'm using to attack the blues:

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and a leaky tire. 
3. It's always darkest before the dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of your car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you. 1
0. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Duct tape is like "The Force". It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.

Monday, January 13, 2020

You NEED to Get This!

Holidays are past; let’s get started on the new year, the new decade! 

The greatest service I can offer right off the bat is to suggest, cajole, arm-twist and beg you to grab a copy of legendary choreographer Twyla Tharp’s new book, Keep It Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life

You should see my copy. i've underlined so many passages the pages look like they are bleeding ink.

I'm going back and reading it again with a yellow highlighter and am finding lots of ideas I missed the first time.

One of the biggest points is that, as we age, we often believe that energy, the ability to get up and get after life, wanes as we age. Tharp's point is that as long as we stay in reasonably good shape we can do the things we want to do, we don't lose out because we can't get up and out of that Barcalounger.

The book is a little pricey at $27, but it is the best get-it-done book I’ve seen in at least a decade.