Monthly Archives: October 2006

Sore but Happy

I’m in major remodeling mode for my house. We are painting, putting in new carpet in the majority of the house plus flooring in the bathrooms, kitchen and utility room. I’m slightly exhausted. I can expect at least two more days of this. :-)

There is something satisfying about doing this type of work. It is tiring but quite rewarding. And it will be even better after it is all done.

I’m actually having fun even though many of my muscles are sore. But, my dad is helping me. I’ve got great music on to keep the energy up. I’m making the best of it. And I think that is a great philosophy for whatever you undertake. Your attitude can be the single key to allowing you to enjoy anything that comes your way. I mean anything and everything.

Your attitude is the one thing you have complete control over. And if you take control of your attitude, you will be able to affect your entire life experience. Hard to believe? Impossible you say, because the world is affecting you? I say give it a try. Work on your attitude in every situation you encounter. And watch what happens. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Michael

“Your success and happiness lie in you… Resolve to keep happy,
and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against
difficulties.”
Helen Keller

“I am happy and content because I think I am.”Alain-Rene Lesage

It's Just Business from Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s October 28th post, It’s Just Business really hit home with me. I am currently dealing with an intense situation at work and Seth summed up my feelings quite succinctly. Here is the entire post:

It’s just business.

Nope, actually…

“It’s just life.”

Anyone who is willing to lie to you, cheat you or treat you with disrespect because it’s just business is doing more damage to herself than to you.

Work takes too much time and too much emotion for it to be just work. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t want to spend time or money with anyone who has this particular attitude disfunction. – Seth Godin

I feel exactly the same way. I reached a point years ago in both my personal and business life where I will not compromise my values anymore. And on top of that, I always treat people the way I want to be treated or better. I also don’t ever use the excuse, “It’s just business.”

Thanks Seth! Perfect timing.

Michael

Why write, anyway?

“Why does one begin to write? Because she feels misunderstood, I guess. Because it never comes out clearly enough when she tries to speak. Because she wants to rephrase the world, to take it in and give it back again differently, so that everything is used and nothing is lost. Because it’s something to do to pass the time until she is old enough to experience the things she writes about.”

This quote was sent to me via email in the spring and I wish I could give the author credit – I have no idea where this quote originated but truly appreciate the words.  I’m trying to remember when I first started to write.  I remember a diary, lost in my parent’s divorce, that mulled over the boys at church camp and the angst of being a teenager.  I was relatively boring (by worldly standards) teenager, striving to be independent through music and religion, so I wasn’t much of a nightmare for my parents.   I was too busy trying to excel at everything, win praise for all I did, to have much time for trying drugs, sex or temper tantrums with my parents.  I’m not sure why I bought that first diary as I have no recollection of anyone telling me it might be a good idea to express my feelings instead of bottling them up inside.

In college, it became a blue composition notebook, with only 1/3 of the pages used, spanning the years of 1982 through 1985.  The writing was often done at Lake Fort Phantom, in Abilene, Texas.  I would head there to find seclusion from my roommates and this was the journal I was using when I moved to Colorado.  Gunnison was my first home after college and I stayed there for 20 years.  This is where I started exploring my writing voice.  Following 10 years of writing silence, in February 1995, in Lake City, Colorado, I met with an unfamiliar group of women for a “Journaling Retreat”.  Through the gentle guidance of Lois Sunrich http://www.storyartsinc.org/ and Carolyn Hull, my voice squeaked and eeked out of me.  Over the next four years of annual retreats, I figured out I could process an “awful lot of stuff” in my writing.  Relationship pain, family issues, abuse trauma.  It all would come pouring out and I could move on.

I guess I’ll write more on this later.  Flo

Allie Our Beagle

My daughter and I have a very precocious female beagle named Allie. I travel a lot and don’t get to see her very much. So, it is always nice to spend some time with her.

Allie is incredibly playful almost 24 hours a day. She can wear you out because she is so athletic. I must say, playing with her is a joy. Allie can make you start laughing very quickly as she runs at hypersonic speeds through the house hoping you will chase her. She is a great stress relief when times are tough. She’ll make you feel like you are the most important person in the world when you’re down. Allie also has an intense curiosity about everything that we do. She definitely enjoys being right where the action is.

I mention all of this because Allie is one of the many things that make me happy. Sometimes all I need to do is picture her in my mind to get a smile on my face. In fact she is making me laugh right now as I watch her make a "nest" out of a sleeping bag on the floor. It must be her bedtime!

It’s funny how dogs and cats know the inside of folks better than other folks do, isn’t it?Eleanor H. Porter, Pollyanna, 1912
(1868 – 1920)

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.Mark Twain, US humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit (1835 – 1910)

Out in the Ether

Hello to everyone, out there in the ether.  I’m honestly not sure I know what “the ether” is but I feel like I’m writing to no one right now and that may just lead to a little jabbering on my part.

I looked up “ether” in the dictionary, and low and behold (one of my oddities, I quote my father’s little cliche’s) I actually do know what ethers means and used it quite correctly in the above sentence.  “Well, I’ll be”.

This is my first blog.  In fact, I haven’t even really read any blogs.  I think I’m a bit surprised to be asked to join and excited at the same time.  There are many times when my writing is just about daily stuff; sometimes needing a prompt to get started, I amble off and am soon trotting or running with the words flying fast and furious behind me.  I typically don’t type knowing or planning what I want to say, so this blogging will be a little different for me, actually trying to have a bit of a focus when I write.  We’ll see if that really happens, or not!

Flo

My Smile Experiment

I flew to California today from Rhode Island. The weather system in the South and Midwest had caused numerous delays. Many people seemed to be grumpy, slightly stressed and not in a great mood. I didn’t see many faces with smiles nor did I hear much laughter.

So, I decided to try a little experiment. I was sitting in row 9 on a 757, which is right next to the entrance to the plane. I put on a non-threatening smile and looked in the eyes of as many people as possible. I wanted to see how many travelers would trade their blank or grumpy looking face for a smile.

It was quite amazing. I’m estimating over 3/4 of the people I looked at smiled back at me. It was great seeing how each smile transformed everyone’s face into something very pleasing. For some of the people that smiled, I smiled back even more which made them smile more. I had discovered the smile feedback loop. It didn’t take much effort to keep the feedback loop going!

Don’t you find it easy to judge people when they don’t have a smile? I used to do that all the time. Not a great habit to get into. I’m better at not doing that now, but old habits take some time to change.

Next time you are traveling or shopping or hanging around large groups of people, try smiling a little more and observe the effects. You may be changing someone’s day for the better.

Michael

How Did I Get Here?

For the first time in a long time, I am having some challenges at work. My boss is really treating me in a negative way. Much more so than usual. This behavior from my boss has been going on for about a month.

So, tonight I talked to my business partner Nat about it. My question was how did I go from the opposite experience to the one I am having now, i.e. from “good” to “bad.” His first response was why do I always go down that road? In other words, asking the question of “How did I get here?” Unfortunately that is a pattern for me. I’m trying to break that habit.

The better question is “Where do I want to be?” or “How do I want this situation to be different?” Strange things start happening when you focus on what you desire as opposed to what you don’t desire or don’t like. One thing you will notice is that your mood will get better and your outlook will brighten. And if you can keep your eye on what you desire while attempting to feel good where you currently are, you will find that slowly but surely the situation you don’t like will start to morph into what you do desire.

I have seen this happen over and over again in my life during the last several years. It’s like magic. For an experiment, why don’t you try this technique on something small that you want to change? Remember don’t react to the situation in front of you. Instead, focus on what you really desire/want, figure out a way to feel better about where you currently are and then sit back and watch your situation change slowly but surely. You will be amazed.

Well, I guess I should listen to my own advice. Even though I know these techniques work and have successfully applied them to other parts of my life, there are still areas of my life where I get stuck and practice old habits. Today’s example is one of them. But, I’ll get right on it after I finishing writing.

Have a great day!

Michael

Right now a moment of time is passing by!….We must become that moment. – Paul Cezanne

Get Up and Dance

When I need a pick me up or just want to feel better at a given moment, I usually put on some of my favorite music with a good beat that I really like and connect with. As soon as the music gets going, I get up and start dancing in my home. I can hear you now…”Oh no, I would never do that. I don’t want to embarrass myself.” Well then, dance when you are alone. I used to be the same way and said the same negative things in my head. It’s all rubbish.

It is an incredibly freeing experience when you are simply and spontaneously moving to music. If you can’t stand and dance, then sit and move as much as you can. Move to the rhythms and focus on nothing. Just enjoy each moment as it flows into the next. I’ve found I can’t do this without smiling from ear to ear by the end of the song. Actually I’m smiling almost the whole time.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of music you like. Any music can be danced to. For variety, experiment a little and pick something you wouldn’t normal play but were always curious about. The worst that can happen is you don’t like it and then you can go and pick something else.

I have some good friends that live near Lake Tahoe. I credit them with getting me back to dancing around the house again. I used to dance around the house years and years ago, but “grew” out of it. I realize now how silly that decision was.

If you are around children, dance with them. They love it and it will make you feel even better.

Another fun thing is to pretend to be a rock star and do the air band fantasy. When I do this I am usually the lead guitar player. I have a very close and dear friend in Massachusetts that I air band with every time we get together. She plays the drums and I do all the guitar parts. We usually split the keyboard sections, but she is really a better air band keyboard player than me. :-)

By the way, if you are curious, I’m 49 and she is 60. Don’t let age be a barrier. That’s a bit of rubbish also. Age is irrelevant when you are having fun.

So, get off your *&% and dance already. Have a good time. Do it some more tomorrow.

Michael

“Begin at once to live.” – Seneca

Self-Empowerment

Self-empowerment — that’s learning to respect other people’s music, but dance to your own tune as you master harmony within yourself. – Doc Childre

My friend Kim sent me this quote about a week ago. I like this one a lot and I feel it really hits the “nail on the head”.

For some reason, people tend to focus on other people and how they can be changed. You see this phenomenon every where. Groups get together and proclaim you have to believe a certain way to gain acceptance or salvation. People label you strange if you don’t “conform” to what the majority is doing. Politics, religion, sexual orientation, racial/cultural differences, and humor are just a few examples.

I believe most people are not comfortable with who they are. They don’t accept themselves. This is so difficult for most that it is easier to control or try to change others instead. I’ve been one of those people. For most of my life, I tried to control the world around me by “forcing” others to believe in what I believe. I used the insidious technique of passive aggressiveness to make people do what I wanted them to do in the way I thought it should be done. It was not a shining moment in my life.

One day shortly after I turned 40, I had a revelation. I realized, in one sweeping moment, that I liked and accepted who I was. Two things happened. First, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders as I didn’t need to question every decision I had made in my life up until that point in time anymore. Secondly, my capacity for accepting the differences in others dramatically increased. Several years later, I find this capacity continually increasing.

I find the diversity on this planet to be quite fascinating. As I get older, I’m more and more interesting in what others think and believe. I don’t feel threatened anymore and I find that the openness has and continues to stretch my perspective for the better. As I get more comfortable with who I am, I find that I can allow others to be more of who they are without judgment.

Here’s a exercise for you. Each day you wake up, find one thing that you like or accept about yourself. Look in the mirror and verbally acknowledge what you accept. If you do this every day, you might be surprised by what transformations take place within you.

Have an accepting day!

Gandhi

I watched the movie Gandhi this weekend. One of the things that has always impressed me about Gandhi was his sheer and unwavering persistance in his goals. He simply never gave up. It’s quite incredible.

I think that persistance requires belief first. Belief that your desires can be fulfilled. Belief in your self. Belief that you will get the assistance you need when you need it most. Belief that the world can be changed by one man or woman.

Another point from the movie I enjoyed was that while you are going from A to Z, i.e. reaching for your goal, Don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Gandhi did this regularly. He lived his life while accomplishing great tasks.

Finally, Gandhi exhibited enormous compassion and love for people. His every thought, word and action exuded these principles. He opened his arms to anyone and everyone regardless of race, religion or status. If we all did this in our own small way, how much do you think this would affect the world? I’m guessing a great deal.

How about showing compassion to one person today? Give it try. You might be surprised

Where there is love, there is life; hatred leads to destruction. – Gandhi