Monthly Archives: November 2007

Remove From Calendar

Yesterday, I was told that I had to give a presentation to the most senior people at the company where I work. The discussion would be on the status of a number of projects under my responsibility. The meeting would take place on Friday at 2:00 p.m. I had never given a presentation to the meeting invitees, which included the new CEO, CTO and several senior vice presidents.

I had some anxiety because I had been focused in a very small but important area for the last several weeks which meant I needed to get up to speed quickly on the other projects. I talked to my boss and wrote a “cheat sheet” for my presentation.

To further help with the bit of anxiety I was experiencing, I chatted with Erica and Nat which made me feel much better by the evening time. But, fundamentally, I didn’t want to attend the meeting. I thought it would be much better to wait until next month after I had prepared for 2 or 3 weeks and become acquainted in more detail again with the other projects.

So, that night I had a clear thought and visualization that the meeting would be canceled by the CEO. I still continued to prepare myself for the presentation. I knew the material better and felt more confident. By the time I woke up this morning, I was positive the meeting would be canceled.

I arrived at work a few minutes before 9:00 and checked my email. Nothing was in my in-box about the meeting. At 9:05 a.m., the meeting cancellation came through. I quickly and excitedly clicked on the “Remove From Calendar” button. Excellent! My desire and wish had come true exactly as I had visualized it.

I love the “Remove From Calendar” button. It gives me such a sense of closure and a feeling of happiness. :-) Another meeting removed. Now, “real work” could be done. My other favorite work phrase is “Request Denied.” I usually use that phrase in jest, but it is still fun to say.

Moral of the story: Desires and wishes can and do come true. They happen more than people take notice. The recipe is a dash of faith, a sprinkle of desire, a teaspoon of imagination, a dollop of belief and two quarts of patience.

Have a great day!

Michael

The Extraordinary Terry Fator

Every so often, someone comes along that has taken a skill/talent to an extraordinary level. Terry Fator is one such individual. He is this year’s $1,000,000 winner on the NBC show, America’s Got Talent. Terry’s unique talent is ventriloquism. I can hear you now. Not another ventriloquist! Well, Terry takes his craft further than anyone I’ve ever seen.

He impersonates singers, both male and female. Terry is so good that if you close your eyes you will see the person he is impersonating. But, you don’t want to do that as watching him perform is as fascinating as listening to him. You will hardly see his mouth move. In fact he is smiling and moving around most of the time. It is very difficult to tell that it is Terry singing and not the puppet.

Check out the following short videos on YouTube:

Terry’s first appearance on America’s Got Talent

Terry impersonating Dean Martin and Tony Benett

Terry singing Garth Brooks

Terry’s finale singing Roy Orbison

I watch them over & over and I still have a hard time believing what I’m seeing.

Check it out and celebrate what we can do when we are at our best.

Have a great day!

Michael

Free Rice

Freerice.com

“What if just knowing what a word meant could help feed hungry people around the world? Well, at FreeRice it does. …the totals have grown exponentially.” – The Washington Post

FreeRice.com is an innovative idea to help feed the hungry in the world and increase the vocabulary of people who play the game. The concept is brilliant in its simplicity. The site launched on October 7th, 2007.

On the home page you will see a word with four possible definitions. Out of these four possible definitions of the word shown, pick the correct one. Each time you pick the correct definition, 20 grains or rice are donated to hungry people and distributed worldwide by the United Nations World Food Program.

The vocabulary program knows the difficulty rating of each word. After every third correct guess, the difficulty increases. If you get one wrong, it simply goes down one level of difficulty. The website FAQ page states that learning new vocabulary words will help you:

  • Formulate your ideas better
  • Write better papers, emails and business letters
  • Speak more precisely and persuasively
  • Comprehend more of what you read
  • Read faster because you comprehend better
  • Get better grades in high school, college and graduate school
  • Score higher on tests like the SAT, GRE, LSAT and GMAT
  • Perform better at job interviews and conferences
  • Sell yourself, your services, and your products better
  • Be more effective and successful at your job

The advertisers listed at the bottom of the web page contribute the money to buy the rice. As of November 27th of this year 4,181,025,950 grains of rice have been donated. Yes, that is over 4 billion grains. I did a little bit of research online and found that it is estimated that a pound of long grain rice contains about 29,000 grains. Using simple math, that equates to over 144,000 pounds of rice. Wow! That can make a huge difference.

The site is completely non profit. All advertisement money goes to the purchase of rice.

I really love to see innovation at it’s best and simplest. The creativity is refreshing. I played the game and donated 1000 grains of rice tonight. I will donate everyday now. How about you? All it takes is a little bit of your time.

Have a great day!

Michael

Getting More Done in Less Time

Yesterday I took a day off from work. I had been away from home for about two weeks and therefore I had a number of “things” that needed to be accomplished, performed or completed. The list was quite long and I only had about 6 1/2 hours to do everything.

Typically I would write everything down and make a list that I could check off as I completed each task. Even though I would spend time prioritizing all items, I never seemed to complete everything that was on my list. I would feel frustrated almost every time.

I decided to try something different. So, I began this experiment by not making a list of tasks on paper. I kept the list in my head instead. Secondly, I decided to not prioritize my tasks. Thirdly, I would decide what to do first based only on my intuition. (Note: Your intuition is typically the quietest voice in your mind and it is usually the first thing that pops into your head before you start to think about it.)

I started the first task by what felt good to me, what seemed fun and what I felt drawn to do. This task was completed in record time. I was immediately drawn to the next task. Each successive task was completed in just the right amount of time. Six and a half hours later, I had completed everything on my mental list.

I was astounded. Not only was everything done, but I felt really good. I also didn’t feel like I had really worked that hard. Everything just seemed to flow. It was a beautiful thing.

Next time you have a lot to do, try this technique and see how it works for you. I fundamentally believe we have all the answers and can solve any problem that comes our way. We just have to get out of the way of ourselves.

Have a great day!

Michael

3 Glorious Days in New York City – Part 2

Day 3

Sleeping in on Sunday was important to recover from all of our activity over the last two days. We made a leisurely stroll to E.J.’s Luncheonette at 447 Amsterdam Ave. This was a great diner with ample portions of food for a decent price. What a wonderful way to start the day.

After that hardy breakfast, we walked over to Zabar’s. Not only does their deli have everything under the sun, the top floor has aisle after aisle of kitchenware. I’ve never seen anything like it. We wandered up and down the rows of food and kitchen gadgets for quite some time. The Zabar’s website claim they have over 40,000 shoppers per week. Incredible!

We took the subway down to Union Square again and did some shopping for shoes and Levis pants. That activity took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but no worries as we found exactly what we were looking for. Next stop was Po Restaurant in Greenwich Village.

Very yummy. This Italian restaurant is a popular place. Fortunately for us, we arrived at a lull in activity. That meant we got the food delivered to our table very quickly. Everything was quite tasty. We had the White Bean Brushetta to start. I had the Po Panini which is a grilled chorizo sausage with goat cheese and onion marmalade plus a salad. Erica had the tilapia special. Very good. After our late lunch we walked around the streets and did some Xmas shopping and enjoyed the variety of wares being offered.

We wanted to end the day with an espresso and pastry from somewhere in Little Italy. After many streets of walking and endless searching we found a place called Ferrara Cafe. Oh my god! The cappuccino was perfect. I had a small cannoli and Erica had a pastry called a lobster tail. It was huge! What a great way to end a fabulous trip.

My travel advice for the day: Get out of your house and go see something you haven’t seen. It doesn’t have to be New York; just somewhere you haven’t been. Explore without planning too much. You’ll thank yourself.

Have a great day!

Michael

3 Glorious Days in New York City – Part 1

Erica and I spent the last 3 days in Manhattan creating adventure and exploring the never ending nooks and crannies of this endlessly diverse metropolitan city. I’m very new to the intricacies of New York City so it was wonderful to freely explore the streets and numerous shops. I found many similarities with London, where I lived for 18 months several years ago.

We stayed in the Upper West Side around 91st Street and Amsterdam. Erica had a great deal on an apartment from a friend that was 65% less expensive than staying in a hotel.

Day 1

I love photography so we took a subway down to B&H Photo. The store itself is huge with two floors covering every aspect of photography, video, astronomy and a host of accessories. Since it was Black Friday, B&H was packed with people. It looked like a feeding frenzy on a wildlife video. I’ll have to make a visit regularly as the store contains so much.

After the B&H tour, we walked around Lower Broadway so that Erica could find some wholesale merchandise for her store. We spend a little bit of time here and then walked over to the East Village for lunch. We ate at Quintessence Raw Food. It may sound strange to some, but the flavors were fabulous.

Next we meandered around Union Square and poked around a huge craft show. That was fun. There were lots of vendors with a plethora of wares for sale. A quick subway ride took us north to Rockefeller Center where we walked around for a bit and looked at NBC studios and the ice rink. The Christmas tree had been placed near the skaters but it was not decorated yet.

A short walk to Time’s Square took us to our destination for dinner, Ellen’s Stardust Diner. The waiters and waitresses take turns singing show tunes and other songs for the patrons. We had a great dinner and some wonderful entertainment at the same time.

Finally we went to an Off Broadway show called My First Time. Using stories from the website My First Time, four actors sitting on stools portrayed a humorous look at other’s first times (yes, we are talking about sex.). Very funny and well done.

Day 2

We started our day early with a cappuccino, croissant, oatmeal and some fruit. It was very cold outside and we needed some good food to help fend off the chills.

Our main objective for today was to explore as much as possible the massive American Museum of Natural History. We got there right when they opened and started our adventure with a tour of the butterfly conservatory. It was very interesting, informative and quite fun. They had many species of butterflies. I believe our favorite was called Queen of the Philippines. It was huge with a red body, read head surrounded by black and red wings. Wow!

We wandered up to the H2O exhibit and learned all about fresh water and the challenges we face now and in the future to supply clean water to humanity. Our next stop was the enormous mineralogical exhibit. It contained some stunning examples of crystals, minerals and the largest meteorite in captivity (34 tons).

Lunch was off campus at an excellent restaurant serving southern Indian cuisine the back to the museum for a planetarium show called Cosmic Collisions. The movie showed stunning images and video depicting collisions ranging from meteors on earth to galaxies colliding. After walking around the astronomy section, we ended our day with an IMAX movie called Dinosaurs Alive!. We were up close and personal with the 50 foot screen. It felt like we were there.

At this point we had our fill of the Museum of Natural History and decided to walk around Lincoln Center. We ate at Ollies for dinner and then ended our night with the movie, No Country for Old Men. Very intense film with some of the best acting I’ve seen in years. If you don’t like violence, don’t go see this one, but the acting was superb.

Day 3 tomorrow…………………..

Michael

The Lesser of Two Evils

Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil. – Jerry Garcia

When I read this quote I immediately thought of presidential and local elections over the last several decades. Many people answer the question of who they voted for by saying “I voted for so and so because they were the lesser of two evils.”

I’ve answered the question exactly like that also. I didn’t really think deeply about it until now after reading Jerry Garcia’s quote. By choosing the lesser of two evils, we limit our choices, our opportunities and our realm of possibilities in solving real problems.

I believe that we fundamentally give up our sense of power and control over our own destiny when choosing the lesser of two evils. When things go “bad”, we can always go back and blame it on the lesser of two evils. I think this is so, because unconsciously, we believe that things will ultimately go awry if someone “evil”, even if it is lesser, is in charge.

Next time you have a choice (we always do by the way), choose the good thing, the good person, not the lesser of two evils. If we all started doing this in even little ways, we could dramatically change the world.

Michael

Full Moon in Gemini

Phewwee… what a journey this last couple of weeks has been. I feel as if I have been dancing in the chaos. All around me friends and family have been faced with dramas and confusion, as plans and dreams have been shattered and yet, new doors are opening all the time. We have had to face some of our deepest fears and really acknowledge that going with the flow is the only way to find peace.

Fortunately, the full moon in Gemini is more of a light, airy moon that will clear away some of the storm clouds that the Scorpio moon has bought up. We are all still in process which means that we still have to face our fears, but things will become easier and more manageable.

As we head into the festive season Gemini moon reminds us that we must take personal responsibility for our attitudes and behaviours. During this month be careful not to get too hung up on what others believe and say. Remain in your truth, without having to prove others wrong. There is enough room for everyone to have an opinion. This is a good time to show the humanitarian side of yourself. Act on the feeling if you feel drawn to help others less fortunate than yourself.

We have now gone through the chaos of the Scorpio new moon and time to celebrate the completion of the moon’s journey to fullness. Things are starting to come together and even though we are still in process there is more joy, laughter and peace. This is the time to really get out and share your joy and love with others. Surround yourself with those that see and know you on a deeper level than what is seen by the eye. Share a meal, stories and friendship and acknowledge the people around you, work colleagues, team mates and family.

It is a wonderful gift that this full moon lands on thanksgiving weekend. The American ritual of thanksgiving is all about giving thanks for the end of the harvest and the abundance that we have in our lives. The sociable and friendly Gemini moon brings an opportunity to share and celebrate with others everything good that is in our lives. Rather than being caught up in the fear and dramas, it is time to recognise the sun shining on us and enjoy the magic and wonder of life.

The key word this month is ‘Receptivity’. Be receptive to everyone who is in your life, whether they have a negative or positive influence on you, as this moon is all about taking personal responsibility for what is happening to us. Find loving compassion for those who have angered or upset you. In their own world they have a right to feel how they feel, just as you have.

Be careful of mindless gossip and of what you say. Become more intimate, open and honest about who you are and what you are feeling. The key to connecting this moth is to listen and share. Be open to the subtle signs that are showing you the way, and your inner voice that you have been cultivating throughout the year. Things can only get better so settle down this month and enjoy this festive season.

Love and Blessings

Rebekah Shaman xxx

Opportunities for Everyone

No one has an exclusive on opportunity.
When the sun rises, it rises for everyone.
Chinese Proverb

Opportunities are everywhere. Really, they are! You can find them in every situation that you experience. The problem is that sometimes we can’t see them. The reasons are many.

  1. We simply don’t look for them.
  2. Our perspective is narrow or closed completely.
  3. We don’t believe opportunities exist for us.
  4. We become too focused on what is troubling us.
  5. We allow others to control our destiny.
  6. We listen to close friends, who are well meaning, that convince us otherwise.
  7. We forget that we have all the answers to all of our problems.
  8. We don’t use our imagination enough.
  9. We limit ourselves by our beliefs.
  10. We don’t like ourselves.

Start to work on developing a broader perspective. If you can learn to view your world as someone on the outside would view it, you will begin to open your eyes to a broader palette of opportunities. As you start to see more opportunities your mood will naturally lean towards happier. You will have a sense of freedom and control that you never had before. Your confidence and self-esteem will increase, which will give you a broader perspective.

It’s really all a circle. Everything affects everything else. As you improve in one area of your life, the other areas will follow suit.

While you are going about your day today, think about what opportunities may be hidden from you. Start to practice viewing your life from an outside perspective.

Have a great day!

Michael

15 Things I’m Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S. On this day I always like to reflect on what I’m thankful for. Here’s my list:

  1. My daughter
  2. Erica
  3. My parents
  4. My sister
  5. My close friends (Nat, Rebecca, Nikki, Kim, Walter, Babi)
  6. My health
  7. My sense of humor
  8. My ability to travel extensively
  9. Our dog Allie (though I don’t get to see her enough)
  10. The experiences I’ve had that have helped to form who I am today
  11. Sunsets
  12. Long hikes in the forest
  13. Thai food
  14. Coffee (especially espresso)
  15. Being who I am

What are you thankful for?

Have a great day!

Michael