Category Archives: family

My Story, Chapter 1

Storybook_Cover1

When I started blogging I told stories about myself – moreso than I have recently. Many people reacted well to that.

I received good feedback. Recently a few of you have asked that I return to that sort of thing.

At the same time I wanted to put my story, or at least part of it, out there. My goal is to share my mistakes, successes and the lessons that I learned. Plus if you see me and how I go through some challenges I’ve had, maybe you will be encouraged through your challenges.

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Starting the story is often the toughest part, right?

Do I start telling you about when I thought I might go bankrupt? Do I tell you how great I felt when my daughters were born? When I was promoted in different jobs? When I was self-employed – the freedom, excitement, pride, fear, anxiety? Or do I start talking about “the year” when I was unemployed and we lost 5 family members, they passed-away?

I thought about the many challenges that I’ve faced as an adult – probably similar to things you’ve faced….. I chose to start when I first felt “baptism by fire”, as it was referred to by a family friend.

OK, picture a 20 year old young male. I had been a pretty shy person in grade school, even high school. During my freshmen year at college I was still pretty shy but started to come out of my shell. Now, during my sophomore year, I decided to be a social butterfly. I got a fake ID, I went out, I dated, I had fun. I got to know lots of people at college and at other spots. Lots of road trips were involved. I had my first Spring Break trip to Daytona Beach. Wow, I enjoyed life for a few months. I had lots of fun.

However, you could safely say that I didn’t put much effort into studies and my grades fell hard that year. It was May, school was out, and my parents knew I didn’t do well and although the report card didn’t come home yet, I knew that it wasn’t going to be pretty.

Now, step back for a moment…..My father operated a sales agency in the kitchen cabinet and woodworkers’ industry. He was formerly a cabinetmaker who had a heart attack at age 45. So he became a self-employed sales rep to the same industry. At this time, he was about 58. He was successful, did well and had a nice addition on our home for the home office. I never knew anything of an empty stomach, empty refrigerator, empty pantry or old clothes. However, I didn’t get the name brands and I didn’t live like a rich kid.

Since school let out, I said that I’d take a week off then start working for my dad that summer. (Somehow I thought that I needed a week’s vacation from all the partying at college before I could work.) So I ‘chilled’ for about a week, listening to Ice, Ice, Baby (Vanilla Ice); Blame it on the Rain (Milli Vanilli); Janie’s Got a Gun (Aerosmith); Epic (Faith No More); Without You (Motley Crue); Blaze Of Glory (Jon Bon Jovi), and my favorite of that period, Pink Floyd. Some sweet tunes. I look back, man was I immature.

Monday came and it was time to work. I put in my first day with my dad….. I woke up, didn’t shower, put on the baseball cap and coasted through the day. My mom made us both a big lunch, about 1 hour long; it was going to be a sweet summer. After dinner it was time to cut the grass. We lived on about 30-some acres, about 10 was grass. I think I cut most of it that night on the tractor. My dad was using the push mower to trim around the house and tight spots. I noticed he had a tough time starting it – it was a pull-start – and he was getting frustrated.

Later I finished up, it was getting dark and I came into the house. My mother was out in town running errands. My father was laying in bed – it was perhaps 9pm. He never laid in bed that early – especially with his ‘work clothes’ on. I asked him what happened. He thought that he pulled a muscle starting the mower – his lower left side hurt.

Of course I did the right thing – I went immediately to my room and put on Pink Floyd. My mother came home very soon after, saw him, checked him out and called the ambulance. He was having another heart-attack, she said.

She asked me to go stand by him and talk to him. I did. What was I to say? I tried to joke about something but I could see he was in pain. I told him to try and relax. Easy for me to say.  I recall that he got up at one point or so with dry heaves and other symptoms. It was scarey. This was a serious downer dude.

The ambulance was taking a long time to get to the house. It was before the 911 emergency services named and mapped the roads. Long before GPS. Our address was RD#3 Box 280F. Not much help finding the home.

Through their radio and the dispatcher, they called our house looking for better directions. They went to our neighor’s house about 1/4 mile away. He walked the ambulance back….yes, I said he WALKED the ambulance back to the house.

I recall seeing in the dusk a man walking back our private road – and behind him was an ambulance. I couldn’t believe it….my father was having a heart attack and the ambulance was literally coming to our home at a walker’s pace. It finally arrived, they went upstairs. They came down with my dad on the gurney and they couldn’t get him past our decorative wagon wheels on either side of the sidewalk.

My dad had put these old wagon wheels he found from the old farm on our property there years early. They were in the theme of my parents’ home, I suppose. On this day, they were barriers to my dad’s medical services, perhaps to saving his life. The ambulance guys were gently trying to move the wheels and delicately trying to push them aside. I recall telling one to step back and I kicked it hard, then watched it fall out of the way.

My mom left to go to the hospital. She asked me to stay, wrap up the home and not come into the hospital until the next morning. She called from the hospital later that night and repeated her wish for me to stay there at home as it would be a long week and she needed me fresh. She gave me a list of clothes and items to bring in the next day.

I hung up and noticed that my hands were shaking. I began to tremble all over my body. What the hell was going on? Two weeks ago I was hangin’ with my buds and a few cold brews. One week ago I was chillin’ in my room. Now my dad was possibly dying? A heart attack – again?

I remember suddenly noticing how beautiful the night was outside. I sat out on our screened porch on that early summer’s night. We lived on the edge of the woods and the noises from the trees comforted me. I heard animals, birds, bugs settle in for the night. I heard the quiet noise from Mill Creek. I was alone but didn’t feel loneliness. I couldn’t calm down though…I kept shaking.

I went inside and tried to watch TV but couldn’t do so. I still was trembling. For the first time that I could recall, I went into my parents’ cabinet and got a shot of whiskey, just one, and took it. It calmed me enough that I went to bed and slept.

Continued……………

How Couples Can Stop Fighting About Money

How many of us have fought with a spouse or partner about money?
We all have in some way, right?

When financial issues come up, we handle things differently due to our gender, family, upbringing, current outlook, etc.

So how do we handle this?

I saw this good video about it from Noah St. John.

Thanks

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Words To Live By: Judgement/Generalizations

(This is one of a part of a series of WORDS TO LIVE BY. This series grew out of a workbook I first made for my young daughters and discussed at the dinner table. These Words include values, good ideas, and Words to aspire to….and learn from….enjoy!)

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This Words To Live By is about Making judgements and generalizations in life. I guess I want to focus on how we look at others and how we look at opportunities and make a generalization or judgement.

From vocabulary.com –A generalization is taking one or a few facts and making a broader, more universal statement. If all the girls you know play with dolls, you might make the generalization that all girls play with dolls. Scientists try to make generalizations based on research — the more data they have, the more accurate the generalization. Generalizations can be similar to stereotypes in that they are sometimes wrong and harmful. Usually, it’s best to stick with specifics and avoid generalizations.

We constantly are making judgements in our minds each day about small and large decisions. We need to make snap judgements about all sorts of things. But, many times we make judgements about others based on emotion, prejudice, previous pain, misunderstandings, etc.

We generalize about some things don’t we? Sure, it is necessary to some degree but these generalizations are unfair and limiting. When we judge someone or something, we limit ourselves, we limit them, and we immediate limit the possibilities.

For instance, I had a former boss that made lots of generalizations. If we’d get a client that was from a certain vocation, he’d generalize “I worked with a few of those people before, she won’t return the forms or follow up, they’re all like that.” He would immediate make a judgement that she wasn’t the type to follow through, she was flakey, and that she wasn’t committed. Guess what? He was often wrong when he made these generalizations and I loved it. Often I didn’t even say anything, but once in while my ego got in the way perhaps and I’d say something like “Oh, she did return the forms and follow up?” I had to becareful.

Sometimes a client or prospect came in dressed a certain way. My boss would make a judgement whether they had money, and if they were flakey, etc. It really bothered me. Again, often he was wrong. I remember one single man came in and was about to retire. My boss thought he was without financial resources and was the type to not follow up. He was wrong.

I’ve had bosses, friends and relatives make judgements and generalizations about all sorts of things. In some ways it is almost entertaining to hear someone talking about their misunderstandings about other people or about an opportunity. I love to laugh at people who say small-minded things (but I don’t classify them as small-minded, nonetheless!) It is unfortunate and even offensive when people start making generalizations about race and creed.

I remember an older lady in my family, she has since passed, she was getting a little foggy in her head as she grew older. She often would see someone, almost anyone, and make some generalization. Many times it was amusing. She saw an Irish man once drinking tea and said “They like their tea, don’t they?”

I, on the other hand, did not know thatJ. She’d see someone riding a bike and say ‘they like to ride their bikes around here.’ Do they? But, it would get borderline racist when she’d see an African American and make a generalization. Many times it wasn’t about a stereotype and maybe wasn’t necessarily offensive by itself, but it was sometimes racist and we told her to stop it.

I had a boss that would generalize about Jewish people due to his experience with one Jewish person years ago. It made me sick. I told him numerous times not to make those statements around me.

What about when others make judgements or generalizations about you?

I recall, when I was young, getting passed over for a few rounds for an intramural football team. They made a judgement about me and how I played without ever having seen me. They were wrong. Soon they had me playing first string.

We’ve all gone to job interviews and felt that the interviewer was making a judgement or generalization right? Relatives often easily pass judgement and generalize about us, don’t they?

How does it feel when someone makes a judgement or generalization about you? It angers me. I feel that I want to yell, point out all of their faults, that I don’t want to deal with them.

I must admit, I’ve been told that I’m not cut out for things or can’t do things many times and in many ways it motivates me. Healthy or not, I use that anger or whatever it is to fuel me to do better. In some ways I do it to “show them” – but that’s not what it really should be about. We need to do things and make choices for ourselves, not for someone who is passing judgement on us.

When confronted by mean-spiritedness, and hateful gossip, respond to it from your position of love: “I don’t want to make any judgments.” Rather than criticizing the mean-spirited person, silently project love. Wayne Dyer

How many times have you had a friend or relative pass judgement on an opportunity, job, relationship?

“You can’t make money in the stock market.”- or – “Real estate is a drag, it’s all about fixing someone’s toilet, tenants are mooches.” – or – “He comes from a big family. People from big families are attention hounds.” – or – “She’s an only child. You know how only children are spoiled, she is so selfish.” – or – “Why would you ever work there? That job just seems so boring/challenging/empty….” – or – “do you put in an honest day’s work in that kind of job?”

These are all actual one’s that I have heard lately. Many people make judgements about a whole group of things because of one or two situations.

Many of us also make judgements because of our own fears and negative emotions. It is a way that we can rationalize passing on an opportunity and doing nothing. It is a way to deny a failure or lack of action.

It amazes me sometimes that even intelligent people will analyze a situation or make a judgement after only recognizing the standard or traditional structure of a piece.  David Bowie

I think of my old boss sometimes and all the things he said. He must have been a fearful guy. He was constantly setting himself up so that if he did fail or not get an opportunity, he had the excuse ready. “Sure he didn’t sign up as a client, he’s one of those _____, what do you expect.”

I see some of my friends and relatives do this too. I love these people and they’re good people, hardworking, giving, friendly – but sometimes their judgement isn’t entirely un-biased. Emotions and fear cloud them. Prejudice too.

Don’t get me wrong, I make judgements, incorrect ones, and generalizations. But I do constantly work at stopping myself. Judging others is such a waste of time and energy. In essence we’re focusing on a perceived negative quality of another person or situation. In essence we’re complaining or worrying about something we don’t even know to be true. Other than rationalizing and making us feel a slight bit better for a moment, how does that help anyone?

So many people build up prejudice, judgements, generalizations as they go through life because of failure, hurt, loss, pain, etc. It is easy to do. It is natural, perhaps, but not healthy.

Are you making judgements? Generalizations? About people or opportunities? Are you limiting yourself? Are you seeing things clearly for what they really area?

A good friend and coach once said, we should not judge an event as good or bad. He said,” I suggest taking words like bad, good, negative, positive out of your self-talk by simply stating what it is without labeling it.
You can change it to “I have empathy/compassion for that person,… Yet If you have empathy/compassion and want to do something (even if it’s sending love or compassion from your heart) that offers something for that person to help Empower them to move forward…use your feelings to help in some way instead of simply feeling “bad” which usually ties to guilt and is a mind and time waster.”

In some ways I think judgements and generalizations, like forgiveness, seems to be about others but in fact it is about us. When we hold a grudge against someone else, it really doesn’t hurt them, it hurts us mostly by what we carry around. When we pass judgement about someone or something, we do limit the other person but we also limit ourselves more by not seeing the whole picture, relying on prejudices, not being open, not being a loving human being. We’re hurting ourselves when we judge or generalize.

Our prejudice, judgements, generalizations often tell others a lot about ourselves, too! Have you ever seen or heard someone say something, some kind of judgemental statement or generalization – that they are trying to ‘look bigger’ or somehow act superior, or put down another person? However the effect is instead that they look silly/small-minded/angry/inferior. We suddenly see what is really inside rather than the fascade they project.

Look. Art knows no prejudice, art knows no boundaries, art doesn’t really have judgement in it’s purest form. So just go, just go.K. D. Lang

Is happiness the secret of success?

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE BY SHAWN ACHOR OF CNN THAT IS WORTHY OF SHARING. I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT, USE IT, AND GET HAPPY!

Is happiness the secret of success? – CNN.com

By Shawn Achor, Special to CNN –—          

Is happiness the secret of success?

Editor’s note: Shawn Achor is the author of the Happiness Advantage. He spent 12 years researching at Harvard, and is now CEO of Good Think Inc.

(CNN) — Scientifically, can happiness be an advantage?

Some people think if you are happy, you are blind to reality. But when we research it, happiness actually raises every single business and educational societal misconceptions about

When we study people, scientists are often interested in what the average is. If we study what is merely average, we will remain merely average.

Many people think happiness is genetic. That’s only half the story, because the average person does not fight their genes. When we stop studying the average and begin researching positive outliers — people who are above average for a positive dimension like optimism or intelligence — a wildly different picture emerges. Our daily decisions and habits have a huge impact upon both our levels of happiness and success.

Scientifically, happiness is a choice. It is a choice about where your single processor brain will devote its finite resources as you process the world. If you scan for the negative first, your brain literally has no resources left over to see the things you are grateful for or the meaning embedded in your work. But if you scan the world for the positive, you start to reap an amazing advantage.

Now that there is research validity to these claims, the working world is starting to take notice. In January, I wrote the cover story for the Harvard Business Review magazine on “Happiness Leads to Profits.” Based on my article called “Positive Intelligence” and my research in The Happiness Advantage, I outlined our researched conclusion: the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce.

A decade of research in the business world proves that happiness raises nearly every business and

educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality-of-life improvements.

Given the unprecedented level of unhappiness at companies and the direct link between happiness and business outcomes, the question is NOT whether happiness should matter to companies. Given this research, it clearly should. The first question is: What can I do in my own life to reap the advantage of happiness?

See also: Ambition could make you rich, but not happy (on cnn.com)

Training your brain to be positive at work is just like training your muscles at the gym. Sounds simple, right? Well, think about how easy it is to make yourself go to the gym. The key with any new resolution is to make it a habit. New research on neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to change even as an adult — reveals that moderate actions can rewire the brain as you create “life habits.”

In The Happiness Advantage, I challenge readers to do one brief positive exercise every day for 21 days. Only through behavioral change can information become transformation.

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for each day;
  • Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours;

–   Exercise for 10 minutes a day;

  • Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out;

• Write one quick email first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher).

But does it work? In the midst of the worst tax season in history I did a three-hour intervention at auditing and tax accounting firm KPMG, describing how to reap the happiness advantage by creating one of these positive habits. Four months later, there was a 24% improvement in job and life satisfaction. Not only is change possible, this is one of the first long-term ROI (return on investment) studies proving that happiness leads to long-term quantifiable positive change.

In a study I performed on 1,600 Harvard students in 2007, I found that there was a 0.7 correlation between perceived social support and happiness. This is higher than the connection between smoking and cancer. So if in the modern world we give up our social networks to work away from friends and follow celebrities on Twitter, we are trading off with our happiness and health.

Following up, I switched around the questions and asked how much social support employees provided (instead of received). The results were off the charts. Those high on provision of social support are 10 times more engaged at work and have a 40% higher likelihood of promotion over the next four years. In other words, giving at the office gets you more than receiving.

The greatest cultural myth in modern society is that we cannot change. My research proves that you can not only become more positive, but if you prioritize happiness in the present, you can reap an extraordinary advantage.

‘Comfort dogs’ help deal with grief

From usatoday.com

‘Comfort dogs’ help Newtown deal with grief

Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY3:56p.m. EST December 18, 2012

Since 2008, Golden Retrievers from Lutheran Church Charities visit scenes of national tragedy to help people grieve.

A team of Golden Retrievers — “comfort dogs” — arrived in Newtown, Conn., over the weekend to help grief-stricken residents deal with the school shooting tragedy.

Lutheran Church Charities sent 10 dogs to the town for residents who want to pet them or pray with the dog’s handler, Tim Hetzner, president of the organization, told the Chicago Tribune.

The dogs not only show up in times of national tragedy, they also visit hospitals, nursing homes and parks to provide comfort to those in need.

“The dogs have become the bridge,” dog-handler Lynn Buhrke told the Tribune. “People just sit down and talk to you.”

The dogs have a Facebook page, plus Twitter accounts and e-mail addresses so people can keep in touch with them.

The dogs — from Illinois and Indiana — that currently are in Newtown include Barnabas, Chewie, Chloe, Hannah, Luther, Prince, Ruthie and Shami.

The dogs’ first stop on Sunday was Christ the King Lutheran Church, which was holding funerals this week for two young children killed in the Friday massacre.

The comfort-dog initiative started in 2008 at Northern Illinois University after a gunman killed five students.

The dogs were originally sent simply to provide a distraction to the student community, but proved so popular they were invited back, the newspaper reports. The program has since grown from a handful of dogs in the Chicago area to 60 dogs in six states.

Heroes Inspire #1

CNN holds their annual HEROES award show. I always try to watch it.

More info available at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/index.html

This week I’d like to share SOME of the many hero stories, in no order, to remind us, inspire us, and encourage us all to do a little more.

Today’s story….

Toledo, Ohio (CNN) — Wanda Butts dropped the phone and screamed when she heard the news that her son was dead.

Josh had drowned while rafting on a lake with friends. The 16-year-old didn’t know how to swim, and he wasn’t wearing a life jacket.

“I couldn’t believe it, I didn’t want to believe it: that just like that, my son had drowned and he was gone,” she said, recalling the 2006 tragedy.

Butts had worried about her son’s safety when it came to street violence or driving, and she said she had always warned him of those dangers. But water accidents never crossed her mind.

“It did not occur to me that my son would drown because he didn’t know water safety,” she said. “Josh was never taught the basic life skill of learning how to swim.”

Josh was not alone in the black community. According to USA Swimming, 70% of African-American children cannot swim, compared with nearly 60% for Hispanic children and 42% for white children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-American children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children in the same age range.

As Butts tried to make sense of her son’s tragedy, she realized she had passed her own inexperience to her son. Her father had witnessed a drowning when he was young and instilled in her a fear of water.

Watch this video

 
 

Giving kids a lifesaving skill

“So as a child, I never went around water,” said Butts, 58. “I never went swimming. I didn’t know anything about water or life jackets and water safety.”

Because of this fear, Butts raised Josh without any exposure to water. But today, she is determined to prevent other mothers from doing the same. In 2007, she started the Josh Project, a nonprofit that provides low-cost swimming lessons for children in Toledo, Ohio.

“After losing my son, I wanted to do something to help other people, to help another mother not have to suffer the way I do every day from the loss of a child drowning,” she said.

To date, the Josh Project has helped more than 1,000 children learn how to swim.

“All children are at risk of drowning, but the majority of the children that the Josh Project serves are minority children, who we have found are more at risk,” Butts said.

Several cultural and historical factors can help explain why that is. One is the segregation of swimming pools during the 20th century, according to Jeff Wiltse, author of “Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America.” Relatively few swimming pools were built to serve the black community back then, so much of a generation was denied the opportunity to swim, Wiltse told the BBC.

Also, if parents can’t swim, their children are far less likely to learn how, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Memphis. The study, sponsored by USA Swimming, found that a fear of drowning and a fear of injury prevent many African-American parents from putting their children in swimming lessons. It also found that many avoid swimming for cosmetic reasons, such as the effect chlorinated water has on their hair.

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2013 CNN Heroes

For some families today, it’s still tough to find an accessible pool.

“The public pools near our home have been closed in the past, and other places were not affordable,” said Lisa Haynes, whose 14-year-old son, Joshua, is one of 60-plus students in the Josh Project this season.

The swimming lessons take place at a local high school over four Saturdays for a total cost of $10.

“I am less worried if (Joshua) is near water because he has the basics of how to swim,” Haynes said. “And we’re thankful for that.”

Butts is doing much more, however, than just providing swimming lessons.

“She ups the awareness, and that is half the battle,” said Shaun Anderson, a swimming coach who was so inspired by her story that he created a Josh Project swimming program at Norfolk State University in Virginia. “Once these communities learn how to swim, they will pass it down, which results in future generations that know how to swim.”

Butts said she has two goals for the future: One is to change the drowning statistics of minority children, and the other is to have an aquatic center where the children can swim daily instead of just once a week.

“The joy on the faces of those children — when they see that they can learn, once they get it — they are so happy with themselves,” she said. “And it’s like all of them are my children. It’s like I didn’t lose my son.”

Want to get involved? Check out the Josh Project website at www.joshproject.org  and see how to help.

Real Simple Stuff

Sometimes we go out and search for info and “stuff” and end up finding all sorts of information, much of it good, which can be overwhelming.

This is about focusing on one thought, working it, and if it resonates, applying it in your life today.

Trying to Keep It Simple, Silly….

 This one is compliments of Mike Dooley of tut.com

“Basically, change comes from thinking thoughts you’ve never thought before and showing up to meet them down streets you’ve never walked before. You ready for some firsts? Are you?
Yodeling,     The Universe ”

What new thoughts can you think – right now?

What new things can you do – right now?
What one action can you take?

How can we extend ourselves, even just a little?

Grow for it!

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