Category Archives: memories

Words to Live By: Friendship

(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!)

Friendship is a pretty ‘big’ thing to talk about right? Sure, we know that friendship can be great, fun, supportive, healthy, and all that stuff right? So what else can one write? Good question.

Friendship is a relationship between two people who hold mutual affection for each other.[1] Friendships and acquaintanceship are thought of as spanning across the same continuum. (wikipedia)

The above definition certainly is accurate, yet probably quite general and somewhat irrelevant. For many of us, we might sometimes view friendship as just people we “hang” with – people we party with – or just people we know.

“No love, no friendship, can cross the path of our destiny without leaving some mark on it forever.” Francois Mauriac

Sometimes I think that the masses of society may get caught in the frame of mind what we ‘get out of’ ‘ a friendship, status, popularity and so on. On the other hand, my parents told me to choose friends, not because they are popular, attractive, rich, athletic, etc – but because they are good people and because you enjoy them – that they can lift you up. I know that I need to sometimes focus on being a better friend, giving more than receiving, and lifting others up more.

“You’ll make more friends in two weeks if you genuinely show interest in them than you’ll have in two years if you try to get them interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

Do you lift up your friends? Do you encourage them? I like to think that I do but I confess that I probably don’t as much as I’d like to…we get caught up in our own problems and lives and make excuses – or at least I do. We need to lead, to help friends by example. We need to lift them up with sincere words of encouragement. Life can be challenging enough, friends shouldn’t bring us down.

My parents would comment on my friends really only in one way – not how they dressed or where they lived – but how they might raise me up or encourage me. My parents were frank when they saw a friend bringing me down, belittling me – or even one that was sad or depressed all the time. They let me make my own decisions but I am grateful that I was able to see the difference between the blamers/complainers and those people who help you stay positive, laugh and make good decisions.

Are your friends bringing you down? Lifting you up? Do you lift up your friends?

Values are a big part of friendship. If we don’t share values with our friends, often we no longer stay friends, right? We definitely should be friendly but maybe at some point our friendship doesn’t go deeper?

I am a part of a few charities. Not a lot but its nice. There are people there from all walks of life and income. However in most cases, we’re all a like because we give our time or efforts in some way, and we’re concerned for that purpose or mission in some way.

“What matters is the reinforcement and reminders that these men bring to me that affect so many areas of my life. We may not share the same way of doing things but we share the same values.” NFL coach and player Tony Dungy speaking on friendship, values, and experiences with charities

My children go to a private school and the tuition does limit our personal funds from time to time but we know that many parents there share our values, our commitment and we have made wonderful friends there.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with..” Jim Rohn

You may have a long list of friends, but how long is the list of those people you talk to or with when life’s big decisions come along? Who do you seek for wisdom, laughter, insight and stability? Who stands by you? Who puts their interests before your own? Even if you disagree, talking about decisions and life’s challenges with a friend is priceless, especially in lieu of listening to the voices of the crowd and society. Are you on their ‘short list’?

Here’s a few friendship stories…

I have a good friend from grade school. We lost contact then regained it years ago and we’ve been very close. Ironically we are very similar in many ways yet very different in others. Through most of our lives we have often been physically sized the same and have some of the same attributes. I think that we have similar values regarding our family. He thinks about career and work differently in some ways and in his career he focuses on one thing with great diligence. Our personalities are different. I say this as a compliment, as I often can get distracted and I could move from one field to the next. He has been there as a friend for years. We’re definitely not sentimental or sappy with each other. We’ve seen each at our worst and best moments.In some ways we’ve told each other about it, too. When things got tough, he was a guy that was always supportive and easy to hang with, allowing me to joke, laugh, and enjoy life. It is tough for me to think of one specific thing he has done or said but I do know that as a friend, he has continued to support me and be a great guy.

In college, there was a small group of us that started to hang out, mostly due to the geography of our dorm rooms. We are from different backgrounds yet we clicked. Today we all have different lives but many of us still stay in touch. We like to joke and enjoy life. We are supportive of each other. We’ve seen each at our worst and best moments. Often we have been able to talk with each other about all sorts of challenges that life offers. When I lost family members, lost my job, and had other financial issues, these few guys were there. In some ways we might not talk for over a month, but then when we do, we re-connect and we’re there. I guess more recently I’ve felt like I have less to give these guys but hopefully I’ve been there for them when they needed it.

There are a few people that are also parents of my children’s classmates. Because of our kids, we hang out together. I’ve been very fortunate that many of these men and women are great, great people. Again, many of them have seen each us at our worst and best moments during times of loss and weakness. Like our other friends, we’ve celebrated events and had fun together. We’ve created great memories with these friends and our kids. We share laughter and fun.

There are other friends, too numerous to mention. I have a friend, an older buddy and mentor, who has been a great supporter, like an uncle of sorts; I’ve had bosses and managers close to my age who I still feel are friends and mentors. I’ve been lucky to have mentors of different kinds and different ages; these people have believed in me, sometimes more than I did in myself, and they gave me opportunities where I could excel. They helped me in these opportunities as well; often selflessly.

As I write this I find it difficult to describe all those things that are part of my friendships. There is laughter, communication, sharing ideas, support, venting, bouncing ideas, companionship, new experiences, shared experiences, and help. There is confidence, encouragement, guidance, and feedback. There are prayers, best wishes and caring thoughts.

There is ribbing, laughter, jokes, and things that snap us back to reality.

It’s nice when you can talk with someone about almost anything and not be judged. It’s great to know that, if you really needed it, a friend would be there with financial support if times really were pressing. Friends help us build memories and they enrich our lives. We help each other and we both benefit from these efforts.

Again, I come back to humor, laughter and happiness – what else is there really?……we need to learn to laugh more at ourselves, friends help us stay lose and to keep our perspective in check when we start complaining about life. Friends challenge us by words or by example. Friends drop everything to come to your aid. Friends comforting each other during times of loss is so very powerful.

Friendship, at least those that I’ve known, is about giving. So many people have been kind to me, giving, helpful, sharing, supportive – with no expectation of anything in return. They did it because we were friends or because it was right – or both.

As my daughters grow, I see that they have all sorts (and sources) of friends, and I’m happy about that. They don’t judge friends and I see friends from different economic and social backgrounds, which is great. They’ve had friends help them through losses and tough times, and vice versa. I am comforted to know that they are great friends in return as well. Regardless of our wallets and our status, it is great to have friends in our lives as we grow up. I wish them continued strong, deep relationships like I have had and I now have.

Just this weekend my wife and I had a medley of friends over and we’re so lucky, and so grateful for all the people in our lives. I know it sounds corny in many ways but I can’t imagine facing the challenges we’ve faced without friends. Sometimes just knowing that there is someone ‘there’ is enough.

Hey, what are friends for?

Life Letters 1

The first in a series called Life Letters.

Do you remember getting your first note in school from a friend or maybe from someone special? I mean a ‘good’ note. Or maybe did you receive a nice letter or note from a teacher, mentor, or special relative? Your parents? Maybe did you receive a job offer in a letter?

Do you remember that great feeling of reading it over and over again? If you had one of those letters in your hands now it would take you back to that moment of great feelings and you’d feel good all over again, right?

First of all, I love email, texts, tweets, etc. But I’m talking old school written (or maybe typed) letters here. The kind of note that you can feel and fold up and open up later and read and re-read. The kinds of notes that you save somewhere and stumble upon years later. You can’t do that with a text so much.

I recall quite a few notes in my lifetime – here are just a few –

  1. I had moved schools a few times at a young age and my mom would sometimes put a note in my backpack. I’d find it later at school, often when I was shy and felt alone.
  2. during a field trip in grade school, all the parents were asked to write a note and send along so we’d read on the trip. I can recall the note in great detail from my father and his handwriting, taking up the pages, overflowing in the margins to the top, sides, and bottom.
  3. later in grade school and high school, I recall getting a note from a girl that I really liked and the excitement and energy from those pure, happy notes and letters as we both learned how to communicate with the opposite sex. Often it was folded up many, many times and placed in a locker or strategic, yet hidden spot in a desk. The note smelled of her perfume.
  4. in college I recall getting encouraging letters from my parents telling me how proud I was. Sometimes I didn’t act or feel so proud of myself.
  5. again in college, corresponding with good friends from high school and grade school who were now at other schools. We grew into young adults
  6. letters back and forth with my then soon-to-be-wife as we wrote  about our plans for the future, our feelings, our wedding, traveling, and the fun stuff that goes with being engaged.
  7. a letter from a former employer expressing their job offer, the salary, the signing bonus – the excitement and feelings of abundance there.
  8. letters of support, sympathy, and encouragement from friends and loved ones when I lost my job and soon after lost both of my parents.
  9. letters from my two beautiful daughters, telling me they love me and that they enjoyed something we did together.  “Dad, remember that no matter what, even when I get mad at you, I still love you.”
  10. after my parents passed, finding letters that I sent to them and realizing that they thought they were important enough to keep.

I am a letter writer, at least moreso than most people I think. I enjoy writing and I feel compelled to do so in many cases. I often type them because I write too slow for my mind and I get sloppy. I also find that I receive a benefit back – if I write to encourage a friend, I feel something good in return just for sending it.

What kind of letter could you write? Can you support someone? Maybe send a random acts of kindness letter sending good thoughts? Maybe send an anonymous letter to someone you know?

One of the best letters I wrote was just before I got engaged. I felt that I wanted to somehow resolve or conclude any relationships that I had in the past in a nice way. I wanted to say something and leave it on a good note. I remember reading a great suggestion of a letter about moving on, leaving things ‘well’, and so forth.

The letter went something like – ‘Hi, I just wanted to write and tell you that I respect you and I reflect fondly on our past relationship. I hope that we ended it on a good note. As I think back on things I have good memories. As I move ahead with my relationship with my fiancee I am grateful to have had the relationship with you. I hope that this finds you well and I wish you the best.”

I save things, maybe too much so, but in this case I’m glad. I still have lots of letters from some of my friends and relatives, certainly from my wife, daughters and my parents. Sometimes the grief is a little raw but it is so nice to have letters from my parents – it is as if they are still here for a moment. As my daughters grow, the letters mark different, important times in their lives. The letters from my wife help us both to refresh and remember how and why we fell for each other. Letters from friends and relatives let me remember that we all face challenges of some kind and that I have a great support network. There is great laughter to be found in many cards and letters.

I’ve even written letters to my parents and other people who have passed away. Someone told me about that once and it definitely helps. You can write them – even express angry, sad, or other feelings in order to get them off your chest. I’ve seen people burn them, put them afloat in a stream or river, or simply just save them. Similarly, when relationships end bad, I’ve seen people write that person and express feelings, yet never send the letter. It is sometimes an exercise for ourselves.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and write someone that you care about. Whether it is about family, fun, forgiveness or the future, I bet that that one piece of paper will mean so much to that person. I also bet that years later, when they re-discover the note, they will reflect on it and you in even higher esteem.

Think about the letter that you received from someone that really gave you that boost, or that letter that made you feel special. We get caught in our daily routines but what things stand out from your past?

If you didn’t get such a letter, what kind of letter would have helped you or made you feel special? Who in your life can you touch in a postive way? What kind of things can you say, even in only a few lines, that can change their day?

Here’s a quote that I shared in a “Simple Stuff” that shows how one simple line can mean a lot. And yes, it is “legal” to share a quote with someone that letter – you don’t always have to have the perfect words, use someone else’s.

“There hasn’t been one single day of your life when the world hasn’t been made a better place by your presence in it. “- Mike Dooley

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The 2 pound dog with really big angel wings

Besides onewebstrategy.com, this blog, I also sometimes write – or have my daughters contribute to, another blog about our dog (http://yorkiebichon.wordpress.com/) – it was originally created to be a fun, upbeat, simple little blog about how little things can make a big difference. It was created to entertain, enlighten and help us all remember the importance of laughter, family, friends, and fun. It was something that my daughters could read, that they could write about and contribute to, and they could have a little fun with – and I could have a little fun with… This blog posting is a little bit of a downer, sorry, but needs to be said…..

Hi, this is Daisy’s male human. I am the only male human in her home. Daisy and I wrestle and play more than the others at home.

Heck, I’m a Forty-something male, married with children, and here I am writing about a 2 pound dog named Daisy. Real manly. Are you serious? Yep.

If you have followed the blog for a while, or read the ABOUT page, you’ll know that the blog is based on how (and I realize that it may sound silly) Daisy made a big difference in my family’s life, in my life, during a tough year. Like many Americans, I became unemployed for the first time ever in 2009. I was making some nice money and it went away. Then my wife’s sweet grandmother passed away. Then my dad passed away. 5 weeks later my mother passed away. We lost my wife’s uncle and her other grandmother that year too. We bought Daisy that summer. A little, feisty, fun Yorkie-Bichon.

Daisy brought the family some much needed joy, fun, and distraction that year, and continued to do so.

She often wanted to play, and for 2 pounds, she got into it. Like many dogs, she would always greet you with all sorts of enthusiasm when you came home. She did silly things that made us laugh. She would offer a lick almost anytime you wanted it. More that anything, she loved to cuddle. Being only 2 pounds, should could cuddle in an armpit, on your lap, in one arm, on your shoulder (like a parrot?), and other small places. She had spunk. She always thought that she could jump up anywhere, and would try and try. I think that she believed she could do anything – or that she was bigger and badder than she really was.

One thing that she did for me, and I hardly told anyone, was kinda sweet. I was really depressed one day. I was thinking about the loss of my parents, my unemployment, and my responsibilities as a husband and dad. A tear came down my cheek. Daisy was across the room in her bed but suddenly came running over, jumped up on the couch, and up to my face, and licked the tear off, wagging her tail, and then licking me all over. This happened another tough day too when she was in a completely different room. Somehow she must have sensed it or whatever. She came running in and cheered me up.

She cheered us all up that year, and ever since. In some ways, Daisy represents recovery and renewal for us. She helped us remember that life goes on. Through her unconditional love, we were reminded how we share that love with one another; our family and our friends. We admired her style, her spunk and her enthusiasm – she had a big heart for a little dog. Most dogs help us to be more aware and ‘in the moment’ – to enjoy the present.

We remembered that sometimes the most important thing is a roof over your head, a nice warm bed, food, and people that love you. Those fancy toys don’t really mean that much…..

As you may have noticed, I am speaking of Daisy in the past tense.

This week, Daisy awoke one morning, energetic, wagging her tail, licking us, and full of excitement as usual. Later in the day she became lethargic and slowly went down hill. One Wednesday, Daisy, approx. 2 pounds and 3 years old passed away peacefully.

My first thought was that we, as a family, (or me) still need Daisy to cheer us up….that we still needed her excitement in the morning and when we got home…her presence around the house, in our arms and on our laps.

Then I immediately felt something else. Daisy came to us when we needed cheering up. She did a great job and showed lots of love to the family. We laughed a lot because of her entertainment. Now Daisy is gone and I feel like maybe someone or something is telling us we don’t need her anymore, that we’re ok on our own now – and maybe some other family needs Daisy to cheer them up. Maybe she’s with them now. I may sound weird to some but her passing helped me finally conclude my grief for the sudden loss of both of my parents years ago.

I never thought I’d write a blog about a dog when I was over 40. It sounds kind of silly, actually. Then again, I am consistently, pleasantly surprised by people, life, the universe and all things that come my way lately. I think this blog is not really about just a dog, its about the love and laughter of a family, the playfulness and fund we find in life, of our hopes and happiness –  our pets can represent that sometimes. We personalize them and sometimes ‘impose’ human traits that really aren’t there sure. I am grateful for all of the people in my life. I am grateful for Daisy and all of the pets I’ve had through life.

UPDATE: I posted the above about one day after Daisy passed. In that short of time, we have received some much support from friends, and even some strangers. We received 2 handmade posters, multiple cards from our friends and from classmates of both daughters, our daughters received so much support from their school, we all received supportive texts and Skypes, my wife received many supportive Facebook messages, and people gave us brownies, chocolates, scones and a potted Gerber Daisy plant. School teachers gave hugs. The world is pretty cool. There are some really nice people out there. We have some really great friends. Thanks for all of the nice thoughts. Right back at ya!

Back to school feelings?

I really enjoy the school that my daughters attend, I like the teachers, the location, the curriculum, the families, the activities, almost everything. I enjoy fall – the weather, the leaves, the festivities near us, and the memories that it brings.

But I must confess, each and every fall I still get a feeling in my gut and in my head about ‘back to school’ – I sometimes wish that my girls weren’t going back and that summer would continue. I think some of those feelings are from the days of my youth. Due to some consolidations when I was young, I transferred schools a few times before I was 8. Then, I moved to another city. I went to a few more schools before settling down in high school. Most of the choices and moves were made by my parents but I understand why.  I think that I changed schools about 8 times. I was a shy kid and the moves made it harder. I had to start over again with friends and teachers. I can feel that gut feeling now. It is kinda of an empty, alone feeling.

As I try to communicate in my blogs, what can we do about situations like this and what can we learn?

First, it is all about our interpretation and feelings, isn’t it? My parents moved me to better places for the right reasons. I did make friends and I did do well in school. I had a good education and received the benefits I needed and wanted. I also benefited from the moves in such a way that I am now ready and able to take on new projects, situations, groups, presentations because I am now used to the change, the newness of change.  I have skills and experiences that others do not. I have used these for my own success and happiness.

Second, we can’t change the fact that summer is ending, fall is coming and school is starting. Why worry about things that you can’t change? So unless we’re going to move to a different climate and/or home school the kids, my wife and I need to move on with our feelings, right? How often in our daily lives do we worry or waste time on things that we can’t change?

Also, that empty, alone feeling – it is just my perception. I still had the same number of friends, family and supporters when I went into a new school. If anything I gained new friends and teachers that cared. To this day I still recall special teachers that made my life more enjoyable and better. I look back at the first few weeks of school for me during those times. There was a period when I’d dread school, the change, talking to new people, and all the new things. Then at some point later, often just a couple weeks, I was into the groove, enjoying life. Things really didn’t change that much but how I interpreted them did change.

Similarly now with my daughters, they’re excited to go, I’ll still see them a lot – and now see them in school activities. I get to see other parents, many of these fine people I am proud to call my friends. My wife and I will make new friends. We have a great, supportive and fun network of friends at the kids’ school.  Also in a similar manner, I get that empty feeling for a few weeks as my girls go back to school. Part of it comes from the fact that they are growing and time marches on. Part of it is from my own experiences.

All of it is from my own interpretation and perception – because, again, there is suddenly that point in time a few weeks from now when I’ll be happily into the groove and I will suddenly be aware that my interpretation somehow changed.

Isn’t this the case with so many things in our lives? It is what we look at, what we ponder on, what we choose to feel. My wife and I both could focus on the fact that the kids are growing, that they’ll be away from home more, etc. etc. Or we can focus on the excitement, progress, great teaches, great friends, activities. Right now my girls still laugh at my jokes, still hold my hand, still ‘like’ me, so I’m trying to milk that as much as I can.

At work, we can focus on how our boss doesn’t do this or that, that there are things wrong with our job, and that we want more. Or we can focus on what our boss does in fact do right, what’s good with our job – and the simple fact that we have one, and focus on what we have. I’m not a saint and I struggle with this whole thing as much as anyone.

One secret that helped me is simple – when I start to ponder on what isn’t working, what I don’t want, and the empty feelings, I pause, take out any paper close to me, and begin writing.

I write down things that ARE working, things that I DO want, things that make me feel GOOD, etc. If there is a person involved with my negativity, I write down at least two things that they do well or two things that work for me. I write down at least two things that are ‘working’ in this situation. Instead of writing, “I don’t want _____ .” I write down, “I want ___ “ and I work on ways to accomplish it. I write down good feelings – when ___ happens I feel good, I feel good about my kids, wife, etc.

It is, in many ways, an exercise of gratitude and focus. It is also a bit about acceptance; we need to accept the situation to deal with it. We’re not surrendering but acceptance leads to progress. This exercise can be done on a napkin in 3 minutes but can make a big difference.

I’m wishing you and your children a happy, safe, educational school year. I wish you, the parent, peace and gratitude. There is so much excitement, fun, friendship, and possibilities out there, we all need to just step forward and live it. Thanks for going through this experience with me.

Cabinet doors and piles of paper…

Cabinet doors and piles of paper…

I realize it seems like a strange title. Bear with me.

I helped moved, or I actually did move my parents three times throughout my life.

We moved from Pittsburgh to Ligonier when I was 9. Even though I was only 9, trust me, they worked me. Then years after I moved out and my wife and I were married, my parents downsized from the Ligonier house to their final Latrobe home (not far from Arnold Palmer himself). I helped them move from Ligonier to Latrobe. If you read my posts, you may recall that my parents both passed away in 2009. With the help of my one sister, I again “moved” my parents things one final time. In some cases we took the items, we gave to others, we sold at auction, and we put in a dumpster. It was sad, tough, draining, yet there were things I found, things I read and experiences I had going through their possessions for which I am grateful. My parents saved lots of my cards, my dad saved so many things from my career and notes about my accomplishments.

I digress. Years and years ago my father was a cabinet maker. He started small in a chicken coop as a one man gang. He grew and grew it until he had about 30 employees. At 45 years old, he had his first heart attack and soon sold that business and became an independent sales rep in the kitchen cabinet industry. He sold to other cabinet shops and kitchen dealers.

Well, as you can imagine, after having a large cabinet manufacturing business for years, after being a cabinet door and component rep for years, one does collect a lot of cabinet doors and parts. In our double car garage there were shelves, bags, suitcases, and piles of cabinet doors , front frames, plywood sides, and all sorts of parts. We had a metal pole building (like a barn) and at least half of it was filled with even more! There were cherry doors with stain, maple with paint, oak unfinished, and all other combinations. There were metal bread boxes that he bought in bulk and didn’t sell. There were bundles of mismatched, incorrect wooden spindle rail that some supplier paid him in lieu of the commission he owed to my father (for years he tried to sell pieces to recover some of the funds but couldn’t). There were laminated Formica doors from the 1970’s, cheap plywood doors for the projects, and fancy handmade custom walnut doors. In many cases there were just one or two doors of each. Sometimes there was a whole set (kitchen) of the doors.

Let me make a claim; my father didn’t throw anything away! He was born during the Depression and started from nothing and made something, something great. He accumulated possessions, shall we say?

I can tell you that the doors and parts that were moved from Pittsburgh to Ligonier were definitely still there when I cleaned out the home in Latrobe years later. And yes, he added more and more new ones! There were long, heavy, dusty, mouse-infested tubes of mold-covered plastic track. There were piles and piles of moldings that went out of style in 1979. There were countless damaged pieces, warped doors, water-stained parts that were beyond repair.

Why did he keep all of these parts? Part of me still gets sad talking about it even years later. He kept these parts in hopes that, when he retired, he could build things for he and my mother, for his kids, for his grandkids, for the church, for friends, etc. etc. Through the years I recall him holding up a specific piece or pointing at a pile of items and describing how he intended to make a table, a dresser, or a desk for someone.

Don’t get me wrong, he did build things for people. He made me a printer stand, computer desk, a workbench and I know he made things for church, for friends, and for his toughest customer, my mom.He helped build things for the church, helped with the kitchen renovation there too.

But, when he passed, he had years and years of pieces left. I recall standing in there barn, looking at the piles of things left behind, being overwhelmed by the work ahead, overwhelmed by the feelings of loss, and suddenly realizing that my dad will never be able to build all of those pieces for his loved ones. In that sad state I thought of it as some kind of ‘barn of broken dreams’. We had 4 of those large, full sized dumpsters filled and removed.

Throwing out most of the pieces was so difficult for me in many ways. Like my dad, I don’t like to throw away anything but I knew I had to get rid of some things. There was a sentimental nature to each item. There was the sadness, emptiness, and loss tied to the action. There was the feeling that my dad didn’t fulfill his dream of using up all of these potential gifts. He enjoyed making the gifts, giving them and seeing people enjoy the pieces. I felt that he would never be able to see that joy and I felt bad.

Over time, my state of mind improved and I reconciled the items left behind. Like anything, when I calmed down a bit, I was able to see in my mind all the things that my dad was able to accomplish and that these additional pieces would have been ‘bonus’ pieces for his life. I truly believe that.

So what’s the title about – piles of paper? My home office is sometimes messy. I have piles that are organized on my desks but they don’t look neat. From time to time I go in and clean it up, purge extra stuff, and I organize it.

The other day I walked in my office and was going through some piles of information, articles, books, CDs. I was aware of my own thinking at that moment and noticed that, over years and years, I had been collecting these articles, books, CDs, and other information so that ‘some day’ I would start to write a novel, a non-fiction book, a blog, articles, and other products to share with friends and maybe with the world. I was collecting all this ‘good stuff’ so that I could creatively do my thing to it and share with the masses. Sound familiar?

It struck me that, like other instances, I was just like my father here – but instead of cabinet doors and parts waiting for stain and assembly, my piles of information were sitting there waiting for my creative input, processing and articulation.

After a breather, after a bit of a shock, I knew that I had to take action today. I had to start a book, blog, anything. It didn’t have to be perfect. But it had to be. This blog that you’re reading is not the first attempt or iteration. So far I believe that it is the best one I’ve produced and I hope you can gain value from it.

I guess I just want to use up those piles of information sooner rather than later so I can see others benefit. Maybe my father was sent to teach me that lesson. Regardless why or how, it was something valuable for me to realize.

Here’s to hoping that you start using up your cabinet doors. You have a dream, a talent, information, gifts, or something that you want to do, right? Don’t let your children uncover it after you’re gone. I heard Wayne Dyer say once, “Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul.”

Show your kids and others around you that you value your talents and that you want to contribute to the world. Set an example for others. Be brave. It will never be perfect. Just go ahead. Just do it. Be yourself.

9 Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids

Here are some good reminders for us parents…most are obvious or should be. Some seem obvious but many can benefit.

Good to refresh though…

FROM: 9 Things You Should Never Tell Your Kids By Woman’s Day

I know you can try harder. Frustrated by a daughter who you know is capable of much more in school, sports, music, etc.? Any comment that makes it seem as though you’re not satisfied with her efforts can not only be discouraging to your child, but can also do the opposite of motivating her to try harder, says Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time… If your “try harder” has to do with tasks or chores, then be clear about what you expect: “When you have your room cleaned up, then you can go out and play.”

You always… or You never… “At the heart of these statements are labels that can stick for life,” says Jenn Berman, Ph.D. and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. “Telling your child that he ‘always’ forgets to call makes him more likely to be the kid who, you guessed it, never calls.” Instead, ask your child how you can help him or her change: “I notice you seem to have trouble remembering to bring home your textbooks. What can we do to try to help?

Because I said so! This phrase puts all the control in your hands, and dismisses your child’s growing sense of autonomy and ability to figure things out, says Berman. It also leaves out a potential teaching moment. Let’s say your kids don’t want to visit their aging great-aunt on a sunny day when they’d rather play. Instead of “Because I said so” try, “I know you’d rather ride your bike, but Aunt Clara really loves seeing you, and we try our best to honor our family.”

I told you waiting until the last minute was a mistake! You’ve repeatedly told your son that if he played video games all afternoon, then he’d have less time to study for the math test. And guess what? Unprepared, he didn’t do well on the exam. But saying “I told you so” tells your child that you’re always right and that, by contrast, he’s wrong, says McCready. Instead, point out positive outcomes when he follows through, says McCready. If he cleans his room when asked, say, “Isn’t it easier to find all your stuff when your room’s tidy?” This puts the control and the credit with him.

You’re the best at soccer! “Say you always tell your child how smart she is. She may, over time, become scared of trying new things or more challenging work, for fear she won’t be ‘smart’ anymore if she gets a B instead of an A,” says McCready. It can also backfire if your child is struggling with work and you say, “But you’re so smart!” She may only feel worse for not living up to the label you’ve given her. Focus instead on her hard work: “You show up to every practice and try your best” or “What a fantastic job you did on this science project!”

Don’t worry—the first day of school will be fine. What’s wrong with trying to soothe an anxious kid out of worry? “If you tell your child not to worry, then you’re dismissing her feelings,” says Berman. “So now she’s still worried about the first day of school, and she’s worried that she’s worried, or that you’re upset over her worry.” Same goes for “Don’t cry” and “Don’t be angry.” Instead, say, “I can see you’re worried. Can you tell me what you’re most concerned about, so we can talk about it?”

I wish you didn’t hang out with Jack; I don’t like that kid. Yeah, a lot of parents don’t like “that kid,” for whatever reason, but “the moment you tell your child that ‘that kid’ is not your favorite, he becomes more appealing,” says Berman. Keep the lines of communication open between you two to hopefully spark discussion about values, right and wrong, and so on. “Ask your child some open-ended questions,” says Berman. “Such as, ‘What do you like about hanging out with Jack?’ ‘What do you guys do?'”

That’s not how you do it! Here, let me. You asked your child to help you with a task—but then she does a not-so-great job. It can be tough to hold yourself back from just jumping in and taking the task back, “but that’s a mistake, because then she never learns how, and is less likely to try anything else you ask down the line,” says Berman. If you must, then you can step in—but in a collaborative rather than dismissive way: “Here, let me show you a neat trick my mom taught me about folding towels!” Let the child do it!

Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother? Siblings and rivalry go hand in hand—and anything you say that sets up comparisons only fuels that natural flame, says McCready. “Comparisons slot siblings into categories—the smart one, the athlete—and discourage kids from trying the thing their sibling is ‘good’ at.” Try instead to encourage each child in whatever pursuits are “his” or “hers,” while avoiding comparisons.

Words To Live By – Visualization – part 3

OK, you’ve read other blog postings of mine, can I ask you to listen to a quick story?
Would you picture something for a moment?

Imagine This:

See a father of two beautiful daughters, great loving wife, who used to make a bunch of money, in his house. See that guy in his 40’s as a caring, dynamic person who was successful. The economy changed, he made choices and suddenly, it seemed, he made a lot less money. He is sitting on the couch peering into the distance, blankly staring. His daughter asks him something but he misses it first, she asks again and he gives her a terse response, and later feels bad about it. NO reason to do that, he thinks.
Now the mortgage was a little too high, the tuition was a little too high. The ‘gap’ between the income coming in and the expenses going out was very, very small. Sometimes it was negative. Debt became a huge factor and fear.
In the mornings he would wake early, lie in bed and get a tight feeling in his chest.

He sometimes got an upset stomach, and sometimes even felt like throwing up. This guy, who typically was happy, confident, easy going, fun to be with, was now an anxious guy, lacking confidence, lacking his patience and humor.
He felt bad. He felt like he let his family down. He felt like he got to where he was in life and had nothing to show for it. He was scared, uncertain, nervous.
Picture him in the morning eating breakfast while his kids ate breakfast and got ready for school. Since he sometimes felt sick, he had difficulty eating breakfast. Sometimes he’d try to swallow his breakfast and had to pause so he didn’t get sick. Imagine his daughters sitting there looking at him and asking, “Daddy are you OK? You’re not eating your breakfast very fast. ”

Picture our dad at a party with other families. Everyone is having fun, our guy is somewhat withdrawn. Typically he is engaged and joking, meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends. See our guy hanging back at the party. Notice his posture.

Notice his face. When you shake his hand and say hello, notice how he speaks, how he looks at you and looks away. How does he interact with you?
Imagine seeing our guy at a party. Notice his posture. Notice his face. When you shake his hand and say hello, notice how he speaks, how he looks at you and looks away. How does he interact with you? How is he dressed?

STOP

Would you take a moment and imagine one other brief story?

This one is better!
Imagine This

Picture our good father and husband again. All the above is true. It happened, and it is in the past.Hear him humming an upbeat song from the radio that his daughters love to dance to….he gets a little smirk on his facing thinking about it.
Our guy has some good friends and family around him. Imagine him sitting with some friends and getting some good support, some ideas, some connections. He is having a good time talking and laughing a bit. See our guy in front of his computer getting emails about networking, about a place to send a resume, about a new opportunity.

See our trusty dad and good guy talking with connections on the phone. One quick, casual conversation uncovers a business opportunity. It seems like a great fit.
See our guy excited. He sits up a little straighter. He has more confidence. He is thinking about the future and the future is brighter. Instead of negative worrying, he is thinking of ideas how to solve problems, improve things, improve his finances.
His face seems different. He is more focused and driven. He does smile more often. He has a purpose. He reflects that he put himself where he is and accepts where he is, he also accepts responsibility and doesn’t blame the economy or others like he sometimes did before.
He spends a little more time eating right, exercising, and even tries to dress a little better. Picture a toned dad, trim, in some stylish yet casual clothes. See him and his wife talking about the budget, working in front of a spreadsheet. They’re excited about paying off a credit card that has been around for too long.

Now that couple hundred dollars is available to pay off something else, for reserves, for a fun fund, or whatever. Notice the relief and calm that has returned to his face.

There is another summer party with the families again. Many of the same people are there and new people attend. It is a nice night, a great party with twinkle lights in the background. People are interacting, talking, laughing while the kids play. There is some corn, chicken and beef on the grill. You catch a whiff of the food and it smells great. You hear some music in the background softly playing. Maybe it is a Bob Marley song?

Our dad is there at the party. Life still isn’t perfect but his attitude seems to have changed.You walk over and greet him again. Notice how he stands differently. His posture. His smile? Notice how his handshake, eye contact, and confidence seem this time. He throws in some humor. He has a good smile. What is he wearing? Does he have a different “feel” about him? His voice has a strong tone to it. He sounds confident.
He asks more about your life this time. He is more engaged and listens to what you say. Our guy shares an idea about something in your life; it is a helpful idea, something he recently read and it could actually be something you could really consider. You’re happy to hear about it. You talk more and there is a good feeling going on.
You ask him about his life and he comes across as being very grateful for things. He is happy with what he has in life; friends, family, home, work, income. He feels like celebrating, he says. He is upbeat about the future.
Stop imagining.
Were you able to read that OK? Maybe these weren’t great stories but you were interested for a little while right?
You were able to imagine these things weren’t you?
You had a story, a movie playing in your mind. You now have an image of “our guy”. You probably have an image of his daughters, his wife, the party, etc.
Notice how, especially in the second story, there were details all around, senses, feelings, images, sounds, smells. Emotions are key. I probably should have included more and bigger emotions in the second one.
That is visualizing! That is mental imagery. Easy!
You don’t need a huge Vision Book, some complex outline, and you don’t need to spend 20-30 minutes a day.

The Vision Book will help, outlines help, and you can spend more time but 5 minutes a day is fine.

Create a story of you already “there”, as if you’ve arrived. Imagine that you got a DVD of you from the future – but this DVD has more features..you can also feel and smell what the future you feels and smells. What are the feelings having accomplished things?

How do you feel/look now that you have more income (or whatever)? What is life like? What kind of music is in the background? What kinds of food do you smell? How much are you laughing? Who are you talking with and what does that conversation look like.
Write a story about you and have fun.

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