Three little words that may change your life – change is good

September 30, 2014

OK, so back to the three little words theme, at least for today. I thought I’d change things up, because – change is good.

Actually, change is scary for most. Taking a new route means venturing into territory that you are unfamiliar with. Changing how you look means trying things that may not work out as you thought. Changing from a daily routine, means having to establish a new context for your day. All of those things bring uncertainty with them and out of uncertainty grows doubt and out of doubt grows fear. That is why we avoid changes, even though, change is good.

Why do I keep saying that change is good, even in the face of the uncertainty, doubt and fears that is conjures up? It’s because, change is necessary for learning. Going on to new things and forging ahead into uncharted territory is how we learn. Doing the same things over and over and following the same routine may allow us to get better at what we skatersalways do; that’s how some athletes, such as figure skaters, get to a higher level in their “routines”. They are called routines for a reason. They are the same time after time and eventually the skater gets better at performing the routine. But it is often the skater who tries something new, some new combination of jumps or adding one more revolution to a jump, who ends up winning and establishing a new standard. They tried something out of the routine and won because change is good.

I’m not espousing change for change’s sake, just the embrace of change when it makes sense, instead of the fear of change. It makes no sense to just decide that you are tired of driving on the right-hand side of the road and so you’ll change to driving on the other side; yet some people make arbitrary decisions to change some things with the same logic (or lack of logic). The word “capricious” was invented for them. They are not making good changes in their lives, just changes for change sake; sometimes they make changes just to see what happens. For them change can lead to disaster and they may never understand that, done properly, change is good.

afraidI recall periods in my life when I became a slave to routine. I would do the same thing each day, eat the same foods, keep the same schedule. It was comfortable. It didn’t require me to think, too much. It was easy. Then, I’d become aware of the rut that I was in and change something; usually something small in the beginning. After I got through first small change and the world didn’t come to an end, I might change other things or maybe everything. Career changes were the toughest. It’s hard to abandon a job or profession that you’ve become so used to doing every day and maybe even become proficient at doing. It’s scary to think of the learning curve that you’ll need to get over to go into a new career; but, at the same time it’s exciting. It exhilarates to think of learning new things, meeting new people, exploring new options. Soon you’ll love the changes because change is good.

But, what of your relationships with those that you love? Must those change, too? I would submit that they too must be subject to constant change. It’s not that you need to seek new people, it’s really that you need to continue to explore new avenues of the relationships that you have, do new things with them, constantly be aware of the need to examine the routines that you fall into and bring change into them. Have you become completely predicable? Does that predictability border on boredom? What things can you change about how you interact with your loved one to bringold coouple back some excitement and increase their interest in the relationship? Why aren’t you doing any of those things? Change things up a bit and see if the spark of change reignites a relationship that may have been reduced to just smoldering along. Embrace change in the relationship, because change is good.

A good way to start embracing change is to examine your daily routine. We all have a daily routine. Examine why you have that routine. For many the start of every day is about doing the same things over and over each day in order to get to work at exactly the same time. Why? Will the world stop if you get there a few minutes early or a few minutes later? Maybe you have to “clock in” and there would be consequences if you are late. Then change your routine to get there earlier. Perhaps you’d discover that there are people that you would have tome to chat with if you were there earlier. They’ve been there all along, but they were not a part of your routine. You may some new friends by just changing your morning routine. You’ll be happier and begin to understand why change is good.

flowersOnce you begin to embrace change look for other areas of your life that could use a breath of the fresh air of change. Most likely those will involve your relationships with others. How long has it been since you went out on a Ladies Night Out with your girlfriends? When was the last time that you played a pick-up basketball game with your buddies? How long ago was it when you last stopped on the way home to pick up a bouquet of flowers for your wife? When was the last time that you suggested going to a weekend football game with your husband? Those aren’t things you might normally do; they are changes and change is good.

Have a great day, but make at least one change in your routine today and see if it makes you feel a little different; hopefully a little better. Routines are comfortable, so you may have to leave that comfort zone a bit. I suspect just the adrenaline shot that you get from that change alone will make some small difference. You may even like it and want to experience it again; and out of that you will start to see that change is good.

Make some good this week…

September 29, 2014

Today’s Jack’s Winning Words starts us  all off this week with this little quote – “We are all manufacturers.  Some make good; others make trouble; and still others make excuses.”  (A.A. Stagg)  Jack went on to explain  who Stagg was – Stagg was one of great football coaches of all time.  The Univ of Chicago fired him as their coach thinking that he was too old at age 70.  He kept coaching at other places and retired when he was 96.

As we head into a new work week think about what you will be manufacturing this week. Will it be good or bad or maybe just excuses why your really didn’t make anything? It’s really about how you spend your time, the decisions that you make and your own predisposition towards the positive or negative. If you are a trouble maker you will likely end most weeks alone – not a good place to be. If you are prone to procrastination, you will end the week with a bad case of the “coulda, woulda, shoulda’s”. Don’t go there, either.

To get off on a more positive foot, you can start by going beyond the somewhat tentative childhood role model of the female workerLittle Engine that Could. Don’t start out your week saying to yourself, “I think I can, I think I can.” Instead start out on a more positive note by repeating to yourself , “I know I can, I know I can.” Instead of reaching the end of the week in disappointed reflection about what might have been, you’ll be saying – “I did it.”

So, what will you manufacture this week? Make some good happen in your life and in the lives of others. Maybe a new friendship or relationship is out there waiting for you. I know you can do it. No excuses.


Nationally aclaimed pianist coming to Milford

September 28, 2014

The Milford Historical Society proudly presents highly regarded Ragtime pianist Bob Milne in concert at The Milford Presbyterian Church, 238 N Main St, Milford, MI 48381, on Friday, October 24 at 7 pM.

 Click here to view the event poster with ticket information. An afterglow event follows the concert. Read the poster for details on how to attend that event. Proceeds go to support the Milford Historical Museum.

bOb Milne - RagtimistConsidered by many to be the best Ragtime/Boogie-Woogie pianist in the world, Bob Milne specializes in this music style that developed in America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Although Bob Milne comes from a classical background, having excelled as a French horn virtuoso at the Eastman School of Music, he is completely self-taught as a pianist, playing totally by ear.  When he took up saloon piano-playing on the side, he discovered what fun entertaining his listeners could be, and how natural it came to him.

Early on in this new career, Bob became fascinated by the Ragtime music found on nearby player pianos, and how listeners enjoyed it.  His “internship” lasted 25 years; he has even written a book on these experiences, The Journeyman Piano Player.

Bob naturally progressed to the concert stage, acknowledged by many as one of the best pianists of our time. He is now constantly performing across the country (and sometimes beyond) from concert halls to festivals, and everything in between, and still having fun with his audiences exhibiting ballistic speed as well as subtle harmonies.

Known as a “Ragtimist” (a term he coined), Bob Milne quickly made himself a dedicated student and presenter of this true American musical form, having acquired both a vast repertoire of tunes and extensive knowledge of their origins.

These histories and the stories of the piano players who were playing them are anecdotally incorporated into BobBob milne at piano Milne’s presentations.  (Bob also teaches music history at Florida Atlantic University every winter, and conducts a Music Retreat in Lapeer, MI each September.)

It comes as no surprise that the Library of Congress designated him a “National Treasure” when they documented his expertise for future generations, and that the U.S. State Department has utilized him as a “Musical Ambassador” in Japan and Switzerland.

Bob Milne brings endless enthusiasm, enchanting ease of playing, and an engaging manner while telling stories about Ragtime and Boogie Woogie music with warmth and humor.

Today Bob is well-known as an outstanding pianist specializing in Ragtime, Boogie-Woogie, the Blues, and the Player Piano styles of the turn of the century.

As a sample of the wonderful evening that you’ll be in for, click here for a short video clip of one of Bob’s performances.

Dealing with life’s pains…

September 27, 2014

“Knowing that there is worse pain doesn’t make the present pain hurt less.”  (Real Live Preacher), as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We all experience pain from time to time, whether it is real, physical pain or emotional pain. Sometimes people will say things like “shake it off” or maybe “it could be worse.” Those sage pieces of advice seldom help in the moment. In fact, recent studies have shown the harmful effects of decades of sports coaches telling a player with a concussion to shake it off and get back in the game. There are tons of stories from ex-athletes about how they wish now that they had taken better care of their bodies, instead of “playing through the pain.”

On the emotional level, people who have just experienced the loss of a loved one or child cannot be consoled by adviceremorseful from others. Theirs is a deep person pain that only they can feel and understand. What is really needed in those moments is a hug and a shoulder to cry upon. The release of letting it out through a good cry is much better than trying to maintain “a stiff upper lip.” The emotional pain that we experience in such times is our minds trying to get itself around the overwhelming senses of fear and confusion and loss and concern for the future all at once. It is too much to process and organize and compartmentalize, so we break down in tears and that somehow helps. The tears provide a way for it to all wash over us at once and get out.  After a good cry, you head can clear and rational thought return.

Once the initial pain subsidies we often settle into a period of dull, persistent pain, whether the injury be physical or mental. That can come in the form of a throbbing, back of the head pain or as sharp little jibs of pain as we are reminded of the loss or the initial injury. We begin to learn how to deal with the persistent pain and perhaps start the rehabilitation process to try to get back to a new “normal.”

Soman on cruthesme injuries in sport are career ending and many losses in life are life-changing. Things can never get back to the way they were, so you need to focus upon living with things the way they are. That is hard on ex-athletes and on people who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Many ex-athletes suffer though bouts of depression because they can no longer perform at the level that they were used to; but, more importantly, they are no longer a member of the team that defined them as people and served as a “family” of sorts.

People who lose their life partners suffer the greatest sense of loss of all. It is hard to lose a child, especially for a mother; but to lose your life partner is much worse. A successful long-term relationship with a life partner results in the melding of the two souls to such as extent that the loss of one will leave the other feeling only half there. The pain of having half of who you had become in life torn away is beyond that of all other human pain. Yet, we survive. We may cry longer and with deeper emotions that at any other time in our lives; but we live on.

When you are a child and got hurt, your mom might kiss your boo-boo and make it all better. You probably never toldcaring her that kissing the boo-boo really didn’t make the pain go away; but that being held and loved made bearing the pain a little easier. As adults we seldom still have mom around to kiss our boo-boos; but, if you are lucky you have friends or relatives who are there to give you that hug of assurance and tell you that things will be alright. In that moment, let yourself go; become that child again that finds comfort and relief from the pain in someone’s arms. Have a good cry; then, thank them for being there. They may not even understand what they just did for you; but, they’ll be glad that they were there to help.

An what if they aren’t there when you need them? Remember that you are never alone. You have only to acknowledge that God is there to comfort you to begin feeling the warmth of His embrace. There’s no boo-boo too big for God to handle, if you go to Him for a hug.

Let your butterfly land…

September 26, 2014

“Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued is always beyond your grasp; but, which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne – as seen in the newspaper cartoon Nancy.

butterfly1Every now and then the daily cartoons in the newspapers have something that catches my attention and today was one of those days. The cartoon strip Nancy, which has been around it seems forever (with the Nancy character never aging one might add) sometimes has some very profound little thoughts embedded, as it did today with the quote above from Nathaniel Hawthorne.

It is certainly true that we spend quite a bit of our time in the pursuit of what we think is going to be happiness or things that we think will make us happy. Also true is the fact that the happiness that we pursue often seems able to flit away at the last moment and elude us. Perhaps because it was a mirage of happiness to begin with, a figment of our imagination of what happiness is all about.

True happiness does not come packaged as things – possessions, property, money or even position or power. One cannot earn happiness, although hard work on, and sacrifice for, the right things may result in a payoff of happiness. Happiness often comes packaged in joy – the joy of having done the right things for the right reasons and having seen the results. Happiness is often a shared experience with the most butterfly 2significant others in our lives – our life partners. It is possible to sit quietly and have happiness alight upon you, but it is some much better if the “you” is the two of you together experiencing the moment.

Happiness is a quiet delight that often occurs in those unguarded and unrehearsed moments in life when you have just relaxed and let go and surrendered to the moment. To be able to enjoy the moment with each other, without pretext or pressures or any other intrusions is often when the butterfly of happiness lands. Happiness oft occurs not only when you don’t expect it; but, because you don’t expect it. It is not something that you will to happen; it is something that happens because you are not in control. It happens to you, not because of you.

So, how do you achieve happiness? What things must you do to be happy? That’s just it. There is no magic formula that you can pursue. My advice is to look outside of yourself. Look around you. There are things that you can see need to be done. You can see them. Do something about them. There are people with butterfly 3needs everywhere. You see them. Don’t just ignore them; help them. Do what is right, Do what you can. Do and do and do until you are exhausted and then sit down quietly and let happiness land on you. You will begin to understand the biblical phrase “the joy that exceeds all understanding.” That’s the big butterfly that you should hope alights upon you someday.

Have a great and happy weekend. Let your butterfly land!


Just be you…

September 25, 2014

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”  (Steve Jobs)

I was torn between a few topics that I wanted to comment upon, but this little quote from Steve Jobs kept coming back to haunt me. Obviously Jobs was a person who never lived anything but his own life; but how does this apply to the rest of us?

I think all too often we may become hung up on emulating someone else or trying to be like someone else, mainly people that we thing are cool at the time. We want to be accepted and sometimes we think that this means being like others in the cool, “in” crowd that we so covet being a part of. How sad that we abandon friends at schoolwho we really are trying to live the life of someone else. Of course, we can never succeed at that and it may, in fact, brand us as a loser – a hanger-on who has no life of their own.

It’s better, I think, to spend more time getting in touch with who you really are and finding ways to express that confidently. If that doesn’t fit in with that “in” crowd, then maybe you weren’t meant to be a part of that scene. You have to find your own crowd, one that more closely reflects your interests and in which you are much more likely to be comfortable. Maybe you weren’t meant to be in the jock crowd; but, rather, fit better in the artsy crowd. Maybe you don’t fit in a crowd at all and need to find your own way. Take heart that you are not alone; you just haven’t found your fellow travelers yet. You may even find that there are people who envy you because you don’t run with the crowd.

Sometimes the very young get so hung up on trying to emulate someone else that they end up changing their appearance to try to look like that person. The may dress like them or change tier hair to a style that looks the same as their dream person or maybe they fantasize about becoming a big star. Ironically many of the so-called big stars fantasize about being able to be anonymous again, like they used to be before they became famous. They’d like to be like you!

Steve Jobs lived his own life on his own terms and changed the world a bit through his leadership and influence within Apple. Now Apple has become identified with Tim Cook, Jobs’ protégé and successor. Tim has not tried to live his life like Steve Jobs. He acknowledges and appreciates the work that Jobs did and
happy womanthe mentorship that he provided, but he is taking Apple off on a new direction that is of his making and not that of Steve Jobs. Somehow I think Jobs would approve of that.

Another lesson that I think follows from the Jobs quote, is not to live your life for the approval of others. When we are young we all seek the approval of others – our parents, our teachers and our peers. As we get older it is important to start living our lives for ourselves; doing things that we want to do and not just to win the approval of others. In fact, we may find a mission in our lives to do things not for the approval of others but for the betterment of others. Instead of waiting for them to say, “you did good”; maybe just hearing them say, “Thank you” for what you did will be reward enough. That is not wasting your time, it is spending it wisely.

So, instead of spending time wondering what someone else is doing or would do, get out and start being yourself. Make being you your full time job, not trying to emulate someone else. Enter a room not seeking the approval of someone else or trying to be like someone else; but, rather, seeking to share with others who you are and what you bring into the conversation. Displaying confidence in who and what you are can be one of the most powerful and attractive things that you can do. It’s not egotistical or self-centered, it’s self-confidence. It is saying to the world, man relaxing“Here I am; take me as I am; because, I’m not trying to be someone or something that I’m not.” You may be surprised that some in the room will start to gravitate to you and try to emulate you. They are people who haven’t yet figured out how to be comfortable just being themselves. Maybe you can help them just be themselves. After all, there’s already someone who is busy being you.


The five “P’s” of success in life…

September 22, 2014

There are, is seems to me, five things that are important to achieving success in life. Two of them I saw recently as I visited one of the blogs of a follower of my blog –

“Purpose is the reason you journey. Passion is the fire that lights your way.” – as seen on the KSFINBLOG

I would add to those two essential ingredients Persistence, Perseverance and Patience, which are what ultimately lead to success.

woman carrying torchPurpose is what turns life from just wandering through into a journey. Purpose defines the goal or destination that you want to achieve. Passion supplies the drive to get to that destination or goal. If you have that passion lighting the way, then Persistence means getting up every day and taking a few more steps towards the goal. Perseverance means being able to bounce back from set-backs or disappointments and refocusing upon the goal; and Patience means understand that most journeys take a while and are not accomplished all in a day.

We have become a society used to instant gratification; to getting things right now; and, quite honestly, many times used to not having to work too hard to achieve our goals. Purpose-driven lives tend to take a longer view; maybe because they focus upon bigger goals or maybe because they start further away from the final destination. Purpose-gymnastdriven athletes tend to have train for years before they even get to the level where they have a shot at achieving their goal. Some, like Olympians have four years of training between attempts. It takes a lot of passion, persistence, perseverance, and patience to train for four years in order to get one shot at the gold. Imagine setting your sights on a goal that is four years out. Maybe you have evenlonger term goals.

So, as you set your goals and define the journey that your passion is leading you upon, make sure that you are ready for the long run. Make sure that you have the persistence, perseverance and patience for the journey. Otherwise you will just experience many short trips into failure and frustration. We’ve all met someone like that who keep making half-hearted efforts into “the next big thing” in their life, whether it be a relationship or a new job or some new hobby or sport that they dabble in for a while. They mistake an interest for purpose and an attraction for passion; but they really have none of the other things that they need to make things work. Many of us do take false starts at things that we reaching goalinitially believe to be worthwhile goals, only to discover that we really don’t have the passion to persist and overcome obstacles or maybe the patience to stay the course.

What purposes (goals) do you have in your life? What passions? Are you persistent in pursuing them with patience and perseverance? Where are you on those journeys? Have you taken time to feel rewarded by the progress that you’ve made? Have you made your goals know to others? If not, why not? If so, are they cheering you on? Think about these things in the week ahead. Just thinking about what the important goals are in your life will help reinforce your passin for achieving them. Have a great and purposeful week.