Just be yourself…

November 9, 2014

As a rule I don’t listen to much music anymore. I have lots of it from my past interest in it and I have an iPhone and an iPad and iWhatever’s that I might need to download and listen; but I have other things that are more interesting to do and which take up my time. Listening is unavoidable at the gym that I visit every morning, since music is constantly on in the background. On Zumba days at the gym and on days when there is a group exercise class going on the music is an integral part of the sessions, providing the past-paced beat for the classes.

So, this morning I was going through my workout routine at the gym when a song came on in the background that caught my attention, mainly for its message. It is Joey McIntyre’s song “Stay the same.” The song resonated because that is topic that I have written about in the past, or at least I’ve written about being yourself and liking yourself ( see my three little words post on I like me or the post on “First believe in yourself”). In this song Joey sings about staying the same and not trying to change yourself; but, rather liking who you are.

look in mirorThe journey from childhood to adulthood sometimes takes a tortuous path through the badlands of self-doubt, self-denigration and sometimes self-destruction as developing youth struggle with finding their identity and being happy with what they find. We are surrounded by media images of perfection – the perfect face, the perfect hair and perfect bodies – so, it’s no wonder that many impressionable young minds come to the conclusion that they are not perfect and need to change something, maybe everything. They become enamored with the surface, with what they can see in the mirror, not what other “see” in them.

It is perhaps one of life’s greatest lessons to learn how to “see” beyond the superficial surface in people and find the true beauty of the person within. Equally important is learning how to be comfortable and confident with your own inner person and finding ways to let that part of you shine through. You can easily recognize people who have mastered that life lesson because of their smiles. Confident people often smile, not just because they are happy, but also because they are happy with themselves and they are unafraid of what others might think. It’s not that they don’t care what you think about them; it’s that what you think about them is not going to define them. They do not need your approval to be comfortable with who and what they are. They may seek your friendship; but, not because they need you to validate them.

Many struggle with establishing their own identity during those formative years. Some choose to run with a crowd full of people that they can emulate. The members of their crowd may dress alike, talk alike and act alike. Sometimes that is a at the gymbad thing, if the crowd becomes a bullying clique at school or elsewhere. Sometimes youth become fan-atics, following a particular performer or star in ways that can become obsessive. They may dress like their idol and change their appearance to look more like them, too. Fortunately most youth grow out of both of those options and eventually find their own identity. Somewhere in that transition is where they learn to like themselves, to accept what they look like, sound like and act like.

Both boys and girls (and many adults) may still go through a period of acting or disguising themselves to some extent while they are dating. They may take weight off, learn to make themselves up a bit more, dress a bit nicer, act a bit nicer, go to places that they would not normally frequent and perhaps do things that they would not normally do, all in search of the perfect mate. This is another phase in which just being yourself is actually the better strategy. Too many marriages later dissolve because the charade is dropped after marriage and one or both partners feel somehow cheated with what they are left with, especially if things progressed very fast and the opportunities weren’t taken to reveal the underlying people that were there all along. Marriage is a bond and commitment which should be made between two people who both “see” the other person for who they really are and love that person that they “see.”

accept me as I am So go listen to the song “Stay the same” and then get comfortable and confident with who and what you are. Learn to like yourself. Learn to love having time alone with just you. It will make it much easier to lile or love others.

Have a great week ahead!

Mathnasium comes to the Huron Valley

November 7, 2014


Coming soon to the Huron Valley – Mathnasium of West Huron Valley!

So, what the heck is a Mathnasium? It’s a facility and staff for tutoring young people in math and math alone. There is quite a story behind the founding of this focused tutoring operation, which now has franchises all over the world. You can click here to go to the headquarters site and view the video by founder Larry Matinek – click on his picture to view the video.

I’d equate this to a gymnasium with personal trainers. First they evaluate where you are starting from, what your current math skill level is; and then they design and implement a custom tutoring program to get you up to where you need to be or want to be. Most students start out testing below their current grade level, so an initial goal is to at least get there. There is no reason to stop there and getting ahead of your grade level might open up opportunities for advance placement programs and more. Once you get started on the program your “personal trainer” is there with you to implement the program and provide the tutoring and the motivation to succeed.

In this area, with the automotive industry’s heavy need for math savvy workers and engineers, a program like this is a must. It is also a must for those who wish to go on to college after high school. The Mathnasium will prepare the student for that step. When should a student start at the Mathnasium? As early as possible. There are programs for preschoolers to help build a foundation for math learning throughout their education; as well as programs at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The High School Mathnasium programs don’t go into the college- level subjects like Calculus; but rather students focus on higher math, mastering algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, and probability in preparation for high school exit exams, college placement exams, and standardized college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT.

Who can benefit from a Mathnasium?

  • Any student who has fallen behind their grade level in math or who struggle to just to keep up.
  • Any student who dreams of a future in engineering, science or other math-intensive or math-based careers.
  • Anyone who is doing OK, but just OK in math; and, who would like to do better.
  • Those going into the sciences where math skills are a base-level skill that is assumed before actually studying the particular science.
  • Those planning on going on to college after high school.
  • The Mathnasium of West Huron Valley is located in Milford at 512 Highland Avenue, Milford, MI 48381, in the Prospect Hill Shopping Center (the Kroger Store shopping center) between Suzanne’s Main Street Dance Centre and the Henry Ford eye glasses place.

Jeffery LevinJeffrey Levin is the Owner and director of the Mathnasium. Give him a call and ask about the free evaluations they he is offering during the opening of this location. Jeffrey tells me that they will be open soon, so now is a good time to get lined up for that evaluation.

To visit the web site for the Mathnasium of West Huron Valley click here or you can call them at (248) 676-2971. tell Jeff that you read about it here.

What you “see” is what you get…

November 6, 2014

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”  (Henry David Thoreau) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We are a visually oriented society. We use phrases like, “see the inner beauty”, “I see where you’re going with that”, and “I can see you point of view.” Those all indicate things that can’t really be looked at, but which are “seen” in our minds eye. Thoreau’s little quote was talking about just such a thing.

We humans have the ability to look beyond the surface of what we see and “see” something different, perhaps deeper that women dreamingwhat appears on the surface.  In fact, sometimes we don’t have to look at something in order to “see” it. Love can’t be looked at, but you can “see it in someone’s eyes or how they interact with someone that they love. In the movie Avatar the phrase “I See You” took on added meaning, because for the creatures of that planet seeing one another went well beyond just looking at the other person. Mark Twain put it well when he said – “The common eye sees only the outside of things, and judges by that, but the seeing eye pierces through and reads the heart and the soul, finding there capacities which the outside didn’t indicate or promise, and which the other kind couldn’t detect.”

Do you look at people with a “seeing eye” or do you dwell upon their surface, studying their features, body, hair and such. What a pity to never really get to know them, if that is the case.

In the Jimmy Cliff song, “I can see clearly now,” the act of seeing takes on a more metaphysical meaning and relates to clearing away depression and dealing with life from a more positive point of view. Seeing is often associated with one’s perspective and that perspective may be influenced by many things, including one’s background and education. Two people can observe a destitute man/woman on the street; one may “see” a bum to be avoided and the other may “see” a fellow human being who needs their help. They will react differently to what they “see.”

Life’s challenges are oft “seen” in different ways too. Some cannot “see” past the challenge or “see” a solution to the butterfly 2problem; but for others the words of Jonathan Swift apply – “Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” How’s your vision? Do you just see the problems and not the solutions? Open your eyes and your mind to the possibilities and think positively. You will “see” things in a different light – the light of positive thinking. Remember these words from Anais Nin – “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” You have the power to change your attitude and then the things that you see will change, too.

Look around you and ”see” the world as it can be for you and the people in it for who they really are. “We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” – Jawaharlal Nehru.


Open your eyes and “see”.

Who made your banana pudding?

November 5, 2014

From today’s Jacks Winning Words blog come this – “I’m telling you, that banana pudding, really—it’s life changing.”  (Malcolm Livingston II).  Jack went on to write – Malcolm is a chef who has recently been named to work at Noma in Denmark, said to be the best restaurant in the world.  How did this come to be?  His inspiration for cooking came from Aunt Alice who would make “goodies” for him and his young friends, and their favorite was banana pudding.  As you think back, who had a life-changing influence on your life? 

We’ve all heard, or seen on TV, stories about someone in the life of a famous person who changed the course of their life. Perhaps it tutoringwas a relative or a favorite teacher who inspired them to go on to greatness in their life. Most can remember the person in their life who made their banana pudding, life- changing difference. I have heard many stories about teachers who early on in the lives of great scientists turned them on to the wonders of math and science and got them started on a life of discovery and wonder.

Many of us have also read or seen the stories of stars of stage or screen who were encouraged at a young age to express themselves through their flights of pretend fantasies. And most successful singers can point back to someone who public speakingencouraged and supported them as they developed. Those early supporters were supplying the banana pudding in the lives of those famous people.

For most of us it make be hard to put your finger on a specific person in your life who was there with the banana pudding that you needed to encourage you to succeed. Many might point back to a mom or dad who was there to gymnasttake them to dance lessons or to ball games. Many athletes can relate stories of the long hours and travel to and from practices at which mom or dad (or both) were always there. Their sacrifices were the main ingredients in the banana pudding that led to an Olympic success or to a professional career.

For those not in the limelight of athletic or professional success, it is perhaps the wholesome banana pudding of your upbringing that has made you the good person that you are today; able to tell right from wrong and make the correct choices in life. The fact that you can find happiness without having to be in that limelight points to a steady diet of preacher with childrenguidance and teaching as you were growing, to help you develop character and an principles to live by – the banana pudding made up on faith, hope and love that your parents and maybe your teachers shared with you. For many there was also a pastor, a minister, a priest, a rabbi or other religious figure (maybe a Sunday School teacher) who made a major impression on them and changed the course of their life.

So, thinking back on your life; was there someone or something that you can see now was your banana pudding? What or who has inspired you to take the path in life that you are on? Share your banana pudding person or event here.

Don’t make yourself the dumb-ass…

November 2, 2014

One of the people who “liked” one of my recent posts has a blog called talktherapies.wordpress.com. The blog actually has the title Happiness, Health and Hypnosis when you visit. I went there, as I often do when someone new starts following me or “Likes” one of my posts. The blog owner, Sue Griffin, a UK-based hypnotherapist, had one post in particular that resonated with me – “Do you bully yourself?” 

I suspect that I’m like a lot of people who do get down on themselves if they realize that they just made a mistake, screwed something up or otherwise did something dumb. Like most I immediately criticizeman mad at himself myself, usually with the self-inflicted label “dumb-ass.”  I think that is somewhat human nature and the feeling usually passes fairly quickly; unless of course what I just screwed up is a costly mistake that I will now have to replace or redo. Then I revisit the dumb-ass dungeon often until I get things right. Perhaps, that too, is human nature.

What I think Sue was writing about are those people who take this self-criticism beyond a momentary reaction to something that we’ve done and “institutionalize” it into an ongoing self-image problem. These are people who have progresses well past some temporary anger or reaction and into self-destructive behavior that then also becomes self-fulfilling. Left uncorrected it can eventually lead to depression and despair.  As a hypnotherapist Sue can help with that, as can my local favorite hypnotherapist – Nicole Merline (visit MTUHyponosis .com).

Hopefully, whatever level of self-bullying or self-criticism you currently engage in hasn’t progressed to the point where you need their intervention. I find that soon after I’ve reacted to the event and called myself a dumb-ass, I usually can’t help laughing at the whole thing, especially the dumb-ass part. looking at selfWhatever just happened, it’s almost always because I failed to completely read the ad or the instructions or something like that, which is pretty lame and leaves me no one else to blame; however, it hardly warrants a continued reaction and most often serves as a teachable moment for myself.

From what I have read on the topic, many people who now bully or denigrate themselves are just carrying on what they heard as children, unfortunately much of it from their parents or perhaps from siblings. The kidding that we take as children can quickly turn into bullying, even if the party doing it doesn’t realize it. Most of the time they actually do understand what they are doing, but just don’t realize the potential long-term consequences. Sometimes it results in people who grow up bullying themselves later in life; but, many times it just creates another bully who goes looking for his/her own stooge to act as their victim.

While it may not be possible to catch yourself as it happens and stop; I’d certainly recommend stopping as soon as you can to reconsider just how much self-inflicted flogging you want to meet out and for how long. The sooner that you can get a smile or laugh out of the situation, especially the inward directed anger parts, the better. I’ve found that if I go to a mirror and make a really stupid looking face
funny face at myself, the feeling quickly passes; because, I’ve seen the face of the dumb-ass and I don’t want to be him. I usually can laugh at myself at that point.

So, don’t beat yourself up. You may have made a mistake, but you’re still standing and the world did not come to an end. Don’t be the dumb-ass. Instead go back and read (re-read) my post on “I like me”. It was one of my posts in the Three little words that will change your life series.

Have a great day and a great week ahead!

Be there for someone today

November 1, 2014

As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog – “Be kind.  Remember every one of you is fighting a battle.  Everybody’s lonesome.”  (Marion Parker)

At first, I did not get this quote. Then I thought about it and it is true that even the most popular people often have secrets that they don’t share and with which they struggle in lonely isolation. Most of the world was shocked recently when Robin Williams took his own life. Here was a guy that most of us probably thought had it all – popularity, success, money, al l of the things that we believe lead to happiness – yet he struggled with depression and eventually lost his personal battle and committed suicide. He was lonesome in that battle.

I’m sure that there may have been a few close friends of Robin Williams who knew about his struggles, but perhaps he shut them out or they just weren’t there when he needed them the most. Many of us are caringthe same way. There are people with whom we may have shared our fears or concerns or anxieties. They wanted to help, but we pushed them away; refusing their help. Why? That’s one of the hallmarks of depressed behavior – the need/desire to be left alone. It is something that true friends need to fight their way through. They need to make sure that we are not alone and not allowed to feel alone in our fight. Everybody does not have to be lonesome.

If you know of someone that you care about who is struggling with a personal demon, the best thing that you can do for them is to make sure that they are not alone in that fight. Be there for them. Make them share it with you. Provide support and comfort or just lend a shoulder to cry upon. “You are not alone” is perhaps the best thing that you can say to them. Make sure that they do not retreat into a shell of loneliness. That only leads to despair and beyond.

It may be hard sometimes to force yourself into that person’s life and you may initially encounter anger and heavy pushback from them. Don’t let them discourage you from doing the right thing; and that is not leaving them alone to wallow in self-pity. You may have to become very pushy yourself, in order to break through that defense; but, keep at it until they either seek the help that you are encouraging them to get or completely break down and share their pain with you. That is the cathartic moment that is necessary to begin the healing process.

listeningOnce they realize that they are not alone; that you won’t leave them alone; they can begin to deal with the issues outside of just their own mind. Talking things out can make all of the difference. Just hearing someone else say “It’s OK. Let it out. You’ll be OK” can make all of the difference. In fact, just hearing themselves, get it out to someone else does wonders. It takes the huge burden of hiding the pain off their shoulders.

When you were a child you’d run to Momma with your pain and she would make it all better with a kiss and a hug and maybe a Band-Aid for your boo-boo. As adults we need to be able to turn to our loved ones or friend for that hug and Band-Aid for our emotional boo-boos. That’s what friends are for, if we allow them to play the role. True friends make us let them play that role.

So, there are two bottom-line thoughts here. One is to not to become lonesome by trying to hold girls huggingeverything in; but, rather to seek out a friend or loved one to share the pain with. The second is to aggressively be that friend who is there for others, so that they can’t become lonesome in their misery. I’ll end today on this note –

“Never underestimate the difference YOU can make in the lives of others. Step forward, reach out and help. This week reach to someone that might need a lift”

― Pablo