Don’t get on your own nerves…

April 30, 2015

“You know you’re really stressed when you start getting on your own nerves.”  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Sometimes I’ll do something stupid (more times than I care to admit) and then beat myself up about it. I suspect that we all do that from time to time; however, that’s really not a case of getting on my own nerves. I’m not sure that I’ve been stressed enough on get on my own nerves.man mad at himself

I think today’s little saying has to do with people who talk to themselves a lot, but may not enjoy the conversations. Maybe it involves long conversations about self-doubt or perhaps just fears. Maybe the dialogues involve trying to talk yourself into or out of something that you are considering doing. I can see how that can become annoying after a while; especially of you let it go into the mode of beating yourself up about it.

It seems to me that stress builds or a situation becomes stressful, when you have no idea what to do about the situation or what to do next. Not knowing what will come next or what to do next fill you with anxiety, which can easily morph into stress. Then you may make the situation worse by getting down on yourself for not knowing what to do – not having a plan. Some situations do not lend themselves to easy or straightforward solutions. Some things are not easy to map out, understand and see a way towards a solution; however, shifting gears into solution finding mode is one of the best ways out of that stress and helps keep you from getting on your own nerves.

So, my advice is to shift into problem-solving mode. I’ve written here about that before – see https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/03/05/problem-solving-101/

By switching gears from reaction mode into the action mode of problem solving you immediately regain a sense of control, if not control over the situation, at lease control over yourself and your reaction to the situation. You can then focus upon going through all of the steps to finding a solution.

girls huggingMany times you may be in situations where you can’t figure things out by yourself and the advice of others would be helpful. I wrote about that, too –  https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/02/15/why-is-it-so-hard-to-ask-for-help/

Sometimes you will hit stressful situations for which there is no solution. In those cases the best answer is not to continue the frustrating dialogue with yourself; but, rather to let go, admit that you will not resolve the situation by continued worry about it and seeking the peace that comes with turning to God for help. I wrote about that in –  https://normsmilfordblog.com/2014/02/02/what-are-you-listening-to-time-to-change-the-tune/
So, don’t let things and stress go so long that you end up getting on your own nerves – take action, or ask a friend for helpsmiling man or find refuge in your faith  all of those dialogues will make for much more positive and helpful conversations that just getting on your own nerves.

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Be the good pebble today…

April 28, 2015

Did you ever notice that when you toss a pebble, no matter how small, into a calm body of water the small waves from that act expand until they have and rippled through the whole body of water? You can see it happen. If that body of water was roiled already with wind and waves, the same effect would occur, even if you couldn’t see it. You know that it’s happening and that in a few places the waves just got a tiny bit higher when they intersected the waves from your little pebble or maybe your little wave filled in a trough just a little bit and it wasn’t as deep.

Life can be a bit like that body of water. Most of the time life all around you is not still and calm; there are things happening in your life or the lives of others that roil the waters. It may feel like you are just that inconsequential little pebble in the big ocean of life; however, if you can cause just a little ripple by having a smile on your face for others, maybe you’ll be making a difference. Your smile may reinforce the good feelings that someone you meet already has and cause them to continue smiling at others, too. Maybe your smile will somehow fill in the trough of a bad day that another is having and help them get through whatever is affecting them. Maybe some will just wonder what the heck is making you so happy and that will take their minds off some of their own issues.

smile powerNo matter the starting point, the positive energy of your little smile can only add to the day of those who see it; so be the good pebble today and toss a smile into the mix. Imagine it rippling through the ocean of life making others smile or helping them cope with what was bothering them – that will probably make your smile even bigger.  If enough people start out each day by sharing a smile with others maybe we can bring calm to the ocean of life again and wouldn’t that be something to smile about.


Diary of a maze runner…

April 27, 2015

Over the weekend, I re-read the classic business book, Who moved my Cheese? That was the assignment from a Chamber of Commerce referral network group that I belong to locally. We will be discussing it in our next meeting.  I
reacquainted myself with the characters, Tiny people Hem and Haw, as well as the two mice, Sniff and Scurry. The story micebrought back memories of the many mazes that I’ve run through in my life and various careers, as well as the never ending search for more Cheese. If you haven’t read the book, it is available as a free download in many places on the Internet.

For most of us life is a constant search for new cheese or a new Cheese Station. Most get so engrossed in the pursuit that they forget to look up at the writings on the wall. It’s not that they didn’t know some of those bits of wisdom; it’s just that they forget or get distracted in activities that they mistakenly believe means that they are making progress. For many the focus upon being able to recognize and react well to change is a lesson yet to be learned. No one really likes change; but some do a better job of cheesedealing with what life throws at them.

Are you like Hem, refusing to deal with change? Do you really believe that doing the same things over and over will result I a different outcome? Are you stubborn enough to sit on one place and starve, rather than deal with the need to search for a new source of food? Perhaps you are too afraid of the unknown to even leave the safe haven of the bad place that you find yourself in. Download and read this little book. It only takes about an hour to read. Yes, it is annoying that it that much longer than a Tweet; but, life cannot be summed up in 140 characters. There are audio versions available, too; if that is more your style.

Change in our lives, both business and personal, is inevitable. Sometimes the changes are small and gradual; but sometimes big, sudden changes happen that throw us for a loop. How we react to either kind of change will greatly influence the quality of our lives and our view of ourselves. Very few people really like change. There is great comfort in things staying the same, because that does not require us to make any effort to deal with changes. That’s also not change beforerealistic. Life doesn’t just go on, it happens; and when it does happen, we need to react to what just happened. If we’re good at it we begin to see things coming before they happen and we start to take action ahead of things happening. We go out into life’s maze and find new Cheese.

I must admit that re-reading this little story has caused me to reflect on the fact that I’d taken on too many characteristics of Hem, I’d become too complacent with the dwindling supply of Cheese that I had and now I need to ask myself that tough-love question that Haw asked himself – “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” I need to jump back into the maze and find new Cheese. Now where did I leave my sneakers?

I’ll see you out in the maze this week.


Meet the serial entrepreneur who is the local Anytime Fitness gym owner…

April 23, 2015

anytimne fitness logo

Many times when I meet small business owners I see that they are people who have a special passion for what they are doing and I always wonder how they got to this point, to this particular business at this time in their lives. Well before I joined Anytime Fitness in Milford, I met Christine Wierenga, the owner, at a Chamber of Commerce event. It was an after business hours mixer at a local bar/restaurant in Milford.  I’m a Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce Ambassador and one of our Ambassador duties is to attend events like that one and to make sure that members, especially new members, Christine Wierengaget introduced around and get the opportunity to meet their fellow local business people. I met Christine that night and took it upon myself to introduce her around. We’ve been friends ever since and I eventually joined her Anytime Fitness gym in Milford and began my personal fitness journey.

I asked Christine to answer the question that she gets often about how she got into the business of gym ownership and below is her answer –

A question I am frequently asked is “How did you get into the fitness business”? I never mind answering that question because telling the story reminds me of the seemingly random way I came into gym ownership. I won’t go into too many details, but here’s how it happened.

I bought a classic car after I graduated high school and I wanted a custom interior in it. I couldn’t afford to pay someone to do the job, so I taught myself to sew and bought an upholstery sewing machine. It turned out well, so I invested in a bigger sewing machine and starting doing upholstery repairs for gyms in Michigan (while also doing automotive restorations). I grew my upholstery repair business to include gyms across the country, specializing in on-site repairs. As I went from gym to gym, I realized that many gyms were very poorly run and were severely lacking in customer service; so, I decided I could do it better. I did my research on the gym industry and bought an Anytime Fitness franchise on the East Side.

After running the fitness equipment upholstery business for almost 10 years (and having been a member of at least 8 different gyms) the decision to open an Anytime Fitness was an easy one!  That decision was fueled by my experiences with those facilities – ranging from overwhelmingly positive to shockingly horrible!  What set the exceptional clubs apart anytimne fitness logofrom the rest?   Customer service!  Or as we call it here at Anytime Fitness – Club Culture.  It’s an atmosphere that welcomes you, encourages you and keeps you coming back!   We know that most people have a difficult time making fitness a habit – It is my team’s goal to make sure that our members feel at home in the club.   We strive to keep our clients motivated and engaged. After all, they trust us to help them with their fitness journey!    

Since opening my first location in 2007, I purchased two other locations (the latest in Milford) and subsequently sold off the two East Side gyms to focus upon the Milford location. I have often looked back to see how I got here. Sometimes in life, you don’t understand why a project isn’t working out or you’re pulled in a different direction. In hindsight, I know that every stumbling block, every closed door, every “coincidence” was there for a reason. When I was asked in school “what do you want to be when you grow up”, I always found it difficult to narrow it down to one profession.  As a small business owner, I don’t have to just “pick one”!  With Anytime Fitness, I’m involved in everything – all of the things I love. I am able to help people get started on their fitness journey. I have an excellent team (of who I am incredibly proud!), that I get to see grow professionally and personally.  As a numbers geek, I even love the back-office work….yes, even spreadsheets!  

Anytime Fitness of Milford is much more than just a business to me.  The people there are my family – staff and members alike.   I’ve been amazed by the transformations I’ve seen our members undergo – Not just the physical changes you’d expect to see, but the even more incredible changes in their confidence, self-esteem, health and energy levels!  It may have taken a strange turn of events to get me here, but I am sure glad I’m here!

Yours in Health,

Christine Wierenga

So, now you know Christine’s story. I encourage you to come into Anytime Fitness in Milford and meet Christine or her
gym manager Willa Danowski. Right now (Ed.- April 2015) is a good time to do that because they man lifting weightsare offering Free Workout Saturdays to introduce people to the gym. You can try out the gym for free! While you’re there pick up one of the free 7-day membership cards and come back to try it out during the week. If you get there in the early mornings, (Ed. – I define that as between 8:00 and 10 AM) you are likely to see me there, too. I go to the gym 5-6 days a week, most weeks. I know of no better way to start my day than with a good workout.

Like some of the ads that you’ll see on TV, the Anytime Fitness gym in Milford isn’t full of “lunks working to feel the burn.” It is full of people like you and me, just trying to get back into a little bit of shape. Joining means that you get a free older couple exercisingassessment from one of the personal trainers to help you understand where you are starting from and them they give you a workout schedule to help you get started on your personal  journey to fitness. The gym has lots of exercise machines and, of course, free weights.They also offer lots of free classes for members, from the Saturday Morning Boot Camp, to Spinning, to Zumba to Cross-training to you-name-it. Choose how many or how few you may wish to participate in or just decide to work out on your own whenever you can get in. It took me a while to work up the courage to try the boot camps, but now I’m fairly regular on Saturday mornings.

The great thing about the atmosphere in the Milford Anytime Fitness is the sense of family that you quickly get to be a part of. The same people tend to show up at the same times and you soon meet everyone who is on your workout schedule by their first names. Sometimes I think some of the ladies who come in the early morning spend more time socializing than exercising, but that’s OK; they’re getting out and getting some time on the treadmill or the elliptical or the other machines and theyplank
are enjoying the time spent at the gym. Life’s too short not to enjoy it, so come on out to Anytime Fitness, at  141 South Milford Road, Milford, MI 48381 (in the old Farmer Jack’s Shopping Center near the corner of Milford Road and GM Road)  Phone: (248) 685-8373 and start your fitness journey. Maybe I’ll see you along the way. And if you think you’re up for a real workout right away, join us Saturday mornings at 8 AM for Boot Camp.


The stronger you get, the easier it seems…

April 22, 2015

“It never gets easier, but I will get stronger.” – Jabari Parker in a Gatorade commercial. If you Google this little line from Parker’s Gatorade commercial you’ll see that it has been picked up by lots of people as a way to comment on their own lives. It does provide a nice metaphor for life, since it is true that the more one preservers the better they are able to cope with the next adversity in life.

This little saying is a variation on the older saying: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In medicine the things that we survive help build our immune systems to fight the same thing the next time it attacks. In athletics training helps build the muscles that are needed to perform in whatever sport one is trying. In many other pursuits it is practice and trying gym workoutagain and again in the face of initial failures that eventually leads to success.

I’ve noticed over the 6 or so months that I’ve been going to the Milford Anytime Fitness gym most mornings that things that used to be very hard for me are now easier; I’ve gotten stronger. I started going to the Saturday morning Boot Camp workouts a couple of months ago and the first few times were extremely tough. They are still tough (they are meant to be) but I can get through them now without feeling like I’m going to die in the process. I’ve also worked my way up in the weights that I can deal with on the various machines at the gym and the number of reps that I can do. It seems to get easier the longer that I work at it.

single momLife throws all sorts of things at us, some are physical challenges; but the majority of the “traumas and dramas” in life are
just mental or emotional challenges. Many “crises” in our lives are actually figments of our own imaginations. We get through them and hopefully we learn from them and get stronger. If nothing else, being able to say to yourself: “I’ve been here before – I survived then and I’ll survive now” – helps us get through things.

The longer that one lives the more situations they have usually faced and the more knowledge that they accumulate about dealing with them. Eventually that accumulated knowledge turns into what is called wisdom (that’s the hope anyway), but initially it is filed under the heading “lessons learned”. It’s not that life gets easier, but after a while the surprise factor of what you hit in life becomes less. That’s because you’ve been there before and you know now how to deal with things or at least you may have learned that most of these things aren’t really going to kill you. Hopefully you’ve learned to avoid the one that really could kill you.

So, the older that you get, the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) that life puts n your way give way to Experience, Knowledge and Wisdom. It’s not that life gets any easier; rather it’s just that you get mentally stronger. A big part of the girls hugginggrowth in your mental strength is being conscious of the boundaries of your own capabilities and knowing when to ask for help when you have reached those limits. Help may come in the form of advice from a family member, friend or a professional; or, it may come in the form of prayer and off-loading those burdens to God.

You will be amazed at how uplifting it is to share your problems with someone willing to help or with God. You immediately lose the feeling of being alone ad of being the only person to whom this has ever happened. Just putting your problems into words and saying, “I don’t know what to do”, is a very liberating start to overcoming them. Humbling yourself before God and saying, “Not my will, but thy will be done” frees you from the burden of carrying the load by yourself. Trusting that praying handswhatever happens next, God has your back, allows you to go on with life.

Have a great day. You are not alone. God is with you and He has never, ever failed someone who put their trust in Him. You just got stronger.


Make a Difference on Earth Day…

April 21, 2015

We celebrate Earth Day April 26th and earlier this year we celebrated Make A Difference Day. I think we should combine the two thoughts and Make a Difference on Earth Day. If on Earth Day everyone on the planet did one little things to help green earthpreserve our planet; that would be billions of little things that help. As they seem to say in Washington – a billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you’ve got something real.

There are lots of events going on around the country to celebrate Earth Day. Most of them have something to do with conservation of natural resources or lessening the impact of man on the planet through recycling or use of less polluting fuels. It is always sobering to read about or see on TV that entire species are about to be wiped out, but that is happening. The impact of global warming is finally being felt and realized by more people and the fact that the oceans are not limitless is now understood. Whether these revelations come soon enough to save what is left is still in doubt.

We are a throwaway society. We have become accustomed to just discarding something when it has been used for a while or when the “next big thing” comes along. Unfortunately we’ll not be able to see the next big thing once we have used up this planet that we live upon. Maybe a million years from now some space-roving explorers will discover a lifeless planet that shows signs that it once supported a primitive civilization that could only figure out how to make energy by burning things, with a people who had a penchant for killing things. They will wonder at the stupidity of a planet of people who committed such a slow and avoidable suicide. Of course, by that time the planet will be rules by the bugs that remained and not by the apes as their movies predicted.

So, maybe this coming Sunday you can begin the re-write of that scenario by making a difference, by doing something, anything to change your personal behavior towards the planet. It can be a simple as not rolling down your window and earth recyclingtossing your fast food bag out as you drive, or maybe planting a tree instead of burning a pile of leaves, or maybe walking to the store instead of getting in the car for the 3- block trip. Every little bit helps. You don’t have to go out and hug a tree (however, that might make you feel a little better) or find a whale to save; but, you don’t have to do a lot of other things that are causing harm to the planet either. Just think about things before you do them; then don’t do some of the bad things and do go ahead with the good one. This isn’t rocket science, it’s earth science and that’s the only rocket that we have to ride on.

If you’re in the Milford Michigan area, here’s a great way to spend a part of the day – Earth Friendly Family Fun Festival 2015 – noon until 4 PM at Carls Family YMCA, 300 Family Dr, Milford, MI  48381. Help celebrate the Earth with lots of activities for the whole family. Click here to view the event flyer.


What you see isn’t all that is me…

April 20, 2015

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind—always!”  (Sent by TK) – as seen on the blog Jack’s Winning Words.

There is a Teddy Pendergrass song that has the lyrics: “If you don’t know me by now, you will never, never, never know me.” That song was about trust and understanding of a soul mate in a relationship. It was not about the personal battles that go on inside everyone that TK was taking about in today’s quote, but perhaps it cold have been.

I’ve title today’s post “What you see isn’t all that is me…”, it could have also been “What you see is what I let you see.” girl cryingWhat we share with others about ourselves and our personal battles varies greatly depending upon the relationship that we have with each person. Some in Robin Williams’ family knew about and understood the personal battles that he had fought all his life with depression; while others just saw the face and character that he “put on” in public. Those who expressed shock at his suicide didn’t really know him and didn’t reach out to help him.

In the funny papers some of these battle are depicted as the fight between the little angel on one shoulder (good) and the little devil (evil) on the other. Imagine how noisy our world would be if all of those little internal battles played out in public where you could hear them. Many other descriptive devices have been invented to explain the pushes and pulls that go on in the battles that may be raging in our minds mind: Yin and Yang from Chinese folk lore; Sigmund Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego; perhaps impulsiveness vs. logic; the old standby of love and hate; trust and suspicion. Most of these forces that shape our reaction to the world go unseen by most, even to the closest of companions, until they get severely out of balance and we “lose it” in front of someone.

single momWe are taught from early childhood to suppress external displays of emotion, especially those that might upset others. We are told “big boys or girls don’t cry” or “shake it off” and get on with life. So the battles that rage inside are buried beneath layers of self-control and the public is not invited in to see our angst or pain or sorrow. We keep “a stiff upper lip.” A part of why we may turn away from someone begging on the street or avoid someone who is crying uncontrollably at a funeral is that we don’t want to let our guard down and admit that we have similar feelings of inadequacy or insecurity or loss. We are fighting those battles inside and, so far we are still in control.

Perhaps it is that temporary loss of control that we fear or that embarrasses us. Men usually hate to be seen crying at movies that depict things that one should cry about; but, there are war movies and sports movies that do not leave a dry eye in the room. That’s probably a good thing, because one can get exhausted by the struggle to stay in control and keep thatlady under cloud stiff upper lip. A bit of a quiver in that stiff upper lip every now and then, perhaps even accompanied by a moist eye, is a good release of the tension that can build up. Women have the advantage there because they seem to allow themselves and other women the release of a good cry every now and then.

Beyond this rather simplistic view of things, there rages in many the more serious battle against depression. At the core of many of those battles is a conflict over self-worth. Sometimes those doubts were planted in childhood by parents who called that worth into question at every opportunity. Most of the time when you read the life stories about very successful people you will find that they had good support systems growing up; but sometimes the there are stories about how an individual rose from a chaotic childhood and overcame very high odds to become successful. In those stories, there is a common theme that they never stopped believing in themselves. Along the way they may have encountered others – a teacher or a pastor, a relative or just a caringfriend – who also believed in them and gave them encouragement and support. Those were the people of whom TK spoke in today’s quote – they didn’t understand all of the battles that this person was going through, but they were kind and supportive and maybe loving.  Without knowing it, they may have provided that extra little push to get that child or young man back on track to his/her dream.

If you are the person in need of that kindness and support, don’t allow yourself to become isolated. People are more supportive than you might imagine, but you have painted into cornerto stop hiding from them. You can win the battles that are raging within “with a little help from your friends” to paraphrase the Beatles song from the Sgt. Pepper album. Seek out those with whom you might be able to share the things that are troubling you. Often “talking out” issues or problems with someone else provides you with answers that you just couldn’t see by yourself or it at least releases some of the tension that may have built up.

For the rest of us; we can help someone each day by just being kind, by expressing interest and support and maybe showing a little love. If that person was sliding into a funk, your kind words of encouragement may provide just the lifeline needed to rekindle hope and reinforce their perseverance. Just saying “I’m so proud of you for what you’re doing or what you’ve accomplished”, is just the motivation that some may need to keep going. Asking the question, “is there anything that you girls huggingwant to talk about?” and then listening may be all that was needed to help that person keep it together. Maybe they just need a shoulder to cry upon and that’s OK too; just being there for them and lending your shoulder is enough. If more help is needed than you can render, then help them find it. Don’t try to be an amateur psychologist, just be a friend; often that is enough.

Be kind out there today!