There’s a party goin’ on…Smile

September 30, 2015

“I might look like I’m doing nothing, but in my head I’m quite busy.”  (Spirit Science) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I can relate to that little saying, especially sometimes at night when I wake up and my mind takes off on its own. Does that ever happen to you?

I used to work for a technology company that had a corporate trainer who used this line to open his training sessions  – “To the world outside I may look calm and composed, but inside this body there’s a party going on”.  Hechild dancing was a great trainer who let some of that partying out in his sessions and made the learning experience fun. Is there a party going on inside of you? Do you let some of that out and share with others or just hold it all in?

Many people, and I count myself among them, have an exterior mien that masks their emotions. They have “at rest” facial expressions that either looks disinterested or maybe even angry. I always thought that House Speaker John Boehner looked unhappy whenever he was shown on TV, especially as he sat behind the President on State of Union speeches. Perhaps he was always unhappy then. How do you look when you’re not trying to smile or frown or make any face at all?  Most people would probably be surprised at how uninviting they look in their “at rest ” face.

There is a tendency in our society not to make eye contact or engage others and, in fact, to discourage engagement by others. We’re in too much of a hurry to get somewhere or do something to stop and talk to others, especially strangers.  These days much of our focus may be directed to the palm of our hand where our ubiquitous little friend, the smartphone, demands our attention. How ironic that we would rather check out what someone posted on Facebook than to spend actual face time with another person. There’s a party going on all around us inside the people that we pass, but we don’t join the fun because we make no effort to get invited in.

Perhaps the easiest way that we can invite people to join our party or to get invoited to join theirs is to make the effort to smile as we pass them. I like this little saying from Jarod Kintz – “Smiling is the way the soul says hello.”  So, smile and invite people to join smiling dogthe party that’s going on inside of you. You won’t be sorry that you did.

The thing about a smiling person is that, when you meet them, you have a reaction. You may wonder what the heck they are smiling about or you may wonder if they’re smiling because they see the jelly from this morning’s donut still clinging to your shirt. Perhaps their smile keys off some good feeling that you have inside and that brings a smile to your face, too. Maybe you can then pay it forward by smiling at someone else and helping make their day better.  “For a moment at least, be a smile on someone else’s face.”  ― Dejan Stojanovic

Invite others in to join the party that’s goin’ on inside of you. If you happen to be alone, take a moment to think of something that makes you smile and remember this little saying from Andy Rooney – “If you smile when you are alone, then you really mean it.” You’ll make your own day better.

Smile and have a great day.  ;^)

What do you want?

September 29, 2015

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear!” – Jack Canfield

Jack Canfield is an author and motivational speaker on the topics of personal and business development and success. Among Canfields book is the well know “Chicken Soup for the Soul” and “The Success Principles”. Like most motivational writers and speakers, Canfield focuses mainly upon helping people overcome the obstacles to success and getting the things that they want in life.

turtleMost of the advice from motivational speakers might double as half-time speeches from sports coaches. They tend to focus upon techniques like visualizing, planning, prioritizing, perseverance and being accountable, which are all good things. The fear that Canfield speaks of is usually self-inflicted and grows out of uncertainty or doubt. We tend to fear the unknown and the uncertain outcome. We have doubts about our own abilities or worth that hold us back. Motivational speakers like Canfield promote seemingly simple and logical approaches to overcoming those fears and doubts.

The message of these speakers is aimed at helping people achieve things in life, like getting ahead at work, or to get what they want in life, which is normally defined in material terms – the bigger house, the better car, the exotic vacation, and the best schools for their children. In sports it is always about winning the championship, whatever that is. It is about defining a goal in terms of achieving or acquiring.

There is a whole different cadre of speakers who focus more on what might be called the spiritual side of life. These girls huggingspeakers focus upon maintaining a balance in life between the work life and the goals and rewards of that and the interpersonal side of life – your relationships with those with whom you share your life. Sometimes, especially when one is younger, this side of things takes a back seat to the focus on accomplishments and material achievements. This focus on things other than the material often stays buried in our priorities until we have reached many of the goals that were driving us and realize that we have still not achieved the happiness that we thought would come with them. We may then start paying attention to the messages of the speakers who urge us to take time for ourselves and to spend quality time with those we love.

Sometimes, after we have achieved some level of balance in our lives, we also re-discover a faith that was also suppressed by our focus upon success and accumulating possessions. As we slow down a bit and start really thinking about the lives that we are living and what is really important to us, we may find that reconnecting to the message of faith is something that we want, maybe even something that we need. We may discovery that there is a hole in our lives, a need that no amount of things can fill and a role that none of our loved ones can play. When you come to that point in your life, I would offer a single line answer that is similar to Canfield’s. For, if as Canfield has advised; praying“Everything you want is on the other side of fear”, I would advise that-

“Everything you need is on the other side of prayer.”

What will you do with what you’ve been given?

September 28, 2015

My wife saw this poem in a recent Dear Abby column and cut it out to save. In its spare verse it manages to capturecampfire and sum up most of what is wrong in the world today, or at least what is wrong with many people. Read it and then think what you would have done, had you been sitting around that fire. Do any of these reactions from people around the fire sound like you?

 The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance

In bleak and bitter cold.

Each one possessed a stick of wood

Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs

The first man held his back

For of the faces round the fire

He noticed one was black.

The next man looking ‘cross the way

Saw one not of his church

And couldn’t bring himself to give

The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.

He gave his coat a hitch.

Why should his log be put to use

To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought

Of the wealth he had in store

And how to keep what he had earned

From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge

As the fire passed from his sight.

For all he saw in his stick of wood

Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group

Did nought except for gain.

Giving only to those who gave

Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands

Was proof of human sin.

They didn’t die from the cold without

They died from the cold within.

– James Patrick Kinney

While the examples may seem a bit simplistic and extreme they echo the preconceived notions and prejudices that drive many of our day to day decisions, especially those concerning the needs of others that we encounter. In each case a judgement is made on the fly. I like the statement made by Pope Francis recently when asked about people who are living a different lifestyle. He simply said, “Who am I to judge?”

The log that each possessed is a metaphor for the gifts that each of us has to share with the world around us. The givingopportunities to help or to share are all around us and many go unmet for reasons as simplistic as those explored in the poem. What will you do this week with the gifts that you have been given? Please don’t die from the cold within. Give, share, help and feel the warmth that comes with caring and having made the effort to help.

Have a great and giving week ahead.

The Milford Historical Society Endowment Fund

September 26, 2015

The Milford Historical Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1973 with the mission of collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the Milford, Michigan area. We are an educational organization with theMHS Endowment Fund Logo Milford Historical Museum in Milford, Michigan serving as the primary vehicle for our efforts to educate the local community about the history of the area. An important part of or mission involves engaging local high school students to share the area history. Students volunteer at the Museum as docents (guides) over their final two years in high school. Those who complete 100 hours of service as docents by the time that they graduate are awarded $1,000 scholarships. We usually award 2 or 3 scholarships each year.

The Milford Historical Society has created a dedicated Endowment Fund which will be invested to provide income for these student scholarships, as well as supporting the operation of the Milford Historical Museum with any earnings beyond that needed for the scholarships. At the current rate of return on conservative investments, we estimate that a fund of $60,000 should be sufficient to provide for the annual scholarships. We have also provided for the naming of each scholarship on behalf of the donors, should any single donation be made at a level of $30,000 or more. Scholarships may be named for individuals or for corporations. Scholarships are awarded at the end of each school year to the graduating seniors who have completed their service requirements at the Museum.

Milfortd Historical MuseumThe Milford Historical Museum is located at 124 E. Commerce Street in Milford, Michigan 48381, and is open from 1 – 4 PM on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The museum displays historic  memorabilia that has  been donated by area residents as well as featuring a second floor that is furnished and decorated just as a turn of the century hoe might have been in Milford in the late 1800’s. In addition, the museum staff provides history research for those doing genealogical work or who want to know the background of the Milford home. The Milford Historical Society maintains at the Museum an archive of every issue of the Milford Times news weekly since its beginning in 1871 and also has an extensive photo collection of historic photos and sells reproduction prints of selected photos.

We have established a crowd funding site for this endowment fund on the web site –

Please consider supporting our mission.

Help is just a simple prayer away…

September 23, 2015

“I felt that if life were to throw me one more ball to juggle, the whole circus tent would come crashing down.”  (Teri McDowell) As seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

juggling problemsDo you ever feel like life is just handing you too much to juggle? Have you said to yourself that if you get one more thing on your plate you’ll just crack or crumble? Do you feel sometimes like you’re surrounded by problems and see no way out?

Life can seem to get like that sometimes. Perhaps one of the biggest contributors to those feelings is the fact that many of us try to face problems with the attitude that we can handle all of life’s problems ourselves; that we don’t need any help. Others may take the role of victim in any situation; lamenting “Why me?” Neither of those approaches is headed in the right direction and both can end up leading you into despair or worse – depression.

painted into cornerWhen one is in the midst of juggling a seemingly impossible load of problems it is sometimes hard to see the best way out or any way out, for that matter. Sometimes we make things worse by painting ourselves into a corner from which we can see no way out. Many times the thing that gets into trouble in the first place and causes us to make things worse is our own ego, our belief that we can control things, make things right or somehow work things out by ourselves.

There was good advice in a Beetles song called Let It Be

When I find myself in times of trouble

Mother Mary comes to me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

And in my hour of darkness

She is standing right in front of me

Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

One doesn’t have to be a Catholic or even turn to the Virgin Mary in order to turn to God for help in times of crisishand reaching for heaven or overload. The words in the Beetles song are just another way of saying something that I’ve written about here a few times now – turning to God in prayer and saying “Not my will but thy will be done.”

Offloading your problems onto God and trusting Him to help you find your way through the maze that your life may have become is not giving up; it is not quitting; it is not admitting defeat; it is accepting the fact that you are not in control and trusting the One who is. It is our own egos that get us into most messes; our misplaced belief that we can control things, can solve all problems, can overcome all difficulties or bear any pain. We are told to keep a stiff upper lip; to put on our big-girl panties; bend but never break; and on and on; when what we really need to be reminded of is Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

The first step towards trusting in the Lord is uttering those words – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Try it. I think you’ll like the results.

Have a great, stress-free day!

Give it some time…

September 18, 2015

From a recent post on the  Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this interesting little quote – “Sometimes when things are falling apart, they may be actually falling into place.”  (Spirit Science) Jack went on to advise that we all let things play out and give them time, because most of the time things work out if you give them time to.

panicHow many of us know a drama queen or king for who every problem is a crisis, every rejection the end of the world and every setback seems to be the end of life as they know it? It’s easy when in the midst of bad things happening to see everything as disastrous or threatening. The world that you were comfortable inhabiting can seem to be falling apart. It is hard to see any good coming out of something that you believe is bad.

Things can fall apart in the business world, too. Sometimes it’s best if they do. There is a concept called creative destruction in which the old order is systematically destroyed to make way for a new way of doing things. That may involve blowing up an old organizational structure in order to put in place a new organization that is better suited to deal with the markets of today. It could even mean getting rid of the very products that got the company to where it is now, because it is obvious that they cannot carry it into the future.

I suppose in our personal lives the act of divorce is a form of creative destruction, since it clears the way for new unions that might serve both parties better. It’s certainly a case of things falling apart that quite often lead to things falling into place for both ex-‘s. If there are children involved it is hard on them, but most times works out for the surrounded by sharksbetter in the long run for them, too.

I suspect that the main thing that we dread when things seem to be falling apart is that we aren’t in control; or, we don’t seem to be anyway. That’s because we focus on things that never were within our control instead of the one thing that we always have control over – our reactions to events. We tend to look for someone to blame for the things that we can’t control and failing that we blame ourselves for not seeing the disaster coming and doing something to avoid it – again something that we likely had no control over.

Instead of spending a lot of time and emotional energy fretting about why things have happened or wondering why you couldn’t or didn’t avoid it, maybe you should focus on helping things fall into place by figuring out how to make the best of the situation that you find yourself in. The destructive phase has already occurred, so maybe it’s painted into cornertime to focus on the creative part of the process. The old is gone, no matter what or who it was; focus now on the future – making the best of what or who is next in your life. It’s only when you can let go of the old that you can embrace the new and get on with life.

Sometimes taking a moment to reflect on past disasters from the perspective of time will help you realize that you lived through them and you will live through the current one, too. Sure it may have hurt for a while – all of life’s boo-boo’s do – but eventually the pain subsidies and is replaced by new joys. For those who turn to their faith in times of crisis, there is helpful guidance in the Bible –

2 Corinthians 4: 17-18 “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a prayingglory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”

For all of us, there is ample proof all around us that the crises that we hit in day-to-day life do not mean that things are falling apart. They are changing. You are changing. Give it some time and things will fall into place, albeit a new place. Things will be different but you will still be here. Be creative with the new you that will result. Have a great new day.

Tell me where to get more wax…

September 16, 2015

“Don’t tell me not to burn the candle at both ends…tell me where to get more wax” – recent Frank and Ernest cartoon

burning both endsI love the daily newspaper cartoons and increasingly find that I can identify with a few of them, like Frank and Ernest or perhaps Pluggers. Today’s little quote came from the Frank and Ernest cartoon in one of our local papers. I suspect that many of us share the feeling every now and then that we are burning the candle at both ends and need to find more wax. Time seems to be increasingly fleeting as I age. Perhaps that is because I have shortened the day a bit to get to bed earlier; but I think it is also that the pace of life has quickened, though without any particular cause that I can discern. Tell me where to get more wax.

I have the suspicion that one major culprit in the seeming loss of time is the demanding little thief in my hand (or pocket) – my smart phone. If the candle wasn’t burning at the other end before, it certainly was ignited by the constant need to feel connected and to react in real-time to the happenings, messages and information that isphone with msg there on my phone. Sneaking a peak at the phone to see if there are new messages or emails is a national pass time. In fact the ringing and buzzing usually are occurring all around us, no matter where we are. Even in times of relative inactivity, we have become so used to the constant demands of our phones that “phantom buzzing” has become a shared phenomenon for many.

We have reached the point where it seems no event is too important not to be interrupted to answer our phones – weddings, funerals, whatever, give way to the demands of the phone for attention.  So, that is certainly one way in which we are burning the candle at both ends. Tell me where to get more wax.

Another issue demanding of our time and attention is the fact that so many are now forced working harder or longer or at multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many young couples don’t have the time or energy to have working against timechildren because both are working one or two jobs, just trying to pay the bills. Quite a few of these younger couples would also like to have their own homes, but the crushing debt of college loans prevents them from even considering it. Tell me where to get more wax.

For many, in what should be the prime of their lives, the lure of having it all has put them in another debit-ridden hole. The big house, the country club membership, the new cars, the latest technologies and paying for the children that they finally had mean that they too must burn the candle at both ends – working extra late or on weekends, traveling often or perhaps just trying to be the perfect parents by getting their kids involved in all of the sports and activities that are trendy or expected. Soccer (or baseball) moms and dads give way to hockey (or basketball) or perhaps dance or gymnastics in a never ending effort to give their children what they never had. In reality, whatwomen looking at watch the children often want is the time with their parents without planned activities – something that they promise themselves they will give to their children. Tell me where to get more wax.

What is the answer to this dilemma? I think it is more about learning how to deal with life than trying to slow life down or seeking more wax for the candle. It is about learning to have a sense of satisfaction with what you have, rather than spending all of your time and energy chasing what you don’t have. It is about understanding and accepting that you really can’t change anything except how you react to everything. It is about getting your priorities straight and pursuing them instead of the attractive distractions that beckon from just beyond our reach. For many of us that begins with having a solid foundation of faith upon which to build our lives. If you have that, you will no longer be saying tell hand reaching for heavenme where to get more wax; but rather will find joy and satisfaction from making the best use of the wax that God has given you. In the end your earthly candle will always burn out; but, your light need never be extinguished; it will just move to a new place; one where there is no darkness and endless wax.

So, slow down, take the time to get right with God and then burn happily the wax that you have been given, secure in the understanding that you don’t need more wax; you just need to make the best use of the wax that you have. Have a great and bright day!

The truth – it ain’t goin’ away…

September 15, 2015

 “Truth is like the sun.  You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”  (Elvis Presley) As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

ElvisOne seldom thinks of Elvis as a philosopher, but before he became a rock star he had a life with deep roots in religion and faith, which served him well on occasion, later in his life. He may have wandered away from some of the principles of his upbringing every now and then, but they were still there in the background. One’s principles are the foundation for life and like the truth – it ain’t goin’ away

Another saying that I saw on Jack’s blog some time back also came to mind what I saw the Elvis quote –

“It takes a great many shovels to bury the truth.”  (German Proverb)

The truth, like hope, is a hard thing to extinguish or hide. Faith is another thing in life that one can cling to.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the truth amidst the calliope of claims made that are based upon misinformation or prejudice or hate; but the truth is still there somewhere. The truth never really hides and never tries to deceive. It may be temporarily obscured by those who seek to deceive or to hide the truth for their own gain; but, it ain’t goin’ away.

It’s interesting, and somewhat telling about our society, that when people are sworn in to testify at trials they areswearing in ask to swear that they are going to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  I guess that is necessary because some might only tell parts of the truth – the parts that are favorable to them – or they may add to the truth falsehoods that seek to modify or nullify the truth. Do you ever leave out part of the truth because the whole truth might not be pleasant or cold be hurtful? Maybe you embellish the truth in such a way as to soften it or perhaps even modify it? You might shut it out for a while or seek to bury it; but, as Elvis said, it ain’t goin’ away.

I recall a very dramatic line near the end of the trial in the movie A Few Good Men in which Jack Nicholson yells at Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” Can you handle the truth? Would you rather that someone lied to you? Is ignoring the truth more convenient for you? Have you built a wall between yourself and the truth to avoid the pain or just to not have to deal with it? It ain’t goin’ away.

Accepting the truth in your life is not in any way accepting defeat, even if the truth is ugly or painful or even hurtful. Being optimistic rather than pessimistic in life is not trying to hide or modify the truth, it is just a way of dealing with it. So, don’t run away or try to hide from the truth. Don’t deny the truth. Don’t try to obscure or modify the truth. Accept it, deal with it and get on with life. You don’t have enough time or energy or shovels to bury the truth and surely it ain’t goin’ away.

Maybe the only truth that you need to really accept is found in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.” For sure, that is one truth that ain’t goin’ away.

Take your shots today…

September 14, 2015

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky (as seen on a motivational site, while looking for something else). Great athletes are often the source of great motivational quotes.

hockey shotLife is full of opportunities for us all to take a shot at greatness, or at least at betterment. Many of us let those opportunities pass us by because of some fear, usually the fear of failure. We might think, if I don’t try I won’t have to deal with failure. How pathetic is that? Gretzky’s quote is certainly true if that is your philosophy of life.

A life lived without any failures is a boring life indeed; because it is usually a life lived without trying. It results in an old age full of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s, regrets and leaves little to be remembered by.

So, when those shots come up (and they do come up every day) to do something different, something bold, something that is potentially life changing, take you shot. You may fail, but at least you will have tried and perhaps you’ll even learn something about life and about yourself. Maybe you’ll succeed and then you’ll be someplaceask for dance where you’ve never been before, with great new adventures ahead of you, perhaps with new friends that you finally took the opportunity to talk to, maybe with a date that you never thought that you’d get or a new job that you thought was out of reach. You’ll never know if you don’t take your shot. Another great athlete put it this way –

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

So, take your shots today. Look for life’s opportunities; not to avoid them, but to take advantage of them. There is great joy in the successes that you may achieve and even a sense of satisfaction that you can get out of the failures that you will have because at least you tried.

Take your shots today…

Consequences one way or another…

September 12, 2015

“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.”  (Lois Bujold) – from  a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We all make decisions all day long, some of them leading to taking some action. We may sign up for something or maybe we respond to something. Perhaps we make the decision to say yes or no to some invitation or maybe we just get in the car and start off towards some destination. Sometimes we make those decisions and take those actions in haste. Many times we may not give a lot of thought to the consequences of those decisions and actions.

overwhelmedIn addition to the consequences that one might expect from any action, there are usually some unintended consequences lurking about that also may result. As humans we get to use the phrase, “I didn’t mean to do that” quite a bit more than we’d like. That is usually the result of consequences from an action that was not well thought out or from unintended consequences that we just didn’t foresee. Our ability to speak and our rush to use that ability is often something that we take too little time to reflect upon before taking action. There is a great little saying about that which might save more than a few of us from the consequences of blurting out our opinions and thoughts.

“Be a good listener.  Your ears will never get you in trouble.”  (Frank Tyger)listening

Being a good listener is a choice, too. You might initially think that it is a choice to be passive, rather than to take action; however, choosing to listen is an action and one that is sometimes the best thing that you can do for the other person and for yourself.

But, what of the more active choices that we must make every day in life? For those I found an interesting little quote that is simple, yet maddeningly complex at the same time.

“Make the right choices for the right reasons and the right things will happen.”  ― Charles F. Glassman

OK, that makes sense to me; but what are the right reasons that will lead me to make the right choices? We will never be able to always make the right decisions; but maybe if we start from the right frame of mind we will do a bit better on more of those choices. LJ Vanier had the right idea when he said:

“I don’t always make the best choices, but today I choose compassion over intolerance, sympathy over hatred and love over fear.”

prayingPerhaps if we start each day making some choices like those that Vanier stated we will end up with fewer bad or unintended consequences in life. Maybe the best way to achieve that frame of mind is to start each day with a little prayer and ask the Lord to help you make the decisions that you must make that day with those choices already in mind. Just taking the action to start your day with a prayer will itself result in amazingly positive consequences.

Have a great and consequential weekend!