Recovering from a Windows 10 nightmare…

November 27, 2015

On a warm Thanksgiving Day I let an attitude of “what the hell, let’s do this” overwhelm my better judgement and I upgraded my main computer from Windows 7 to Windows 10. The process seemed to go smoothly, but it took quite a while. Finally the installation finished and I was off and running on Windows 10, or so it seemed.  Everything ran slowly and many things seem to hang forever before they would even start. OK, I said, I’ll have to get used to things being a little slower, but maybe the benefits will outweigh that drawback.

Mind you, I don’t have an ancient and under powered system. It is a Dual Core I5 HP Pavilion dv6 Notebook, with 8 GB of memory, fairly good integrated graphics and an 800GB disk drive.  Yet that was no match for the bloat that Windows 10 threw at it. It was like one of those nightmares one gets where you appear to be running in wet concrete (remember thatFreddie Cruggerscene on the stairs of the original movie Nightmare on Elm Street?)

The big moment of realization and panic that I had made a bad decision came when I tried to open my Windows Live Mail. It doesn’t work under Windows 10, at least not without going through a bunch of repair work on the Registry and who knows what else.  I read several posts at various sites with recommendations for the fix and even got started into it before I encountered another little Microsoft gotcha – one has to buy RegEdit Pro from a Microsoft partner in order  to fix a problem that Microsoft created with the upgrade. No way!

panicWindows Live Mail is what I use to run my real estate business  and all of my old real estate deal email files were now unavailable to me (the use of Windows Live Mail is a problem of my own making that I need to address). Admittedly it was also my own fault for not doing more research into what issue and problems come with this upgrade. Every few years I forget how Microsoft operates and how little they seem to care about the disruption that things like their upgrades and updates often cause.

At least I had the presence of mind to do a complete image backup just prior to doing the Upgrade, so I thought that I’d be able to recover off that backup. That requires that I be able to boot the system off the DVD drive. Apparently the upgrade takes that out of play too, since the system just kept booting off the main drive, even with the recovery disk loaded in the DVD drive.  I was envisioning having to take my system into a repair shop, along with the backup drive to get the image reinstalled when I tried the Web forums one more time for advice on uninstalling Windows 10. I have to say that the ability to Recover back to the old Window 7 was the best thing that I encountered in Windows 10. It worked and I am back in business.

Usually, when I go off on a rant about the problems or pain that Microsoft whining childsoftware or its upgrades and updates has caused me some tech person from Microsoft will email me or comment on my post to tell me that I should have done this or that to fix the problem. My reply is that I should not have had the problem in the first place. There should be clear warnings as part of the upgrade process that let users know that various things that worked for them under their old operating system version likely won’t work after the upgrade. The upgrade does say that all of the files will still be there and that most applications will still work; but there is no guidance on apps known not to work after the upgrade.

If something as important as email is likely to be impacted, then some guidance and help on how to extract and save files of emails and contacts would seem to be in order.  If a new Mail system is installed as part of the upgrade, then there needs to be a clear mechanism to extract and recover emailfolders files and contacts from the old system (perhaps along with calendar information), since those files are still there – maybe even a Wizard to help. Telling me after the fact how I can work some more to recover from a problem that your update or upgrade caused doesn’t cut it. That is not productive use of my time.

I’m back on Windows 7 and will stay there until I’m forced to buy a new computer in a few years. I just want my apps to work, my email to work and my browser to work.  I am not at all concerned about not having the latest operating system bells and whistles. I’ve upgraded my iPad and my iPhone through at least two major IOS releases and never had a problem like this. Maybe there’s a message there. When it is time to upgrade my computer I’ll have to think about the OS; but, until then, I’d rather not waste any more time on it and certainly not on Windows 10.

OK, I feel better now.

Don’t look in your wallet…look in your heart.

November 25, 2015

A popular credit card ad asks, “What’s in your wallet?” Perhaps if you are seeking peace and happiness you should forget about looking in your wallet and look inside your heart instead.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” –  Dalai Lama XIV

“Do not look for happiness outside yourself. The awakened seek happiness inside.”  –  Peter Deunov

listening toi musicThose two quotes both point to the fact that the answers we seek that lead to a sense of well-being is inside of us. We must make peace with ourselves and then we will be able to find happiness.

I’ve posted here several times about the need to be happy and content with ourselves – to love ourselves so that we can love others. That involves accepting yourself as you are and not beating yourself up for things that are out of your control. And speaking of control, it also involves accepting that God is in control and not you. It springs out of that moment of relief when you finally let go and say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” It is letting go of the need to fix blame, accepting things as they come and welcoming the help of God to deal with them.

We are about to have another Thanksgiving Day, which unfortunately has become the day before Black Friday for many. While it is nice to have a national day of thanksgiving, one should give thanks every day for the things that God has given us. Today’s post in the blog Jack’s Winning Words has this little Thanksgiving Prayer – “For food, when many walk in hunger, for faith when many walk in fear, for friends in a world where many walk alone…we give you thanks, AMEN.” 

Perhaps, if you repeat that little prayer a few times you will start to drifthappiness inward to that place in your heart where peace and happiness reside. Linger there for a while and when you return find someone else to share your peace with and let them see your happiness. Maybe that will help them find out what’s in their heart, too.

Have a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving!

You must make the effort…

November 24, 2015

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”  –  Milton Berle

I have a suspicion that most of the readers of this blog don’t know who Milton Berle was. He was called Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television. He starred in the long running NBC TV show the Texaco Star Theater. He was the biggest TV star of the era and, along with a number of other ex-Vaudevillians, was instrumental in the rapid rise of television and the nation’s primary source of entertainment. He is the source of a great number of really good quotes – see

knockng on doorWhat I like about this quote is that it is actionable. It doesn’t just say sit there and wait if you want an opportunity, build a door for it to knock upon.  That may mean taking classes or doing the prep work that is needed to be ready. It may mean putting in the extra effort that gets noticed when opportunity arrives. It could mean doing some of the things that you really don’t like to do, because opportunity demands that they be done first.

Here’s another thought along similar lines –

“If a gap separates you from someone or something that you want, build a bridge.” – Me

Very often we may sit lamenting that there is what seems to be a gap between us and what we want. That may be a relationship with someone bridgiing gapselse or maybe something like a better job. The gap represents either skills and knowledge that we don’t have or maybe just self-confidence that we lack. The gap may be relatively narrow or very wide, but we feel stuck on one side and what we want is on the other side.

Here again the advice is to take action, rather than wallowing in self-pity. Building the bridge that we need may take a while and undoubtedly involve self-improvement, either in our knowledge and skills or in our self-esteem. It is possible that it will take quite a while to build that bridge, but I suspect that the benefits will start accruing as soon as you start taking action to build it. Who knows; while you’re busy building that bridge opportunity just might knock.

ant workingSo, the point is that we must make the effort. Things are not going to fall into our laps just because we sit around lamenting what we don’t have. Build a bridge or a door. Get up and do something to move towards your goals and improve your chances of success. Find joy in the effort and take to heart the words of Theodore Roosevelt –

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Live well my friends. Make the effort that others will envy.

Make someone’s day with a hug…

November 23, 2015

“Sometimes a hug is all you need to make you feel better.” – Pinterest – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

Human touch and the human embrace of a hug can work wonders for anyone who needs that little bit of reassurance that things are alright or will get better. Sometimes the few moments involved in a hug can be the only time that the person being hugged can let go, let their guard down a bit and just let out the hurt or anguish or sorrow that has gripped them. You often see people weeping uncontrollably during a hug and that’s a good thing; they’ve finally let out all of the things that they were trying to desperately, and so unsuccessfully, to keep under control. That hug is the safe haven that they needed to let it out.

mother and childA hug instantaneously takes us back to the time when our mother’s warm embrace seemed to solve all problems, ease all pains and make all boo-boos feel better.  Those hugs may even transport us back to the warm safety of the womb and all was OK again.

As we got older there are fewer and fewer hugs. Greetings evolve from a hug into hand-shakes or just nods. Consoling someone moves from a hug to a pat on the back. And our pains are comforted all to often by a pill (or a drink) from a bottle. Hugs becamehandshake3
something remembered, rather than something practiced. Hugs become perfunctory with air kisses thrown in for good measure.

We all need to get back to giving and receiving more real hugs in life. Both make us feel good and both allow us to get back to trusting in others.  A recent newspaper article contained a story about a man of Middle-Eastern decent in Paris who, after the Paris killings, blindfolded himself and stood on the street asking people to hug him- many did. For all of the parties in those hugs, this was an act of faith, courage and love. It was also an affirmation of the good side of humanity over hate and distrust.

There are people all around you every day that could use a hug. People may remorsefulnot be standing there in the street with a blindfold on and a sign that says “hug me”; but you can probably still identify that stressed or distressed look in their eyes that is screaming “HUG ME” just and surely as if they had that sign. Don’t avoid them. Give them that hug and an amazing thing will happen – you’ll get a hug back and your day will be letter, too.

It’s interesting that you can feel the release of tension in the person the instant that you feel them relax in your hug and a little bit of your positiveDo you need a hug energy flow into them. Tears may follow, or smiles; but, whatever is next is better than what was there before. Your hug has unlocked them and let them go on. Your hug has also unlocked you. Allow yourself to feel good about it. Soon you will be seeking other opportunities to hug someone, because it makes both of your day’s better.

Find someone to hug today.

Life is not about black and white or shades of gray…

November 21, 2015

“Life is about using the whole box of crayons.”  (RuPaul) – as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time ago.

girl with smile pictureAs young children we tend to use the whole box of crayons and we don’t worry all that much about staying within the lines either. We just experience life as it comes, without prejudices or pre-conceived notions. As we get older, “adults” around us start “explaining” things to us. They give us the rules that they say we should live by. They start taking away some of our crayons. As they work to make us “safer”, things can begin to get a bit duller. There are fewer crayon colors and they are less vibrant. As time goes on, and as we add more and more rules to our lives. Things can become more shades of gray than vibrant colors. For a few, things even lose the shades and everything becomes black and white.

I think that a part of what causes us to lose the ability to use and appreciate the whole box of crayons in our lives is our need to understand things and our fear of things that we do not understand. We meet people who are different from us. Some differences like the color of their skin are easy to understand; but then we encounter other things about them that might be different – how they dress and talk or maybe how they act. We don’t understand those differences and, out of thattimid lack of understanding, there grows confusion and eventually fear.

The confusion that we experience when being around people who are different from us often springs from not understanding how we should react to the differences or even if you should react at all. The confusion quickly morphs into discomfort and that discomfort may eventually turn to fear or hate – all because the other person was coloring with different crayons than you are used to in your life.  Interestingly enough, those same people when interviewed often say that being around you makes them uncomfortable too and many have fears about you.

For many there is a progression of retiring different crayons and moving slowly towards shades of gray or just black and white. That happens when they keep defining new rules for their lives; rules that restrict what they will do or with whom they will associate.  They may throw away the crayons that have to do with people of certain races or ethnic backgrounds. Therefore they will never experience the vibrant colors of the cultures of those people and their own world will become a bit grayer. They may stubborn muledecide to throw away the crayons of people who look and talk like them, but who have a different lifestyle or perhaps just a difference of religion or even politics – the picture just got even grayer. Finally they decide that things really can be defined only as right or wrong by their standards; that there is no need for shades of gray; that everything can be colored as black and white.

Beware the people that you meet who are sure that everything is black or white, good or evil, right or wrong (at least as they define things).  They have lost the ability to see and appreciate all of the colors in the box of crayons that life has to offer. They have thrown away all of their crayons except the two that define absolute dark and light. All too often the next step is that they embrace the black crayon in their lives and retreat into the darkness.

It is interesting that adult coloring books are a hot item right now and that there are even adult coloring parties being held in homes or bars. People are rediscovering the fun of using the whole box or crayons (or colored pencils). Hope fully that will become a metaphor for their lives and they will expand the box of crayons that define their life experiences. For it is out of the experiences that come from diversity that life comes alive in the vibrant colors of many cultures. There is more that those cultures have to offer than an occasional take-out food order orfacing new day ethnic restaurant visit. There is art and music, literature and language, traditions and customs that all use different crayons to render life in new colors. So get out of your grey zone of comfort; break out the crayon box and use all of the colors. What you’ll discover is a beautiful rainbow of experiences and a more colorful and satisfying life.

What colors are you using from your crayon box?

First don’t be a victim

November 20, 2015

Having gone through the loss of a job (more than once), I think one of the more important things that I learned was not to let myself get into the victim mentality. Victims aren’t in control of their lives. Don’t go there.

Maybe you didn’t see it coming, but stuff happens. Companies go through things that cause them to change. Sometimes that change involves the job that you used to have. Stuff happens. Jobs get eliminated. That doesn’t mean that you weren’t good at what you were doing; many times, it just means that the job you were doing no longer fits into the future plans of the company. Sometimes the job is still there but maybe it wasn’t a good fit for you (and maybe you just weren’t happy and it showed). Whatever the reason, that job and that time in your life are gone. Move on. Just resist the urge to play the role of a victim of that happens to you.

Victims are pathetic creatures who believe that someone or something is out to get them (maybe the whole world). They prefer to act pathetic rather than accept responsibility for themselves and move on with their lives. Don’t go there. It is a depressing and lonely place to be. I wore about this in a post on my blog about Being the victor, not the victim-

You may find pleasure, but joy finds you…

November 20, 2015

 “Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within.”  –  Eckhart Tolle

That’s an interesting little quote with a depth that is not apparent upon a casual read.  We do have many things in our life that bring pleasure, sometimes fleeting and sometimes memorable. We even see this is our lexicon, i.e. “It was a pleasure to meet you”; “it brings me pleasure”; ”It was a pleasurable experience”; “I took great pleasure in that.” The experience of pleasure is almost always associated with something or someone external to our self.

mother and children
Joy on the other hand is most often discovered from within. Of the two emotions, joy is the more powerful and lasting and the more meaningful. I like the way that Rollo May put it –

Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.”

Joy is found in doing, rather than just thinking and most often in doing for others.caregiver I’ve written a lot here about service to others as being a noble and worthwhile goal, but it is also a path to joy, as was expressed well by Rabindranath Tagore –

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”

I have also written here a few times about the effects of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) on our lives and how it holds us back from doing the things that we want to do and the things that we know are right and that we should be doing. We hide behind walls that we build to protect us from the things that we fear. They may be physical walls, but most often they are mental and emotional walls that we construct. Those walls prevent us from reaching out to help that person who is somehow “not like us”. The walls prevent us from trying things that are new and different, especially if they involve people who are new and different. We build those walls to protect us from hurt and unhappiness and sadness; but, as Jim Rohn says,

heart in barbed wire
“The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.”

The point is that you cannot go through life protecting yourself from all pain and disappointments, from all bad decisions, from all failed relationships, from the sadness or the hurt that life has in it. Out of the survival of those travails that life throws at you will come joy. Ralph Ransom put it this way

 “Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.”

So, let life happen and find joy in the journey. Snoopy joy

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it. – Greg Anderson

Let joy into your life. Don’t build those walls to keep everything out.  Have a great and joyful weekend. I joy in writing this post and hope that you find some joy in it too.

Be a helper today…

November 17, 2015

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers; you will always find people who are helping.’” (Fred Rogers) – as posted on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I still fondly remember Fred Rogers and his children’s TV show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Watching that show with my kids as they were growing up I was always impressed with how calming and soothing it was to watch. Fred always spoke in a soft welcoming tone and the shows content was never jarring or controversial – just full of peace and love.

Fred’s mom’s advice is something that we need to take to heart in light of recent world events. As you watch the new reports; if you look carefully, at the videos from the scene there are lots of panicked people rushing away from the places where the horror took place, but there are also a few rushing towards those same places, ready to help.  Those weren’t all firsthelping up-responders. There are always people who jump into action to help in any emergency. They may just provide welcoming and comforting arms to hug a frightened person or they may end up covered with blood as they try to help the wounded or injured. The key is that they act. They are helpers.

What is your reaction to events, be they horrific accidents or some intentional mayhem? Do you run away and hide or do you run to help?  These days it seems that many people’s reaction involves whipping out their smartphone and starting to video the scene. Did you ever notice a few days later that it is the heroes that they captured on video actually rushing in to help that are being given the medals and awards and not the videographer.

I’m reminded of the final episode of Seinfeld in which the Seinfeld characters stood by videoing and commenting on the mugging that was taking place across the street from them. The characters ended up going to jail for their failure to act. In my mind, that was one of the worst final episodes in TV history. It wasn’t funny and left no room to empathize with a cast of characters that we had all come to love. If anything we may have shared a collective sense of guilt over having done something similar.

We all face many choices to act, react or retract from events going on around us almost every day. Most are not big horrific events. Many are small personal dramas or traumas playing out in our friends or acquaintances. Someone may get a phone call from their doctor with bad givingnews. Someone comes into work the day after breaking up a relationship. You meet a homeless person on the street.An elderly neighbor slips and falls and is laid up in their home.  Someone spills their drink all over themselves at a restaurant. A lady with two small children in tow is trying to load up a big box into her car. A small child waits nervously to cross a busy street.  A friend confides that he/she has a terminal disease or that they have just received an eviction notice on their home.

Those are not the fires or shootings or traffic accidents that make the evening news and you will likely not ne called into the mayor’s office to receive a reward for helping with any of these. Do you turn away or hurry by those in need or do you offer to help? When you see something like this unfolding in front of you do you see the helpers? Are you content to allow them take this on by themselves or do you ahelping handsls0 jump in to see if there is anything that you can do, too? You will never have to  think back and say I coulda, woulda, shoulda, and then feel guilty; if you do the right thing to begin with and try to help.

Have a great day, and if you are given the opportunity; be a helper today.

Three little words – Don’t give permission…

November 15, 2015

 “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”  –  Mahatma Gandhi

I was searching for quotes about peace and contentment when I came across this one from Gandhi. It resonated with other little pieces of self-help advice that I have written about in the past. I think we all seek peace and contentment in our lives, although most of us spend time looking in the wrong places. Then, just whining childas we may have achieved some measure of both in our lives, we give someone else permission to hurt us. We take offense and something that they’ve said or done or we react to some slight or slur (real or imagined) and fall back out of our state of contentment.  Gandhi’s advice rings true in those moments. We have invited this external influence into our sanctuary and allowed it to tarnish our contentment or destroy our peace. Don’t give permission.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was on the same page as Gandhi when he said – “Nothing external to you has any power over you.”  Emerson was referring to the fact that you control how you react to all things external to you. If someone says something hateful to you, or about you; how do you react? Do you let it hurt you or is your reaction to feel sorry that they are in such a state of mind that they feel the need to lash out at you. Do you shrink back in offense or offer your help and prayers to them? After all they haven’t really done anything to you, if you didn’t let them do it; but, they have exposed an ugly side of themselves for others to see. They can’t hurt you if you don’t  give permission.

Finally, being at peace means being comfortable with yourself, liking yourself and being confident in yourself. Sanaya Roman put it this way – “Having inner peace means committing to letting go of self-criticism and self-doubt.”  So, in addition to the things and people outside that might be trying to upset your contentment; one must believe in yourself.  I  wrote about that in a post – and I also advised against beating yourself up. What good does it do you to spend time on self-criticism and slef-doubt. Rather you shouls spend that time on self-improvement. Learn from any mistakes and move on, don’t wallow in self-recrimination and guilt. Even for your own thoughts, don’t give permission.

prayingSo, resolve today that you will withhold permission for the actions and words of others to hurt you. Focus instead on how you can offer them help that they may need to get to the place of peace and contentment that you enjoy. I’ve noted here in past posts that the local Methodist pastor Doug McMunn often uses a wonderful little retort when he encounters someone who needs help regaining control. He will just say, “be at peace.” Doug always seems to be at peace and to ready to help other, I suspect because he makes a daily effort to stay ther and when he encounters situations that might otherwise be inflammatory he doesn’t give permission for those things or comments to invade and destroy his inner peace.

Be at peace this coming week; and when things try to get to you; remember that they cannot hurt you if you don’t give permission.

Keep your key in your own pocket…

November 12, 2015

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket.” – Unknown – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – When John Lennon was 5-yrs-old the teacher asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  When he answered, “Happy!” he was told he didn’t understand the assignment.  Have you become what you wanted to be, now that you’ve grown up?  What has determined your happiness?  Things?  Family?  Health?  Approval by others?  Do you have a definition for happiness?

key to happinessI suspect that we would all answer that we want to be happy, even if we’ve already grown up. All too often, however, we do put the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket or at least in their opinion of us. Or, maybe we come to believe that if we only had that next thing; that new car or that bigger house or maybe that next promotion; that then we’d be happy. In any of those cases the key to our happiness is not in our own pocket and that’s not a good thing.

For many younger people, this cathartic moment, when you take control of your own happiness, defines the transition into adulthood. For people who were already adults it represents regaining control over yourself;girl crying control that may have been lost to substance abuse or to abusive or controlling relationships or just lack of self-confidence that led to dependency upon someone or something else for happiness.  Sometimes we don’t even know that our pockets have been picked and the key to our happiness taken from us. Just realizing that we need to get that key back is a great start.

I’ve written here a few times about being happy with one’s self as the key in life. The reason that we sometimes put the key to our happiness in someone else’s pocket is that we aren’t happy with ourselves. If I don’t like me, how can I expect others to like me? If I’m not comfortable being around me, why would others want to be around me? If I’m not comfortable being me, how can others get comfortable being with me? It all has to start with me, before it can become about we. See my post –

mirror imageSo take back your key and learn to unlock your own happiness. Accept yourself as you are and work from that base. Maybe you do need to get better at some things; but start from a base of “I’m OK and I like me” and build on that. Spend your energy on building yourself up, not tearing yourself down. Identify the things that you want to improve and devise a plan to achieve those goals. For many it has to do with what they see in the mirror. Instead of wallowing in self-criticism – “I’m too fat. I’m ugly. I’m a mess.” – set out on a journey to lose some weight or to change your looks or to get your life in order.

Be careful not to put your success in achieving those goals into someone else’s pocket by trying to actually make yourself look exactly like someone else or by depending upon someone else’s judgement about your progress. Yes, it’s nice if someone else notices and asks, “Are you losing weight?” or maybe “is that a new hairdo?”  The key is that you’ve taken control and are now conscious about how you feel about yourself as walking man
you make the changes. You will probably notice that you like the new you more than the old you; even if you never admitted to yourself that you weren’t all that happy with the old you. At least you will know that the key to your happiness is not in someone else’s pocket.

Start each day feeling good about yourself. Try a little prayer to thank God for who you are and where you are headed. Putting God on your keyring means that the rest of the day will take care of itself. Put that in your pocket and you’ll have a great day.