Reach out, I’ll be there…

July 23, 2012

I started my day with this little gem from my favorite blog, Jack’s Winning  Words – “When you reach out, the chances are pretty good that someone will reach back.” (Cheryl Richardson)

Jack went on to site a memory from the old Lucile Ball show I Love Lucy were Lucy and Ethel sang the song Friendship to each other, with the line from the song, “ If you’re ever in a jam, here I am.”

As I thought about it, it occurred to me that men seem to have much more of a problem reaching out in times of need than women. I guess it’s a macho guy thing to “suck it up” and hold things in, rather than reaching out for help. Of cours,e some women keep things in too.

The image that flashed through my mind was from one of those TV commercials about depression – people sitting alone in a depressed state of mind.  There may be drugs to help with that, but I suspect that being able to reach out and having someone reach back to you would do as much good as many of those drugs.

I also thought about how often we may miss opportunities to reach back to others.  How often do we walk around someone who is obviously hurting to avoid getting sucked into their despair?  Do we sometimes avoid making eye contact with someone who is desperately seeking someone to talk to, because we have other things to do? I also wonder sometimes how many lonely old people sit staring out the window of their assisted living rooms wishing that someone would stop in for a chat.

I’ve also noticed, as I get older and a tiny bit wiser, that those who do respond; those who make the effort to reach back, seem to be as rewarded for the experience as those who were reaching out. There is a reward here on earth, as well as in heaven, I suspect, for caring enough to reach back to someone who needs help.

So keep an eye out today and every day for those whose glance in your direction is really a cry for help. For many it is hard to verbalize the request for help, but you can see it in body language and in the eyes. See if you can turn a tear into a twinkle in someone’s eyes today.


Are we there yet? Heaven help us if we are.

June 20, 2022

I saw a quote that seems to sum up where we are headed as a nation if we are not already there.

“People have moved beyond apathy, beyond skepticism into deep cynicism.” – Elliot Richardson

Much of my early life and some of the middle of it was lived in years of apathy in America, punctuated by periods of “woke” unrest caused by resistance to the Viet Nam War and in rise of the Civil Rights Movement. More recent awareness of issues and wrongs, such as the “Me, too” movement, the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the issue of LBGTQ rights has pulled the scabs off things in our society that we cannot and should not allow apathy to gloss over. The power of social media and modern communications channels have quickly moved us passed the phase of skepticism and towards cynicism.

That movement has been exacerbated by the wide political divide that has developed in our nation. We no longer enjoy the stability of an intelligent and thinking moderate political majority in our government. The old bell-shaped curve in which the majority of our politicians were in the middle on issues, with outliers at the extremes on both sides has been replaced by an inverted bell-shaped curve where the majority of politicians have aligned themselves with the extreme positions and only a few, moderate voices remain to try to find compromises.

As we approach yet another election season and the attack ads start to pop up on TV and social media, I can’t help but ask myself, “Is these really the best people that we have to offer?” Are these politicians from the extreme on either side really our brightest and best; or are they just the only ones willing to put up with life in the gutter that politics has become? As a nation are we ready to follow these sleazy politicians in their crusade AGAINST others and various causes; or would we rather follow true leaders towards higher, positive goals for America? Do we vote for the guy (or gal) who can yell, “The other guy is a bum” the loudest or do we look at what they really stand for and vote for people with a vision of what good can yet be done in America?

We cannot afford to be apathetic, but we need not become cynics. We need to look with skepticism at the messages being aimed at us on social media and in the news. We need to look at what the current elected people have actually done while in office, verses what they initially promised to do (it is seldom the same). And we may need to compromise a bit ourselves, putting some of our own priorities or issues aside for the moment to vote for the best people for the jobs.

So, let us not become cynics; but, rather let us become better informed and more thoughtful voters this year. One cannot just sit on the couch watching the nightly news and saying, “What an idiot” when current elected officials pass yet another dumb or vindictive law. It is our task as good citizens not to let the voices of reason and moderation get drowned out by the yelling and misinformation from the extremes on either side. It is no small task to search for the best people amidst the noise of the calliope that modern politics has become, but they and the truth are out there. We see signs on beer and liquor trucks saying, “Drink responsibly”; maybe we need signs on polling places saying “Vote responsibly.”

I’ll see you at the polls.


It’s there if you look for it…

March 23, 2020

It is easy in these unsettling times to allow yourself to be dragged down into the doom and gloom that seem to be all around. Many find comfort and guidance in music and song. I found this classic performance by Judy Garland with a message of perseverance and hope. The words are simple and straightforward , set in the context of a housewife engaged in the daily drudge of washing dishes.

As I wash my dishes, I’ll be following a plan

Till I see the brightness in every pot and pan

I am sure this point of view will ease the daily grind

So I’ll keep repeating in my mind

Look for the silver lining

Whenever a cloud appears in the blue

Remember somewhere the sun is shining

And so the right thing to do is make it shine for you

A heart full of joy and gladness

Will always banish sadness and strife

So always look for the silver lining

And try to find the sunny side of life

In this time of unprecedented disruption in our daily lives, it is perhaps hard for some to see a silver lining or find he sunny side of life. Perhaps the key to finding the silver lining amidst the gloom that surrounds us is knowing where to look.  A good starting point is the Bible. The silver lining that is revealed in the Bible is not a sunny day, nor does the Bible promise that all of the troubles that you face will magically go away. What is does promise is relief from fear and anxiety for those who believe.

Belief in Jesus, and why He was sent to earth by God, takes away the fear of death. That doesn’t mean that you have license to do foolhardy things. It just means that you don’t have to waste your energy worrying about death, because you know what happens next. A strong belief frees you to do positive things with your life and not spend it hunkered down in fear.

You could choose to spend your time while you are sequestered at home  watching movies or reruns of TV shows or you could revisit your Bible and find the silver lining in the words that you will find there. Just Google “Bible verses dealing with adversity”, if you need help getting started.

The silver lining in this and all things is there if you know where to look.


Don’t let your mind become tethered…

March 13, 2015

“Imprisonment of the body is bitter; imprisonment of the mind is worse.”  (Thornton Wilder – The Ides of March)  – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write – I once had a tour of Jackson State Prison.  After that experience I realized what a severe penalty it is to be sentenced to “life in prison.”  But worse than “life”, is the locking-up of one’s mind.  “The mind is a terrible thing to waste.”  Society needs to address the problem of mind-robbing sub-par schools and the problem of mind-robbing diseases.

I have written here before about the ability of the mind to soar, even if the body is imprisoned or it is trapped in a dysfunctional body – see post.  I agree with Jack that the sub-par school systems that some are relegated to in our society wastes the minds that flow through them by limiting the training and support that allow those minds to grow, experience and learn about the world. At the other end of life the mind-robbing diseases like Alzheimer’s seem more like a cage that is getting smaller and smaller as more and more of the memories that make up one’s knowledge base drift away, until one is left in the child-like state of a newborn. I agree that more research and more work is needed on both of those issues.

Another issue that I’ve also written about here before seems to me to also be a dui tetherrather large threat to imprison the mind or perhaps the better analogy would be to put the mind on a tether. In Michigan the police use what is called a DUI Tether or SCRAM bracelet, which is as device that is worn usually around the ankle and which can detect any use of alcohol by the wearer. Click here to read an article about how it works and is used. The threat that I’m referring to is our smartphones. Many people have become tethered to their smartphones to such an extent that they actually feel phantom vibrations even when not carrying the phone and suffer a form of separation anxiety if they somehow forget their phone. Even worse, in my mind and admittedly in my case, is how slavishly we react to any call or message or other demand that our phone might make upon us.

The whole texting while driving issue is just one indicator of that inexplicable need to respond to anything that happens on our phone. I often stop and think, “Does it really matter that I respond right now to that text message, in the middle missed callof whatever I’m doing, or can it wait a few minutes?” Does the fact that my phone just buzzed in my pocket, indicating that a new eMail has arrived mean that I must put it out, even while trying to navigate through rush-hour traffic, to try to see what it’s all about? Is that call from some number that I don’t have in my contacts list really likely to be important enough to answer in the middle of dinner? The answer to all of those is obviously No; however the reality all to often is that I do it anyway. I have become tethered to my phone (or by my phone). My mind, in a manner of speaking, has been imprisoned by this beast.

The use of, and your devoted service to, your cell phone can be compared to an addiction. Like any other addiction, it is hard to break. I suspect that a scientific phone with msgstudy of the problem would discover that some endorphin of some sort is released in our brains when we respond to the phone ad that we get used to and actually start craving that endorphin. Maybe it has something to do with wanting to feel connected somehow to other human beings. I’ve seen people spend their entire time at the gym, cycling through various machines and the treadmill, and never get off the phone. I’ve witnessed (in exasperation because it happened right I front of me) a person take a phone call in the middle of a wedding ceremony and actually spend time talking while the preacher was reading through the wedding vows. And I’ve almost been hit a few times by motorists who ran a stop sign at a corner because they were on their phone texting and didn’t see the sign or me. Those were people who had lost control of their own minds to their phones – they were tethered to their phones.

So, now, when I go to church on Sunday morning I leave my phone in the car. I suffer the anxiety of being separated from it for a few moments and I still look at it the instant that I get back into the car to see what I might have missed (never anything important it seems); but I no longer respond to a buzz in my pocket in the midst of the sermon (although, I’ll admit that I’ve experienced phantom buzzes in the midst of the service from time to tome) . It’s a start and an admission that I’ve made to myself that I had become tethered to my phone. I still have work to do on that.

How about you? Are you tethered to your phone? Do you feel those phantom vibrations every now and then?  Do you still check to see what it is that just came in, even in the midst of driving? If you forget your phone at home, do you turn around to go get it or just tell yourself that you’ll check it when you get home? Have you ever spent a hour of more talking on the phone while you were doing other things?  There aren’t Phone Tethered Anonymous groups; but, perhaps there should be.  It’s something to think about over the weekend. Maybe you could put down your phone and get outside for a while without it. After all, that’s what voice mail is for. Have a great weekend.


Goin’ to the motorcycle show…

June 2, 2012

I’ll be in booth 9 at the Motorcycle Mecca show at The Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi this morning from 10 am until 2 pm.

No, I’m not a biker. I don’t ride (yet). I’ll be there selling raffle tickets on behalf of the Milford Historical Society (MHS). MHS in conjunction with the Milford Civil War group is raffling off a 2012 FLHX103 Harley-Davidson Street Glide motorcycle as a fund-raiser. The bike will have a special Civil War paint theme and will be awarded in time for the winner to ride it in the 4th of July parade in Milford.

Tickets for the raffle are $20 and only 3,000 tickets will be sold; so, the odds of wining are much better than your odds of winning anything playing the Lottery. Net proceeds from the raffle (after paying for the motorcycle) will go to fund the activities of the Milford Historical Society, which include putting on the 4th of July parade. The drawing for the motorcycle will be held on June 30 at 2 PM at the Milford Historical Museum. The winner need not be present to win.

So, stop by booth 9 and get your ticket to win a brand new Harley.  I have my tickets already. Maybe I’ll have to learn how to ride before the parade.


Isn’t that the truth…

April 11, 2022

I get an inspirational graphic each day that is supposed to be related primarily to my Real Estate business. While it does also apply to real estate and dreams of home ownership, today’s graphic really applies to life in general.

It is fear of the unknown, or fear of failure or just fear in general that holds us back in life. Fear is the basis for prejudices. Fear is the thing that keeps us locked into unsatisfying jobs or unhappy marriages.

According to a quote by Franklin D. Roosevelt, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” Once you determine that something else (like love) is more important than fear, you find a way through the fear by keeping the goal in mind.

The important thigs is not to focus on your fears, but to refocus upon your goals such that they become more important than your fears. The stronger your resolve to reach those goals the less hold fear will have on you.

Sometimes fear will even have a beneficial effect by causing you to stop, think and plan ways to deal with fears that point to real dangers or obstacles. There is a difference between cautious optimism and foolhardiness and that difference is thoughtful planning.

So, rather than letting fears stop you, use them to arm you with plans to overcome the obstacles that you might face. Confront your fears. Examine them and then deal with them through planning. What you want in life is on the other side of those fears. Are those things more important to you than the fears?

I’ll see you on the other side.


Is always being “connected” good?

March 10, 2019

There is a company that Realtors and many others use to stay in touch with their past or future clients called Constant Contact. The company specializes in using electronic and paper-based messages to keep your name and product in front of people. One technique is called a drop-mail program, which is sort of like the Chinese water torture that the name conjures up in the imagination. Constant Contact keeps drip, drip, dripping emails and/or paper mail notes to the recipients until the give up and buy something or use the services being advertised. At least, that is the theory.

Our lives have evolved over the last couple of decades to include the concept of being constantly in touch, being connected somehow. For a while it was through emails and the “Crackberry” became the tool of choice for those who became hooked on constantly checking their email. More recently, of course, the smartphone and aps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp have dominated our time and attention. We are morecouple-looking-at-phones connected than ever. But, is that a good thing?

Stories about distracted walkers getting hurt or distracted drivers getting into accidents, sometimes very bad accidents, would suggest that being this connected in not good. We may laugh at the videos of people walking along fixated on their phone until they walk into a fountain or out into traffic, but it is really not funny. It is certainly not funny to see people blow through a stop sign or light because they are looking at their phone. What we don’t see are eh countless other hours a day that these people are oblivious to the people and event around them because they are absorbed in their connected world of their phone.

It is not just dangerous physically to be so focused upon that world, it is harmful and dangerous to be that disconnected from real life. Social skills fall by the wayside and are left undeveloped. Communication skills become bastardized by the use of catch phrases, acronyms and whole thoughts being reduced to 2-3 letters that are easy to type. Face to face communications, where body language may be studied to help interpret the situation are replaced by screen time where misunderstandings are commonplace and emoji’s attempt to replace facial expressions.

Of course there are very good uses for our smartphones and I’m not advocating that we get rid of them. They are wonderful tools for finding information when you need it and they even allow for great communication with others when distance is an issue; however, they are no substitute for good, old fashion conversations face to

Emoji_Face-with-Pleading-Eyesface with others. Don’t let you phone take over your life. Remain in control of it as a tool; otherwise it can become your master and lead you into electronic isolation. Maybe there’s a three letter word for that – SPS (SmartPhone Syndrome) –

So, maybe always being connected is not a good thing. Maybe it’s time to put down the phone, look up and see what’s really going on around you. Maybe you should put a smile on your face and say “Hi” to someone instead of ending an emoji to Wave at them over Facebook. You may be surprised how much more fun it can be to actually talk to someone, rather than sitting there typing away on your phone.

Oops, got to go. My phone just beeped. It might be something important. Or not. Someone wants to know where I am and what I’m doing. Maybe I’ll find out where they are and what they are dong. How exciting.


Open House at 730 Milford Glen

October 21, 2017

I’m holding 730 Milford Glen open this Sunday, Oct 22, from 1 – 4 PM.

Come out and see this wonderful 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath Cape Cod in the heart of the Village of Milford. This home features a very hard to find (in the Village) first floor master suite, with huge walk-in closet and a master bath that has separate shower and jetted tub, plus dual vanity sinks. The open floor plan entry level has a great room with gas fireplace and an office/den, in addition to the kitchen, a powder room and the laundry.

It’s an easy walk to the shops and restaurants of Milford from this little development and there is no thru-traffic in the development.

I’ll have a dish of fresh cookies for your, so come on out and see the house and have a cookie.

730 Milford Glen flyer


The journey towards perfection…

July 11, 2016

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”  (John Steinbeck in East of Eden) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write The Ten Commandments and The Sermon on the Mount seem to set impossible goals for us.  When Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” how is that possible?  Is Steinbeck suggesting something less?  I don’t think so.” 

Neither Jack nor Steinbeck are suggesting that you accept as a fact of life that you are imperfect and always will be, but rather that you keep that vision of perfection in mind as a goal and a commitment in your life. Not being perfect at the moment doesn’t mean that Perfectionwe give up the pursuit of perfection (sort of like Mercedes with their cars).

There is a quality concept in manufacturing called “continuous improvement” in which a process of continuously analyzing things that go wrong, cost time or cause waste to see if they can be improved upon. Life is like that, too. We should always strive to learn from our mistakes, to make continuous improvements in our lives and our interactions with others. We may never achieve perfection, but we should never stop striving for it.

There is an old joke that the best way not to disappoint yourself or others is to set low expectations to begin with. So if you think of yourself as a bum, as unworthy or as a bad person, that self-image becomes self-fulfilling most of the time. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that you are not perfect, but keep as your goal to move towards perfection, you can have rewarding thought of the progress that you are making with each tiny step in that journey.  You can be good and know that you rare getting better.

So, don’t get down on yourself is you make a mistake or don’t get that promotion at work bored2that you were striving for or get turned down that date that you finally worked up the courage to ask for or perhaps suffered through yet another snub or social rejection. You’re not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Accept the temporary setback, analyze what you did or didn’t do correctly to achieve that goal and try to learn from it. More important yet, think about how this incident in your life has helped you grow as a person.

Maybe you can now see and realize that some of your goals were not really as important as you once thought they were. Perhaps some of the things (or people) that you were pursuing have turned out to be superficial and things (or people) that you really can do without. The “OMG, I’ll just die if I don’t get it” has turned into “OMG, why did I think that was important?” Maybe it’s the “G” in OMG that is helping you see things more striving for perfectionclearly and putting life into better perspective.

Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect n God’s eyes; rather keep asking in prayer, “Please God, help me to be a better person every day.”  God has the patience to wait for you on your journey towards that perfection for which he called upon you to strive.  Don’t give up on the journey and God will not give up on you. You don’t have to be perfect, but you must keep trying. I’ll see you along the way.


Don’t DIY if you don’t KWYD…

July 27, 2015

I promise that I’ll get back to my more inspirational posts starting with the next one. I just had to get this out of my system.

The popularity of many of the HGTV home fix-up shows has spawned a host of amateur DIYers and led to a host of DIY disasters. As a Realtor I end up showing a fair number of these failed projects, many of them in foreclosure. The problem is that the would-be fixer –uppers were people who didn’t KWYD (know what you’re doing).

It all looks so easy on TV, especially the demo parts where the TV personalities seem to be having fun knocking down walls to “open up rooms”. On a few of these “reality TV” shows they at least show the unexpected that can be discovered during the demo phase – the pipes that were running behind the walls or the shoddy wiring that is really a fire hazard or maybe they “discover” that the wall was load bearing after all and needs a major engineered beam to hold the second floor up. Many DIYers often hit those problems and more, plus they discover that demolition work is not fun – it’s sweaty, dirty, hard work and disposing of the resulting waste materials can be expensive, especially  in older (or historic)  homes that may still contain hazardous materials that were in common use years ago. In Michigan, for instance, there is only one dump left open that will accept asbestos waste and it is expensive if you have asbestos waste.  If you’re planning to “open up the floor plan” as part of your renovation; in order to avoid having your house cave in upon itself, get the advice of a good structural engineer before you start knocking walls down.

Once they get to the actual renovation work, many DIYers discover that they don’t have the proper tools. In some cases those tools might be rented, but in many cases they have to be bought, which is just another unplanned expense. Learning how to properly use those special tools can be frustrating, time consuming and perhaps even dangerous. Big wood or tile saws are serious tools that can bite the user. Before you even start a DIY project you should inventory the tools that you have and compare that to those that will be needed. You can get an idea about the needed tools by reading remodeling books. You might be able to get a good handle on the cost and skill needed to properly use those tools by attending one of the demonstration programs at your local Home Depot or Lowes store. Some even have some hands on training time.

Along with tools there is technique. Many aspects of a renovation job involved mastering specific techniques of working with the materials involved, especially if plaster repairs are involved. It’s not that you can’t slap a bunch of plaster up on the ceiling or wall and smooth it out; it’s that it will look like you slapped a bunch of plaster up on the ceiling or wall and tried to smooth it out.  It takes years of experience for professionals to master some of the techniques involved in their trades. Even painting is an area in which the differences in results between the average DIY person and a pro will be noticeable. You can put up all of the blue painter’s tape you want and still not get a job that looks as good as a painter who cuts his edges in with a brush and no tape at all.

Before you jump into any major remodeling project also make sure that you understand the local building codes and regulations about permits and inspections. Most projects that involve major changes to the plumbing system or the electrical system and any structural changes will require both permits and inspections by the building official for your area. I’ve seen finished projects in which the walls had to be opened up again because the DIYer forgot to pull the necessary permits or didn’t get the work inspected before the drywall went up. That can be a very expensive mistake. I’ve seen building officials make the DIYer tear down the newly installed drywall so they can inspect the plumbing or electrical work. And don’t think that because you’re working inside and you don’t think that anybody will notice that you’re making changes that you won’t have to pull a permit or get the job inspected. Many times a neighbor will report the work or just rumors on the street (or in your Facebook posts) may alert the officials.  It could also come back to haunt you when you try to sell the place. There is a question on the Seller’s Disclosure form for Michigan that specifically asks if you’ve made any structural changes to the house without permits.

The bottom line is that if you don’t know what you’re doing don’t DIY. You probably won’t end up saving the money that you thought you would and you may end up decreasing the value of your home or hurting yourself in the process.  You probably already have everything that you need for even the most demanding projects. It’s called a checkbook and the only skill needed to use it is the ability to fill out the checks. DIY using that tool and get the job done right by professionals.