Make somebody’s day…appreciate them…

December 4, 2017

From a post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog some time back comes this little gem –

“A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected.”  (Sent by Paul McCullough)

I suspect that there are many things that McCullough could have put after the words “will always…” in his quote. Things like “feel better” come instantly to mind. There are also other words that come to mind to replace the word appreciated that also ring true…words like respected or even loved.

One of the things that the Special Olympics does at their version of the Olympics is to make sure that every Special Olympian  who participates gets a medal. They don’t focus upon only rewarding the “winners” in each event; but, rather recognize all of those who made the effort… they appreciate the effort and all of the athletes who compete are the better for it and feel better about themselves.

hugging-bearsIn our daily lives there are probably lots of people who do things for us that normally go unnoticed and unappreciated. There’s the bus driver who helps get us to work or maybe the guard at the guard shack who there to help insure our safety. Maybe it’s the day-care worker who takes care of our children while we work or the lunch room worker or the waitress who is there to server our noon-time meal. It may be the paper delivery person who has to get up at 4 AM in the morning each day to go get the papers and deliver their routes. Perhaps it one of the many retail people that we may encounter during the day.

These are all people who in some small way make your day better and you have the opportunity to make their day better by appreciating what they do for you. Many of great-jobthese people blend into the background and become just a part of the environment to us. We only recognize them when something doesn’t go as we wish and we complain about it and them. We may call their managers in anger over some perceived slight in the service; but, how many call just to tell that manager what great service they gave us?

We have the power to change that. A simple thank you may put a smile of their faces. Sure, we may leave a tip on the table for the waitress; but, how often do we take the time to thank them for their service and tell them that we appreciate that they are there?  I have a friend who is a life coach who never misses the opportunity to tell others how much he appreciates what they do for others in their volunteer work in the community or for their ideas and contributions in meetings. It’s a small thing, but one that he takes the time to do whenever he can. I’m sure that it makes those whom he compliments feel better for having their efforts and contributions  be recognized.

old cooupleSometimes this tendency to ignore and not appreciate them extends to our life partners, especially to the career-oriented men in the relationship. Call it complacency or just laziness, we sometimes become so self-centered that take for granted all that a spouse does for us to make our life better. The cooking and cleaning and housekeeping and laundry and child care all seem to fade into the background and become unappreciated expectations, rather than something that could be and should be acknowledged and appreciated. It takes only a moment of your time to give your partner a hug and tell them how much you appreciate the meal that they just served, even though you may have no real appreciation of how much time and effort went into the making that meal.

So, start out this week with appreciation of others in mind and be alert to those that you handshakeencounter to whom you can show appreciation. It should start at home, but there are countless other opportunities throughout the day to show appreciation to others and make their day better because of it. You may be thinking, “what difference can it make?”; however remember that the great majority of people just don’t make the effort. You can be the one bright moment in that person’s life today and that’s a great opportunity that will make you feel better, too.

Let me start by saying that I appreciate that you took the time to read this post and I hope it helps make your day better for having read it. Thank you, I appreciate you. Now, go out and find someone else to appreciate.

 

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Keep winter at bay; put on a happy face…

November 29, 2017

The Jack’s Winning Words blog had a great quote recently that can apply to everyone – “Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face.”  (Victor Hugo)

People who laugh often and seem to be happy are sometime said to have a “sunny disposition”. The opposite is to be thought of as a dour person, someone who always seems to have a frown on their face. Interestingly enough, many of us might be considered by others to be dour people just because of our “at rest” face. We don’t even realize it, but most of us, when we are relaxed and in a normal, “at rest” state allow our faces to droop a bit and we may end up looking like we are unhappy.

Related imageI’ve used a prime example of the impact of our “at rest” faces in posts a few times – ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner. Most of the time, when you saw Boehner on TV in the background at State of the Union Speeches or in photos taken at the capitol he looked unhappy, or in discomfort – he looked dour. If you Google his name there are tons of pictures that pop up; but, only a few show a smiling John Boehner. He looks like a much more pleasant fellow in those smiling photos.

 

 

So how do you look, when your face is at rest. You can get some idea by just standing in front of a mirror and allowing yourself to relax, with no emotions showing. Another way is to look at informal pictures of yourself taken at some event that you attended. Do you like what you see? Is your “at rest” face open friendly and inviting or does it appear to be a dour person who may not wish to be bothered?

What has all of this got to do with today’s theme? Well, while laughter is the sun that drive winter from the human face, we can’t be laughing all of the time. Otherwise they’d cart us away to the funny farm. What we can do is keep in mind some thoughts thatsmiling-sun cause us to smile, so that our “at rest” faces look like that are about to laugh and are more inviting and pleasant.

A nice by-product of having a smile on your face is that people will ask what it is that is making you look so happy. They will want to talk to you and share in your apparent happiness; as opposed to a person with a dour look on their face, who is someone to be avoided. If they ask, perhaps the best answer to give to get the conversation going is to reply, “I was just thinking how nice it is to see you.” You can see how much better that encounter is than one with a dour looking face who replies that he/she looks unhappy because their gall bladder is acting up again.

So start your day today by thinking of something that will put a smile on your face. You don’t have to go around laughing out loud; but, maybe your smile will be the sun in someone else’s life today and drive their winter away. Maybe keep this little song in your mind – Put on  happy face.

 


Please Stand By…

September 9, 2017

Every now and then I’ll pause to think about the fact that I haven’t posted to my blog for a while and realize that I got consumed by life again. Things happens, life happens and we get swept along with it, spending our time reacting to the events of life rather than working against timeproactively pursuing the things that we might wish to do. That’s life.

So, when I do get a spare moment that is not already committed to some other activity or reaction to life, I savor the moment and take the time to think about the things that I want to do, the posts that I want to write and the points that I might want to make. I sometimes also reflect on the reactions that past posts have elicited.

I write a lot about dealing with life and about the role of one’s faith in life and in managing crises. That seems to resonate with a large percentage of the people who follow my blog. Perhaps it is what they hoped someone would tell them or perhaps it’s because they agree and have found strength in their own faith. For whatever reason, I have noted that if I mention God in a post it gets more “Likes” than those with no mention of Him. Imagine that.

Recently, I’ve been consumed by work that I’ve been doing to get sponsorship’s for our annual Milford Home Tour. I’m a member of the Milford Historical Society (see our web site, which I also maintain) and I’m on the board of directors of that organization. The Society is a non-profit that raises funds to run a little local museum – the Milford Historical Museum – that is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of our local area.

The Milford Historical Society has run a tour of local historic homes for 41 years as its primary fund raiser. I go around and solicit sponsorship money from local businesses to help support the operation of the museum. That has been an all-consuming job for the last month and a half. The Home Tour is next weekend, so I’ve pretty much done all that I can on that. Hopefully, I’ll have more time to get back to blogging after that.

I’m sure that we can all identify with the ebbs and flows of life that can temporarily consume one’s time so completely that one’s normal routine is totally disrupted. In fact, I’ve started to conclude that there really isn’t any “normal routine” any more, just a few things that we seem to do more often than others. One only has to watch the nightly news (which I do as a part of my “normal routine”, when I have time) to see that “normal”clown car has taken on a new and twisted meaning under the current political environment. I guess when one lives within the theater of the absurd, one should expect surprises from the clowns who are in charge.

So, stay tuned. I will get back to a more regular routine of posting here, just as soon as I regain some level of control over the things that I choose to spend my time upon. In the meantime, if you live near Milford, Michigan; plan on going to our Home Tour on September 16 & 17. Read all about it at our web site.

Please stand by…our normal programming will resume momentarily.


The smartphone is our bucket…

July 8, 2017

In a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog, Jack Freed shared this little quote – “Our knowledge is a little island in a great ocean of knowledge.”  (Isaac Bashevis Singer).  Jack went on to write – A little boy kept dipping a pail into the sea and running back to pour it into a hole.  “What are you doing?” someone asked.  “I’m emptying the ocean into this hole.” He replied.  Basically, that explains our quest for knowledge. 

Perhaps one appeal of the modern smartphone is that it acts like that little boy’s bucket and allows us to empty the ocean of knowledge into the hole in or heads. When webrain map constantly “Google” things we are emptying the ocean of knowledge into our heads, one bucket-load at a time, at least that’s a rationalization that I like to think justifies my constant use of my smartphone.

Some people joke that their phone is smarter than they are and for some that may be true; however, the phone is just a conduit (a bucket, if you will) for accessing the vast ocean of knowledge that is floating all around us in the ubiquitous “cloud”. The Google search app just happens to be one of the better ways to access that knowledge. Google is just the modern and fast way to do what we’ve always done – look for and read and process information.

In the “good ole days” we might go to the library and look something up in a dictionary or an encyclopedia. It was a time-consuming exercise and perhaps not always successful, since you had to know where to look. Just like a Google search using the wrong search terms, you could end up not finding what you were looking for in the books that the library had available.  Now we literally have all the books right at hand through the women with open mindInternet and Google; however, if the results that you needed were on page 10 of the Goggle search results you may never find them. At the library we were shown how to use the card catalogue and the Dewey Decimal System to look up various books (undoubtedly now available on a computer at the library). Today we have to learn how to formulate the right inquiry for a search engine, in order to find what we need.

There are lots of bad habits that we can get into with modern technology, including the use of it while driving, and the pitfalls of the use of social media have been well documented. The use of modern technology and the search apps that are available is probably one of the good uses. Others, such as GPS-enables maps and location-based local information are good time-savers. Of course there are the amusements, too – gamesknowledge in and music and video – which, if managed properly can be good things. All-in-all the smartphone is a great bucket to be carrying around with us, so long as we do not let it turn into a crutch that replaces thinking and good decision making or a master to which we become enslaved.

Got to go. I found a great event to go to today by Goggling “events in the local area”.


The Fourth of July Parade in Mayberry

July 4, 2017

Many people like to think of Milford, Michigan as a modern-day version of the fictional town of Mayberry that was the setting for the Andy Griffith Show Mayberry RFD. There are some seminaries. Milford is a small town in a somewhat rural setting. We have a basically a two block long downtown, with a light at each end (which Mayberry didn’t have). We have quaint little stores and a barber shop in the middle of the downtown. But there the similarities probably end. We have a vibrant set of restaurants within the downtown area, as well as three jewelry stores, an exercise place, a bridal boutique and a women’s store that is known state wide for its “social ware” (think weddings and special occasions requiring a gown and not just a dress).

But getting back to the Mayberry theme, we do have several parades a year, starting with the big Memorial Day Parade, which is one of the biggest and best in Southeastern Michigan for honoring our veterans, and then the Independence Day Parade, which was today and ending the year with the Christmas Parade, which takes place on Thanksgiving weekend. Interspersed before, after and in between are a bunch of minor parades – the Martin Luther King Parade in January, the Little League Parade down Main Street at the start of the baseball season, the Homecoming Parade for the local High School are three that come to mind. There are several other occasions that close down main street; an event that seems to average about one closure per month. That’s small-town America at its finest.

start of paradeSo today we had the Fourth of July Parade. Well over a thousand local people lined Main Street, many staking out their favorite spot by leaving blankets and/or chairs on the sidewalk on main street as early as the night before the parade. The parade didn’t start until 11 AM, but there were people out before 10 AM. Some came much earlier and had breakfast in one of our downtown restaurants before claiming their spot for the parade.  The local AmVets group walked up and down the parade route handing out small American flags, so that the kids and their parents had something patriotic to wave as the parade passed by them. An entrepreneur also walked up and down selling cotton candy to excited kids who awaited the start of the parade. How Mayberry-like is all of that?

The parade stepped off precisely at 11 Am with the Village Police Chief leading the parade. I can just imagine Sheriff Taylor doing the same in his police car in Mayberry. Then came the procession of walking groups, homemade floats, decorated vehicles and Rotary Duck Race kidsbicycles and the horses. This year we had the Huron-Kensington Metroparks 6-horse Clydesdale wagon in our parade, which is like the Budweiser Clydesdales that we see on TV coming to Mayberry. We also had horses from the Cowboy Church of Michigan and from the local Kensington Trail Riders organization.

Of course we also had politics in the parade, with many local politicians marching to remind their constituents to vote for them in the next election for whatever elected position for which they might be running. And this year, we had the pro- and anti-Trump groups, which is something in national and local politics that would have been out of Bridge to Unity floatplace in Mayberry and perhaps was a little too political even for a Milford parade. But we got through it without incident. We also had a fly-over with a single plane from the Tuskegee Air Museum making several passes over the parade route. It was an old T-6 Trainor from WWII, which might have been a modern plane back in the time depicted on TV in Mayberry.

All–in-all, it was a great parade in small town America and the absolute best way for those who came to view it to pause and celebrate this great country. Where else but America could you go see such a parade that is set in, and filled with the small town values of, Mayberry.  Maybe you had a parade like ours, too, in your little piece of Mayberry.


Keep your mind’s bank open for life…

June 7, 2017

Recently Pastor Jack Freed used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“What you put into your mind before you are 21 is like a bank account.  You will be drawing on that for the rest of your life.”  (Yo Yo Ma)

While it is true that the things we learn in our formative years, during which many of us were in schools at various levels, it is also true that we continue to learn throughout our lives…if, our mind’s bank remains open.

There is a popular book titled, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. The author focuses on the mores and character of our lives than on our knowledge and wisdom in that book. The fact is that, if we keep an knowledge inopen mind (open to learning new things), we can continue to learn and add to our bank account of knowledge until our last day. One can, and must, keep a sense of wonder about the things and people around us to keep learning. How do things work? Why do things happen? Who is that person and what can I learn from them? We must keep inquiring, questioning and wondering all of our lives in order to keep the bank accounts open. “There are few things more pathetic than those who have lost their curiosity and sense of adventure, and who no longer care to learn.” ― Gordon B. Hinckley.

It is rather common for young people, especially those still in school, to not understand the future value of what they are forced to learn in school. The common lament is “Why should I learn this, I’ll never use it?” In fact, that person may never use the exact things insightthat they are being taught; however, many things that are taught in school are taught within the context of a process and understanding the process is as important as understanding any single fact or equation. Most of the so-called STEM subjects fall into that category. Some subjects are lumped into a broad category called “enabling knowledge”, which is meant to establish a context in which the world can be better understood. Those topics may include social studies and history. Finally, a few may be classified as “enrichment” topics, such as art classes; which are meant to broaden or enhance our perceptions of the world around us. In truth, epecially once we get out of school, George Whitman put it well when he said – “All the world is my school and all humanity is my teacher.”

Some people seem to shut down the desire to learn more when they get out at whatever level of schooling they stopped, while others continue a life of wonderment and learning. A life well-lived might be better measured by what one has accumulated in the bankbrain map of one’s mind, rather than the money accumulated in regular banks. In the financial world there is the concept of compounding (interest earning interest) and in the bank of one’s mind there is the concept of wisdom. The interest that one earns on all of that accumulated knowledge is called wisdom. Instead of just drawing on what you learned as a student in school, heed this advice from Albert Einstein – “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

worriesSo, keep your mind open to learning, to acquiring new knowledge and new ideas and view them as deposits into your mind’s knowledge bank. It is a wise man indeed who never stops making deposits in his bank of knowledge. Henry Ford hit upon another reason to keep learning – “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Stay young my friends – keep learning.


Life isn’t dull in the deep end…

May 25, 2017

“Either you decide to stay in the shallow end of the pool or you go out in the ocean.”  (Christopher Reeve)

I remember as a kid the excitement and the sense of danger of going down to the deep end of the local swimming pool. Even though it was only 18 feet deep at the deep end ithigh board seemed at the time to be like the ocean. After all, I could no longer touch the bottom with my feet and it was either swim or sink. The ocean is ever scarier; however, the first and only time that I have ever gone scuba diving, I discovered what wonderful things there are to see in the ocean, once you get out of the shallows of the shoreline. Even only 20-30 feet down there is much more to see and many more fish than in the shallows of the shoreline.

Life is a lschool-of-fishot like that. There is safety and comfort to be found in staying in the shallow end of life, where your feet are always able to touch the bottom. But, if you will just venture out into the ocean of life a bit, you will find it to be a whole lot more interesting, if not a little terrifying every now and them. Out of the terror and the increased interest in things and people, comes the reward of increased knowledge and awareness of the differences and beauty that is just a bit further out – in the deep end of life. Just like at the pool, you have to work a little harder to stay afloat and there is a tendency to panic from time to time when you realized that you can no longer find the safety of the bottom of the pool; but, also, just like swimming out in the ocean, there is so much more to see and experience and learn from.

We have a euphemistic term for this; it’s called getting out of one’s comfort zone. Our comfort zone is that shallow end that is a little warmer than the deep end and in which we can always securely feel the bottom and even stand up if necessary. When we were real little we may have even worn those “water wings” on our arms to make sure that we could stray afloat. We quickly outgrow those devices, but many of us never really outgrow the need to feel the bottom of the pool – to stay in the shallow end of life.

For many the safety of life’s routines in the shallow end eventually become dull and boring and so they venture out into the deep in (the ocean) of life. That involves interacting with people that we normally don’t interact with and doing things that weworried1 normally don’t do. The biggest challenge is really overcoming our own imagined fears about what could happen and just letting go long enough for the interesting things in life to happen. Sometimes that means meeting and interacting with new people, people who are different from us and our usual friends. Those may be people of different colors or different sexual orientations or even different religious backgrounds. It could be someone from a foreign land or just from a different neighborhood or even a different city or state. Many times it will involve people from different socio-economic backgrounds or different levels of education. The important thing is that it involves people who likely see things from a different perspective than our own. We will be in a different end of the pool, one in which our feet may not be able to touch the bottom.

take a riskSuch interactions, out of your normal comfort zone, might leave you a little breathless or maybe a little frightened, but they seldom could be classified as boring. In fact, you may find yourself longing for another dose of that excitement and the little edge of fear, because it awakens things in you that may have become dormant due to the comfort of living too long in the shallow end. Some who begin to venture out into the ocean of life describe it as a natural high – a combination of the adrenaline rush of trying something new and the satisfaction of having been successful at it.

There is an old saying that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think it also makes you more interesting to yourself and to other, too. So, get out of your comfort zone. See what wonderful things and people are out there in the deep end. Try new things. If you fail, learn from those failures and try again. Meet new people and not just people who look exactly like you. Learn from them. Appreciate them and their cultures and theirjump-in points of view. Life is too short to spend your entire time here in the shallow end. So, venture out into the ocean – the deep end – of life.

I’ll see you out in the ocean…