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…


Sometimes achieving your dream turns out to be disappointing…

April 25, 2017

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s thought –

“It hurts to find out that what you wanted doesn’t match what you dreamed it would be.”  (Randy Milholland)

That quote sort of goes along with the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” The origins of that saying are somewhat obscure but may have come from a Spanish proverb.

We often romanticize things in our dreams, seeing only the beauty that we hope is thereman daydreaming and none of the warts that may go along with it. That is often the case when we dream about things, owning things or doing things. Somehow we have this belief that we would be happy, if only we owned that thing that we don’t now have. It could be a car, a house, a boat, whatever; we’re just sure that it and owning it is the key to our happiness. Then we finally get it and guess what; it’s just a thing. Owning it may make us feel happy for a few moments, but then something else out in the distance that we don’t own catches our attention and acquiring that new thing becomes our obsession.

The same issues arise when dreaming about people, or maybe about Mr. or MS. Right. Our fantasies are encouraged and fed by the world of advertising and the entertainment industry, both of which tend to show us only images of beautiful people with apparently perfect lives. Of course the drug store tabloids have headlines that scream out that all is not as it seems in those perfect lives and Hollywood divorces certainly seem to outnumber the success stories of married famous couples. So, it would seem that being married to Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie isn’t all that we might have imagined it would be.

mother with childHow do we avoid the disappointment of reality not matching our dreams? One could just say stop dreaming; but that is not realistic either.  Perhaps rather than stopping dreaming about some ideal person we’d like to or about things that we wish to possess, we could start appreciating what we already have in life and the people that we already know. Maybe the next step it to see a path to achieving our dream that is comprised of small steps in the general direction of that dream, maybe we could buy a newer car, with some of the features that we’ve been dreaming about; rather than buying that ultimate dream car. Maybe going out with Mr. OK is a step in the direction of finding Mr. Wonderful, and at least you have someone real to talk to and not just another lonely night with a dream. Life is full of compromises and you might even find that Mr. or Ms. OK turn out to be better than you had thought. You might even find love. Dr. Seuss even had an interesting observation about that – “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”

So, go ahead and dream; but, dream with your eyes open to the reality of life. Making the most of your life by appreciating those people and things that surround you on a daily basis is much better than moping about those things and people in your dreams that you don’t have. If you find that your commitment to achieving your dreams is strong enoughgoal and persistent enough to pursue as a goal in life, then start turning your dreams into plans and start working away at them. Your dream has now turned into your vision of where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve and you are now on a journey to turn those dreams into your reality.  Mark Victor Hansen put it this way – “You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.”

Let’s hope that you are not disappointed when you get there.


Improvise and put a little jazz in your life

April 13, 2017

From a recent post to the Jack’s Wining Words blog come today’s inspirational saying – “Life is a lot like jazz.  It’s best when you improvise.”  (George Gershwin)

Improvising is basically doing something that is out of the ordinary or the expected. Jazz musicians may have no idea where they are going or where they’ll end up when they take off on an improvise riff, but it often ends up being something great sounding. Life jazz-1can be like that if you are willing to head off into a new adventure, not sure where you’re going or where you’ll end up but just improvising as you go. Put a little jazz in your life.

The same thing that makes Jazz work can work in our lives. The brains of the Jazz musician have enough understanding of music principles and progressions to keep the musician from getting off into the weeds of just sounding like random notes. When improvising in life we need to trust what some call our instincts and others would call our common sense. We don’t usually do things that are really stupid just to try something new; however, too often we let misplaced and unwarranted fears hold us back from trying new things or meeting new people. Change up your life and try to improvise from time to time. Put a little jazz in your life.

Improvising is trying something new. Ralph Waldo Emerson put it well when he said – “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” Yet many people sit and wait for something to happen in their life that will somehow magically change it. Germany Kent said, “Happiness is achieved when you stop waiting for your life to begin and start making the most of the moment you are new-way-forwardin.” Making the most of that moment is trying something new, putting a little jazz in your life.

For some people the way to try something new is to go somewhere new, to travel. Alex Day put it this way – “If real, regular, normal, boring life, (when you’re at home every day, seeing the same people, doing the same things) is like sitting at home on the floor surrounded by toys… traveling feels to me like going to Toys R Us with your toy box and getting to trade stuff in and buy new things and explore whole new ideas.” I don’t think you really trade in your old toys (or memories) but rather add to your memory toy box. Put a little jazz in your life.

Trying something new or even going someplace new will always involve some risk and that’s a good thing. Rita Wilson said – “Be fearless in trying new things, whether they are physical, mental, or emotional, since being afraid can challenge you to go to the next level.” And Roger von Oech aid this about risk – “Everyone has a ‘risk muscle.’ You keep it in shape by trying new things. If you don’t, it atrophies. Make a point of using it at least once a day.” So, take a risk, improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

You can certainly find new things to do in life without looking like an episode of Jackass from TV. Just think of things that others have told you that you can’t do or maybe you convicted yourself that you couldn’t do and then go do it. Pablo Picasso out it this way – “I’m always doing things I can’t do. That’s how I get to do them.” Don’t end up life with a bad case of the coulda, wouda shoulda’s. Like the Nike ad says – Just do it. Improvise and put a little Jazz in your life.

mime in boxLife without some improvising and trying new things can begin to feel like the world that the mime is trying to portray when he mimes being in a glass box – there are walls everywhere that prevent you from going beyond some self-imposed limits. You can see through the walls and some things look appealing, but you hold back, afraid to try something out of the ordinary for you.  There is comfort in the familiar, in staying within the box; but a feeling of confinement, too. Break out of your self-imposed box and put a little jazz in your life.


Chamber Easter Egg Hunt

April 8, 2017

This morning at the Duck Lake Pines Park (baseball fields) at 10 AM the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its annual Easter Egg Hunt. The Easter Bunny isEaster Bunny scheduled to arrive at the park at 10 AM to greet the kids and take pictures with them. There will be face painting and other activities, too.

The actual ester egg hunt will kick off at 11 AM with children separated into three age groups – 2-4 years old, 5-7 years old and 8-10 years old.  Each group will hunt separately on their own baseball field. The schedule is 2-4 at 11:00 AM, 5-7 at 11:10 and 8-10 at 11:20. Come out and enjoy the fun.

Bring your camera to get a picture of you child with the Easter Bunny. The event is sponsored by Genisys Credit Union and  Hines Park Ford. The weather is supposed to be great, so bring the kids out to hunt for eggs and to meet the Easter Bunny.


Age is number, but old is a state of mind…

April 6, 2017

I seldom think about aging, although I am now more often reminded by a new ache or pain, about the fact that it is happening to me. I really like a couple of quotes that appeared not too long ago in the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“Whenever I complain that things aren’t what they used to be, I always forget to include myself.”  (George Burns)

“Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.”  (Victor Hugo)

Victor HugoVictor Hugo was before my time, but I have fond memories of watching George Burns and Gracie Allen on TV when I was younger. I don’t spend much time complaining about how things aren’t what they used to be. For the most part things are better. Our modern conveniences would have been unimaginable in the “good ole days”; and life is generally better for them. Perhaps, of the two quotes, Hugo’s is most applicable to me.  While good genes have prevented a complete white out on my head, my age does show a bit there. Fortunately, I am able to experience eternal spring in my heart because I still find day-to-day life to be so interesting and way too much fun to let age slow me down.

The main thing that I find so much joy in is meeting and interacting with new people.handshake There is so much to learn from everyone that we meet that is it a shame when some people allow age to trap them into isolation. For some it is not their desire to be isolated but their physical disabilities that prevents them from getting out and interacting with others. There are many people trapped in their own homes or in care facilities who thirst for human interactions. That is why I have recommended in the past that people volunteer for jobs like Meals on Wheels or to visit care facilities and just talk to people. Drivers for Meals on Wheels will tell you that many of the people they serve are as happy to be able to talk to someone as they are about getting the food.

Back on topic; I’ve written here before about trying not to lose the ability to play ( see my post – Reclaim your ability to play) ; to get lost in the wonder of something; to be young at heart. It is that ability that Hugo was writing about. The story Peter Pan was about that same thing; how we lose our childhood ability to fly (if only in our minds) and live with Peter Pan in Neverland. It is something that is actually stolen from us by those older than us who have already lost it themselves. It is the need to “grow up” and “act like a man”. Childlike wonder at life and the ability to enjoy it without reservations is never really lost; but we are taught that we need to suppress those things; that it is not acceptable to behave like a child anymore. Life, after all, is serious stuff.

I’ve also written here about not losing that ability to sneak back into that childlike mode of pure fun from time to time or as needed. I called that post “Put a Little humor in your life” but it was really about being able to get back to that childlike state of mind that can allow you to laugh at yourself and at life by making a funny face in the mirror in the smiling dogmorning. Sure, real life is serious stuff; but, that doesn’t mean that you have to be serious about living it every single moment – you’ll serious yourself into old age and death that way.

In addition to keeping your ability to let go of seriousness every now and then and just playing (if only in your mind); the other thing that can keep getting old at bay is to never stop learning. I read recently in BusinessWeek that a recent trend is for retirees to go back to school to learn a new skill or even a new trade. It is apparently a big thing with people retiring who have risen to important positions in their business life and now face the prospect of life without the challenges that they so enjoyed in that success. Many chose to take their business skills and apply them in non-profit or charitable organizations, but a growing number chose to change directions completely and head off into a second career in fields like health care or education – field where they can be of service to others. For them it is a way to avoid getting old, no matter what their age. Henry Ford understood this concept years ago when he said, “Anyone who brain mapstops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

So, never stop learning and never lose the ability to play, to have fun in your mind. Age is just a state of mind; and, as Mark Twain said – “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

Have a great day and stay young – make a funny face in your mirror this morning.


Silence…

February 26, 2017

Marcel Marceu“It’s good to shut up sometimes.”  (Marcel Marceau) – as seen on the Jack’s WinningWords blog some time ago.

Enough said!