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.

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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…


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.