Don’t rust out…find new challenges…

March 9, 2019

Seen recently on the internet – “Most people rust out due to lack of challenge. Few people rust out due to overuse.” (Denis Waitley)

Like rust on things, rust on people can be prevented with a little effort. The key message in Waitley’s saying is to keep finding new challenges for yourself. Many people “retire” from work and almost retire from life. They no longer have the challenge of lazygetting up and going to work every day and many fail to challenge themselves with new things to do, new skills to learn or new knowledge to be gained. They begin to rust because they are not using their minds and bodies as they were meant to be used.

Admittedly, our bodies change as we get older and start to put some limitations upon what we can do physically. That just means that we need to adjust by doing different things or doing things differently. That’s one of the mental challenges that we should be focusing upon – not quitting, but finding new ways of doing things that we love to do. caregiverAnother challenge may be finding new challenges to replace those lost with the last job. Some may take on new or different jobs, as I have. Some may find both the challenge and satisfaction that they seek in volunteer work. I do some of that, too. The key (to steal a phrase from Chevrolet commercials) is to find new roads (new challenges) to keep yourself busy and stave off the rust.

Taking on the challenge of a new job, especially one in a field that you have no experience in can be both a physical and mental challenge. You must learn new skills or maybe just sharpen and adjust old skills and you usually must learn a new vocabulary of the terms and words that the new job uses. Both are a bit frightening, but that ads to thevolunteers challenge and the rewards of the new job. Some may find new jobs that take advantage of management skills that they have developed over time. The challenge there is to recognize the differences in the job settings and to find the best ways to implement the skills that you may have developed in a big company setting to a small company or non-profit organization. That can be quite a challenge.

It’s really easier than you think to find new challenges. The need for volunteers is everywhere around you. You just have to try a few to find one or two that suit your needs, your interests and the time that you have to give. Most churches have lots of volunteer opportunities, so check with your church. Then, there are all of the non-profit service organizations that exist in every community in America, from Meals on Wheels old-ladyto local mobility services. If you can drive a car you can help them. There are community food banks and homeless shelters that need help. There are local retirement homes that are full of people who would just like someone to talk too. If you can talk and listen, you can do that.

The point is that there is no reason to sit around and rust out. Some get it in their heads that no one needs them anymore. Not true. There are tons of people that need you, but you just don’t know who and where they are. Get off your duff and find them. Be useful and be patient with yourself and with the new challenge. You’ll be in learning mode take actionagain and isn’t that exciting! You’ll figure it out and it will feel great when you do.

Don’t rust out. Find those new challenges. What are you waiting for?

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Start your day with a laugh?

March 4, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this piece of advice – “I love people who make me laugh.  Laughing cures a multitude of ills.  It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  (Audrey Hepburn)

The important message there is the ability to laugh. For some it is the ability to laugh at themselves; to take life less seriously than others do. When we let life get so serious that we can no longer laugh is when we get into mental health problems. People who experience depression have temporarily lost that ability to see any humor in life; theydepression3 can no longer look at what is happening and laugh. Sometimes things in life can seem so bad that they become absurd. It’s at those moments when the ability to look at the situation and just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all that can get you through it.

I have almost always had the ability to see the humor in life, even in it’s most absurd moments. My wife and I often say in bad situations, “Someday we’ll look back on this and laugh.” Of course, just saying that usually makes us laugh in the present, too.

Some comedians based their whole routines around making you laugh at the absurdity in their lives. Rodney Dangerfield was one such comedian and his stick based upon how absurd his life was never failed to make everyone laugh. Here’s a routine from the old tonight show – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MecU2keW54I

I believe that it is important that we retain the ability to see the humorous side of life dumb blob guyand not get so serious about it that we lose the ability to laugh at it and at ourselves. My first reaction to having done something stupid is usually to be mad at myself, but that lasts only a moment until I see the humor in the dumb thing that I just did. Then I step back, have a good laugh and move on with life. It helps immensely sometimes to be able to see the humor in the absurdity of life and in our own reactions to things that are happening.

One of the things that I have advised in this forum in the past is to start each day as you finish your morning routine in the bathroom by looking into the mirror and making a funny face 2funny face. Stick out your tongue. Scrunch up your face. Do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself laugh at what you see. Break the grip of seriousness on you the first thing in the morning and see if that doesn’t make your whole day better. Laugh at yourself first and then find the humor in whatever life throws you way during the day. Life cannot defeat you if you can still laugh at it.

Can you still laugh? Make a funny face today.

Have a humerus week ahead.


Technically – misused, overused and generally abused

March 3, 2019

If there is a word in the vernacular that I would nominate for banishment it is the word “technically”. Look it up on Google and you find this –

technically/ˈteknək(ə)lē/- (adverb)

from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1 : with regard to or in accordance with a strict or literal interpretation of something (such as a rule, a term, or an official description or designation)

2 : with regard to technology

3 : with regard to technique (as in a performance or movement)

from Vocabulary.com – Something technically true is actually, really true or correct but it may not be the way people think about it. For example, although people call a tomato a vegetable, technically it’s a fruit.

and the definition that I like the most and think best describes its current usage –

jerk

 

from the Urban Dictionary –  What 12 year olds say to sound smart. Often found said by smartasses to make someone look wrong and stupid.

Recently I called into the local Detroit Free Press office to report that I had not received a paper that morning. I usually find the paper on my front lawn when I return from the first dog walk of the day at about 6:30 AM. That morning there was no paper and none when I checked again at about 7:15 AM. So, I called to report that I had not received one.

Of, course, I got an automated voice-response system and dutifully worked my way dinosaurthrough the various menus and options until I got to the place where I could say No to the question, “Did you get a paper this morning?” Upon answer that I had not received the paper, the machine (a machine!) proceeded to make me feel stupid by replying, “Technically, the carrier has until 7:30 to deliver your paper, so it is not yet late.” There was an implied “dumbass” at the end of that sentence, but the machine graciously left that part out. Perhaps the machine was programmed to say that by some 12 year old who found it amusing to make the machine sound superior to whatever dumbass was calling in before the deadline. Technically, I was not amused.

Also from the Urban Dictionary definition comes this further explanation –

When used at the beginning of a sentence, this word is a variety of the ‘filler’ word basically. Another direct replacement for technically is essentially. Maybe the speaker sees his or her own bad speech patterns and recycles these three words while speaking. Filler words add absolutely nothing to the sentence being spoken. Other filler words include like, just, and stuff and y’know, but they tend to be in the middle of or at the end of a sentence. Filler words are rarely used in writing and are part of acquired speech habits.

So, technically, the use of the word “technically” adds nothing to the sentence. It’s, like, just a verbal indication on one’s own level of ignorance or verbal incompetence. Y’know? Just sayin’, dude.

Say or press “1” if you understand or 2 if you are technically lost.


Lead with your heart…your head will catch up

February 20, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this bit of advice –

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”  (Donald Laird)

It is always good advice to use your head to maintain control of yourself, especially before you do things that you might regret, like speaking when listening is what is best. We tend to associate things like logic and intelligence with the head, while the heart isvisualization associated with empathy and emotions. Where things like prejudices and hate come from is a mystery, since they defy real logic and certainly don’t express empathy. They are perhaps closer to emotions that are based upon imagined fears.  Those feelings live in a dark place in our heads and had to be put there by someone, since they are not innate within people. Fears and prejudices cause us to avoid or hate the things or people associated with them for no logical reason.

The first step to overcoming one’s fears and prejudices is to use your head to acknowledge that you have them; then let your heart take over to deal with them in the predjuicesspecific instance that you are facing. We tend to hate or fear people in large, blurry groups that we classify as “they” or “them”. It is somehow easier to lump large numbers of people into those prejudiced categories in those dark places in our minds. We think that “all” of a certain type of people present a danger to us; and thus, are to be avoided.  We immediately think that everyone who displays certain characteristics of appearance or behavior is one of “them” and by association inherits all of the other characteristics that we have loaded on that group in our minds.

When circumstances bring us face to face with someone from one of our feared/prejudice groups the outcome is most often very different than we initially image.handshake We discover the individual, rather than the group. Our heart takes over and allows us to see the fellow human being that is there, rather than the group characteristics that the prejudices in our head may initially associate with them.  That pause allows the head to kick in again and to begin having an intelligent interaction with the person, rather than one driven by fears.

Perhaps the best advice is that in the headline for today’s post. Lead with your heart when dealing with others. Let’s your heart’s natural instinct for empathy and listenfriendliness initiate the encounters that you have with others during the day. Let your heart tell you when it’s best to just listen and commiserate, rather than letting your brain start running your mouth. Your brain may come up with all sorts of things to say that it thinks will be interesting, but your heart will tell you that what the other person may need  right now is someone to just listen.

So, resolve to lead with your heart today. Give everyone you encounter the benefit of the doubt, rather than automatically categorizing them into some prejudice group based upon their appearance. Start off with the attitude that this person you just met is this-is-mesomeone who may become a friend, rather than someone to be feared and avoided.  Lead with your heart. Don’t worry, your head will catch up.


Love today and be loved…

February 14, 2019

From today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this –

“There is only one happiness in life: to love and to be loved.”  (George Sand)

Jack went on to reveal that George Sand was actually a 19th century female poet who was a romantic rebel (she also smoked cigars and wore trousers).  She and Frédéric Chopin were once “an item.” 

“George” probably didn’t write those words for a Valentine’s Day card; although they have become quite popular as a Valentine’s Day quote. Valentine’s Day, like so many other holidays started out as a religious celebration of St. Valentine and had devolved into a commercialized, secular day. Of course, certain merchants love that and it does provide a small boost to the economy, sort of like St. Patrick‘s Day, which is coming up in mid-March. I guess we need things like that to break up the winter doldrums.

happy dogBack to today’s saying. Giving and receiving love applies not only to human relationships, but to those between humans and their pets. That’s why the unconditional love that a dog can show its owner is so powerful and satisfying. Maybe not so much (or at least not quite as unconditional) for cats.

For those in a loving relationship with a partner, the sense of happiness comes also with a sense of comfort and safety and commitment. One finds contentment in the arms of a loved one and a sense that the world around you melts away into the background. There is an overwhelming sense of relief and satisfaction in finding that special person withpraying-together whom you are able to open your soul and allow yourself to become vulnerable – to share unconditional love. Perhaps that is why relationships that sour are so painful, that sense of betrayal of the thrust that you placed in that person.

For those still searching for that one true love of your life, keep the faith. Love is out there somewhere for you. You must be willing to take a few chances, suffer a few bruises and put yourself out there a few times in order to find your soulmate. In our youth, we often mistake passion for love, only to be disappointed once the passion cools. As we grew a bit older and a lot wiser, we begin to understand how to see the true beauty in people and how to identify true love.

valewntines day themeSo, live, laugh and love this Valentine’s Day. Exchange cards and candy and chocolate covered strawberries. Embrace that special person in your life and be happy that he/she is yours and you are theirs. Love and be loved. Feel the happiness that a shared unconditional love can bring.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Take the time to remember at Christmas…

December 17, 2018

This quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog started me thinking this morning about Christmases past – “Time moves in one direction, memory in another.”  (William Gibson)

In today’s hustle and bustle world, time seems to go by very fast. Holiday’s, even Christmas can speed up on us and, before we know it, they are in the past. As we decorate our tree each year we come upon two ornaments that take us back in time – ornaments that contain birth pictures of the first child of each of our children; our first grandchildren. Both are in High School now and that seems impossible. Time has flown by.

Holiday’s like Christmas do provide vivid frames of reference for our memories. They were the times each year when we all gathered together with family and friends (if we could) to celebrate and catch up with each other’s lives. Some families have a tradition of doing a Christmas family photo as their Christmas card and that allowed us to see the growth and maturing of everyone in the family. Some even accompany that with a shortChristmas past 1 story about what they family did during the last year – accomplishments, vacations and changes. We filed those stories away along with the images on the cards.

I suppose that you might have thought my headline today had to do with remembering the reason for the season – the birth of Christ – and to an extent it does; however, the real underlying thought is to take time to wander back through your memories of Christmases past. Remember those who are no longer with us. Christmas was usually a happy time and the memories that you may have of them will likely be happy ones. Remember that places where you’ve lived and the things that you’ve done at Christmas, wherever you were. Let the images of your family, from the births of your children, through many happy Christmas mornings flood back into your mind and bring a smile to your face.

If you are blessed with a long memory, float back in time to your childhood and the excitement and wonder that you felt as a child when Santa came to your house, ate the Christmas past 2cookies that you put out for him and left presents under the tree for you. How far back can you remember? Wasn’t that a pleasant experience? Hopefully, those memories are not like a long, heavy chain that you drag behind you; but, rather, like a gentle wisp of perfume floating in the air for you to enjoy.

So, take some time this Christmas to pause and allow yourself to be transported back in time to Christmases past with friends and relatives who may no longer be here but who will live forever in our hearts. As Thomas Campbell put it – “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Someday we will join them in other hearts and take our place in their Christmas memories. For now, let’s just enjoy our memories of all of the good people and things from Christmases past.

Have a great and memorable Holiday Season!


Have a good laugh today…

December 10, 2018

The advice from the Jack’s Winning Words blog today it this quote – “Laughter is the best medicine, and the cool thing is, you can’t o.d. on it, and the refills are free.”  (Rob Paulsen)

I’m a believer in that advice. I have what has occasionally been called a wicked sense of humor. I see humor, sometimes dark humor in many things that happen during any given day. My tendency for witty retort or often blurting out something that I found to be funny used to get me into trouble at school. These days, as often as not, my wife will question why I am chuckling to myself and I will share with her the humorous (at least smiling dogto me) thought that just crossed my mind.

One must include the ability to laugh at yourself, in order for the healing effects of laughter to be complete. Being able to stop and say to yourself, “well, that was stupid” and then have a quick laugh is much better than getting down on yourself. We all tend to take ourselves and whatever it is that we are focused upon way to seriously. Lately me wife and I have taken to exchanging the little phrase, “At least nobody died” as a way to lighten moments of disappointment or self-recrimination for a mistake. Forcing yourself to put things in that context serves as an emotional relief valve to let the moment pass, whatever it was.

animated-light-bulb-gif-22There are things in life that make us smile, like seeing a cartoon of Snoopy dancing or even the original smiley-face emoji. We also need things that make us laugh. I remember many routines on the old Carol Burnet show that were so funny that even the cast was laughing while they tried to perform the routine. Tim Conway doing his little old man shuffle inevitably broke up Harvey Corman in those routines. My wife loves to watch reruns of the show Everybody Loves Raymond, because they make her laugh.

I’m sure that there are scientific explanations about why laughter is good for us; things talking about endorphins being released into our body. To me, the only thing that is important is that laughter breaks the tension of the day and allows us a momentary return to the innocence of childhood where life was much more fun and many things around us were fun and funny. To often, like the children who grew up in Peter Pan andsmiling-sun lost the ability to fly with him, we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves and the things around us. Recapture that ability. Go watch an old episode of a comedy show. Let go and laugh. Don’t worry, you can’t o.d. on it.

Here’s a little clip from the old Johnnie Carson show when Rodney Dangerfield visited. See if it make you laugh. Have a good laugh to start your week. It will set a great tone for the rest of the week.