How to get rich quick…

April 13, 2021

The blog, Jack’s Winning Words, contained advice this morning on how to become rich that originated from an ancient Greek philosopher – “By desiring little a poor man makes himself rich.”  (Democritus)

Pastor Freed referenced the movie The Jerk and its main character Navin as an example of someone who was happy (rich) with just the few simple things around him. All of us are not simpletons like Navin, but we can all still be happy and feel rich by appreciating the things that we have and not lusting after things that we don’t have.

The starting point for that happiness and rich feeling is to be thankful for what you do have – starting with life. If you wake up in the morning and feel grateful that God has given you another day. That is a good start. Taking the new day for granted is a start down the wrong path- the path of entitlement. It is this feeling of entitlement that eggs us on to lust after the things that we don’t have.

A good way to ground yourself at the start of each day is to utter a short prayer to God, thanking Him for giving you another day and another opportunity to appreciate the things and people around you. Assuming that you are not in survival mode, scrambling for your next meal and your very existence, you can also be more aware of and thankful for the things that you already have.

Most in America, and in most civilized countries of the world, have much more than someone living at subsistence level or in survival mode out in the jungle somewhere. We may have a roof over our heads or at least somewhere to stay. Most have enough food to survive readily available and most have more than one set of cloths. There are many in the extremely poor parts of the world who would consider themselves rich if they had just those things. So, right away, you are richer than that poor, starving naked person huddling under a tree for shelter somewhere.

The real key to becoming rich quick is to control your desire for more, for things that you don’t have. There is already a scientific explanation for not being happy by accumulating more things. It is called “The law of diminishing returns.” This axiom basically states that the satisfaction or happiness realized by obtaining another item of a certain type diminishes with each added item. So maybe you were still very happy when you got your second pair of pants or shirt; however, buying the 10th or 20th pair of pants or shirt is much less satisfying. The thrill is gone, and you may event start to question yourself about why you “needed” another pair of pants or another shirt or blouse? The real answer is that you don’t need them.

So, why do we keep accumulating things that we really don’t need? I suspect that the answer in most cases is that we think that owning them will make us happy. For some it is the pursuit of that ownership that provide them the happiness; a happiness that quickly fades once it has been achieved. It turns out for them that victory in one pursuit just leads to the start of another chase for the next shiny thing.

Maybe, after you thank God for giving you another day, you can ask Him to help you find happiness is what you have. Ask God to open your eyes to see the beauty in the things and people around you and to appreciate them. Once you stop to think about all that you already have and the love that you share with those around you, you may find that you are already a rich person indeed.

So, the secret to getting rich quick it to be thankful for, and happy with, the things that God has already given you. Then you can stop chasing the next shiny thing and start enjoying the things and people who are already there. Instead of buying that 10th pair of pants for yourself, buy them and donate them to a charity and see if that doesn’t make you feel richer than hanging them in your closet.

God has given you another day. What more do you really need? Be happy. Enjoy the riches that God has already given you.


You can do this…

January 16, 2021

Pastor Freed used this quote some time ago in his blog Jack’s Winning Words  – “Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less.”  (Greg McKeown)

I happen to have clients that categorize themselves as essentialists. At one time they thought that they were minimalists, but have come to realize the differences and are happy being essentialists. One major difference is that they do allow themselves a few, non-essential indulgences in life, where a minimalist would eschew anything above the bare minimum altogether.

Essentialism isn’t a bad thing and the key to it – discipline – is actually a good thing, because it spills over into all aspects of one’s life. That means that essentialists are usually more healthy, because they are disciplined eaters and have the discipline to get enough exercise. That discipline also means that they have fewer possessions and probably are in better financial shape, even if they aren’t considered to  be wealthy.  They are disciplined savers and likely have a nice nest egg for retirement building.

So, why should you consider becoming an essentialist? Because there is really no justification for the opposite approach to life – that of constantly chasing more. More money, more things. MORE. To what end? Is the person with more at the end of their life able to take it with them any more than the person with less?

An interesting side effect of the two approaches to life is that those who seek more are seldom happy with whatever they have accomplished and have at the time – they want more. Whereas, the person seeking only the essentials in their life can find happiness in not having or eliminating something – success is found in less.

So, should you run off and live in a cave with no possessions or amenities? No, that would be the minimalist approach. Just stop to consider before you buy that next thing and ask yourself  if it is really essential. Have the discipline to think about what you need and of what use you might put something to, if you bought it. Would it be used often or just sit in a closet or be over next to the exercise equipment, gathering dust. Are you buying this item because you actually need it (essential) or just because you want it (and why do you want it – is it because someone else has one).

You won’t become a hermit or even an essentialist overnight, just because you stopped to think about it before you buy things; however,, it might help you get your credit card debt under control and that’s a good first step. Adopting that small step of discipline in your life make be he first step to getting back control of your life. Once you have regained control over yourself, you will probably notice that what is important in life is not possessions but the relationships that you have with those around you – family and friends. Now you know what is really essential for a happy life.

Let me know how that works for you. I’m off to buy things that I don’t need with money I don’t have. My bad.


I found the right words…

December 21, 2020

“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”  (Jack Kerouac-poet) –  From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Ways blog. Pastor Freed when on to write about trying to be brief in his blog,

I guess I cannot claim to be brief in this blog. I often take the one-paragraph posts that I see in Pastor Freed blog and turn them into 4-5 paragraphs (sometimes more). One reader even commented that it was like encountering a “wall of words.” Ouch!

OK, so, I get wordy most of the time. Sorry about that, but I love words and how one can flow them together to express a thought. Maybe I should stop thinking so much and that might cut down the number of words needed. My wife accuses me (and rightfully so most of the time) of being too much like Captain Obvious too much of the time.

The one area of my life that I have found the right words (at least for me) that are simple and short is in my prayers. I have posted this here a few times that my favorite and most often used prayer is the simple line – “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

I think the reason that I love that simple little prayer is that it represents a release of my own ego and an acceptance of the will of God in my life, no matter what the situation is that is prompting the prayer. I have also posted here many times about how one’s inability to let go of the need to solve a problem or work out an issue can get in the way of moving forward – see Let it Go. Spit it out.

There are times when I use others prayers, especially when I remember to stop and thank God for some wonderful thing that has just happened or some terrible thing that I just avoided; but that is my “go-to” prayer.

I’m sure that many people have their own “go-to” prayer; but if you don’t have one, feel free to use my little prayer. It works wonders for me and will put you in the right frame of mind to experience wonders in your life, too.

Have a great week ahead. It’s Christmas week and a time to celebrate.

May His will be done in your life.


Open the door…

December 3, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “God enters, by a private door, into every individual.”  (Emerson)

The tormented minds of many who have descended into depression may have attempted to slam the door shut on God; however, God is both patient and persistent. That door is still there.  Unlock it and let God enter into your life. The key to that door is acceptance…acceptance of God’s presence and help in your life. The dungeon that is depression is a lonely place. Open that door to God and you will never be alone again.

There was a popular TV game show that presented contestants with 3 doors, behind which were hidden either great prizes or great disappointments. Contestants were asked to choose a door. Life can seem like that sometimes. Sometimes we make the wrong choices and open the door to disappointment or worse. The choices that we are faced with in life can seem both scary and mysterious. We really can’t see what’s behind the doors.

However, over in the corner, maybe just out of our vision, there is another door and that door is clearly marked – “God is here”. We know that it is there, but our own ego sometimes stubbornly prevents us from opening that door. We keep trying to do it alone, to face our challenges on our own, and to exert our free will. What we fail to realize is that same free will is what allows us to open that fourth door and seek God’s help. When God gave us that free will he also put that door there in our lives. He put it there for two reasons – 1. Just in case, we needed to open it and get his help and 2. To give us a direct way to communicate with and worship Him.

If it’s been a while since you opened that door in your life, or maybe you’ve never tried that door to see what’s there; maybe it’s time go see what’s behind door number 4. God will be there for you. He has always been there, patiently waiting for you, as we are told in the Bible –

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Don’t be confused about the word repentance. The repentance that you have just reached when you opened that door is the release of your own ego and the acceptance of God in your life, That’s all He was waiting for. Now you can take step two and say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” You have flung open the door and God will work wonders in your life.

Open that door today and receive that rewards that are behind door number 4.


What will you throw back?

December 1, 2020

Today is Giving Tuesday in America ad Pastor Freed used this appropriate quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words“You can’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands.  You need to be able to throw something back.”  (Maya Angelou)

Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 to May 28, 2014) was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degreesWikipedia

It is easy to visualize people standing there with catcher’s mitts on both hands. They are the “takers” of life who constantly accept things from others, but who do not give back. You may know some people like that. I prefer to think that we all are not just takers, but we give back in different ways and to different causes.

There has been much already written about the harsh impact that the COVID -19 pandemic has had on charities and non-profits. The financial impact on so many people from the actions taken to slow the spread of the disease has been the subject of almost nightly news show coverage. That impact has had the secondary effect of limiting the giving of those whose own livelihood has been disrupted. Many small local entities like churches, community arts associations and local museums have also been devastated by the cancellation of all fund raising activities or suspension of their services, due to the virus. Fortunately there is some relief available to some of the non-profit organizations through grants.

A less –well documented impact was the subject of the feature article in this morning’s New York Times daily E-Newsletter – The devastation of small local newspapers and the impact on their communities of the loss of their local news reporting services.

Many readers of this blog may already know that in addition to being a Realtor®, I also work part-time for the Spinal Column, a small weekly newspaper with editions for Milford, Highland, White Lake and Commerce Township (including Wixom and Walled Lake). The Spinal Column has been around since 1961 and its name reflects the belief of the founders (and the current owners) that small, independent newspapers are the backbone of democracy in their communities, thus the name. Indeed, our country might not have been born were it not for the local pamphlets, such as James Otis’s Rights of the British Colonies (1764), John Dickinson’s Farmer’s Letters (1768), and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776). Many of those pamphlets were the equivalent of some or our modern day small local papers.

The Spinal Column Newsweeklies, like other small local papers is dependent upon the revenues from advertising to support its free distribution to homes in the communities that it serves. The current pandemic has wreaked havoc on the local businesses that normally advertise in the paper, especially local restaurants and small local stores. The revenue needed to support the staff needed to put out the local papers are drastically down. That is the reason that The Spinal Column is currently seeking donations from its readers.

There are certainly many worthy causes vying for any charity dollars that are available this year. That makes it all the more important to keep our local channels of communications viable. Yes, there will still be the internet; however, the internet does not have reporters digging into and reporting the stories of importance in your local neighborhoods. The internet does not send people to the local Village Council meetings or the Zoning Board meeting to report on issues of local importance only. The internet may report the scores of your local high school games, but it doesn’t do the post-game interviews or post the pictures of the game that your local newspaper might. There might be a post on Facebook about an imagined conspiracy behind a local school board vote, but only the local newspapers actually have people out interviewing the school board members to report the facts behind that vote.

So on this Giving Tuesday, I’m asking you to take off the catcher’s mitts and consider throwing something back to your local newspapers, especially in this area to the Spinal Column. As the New York Times reported, these are the backbones of democracy in our townships, towns and villages You can go to our web site,  http://www.spinalcolumnonline.com and use the Donate to the Spinal Colum choice in the banner  to make a safe donation to keep democracy alive in this area.

What will you throw back today?


Giving voices to our pets…

October 18, 2020

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote –

“The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”  (Jane Goodall)

Jack went on to write about Jane’s long career of understanding and giving voice to the Chimpanzees that she loved. Most of us don’t spend our lived living in the jungle with Chimps, but many of us may have pets that we give voices to on a daily basis.

Our dogs, cats and birds seldom talk back (well maybe some of the birds do), but it is a way to try to express what we think they that may be thinking or what they might say, if they could talk. For some it’s a way to have a conversation with ourselves, by using the pet as a surrogate other self. That can get as spooky as the movies about conversations between the ventriloquists and their dummies.

I’ve noticed that many people tend to slip into a kind of baby talk when talking to or for their pets. I suppose that there is a certain cuteness factor to that, but it does tend to limit the intellectual content of the conversation. Wouldn’t it be more interesting if the pet talked in an educated adult voice? Maybe you’d even learn something from the discussions.

The toughest discussion to have for them is when they are obviously not feeling well or have been hurt. We try to express their pain or discomfort but find it frustrating that we really don’t understand what they are feeling or why. Maybe at those times we should have them just blurt out, ”take me to the vet you big dummy.”

Sometime our pets serve the purpose of being a good listener. Since they can’t talk back, they just sit there patiently listening to us drone on about our problems or perhaps they are just happy that we are petting them or giving them treats while we talk. They are usually ready to give us a big wet kiss if we need it, too.

The efforts that we may make to calm them also work to calm us and that’s a good thing. It also gives us “someone” that we can share our pains and disappointments with who will never judge us based upon what we tell them. So, perhaps it isn’t all that bad that we talk for and to our pets. That provides a voice to them that we sometimes need to hear to keep ourselves sane.

Well, I’ve got to go, now. My dog Sadie wants to have a talk with me about the things that happened yesterday and plan out what we are going to do together today. She can be quite talkative, but sometimes I think I may bore her in our conversations. She’s a good listener, even if she does sometimes snore during our conversations.


Those with no boat at all…

October 12, 2020

“Although we are in different boats, you in your boat and we in our canoe, we share the same river of life.”  (Chief Oren Lyons)

That was the quote from a Native American in today’s post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog. It is easy to conjure up mental images of boats of all type, sizes and color floating or motoring along the vast river of life. One can even imagine clusters of people floating along on inner tubes (perhaps those are the retirees). But it’s harder to imagine being swept along by the river with nothing, no canoe or boat, not even an inner tube; but, that is the fate of the homeless. They are still there, in the river that the rest of us are on, but with no support at all. Perhaps they are just floating on the surface or maybe frantically dog paddling to keep afloat.

There is a tendency to try to ignore those people, lumping them in with the debris that we may also see floating in the river; however, we really can’t ignore the fact that, “there but for the grace of God go I.” They are other human beings; members of our tribe of humans who need and deserve our help. We cannot sweep them under the rug or pretend that they are not there, in the river with us. There may not be room in your boat for another rider; but perhaps there is a spare life vest in your boat that you could toss to them to help. If you look, you may find that there are programs already in place in your area to provide some assistance and help to the homeless. If so, maybe you can volunteer in those programs or at least contribute to them.

There are others floating along the river of life in vessels that are sinking. They may be depressed or suffering other mental issues or perhaps trapped in abusive relationships. Perhaps they have sent up flares of distress for other to see. Again, it is easy to try to look the other way, ignore their calls for help and by-pass their sinking boat, but it is not the right things to do. Hold out your hand and pull them back up as they sink. Sometimes just encouraging them to abandon that abusive, sinking ship is enough

The river of life that we are all on is not always a calm, peaceful stream. It has rough patches, like the rapids in real rivers. There are dangerous rocks and even waterfalls that we must navigate from time to time. Those times test our boats and us. If we have a boat with a strong keel, we have a better chance at survival. The best keel of all for life’s boats is a strong faith in God. That faith will not only keep our boat afloat, but it will also provide us with a rudder of compassion that will guide us to help those that we see along the way who don’t even have a boat.

In the Bible we read – But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:17). Therefore, the message is to thank God for the strong boat that he has provided for you in order to enjoy life’s ride down life’s river and to be ready to offer help to others whose boat may be sinking or who don’t even have a boat.

We maybe be all ON the river of life, but there are those who are IN the river and need our help. Be ready to throw a lifeline.


Durable Goods?

September 8, 2020

I grew up with a definition of “Durable Goods” in mind that apparently no longer includes many of the items that used to fall in to that category, especially home appliances. A durable home appliance, at least in my mind, lasts for many years, as in 10 or more. Not so for many of today’s appliances. My KitchenAid side-by-side refrigerator stopped working over the weekend. It is about 5-6 years old, which in my mind is not a long time for a major appliance. When I Googled best long lasting refrigerator, one of the sites that came up had a telling graphic that showed an old 50’s style refrigerator with “lasts an average of 20 years” written across the picture and a picture of modern stainless steel, side by side with the words “lasts an average of 7 years” emblazoned across it . That really tells it all.

Yet when I started reading things about repairing appliances on the internet not only is that apparently a typical lifespan for a refrigerator, but trying to repair them is a futile effort. We have become a throwaway society, even for our “durable goods”. I think it was the wholesale use of plastic in appliances that used to be made of metal that lead to this sorry state of affairs, The more that I read reviews from irate customers the more it became apparently theta the relentless drive to save money by the manufactures has led to great looking, but very fragile appliances in almost every category. So, now I have a great looking stainless steel hulk sitting in my kitchen, instead of that trusty and long lasting harvest gold antique that was still working fine the day that I upgraded to my fancy new fridge.

Trying to get a repair person out to look at it is another story. I called around and sometime (indeterminate) in the next week or two was the best reply that I got. While reading reviews of the various appliance repair companies that I found on Google it became clear that dealing with most of them is a crap-shoot. I suspect that the customers had higher expectations of the appliances being repaired than is warranted by the quality of modern appliances. We have been conditioned over time to just throw them away and buy another. It’s good for the economy, don’t you know.

So, I started looking on-line for a replacement. We decided to try to buy a refrigerator only this time, since we have a couple of freezers that can provide sufficient freezer space for us. Try looking for refrigerators without freezers some time. There aren’t many and virtually none are kept on the showroom floor of the local appliance retailers. Apparently, one has to order on-line, based solely on the pictures that are there. At one appliance store asked if I could return a refrigerator that I ordered that way and was told, “sure, as long as you refuse it at delivery.” I guess if I said, “no, take it back” before it was unboxed and installed I could return it; however, once the delivery and set-up has been done it is mine, with no return. I think not.

The other disturbing thing that one discovers when doing some on-line due diligence research is that many of the new refrigerators have a very high rate of failure within first two to three years and that most refrigerators come only with a one year manufacturer’s warranty. There were post after post of unhappy customers complaining also about multiple failures, even after the units were repaired under warranty. Several quoted the repair technicians as stating that the appliance companies saved money on “Energy Star” rated appliances by putting in compressors that are too small, but which used less energy when running. The trouble is that they have to run more and work harder to keep the unit cold; and thus they fail quicker. It came as no surprise that the answer to a customer question about where most of the various brands are manufactured came back with China as he answer. We tend to have some left over and unwarranted brand loyalty for certain brands; however the truth is that are only a very few companies that own all of those brands and they are all made in China, even if the brand is  Whirlpool or RCA or GE or Frigidaire or Kitchenaid.

So I guess I have to go find a new durable goods refrigerator with the expectation that it will really only last a few years. That is hardly durable in my mind, especially for something that cost as much or more than my phone. But then again, who would have thought that I would be paying north of $1,000 for a phone. And don’t even get me started about the cable/internet bill.

Rant over!  You may return to your regularly scheduled blog reading. The normal Norm’s Milford Blog posts will return tomorrow.


Don’t quit now.

August 17, 2020

I’ve opined here before about the American public’s lack of patience and persistence as afar as the steps needed to defeat the Corona Virus are concerned. Today’s quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog just reinforces that thought – “There’s no such thing as failure, there’s just giving up too soon.”  (Jonas Salk)

Jack wrote that it took Salk 2 ½ years to develop the vaccine for polio. These days we are starting to hear about a vaccine for COVIUD-19 possibly becoming available in less than a year.

As Jack pointed out in his post, one of the hallmarks of successful people is that they don’t give up. Almost every successful person has spoken about the setbacks and trials that they had to overcome in order to reach their success. There’s a reason that you don’t see stories about those who gave up – they weren’t successful.

Almost nightly we see stories on the newscasts about outbreaks of the virus being caused by people ignoring the guidelines and doing stupid things, like going to large parties or gathering in groups on the beach. Certainly, stupidity comes into play, but the root cause was giving up. They just got tired of doing what is necessary and gave up on mask wearing and social distancing.  

All of the healthcare experts caution that it is too early to stop those precautions. In fact many ae now calling for a nationwide mandate on mask wearing – a call that sets off the “it’s my right not to wear a mask” cretins. They make up a sort of “Right to Die” fringe group; which is ironic, since many are also “Right to Life” zealots. Some even claim that God gave them the right not to wear a mask. Many have tried to point out to these people that wearing a mask is not so much to protect them as it is a way that they can show concern for others, since it prevents the viruses that they may have from spreading to others. Their reply is most often F#@% Them.

So, as we see and hear the nightly news casts about the failure in America to contain the virus, just remember that is was not that we failed; it was that too many gave up too soon or that too many just don’t care enough about anyone but themselves to make any sacrifices for the common good. Of course, if you mention he “common good” they go off on rants about Socialism, so be careful with the use of that term. Their rants often include yelling, which spreads the virus even further.

For the majority of us, who do care about the health and well-being of others, there is still social distancing and I’d recommend distancing yourself from those who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions. Perhaps you should consider adding them to your prayers, since they obviously need God’s help.

So, don’t give up now – Mask up America!


Don’t become a zombie…

August 9, 2020

A quote that I saw recently seemed to resonate today –  “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” Dalai Lama

It is unfortunate and an unhealthy waste of your time to spend your day lamenting things in your past or worrying about things that are yet to come.

Perhaps if you start each day by focusing upon what you can do today and not on what happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow, you can actually get something done.

My wife almost every day asks me “What have you got for today?” It’s a way of syncing our calendars, so that she can plan for the things that she does for me each day and so that we can see if there is time for us to do something together. We almost always find that time.

Some days there may be 2-3 entries already in my phone calendar, but some days start out with a blank calendar. I view those as opportunity days – time to get around to things that have been on my to-do list for some time or which fall into that class, “I’ve been meaning to…”

If you must spend any time reflecting upon the past, at least use it as a learning experience and not as a time to beat yourself up about a bad decision or an unfortunate outcome. Ask yourself, “What can I learn from that?”, instead of wallowing in self-pity or remorse. If you find yourself thinking about the future, make that time a planning session and not an anxiety-filled time of fear of imagined problems. In either case, try to make that time spent as short as possible and get back to the day at hand – lived in the present.

“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”  Buddha.

A key word in that little quote is the last word – earnestly. One cannot live in the moment earnestly if on is focused on the past or the future. If you do not earnestly experience the things that are happening today, you will miss all of the nuances that are there for you to enjoy and from which to learn.

Allowing yourself to be consumed by worry about the past or the future turns you into a zombie for today. Live in the moment. The past is over and dome and the future will take care of itself.  

Don’t become a zombie.