Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hearing Conservation -- Say What?

Whether you're in construction or a radio DJ, your hearing is vitally important to communication. If you can't hear what people are saying, you're missing a lot. We process or learn communication through our eyes and ears. BOTH have to be working for communication to be ideal. Here's 8 questions to get you thinking Do I need to have my hearing checked?

  1. Have any birth relatives had a hearing loss?
  2. Do you believe people mumble or are speaking in a softer voice?
  3. Do you ask people to speak up?
  4. Can you follow a conversation in a noisy room?
  5. Do you turn the volume up louder than others need to?
  6. Do you watch a speaker's lips when they speak?
  7. Do you hear better out of one ear vs. another?
  8. Have family or friends commented on your inability to hear?
If you answered YES to some of these questions, you may need a hearing test.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

The Best Way

Every day presents us with challenges. In some situations the answer's clear. In other situations, we think, What the heck is this? Every set of problems has its own sets of twists and turns.

The best advice that others may give us is what not to do. We can learn from them but inevitably we need a solution. Their solution may not fit our circumstances. In those cases, we have to tap into the supernatural; namely GOD. He knows the precise answer because he's familiar with the circumstances.

Others may be the expert in what not to do; but it's GOD who can show us the best way to handle things.

When you are overwhelmed with your day; take a break and talk to God about the best way to handle things.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Visual Connection (Part 3)

Posture: How do you enter a room? Is your head held high showing I'm gonna take you on, or is your head down with your shoulders slumped? Posture shows confidence, and how you carry yourself is directly related to an impression of your ability. Look at these two examples 1) a man standing with his shoulders back and his head held up; 2) the same man with his shoulders forward and hunched. His hands are in his pockets and his eye contact is at the ground.

These two men convey obvious positive and negative messages. (Most people aren't aware of what their body language conveys.) The position of your body sends direct signals to people.

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Monday, December 7, 2015

It's About Forgiveness

As long as you focus on someone you resent, that person controls you. You are worrying about something s/he has already forgotten about. There are 2 ways to get through this:

1) Forgive -- If you want to be emotionally healed, release the offender. Don't try to get even. Forgive, then release.

2) Move on -- When you're tempted to withdraw and put up a wall. You're only hurting yourself. Learn to face the future and move on!

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

An Observable Transformation

If you followed The Oprah Winfrey Show  you would have heard her say that a common theme from ALL of her guests was that they longed to be acknowledged. It didn’t matter whether you were the President or a stay at home mom; the essence of Do you see me? Did you hear me? Did I say something of value? persevered. Oprah observed that after every show; a guest would inevitably ask her, Was that O.K? meaning, Did what I say meet the criteria of what you wanted?  Her response was YES! I have taught for over 30 years and have seen my share of students who “got” a concept; but, I’ve  never seen a more powerful transformation than someone in my zumba class.

Do you see me?

Tom (not his real name) has been in zumba for over 4 years. I know a little bit about his history. He comes from an extended family and is 1 out of 10 children. On the surface, you’d think that big a family would be great. But, if you think of its logistics, you’d wonder  if the parents would be able to spend quality time with; or  be able to validate, ALL the children. As an educator, I’d say “NO.” I don’t believe that parents would be able to validate or nurture anything consistent, with that many kids.

I stress the word consistent  because ALL people need consistency >> consistent love, consistent kindness, consistent nurturing and validation. It’s something we ALL need. If we don’t get it; we pursue it in obscure ways with the hope that our actions will trigger a positive response. In many cases; we search for it, and when the moment is right; a long awaited response comes.

Tom has taken some risks in our class. Our teachers encourage us to come up and dance. There is an element of empowerment each time you do it. In Tom’s case, it’s a POWERFUL transformation. You’d have to understand the importance of body language to really understand the depth of ALL of this.

Sometimes, his face softens to that of a young child. It’s as if he’s in school for the first time longing to fit in and be accepted. Other times, his body language conveys kindness, compassion and  ultra masculinity. What’s most observable, is a palpable vulnerability. One can never  predict how the music will affect him. What’s important is that he takes risks and goes up with the teacher to dance! Whether he realizes it or not, he’s building a core of confidence. By his actions; he’s showing himself (and others) that “they can do it.”

Do you hear me?

When you’re like Tom and take risks to build your core of confidence, it affects other areas of your life >> establishing friendships that are based on consistency and truth; creating boundaries with family members and loved ones; letting go of relationships that have long died. Pursuing a lover that encourages, loves and challenges you to be the best that you can be. Once you’ve taken a risk (and have seen the positive results of it); you want to take more of them. Building confidence affects communication. Your words take on more power, they affect your actions. You get to that place where you KNOW, they heard me! When you become a risk -taker like Tom; you attain (and build) your integrity.

Transformation takes place in risk. Risk conveys I need to make a change. My old behavior isn’t working anymore. I’m bored with what I’ve done. I need to do more. I need to be (and feel) more alive. Every time you take a risk, you transform yourself into something better! And, when you’ve done this consistently; you build yourself up to a point where your confidence is rock solid. You may not know how it happened, but you WILL get to a point where you will feel it every time you take a risk to stretch yourself.

Transformation also takes place 1 moment at a time. When you’ve never  been validated, you need to seek out situations that validate you. In Tom’s case; he’s validated in zumba. He has instant gratification via the teacher, and the other students in the  class.

Lastly, transformation takes place amidst supportive people. You can’t accomplish anything alone (especially when you’re first starting out). A support team that lifts you up and challenges you, is an important part of transformation. People who consistently support you, have your  back. They’re there for you, and want the best for you, because they BELIEVE in you, and WANT you to work to your potential. Periodically, you may have to evaluate the people who are a part of your inner circle. You may have to ask yourself whether their actions positively support your journey, or defeat it. As hard as it may be, you may have to let go of those people who are bringing you down, or are sabotaging your efforts. If they aren’t supporting you, they need to go -- PLAIN AND SIMPLE. Continue to seek out those people (you trust) that are happy for you, and have a vested, committed interest in your transformation.

The next time you’re at a cross roads and a budding transformation is evident; ask yourself Am I ready to be transformed into something new and powerful, or am I content to stay stuck in situations that don’t enhance my potential?

Did I say something of value?

Question for you: What situations are encouraging you to change for the better? What people are sabotaging your progress or potential? What steps do you need to take to build a stronger core of confidence?

Focus: Spirit, transformation, confidence, wellness

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Thank God, It's Today Club

I BELIEVE that we should form Thank God  It's Today Clubs in our communities. There is no cost to join. Membership is geared to people who are joyful to be alive and healthy! The members understand that each day is unique. Each day brings something new and different. The members support each other on the quality of life. They deserve, rather than dread, each day!

The desire to maintain membership (in this club) can make a substantial difference in your attitude.

Just think, if you wake up EVERY day with gratitude to be ALIVE and HEALTHY, you're already JOYFUL! The simple shift goes a LONG way to a much more positive (and productive) day.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Visual Connection (Part 2)

Body Language : The eyes reveal the soul. When you pay close attention, you can gain a lot from a person's eyes - - confidence and competence for starters. When you're focused, people know that  you're listening and paying attention.

You won't convey the same affect if you're looking around the room, looking at your watch or looking at papers on your desk. These kind of actions show that you're interested in doing something else.

Let's say you are a doctor and you are evaluating someone for pain. If your eyes jump all around the room and aren't focused on the task at hand: what do you think your patient thinks?

  • Is he interested in my personal situation?
  • Can he focus?
  • Is he competent? 
Patients can make these assumptions in an eye-blink. If they come in with an "open mind" but see you're not with it, their walls go up and you've lost them. It's because they've picked up on your non-verbal communication and you've hardly said a word. If you start out on the wrong foot; can they trust you?

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Quiet Time

In a classroom; a teacher enforces quiet time. Usually, it's used to create better classroom management when a class has gotten too loud or out of control. A teacher also enforces quiet time when s/he recognizes that the students need to take a break because they've hit a wall and need to regroup.

We can learn a lot for the importance of quiet time. Quiet time in reflection or prayer is the best preparation for intelligent action. Quiet time is needed when your mind is on overload. It's in those moments when you're inspired. It's because you give yourself opportunity to recharge your spiritual battery with God.

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Strategy For Worry!

I can’t think I’ve ever seen a study on how many people worry (worrywarts) in the world. I’d guess there’s a HIGH percentage. Many situations trigger worry.

Recently, I was listening to a Christian talk show. The subject was worry and its effects on people. Naturally, worry leads to health and spiritual issues. Worrying about something doesn’t change things. In fact, 90% of the things people worry about never materialize anyway.

A caller shed light on a solution. She recounted that her father was an alcoholic. Her mother was a worrier.  One day, the mom had dinner on the table. Dad was late. This situation triggered mom’s anxiety. Mom lit a cigarette and started pacing. The caller (age 8 at the time) recounted how something she learned in Sunday school helped her. Repeatedly, she heard how Jesus said to his followers that He left them peace, and how it was important to pray in ALL matters with expectation. This young girl saw the anxiety in her mom. When she confronted her, the mom confessed FEAR. The girl went into her room and prayed for her father’s safety. The girl saw prayer as an alternative to worry. She rationalized that seeing her mom worry about her dad, left her mom stuck. Praying to God for a solution, caused movement. She learned that praying for ANYTHING was a solution/strategy to attacking worry and anxious thoughts.

I BELIEVE we can learn a lot from this situation. The next time you’re in a worrisome mode; stop yourself and pray. Continue to pray with the knowledge that prayer is a simple, effective solution to a negative situation.

Question for you: Are you a worrier? What situations trigger your anxiety?
Focus: worry, balance, life 

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Real Life: Be Aware

I once had a client who was a corporate recruiter. He stated, No one understands me. He was a YUPPIE - young, urban, professional. He was on a fast track to getting whatever he wanted. He didn't let anything stand in his way.

Until one day . .  His clients were disappearing and his business was failing. He couldn't figure it out.

Since he did all of his business on the phone, he missed something . . the body language of the people he was recruiting. Since he couldn't see them, he missed many of the cues that he needed to determine whether they were serious or not.

He was a visual learner in an auditory environment. He didn't understand his learning style (and didn't want to). He wanted a "quick fix." He didn't get it.

If you don't want to be aware, you won't see what you need to see.

In some cases, business suffers.

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

A Visual Connection (Part 1)

What type of learner are you -- a visual or an auditory one? One type of learner understands information through the ears (auditory) or when they hear it; another understands it through the eyes (visual) or when they see it. If you're one of those visual learners, you might understand why "the eyes have it."

The majority of language is nonverbal. That's right. You may say one thing with your words, but your body language might be saying something else. And, in order for your message to be in sync, and to come across clearly to others; both your verbal and nonverbal language have to work together. If they don't, you're not communicating as well as you need to, and you're wasting precious time.

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Peace 101

Is there someone in your life who pushes your buttons EVERY TIME they see you? Someone like that messes up your attitude, your friendships and your peace of mind.

Toxic people are going to blame anyone but themselves - including you - for the problems in their lives, You have to realize that it's not about you. It's about them.

When these chaotic people get around you, you might start thinking,  Am, I going crazy? I know they're crazy, but am I crazy too?

No, you're not crazy. Remember, it's not about you.

It's not always possible to live at peace. There are some people who, no matter what you do, are still going to push your buttons. It doesn't have anything to do with you. It has to do with their pain and hurt.

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Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Rat Race

Are you guilty of being in the rat race? Are you ALWAYS in a hurry? Do you multi-task in an effort to get EVERYTHING done? STOP?

Rat races set you up for self-defeat. Don't buy into them.

Eliminate this stressful self-defeating behavior by deciding to create a more interesting life. Focus your mind on the POSITIVE. LQQK for the gifts in your day instead of hassles. When you do, you'll see things differently. There will be more opportunities for personal and spiritual growth. You'll see more solutions!

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Monday, October 5, 2015


Many of the t.v. preachers talk about the Great Plan God has for our lives. An important piece to that plan is to “let go of limitations” or limits. God’s plan  is BIGGER than we can even dream. What we have to remember is to think BIG or BIGGER than we can.

Whether you’re willing to admit it or not; we’re limited by our ideas because we’re human. We’re also limited by the patterns or ideas we’ve learned from our parents, or the family we grew up in.

I think we can relate to the things we “rolled our eyes at” when our parents tried to teach us something. I’m reminded of a line in Hairspray when Tracy Turnblad says to her mom, “You’re so 50’s!” As much as we try to do better; there are patterns, or challenges that we’re enmeshed in, and that we may never seem to overcome. Those challenges can be financial, ethnic, psychological and spiritual.

My parents grew up in The Great Depression. One of the themes I encountered was LACK -- lack of food, money, love and spirit. Through the support of a sensitive, knowledgeable counsellor, I was able to break free of many of these strongholds. What I had to ascertain was how deeply rooted these patterns were. In many cases (for my parents), when lack wasn’t triggered, they were “content” to watch the grass grow. That’s code for “I can’t take risks because there isn’t a game plan and I don’t want to fail!” There’s a LOT  to be said about people who remain content. Because, when you’re content, you remain neutral and passive. There isn’t any movement in your life because you don’t know how to risk.

Are you “content to watch the grass grow?” Are you stuck in a “pause” cycle and don’t know how to get rid of it? Maybe it’s time to get out of your rut and do something different? What’s your spirit telling you to start -- a new business, getting out of debt, enter the dating field? It doesn’t matter what the “thing” is. What’s important is that you take steps to break free of your limitations.

A thousand mile journey starts with a small step. Start stepping!

Question for you: What’s holding you back and why? Are there family patterns that you need to challenge?
Focus: Health, spirit, family, challenges, self-esteem, well-being

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Art of "NO!"

Are you guilty of saying yes when you want to say no? Do you cave and say yes because you want people to like you, and you don't want to rock the boat? You're NOT alone.

The problem with saying yes is 2 fold, First, the end result is being overwhelmed and tired. There is a diminished return when your spirit is affected. Secondly, you feel victimized and resentful.

Get a clue people! Saying NO does NOT mean you're selfish.

The trick to saying NO is to use your wisdom. NO teaches boundaries.

The next time you want to say yes, but really want to say NO, tell the person, Let me think about that and get back to you.

You'll be glad you did!

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Monday, September 21, 2015

At Your Center

Being centered is at the core of a satisfying life. Many admire it and want it. BUT, you HAVE to be in touch with it, and have to know how to connect with it.

Your center is a calm, inspired feeling. When you're in it, you're flowing and in the groove. Despite any difficulties, you remain confident and in control. Little things don't bug you.

BUT, when you're off-center, you're frightful and agitated. In a nut-shell, you're STRESSED.

Staying close to your center isn't as hard as you might think. It involves you paying attention to your feelings and bringing yourself BACK when you drift away.

There's no question that staying close to your center is in your best interest. Explore it and work with it.

ENJOY its rewards!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Acknowledge and Validate!

The BEST way to bring someone up (and make their day) is to acknowledge and validate them! You'd be amazed at how something so small can make such a BIG difference for someone!

Some examples include: writing a thank you note, doing a random act of kindness, or acknowledging a "job well done."

People remember acknowledgment and they appreciate it. When you need favor or advice, it comes back to you. Acknowledging and validating makes your life easier and less stressful. Do you know of someone who needs a "pick me up?" Go for it!

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Clean Up - Clean Out

My journey to God has been an unconventional one. I was born and raised Catholic. I was taught by priests and nuns my whole life. For those of you born and raised Catholic; you could probably relate to “stringent and oppressive.” I don’ know about now; but back then, there really wasn’t any option for redemption. If you were a sinner, you either went to purgatory or hell. If you went straight to hell, there was no opportunity to get to heaven. If you went to purgatory, you were there for a while until you were cleansed of sin and evil. Once you were clean, you gained access to heaven.

Once I got to college, I had access to college professors who challenged my oppressive (religious) background. I’m glad those professors came my way. 

Once I got out of grad school, I found solace and meaning with “New Age” theory. EVERY book I read made sense to me. I couldn’t get enough of the books I was drawn to. For stout “bible-thumpers,” this would have been considered evil. For me, it made sense.

Eventually, I made my way to a Christian church. It wasn’t something I planned. God coordinated the circumstances to get my attention. June 7, 2015 was my 6th anniversary of turning life over to God. It hasn’t been an easy journey turning situations over to an invisible force. I was raised to be independent. Never did I think that at 58, I’d be learning something so fundamentally important for everybody.

As part of my new journey with God, I’ve relied on the wisdom of Joyce Meyer. I watch her everyday and I’ve read many of her books. Recently, her  book, Battlefield of the Mind (Winning the Battle In Your Mind) spoke to me. The message? Your mind is a battlefield/storage tank for crap that doesn’t belong there. The majority of people’s thoughts are filled with doom and gloom and doubt. In an effort to be positive, you HAVE to fill your mind with  stuff that combats doubt, negativity (or CRAP, as I call it). My take on this? Search for a Bible passage that speaks to your situation. It can be about anything -- career, finances, health etc. 

Once you are SOLID with the passage; meditate or process it throughout the day. Joyce calls this a “renewal of your mind.” What you’re doing is taking a Bible passage (which is based on truth) and saying it over and over again, until it becomes 2nd nature to you. Every time your mind goes to the negativity channel, change it to the positive channel of God.

Right now, I’m taking baby-steps with this. I’ve meditated on the following passage (2 Corinthians 4:18) to renew my faith that God is working in/on my behalf. “I am not looking at the things that are seen; but the things that are unseen.”

I’m still a work in progress!

Question for you: What issues are you currently struggling with?
Focus: Spirit, Health and Wellness

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time, Time, Time!

How are your time management skills? Do you respect people's time?

Time is precious to EVERYONE!

Granted, there are times when you are late for a meeting, etc. You might have gotten a late start to your day and time got away from you. BUT, if you are REPEATEDLY late and use the lame ass excuse of I'm sorry. I don't know what happened.  then you've got a serious problem.

When you are consistently late, you disrespect TIME!

When you're late, you're scrambling and stressed. Nothing positive comes of it. When you're on time, you AVOID stress.

The lesson? Manage your time. Show respect to yourself and others.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Let Go!

Worry and fear go together in life. Constant worry indicates a lack of faith and a need for spiritual growth. When you have faith; you TRUST that things WILL work out.

An important part of living a fulfilling and successful life is understanding and accepting that we didn't have control over every outcome. There are some things that we may never understand. Don't try  figuring everything out. That's God's job!

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Failure: A Learning Tool

Oprah Winfrey said it best, Failure is God's way of saying. Excuse me, you're moving in the wrong direction. There is a LOT to be learned about failing at something.

Sometimes, the things that we put our effort into, isn't the thing we're destined to do. When you fail; you have to try again; hopefully, in a new direction. That new direction might lead you down the path that leads to your passion.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Spirituality And Work!

Are you a spiritual person? Do you BELIEVE in kindness and respect for EVERYONE? If you do, you're spiritual. Kindness and respect are at the core of spirituality. True spirituality is at work 24/7. LQQK at the word work in two ways >> 1) work as in constant movement and 2) work as in job.

You'd be amazed at what happens when you're spiritual at work (job). You're honest, patient, forgiving, kind and generous. You become a better listener. Overall, you become a better LEADER, team player and successful.

I can't think of any other way to sell spirituality. Can you?

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Monday, August 3, 2015

Second Chances

I believe that we ALL have a divine path. I believe that God’s hand is in it. I believe that we ALL get second chances. I believe that certain situations teach us about our spiritual and psychological core. Bob Roza

Son, when you drive, don’t play that fucking music so loud. My mom told me this countless times when I lived at home. She figured this out every time she got in the car and turned on the engine. The volume was deafening!

Did I pay attention? NAH! When it was just me and the music, I took every opportunity to CRANK IT! I relished how the music would wash over me!

I was a sophomore in college when I’d learn a valuable lesson about loud music , driving and my life. The moment comes back vividly. It was a rainy night. I had just finished my shift at the library and was headed home on the expressway. The music was CRANKED and I loved it. I was in the center lane following a semi when the semi swerved to the right lane. A car was stalled in the center lane. The truck driver had the advantage, I didn’t! I tried to swerve but was too close. BOOM! I hit the car at 55 m.p.h. I remember getting out of the car and checking on the motorist. A police car  came. Since I caused the accident the officer needed to talk to me. I asked if I could call my mom. Every attempt produced a “busy signal.” A tow truck took the cars to the pound. The officer  gave me a ride home. I came home about 2 hours later. My mom was frantic as I was never late. When I walked in the door and explained what happened; she was relieved to know I was O.K. When she asked me how bad the accident was, I told her what I remembered. It would be a week later when she would see the extent of it all.

Since the car was towed to the city pound, she had to go there, identify the car and tell the insurance company the details. She entered the pound and saw the good side of the car. Her first thought was, I’m gonna kill this fucking kid for putting me through this. But, when she saw the actual side of the collision, she fell to the ground and wept. The collision was so intense that the hood bent in half and sliced through the windshield. If I had not had my seat-belt on, I would’ve been decapitated. I don’t remember any of that. I can’t imagine what she felt when she saw the extent of the accident and what might have happened. I do remember coming home and seeing her in the living room. She hugged me for what seemed like forever, and wept at what might have happened and how my/her history would’ve changed.

Recently, this memory came back. It reminded me about the fragility of life. It reminded me that I’ve lived a good life. It also told me I have so much more life in me!

I’m sharing this story as a reminder to ALL of my readers that sometimes something as severe as this, can be your BEST wake up call!

Question for you: Have you ignored your wake-up call?
Focus: Life, spirit

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Do You Have What It Takes?

How well do you listen? Do you let people finish their thoughts before it's your turn?

People who listen well, are respected. When they hear you, you feel special and validated! Effective listeners hear you the first time. That's because they have a vested interest in you. They aren't distracted. They PROJECT that YOU MATTER!

This is a powerful skill that generates results. If you aren't a good listener, you WILL have to work at it. It's a daily challenge but you CAN master it!

Do you have what it takes?

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

It Pays To Be Nice!

Your attitude comes through when you are kind, loving and patient. When you are genuine and real, people want to be around you.

When you're difficult or demanding, your positive qualities are overlooked. In addition, you create stress for you and others.

When you're pushy, you push people away. When you're gentle and kind, people are drawn to your sincerity.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Movin On Up

When your strength is gone and you're almost at your goal, DON'T GIVE UP! Here's 4 tips to keep you going!

  • Look at your situation and ask yourself what needs to get done. Ask God to give you wisdom.
  • Devise a plan and a time table. A time table keeps you accountable.
  • Take short breaks throughout your day. Allow your energy and creativity to be renewed.
  • ALWAYS remember that no matter how much success you have, you never do things alone,
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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Count Your Blessings

Do you consciously acknowledge your blessings? I'm not talking about when you're in church or when you've faced a tight spot. I'm talking about waking up everyday (and before putting your feet on the floor) and listing what you're grateful for. If not, why? Is it because you've taken your blessings for granted?

This might sound saccharin sweet but your life can turn on a dime. You could be faced with a number of challenging situations that cause you to think differently about the life you have. When you come to understand what's most important to you (and make it your priority), you find your center. It's this center where you discover when your life is healthy and balanced!

One way to stay centered is to count your blessings every day. Yes, EVERY DAY! Why? Because it can get easy to take life for granted and feel sorry for yourself when things don't go as you hoped.

Why not create a different morning ritual? Before you put your feet on the floor; acknowledge what you're grateful for. You might even want to do a daily account of your blessings. Then, whenever life isn't going your way; take out your journal and take a LQQK at how you've been blessed!

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Thursday, July 2, 2015


Burnout: 1) physical or emotional exhaustion especially caused by stress, 2) depression or disillusionment

About a month after I graduated from Marquette University (circa 1980), I got my first job. It was with The Chicago Association For Retarded Citizens (CARC). I was working with a majority of people who had Down Syndrome. 

In one facility, I worked in a cubicle that butted up against the office of my boss. I was a newbie and was gonna change the world with my newfound speech therapy skills. (In secret, I wanted to be the male version of Annie Suilivan. Annie taught Helen Keller all that she knew.) That all changed when my boss called me in to her office, gave me a book on job burnout, told me to read it and (in a month), give her a verbal account of what I thought of the book.

Truth be told, I was 23 years old. I was fresh out of grad school and wanted to make my “mark” in speech therapy. Back in the early 80’s, “job burnout” wasn’t relevant. I had never heard about it and it was NEVER addressed in grad school. Being the “obedient” employee, I took the book home and read it.

A month later, I apprehensively walked back into her office. So what did you think of the book? she said. I have no idea. I mean I read it, but have no idea about its content or even why you even gave it to me. Why did you? I said. Bob, it’s apparent that you’re responsible and you want to do great things with these kids but if you don’t go slow; you’re gonna burn out.” she said. I was lost. I had no idea what she was talking about. Tell me again why you gave me this book and what I’m supposed to learn from it? I asked.

She said the following, Downs kids learn slowly. Many of them are low functioning. Some may go on to a training workshop, many won’t. We’re here to help them but we have to be open and objective with what they will eventually learn. If you continue to want them to learn at your pace, you will get depressed and frustrated. That’s why I gave you the book. You are a bright , energetic man. It would be sad for you to leave us because of job burnout.

O.K, I’ll read the book again and let’s talk about it in a month. I reread the book and reported back to her. I told her that I had a better understanding of the kids but still needed insight. After all, she had been in this field longer than me.

In a short amount of time, she helped me considerably. One of the most important things I learned was patience and how burnout goes beyond a job.

I believe that ALL situations are set up to teach us something. Though that situation happened over 30 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. How do I apply it now?

At 58, I jump into many new situations. If I’m overwhelmed and “want to stay the course,” I recognize that I have to be patient (with myself). If I’ve stayed too long in a situation and recognize the signs of burnout; I know I have to leave so I don’t become exhausted, stressed out or depressed. Burnout applies to situations that go beyond work or employment. If we are feeling exhaustion, stress or depression, that should be a red flag that we need to reassess the situation.

Question for you: Are you experiencing “burnout?” What’s causing you to stay in it? 
Focus: life, burnout, job, spirit, balance

Thursday, June 25, 2015

PEACE of Mind!

Rich minds make decisions that are guided by peace and clarity. Poor minds are guided by fear, doubt and confusion. Which mind-set do you usually project?

In order to change the channel, you HAVE to tune in to your inner voice. Divine wisdom speaks when you are open to listening to it. When you're in touch with who you are; what you stand, for and what you really want in life, you're at a point of making life-impacting decisions!

When a decision is right; it brings peace. The right decision doesn't leave you confused or in doubt. This type of decision might be labeled a pure decision. That's because it's rooted in DIVINE WISDOM. These type of decisions require faith. This faith is the trust in following your inner voice and that the outcome will be positive.

Have you ever made a decision and later regretted it because of self-doubt? Sometimes, those doubts can be a red-flag that (in the future); you need to give yourself more time in deciding!

If you're not conscious of your decision-making patterns you might spend a life-time making decisions based on what the world thinks, vs. what your inner voice is saying is right for you.

Many times, people make fear-based decisions with logical reasoning. Those type of decisions keep us from facing the truth about why we do what we do. Uncovering the truth about how you decide on something, is a positive step to PEACE of Mind!

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

It's Your Life, It's Your Choice!

I don't have the patience (or respect) for people who are victims. This applies to both men and women. Women who project a victim mentality clearly don't get my respect. Maybe it's because I was raised to see women as powerful, or maybe I learned it in counseling. In any case; when I see a woman who is projecting I am a victim, I run!

Life is about choice. Yes, life can throw us some severe curves that might knock us for a "loop." What's important is how we react to these curve balls. Do you react aggressively or passively?

If you're in a bad relationship (and stay there), it's your choice.

If you have a dream to buy a home or start a new business; it's your choice.

In any case, you HAVE to free yourself up from the mindset that your life is controlled by your current circumstances. You HAVE the power to free yourself up, and tap into the power that will move your forward.

Recognizing the tremendous power to choose will make you feel more powerful. When you have PERSONAL POWER OF CHOICE, you have the courage to do things that fear would normally keep you from doing.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

It's In Your Speech!

There is a LOT of truth in what you say:  I'm not good with math. I'm just a mom. I don't like my job.

You might think that the above are harmless remarks. In reality, this negative talk does nothing positive for you. On a subconscious level; your negative self-talk encourages you to BELIEVE the things that you're actually saying.

When you make a conscious effort to speak positively; you actually lift yourself up and elevate your thinking. Speaking positively is a habit that takes time and generates from within.

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

O Woe Is Me!

Some people just can't figure out why their life isn't working. They see other people having "fun," but they don't know how to attain it. Maybe it's because they BELIEVE the following:

  • Think about yourself
  • Talk about yourself
  • Use "I" as much as possible
  • Mirror yourself continually in the opinion of others
  • Listen greedily to what people say about you
  • Be suspicious
  • Expect to be appreciated
  • Be jealous and envious
  • Be sensitive to slights
  • Never forget a criticism
  • Trust nobody but yourself
  • Insist on consideration and the proper respect
  • Demand agreement with your own views on everything
  • Sulk if people are not grateful to you for favors shown them
  • Never forget a service you may have rendered
  • Be on the lookout for a good time for yourself
  • Shirk your duties if you can
  • Do as little as possible for others
  • Love yourself supremely
  • Be selfish

Want to have a miserable life? Want to have something better but you're unable to change? Keep doing what you're doing!

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Depth Personified

God continues to show me things in this journey called “life.” Some of the things He’s shown me take my breath away. My latest “breath taker” involves my accountant.

Don (not his real name), has been my accountant for over 10 years. He was a referral from someone in my past. Don is Hindu and for practical purposes is a PRIME example of a “type B” personality. I’ve never see him rattled. It doesn’t matter whether I speak to him before, during, or after tax season. He’s ALWAYS “zen.” He meditates for 90 minutes EVERY morning. He’s had a challenging life. He’s had 2 open heart surgeries and lost a  daughter (3 years old) to a hit and run accident. While he maintains his type B personality, there is a sadness to him. His body language carries  it. It’s ALSO observable in his wife. One thing about Dan’s accounting practice, ALL his staff maintain a “type B” calm.

Recently, I went to Don’s office to speak to him about my taxes. This past year brought many financial challenges. One in particular made me uncomfortable. He asked me to do some editing for a book he was writing. I needed the gig so I took on the project. The book needed development, so much so that I only charged him a 1/10th of what I should’ve. When I presented the invoice; he asked if he could pay me a bit at a time. I told him that would be OK. He had always been patient with me paying him. A year went by. We both owed each other money. I owed him for  accounting services and he owed me for editing services. I really needed the dough. At one point, I contacted his assistant and asked about payment. A check followed for a  portion of the work. When I received the check, God instructed me NOT to contact him for further payment. God’s message came early April of 2014. I was knee deep in debt and wasn’t sure how to approach this. When his invoices came, I grew anxious and frustrated. Due to a lack of funds, I was close to a year of nonpayment. As I got closer to our meeting, I prayed and asked God for guidance. I remembered that he was my manager for one of my portfolios. He once told me that he was entitled to a commission that he never took. I thought, “I need a creative way to pay him. I’ll use the portfolio commission.”

When I entered his office and closed the door, I gave him the 911 on my financial situation. At one point, he asked me if I had a lawyer. I knew that was code for “bankruptcy.” Flatly, I told him NO, that was not part of God’s plan. We talked a while longer and ironed out what we owed each other. But, it was when he whispered, “I need money too,” that our interaction took a direction that I could never have imagined. When I told him how much money I owed and how much money I had in the bank, he instructed his assistant to “pull a file that showed his liabilities.” His assistant brought in a copy. He showed me that he was 138 K in debt for clients who had not paid him for his services. When I saw his debt, my mouth fell open and my eyes teared up. I asked him how he was paying his rent, utilities and his staff. He confessed that God was good; he was blessed, and things were gonna be OK. This didn’t sit well with me because I couldn’t fathom how an accountant would permit a 138 K debt from his clients. I was not raised to be disrespectful of people and their kindness. It just FLOORED me that someone would “forget” about a bill and would take advantage of a situation like my accountant.

Before I left Don’s office, he told that there would be “NO MORE BILLS” from him. He’s never been one to raise his voice. It was the way he repeatedly said “NO” that made me shut up and accept his graciousness. He concluded our meeting by telling me that if I received any invoices from his staff, that I should notify him ASAP.

Don’s reaction to my financial situation stayed with me for a couple of hours. I called a number of friends to tell them what transpired. But, it was when I spoke to my friend Jean (not her real name) where I learned another valuable lesson in friendship. As I shared my situation, I remarked that I felt like Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life. I don’t like Christmas movies, especially the ones that push a warm and fuzzy theme. I have a bad history with Xmas. This movie is at the top of the heap. As I complained about the movie, she remarked that I had missed the central theme about friendship and kindness. At the end of the movie, Stewart’s friends rally around to help him. He realizes that as he was kind to others; they reciprocated. As I had been kind and respectful to Don, he reciprocated. I’m a BIG believer  in being kind to others. It’s hard for me to accept kindness. It causes me to be humble and  vulnerable. I’m not used to these feelings. I told Jean that I’d revisit the movie sometime soon but NOT around what I call “the jingly period.” It’s important for me to accept the kindness of strangers. This is a hard lesson for me to learn. I’m so touched by Don’s kindness and Jean’s truthfulness.

I have to end this piece for now. The tears are flowing in gratitude.

Question for you: Are you able to receive kindness. Do your actions show depth of character?
Focus: kindness, generosity, friendship, spirit

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 30 - Final Post For This Series)

We often see peace as an "absence of conflict" and we think of peace - making as a passive role. But, an effective peacemaker actively pursues peace. S/he builds good relationships, knowing that peace is a by product of commitment. The peacemaker anticipates problems and deals with them before they occur. When conflicts arise, s/he brings them into the open and deals with them before they grow unmanageable.

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Sunday, May 17, 2015


Noticing different kinds of behaviors can reduce stress and eliminate many interpersonal conflicts. When you learn different patterns of behavior you CAN detect problems before they get out of hand.

If you LQQK at people that you work with, you'll recognize patterns or habits. We tend to be bothered by things that irritate us.

When you recognize (and deal with these patterns), you're in the driver's seat. Reflection (on a person's pattern) gives you wisdom. Wisdom gives you the opportunity to make better choices. Choices to either address a behavior, or leave it alone.

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Monday, May 11, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 29)

When we talk too much and listen too little, we communicate to others that we think our ideas are much more important than theirs. Put a stop watch on your conversations  and keep track of how much you talk and how much you listen. When people talk with you, do they feel that their viewpoints and ideas have value?

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Tapes We Carry

You may have been successful in healing your wounds from childhood BUT inevitably there may be some toxic tapes that you still hold on to, and believe.

My parents grew up and survived the Great Depression. It was only when I grew older (and had perspective), that I understood how that period of time, shaped them. Since my dad was virtually absent from my life; my mom was my primary influence. I was fortunate to work with a counselor who changed my life and challenged me to take risks and have a much more fulfilling life. He showed me that we are works in progress and although we may have worked through issues in counseling; there are moments when we still need to heal. There may be triggers that will ignite our WOUNDOLOGY.

My mom took pride in being of POLISH descent. Her excitement/pride went through the stratosphere when Pope John Paul II was elected the first Polish Pope. One of her life goals was to visit Poland and tour all the villages/places that she heard about throughout her life.

A couple of years before she retired, she had an opportunity to go to Poland. She worked for the water department and her boss wanted to land a new client. This involved going to Poland to seal the deal. My mom was fluent in Polish. She could translate and interpret with the best of them. The thing which was a sticking point was that she was a high school dropout. She dropped out as a sophomore to work and provide food and finances for her family. The circumstances, (then) were beyond her control. As she grew older, she had opportunities to get her GED. Unfortunately, life got in the way and she never pursued it. Although she was street smart, she wasn’t (in her mind); book smart.

One day, she revealed to me (via the phone) how she passed up what was probably the most important thing on her bucket list >> visiting her homeland and taking pride in her heritage. Her  belief that she wasn’t educated enough, or  worldly enough, kept her from reaching a  “reachable goal.” As I heard her speak; I heard her “life story” about regret, loss, sorrow and shame. It took EVERY ounce of my energy not to question her story or belief  system. You see, prior to me working with a counselor; I carried her beliefs. It was only through a patient psychologist and a gradual change (to what was new and possible); that I was able to have a better life. When I hung up the phone, I wept deeply and LOUDLY over what she revealed. I recognized that much of my life story of regret, loss, sorrow and shame had been healed. Why? Because I chose to heal them!

We ALL have a history -- good, bad, indifferent. We ALL have a choice to heal it and seek a better, joyful life.

Start today to let go  of “the tapes we carry!”

Question for you: What “tapes” are you still carrying? When will you let go of them?

Focus: Wellness, spirit, self-esteem, life

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Your Daily Speed Bumps!

Speed bumps get your attention. You can't ZOOM over them. If you did, you would wreck your car. It's not worth it. It's best to slow down and gently deal with it/them!

The same thing applies to your work/job. There will be situations that will need to be addressed (i.e. speed bumps). You have the ability to absorb them and NOT have them ruin your day.

You can probably agree that in one way or another, you'll manage to deal with them. If you didn't, you probably wouldn't last long in your job or line of work.

Once you get into the groove of identifying and effectively dealing with speed bumps, you're going to be pleasantly surprised at how much more manageable your day is going to seem.

Try it!

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Give Yourself Some "Cred!"

Working hard? Not feeling appreciated? Give yourself some cred or a pat on the back. As simple as this sounds, it helps! We ALL need to step back and access our body of work. Are you a good parent? Are you a great leader? Are you a great team player? Give yourself some cred. Recognizing your contribution from within yourself, is actually more powerful than hearing it from others. Almost everyone likes to get a compliment; but if it's NOT happening, don't let it get you down. Recognize yourself for what you do well!

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Take A Step!

One of the reasons people "stay put" with their dream(s) is that they're analyzing it too much. They test  the water by putting their big toe in the water, and do nothing else. If this is you, jump in and see what you're made of. Yes, it can be scary but  you won't know the positive wonderment of it all if you're playing it safe. Your first step (or jump) into the unknown can be the best thing that's ever happened to you.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 28)

Parents help shape the world's future by the way they shape their children's values. The first step toward helping children live rightly is for parents to live rightly. Your actions are often copied by those closest to you. What kind of example are you setting for your children?

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Fresh Anointing

Joel Osteen is an established author and pastor. Some “Bible-thumpers” don’t like him. They think he’s fake or too polished. I disagree with them. He’s a preacher who’s able to take the word of God and adapt it to everyday life. I wish more pastors could take a Bible passage and “teach it” from a contemporary/functional point of view.

Recently, I caught one of Joel’s t.v. programs. He mentioned how it’s important to ask/pray for a “fresh anointing” everyday. An anointing can be compared to a blessing on your life. We all have special gifts that have been given to us (exclusively). These gifts can range from our  line of work/career (i.e. teaching, medicine), to traits like honesty or kindness. When you get in touch with what you do well; you’re operating under an anointing that’s given to you  by God.

Joel stresses that we ALL need to have our anointing(s) refreshed or recharged on a daily basis. This is similar to recharging your laptop so that it maintains social media interests etc. What’s the best way to be refreshed? Get up each day and ask God for a fresh anointing. A refresher will provide you with your very best.

Question for you: Are your personal/professional skills ALWAYS at your best? Can you see some skills that aren’t their sharpest because of fatigue etc.?

Focus: Wellness, spirit, God, life

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Some people make mountains out of molehills! They say something  wrong and can't let go of it; or they get defensive and refuse to apologize.

The key to ALL of this is recovery.

You have got to admit when you've made a mistake and move on. Keep an open mind and move forward. Learn to forgive others and move forward. You'll have less stress when you do.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Go With The Flow!

It's a delicate BALANCE to expect great things to happen (in your life), yet be open to what the day holds for you.

For some people, this can be a hard "life lesson." If you're unrealistic about what YOU want to accomplish, you set yourself up for a LOT of stress and grief.

No matter how hard you try, life isn't going to go as planned. One of the best ways to deal with this is to GO WITH THE FLOW! You won't be disappointed.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 27)

Insecure or uncertain people feel the need to prove themselves, but prudent people don't have to prove anything. They know they are capable, so they can get on with their work. There is no need to show off. If you are modest, people may notice you at first, but they will respect you later.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Self Absorbed!

People who are self-absorbed can sometimes be rude. They are clueless to the feelings of others and are only interested in themselves.

They see others BENEATH them. They see them as less important. They are poor listeners and aren't interested in people beyond a superficial level.

O.K., this might be a bit extreme but you see my point.

Do any of the above behaviors strike a chord? If they do, LQQK within. Ask yourself Where do I start? Do an honest assessment of your self-absorption. If you do, EVERYONE will benefit. You'll inspire others and have a better, productive life!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Make God Your Friend

About 5 years ago, I took an intercessory prayer class. The premise of the class was to teach participants how to pray (better), and to use those skills for yourself and others.

I gained a prayer partner in that class. I pray with him from time to time. One of the things he shared with me was how his prayer life brought him closer to God. He would constantly tell me, “Bob, God wants a closer, more intimate connection to you. Talk to him like you talk to me.”

That comment threw me for a loop. Being raised Catholic and taught by nuns and priests, the only thing I knew was “formal prayer.” It was hard for me to understand what he meant until I pressed further. “Dave, what are you talking about?” He went on to share that he reached rock bottom in his 2nd marriage. The divorce brought him to his knees and he couldn’t find his way. At that time, his connection to God wasn’t very strong. But then he shared this -- in his effort to establish a stronger connection to God; he set a formal place setting for him at his dinner table -- plate, cutlery, soup bowl, glass. The whole deal! He left it there for every meal. When he had any meal, he spoke to Jesus/God as if were sitting right there. 

I took his idea and did the same. I set a place setting at my kitchen table and placed a statue of Jesus on the dinner plate. I did that for 1 year. I can’t tell you how this changed my connection to Jesus/God. My prayer life became natural and intimate.

Question for you: Is your prayer life stuck in the ”formal?” Why?
Focus: God, prayer, communication, spirit, intimacy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 26)

If you don't want to learn, years of schooling will teach you very little. But, if you want to be taught, there is no end to what you can learn. This includes being willing to accept discipline and correction and to learn from the wisdom of others. A person who refuses constructive criticism has a problem with pride. Such a person is unlikely to learn very much.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Surrender To Christ

At first, I saw God as my observer, my judge, keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there sort of like a president. I recognized His picture when I saw it, but I really didn't know Him.

But later on when I met Christ, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride, but it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that Christ was in the back helping me pedal.

I didn't know just when it was that He suggested we change places, but life has not been the same since.

When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points.

But when He took the lead, He knew delightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places at breakneck speeds, it was all I could do to hang on! Even though it looked like madness, He said, "Pedal!

I worried and was anxious and asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn't answer, and I started to learn to trust.

I forgot my boring life and entered into the adventure. And when I'd say, "I'm scared," He'd lean back and touch my hand.

He took me to people with gifts I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me gifts to take on my journey, my Lord's and mine.

And we were off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they're extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people we met, and I found that in giving I received, and still our burden was light.

I did not trust Him at first, in control of my life. I thought He'd wreck it; but He knows bike secrets, knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, knows how to jump to clear high rocks, how to fly  to shorten scary passages.

And I am learning to shut up and pedal in the strangest places, and I'm beginning to enjoy the view and the cool breeze on my face with my delightful constant companion, Jesus Christ.

And when I'm sure I just can't do it anymore, He just smiles and says, "Pedal!"


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Be Careful Of Your Wishes!

I wish for a better job. I wish for a new house. I wish for a new relationship. 

Many of us spend a LOT of time wishing things were different. We think that many of these things will IMPROVE our lives.

Many times, our lives are pretty good WITHOUT them. We lose sight of the things that are already making things BETTER. We lose sight of gratitude.

Be careful of your wishes. They actually may lead to a LOSS of personal freedom, privacy or MORE.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 25)

Fear can immobilize you. The size of a job, its risks, or the pressure of the situation can cause us to freeze and do nothing. One remedy for fear is found here -- don't focus on the fear, instead get to work. Getting started is often the most difficult and frightening part of a job.

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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Revisiting A New Crop Of Friends

Joel Osteen is a good television preacher and author. I’ve read a number of his books and watch him on t.v. Some Bible thumpers don’t like him. They think he’s fake; too polished, overdone. Personally, I like anyone who can take the complexities of the Bible and explain it in a functional way.

The other day, Joel was talking about how we need to clean house with our friends. (Personally, I’ve done it for years and got my ass chewed out for being cruel and insensitive. That was then. I’m a new person looking to be the best that I can be. If I have to clean house, I’ll do it.) He drew an interesting parallel between Jesus and the 12 apostles. Since Jesus was a very unique man who did miracles etc.; he had to have a select group of friends who understood him and had his back. He knew he was different and needed friends who followed suit. He couldn’t engage with people who weren’t on the same page as he. That would’ve attracted unnecessary attention and ridicule. Joel’s example speaks BOLDLY on how we all have to follow Jesus’ example.

Many of us hold on to people who no longer support us. We no longer have things in common with them; yet we hold on for fear of being alone. In actuality,you are alone.

There is truth in the saying, “People come into our lives for a reason, a season, or longer.

Maybe it’s time for you to follow through as Jesus did.

Question for you: Are you holding on to people who are dead weight?
Focus: Friendship, Spirit

Monday, January 26, 2015

I Wish!

Do you wish a lot? I wish my boss was different. I wish my job was different. The list could go on. The wishes aren't reality. They are only thoughts of a different reality.

If you are not careful, you can wish your life away. The reality is that you are IN your life EVERYDAY! It's hard to be focused, if your mind is somewhere else. Your concentration suffers because you aren't engaged in the here and now.

You will be pleasantly surprised when you stop wishing and focus on YOUR "here and now." You'll learn to enjoy the moment! Your FUN-FACTOR will increase, you'll also be more creative and productive.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you don't dream or plan for the future. Dreams and plans carry more spiritual weight than a wish. A wish doesn't carry a committed spiritual purpose. Dreams and plans DO!

Your dreams and plans establish a path. That path has wisdom and direction.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Still Voice

God has given ALL of us a still, small, voice. Some of us can get distracted and not hear it. If it persists, and you resist; well, you just have to bear the consequences.

Sometimes, we can think that this voice is a nuisance or just plain wrong. Sooner or later, we'll have to pay attention in that it's telling us something important.

Whether you're being told to "stay home" or "turn right at the corner," your conscience/still small voice knows what's right. Follow it and see if you don't experience more peace of mind.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Leadership And You (Part 24)

Nothing hurts more than a wound from a friend. There may be times when friends will confront you in order to help you. Real friends stick by you in times of trouble and bring healing, love, acceptance and understanding. What kind of friend are you? Don't betray those you love.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Billy Elliot Incarnate

(For those of you not familiar with the film, Billy Elliot; it’s the story of an 11 year old boy and  his love of dance and his hope to become a professional ballet dancer. Billy lives with his widowed father, and older brother. Billy's father sends him to the gym to learn boxing, but Billy dislikes the sport. He happens upon a ballet class that is using the gym. Unknown to Billy’s dad, Billy joins the ballet class. When his father discovers this, he forbids Billy to take any more ballet. But, passionate about dancing, Billy secretly continues lessons with the help of his dance teacher.)

I have a very unusual family history. In addition, I have a very unusual personal and professional life. My life has been surrounded by women. Now, some of you might think this is really cool. On one level, it is. On another level, it’s not.

I am the only male on both sides of my family. All of my immediate cousins on both my mom and dad’s side are girls. My dad had three brothers who wanted an heir (like my dad). In an effort to have a “boy,” they were showered with girls (sometimes twins). My uncles were jealous of my dad. They wanted what he had (an heir to carry on the family name). 

With me being the first (and only) boy, I took attention away from my father. He got jealous; didn’t know how to cope, and the rift started. When I  was about 6, I sensed something odd. My father checked out of my life. As I look back, he was broken -- emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Coming into a marriage (with a broken self) doesn’t instill a healthy model for your kids. In my case, my father didn’t spend “rough and tough” time with me. As I got older, we spent some summers fishing, but that was about it. While other boys might spend dad-time, rough housing or engaging in sports; I had an “absent dad” that didn’t know how to model masculinity. To say that we disliked each other is putting it mildly. Now, I don’t write this to BASH my dad. I write this because it’s my history. Our history is like our fingerprints. They are individualistic. There are no 2 fingerprints alike amidst all the people in the world. Without a male model; I was catapulted into a constant barrage of feminine energy -- Barbies, Easy Bake Ovens,etc. When that’s your life; that’s ALL that you know.

Going from an all female home environment to a Catholic all male seminary wasn’t an easy transition. Being in an all male environment (and not being blessed with the sports gene) was a challenge. For many, being familiar in sports, was one of the ways people typically  defined masculinity. Sports and “rough and tough” characterized MASCULINE. Anything outside of sports was considered FEMININE. Not having a connection to dad, being amidst all women, not having any familiarity with anything connected to “rough and tough” screamed GAY, GAY, GAY! (As a result of this situation. I was constantly bullied in high school.) Now, we have men who have claimed their metrosexuality. We have “stay at home dads.”  Society is so different than in the 60’s and 70’s. We are more open to societal fluidity. Back then, we weren’t.

I entered a small coed college in 1975. Prior to 1969, the college was all girls. In 1969, boys trickled in. In 1975, the school population was maybe 1200, TOTAL. Not only was I a minority in the college; but I was the “token male” in both the Education and Speech Therapy Departments. I never realized how familiar my “all-women” terrain was. I also never saw how my “Billy-Elliot-ness” was such a part of me. Many men would not have entered this terrain. I, on the other hand, entered it willingly. I wanted to be a teacher and a speech therapist. I never  gave my “Billy-Elliot-ness” a thought. Early on, the college nuns addressed us ALL as “girls.” It would take them some time to understand that testosterone was now a part of their world. In addition, I had girls coming on to me (strongly). But since, I was a good Catholic boy who went to the seminary (and was raised to treat and respect women as individuals), I couldn’t transition to the “friend with benefits.” When that whole “sexuality” theme has been absent from your life, and you’re raised that sex is reserved for marriage; you have no idea why girls see you as a sexual object. I survived college, but never transitioned to the “friend with benefits.”

I didn’t see it then but being the “token male” in both speech and education would be a perk! People remembered me because I WAS the minority. If an educational institution needed a male speech therapist/teacher, I usually got the job! It was because I had stellar skills. (OK, part of it was because I was a male!)

Decades later, I would see the hand of God. I picked my major  because I was carrying the shame of being picked last in gym (true story). I entered the college with the hope that I could shed the shame. I was partially successful since I later learned that ALL students needed to fulfill a 2 course gym requirement. It’s just that they didn’t get course credit for it. I learned recently that I was the first male to graduate from the Speech Therapy and Elementary Education Departments (respectively). Going to St. Xavier University, (and being the first male to successfully graduate from  both departments, would be my legacy). Thank you God!

I entered Marquette University in the winter of 1979. I pursued graduate school since I couldn’t practice without my M.S. Once again, I dove into the curriculum and yes, I was the token male in the department. You would think that I would’ve learned how to use my innate “Billy-Elliot-ness” to transition to the “friend with benefits.” Alas, NO. While women came on to me; I couldn’t recognize the clues because I had blinders on -- “Master’s Degree or BUST!” I put my  nose to the grindstone and saw nothing else. Was grad school anything I would have thought? Yes, it was a lot of learning; nothing more. I had no social life. My life was OUT-OF-BALANCE.

In 1981, I graduated and got my first job. I worked with special needs kids. While both facilities were in the private sector; I was still in the minority -- heavily populated with women; only 2-3 men on staff. I continued to get hit on, but probably left many women confused. Many of these women longed to have boy friends, but were raised to be “passive” or “less than.” Let the men make the decisions. Don’t be proactive or aggressive. Let the men make the first move. I enter the picture by NOT buying into any of that shit. I encouraged the women I dated to be more pro-active with me. A BIG FAIL -- they couldn’t transition to be pro-active in dating. I lost out in getting what I needed, because I didn’t fit the model of what a man was. They lost out by buying into, “I never did this before and being proactive with men, is not something I can do.”

After my first job with special needs kids, I transitioned to a public school district. I needed a change. Regular education kids gave me the professional satisfaction that the special needs kids could not. I was able to see progress with my regular education kids. The special needs kids were academically and psychologically lower. 

Though the transition to regular education was something I longed for; something that came with it (that I didn’t foresee) was male bashing.  I am real happy that I’m a dude with my man parts. I’m so glad I’m not a girl who looks for a man to complete her. Many of the women I worked with, were starving for emotional/sexual closeness with their partners. You could sense it in their spirit and their body language. Their negative comments came slowly: “Men suck.” Then they grew to  comments like, “ALL MEN should die!” and “Men should fucking die!” and finally, “God should eliminate men from the planet.”

While I looked forward to my new responsibilities in this position, I didn’t know how to navigate the poison arrows that these women “slung out” on a daily basis. You’d think that being the lone dude in this situation would be heaven, and sexual bliss. It was not. In an effort to change this negative female energy, I bonded slowly with all my colleagues. I would walk into their rooms and just say “hello.” I volunteered to be on academic/social teams with them. Very gradually, the bashing stopped. These women no longer looked at me as a threat. They saw me as an ally and embraced me. It was a sad day when I had to leave the school. Weeks before my last day, they came to me in private, and spoke about how much they valued me, and how much I helped them change personally and professionally.

After I left my school district, I  transitioned to home care - hospital - nursing home respectfully. Although, this was new territory (speech therapy of a different kind), the territory was all too familiar -- presenters assuming that their audience was all women (“Good morning ladies, welcome to ______.”) When I heard these kind of introductions, I would boldly cough and announce myself by saying, “Balls in the room!” This would get the presenters attention and with that, would come a sheepish apology. Nonetheless, I was reminded about my first weeks  in my speech classes, when one nun repeatedly, called all of us “girls” and forgot that the field now had men in it.

Although I tried for a balance of friends (men and women), it was always out of balance with women. My (married) work colleagues had husbands who couldn’t handle my “emotional core.” Some were threatened in how I could so easily relate to their  wives. This was something they couldn’t do. Many of them were threatened, “I don’t like how this guy navigates with women. What is he all about? What does he really want?” Actually, I was just looking to bond and connect in the only way I knew -- to treat women with respect and dignity. Nothing more, nothing less. No sexual strings or agendas. BTW -- There are some men who can be friends with women without any sexual  ties. It’s not that they’re gay (although many assumed that); it’s due to unusual circumstances. If they took the time to ask questions, they would probably understand something that they feared.

Being in an all female environment (with a heavy focus on children) without any male energy (i.e. friends) takes its toll on you psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. You don’t have an array of topics to pursue. Women relate to each other on an emotional - psychological - spiritual level. Men don’t connect that way. They’re not trained to communicate that way. Many men don’t relate emotionally to other men (quickly). They navigate situations on the surface. Many times, those conversations begin with a sports theme (as an ice breaker). It takes a while for them to get emotionally close to another man, if ever. Many times, that closeness can be scary; especially if feelings or vulnerability is triggered. When that happens, men can either 1) “run” out of fear of “This is way too close for me and it’s happening too fast.” or, 2) stay present with “doe eyes.” That’s code for “Fuck, how did I get myself in this? I’m not familiar with this situation and I can’t run.” I’ve seen it countless times. When I see this reaction; I take steps to explain that I’m not an “oddball,” but someone who works exclusively with women and kids, and relates more on an emotive level. It’s sad to see men in the locker room (who are clearly hurting emotionally-psychologically - spiritually), try to navigate their pain. Many times, they open with a “sports comment” to “break the ice.” You can see their anticipation in “I’m getting closer to what I really want to say. Please don’t bolt!” Eventually, they get “shut out” when the receiver has a “trigger of closeness” that they can’t relate to. Many times, the idea of “I don’t want to relate to you this way. I’m not gay.” hovers around both of them. It’s a difficult dance that some of these men navigate. It would be so much easier to approach one of them and say, “Can I talk to you for a minute? My wife’s just been diagnosed with cancer and I’m overwhelmed.” An open and honest request, cuts to the chase and makes the intention known. None of that fucking bullshit of a “sports comment” to get your foot in the door.

My zumba class brings out my “Billy Elliot-ness.” Not many men would venture into a dance class. They might try it 1-2x but wouldn’t stay the course. Currently, there are 3 men (including myself) who’ve been consistent with zumba. Some men who’ve seen me, have approached me in the locker room and asked me (privately) what it’s all about. When I fill them in and invite them to class, they reply with “That class seems too hard. I don’t think I could do it.” or “I’ll think about it.” Both of those comments are lame. I consider them “code” for “I’m uncomfortable in a dance class. What would people think of me?” To be honest, would it really matter? 

While zumba has provided me with an outlet for stress, it has reminded me of the importance of balance. That’s “code” for, you have to have an equal amount of male and female friends. There are moments when I’m the “lone dude” and I become androgynous. My male parts vanish. I become a “Ken doll.” It’s a very odd feeling. When it occurs, I just go with it. I figure, “I’m not gonna forgo this class because of my history. I feel good and have fun while I’m in this class.” The odd feeling lasts throughout the class. It takes me a couple of hours to have my “maleness” come back. That androgyny has been a part of my life for  decades.

You might be asking yourself, “Why in the hell did he write this piece?” Well, I think when you decide to be truthful, you reveal parts of you that have been hidden for a long time. I FIRMLY believe that we all can relate to being the oddball. For many of us, it’s due to a past that we’ve yet to explore. For others, it just seems better “not to talk about it.” The “secrets” we keep slowly kill our spirit(s) until one day we look in the mirror and say, “Who are you?” For others, it’s cathartic to “let it out.”

My way of approaching this might be very different for how other people might  deal with it. As a teacher, I can use my personal/professional experiences to explain a theoretical point. My class is a natural forum for using every day examples to explain an educational concept. I have to be careful though in not using my class as a way of tooting my own horn. It’s a slippery slope but I’ve learned to navigate it. In addition, I’ve recognized the importance of time and how the “mortal clock” ticks for all of us. For some, it might be the clock of, “I’m a woman who wants to have children. My biological clock is ticking.” Or someone who just has reached a critical crossroads, and needs to turn up the volume of their life.

Some people can be jealous of what they see on the surface. I might be going out on a limb here (since I’ve never asked this  of my close friends); but I wonder how many of my women friends think, “This dude is a stud. He must be having his way with all these chicks!”  This is one example of what appears to be on the surface. The grass is not always greener over the fence. The only way to really know a person, and what they’re going through, is to get to know them by spending QUALITY time with them, and know who they really are!

Question for you: Is there someone (you know) who appears to have it all? Are you jealous of them?

Focus: Communication, Self-worth, Emotional intimacy, Friendship