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yes no, maybe so

your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision’ 

-Tony Robbins

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when the details on the surface are wiped away…what is left?

There are times in our life when we have to make a decision.  We find ourselves standing at a crossroads with options in front of us.  A typical crossroads would determine that we would have three options or choices. Picture driving up to an actual intersection of roads. It’s best to think of west.  The desert, tumbleweed, cacti, cactuses?  Both are accepted.  This setting just feels more serene and secluded.  And it’s just cool. No one is there to witness your decision.  It is just you and this place and the road you choose.  You can take a left, go straight, or take a right…3 choices.  Maybe a good way to use this analogy would be to match up each choice of road with an answer to the question, ‘should I do this?’  Of course ‘this’ can fit whatever situation you may have in your life.  With 3 choices of roads, road 1 is YES!  Road 2 is NO!  Road 3 is OTHER or MAYBE SO.


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she could make a new road with this!

 

Road 1

I think whenever we are asking ourselves ‘should I do this’, it’s usually because we already have a hunch that we want to do it.  ‘Go with your gut’, ‘follow your instincts’, ‘lead with your heart’, are all phrases that tell us we already know the answer.  Yes is the answer.  We know what we’d like to do, and deep down we know what we desire.  However, before we commit ourselves to road 1, we are faced with obstacles like fear and insecurity that will ostensibly reveal that this decision was a bad choice.  That’s terrible and very sad.  I think everyone needs more of road 1 in their life.  Be more of a ‘yes man’, and stop turning everything down. Embrace change and moving forward.  Covet growth and the learning process, especially when you find yourself on the edge of comfort.  Many of us talk about our passions and what we truly want to be doing.  We describe it to others.  We visualize it in vivid detail.  We think about how it will all play out in the future.  But then we don’t act.  This is why some psychologists have found that we shouldn’t actually talk about our goals.  By speaking about them, and receiving feedback from others, we actually feel a sense of accomplishment and we lose the passion, the edge, the motivation we once had.  This has happened to me many times.  It’s hard because we want to share our passion with others.  We want to bounce ideas. Maybe we should just share the tip of the iceberg…or bounce one small ball to someone. Don’t spill it before acting on it.  When is the best time to start acting on your passions?  Right now.  Immediately.  The clock is ticking.  

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‘Do what you want’ sounds negative and detached but if I teach and use effective language, I can help Matilda hold onto ‘acting on her desires’.  It’s really the same thing.  When we’re young, it’s natural for us.  But much like creativity, we tend to lose it along the road


 

Road 2

Being a ‘yes man’ and taking road 1 on your decisions can bring you places you never dreamed of.  However, there are often times when we have to say ‘no’.  Maybe you’re just done spending time with a certain person…maybe your schedule is full…maybe you’re just wiped out from being the challenges of parenting.  All these are totally justifiable.  I’ve learned that ‘no’ doesn’t have to be negative.  If we communicate to others our feelings and/or reasons along with our ‘no’, we should be comfortable and content in our position to turn something down.  Withing my business, I now notice myself saying ‘no’ more often.  I always try to say ‘yes’ and take road 1 when people have requests.  But for a variety of reasons, sometimes I turn things down.  In the past, I felt guilty or insecure about this.  But that doesn’t hold any weight.  I tell myself that if I can’t commit wholeheartedly to this decision, it won’t work out for either party.  Therefore, taking Road 2 can be understood as the best decision for all involved.  Road 2 shouldn’t be as worn and trodden as road 1, but don’t be afraid to lay new tracks when warranted.    


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‘I’m not ready to be done Dad.  I don’t want to leave yet’ is a phrase that I cherish and honor when I can. 
She’s taking Road 2, and saying ‘no’ to being done with something.

 

Road 3


Sometimes we can’t commit to a yes or no right now.  We aren’t ready to.  I actually use road 3 often.  I’m not so great at deciding on things right away.  I like to ruminate on the idea for a while…sleep on it in a sense.  I have come to realize that spontaneity is powerful and rewarding, and have started implementing that more in my day to day.  However, on some big decisions, I still hold value in deliberate consideration, weighing pros and cons over time and as I think of them, and documenting thoughts in a journal, before making a final choice. While mulling over an idea for a couple of days, an important variable will often arise that easily determines the outcome for me.  It’s like a subtle, ‘did you consider this?’  And I will know right then and there whether it’s road 1 or 2 that I’m taking.  Road 3 seems to be a loop around that brings you back to the same intersection later on.  It allows some soul searching, some road tripping, and a few pit stops to get your bearings and reassess your current location/situation.  

Maybe you have to let some time pass before you become close with that special someone. Perhaps you’re waiting for them to work something out on their end.  

You may need to save some money up, or line up your budget differently first.  

Maybe you feel overwhelmed and need to put a decision on the back burner until you feel more centered.  

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Decision making at the Scoop Deck

 

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What would you choose?  I go with something different every visit

 

Whatever it may be, we all have reasons to take road 3 at certain crossroads.  As I spoke of in the Road 2 section…be confident and content with your choice to wait on the decision.  It’s not a ‘non-decision’…it’s a decision to wait, and lock in to something when you are totally ready to do so.  With the quick pace of our lives, I’m often telling Matilda, ‘let’s go, make a decision quickly!’  But I try to catch myself…thinking, ‘wait…she can have all the time she wants to make a decision’ (within reason!).  I believe it will strengthen the ground she stands on, and empower her ability to make wise and timely decisions for the rest of her life.  

Be aware of your surroundings when you come to a crossroads.  Simply pay attention to your emotions and the physical changes taking place.  Take a breath before accelerating down the next road.  Remember, each and every even small decision will set your life onto a different path…possibly a different plane.  So choose wisely!  I wish you the best in your decision making!

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The sun is on me…and it feels good.

 

Music:  Kaleo is a band that started in Iceland.  That might contribute to their unique sound. I often forget about them for a while, and then hear them on the radio.  The sound is always intriguing…and since I don’t own any of their music, I always go home and put on some of their live stuff.  Matilda and I caught them live at the Newburyport Riverfront Music Festival last year.  They rock!  Give this song a listen!





always be closing

‘thoughts are great…but action leads to closing’         emailsig


A.B.C.


I must admit it…my house is a mess!  And…I just cleaned up that area.  How does it already look like a storm hit it?  


I have to confess…I’ve started a thousand projects around here, and about 999 of them still seem ‘under construction’.  


I should accept it.  I have a problem.  Actually many, but I’ll start with this one and see if I can find closure with it.

I peg myself as really good at coming up with ideas.  I have journals and sheets and post it notes collected with a bunch of random ideas.  These can be related to business, the house, relationships, professional development, investments, blah blah blah.  Most of my ideas are bad.  However, I believe that while coming up with many poor ideas…and documenting them…I’m bound to come up with a good one here and there.  It’s almost like I come up with 99 bad ideas for every one diamond in the rough.  It’s a low shooting percentage but hey, if you don’t shoot you can’t score.  

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Matilda comes up with the best ideas!


I do feel strongly about documenting by the way.  If you don’t put your thoughts and ideas and goals down on paper, or somewhere digitally, they’ll just float around in your head, and possible float out of your head for good.  Once you put them somewhere, you can make space in your head for developing that idea or adding interest to it…or coming up with another one.  Find yourself a cool journal, even a good expensive one.  It’s investing in your own brain/goals/ideas.  And it will encourage you to put good use to it, and hold value in your own beliefs.  

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Closing the deal


So I’m good with all that stuff.  My interests are many.  I’m quick to jump into things and just try something.  I love learning anything new.  However…I’m not good with following the practice of the phrase, ‘Always Be Closing’.  This phrase is from the 1992 drama film called Glengarry Glen Ross, in which the character played by Alec Baldwin encourages some of the other characters to close deals within their sales work.  Watch out for bad language, but here is a great clip from the movie.  Look…it’s a very shallow message in regards to simply making more money above all else, and disregarding things like being a good dad, or being kind. However, it struck a chord with me in how it can relate to the idea of completing something. And this is what I have trouble with.  As I said, I can start a bunch of projects.  But I never seem to finish many of them.  

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Finishing touches


This weekend, I had a task that I wanted to complete.  The ramps in my landscape trailer have to be lifted in and mounted to the inside walls for transportation.  Well, I’ve always had this crap system of a cheap eye-hook and bungee chords to hold them in place.  Boring I know…bear with me.  This system has bothered me for about 5 years.  I can’t believe that! I’ve spoken about it, wrote down ideas, sworn at it many times…but never really done anything about it.  Well on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, I came up with a plan, went to the hardware store for materials, and put in a new ramp mounting system.  It was actually pretty easy!  On Sunday, I found myself putting all of my tools back in their proper place, sweeping up the garage floor of all debris, and wiping down my workbench with a cleaner and paper towels.  I suddenly thought, ‘Oh my…I’ve actually completed something, and I’m in the very final stage of cleaning up the mess associated with it.  I never do this!’  I’m telling you…it felt so good.   I immediately thought about ‘Always Be Closing’, and the benefits related to that.  I thought about Casey Neistat, and how he has those words tattooed on his arm.  He actually dedicated an entire Vlog to this idea.  Watch it here! 

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harvesting is closing

Neistat says that if you start a bunch of things and don’t finish them, you’re a loser.  That’s me…how sad.  Someone who starts something and always finishes it is a closer.  That’s not me.  My new focus is to become more of a closer.  I must bring my ideas to fruition…see them through to their fullest potential.  I’m on it.  By closing, and completing something, we are able to reap the rewards related to our project.  After dealing with annoyance of the ramp system in my trailer for 5 years, and halfheartedly poking at it here and there with temporary repairs, no wonder I felt so good about putting smart and hard work to it and having it completed.  

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Finished a dance season…proud Dad!



Closing leads to you feeling much more productive.  

Closing frees up space in your head for other, more important ideas. 

Closing encourages intellect and hard work over complaining and hoping.

Closing leads to more appreciation instead of expectation.  

Don’t be a loser…be a closer!

 



Organization


A.B.C. totally relates to keeping our lives organized too.  This is an area that I struggle with, and one that I’ll be putting some more focus into.  When you come home…with a bunch of things in your hands…maybe a bag or two…and pockets full of receipts and change and hair clips (for some reason, I always find myself here)…do you put everything away in it’s designated spot?  What I usually do is pile it onto my dining room table.  It’s flat, easy to access, and I won’t need the table until about 5:30pm.  That’s not closing.  That’s losing!  The worst is when I’ve put together a nice dinner and I go to bring plates to the table for Matilda and I, to find my loser pile in the way.  Worst!


I do have all of the designated places for things.  I have a file cabinet with nicely labeled folders, a piggy bank in the living room, a cup in the bathroom for Matilda’s hair clips.  I just don’t follow that step of putting things directly into their proper place.  And this is key.  If you hired someone to come ‘organize your house’ or your life, a main thread would be to immediately place things into their position.  Put them in their home.  Look at your computer desk, your kitchen counters, the desktop on your computer…even your email inbox.  Are you organized?  I’ve started trying to get to a totally empty email inbox as often as possible.  This entails creating simple folders, unsubscribing from all of the crap, deleting as soon as possible, and once a day, taking care of pertinent messages.  It relieves so much stress for me to have a clean slate.  But I need to work on the more ‘physical’ areas of my life…and organize those.  I want to finish more projects on my to do list…not just start them.  I don’t want to be a loser anymore…I want to be a closer!  Please comment if you’ve found effective ways of ‘closing’ in your own life.   

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thoughts are great…but action leads to closing!


Music:  Blind Pilot is an Oregon based band.  They use interesting instruments like a mountain dulcimer, vibraphone, and a harmonium.  Here’s a great one called New York.




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i’m no different than you

just my thoughts man – right or wrong…just what I was feeling at the time’ – Jay Z

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We cannot really judge one another, or blame one another for our thoughts and opinions.  It is honestly best to forgive someone for ideas you disagree with.  Best to appreciate their perspective.  Taking this approach broadens your own perspective, and allows you to employ a broader scope…a wider lens.

 

I once heard a line related to this, and it’s surfaced often when thinking about others…and our differences.  It basically says that ‘you would do exactly what any other  person does…behave in the same exact manner…had you been born to their parents, in the place they were raised, and brought up the same way’.  I’m not sure where I heard this.  Maybe it just came to me.  Actually, I’ll just go ahead and claim it as mine right now!  However simple it may be, it has provided me with a moral integrity in which I believe we’re all on the same level playing field.  

Here is a healthy practice for you to try:  think of a child living in a very different situation and place than what you have…preferably a child in a different culture, different socio-economic situation…something almost ‘opposite’ of you.  Then consider the fact that this child could have been you!  What if you were born there?  Had to walk in those shoes?  In that climate?  This consideration has helped me develop a better understanding of others, and has led to less judgement.  It’s allowed me to listen more effectively.  It’s let me submit to others, and forgive, and appreciate.

This can sound like a weak position.  Always submitting to others, and forgiving when people hurt me, or bring adversity to my life?  Won’t that just lead to people steam rolling over me and using me as a doormat?  No.  Believe it or not, giving up control and judgement has given me a stronger sense of who I am.  Instead of wasting so much energy on trying to control others, and situations, to no avail…I maintain a positive mindset, and often frame a response in my mind with the phrase ‘Is that so?’  This provides a position where almost nothing can knock me off course, regardless of the strength of the tides.  I acknowledge the potential storm.  I maintain the secure and reliable mast, and calmly set the main sail.  Then I begin wayfinding through the tempest.  I feel like Maui…with Moana at my side!  

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i am moanaaaaaaaaaa!
I once feared different ideas and opinions, opposite of my own.  I was once intimidated by others who stood for values other than mine.  This fear is what I believe to be one of the obstacles between groups not seeing eye to eye.  And considering how many of us often fear the unknown, it may not even be a conscious wall we’re constructing within our minds.  A natural cascading and compounding of negative or fear-filled thoughts can build, without us being aware.  It’s as if within our typical day, during our tasks, we mindlessly grab a brick and place it on an arbitrary line.  When the day is done, we’ve put up a faulty facade…a sloppy screen between ourselves and others.  It gives you a false sense of security, and you may be proud of where you stand and what you’ve built.  But the wall was constructed on careless judgement, weak mortar mix, an uneven foundation…not deliberate decisions, mindful masonry, on a level, compacted cornerstone.   


I’ve already blogged some about being aware of our own thoughts, and the benefits of thinking positive.  Here is a post related to that.  This awareness will help to clean up your rubble if you have some, and strengthen your position and security without the need of a wall.  What’s the best way to find that awareness?  Start meditating.  And start being mindful of your thoughts and reactions to different subjects.  It takes practice like anything else.  But with a little training, you’ll find yourself on a journey filled with happiness and contentment. Your shoulder may soften with the chip removed, allowing others a better landing to lean on.  

One final thought that I think of often is ‘how do i make other people feel?’  At the end of our short time in this place, this question may be central to how successful our time was actually invested.  This is of course difficult to know, as we can’t totally understand how others feel about us.  And it’s less about what others ‘think’ of us…more about the kindness, support, generosity, and acceptance that we provide…hopefully leading to a comfort and security felt by the people around us.  I believe a good, healthy self check-in is to ask yourself ‘how am I making other people feel?’


You feel me?



Music:  Here is an oldie but a goodie from The Lumineers.  The band leader’s wife told him he was like the Dead Sea…that she’ll never sink when he’s with her…and he wrote a song including this sentiment.  How romantic. 

emailsig

en-tre-pre-neur

originally published on 5/12/17

 

 

‘the most dangerous thing you can do in life is play it safe’ – Casey Neistat

 

Sit down.  Don’t talk.  Raise your hand.  Stay in line.  Don’t be late.  Quiet down.  Put that away.  Share.  Read this.  Watch that.  You can eat now.  Play like this.  Don’t speak out. Settle down.  Be prepared. 

This is what our kids are told…time and time again.  What must become slowly and steadily ingrained is the idea that they should all conform, follow the crowd, learn how everyone else does, choose a career, spend a lot of money to study within that field with a college education, find a company to work for, and work…so that you can afford things like a car and a house and a latte…then, they will be successful. 

Are we introducing and exposing our children to enough entrepreneurial ideas to truly let them know about other options they may have?  At Concord High School, I can remember one single unit within I believe an Economics class.  Mr. Denoncourt worked so hard with us to help us pronounce the word en-tre-pre-neur.  I said it wrong until college.  I don’t remember a single thing from that unit we studied however…but I’m sure it was thorough in explaining the option for citizens to…yippee! start your own business!  You could make and sell cookies with your mom, or you could design a t-shirt, and sell it out of the trunk of your car.  I’m sure the text book detailed some of the easier fields to enter as a business starter, like construction, landscaping, or dog walking.  I’m sure one of the bolded subject headings was ‘be your own boss’, and we probably discussed as a class the pros and cons to running your own company. Mr Denoncourt was genuine in his efforts, I am sure.  But all I remember is äntrəprəˈnər.  

Considering the loyalty once involved in working for a company, and the lack of commitment and loyalty in present times, we owe it to our kids to expose them to more.  One unit is not enough.  I’m sure there was more within my high school curriculum and I just missed it…I was in a fog most of the time.  But I know there wasn’t enough.  

Years ago, one could be very secure in choosing a company to work for, sticking with that job for many years, and then retiring with a good sized pension to ride off into the sunset with. It is not the same today.  It’s predicted that our youngest workers will hold around 12-15 jobs in their lifetime.  It’s also commonly noted that the average worker will make 5-7 career changes during there career.  It is simply a very different workplace.

Speak out.  Hustle.  Grind.  Don’t sleep.  Find a loophole.  Challenge authority. Follow your gut. The time is right now.  Make your own line to stand in.  You are creative.  Develop grit. Ask more questions.  Better questions.  Come up with ideas.  More than that.  Start something now.  Take the risk.  Don’t seek comfort.  Don’t listen to me.  Do whatever the #%@$ you want to do, whenever the #%@$ you want to do it.  

What if these were some ideas we showered our kids with?  That’s it…I’m starting a school, and the paragraph above will serve as the uncommon core curriculum.  The mission statement will have to be, ‘do whatever the #%@$ you want to do, whenever the #%@$ you want to do it’.  When I step back and think, that phrase can simply define success like no other.  Children and adults alike could find so much happiness and success by first searching, finding, discovering, and identifying their own passions and loves…and then working, playing, and living within those areas as much as possible.  I’m not sure our schools, our communities, our parents, our culture is set up for that.  

I want my daughter Matilda to know that there are many paths.  And that she has many choices.  She’ll be able to pronounce entrepreneur this year.  I’m going to introduce her to my uncommon curriculum…though I might leave out the do whatever you want part for now.  I’m still figuring this parenting thing out.  She will though, be able to dream something up, take a risk, and even fail, knowing that she’ll have help to get up and find a different way.

In the short term, we’re starting a small farm stand called The Grower’s Daughter.  Matilda is very excited about this.  She’ll be selling some plants we started from seed, some breads that we made, cookies, vegetables and honey in the Fall, and whatever else comes to mind.  The Grand Opening is tomorrow from 11-1pm at our house…so please stop by to say hello!  I’m hoping that this new adventure will play a small part in helping her develop some skills, passion, and even some hustle.  


Music:  Here is a beautiful song called Cherry Wine by Hozier.  It actually raised awareness and funds for domestic violence.  Enjoy!

r.o.i.

‘rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth’ – Thoreau




Return on Investment:  A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.  


I am always focusing on this word ‘efficiency’.  Always considering methods that will streamline, or make things most economical.  And while these thoughts are on my mind while sitting in the Edward Jones office, preparing to discuss my financial investment portfolio (saying that you have an investment portfolio sounds so pretentious!), I’m writing today and thinking about how this philosophy applies to other aspects of our daily lives.  

We have a finite amount of time to be alive.  There are so many things I want to do!  I feel if I don’t somehow multiply or compound my interest and interests, I simply won’t be living to my potential…won’t be able to reach all of my goals…and won’t be able to have a complete, fulfilling, and successful day.

Considering all of the chaos and stress and fast pace of our lives, this sounds messy, and cramming, and overwhelming.  You may be thinking, ‘Right…there aren’t enough hours within a day!’  And you may be ‘burning the wick at both ends’ as they say, and feeling like there’s no catching up.  How could you even consider adding new items to your plate, or reaching for new heights on your success ladder.  Well, it’s always wise to consider your r.o.i. first.  And practicing mindfulness throughout will keep you balanced.  



speak the truth

As I age, I find myself searching for the absolute honest truth within things…good or bad…just let me see what’s real.  My skin is thicker now.  The insecurities mitigated.  I really don’t care about a lot of nonsense that once consumed me…and that frees up a lot of space to accept truth.  


One great truth always being spoken to us is our health.  At Thanksgiving, when we would go around the table and say what we were thankful for, some aunt or cousin, or niece’s boyfriend would always say they’re thankful for good health.  That not even a thing!  It doesn’t mean anything.  It’s an arbitrary, general statement used to quickly get on to the next relative. That is what I thought anyway.  When you, or someone close to you becomes unhealthy, injured, or simply older and aware of new limitations…you quickly understand the fortune of good health.  Turns out, it is a thing.  


That is why things like exercise and diet have such great returns on investments!  They are honest and effective formulas leading to good health.  If you jump into an intense training program and very strict diet tomorrow, the benefits and rewards of doing so will be amazing! It’s a very simple formula.  Aha!  But it’s very hard work to implement and maintain. Otherwise, we’d all be doing it.  


I absolutely love the sport of basketball.  It has given me returns that I never expected…introduced me to so many people that I cherish…allowed me to experience passion and fun and competition and challenge…and time and time again, it has been so very honest with me.  I think this is what I now appreciate most about it.  ‘You get out what you put in’, is a phrase that comes to mind.  I had ‘practiced’ and ‘played’ the sport from time to006 time, but it wasn’t until I completely focused and dedicated myself to hours of tailored training, that I came to understand what came from hard work, and how to truly invest in something for myself.  At one point, during the start of my college basketball career (you can read some more about this time here…on my ‘my story’ page), I decided to, on top of a bunch of strenuous training sessions, shoot 300 three pointers a day.  Along with that, the coach asked each player to shoot 100 free throws a day.  I think one other player and I were the only two that did this no excuses…7 days a week.  This training…the consistent repetition of movements…the culture that came with always being near a basketball and a hoop…the camaraderie gained grinding out work with others…and the grit earned by winning hard fought physical battles on my own…instilled something in me that I hold dearly to this day. The actual shooting itself became somewhat automatic for me.  Three pointers felt like free throws.  Free throws felt like layups.  I could feel a difference.  And I was proud of my investment.

Basketball is where found this.  But you can find this honest earning of truth within a lot of activities.   Learning how to play guitar is where I’ve found it most recently.  


shopping cart 🛒

I don’t buy as many things as I used to.  I scrutinize purchases now to no end.  I sit and ruminate on whether or not I really need this item…really want it.  I totally consider the r.o.i. that this item will bring me over time.  Is this going to be trendy to me?  Will I love it in 5 years?  Can I use it for 2 years, and sell it for what I buy it for?  I highly recommend doing this for any big ticket items you’re considering.  Also remember, buying an ‘experience’ over a tangible item is more likely to be fulfilling.  In this way, money can buy happiness.  I still like buying ‘things’ here and there though.  Here are some things I put in my shopping cart over the last couple of years:

  • road bicycle
  • electric guitar
  • trip to Disney
  • log splitter (for firewood)
  • brick and stone walkway
  • drone
  • motorcycle

 

proximity

Who are the people around you most?  Are you investing in those that you appreciate and love?  One of the most effective ways to find long term happiness is through your relationships with friends and family.  It starts with you though.  I’ve mentioned this before…’turn your expectations into appreciation’ is what Tony Robbins says, and it totally applies to all relationships.  How do you keep yourself around the people you want to be around?  One simple way to start is to get rid of the folks you don’t want to be around.  We often have some people in our lives that empty our bucket.  They are depleting.  They take and don’t give back.  And they are unhealthy for us.  Life is too short.  Value your time more, and stop spending it on folks like this.  Once your standard is set, you’ll start noticing more bucket filling folks in your proximity.

Music:  Ryan Adams continues to be very inspiring for me.  Here’s a great song with just him and his piano.

I’d so appreciate it if you liked, subscribed, shared…really showed love in any way.  
All love!
emailsig

      

gamble on a school night

‘a ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for’  – William Shedd

 

Spontaneity.  It was 1998.  I was a senior in high school, and it was a school night.  I was sleeping over my friends house though, and two other guys were staying over too.  My host-friend suggests that because his mom is asleep (must have been 9 or 10pm), we should take her car and drive to Foxwoods Casino.  We can have the car back before she wakes up, and even make it to school first thing in morning.  


I was never spontaneous.  I’d say I was nervous, shy, scared of the unknown, and therefore calculated and somewhat structured in my ways.  When this journey to Connecticut from Concord, NH was brought up, I probably started asking, ‘well ok, how long does it take to get there?  Do we all have enough money?  How old do you have to be to enter a Casino…to gamble?  What classes do we have in the morning, and what time do we have to be back…exactly?  And that means we’ll have to leave Foxwoods to return at blah blah blah.  I can see my friend smirking now…and telling me that none of that matters.  We’re just going.  


Somehow we actually did make it to Foxwoods and started gambling.  When we were huddled around my friend at one of the tables as he was doing well, we noticed security guards in nice suits approaching.  They split us up and asked us questions.  Mostly about our age or birth dates.  Then they told my friend to cash out on his winnings, and told us all to get lost. We got home in time to quietly push the car back into my friend’s garage, and sneak into his room as though we’d been there all night.  His mom had to know.  But she never showed it.  We went to school on maybe a half hour of sleep.  But the stories and excitement were enough to make that next day, one of the best days of my high school career.  Today, as I did that day, I can reflect on the awesome feelings of freedom, bravery, risk, adrenaline, and a sense of brotherly love that this experience created for me.  

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I wish I figured out then that spontaneity was special.  It was part of that experience.  It was central to it, and key to the everlasting memory it solidified within me.  I wasn’t at all self-aware then though.  I probably couldn’t pronounce spontaneity.  And even though I was easily influenced by others and did have fun doing crazy things in the following years, I never embraced the idea of improvising in my life.  I needed a script. 

A couple of weeks ago, I quickly grabbed a couple of snacks, some wipes, my new cheap and obnoxious mirror lens sunglasses, and Matilda, and hopped in the car without knowing where we were going.  I know…you probably do this like every weekend.  But I couldn’t think back to when I had last done it.  Kind of made me sad.  Anyway, I still live in Concord, NH.  And what I love about my geographic location is that all within about one hour away…I can drive North to the White mountains, east to the ocean, or south to the city of Boston.  All great options.  Matilda asked where we were going.  ‘I don’t know Til…we’re just going on an adventure…and we get to choose where we go.’  I told her that I was now leaning toward Portsmouth over on the coast, but then I remembered those fun books I used to read and I told her this is called ‘choose your own adventure…and you get to choose!’  She said she didn’t really want to go to Portsmouth, and wanted to go to Mother and Child, a pretty hip consignment shop in Amherst that her mom had brought her to.  So that was it!  We found a cool dress for her, played hide and seek in all the clothes, and upset one of the old employees who thought we were being too loud.  It wasn’t Foxwoods.  It was incredibly fun though. Matilda was able to choose it.  And that morning, I never would have guessed that this experience would have been in my future.  

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don’t try this at home


I noticed a huge change within myself after having a child.  Matilda has helped me learn so many great things…one of them being the ability to ’embrace spontaneity’.  Children often live in the moment.  Not reflecting on previous behaviors.  Not planning out the steps to our future.  Simply enjoying this moment.  They make quick, thoughtless decisions based on passion, desire, love.  They often don’t know the consequences of making the wrong choice, choosing the wrong person, wearing the miscalculated dress, or chomping on Nerds candy instead of an organic apple.  

Don’t let fear get in the way of being spontaneous.  Embrace the risk involved.  Acknowledge an uncomfortable feeling, but let yourself be ok there…and remember how much you can learn there.  About yourself and others.  Go on more ‘choose your own adventures’, let your kid choose their own outfit and then splash in the puddles, jump on the bed with them, and eat lots more Nerds.    

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could be my favorite pic of all time

 

music:  One of the best guitar players in the world.  Prolific writer.  Pop, electric, or acoustic. Every album is good…including his new ‘The Search for Everything’.  John Mayer.  Click here and check this out!  

you snooze you lose

‘good morning to you, fair and gracious daughter’ – Shakespeare

The morning is a part of the day when we’re usually following routines and habits that have been ingrained over a long period of time.  When this occurs, we can easily just breeze through tasks, attempting to get up and go quickly.  The significance of time and place can go unrecognized, and we can set ourselves on a course that reflects that lack of investment.  I think often about ‘investing’ in ourselves as individuals.  It can be within our diet or health, experiences we have, or simply by reading.  The beginning of the day though, is such a fitting time to invest, as we can set ourselves off on a path filled with great returns. 


At the 2014 University of Texas at Austin commencement speech, Admiral William H. McRaven advised students to make their bed upon waking, and to do it well.  You can be proud of completing this simple task, and it can be a reflection of the work you do further on throughout your day.  Click here for the speech.  The make-your-bed advice starts at about 4:40.


I usually can’t make my bed right after waking…because Matilda and my dog Jackson are still sleeping there.  But I do appreciate the idea, and I come back a little later in the morning to complete this.  It also reveals to me that we are all very different in how we do things at home…so there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach to mornings.  Some enjoy coffee while others take tea.  We can all find our own habits that lead us to a successful day, and employ them upon waking.  


Here are some ideas that have been working for me:


You Snooze You Lose – I’ve battle with the snooze button for years, and whenever I press it, I feel guilty, like I’m losing, and that I’m not supposed to be doing it.  Instead of smashing that snooze, I turn the alarm off and take a deep, cleansing, mindful breath.  It’s like a soft signal to the rest of my body that I’m going to get up now.  I also feel and think

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she’s totally snoozing!

about appreciation during that breath.  I might be considering how fortunate I am to get another day, or cherishing the fact that Matilda and I will somehow grow today, or simply smiling and coveting the first moment that is only mine…this breath is all happiness, all love.  Part of my ability to find this happiness, is the fact that I really love my mornings now.  So I’m looking forward to getting downstairs and starting with my day.  It used to be grumpiness and negativity and why so early and 10 more minutes.  It took some searching and practice to get to where I am now, but I’m actually surprised at how making a few small changes has led to such an awesome awakening.

 

 

Early Bird Gets the Worm – Wake up earlier.  It’s that simple.  This is somewhat related to not smashing the snoozer button, but it’s also about just setting an earlier wake time goal. Sleeping a little bit longer and then waking up to rush through tasks mindlessly, leaves you feeling chaotic…and success within whatever you do will be fleeting.  It’s similar to driving fast.  You’re more stressed, under more pressure, and not being mindful of all of your moves. I’m currently waking at 4:45am, and I’m working toward 4:30am.  For a while, I would sleep as long as I possible could, and hope that Matilda would also sleep late…waking when she would get up.  But I found that I could rise early, and have about an hour to just invest in myself.  I can’t stress enough how beneficial this has been.  Waking up early, and feeling that you’re up before most others can give you a sense of accomplishment, regardless of what you actually accomplish.  You’re already ahead!


The Elixir of Life – Before you go straight to the coffee pot, hydrate yourself a little.  You’re body has gone without food or water since bedtime.  Don’t immediately take in coffee, which is a diuretic. Gulp down a half glass of water or so.  Similar to the deep breath I take upon waking, I like to think of this bit of water as another signal to my body to start up again…also as a lubricant to all of the systems in the body…or a swell to the river that delivers nutrients throughout.  Then I go to the coffee.  I make and set up my coffee maker the night before, and have it brew at the same time as my alarm clock will go off.  That way, it’s one more sound to help wake me, and I can actually smell the coffee from my bedroom…which is just the best!   Sometimes between the water and coffee, I take a shot of what I call the Elixir of Life.  A tumbler glass is best for this.  Squeeze the juice from half of an organic lemon in. Add a spoon full of honey (from your zip code is best…or from your own bees!).  Then add cinnamon.  This drink has many benefits.  I’m not sure what any of those benefits are, other than the fact that it is ‘invigorating’.  By the way, when did you last do something that was truly invigorating? 


Breathe – Find some sort of mindfulness or meditation practice that works best for you.  I have a large window that faces east…and that faces a large corn field, allowing me to take in a far off horizon.  It feels great to sit on the floor near this window, with the sun on my face. Depending on the time of year, and when I actually decide to sit, I can be present during a sunrise.  It feels like the sun strengthens me for the day.  I haven’t done the research on this either, but I know some that struggle with depression can be prescribed more sun.  I think it raises levels of serotonin.  Whatever it does, it feels good.  I spend 10-15 minutes just focusing on my breath here.  I have two analogies for meditation.  One, is that it is like doing a cleanse on the mind.  It removes cancerous deposits, distractions, junk, filler, useless stuff, and allows all systems to function in harmony.  My other analogy is more techy.  Meditation is like a disc clean up and defragmentation of the mind.  That works right?  


Lead and Paper – Write in a journal.  There are many methods for this that can be helpful. I’ve been simply writing the date and then a few sentences about how I’m feeling or what I’m thinking about.  I also use it to wish happiness on someone else for the day (See a previous post here for more on this).  You never know…you might be the one I’m wishing for!  Then I write down 2 or 3 things I want to get done or focus on that day.  I took this from Leo Babauta.  He calls them M.I.T’s, or Most Important Tasks.  By connecting these M.I.T.’s to goals that you have, you’ll make sure to complete objectives along your journey.  Use a real pencil. Find some extraordinary stationary (can those two words go together?).  And just write.


Move – Run, do yoga, pushups and situps, cleans and presses, handstands, ride your bike. Find something fun that get’s your juices flowing. When training or exercising in the early morning, a great motivating factor is the feeling that you’ve completed a workout and showered before anyone is even awake.  Do it!


Cold – I’ve taken hot hot showers for almost all of my life.  From time to time, I would cool it off at the end just a bit.  This winter though, I came to love COLD showers.  I don’t mean a little cool.  I call it 9 o’clocking because my shower control is at it’s absolute coldest when it’s in the 9 o’clock position.  If you haven’t tried this…you have to.  Shower as you would regularly, but about halfway through, shift your faucet to about half cold – half hot.  This will feel pretty cold.  But that’s nothing.  When you’re all rinsed of soap and conditioner, turn your faucet to the absolute coldest setting.  Just commit to it.  You’ll thank me later.  Put your head directly under the water and start there.  Once your head is almost frozen, make sure your entire body gets sprayed with the icy stuff.  No joke, the first time I tried this, I laughed out loud uncontrollably.  After doing this?  You’ll feel like a beast, and that there is nothing you can’t do that day.  And…it will be the second invigorating thing you’ll have done before other’s have started their day!  


Try some of these and comment on your experience below!  And by the way, thanks so much for reading this far!



Music:  The band Amber Run put their instruments down for this great collaboration with the London Contemporary Voices choral group.  It’s majestic.  Click here for it!


All Love!

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