Morning Coffee Archives

Morning Coffee Archives

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March 19, 2018


“Between you and me, sir, I’ll have to see him before I’ll believe he’s invisible.”

~ Lester Cole, screenwriter for “The Invisible Man Returns”


Last year, scientists reported creating an “invisibility cloak.” The device bends electromagnetic radiation around itself, making whatever it covers appear invisible. So far they have only tested the device with microwaves, but the theory may work with visible light, too. In the world of fantasy, young wizard Harry Potter already often benefits from a magic invisibility cloak.

How many of us have wondered what it would be like to be invisible? As children, we marveled at the power of anonymity to create havoc, and imagined listening undetected to forbidden conversations. As teenagers, perhaps we longed for invisibility from the difficulties posed during that stage of life. Then, the fantasy of invisibility was a good and fun one, in the spirit of escapism.

But as adults, does the desire for invisibility leave us? By and large, “grown-ups” view invisibility in a negative light. To be invisible is to be overlooked, unimportant, or even sinister. To be invisible is to be an outsider.

However, from time to time, we all could use a little invisibility - invisibility from the cell phone, from the kids, from being "on call," or just from the chaos of modern life. Sure, the fantasy has changed from when we were children. Now we may just long for an hour during the day that is all ours, with no interruptions.

So, go find your old invisibility cloak and dust it off. Try it on for an hour - and remember just how much fun it is to be invisible!


March 12, 2018


"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." ~ Henry David Thoreau


"Follow the yellow brick road," sang Dorothy and her unusual entourage in The Wizard of Oz, as they marched toward the Emerald City. The road was clear and their direction set. What they didn't know was that the good witch and the joyful munchkins had sent them down a road leading to a wanna-be fake wizard behind a curtain.

Have you ever had friends or family direct you to take a "yellow brick road" of their imagining? If you blindly followed their advice, you may have ended up in your own Emerald City of disappointment. The truth is that you have the power to create and follow a yellow brick road of your own, one that leads to the realization of your dreams.

The hard part is that YOU must also lay the paving stones of that road. You must first decide on a destination, and then be certain that each brick faces in that direction. Along the way, you may be distracted by winged monkeys or a wicked witch of your own making. If you succumb to those distractions, you may look back to find that your paving stones are uneven and lead in the wrong direction.

Only by having your destination clearly in mind will you arrive unscathed by life's many dead-ends and hairpin twists and turns. You must also be committed to the work involved - choosing only the right bricks, having the patience and perseverance to lay them straight, and the strength to avoid life's temptations as you work.

In the words of Thoreau - "If you have built castles in the air…"

March 5, 2018


 "You've failed many times, although you may not remember. You fell down the first time you tried to walk. You almost drowned the first time you tried to swim, didn't you? Did you hit the ball the first time you swung a bat? Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the most home runs, also strike out a lot. R.H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York caught on. English novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published 564 books. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs. Don't worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don't even try."

~ Full-page ad published in the Wall Street Journal by United Technologies


There's a wonderful story in "Chicken Soup For The Soul" about a 4th grade teacher and a funeral. The teacher had her students fill a sheet of notebook paper with all the things they couldn't do. They wrote furiously for quite a while filling their paper with "I can't do ten push-ups," or "I can't kick the soccer ball past second base," or "I can't get Debbie to like me."

 The students were then instructed to fold their papers and place them into a shoe-box at the front of the room. The teacher then tucked the box under her arm, and invited the students to follow her out into the playground. There, they each took a turn at the shovel and dug a hole four feet deep. The box was placed in the hole and quickly covered with dirt.

 The students then held hands while the instructor delivered a eulogy in memory of "I can't." In it, she noted that "I can't" was survived by his brothers and sister, "I can," "I will," and "I'm going to right away."

 "I can't" is a close relative to most of us, yet maybe with a little extra effort we can finally let him go. It won't be easy since he's been such a close relation, yet maybe by dwelling on his brothers and sister and their importance to us - we can!


Februrary 26, 2018


"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions." 

~ Albert Einstein


Do you believe Orville & Wilbur were first to fly because they had a hammer, nails and a free weekend? Think the television was created by accident? Did Bill Gates just stumble upon the software code that has changed the world? Not a chance!

The Wright brothers created the previews of their first flight in the theatre of their minds. Naturally, there were no limitations to their imaginings as they dreamed of flying. Who knows how the dream of television became reality . . . how it was transformed from a mere visualization into vacuum tubes, knobs, and channels?

What went through Bill Gates' mind prior to his early experiments? Surely his first visions were not of a colorful package entitled "Windows 2000." Nevertheless, his vivid imagination took us all from the concept of "1's" and "0's" to today's monumentally complex world of computer software and internet browsers.

What about you? What goes on in your mind's eye while no one is looking? What do you see yourself doing in one, three, or five years? Do you hear a special future beckoning you to create an action thriller from the previews running through your imagination? Is there a stirring inside you that begs to be brought to fruition?

Why not grab some popcorn, a soft drink, and settle quietly into your favorite chair to enjoy the previews of your own imagination? Then, with a clear picture fresh in your mind, create the main attraction - your life!


February 19, 2018


"No matter where you go, there you are."

~ Unknown


Ever felt crippled by fear? Perhaps you dread that unwanted phone call, that knock on the door, or the return of pain. What makes it worse is your imagination. Your mind conjures up all sorts of imaginary shadows on the wall or things that go bump in the night.

Remember when you were just a kid? You saw those shadows on the wall and cried out in fear. Your mom or dad came in, turned on the light, and "Voila!" - no more shadows on the wall. Simply by exposing your fear to light you learned to overcome your fear.

Now you're an adult and your fears are different, more complex, yet most are still conjured up by your imagination. Fear of the unknown holds you in its grip. Where is the light that used to save you?

The light is still there - with one difference. Now, as the adult that you are, you must be the one to turn on the light. It is up to you to expose the fear for what it usually is - a figment of your imagination. Fear is most easily overcome through exposure. Take time alone to examine your fears, determine their origin, and overcome their crippling effect on you.

If you suffer from a health problem, get a diagnosis and begin a treatment plan. If creditors are calling, face them, and then determine how you allowed yourself into the present situation. If sales are down, adjust your marketing approach.

It takes faith on your part to know you have the power to overcome your fears. Hence another quote: "Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. No one was there."



"To have a friend, you must first be a friend."
- Unknown

In the long distant past, all generations of a family lived in the same town, if not just across the road or down the lane. Each member of the family knew all the good - and the bad - about every other member (as well as all the neighbors). They worked together, played, and prayed together.
Today, families are scattered throughout the country. What we call relationships now are often only acquaintances introduced through business situations or chance meetings. They may be casual and based only on a single shared interest, i.e. golf, fitness, children's school activities, etc. These relationships may lack depth and rarely go beyond that single shared interest.
Even with family relations more scattered and unavailable to us on a day-to-day basis, our human side still has a need and desire for deeper relationships. The good news is that they are not only possible but also available to us with just a little effort.
A single common interest through school-aged children may result in having lunch together. The lunch may reveal that both individuals appreciate the arts, with one being an amateur photographer and the other a proficient watercolor artist. Further conversation may find that both are caring for aging parents, have endured similar life challenges, or witnessed brilliant successes.
In short, deep relationships, akin to those shared by families in the past, are still possible. Yes, they must be cultivated. They don't just passively occur as in the daily activities of a family. The result is the same, however, as these relationships can provide a richness to life that is missing in their absence. Try to find some missing relations today!







"Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever."


~ Horace Mann

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."


~ Annie Dillard




It’s Monday morning, and we’re back at the office or factory or wherever we work for a living. How was your weekend? Did you do anything important, or fun, or that you’ll remember for some time to come? Were you away from family because you needed to work? You need to remind yourself that you’re losing your marbles.


No, no, you’re not going crazy. Just consider this story of a very perceptive gentleman: He sat down one day and did some arithmetic. Figuring the average person lives seventy-five years, he multiplied 75 times 52 and came up with 3,900. That would be the number of Saturdays the average person would have to experience during their lifetime.


He was already fifty-five years old when he first figured this out, so by that time he had already spent over 2,800 Saturdays. Doing the math, he realized he had only a little over 1,000 Saturdays left if he lived to seventy-five.


He went to every toy store in town, buying out all the marbles they had in stock, and he managed to collect 1,000 marbles. Taking them home, he placed them in a large clear container positioned in plain view. Every Saturday since that day, he removed one marble and threw it away.


If you start now, no matter how many marbles you have, watching those marbles diminish week after week will, without doubt, inspire and motivate you to focus on what’s really important in your life. There is nothing like having a physical manifestation of your remaining time on Earth to get your priorities straight.


In his seventy-fifth year, that gentleman took the last marble out of the jar. He figured if he made it to the next Saturday, he’d been given a little extra time. And isn’t that one thing we could all use a little more of?


"The best laid plans o' mice and men often go astray." - Robert Burns "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" - Haw (from "Who Moved My Cheese?")
Are you enjoying the good times? Have you achieved your goals and become comfortable in the knowledge that you have reached the zenith of your life and career? But wait! Hold on just a minute. What if things were to change suddenly . . . and you ended up back at the proverbial "Square One"?
Maybe that's already happened to you a time or two. Perhaps your career took a sudden turn in a direction you hadn't anticipated, or a health problem caught you totally by surprise. What did you do then? Were you paralyzed by fear? Did you feel cheated, or angry? Did you blame circumstances for your new situation?
No doubt you are able to rationalize objectively that all of us face change from time to time, that it's a part of life. It's difficult, however, to be objective when change suddenly stares you straight in the eye.
Some answers popped up this week to the challenges of change. You'll find those answers in a short, easy-to-read book entitled "Who Moved My Cheese?" Written by Spencer Johnson (co-author of "The One-Minute Manager"), it's the story of two little mice named "Sniffy" and "Scurry" and two little people the size of mice called "Hem" and Haw." The story traces the whimsical challenges faced by these tiny characters as they travel through the maze called "real life."
If you have ever been challenged by change in your world, you'll find comfort and sage advice in this simple story. It's waiting for you to read, and it's worth the short time you'll need to absorb the lessons it contains. This is a great story - don't miss it!





"Learning is the fountain of youth.


No matter how old you are,


You mustn't stop growing."



~ Taoist Meditation, Deng Ming-Dao




Don't believe the phrase "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Creativity isn't only for artists, writers, or musicians. Creativity isn't just what is represented by a canvas or a novel or a song. We can all be creative in our own way, and the most common way that we can all do this is through learning.


As long as we continue to learn and to try new things, we keep our minds fresh and young, and we engage in the act of "creating ourselves" continually. Today's world presents plenty of opportunities for learning, especially about the environment, other cultures, and technology. Technology itself provides ever-easier ways of accessing knowledge through computers and the Internet. And no one is too young or too old to start!


Look around you at the most vital and energetic seniors you know. What do they have in common? A continuing interest in learning and sharing their knowledge and experience with others - so they are engaged constantly in the process. They keep their minds challenged and young, and in so doing, feel younger in body and spirit. They are certainly different than in their youth, but they continue the learning that began there.


Each new phase of our lives brings us new challenges and opportunities for growth. Growing older necessarily means learning new things. We are constantly creating ourselves in this way, and we can adapt ourselves to any situation by that continuing act of creativity that keeps us young.





"We can’t always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future."


~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt




We all think about investing for the future. But what about investing IN the future? It's a worn cliche that "the children are our future," but it's become a cliche for a reason - it's true!


Are you one of many who feel a pang of regret when considering what kind of future we are leaving for our kids? If you don't feel like you can do enough to "build the future," then maybe you could investigate how to "build our youth." If you're apprehensive about the shape of things to come, take some solace in the fact that our world's youth has the power to change the negative impact previous generations may have had.


Look closely at the local school system, child welfare programs, foster care agencies, and the like. Do you see room for improvement? Are you happy with the level of education that your child and his classmates are receiving? What if it were your little boy or girl trying to make their way through welfare or foster care? It's not pleasant to think about, but remember, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls," because it could easily one day toll for you or someone close to you.


Start on the local level and work your way up, by contacting city commissioners, education boards, county officials, state legislators, even the President of the United States! Visit and click on "CONTACT." You'll find addresses, phone numbers, faxes, and emails to help you reach the right people and express your comments on this important issue.


Help build your children for the future by spending time encouraging their creativity and intellectual curiosity. Get involved in their activities, become friends with their friends, try to sit down for one meal a day and talk about the news in school, your town, your state, your country, the world.


If you don't have children, consider mentoring or sponsoring a child in need. Offer to tutor, go to a meal or two, attend a sports or entertainment event. Your investment could yield the highest returns you'll ever see - in yourself, our children, and our future!

Posted 1/8/2018



"We stand at the crossroads each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel, and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we've selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make." - Benjamin Franklin 




Remember the day you made the decision to go to college? What about the day you decided to buy that sporty red car? Surely you remember the day you decided you would get married. What about your present career path? Did you purposely decide it's what you want to do? Do you remember making a conscious decision to have three children?


Some decisions are relatively simple. You decide to buy a TV, go to the store, write a check - and it's yours. You own it! Other decisions are also easy to make, i.e. the red sports car, but carry a higher price. The decision comes quickly, but entails both a down payment and a commitment to make payments on time for several years. Again, you make the decision to buy and the car is yours - you own it!


At some point in life come decisions that shouldn't have been made, but were, as well as those you should have withheld. In high school, a day of classes skipped may have resulted in grades lower than acceptable to your choice of colleges. Later, a poor choice of friends may have resulted in a blemish on your "permanent" record. As an adult, poor decision-making not only may reduce the quality of your life, but of those you love.


Regardless, each decision made is yours to keep - you own it! You also own the responsibilities created by the decision, i.e. following a healthy lifestyle to stay trim, working two jobs to keep your commitment to the mortgage company, giving up poorly chosen friends and activities to provide your children with a happy, nurturing home life.


Every decision made can turn positive or negative, depending on the actions taken once the decision has been made. Either way - making the decision is followed by ownership of the results. Does "pride of ownership" appeal to you? Buy it, own it, love it!



"The manner in which it is given is worth more than the gift." ~ Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) 



Back in the 70's, CB radios became popular, especially among the nation's truckers. You could tune in Channel 19 and listen to a constant chatter among truckers and others with radios. If you were traveling on an interstate highway, you could get info on traffic, weather, wreck scenes to avoid, radar traps, and other useful tidbits. It was like there was a whole other world of activity going on around you IF you had a CB radio. Those who didn't were oblivious to the activity - yet it was still there.


The same is true of the volunteer brigade - those who offer their time and talents to worthy causes without reward. In any given community, there is a work force that operates 24/7 without any expectation of reward. If you're not one of them, you are probably oblivious to their daily actions to serve the community - but they are out there working whether or not you know it. One example that comes to mind is a recent wreck scene. At 1:00 AM a vehicle traveling at over 90 mph left the road, went over an embankment, and hit the bottom upside down. A witness to the crash was amazed to see about 15 firefighters, EMT's, and rescue squad volunteers on the scene within 5 minutes after the wreck was reported. The witness asked in surprise, "Where did you guys come from?" One minute traffic was normal, and those 15 volunteers were in their warm beds. Five minutes later they were saving a life.


There are many ways to make a life-altering contribution to others as a volunteer. Most are not as glamorous as saving a life, yet all contribute to the many unmet needs of community members. Each of us has talents that can be put to use for those in need. A little self-examination will help identify your potential contribution. With all the blessings we enjoy in this country, each of us should make an effort to reach out to others. Why not join the volunteer brigade today? 






"Money often costs too much."


~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest."


~ Henry David Thoreau




A cartoon recently ran on the editorial page: A very large sport-utility vehicle was releasing a large belch while someone's hand desperately reached out from inside the fuel door, a gas pump lying on the ground beneath. This humorous observation on rising gas prices immediately brought to mind the question, "Are we the consumers, or the consumed?"


As the rising cost of fuel forces prices for everything else to rise in tandem, we are likewise forced to consider just how much we're willing to consume and at what cost. As you plan for your future and retirement, forget about all the hoopla surrounding the privatization of Social Security and consider another strategy: Don't spend your money (or at least not as much of it as you have been)!


Think what you might get for $1,000: a new sleeper couch, 2 Super Bowl tickets, a riding lawnmower, a three-day weekend getaway? Regardless of how useful or entertaining any of these options might be, imagine how much $1,000 could really cost you.


Let's say you're thirty years from retirement and are lucky enough to be managing a mutual fund with a steady return of 10%. (That's really not unreasonable if you are highly pro-active and educated in your investments.) If you spend that $1,000, instead of contributing it to your investment fund, you'll have reduced your future savings by at least $17,400!


Do you want that $1,000 now or do you want that $17,400 in the future? Play around with the figures all you want, but the truth will remain constant: wealthy people get that way and stay that way by pinching pennies. Keep your goals well in sight, and avoid the temptation to be consumed by consumerism!





"Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."


~ Edmund Burke


"Inches make a champion."


~ Vince Lombardi




During an NFL matchup, one of the announcers observed that the favored team’s quarterback had been guilty of trying to do too much on the field. Apparently linemen, receivers, and running backs had not been pulling their weight last season, and the quarterback was feeling all of the pressure to produce a winning performance for the team.


What changes did the coaching staff make? For one, they brought in players who could run the ball better and more often, relieving their offensive leader of having to throw so many passes. With other players stepping up their performances, the quarterback didn’t feel so much pressure, and his completion percentage went way up.


It’s a classic case of “less is more.” When the pressure is released and we feel that we don’t have to do so much, we actually feel free to do more! We learn to share the responsibility with those who are there to support us when we let go of our “universe will end if I don’t make this work” mentality.


By asking others to step up and share responsibility, we become more successful. It should never be up to one person to make the project work, although having a leader helps keep everything organized and focused.


The leader understands that success is not all about leaps and bounds. It’s about each individual taking the right small steps that will carry everyone forward. Louis L’Amour wrote that "victory is won not in miles, but in inches. Win a little now, hold your ground, and later win a little more."


Don’t make the mistake of doing nothing because you think you can only do a little. On the flip side, don’t try to do everything because you feel you must. Sometimes doing less will allow you to do even more.






"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust




How wonderful it is to learn new things and see new places! How would we ever grow as individuals if we never experienced anything different from that which we see and do in our daily lives? Two different voyages come to mind, however, when considering the discovery of that which is "new" - an outward journey, and one which turns inward.


Your outward "voyage of discovery" takes you to different places and new people. You begin to understand other things outside yourself. This can be as simple as discovering new-found beauty on a wilderness "adventure," or having an engaging conversation or correspondence with someone from a completely different part of the country or the world. The ultimate goal here is not just looking at new things, but looking at things in a new way! A change of scenery can effect a change of mind.


But you can still experience a voyage of discovery even if you don't travel anywhere, even if you don't meet anyone new. You don't have to change your surroundings, just the way you look at them - with "new eyes!" Sometimes stepping back and looking again at the Big Picture can reveal things that you never saw before. The solution to an ongoing problem can suddenly manifest itself.


This can often be the key to unlocking the door to your happiness - finding a way to change yourself instead of changing what surrounds you. For all those situations that seem to be out of your control, you have to realize that you are always in control of yourself. So much stress comes from frustration. Don't keep running up against that rock that represents your problems. Try to act like the water that simply flows around the rock as it continues its journey downstream. Your inward voyage of change can have dramatic results on how you see what's around you! Enjoy your new outlook!




"The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless'd; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."


~ William Shakespeare




Remember when you were a teenager leaving the house on a date? Your parents’ last words as you went out the door were, "We'll leave the light on for you". Think about that. So what if they did or didn't leave the light on? Their words were really more of a verbal hug. They cared about you - wanted you to know it - and applied the hug with kind words.


With Thanksgiving in just a few days, why not take the time to "leave the light on" for someone who may not get many hugs? There's still time, and it's easy.


First, learn who needs hugs. Check with your local fire, police, or sheriff's department. Ask whether they know of three or four families or individuals who could use a hug. Ask also whether they would consider delivering your hugs at the appropriate time. Two groups stand out as needy - the elderly and families with small children. Of course, we're talking about individuals who are experiencing difficult circumstances in their lives, be they physical or financial.


Next, consider what type of hugs you have to offer. Perhaps you might prepare three or four Thanksgiving turkeys with all the trimmings. Live in the country where people heat their homes with a wood stove? Deliver firewood. Live in a cold climate? Add some warm socks or a sweater to your dinner box. It's really not that difficult to come up with ideas that would make a difference to your chosen recipients. If you aren't able to provide "things," consider visiting with some nursing home residents. Brighten their day by listening for a while.


It goes without saying that our country is truly blessed. Although practically invisible to most of us, however, there are some individuals who are being challenged. They need a hug, and we can brighten their lives by way of simple gestures. Make a family project out of it - involve your kids. Do it anonymously. Afterwards, when you get home, we'll leave the light on for you!



"I compensate for big risks by always doing my homework and being well-prepared. I can take on larger risks by reducing the overall risk."  
~ Donna E. Shalala
There has been a very amusing but very telling commercial on television in recent times. If you haven’t seen it, try to guess what it might be promoting...
The scene is set in a small Italian village, with excited townsfolk lined up on a bridge spanning a wide river. A man stands at the edge of the bridge, with large “wings” constructed of fabric, metal and wood attached and spread wide on his back.
The man jumps, the onlookers gasp, he begins to flap madly, and then soars beautifully over the water. The crowd goes wild, cheering, “He can fly! He can fly!” But one wizened old gentleman in their midst turns to admonish them, “But he can’t swim...”
The next frames show the great innovator crashing into the river, and presumably meeting his demise. It’s no “accident” that this ad is for an insurance company!
Just as we should never fear to push our boundaries or attempt great things, we should also never overlook the possibility of failure. We also shouldn’t remain so focused on our goal that we ignore all other possible outcomes.
Confidence is a critical ingredient of success, but humility is what carries us through to our ultimate goal. The fact that the Titanic sank has been a popular illustration of this principle, “pride before the fall.” Like our friend in the insurance commercial, even Icarus did not consider that the wax in his wings would melt if he came too near the Sun.
The next time you begin a project, consider writing yourself an “insurance policy” before you start. First, visualize the goal and the best way to get there. But then, imagine all the things that might come up along the way that may have an adverse effect on the proceedings.
Finally, imagine the impact that your success may have on you and those around you. What might change or go wrong after the fact?
None of us can predict the future, and we mustn’t avoid greatness for fear of failure. We simply need to be smart in our approach and anticipate problems before they arise. Preparation can prevent a glitch from becoming an all-out debacle. Make sure you pack your floatation device!






"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."


~ Theodore Roosevelt




In an old "Peanuts" cartoon, Sally is making a list while Charlie Brown looks on. Sally says, "I'm making a list of all the things I've learned in life . . ." In the next panel she continues with, "Well, actually, I'm making two lists." Charlie questions, "Why is one list longer than the other?" Holding up the much longer list, Sally explains, "These are the things I've learned the hard way!"


It's easy to chuckle a little at the part about "learning things the hard way," isn't it? We've all done that. There's really a more revealing message in this simple cartoon.


The short list of things we've learned generally contains lessons that required no effort, or lessons we learned passively, while just listening or observing. For instance, we learned simple courtesies from our first grade teacher. We learned historical names and dates from our history teacher. We learned to tie knots from our scout leader. Our parents taught us to share. The list goes on.


The important list, the one that's much longer, contains the things we've learned from experience. These lessons are endless, and no matter how trifling the lesson, we learned one every time we took action. We dared to try a two-wheel bicycle and crashed - several times. We tried out for the school play - and made fools of ourselves in front of friends.


By attempting - at the possible expense of our pride, our self-esteem, or our physical well-being - we either succeeded or failed (and learned a lesson). It is our actions that produce results and teach us those valuable lessons. Teddy Roosevelt said it right: "Far better to dare mighty things . . ."





"Your imagination is the preview to life's coming attractions."

~ Albert Einstein




Do you believe Orville & Wilbur were first to fly because they had a hammer, nails and a free weekend? Think the television was created by accident? Did Bill Gates just stumble upon the software code that has changed the world? Not a chance!


The Wright brothers created the previews of their first flight in the theatre of their minds. Naturally, there were no limitations to their imaginings as they dreamed of flying. Who knows how the dream of television became reality . . . how it was transformed from a mere visualization into vacuum tubes, knobs, and channels?


What went through Bill Gates' mind prior to his early experiments? Surely his first visions were not of a colorful package entitled "Windows 2000." Nevertheless, his vivid imagination took us all from the concept of "1's" and "0's" to today's monumentally complex world of computer software and internet browsers.


What about you? What goes on in your mind's eye while no one is looking? What do you see yourself doing in one, three, or five years? Do you hear a special future beckoning you to create an action thriller from the previews running through your imagination? Is there a stirring inside you that begs to be brought to fruition?


Why not grab some popcorn, a soft drink, and settle quietly into your favorite chair to enjoy the previews of your own imagination? Then, with a clear picture fresh in your mind, create the main attraction - your life!




"There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't."


~ Gloria Steinem




Don't you just love the irony of today's quote? Steinem implies that simply separating people into two categories is too simplistic, but at the same time, she uses that very same technique to convey her meaning!


Learning what something is by defining what it is not has been an age-long practice in education. It's hard to understand light without knowing darkness. How could we appreciate quiet without suffering through loud and constant noise?


While dichotomies or contradictions help us in our understanding, it's very dangerous to define everything we experience in this way, that it's simply one way or the other. Is every declaration either true or false? If so, what do you make of the next two sentences?


The following statement is true. The preceding statement is false!


Okay, all philosophical joking aside, it's easier to categorize the world into "is" and "is not," but we also realize that there are "shades of grey" between the black and the white. If we always expect people to act in just one of two ways, we're in for some nasty surprises.


This world cannot be divided into two kinds of people, no matter how simply you look at it. Can we say that if you make war, you must hate peace? Or that if you love peace, you must not make war? This isn't politicizing - it's a simple observation that we all have within us the capacity for understanding and appreciating not both sides of a situation, but ALL sides.


By avoiding generalizations that reduce everything said or done into good or bad, we open ourselves up to varieties of interpretation that allow us to make truly educated decisions. Sure, it's more complicated and challenging that way, but it keeps us from morphing into the very stereotypes we’re trying to avoid. Vive la difference!




"Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen."


~ Epictetus




A well-known motivational speaker once said, "No one knows enough to be a pessimist." He also quoted statistics showing that a very high percentage of the things we worry about are either A) things that never happen, or B) things over which we have no control anyway. His point? Not only do we not have enough information to justify our worries, we also are virtually unable to alter the outcome of most situations.


Our worst fears are generally of the unknown (not enough information). Our imagination runs wild, conjuring up worst-case scenarios. We become fearful, anxious, and even overwhelmed - yet the source of our fear is non-existent (except in our minds). Consider these oft-quoted phrases:


"Think you can - think you can't - either way you're right." "As a man thinketh, so is he." "Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they're yours."


In other words, by your thoughts alone, you control the outcome. Although there exist many risks to our peace-of-mind during uncertain times, we still have the ability to pursue our very best hopes and dreams. We may find that their achievement requires more effort than usual. Doubt may creep in. Nevertheless, as you have heard many times, "It's all in your head."



"The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of the government in the next."


~ Abraham Lincoln




What do children and government have in common? That depends on which classroom you visit. If you have children and are actively involved in their lives, you are likely to encounter a classroom filled with intelligent, interested, involved and respectful children.


Unfortunately, many teachers today will tell you that's not what they are seeing. In some 1st & 2nd grade settings, children fall asleep because they spent the night in the family car while mom or dad sold drugs. Others are antagonistic and disrespectful, traits also learned from other family members. Still others are raised in a "no rules" family, where parents simply abdicate their parental responsibilities.


Many parents still take their responsibilities seriously. In fact, there appears to be a resurgence of young parents who teach their children the values of honesty, integrity, and service to others. It's about time. If you're one of them, I applaud your commitment to making the world a better place.


There has also been a dearth of honesty, respect and morality over the past 30 years or so. Children brought up during that time often experienced the negative effects of a no rules society. Today those same individuals are beginning to lead companies and be elected to office, yet we are surprised that company CEO's and elected officials could ever lie and mislead as they have been exposed to do recently.


As the children of today's classrooms are disposed to believe and behave, so will they as the adults of tomorrow's generation. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, you can make a difference for the next generation of leaders. Take time to encourage, nurture, and teach the children in your family. Sometimes, a single comment or gesture can give a child the impetus to become great.





"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."


~ Unattributed




With the arrival of the fall season, life’s pace picks up a bit. With the dog days of summer behind us, we look toward the seasonal shifts in business and the approaching holidays. Our “To Do” lists start to get longer, and our enthusiasm sometimes wanes.


So as the days get shorter, how do we increase our productivity? The short answer is “a little bit at a time.” Specifically, just fifteen minutes at a time, according to REALTOR Magazine “Sales Coach” John D. Mayfield.


The argument is simple: you get more done by organizing your day into small chunks of time, instead of devoting three hour blocks to a project. It’s only when we’ve fallen too far behind that we force ourselves to spend so much time and effort on an unfinished task. Then we burn out and can’t seem to get anything done at all.


Take something as routine and unexciting as catching up on phone calls or email messages. Put it off all week, and suddenly you’ve got thirty calls to return and ninety messages in your Inbox. But just fifteen minutes a day spent on each of these two tasks adds up to two and half hours of quality work during the week. Extend that concept to other things like exercise and reading, both of which improve the rest of your day and your labor.


Devoting fifteen minutes isn’t difficult, and once you’ve begun, you might find yourself working even longer. Maybe you’ll feel that the project at hand isn’t so overwhelming after all, and once it’s behind you, you’ll feel renewed enthusiasm for the next item on the “To Do” list.


Ultimately, just remember that fifteen minutes a day is better than nothing at all, and in one hour you can begin to attack up to four different responsibilities. John Mayfield reminds us of the old Chinese proverb: “A minute of time is an inch of gold.” Invest just a few minutes and discover your reward!

Posted 9/18/2017



"We're not out to change the world, just the way you talk to it."


~ from a Vonage television commercial


"The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate."


~ Joseph Priestly




How ironic that today’s “inspiration” comes from a marketing campaign for a communications company. It’s touted that technology saves you time and helps you to communicate better. But isn’t it more apparent that technology now leaves us with so little time that we barely have occasion to properly interact with others?


Anything that “saves time” is simply making more time that you can then devote to some other pursuit. Dishwashers and clothes dryers were supposed to be modern time- and effort-reducing marvels, but did people just sit around and relax after the cleaning was done? No, because all the “extra time” created by technology has only served to increase the hectic pace of our lives, allowing us to do more and more in less and less time.


What about cell phones and email? Promoted as easy and inexpensive ways to communicate, they have ultimately diminished the personal aspect of communication. Ever gotten a phone call from someone who was killing time in line at the grocery store, or even worse, in traffic? Critical for emergencies and conducting business, cell phones otherwise give us an excuse for quick calls on the run, before the battery dies or the signal drops out (or another calls beeps in).


Email is another beast altogether, having reduced our language skills to nothing more than “emoticons” and run-on sentences without capitalization. Email has replaced the answering machine as the new way to ignore communication. The sender feels good because at least they made an effort to get in touch, but the recipient is in the privileged position of responding whenever they wish.


Ideally, we would all be able to sit down at home with undivided attention and give someone an hour of quality time on the phone. Or perhaps sit down with pen and paper and actually handwrite a personal letter to a friend or relative who lives at some distance. But really, who has the time?

Posted 8/14/2017



A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: "Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time." When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, "The one I feed the most."




When was the last time you had a vivid, golly-gee-wow, gotta-do-it-now type of dream - a dream that made you come alive at the very thought of it? Did you put a plan in motion to achieve that dream?


OK - forget about the dream for a moment. What about the rest of your life? Do you know where you're going and which principles you've adopted to get you there?


Sometimes dreams and plans fail to mature into reality by neglect. The good dog isn't fed properly, becomes weak and tentative, and eventually loses out to the mean dog - the one that is all too happy to fill our life with meaningless trivia.


The good dog we're discussing here is your personal constitution, that quiet inner voice that directs your life in the right direction. It's the part of you that thrives on hope, knowledge, service to others, perseverance, honesty, commitment and many other worthy principles. It's the "you" that knows you can make the world a better place for all, and sets out to accomplish the task.


The mean dog thrives on fear, deceit, worry, irresponsibility, and ignorance. This ugly dog can flourish and take over by simply filling the void left when the good dog is too weak to eat. Surely you've seen this dog face-to-face. He sometimes appears as a "friend" who douses your latest brainstorm with cold water, or encourages you to shade the truth a bit to make the deal work.


So how do you feed and encourage the good dog? Inspiration and knowledge are excellent ingredients to build strong hopes and sound dreams. Inspiration is available in many forms ranging from personal relationships with those we admire and trust to biographies of others who have succeeded in spite of the odds. Incidentally, you can easily starve the mean dog by avoiding negative relationships altogether.


Increased knowledge builds skill levels and ultimately confidence and self-esteem. It is difficult to feel vulnerable and defensive when you have all the facts. Knowledge combined with inspiration strengthens principles already adopted, and may introduce you to new ones. Remember, the mean dog thrives on ignorance and fear, both of which can rob your constitution blind.

Posted 8/7/2017


"Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out." ~ Anton Chekhov
Conventional Wisdom tells us that life’s most traumatic moments provide opportunity for personal growth and discovery. More often, however, it’s the mundane, everyday trials and tribulations that really push us to discover the scope of both our achievements and our patience.
We undervalue our daily functions, simply because we do them on such a regular basis. But consistently performing those “menial” jobs, and consistently performing them well, is the real gauge of accomplishment.
Just trying to prevent boredom is a real challenge. You have to be careful not to neglect the “small stuff” as you look ahead to bigger and more exciting things. You needn’t be in “crisis mode” all the time, but do be aware that even your most routine responsibilities are critically important. That’s why you have to do them so often!
If you’re becoming bored by your “day to day living,” then you need to “change things up.” You insult yourself with boredom – you have it within you to educate and entertain yourself, to fill your time with activities that develop your mind or your body.
This is why so many people actually fear retirement. They fear they’ll have nothing to do. They’ve spent so long on “autopilot” that they have trouble imagining new routines. But there’s always volunteerism, continuing education, recreational activities and hobbies, second careers, and more.
If your autopilot has taken command, imagine what you would suddenly try to do if you discovered you had one year to live.


Posted 7/31/2017




"If someone wrote a book about your life . . . would anyone want to read it?"


~ TV Recruiting Ad (U.S. Navy)




Fast-forward your life 20, 30, even 40 years. Now . . . imagine someone writing a book of your life story. Think of the possibilities. Would it be motivational, a mystery perhaps, or even science fiction? What about reference, a novel, true crime, short story, or an expose? Would it be found in the children's section of the library, the reference section, or under biographies?


Wow - the possibilities are endless. The good news is - YOU are the lead character, and get to make all the choices! Close your eyes and visualize how it would read. Assume that the author is an unrelated third-party who knows every detail. That's a scary thought, isn't it?


If the chapters were written in chronological order, which ones would make the best reading? Undoubtedly, the ones from age 12-20 would provide some interesting material. From 20 to 40 would be excellent transitional chapters with lots of "Ah-ha!"s and course changes. The final chapter may be the most revealing, however. Think how many readers like to skip to the end to see how the book ends.


If you could skip to the end of your own book, how would it read? Summarizing the entire book, would you say it was a thriller, a shocker, a spell-binder, a tragedy, a romance, or an inspiration?


Your life is a book waiting to be written - write it well!

Posted 7/23/2017




"Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder."


~ Anonymous




Imagine you've planned the trip of your dreams - say from North Carolina to Colorado. You've charted all the roads, have a fist full of maps just in case, and have your priorities straight in your mind. You get started on a beautiful sunny day, and begin enjoying the ride.


Late in the day, as you approach the Mississippi River, you drive straight into a bank of heavy fog. You turn on your lights, but still cannot see 10 feet ahead. Just because the highway is out of sight doesn't mean you've lost your way. Continuing on the path you've set for yourself, you soon break out into the sunshine again - still headed in the direction of your dreams.


In perspective, consider that the trip represents your life's goal - your first priority. Steering your vehicle down the highway hour by hour represents your efforts to reach your goal. The fog bank illustrates the momentary interruptions and obstacles encountered on your journey.


As day #2 begins, you find that you've come to an unexpected intersection - one that's not on your map. Confused, you pull over and examine the map closely. Stay to the right and you'll end up in Colorado. Take a left and you may arrive at an unanticipated, yet equally wonderful destination.


OK, let's cut to the chase! Sometimes your priorities change, don't they? Just as you think your goal is in sight, a new opportunity arises. Remember the saying that "life is a journey - not a destination"? What's exciting is that YOU are in control of the steering wheel, and whatever destination you choose is OK - so long as it's YOU who has made the choice.


Happy motoring!

Posted 7/17/2017




"If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you'll find you've done it."


~ George Bernard Shaw


"Before enlightenment - chopping wood, carrying water. After enlightenment - chopping wood, carrying water."


~ Buddha




Oh - the frustration of it all. The first quote for today deals with the importance of having direction - goals - in your life. You know - we've all heard it for years - our life will be happier, more prosperous, more meaningful if we have a plan, know where we're going, and work systematically at getting there.


If you've tried to do that, you've undoubtedly met with a great deal of frustration along the way. It's like the expression "Life is what happens to you while you're planning other things." No matter how hard you work at your plan, there are those constant interruptions that get in the way, and make it seem so difficult. You are not alone.


As important as the first quote is, think about the second one. A modern paraphrase might go like this: "Before setting and achieving your goals, and having control over your life, your days are filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc. After working your plan and achieving all your dreams and goals - your life is filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc."


Taking control of your life can result in great personal satisfaction, provided you understand it does not bring you to perfection. Intertwined in our desire to achieve peace, success, and enlightenment, there is still plenty of wood to chop and water to carry. The day-to-day responsibilities of life do not disappear. We simply gain the strength to bear them more readily - and with a smile.


So - carry on with your plans and your dreams. They are vital to a great life. Yet remember the words of Jules Renard, who said, "There are moments when everything goes well; don't be frightened, it won't last."

Posted 7/10/2017




"Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen."


~ Epictetus (55-135)




Ever feel yourself getting perturbed by something that happens during your day? Ever have the urge to say something about it, when silence might be the best approach? Perhaps you feel the need to make a judgment about each situation that arises.


Maybe it's time to slow down a bit. As the song says, "Don't worry - be happy!" The truth is - none of us have the right to judge others, nor their actions. We can control only one thing - our own actions. If there is something to be judged, it would be our reaction to things that happen, not the events themselves.


In Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits," Habit #5 says, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." In explaining, Covey states that "People do not see the world as it is; they see it as they are - or as they have been conditioned to be." He goes on to make the simple statement that "When you understand, you don't judge."


Once you take the time to understand each situation, there is no longer a need to judge. Interestingly, when others realize that you no longer make those judgments, you will find that they no longer judge you either.


Want to free yourself from being disturbed about the events of the day? Just follow the advice of Epictetus, who said, "When considering the future, remember that all situations unfold as they do regardless of how we feel about them. Our hopes and fears sway us, not events themselves."