OLD LOVE

Not that I’m festive about these shenanigans, but, let’s just say Another February 14th is in the books.   Ahhh, young love…or should I say, young lust?  How many illegitimate babies started as a candy heart flirt?  How many herpes simplex viruses were passed along like a hot Valentine potato?  How many hearts were swooned with a box of chocolates and crushed with the iron hammer of deceit and jealousy?

But then again, who has time to worry about that?  I know I don’t.  If you’re like me, you found your love and that love has been alive and well for a very long time.  In fact, “time” is everything when it comes to love.  Love isn’t one dimensional.  It is a living breathing thing with many layers; love manifests itself in different forms at different times and in different ways.  It starts as a seed and grows to mighty tree spreading its branches, shedding its leaves and standing upright in the face of violent storms.

“Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”  -Bruce Lee

Love must prove itself.   Love is true when it can face the light and the shadows just the same.  Young love is on a perennial honeymoon, parked on a beach chair, sipping on lemonade and waiting to be served.  Mature love however, can run a marathon in the scorching desert sun on an empty stomach with no water and a sprained ankle…then back again!

I discovered a gem of a paragraph in a delightful book of fiction entitled, “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. 

“Loving someone is like moving into a house,” Sonja used to say. “At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it’s cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it your home.”

THE CHALLENGE:   Ponder the previous paragraph and apply it to the one you love.  Do they know you love them for all of their little imperfections and shortcomings?  Do they know how special they are to you because you know the “little secrets” that make them your Valentine?  Most important, do they know you love them just the same, whether it’s February 14th, July 14th or September 14th?

LITTLE WHITE LIES

If you could take a lie detector test right now, would you pass? “It depends what they ask me.” Oh, so you have some history to hide? “I guess, yeah.” Okay…tell me then, what would make you fail the polygraph?

This is a question I LOVE to ask! Especially in small groups. It’s a great conversation starter. I get chuckles in the end…along with a few white lies, but I know my audiences have more dirt. So I change my angle. What’s your favorite lie? I mean, what lie do you love to tell yourself? This gets some interesting responses as well.


Eventually they come around and ask me for my answer. “Easy” I say, I love to tell myself that I’m hungry when I’m really not. I love to tell myself that I am much healthier than I really am. I love to tell myself that I’m going to be a great painter, when reality is (at least for right now…see – there’s another lie) that it takes so much effort to pick up a brush. I have a much better shot a being a great pianist because I LOVE music and sitting down to create it takes ZERO thought, ZERO effort. The fun in asking and answering this questions is that it allows me to be brutally honest with myself, and hopefully will lead to the best course corrections. #seeyouattheconcerthall

THE CHALLENGE: So, what’s your favorite lie? Why do you tell it? How would your life be different if you stopped believing your own lies? What relationship could you strengthen if you were more transparent? What lies do you expose yourself to in the media or other outside sources? Would it benefit you to decrease exposure or remove them entirely? I challenge you to beware of the lies you tell yourself. Beware of the lies others bombard you with, and remove deciet from your lips entirely.

ONE CALL, LESS THAN $1.00

I just made my (let me get out my calendar) **biannual** (albeit always random) trip to the dollar store.  The customers it attracted were as cheap and out of place as the products that lined the shelves.

photography of one us dollar banknotes
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I stood in line behind a woman that looked like Naomi Campbell, at least I think she looked like that – I couldn’t tell because she was roughly the weight of 3 head of cattle.  (You can check my no-nonsense weight loss program here!)

With no cart or basket, her hands tightly grasped the merchandise – none of which were critical to her existence – yet she blurted out, “There’s only one register open?  Somebody better call for backup!”  Apparently, she overlooked the fact that she was in the DOLLAR STORE…and there were only two people in front of her.”

marketing office working business
Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I glanced forward towards the cashier.  She was also not starved for food, an appearance she masked with massive fake eyelash lashes (employee discount?)

The woman behind me grabbed a vase that was left on the endcap.  “Oh, wow – it’s only plastic, I thought it was glass,”  She said.

And that was my moment of clarity, enough to remind me not to shop at the dollar store for some 730 days.  Let the counter begin.

THE CHALLENGE:  Maybe it’s time to make the call.  Not the call for more cashiers so you can buy more fake eyelashes, food, and imitation vases in less than half the time so you can then go to another store and consume more crap you don’t need.  Make the call to have less.  To be still.  To gain some self-awareness.  To be aware of those around you.  To be conscious of the world you live in.  Make the call to be productive.  Make the call to educate your mind.  Make the call to invigorate your body, and treat it like a temple taking pride in a healthy appearance and glowing countenance.   Make the call to not be impatient.  If you are stuck in a long line behind a slow cashier, use that time to learn, to reflect, to set goals, to brighten the day of someone behind you, to pick something up off the floor, to pray or meditate, to sing, to make a meaningful phone call or text.  In short, make the call to be productive and useful connecting with self, others, and your higher power.  The best part is, this call is free!

SAY IT MO BETTA

I’m guilty of it too.

You record a YouTube video and at the end remind your audience, “don’t forget to subscribe and smash that like button.”

I hear this invitation on most videos and therefore “gots ta tell ya, there’s a way to say it mo betta”…or PLEASE, not at all!  By the way, the like button is not a bug so there will be no “smashing” of buttons to begin with.  Second of all, no one in the history of the internet (not very long, but still) has ever “forgot” to subscribe to your YouTube channel.  Think about it, when is the last time you turned your car around or pulled off to the side of the road because you forgot to subscribe?  Never, ever, ever.

Somehow this seems to be a modern day equivalent to, “How are you doing today?”  Rarely is that inquiry authentic.  The response is even more half-baked.

Invitations are a very peculiar thing.  You either shouldn’t be asking for them, or nobody wants to accept.  For example, “Will you be my friend?”  “Will you be attracted to me?”  “Will you love me?”  These are very elementary.  We all know that they take care of themselves.  It’s just nature doing her thing.  If someone likes your YouTube video that much, they are going to give it a cat call like two dogs sniffing butts.  (Would you say that sentence is raining cats and dogs?  Sorry – I digress)   It’s going to happen without your assistance.  On the other hand, “We need everyone to participate in the next homeowners association meeting.” is an invitation that might not go over so well.

So what is a good invitation?  People tend to help when it’s something that takes little effort and minimal commitment.  For example, “Will you take our photo?”  “Would you mind holding the door for me?”  “Can you save my spot in line?”

THE CHALLENGE:  Think about what you are asking other people to do.  Words have meaning.  Don’t spray your audience with invitations “just because.”

ONE LOVE

The heart is a universal symbol of love. Do you remember Valentine’s Day back in grade school? Who didn’t hope that their secret admirer would present a candy heart with an even more deliciously flirty phrase?

bunch of heart shaped assorted color tablets
Photo by Emily Ranquist on Pexels.com

But where did this whole heart as a symbol of love thing originate anyway? Sorry to disappoint, I’m not here to tell you that.

What I do want to get off my chest (hah!), is the fact that the heart has four valves. But I bet you already knew that. The real question is, can you name them? Oh, you were too busy flirting with candy hearts during that lesson? No problem – I’m not here to grade your homework either.

What happens if one of the valves in your heart ceases to work? In an effort to not get all “cardiologist” on you, lets (for simplicity’s sake) agree that you’re dead, departed, cold, stiff, asleep, checked out, neutralized, sayonara…you get the idea.

In life, there are multiple “valves” that we need to take care of. I personally like to keep it simple “MIND, BODY, SPIRIT” – if you want to sound a bit more “uppity” (like you were paying attention in class) you might say “INTELLECTUAL, PHYSICAL, SPIRITUAL.” You can slice your life’s heart into as many chambers as you wish (apparently a cockroach has 13). For example, you might include “personal, professional, and family” as some or all of your categories. It’s up to you.

You only get to die once.

THE CHALLENGE: Once you’ve sliced up the chambers of your life you need to keep the valves flapping. You can’t just have one love. A balance must exist. Heart failure will result if blood doesn’t flow. Blood, in this case, is time and attention. It’s commitment and planning. It’s a beautiful thing to have your life in balance and harmony. Now go flap whatever valve you’ve been neglecting!

BEAR-LY OVERWEIGHT

America has a favorite “F” word and it’s not the one you’re thinking. Are you ready? Brace yourself….

FAT…yeah I said it – FAT!

Does that make you uncomfortable? If so, maybe it’s because you are indeed
{F} {A} {T}

Sorry, should I tone it down a bit with some other “F” words? Perhaps you prefer the term “frumpy” or “fluffy” or that you only have a “few” extra pounds to lose. Whatever word you prefer that starts with the “ffff” sound, please don’t get o”ffff”ended.  Don’t stomp away. – I’m here to help!

First of all, fat isn’t all that bad. In some countries fat is a direct reflection of your wealth.  In other circumstances, you may need it to stay alive. Check out the amazing books Disturbed in Their Nests or 438 Days to feel what I’m talking about. A careful read of these titles might make you want an extra inch to pinch.

But let’s be real here, your mind is made up and you’ve decided (i.e. brainwashed) that fat is the enemy. You want it gone, and that’s why you are still reading. Well, you’ve come to the right spot. I have an answer for you, if not THE answer – the best part is, it won’t cost you a dime!

I offer you something else to read, MOTHER NATURE. What do bears do in the spring and summer? They eat their fill. Every day is a Thanksgiving feast. No holding back. Always room for seconds. Always on the prowl for that next batch of honey, patch of berries, or migrating salmon. Fat is followed by feasting.

brown bear shallow focus photography
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

Now, what do bears do in the winter? They knock out. They sleep, and sleep, and sleep some more…for a very long time. No alarm clocks and no midnight snacks. When they finally wake up and stumble out of slumber they do so with a new look. If they were human they would be ready to pop on a bikini, tie on some heals, and pucker up with some lipstick ready to strut the fashion runway.

The bear didn’t have to take dieting pills. Nor did it have to experiment with the Atkins Diet, South Beach Diet, Vegan Diet, Ketogenic Diet, Paleo Diet, Zone Diet, Dukan Diet, 5:2 Diet or any other diet.  A bear doesn’t wear a fitness tracker to study analytics. A bear doesn’t read the latest trends in the newsstands. A bear doesn’t have a vision board or a Pinterest board of all the other “sexy bears.”

A bear eats a lot and a bear eats a little. Feast and famine. One yields one result while the other yields the opposite.

THE CHALLENGE: If you want to be “unfat” just follow the laws of nature.  I’m not suggesting you starve yourself, but there are lessons to be learned from observing the mighty bear. Eat less! Stop making it complex! “Oh, but if I eat less my metabolism will slow down and then I’ll blow up like a balloon.” Cool, keep being fat. But for the rest of us, remain diligent. Don’t overthink it. Nature’s laws work the same whether on the Serengeti or in the depths of the ocean. Those same laws work in my kitchen and belly just as they will work in yours.  The law of the harvest always wins.

READY! AIM! FIRE!

READY! AIM! FIRE! We’ve all heard this phrase before. We play games as children and call it out to our friends as we cannonball into the pool or launch a stone at a perched pigeon.

It’s all fun and games as children, but as adults, for all intents and purposes – we aren’t very good at it. At least the stage where we are supposed to “aim.”

Society seems to be drunk on success and stardom. There’s no arguing that we’ve bought into the idea of “aiming for the top.”  Haven’t we heard this idea our whole lives?  Aim for the moon, shoot for the stars, swing for a home run.

However, if you were a warrior in days past and had the responsibility of firing the canon in order to knock down a castle, where would you aim?  Would you aim for the top?  Of course not.  Who wouldn’t aim straight for the foundation and cheer as everything came crashing down?

wall architecture castle england
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

THE CHALLENGE: It’s good to be at the top of the ladder, the top of the mountain, the top of the totem pole. (Or whatever other “top” is working for you these days.) Just keep in mind that arriving at the top isn’t exclusively dependent on “aiming” for the top.  There is whole lot of bottom feeding you need to achieve along the way.  Learn the very basics of your craft and master them.  Ensure you aim for a solid foundation.  Look to nature as your guide, the tree’s roots grow down and outward before it grows upward.  Before it can provide shade it is very intimate with the dark, damp and lonely soil.  Examine your goals, if you haven’t made it to the top, maybe it’s time to aim for the bottom.