Improving the New Year You

I am taking a different slant on my New Years resolutions this year. After all these years, I finally realize I am who I am. All the resolutions and changes over the years have not changed Me. I have my faults, many of them. I also have my talents, many of them.

It has become obvious over the time, no matter what I do, my faults are still here. So are my many talents. If you take a good look at yourself, you will find the same thing. You can change your looks to some extent. You can pretend to be someone different, and try to act like them.

In the end you are who you are. The real you comes through each and every day. Instead of trying to be something we are not, the time has come to be more of who we are. Instead of working on some boring changes which never last, it is time to work on improvements of things about us we can do even better.

Take a few moments and write down what you perceive are some of your obvious faults. This list is pretty easy. Now, on a separate piece of paper, or open a new document. Take a longer time and write down those things you do better than anyone else you know. Stop when you have identified three to five items. Your list may take seconds or it may take longer. Time is not important, this is not a timed event.

Throw away or delete the list of your faults. Your list of perceived faults is going to be with you the rest of your life. That is the way life is. A leopard can not change its spots, and we can not permanently change who we are. Nor should we want to.

Now you should only be looking at your list of items you are good at. These are what you and I will be working on over the next year. Decide which of the items on this list you enjoy the most. This is our first priority of the New Year.

Do some creative thinking about how you can do this one thing better. How can you change or modify what you do well and do it even better? It should be fairly easy to come up with a short list of ways to improve what you do well.

Once you have a list of how to do your number one choice even better, do the same with your remaining items. Draw up a short list of how you can do these things even better.

Make what you do well better instead of trying to change into someone else.

Do what you do well better instead of failing to change yourself into someone else.

This idea make me excited! I hope it makes you excited too? Instead of trying to fix something that I think is wrong with me, or wrong in my life, I am going to work on making what I enjoy about me even better!

Is it making sense? I have found, every New Years, I have made some resolutions. Maybe go to the gym more. Do a better job at my work. Clean out my closet, and keep it clean. We both know these resolutions turn out to be boring and they do not work. I quit trying to do boring things! I am going to work on doing things I enjoy, learning how to do them better!

Now, for your part. Work on your list of things you do well, and your ideas on how to do them better. Doing this is a lot more fun than starting another year with another list of resolutions you give up on in a month or so, because they are boring. You will not spend the rest of the year thinking about how you failed at something you really did not want to do to start with.

You did not fail to complete last years resolutions. You did what is natural. They were boring and they were not about you. They were about someone you thought you should change yourself into. You are not that person. You are you! Stop now and reread this post. Start making your list of things you do well. Write down your thoughts on how to do those things better.

Without even trying, you will find yourself getting excited about your list. You will find you are excited about the changes you want to make. This is about you and who you are. Not some silly idea of changing into who you think you should be. That person will never exist, no matter how hard you try.

Keep notes on your progress, and let me know how you are doing. I want to hear about you becoming better at being you! Happy New Year! Happy You!

Christmas is not a Me day

The Holiday Season for many adults is an especially hard time. Too often we feel overly pressured to not only look but we think we should actually be happy too. Media shows everyone but us with a smile on their faces, sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, singing camp fire songs or whatever.

In reality this is a fabricated lie. Especially if you are single. What is more likely to happen is trudging, day by day, through the holiday season feeling alone and forgotten. Wishing the holidays would hurry up and be over so we can get back to our normal life.

If we are not single, or have children, the feelings are similar though for different reasons. We are tired from both work and caring for family. We’re strapped for cash. Recovering from Thanksgiving which is a big expense in itself. Bills are higher – mostly from heating our home. The expense of buying Christmas presents we can be happy about is financially draining.

Then the car breaks because the weather is cold, and our car is old. Our jacket(s) is old and tired and we need a new jacket(s). Gloves, a hat, perhaps a scarf, more items we need to spend money on this time of year is really hard on the budget, or what amounts to a budget.

Now the media pressure of the holidays themselves are wearing us down. Too much happy Christmas music. Too many Christmas commercials, too much Christmas in general. All this flows right into New Years. It is a never ending barrage that has been gaining momentum since the day after Thanksgiving, which anymore is almost right after Halloween.

Relax and unwind, holidays are about events, not 'me'.

Relax and unwind, holidays are about events, not ‘me’.

There is relief from all this pressure and stress. A slight change in thinking is all it takes. News Flash, News Flash, these holidays are not about us! Christmas before Christ was the Roman holiday Saturnalia, which was Roman the Winter Solstice festival. Christmas for early Christian personal health and well being was blended into the Roman holiday.

New Years is credited to the ancient Babylonians Celebrating the entrance of the New Year with the New Full Moon following the Winter equinox or solstice. Their timing was off though according to Julius Caesar who changed New Years around about to where it is today.

The point of this post is a reminder, these holidays are not ‘me” holidays, they are not about you, or about me. They are holidays celebrating events. Events most of the world celebrates in one way or another. But they are not about us. With the exception of a few of us, it is not our birthday. We are not the reason a new year is starting.

It is hard to take ‘me’ out of things, because we view the world from the perspective of ‘me’. For these Holidays, ‘me’ is not the focus, something else is. For these weeks from Thanksgiving to January 2, give ‘me’ a break. Out of the whole year, only a few calendar dates are not about the ‘me’ in us. The dates are about something else entirely.

Unwrapping ‘me’ from the holidays places both the holidays and ‘me’ into their proper roles. Suddenly there is no pressure to be happy and spedning money each waking moment. ‘Me’ is not the reason of these holidays. These holidays are about something bigger and separate from us.

Go ahead and give this a try. At first ‘me’ will complain because everything is always about ‘me’. ‘Me’ will quiet down and relax once ‘me’ understands you are serious. Happy Holidays, You!

Holiday Gifts To Last a Lifetime

Christmas and New Years is too often a time of stress, anxiety, and depression for too many people. Feeling overwhelmed and under budgeted, the next few weeks can feel miserable instead of happy and fun.

How much money needs to be spent on family and friends so they know you love them and are happy they are in your life? Little money really, except for maybe your children who tend to equate things with self worth and peer status. Too many of us have forgotten love and friendship are not purchased with gifts.

People who are your friends and people who love you do not need anything other than returning those same feelings they give you. We are always happiest knowing others love and care for us. Return the goodness and let others know you love and care about them too.

It is wonderful to open a present and find something really unusual that you wanted. It feels better to receive a hug, phone call, email, im, card or letter from someone telling you they appreciate having you in their life.

Things are temporary. They last a short time and then they are gone. Life is more enjoyable thinking fond memories of friends and family, than it is thinking about some great gift you received some years ago.

Things are temporary, wonderful until we forget about them

Things are temporary, wonderful until we forget about them

Most of us do not think much about what we have, and where it came from. We think more  about friends and family. We remember the mostly good times we had with others over the years. Memories are what we store away and pull out in the future. Memories float our boat.

If you are one of those people who feel run down, run over, or just plain tired of the holidays think about this post. The amount of money you spend, the parties you attend, the gifts you give are momentary. The important part of life is letting your friends and family know they are important to to you and your life.

Give a gift of yourself, your friendship and love. Those in your life now, and in the future will &treasure the gift of you that is with them always. It’s not having what you want…It’s wanting what you’ve got – Sheryl Crow “Soak Up The Sun”

Waiting For Perfect You

Life is sometimes confusing. We go through our daily routine, and we do not feel all that special about ‘us’. We seem to have missed out on the charisma someone we know has. We missed out when they were giving out the ‘be funny’ package.

Then it gets worse. We look at ourselves and we see all these defects about us. We see ourselves as too large. Perhaps we see ourselves as too small. Our hair is funny, or our nose is wrong.

The list we make of ourself continues to grow over the years until it seems to fill many pages. No wonder we are not more popular, funny, creative, or happy. How can we be with all the flaws that fill our life.

There is one item of good news about all our faults however. In fact there are several pieces of good news about us that we do not realize. The best and greatest good news about us, is this: We are unique, one of kind, the only us. We are the person, the myth, the legend of US.

I can read your thoughts in the instant. You are thinking this is all well and good, but it does not apply to me. I’m feeling a little argumentative in the moment, and it I say it does apply to you, and to you alone!

Everything flaw on the list you keep about yourself is not important. Every detail lacking in your personality and being is perfect. You should believe this because it is true. If any little part of you were to change, you would not be you any longer. You would be someone else.

Before trying to be someone different, try being yourself

Before trying to be someone different, try being yourself

If you have ever tried acting, pretending to be someone else, it is hard work. I once tried to be someone else, because I was not too happy with who I thought I was. I found after an hour or two it was hard work. It was much easier to be me.

The uniqueness of you is what makes the world a magical place! I want to be around and talk with people not like me. I am plain and boring. When I am myself, and forget about me, I find people actually like me. People enjoy my company and sense of humor.

In these moments, I realize, that all my flaws added together make a wonderful me. If it is true for me, it is also true for you. Everything on the list you keep in your head about what is wrong with you, work together to make a perfect, wonderful you!

When your parents tell you how proud of you they are, and how much they love you, they are not reading from some parents manual. Your parents tell you this because it is true. They know you better than anyone, and they know how all your minor flaws and defects make one awesome package of a person who just happens to be you!

When you go about your day, instead of trying to fit in, and trying to be someone you really are not, relax and be yourself. Those people who you find yourself hanging around with and sharing your life with will surprise you.

They won’t see someone with all the flaws and defect you see in yourself. They see someone they enjoy being around, and if they would let themselves admit it, they wish they could be a little bit like your themselves.

Faces we Wear in Public

I recently read a blog post recently by Anastasia titled, “The anxiety monster”. In her post, Anastasia describes what life is like in her shoes. Anastasia lives with some issues that many of us will never face, while others live with them daily. Anastasia is a brave woman who’s heart is in the right place, and wishes to help others as she is able.

Moving from the brevity of Anastasia’s post to reflect on creating and wearing your face as a mask when in public is the point of this post. Anastasia writes, she turns her face into a mask when going out in public. The idea being that no one will be able to decipher her true self or feelings, if she keeps her face set to mask. As I believe Anastasia understands the process, if there are no facial expressions, there is nothing for people to judge or process about her.

While the idea of people turning their faces into a mask when out in public, sounds good on the surface, there are drawbacks to this behavior. Being emotionless has its place in public, but not always, and not for most people.

Being emotionless may let us think we are indecipherable. No one can read our thoughts, see our fears, or determine our mood. We feel we can look at other people while wearing our mask, and they will not judge us, or form an opinion of us, because we are wearing our public mask.

There are some downsides turning our faces into masks. We have been looking at each other since we were born. We are experts at seeing through what wearing a public mask can not hide. These are not obvious things, but they are there all the same if we are looking for them.

One of the first tools foreigners use in a new land is watching facial expressions and body posture. Even without knowing a word of the language, much can be determined simply by posture and facial expression. Even the lack of expression is expression after all.

We can not hide subtle details of our face changing with our momentary flashes of emotion. Namely around our eyes and lips. These are areas of our faces which we have little control over. Eyes in particular flash emotion, caused by subtle changes of the skin around our eyes.

When someone suddenly becomes angry, subtle changes take place around their eyes. From a casual glance we are not aware that we have seen the changes, yet we know that person is suddenly angry. If asked we usually can not describe how we know what we know about another person is feeling in the moment.

Surprise or fear are two other emotions that are apparent even when we try to keep our face under control. When someone is suddenly surprised or becomes fearful, no matter how they try to control that emotion, it flashes across their face. Anyone watching picks up on that surprise or fear because it momentarily flashes across their face like a neon sign.

Other emotions follow suit, flashing across peoples faces, letting the world see what they feel no matter how they try to control their face. There really is little one can do about these facial expressions commonly called “micro expressions“.

No mask here, I'm tired the sun is in my eyes.

No mask here, I’m tired the sun is in my eyes.

A second concern Anastasia writes about is people judging her in public. If her public mask is place, she feels people can not pass judgement on her.  With her face in a neutral expression, what is there to judge? This too is a sound idea in theory, but simply not true.

Human beings continously pass judgement on other human beings. True, if we are treating our face as an emotionless mask, people may form the wrong opinion of us, but they will form opinions of us all the same. This is something we do without thinking.

Forming opinions by watching expressions others is how a salesperson knows when to apply pressure and when to back off. Forming an opinion is how the beggar knows we are an easy mark or not. Forming opinions of interviewed suspects is how police begin to solve cases.

At the very worst, someone may be attracted to our public mask and form an opinion of us that is simply not true. Then we are confronted with someone forming an opinion of us being someone we really are not.

Turning our face into a public mask to hide may feel secure, but we humans are smart. We generally are not fooled by anothers attempt at deception by wearing a public mask. We are well trained and have honed our skills in deciphering faces and the emotions they display.

We prefer to keep our inside or private us partially hidden away unless we are behind closed doors where we can safely be ourselves. To a large extent we all wear masks in public. Only our masks are closer to the real us.  In public we become actors taking on a bit part, representing what we want the world to think of us.

Actors and Actresses do this very well. They take on roles portraying a character that may be nothing like themselves. They adapt the persona they need to use while performing. Which is what we do, only we are not well trained actors. We make more mistakes.

We put on a face we want to be seen with in public. Perhaps we look happy, content, or curious. We may want to look seductive, or aloof. Depending on the level of interaction we want, we make subtle changes to our public face, prehaps pretending to be more than we reallyare. We put our best self forward, and we hope we are not caught acting.

Wearing a blank face is not fooling anyone. People will still judge, forming opinions that may or may not be true because of the face we wear. People are good at seeing through our masks generally. It is simpler to be ourselves. People will form opinions of us anyway, so what does it matter?

Electronics Mimicking Pet Behavior

I use two cell phones during my week. Not that it matters much. One cell phone is for work, and the second cell phone is my personal phone. What does matter is I do not want a pet in my life. I am fairly busy these days and a pet needs more attention than I can give. Hence, no pets.

If you have or had pets, you know they need a lot from you. They need food, water, and bathroom privileges somewhere. Pets also need and want a lot of attention, mostly when they want it. It would be hard to quantify how much time one would spend taking care of their pet each week, but it is more than a few minutes per week.

What does this have to do with cell phones and other electronics? A lot actually. A few phones, tablets, and other electronics have been very crafty in some cases. Especially when it comes to how their OS behaves.

Some Companies have designed their products to act like pets in some respects, mostly in wanting attention. For example, my work phone is a droid and my personal phone is not. My droid continues to shove information down the pipeline to my phone. Ringing and dinging to get my attention all day long.

When electronics mimic pets to keep your attention on it

When electronics mimic pets to keep your attention on it

My droid appears to be ignorant of the idea that I never use my droid for anything not work related. No news, no social, no anything not work related. Daily it rings and dings alerting me of new items that I may be interested in, or something I need to do to it, or with it as the case me be.

Often my phone wants me to stop whatever I am doing to download updates. Often they are updates to software I have yet to use. I can not remove them, as they are declared part of the operating system and removing them may damage the system.

Then there is the but issue for lack of a better word. Not but calls, but  turning on both location services and blue-tooth while in my pocket. Two to three times a day some days. Too often to be coincidence.

My personal phone, not a droid is more reserved. If I choose to not use an application that is part of the system, it is okay with my choice. I do not have the problem of my personal phone changing settings while hiding in my pocket. Location services and blue-tooth have never turned on without my approval.

My droid phone is trying to be a pet, and my other phone is not. If I wanted a pet and all the attention a pet requires I would get another pet. In the moment, I do not wish to give up what little time I have to spend on a pet, or tinker with my phone.

I find the same problems when I use a non Linux computer. All the tinkering they require. Stopping the flow of thinking because something wants attention or needs to be done. Some accuse Linux of not being integrated. If so, I am happy to pay the price to be left alone, to do what I want do do on my computer when I want to do it, or not.

I am sure Pet Behaving Electronics are filling a gap. Perhaps they are more popular than I imagine? SOmeone sure is happy with them, as they are popular. They certainly replace Blue the dog, and Roxie the cat due to the amount of attention they want each hour.

Maybe there should be a disclaimer, or an attention needed rating on electronics. Buyers should not have to find out after the sale, just how much attention their phone wants.

It seems a little below board. Mimicing pet behavior in an electronic feels sort of cheesy to me. I also dislike not having a choice in an operating system to remove or turn off what I do not want. Maybe I should throw my work phone away and get a pet, it may save time.

American Hero and Navajo Code Talker

I was honored to meet Mr. Thomas Begay, age 91, former U.S. Marine and Hero this evening at a local buffet. What first caught my eye was his red wind breaker with the big logo on back, “Survivor of Iwo Jima Feb 19, 1945”, and a print of the now famous U.S. Marines raising the American Flag on Mount Suribachi. Then I noticed his hat with the golden Marine Emblem on the side.

At first I thought perhaps this was just another old Vet wanting attention. That is until I walked back from the food line. This old Vet wore the huge silver Presidential Medal President George W. Bush presented to the Navajo Code Talkers in 2001, hanging from his neck. The medal is elegantly mounted in what I believe to be a traditional Navajo setting, a true work of art in itself.

Former Marine and Navajo Code Talker, World War II

Some of Mr. Begay’s family were seated with him. I shook Mr. Begays hand and thanked him, telling him I am honored to meet him. Of course, for me that one comment was not enough. I went back and spoke with the second man at the table. The second man at the table told me he is Mr. Begays son. He told me his dad is, Thomas Begay. A young boy is also present who is Mr. Begay’s Grandson.

Mr. Begay told me he he landed on the island of Iwo Jima as a part of the Fifth Marine Division on February 19, 1945. Mr. Begay’s Daughter-in-Law(?) told me about a video coming out on Veterans Day featuring Mr. Begay. Besides being a Navajo Code Talker on Iwo Jima, Mr. Begay’s Son told me his Dad is also in the group picture of several soldiers at the base of the raised American Flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima island. The group picture was taken later in the day on Feb 23, 1945 after the re-enactment of the flag raising.

I watched the video of Mr. Begay’s commercial, and was shown where Mr. Begay stood in the group picture under the raised flag. Finally, I thought I had taken enough of their time and went back and sat down, and let them enjoy their dinner in peace.

As we left I stopped to talk one more time. I told the family, it made me sad knowing that the most famous living Hero everyone in the building was likely to meet in their lifetime is sitting amongst them, and no one seems to notice. There were three or four other men in veterans hats, Korea, Viet Nam, and Iraq. No one took notice of Mr. Begay.

I felt shamed for all of us and expressed such to the family. Mr. Begay is a true Hero, perhaps the last of the Navajo Code Talkers still able to be out in public, and nobody notices? This hurt me way down deep.

The battle for Iwo Jima in WWII was especially fierce. I read the Japanese lost almost 19,000 men in the horrible fighting with only 216 men taken prisoner. American losses were 6,821 killed and 19,217 wounded. I have to wonder how many lives were saved by Mr. Begay and other Navajo Code Talker’s efforts over the 35 day battle for Iwo Jima?

I could have ignored an old man wearing a marine corp wind breaker, cap and huge silver medal. I could have decided he was a pompous old man looking for attention. I am glad I did not. In my eyes Mr. Begay is an American Hero who helped save thousands of lives during that ferocious battle.

I shook hands with, and thanked a former soldier, a U.S. Marine, who went to battle with a high bounty on his head. A Navajo Code Talker, who if captured would have suffered days of torture with unimaginable pain and suffering before he would be permitted to die.

To many of us, war is something that happens somewhere else, to other people. To Mr. Begay, I am sure war means something different entirely. Something very personal and frightening.

The commercial with Mr. Begay, retired U.S. Marine will be out Veterans Day 2015. I hope everyone watches Mr. Begay in the video. I hope we all learn from what Mr. Begay has to say, and what the other all the other Vets who I haven’t had the honor of meeting and thanking have to say too.

The commercial will be out for Veterans Day 2015. I hope everyone watches Mr. Begay in the video and appreciates his service to our country.

Mr. Begay’s video for usaa.com

usaa youtube channel: Veterans Day 2015 #ThoseWhoDared | An Unbreakable Code

Remember our Veterans this Veterans Day, both those you know, and those you never met. They sacrificed for us.

Eating for the Rest of Us.

Eating better does not mean eating tasteless food.

Eating better does not mean eating tasteless food.

I occasionally get asked by the family for diet advice, as I have been on a number of diets, some good, and some horrible. I decided to create a once and for all guide of what I have learned over my lifetime about healtheir eating. Healthy eating doesn’t mean yuk, and food you do not want to eat. Healthy eating is about making better choices and taking an active role in what and when you eat. This will be a series of posts, and by no means a definitive guide. What I will write about works for me. If you have a better method of eating, follow what works best for you. This will be for you if you are struggling, and have not found a balance of healthy eating you can live with.

This is only a lead in to the lead in. More will follow as I have time. If this is something you are interested in, let me know, and perhaps I can turn it into a document or one large text file you can download. On to the lead in post.

Voices in my Head, are they Mine?

As someone who was told by their Father as a young boy to listen to the little man on his shoulder whenever a decision about right or wrong need to be made, I am no stranger to voices in my head. As a little boy, of course I believed my Father. I never heard the little man speak to me though.

In 1973 a popular group of the time named Pink Floyd released a song named, “Brain Damage”. Pink Floyd had decided to sing about voices in our head. The song was a solid hit with me, though I am sure the song, and Pink Floyd itself was more than a little strange to people in the mainstream of life.

We all have voices in our head. For most of us the voices are background noise and little else. For a few these voices are far more serious. What these voices are and where they come from is an unending discussion on several levels. This however is another topic for another time.

As I was falling asleep the other night, I was relaxing, quieting the chatter in my head. Most of the conversation is seemingly nonsense. Bits of phrases that make no sense in the context they are presented. Most are very bland. The other night however, one phrase took me from the edge of sleep to wide awake.

As I was almost asleep, I heard in a never before heard voice the words, “…going to touch your hands with hands of love and kindness…”. As I was almost asleep I do not really remember the beginning of the sentence. In the moment it was one more voice waiting to still.

Perhaps not all voices in our head are ours.

Perhaps not all voices in our head are ours.

As the voice and the phrase was said, my attention focused on the voice and the words. I was immediately wide awake and listening for more. There was no more to hear. This voice and the others chattering away in the background of my thoughts became obviously and loudly silent. They all stopped the instant I wanted to hear what was being said.

 

 

Was it real or was it just noice in my head? I am of the opinion the voice was real and not created by me as I drifted off to sleep. I do not think these types of thoughts.

This phrase stays with me as a comforting thought. “…going to touch your hands with hands of love and kindness…” I hope you too enjoy hearing something of the same as you are drifting off to sleep, quieting the voices in the background.

Does Cup Size Matter?

Every Fast Food Chain I am aware of bundles meals as combo meals. You get main entre, fries, and large soda for so many dollars and cents.

At places that do not sell sandwiches, ordering combo meals you are offered chicken, fish, taco’s, etc, fries, and a soda. Not a bad deal and usually cheaper than ordering ala carte.

Unless you are not a big soda drinker. As I am. When most of a small soda is all I want a large soda cup seems like a waste, not to mention it is bigger to hold. Here is what happens more often than not when I eat a combo meal. I see a meal I want and add up the prices with a small soda instead of the default size soda. The combo of course is generally less expensive.

Not your way, not today

Not your way, not today

The conversation generally goes something like this:

“I would like one number X please.”

“Okay, that is one number X, an entre, fries, and a large soda.”

“Yes, that is correct. I would be happy with a small soda cup as I do not drink much soda.”

“You want a number X combo plus a small soda?”

“No, I would like a number X combo, but I would like to substitue a small soda cup instead of a large soda.”

This makes perfect sense to me. A large cup is a waste as I never fill a large soda cup even half full. This also seems to make sense for the business. Smaller cup = less soda = less money spent on a cup and soda. More profit for the business. Feels like a win, win….

“Sir, the combo only comes with a large soda”

“I understand that, but a small soda cup is all I want in place of a large soda cup. I do not drink much soda so a small cup is fine.”

“I would have to charge you more because you would not be ordering the combo. It would be more expensive”

“Okay, I understand, a large cup is fine.”

Not sure this is an inventory issue, giving away small cups and upsetting the bean count. It may be the store manager refusing to allow any deviation from the menu. Or it may be something totally different. I find it plain old annoying.