Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prevailing Winds

Prevailing Winds

Note: this is the last of three blogs this week, one for each of my last three days in the Adirondack Mountains this year. 

Our lake cabin is in a cove on a long narrow lake, and the prevailing winds seem to constantly blow towards us. The wind driven currents gently push leaves, weeds and pine needles into our cove - been happening for years, and now that stuff is built up in front of our boathouse almost almost to the point that I can’t get the boat in or out.  But this isn’t about the boat.

I need to unclog a lane in front of the boathouse in order to get our boats in and out, and have taken to raking this debris: it’s not easy, and it (affectionately referred to as muck around here) is seemingly endless. I have a suspicion that no matter how much I rake, there will always be more. 

These currents, and that muck, are similar to what happens to us in life.  Everything – people, media, circumstances, weather, and time – tends to build up around us and clog our ability to get in and out of places and things. So maybe my raking in front of the boathouse really is a metaphor for clearing away the stuff in life that can build up around us and clog our minds and efforts. 

Sometimes it seems that the endless amount of ‘muck’ in our lives will never go away. But with the right attitude and the proper dedication we can begin to get rid of it and clear a path to our goals.  We need to focus on the stuff that gets in our way, be wise enough to know what to keep and then what to discard, and dedicated enough to work on this every day.  The world won’t stop and give us time to do this: it’s up to each of us to deal with whatever the prevailing wind blows our way.

My message today is about how nothing comes easy:

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.” Elbert Hubbard

‘Nothing comes easy’ is something a former colleague often said.  Meaning: everything we do - style and quality - has to be the best (or don’t stop until it is the best). Think of all that you do each day: you’re responsible for and own the outcome of every one of those things. That means: hard work and attention to detail, and caring as much as if you were doing something for someone special.  Meaning: as if you were personally handing it to them.  And owning it: as if you were to sign your name to it.  None of those – singly or together - are easy: but persistence and effort can turn any of the things you do – some good, and others less than that - into a glorious success. Glorious and successful: that’s the goal!

Stay Well!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Note: this is the second of three blogs this week, one for each of my last three days in the Adirondack Mountains this year. 

Remember as a kid when you’d chant, “2-4-6-8”, followed by “who do we appreciate”? Then you’d name your parents, a teacher, a friend, or maybe a school or team.  Kids always had chants, and taunts, and things they mimicked as though they were cool.  The good news is we outgrew those things – sort of.

I’ve got an old Jeep we leave here in the mountains: it came from Las Vegas and between the weather there and the fact it’s never been out in the winter here, it’s never seen bad weather.  Hopefully it will last forever.  So when I saw the speedometer change to 124,680 miles, that old chant came back to me like it was yesterday.

Fact is I appreciate this old car, and the trustworthy mechanic who keeps it running.  I also appreciate the old friends and familiar places around here that renew my spirits every year, these mountains and their unchanging ways that keep me grounded, and the family and friends that always reminds me where I came from.  And I appreciate the fact that I’m still here to enjoy it all.

Every time I get into our Jeep for the first time after coming back here each year - with it’s seats that have contoured to us, and the familiar squeaks and loose steering - I get re-centered after another year out there, there being almost anywhere but here in the Adirondack Mountains.  This place is so the opposite of Las Vegas - no lights, no traffic, no people, and no cell phone coverage – we come here to get away from all of that. And to get another dose of who we are, where we came from, and what we believe.

Everybody needs to find a place and take the time to get back to who and what they really are.  We all need to re-boot ourselves and get re-grounded, to realize what’s really important, to appreciate all that we have, and to make sure we’re prepared for all the tomorrows that lie ahead.  Life if busy and fast, and unless we take time to do these kinds of things we just might miss what’s important.

So: 2-4-6-8, what do I appreciate?  This little spot of paradise in the middle of nowhere, and all that it makes me remember and appreciate. 

My message this week is about sticking with the things that matter:

“A friend who will never fail is the one who will stand by you regardless of the situation, time or location.” Ellen J. Barrier

How many friends do you have who will stand by you? Not just the ones who are there when things are good, but also the ones who are there no matter what.  Not just the ones who want or need something, but also those who want nothing more than your friendship.  Not just the ones who are there only when you’re right, but also the ones who forgive and forget when you’re wrong. A true friend never fails to stand by you regardless of the situation, time or location.  That’s called loyalty: something real friends, and you, give without any second thoughts because it’s earned and deserved.  These are the kinds of friends and colleagues you want to cultivate and have: they give straight answers, honest feedback, and unconditional support.  Stand by others for the right reasons if you want them to stand by you today!

Stay Well!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Through the Woods (of Life)

Through the Woods (of Life)

Took a ride through the Adirondacks this week; took a hundred year old wooden boat we’ve had forever to be restored.  That’s what old boats need because wood rots, seams split and paint corrodes.  The key (to this and most other things in life) is to find someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who’s experienced and reliable.  Found just the craftsman in the little town of Saranac Lake, and boy did I find out a lot about what I don’t know.

That’s the thing about life: no matter how much we know there’s always a lot more we don’t.  Remember all the things from school you thought were unimportant: how many of those have you subsequently discovered really are important?  Think about people you know who are doing things that you don’t know enough about: we often gloss over things like that because we don’t want to admit we don’t know.  And then there’s all the cool things you’ve thought about doing, but haven’t: it’s not that you couldn’t find out reams of information on the internet, we often get distracted and don’t follow through.

I’ve thought about taking care of this boat for a long time, but something else always came up. I’ve wondered about how to fix it myself – even tried a few things that were less than successful. And finally the old boat started to worry me – I didn’t want to just let it deteriorate completely: so I looked up information and resources on the trusty old Internet and that led me to Saranac Lake.

This boat restoration guy was one of those smiling, aw-shucks kinds of people that impress you and make you want to know more.  As he spoke, he knowingly rubbed and poked the wood, taking the time to get to know it and us.  He had a sparkle in his eye that came through in his voice – a guy who loves what he does and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else, anywhere else. They’re everywhere: simple people with passion for what they do, and happy where they are.  People we can learn from.

Admittedly, I don’t know enough about wooden boats.  But it’s not that I wasn’t interested or couldn’t have learned: I could and should have, but didn’t get around to it.  So maybe not knowing is less about the information than it is about following your curiosity and making the time to find out. First you have to admit what you don’t know, then commit to learning what you want to know, and finally following through with what you’ve learned.  In this case, it will restore the boat, and maybe rejuvenate me.  Now that’s a journey worth taking.

My message this week is about fueling your passion for living:

“It’s faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.”   Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

What makes your life worth living?  All kinds of answers to this question: family, love, friends, work, dreams, hobbies, goals, and maybe countless others.  For any of those to motivate you to want and do more you must have faith in it: that means you believe with all of your body, heart and soul in what it is, why it is, how it is, and the promises it holds.  And it must make you get up every day wanting to enthusiastically go back to it: with focus, excitement, freshness, creativity, and a burning desire to apply your best efforts.  You must never get bored, take anything for granted, or allow your commitment to falter: being in the moment, never giving up, and maintaining a positive attitude are the hallmarks of passion and success.  Find whatever it is that excites you and let it fuel your passion for living today!  

Stay Well!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Old Growth vs. Getting Old

Old Growth vs. Getting Old

This week I’ve been hiking through the forests here in the Adirondack Mountains.  These are old growth forests and they are thick and impressive: they grow close to the roads and closer to the hiking paths.  Next to these forests I shouldn’t feel old.

But it’s natural that the older we get the older we feel.  We have our routines and get set in our ways: maybe that’s part of feeling older.  And even though there may be lots of cools things still happening in our lives, older is still older.  Right?

So peering at this old growth forest presents a different perspective on getting old: trees, ferns, moss and bogs have been here for eons; they grow, die, decompose, and spawn new growth that eventually becomes old growth, and…. you get the picture. This stuff is old; it changes and yet it’s unchanged.

Maybe we need to change and yet remain unchanged:
The things we can change are external: how we look and how we act; we have control of these: what we do with them is open for all to view. These things come and go like each cycle in the forest.
The internal stuff should remain unchanged: our beliefs and values; we learn and hopefully practice these. They are the foundations of our growth, and they’re based on everything we’ve experienced and learned.

But getting old isn’t easy.  The forest battles wind, weather, water and fire, and man.  We battle elements, circumstances, emotions, and people.  We need to learn to effectively deal with the things that happen to us, and to treat everything the way we wish to be treated in hopes that they or it will be moved to do the same in return.

The forest seems to be there: thick, lush and forever.  The changes that happen seem to be less important that the forest itself.  But for us, and all those around us, the changes that happen seem to be more important that the people, places, feelings and things we experience.  Maybe we should start seeing all of those other things as more important than the changes….and maybe then we’ll start to realize how important those other people and things really are.

So as I walk these woods, my prayer is that I survive the elements and circumstances, accept the changes, learn from the experiences, and age gracefully.  Amen.

My message this week is about knowing what it takes to live a good long life:

“My rule of thumb for hitchhiking is: stick it up straight and proud and make if visible to all drivers.” Jarod Kintz

Funny how things change: when I was a kid we hitchhiked all the time.  Stuck out our thumbs and hoped someone would pick us up: to go to school, to see a movie, or visit friends.  Nobody thought twice about thumbing for the ride, or picking someone up.  But like so many things in life, that’s changed.  What hasn’t changed, however, is being proud of what you do: working hard, focusing on quality, attending to the details, creating good will, keeping your word, and acting ethically.  Do these with purpose and sincerity and they’ll be visible to everyone: and you can be proud of that.

Stay well!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Good Intentions

Good Intentions

This fitbit has me a bit obsessed with walking.  So I assumed regular exercise and better eating were a natural combination. I had good intentions for each; better intentions, actually, than results.

Regular exercise: getting out of bed early and, no matter what, power walking early every day.  That’s one good intention in the plus column.

Better eating: what was I thinking?   I’m fairly disciplined when alone, but when I go out, my stomach, hands and mouth conspire with more desire than conscience.  That’s one good intention wobbling into the negative column, (it’s weighted: no pun intended).

Good intentions are, well....good to have but hard to do: tthese two apparently competing good intentions seem to require daily negotiations between doing what one likes versus doing what one should.  In other words, balancing proverbial opposites: doing more of what you know you should is a good start on good intentions.

Good intentions are all too often influenced by all the information – both straight and biased – available 24/7 (it's like drinking from a fire hose).  Smart, skinny, young, active, cheerful, and blissfully happy: that’s the target audience they want us all to want to be like.  But, life isn’t that orderly: maybe we should ignore those more superficial attributes found in the media and focus on some better attributes we can control: like what we know, how we act, how hard we try, how much we care, and what kind of attitude we have. Maybe those are more appropriate good intentions to have.

And when good intentions fall short: look at that less as a failure and more as an opportunity to learn, grow and improve. Reflect on who and what you really are, and learn to be comfortable with that.  Know that you’ve done your best, and will try to be better tomorrow. Those are good intentions too.

My message this week is about being determined to do what’s right:

“You've got to get up every morning with determination if you're going to go to bed with satisfaction.”  George Lorimer

How determined are you to do a good job today? Not many people get up in the morning with the thought of doing less than what’s expected.  But it takes determination throughout the day to dot your I’s and cross your t’s: you’ve got to be focused on what you’re doing and why, attentive to all the details, compliant with all the requirements, observant of the many processes, attuned with the people you’re working with, mindful of customer expectations and satisfaction, and sensitive to the perceptions of the finished product (or service).  That’s a lot to look out for, but at the end of the day you’ll have the satisfaction of having done things right. Part of integrity, then, is doing all you can or should to do things right.

Stay well!