Taking Action – Act 2

How do we take action?   What propels us forward?  And, likewise, what keeps us standing still or pulls us into reverse?

My Taking Action project is my attempt to highlight people, places and amazing things that may be rather mundane but on some level have attributed some significance.  While the perception may be that there is nothing good to be had in this time and place, I would disagree wholeheartedly and say we live in the most remarkable time in history.  If nothing, right now is all we have so why not give it the most we have and make the very best of the situation?

We needn’t gloss over what ails us, whether it be personally or collectively but there really is nothing to be gained by continually proclaiming a defeatist attitude or a victim mentality.   Together or as one we are more powerful than we can ever imagine.  Our bodies have an innate ability to heal itself, and so theoretically can not the same be said for us collectively?

Maybe.  Maybe not.   The step though is forward.  The thought process is ahead.  The goal is upward, and the aim is high.    Not too high or we are apt to miss our target.  With feet firmly grounded and with winds of opportunity affording us every opportunity to take flight, where we go from here is each our own individual declaration.

On the ground was where we sat.  The P.E. class in the gymnasium watching curiously as a tall, lanky teenager prodded his way across the gym floor knowing full well that all eyes were on his with every step judging him before every speaking a word.  As he reached us, the teacher introduced him to us all, and it was I who asked him “do you play basketball?”

Was not sure if he realized his answer was audible or not, but he affirmed that he did, which was good enough for me.

While his trepidation of that first day in a new school was certainly real so too is how far he has come from there to now.   Having worked and traveled in numerous foreign countries to having served in war, he has grown in more ways than even he could ever imagine.  Who would have thought?  They would say, and he too most likely.

To think this was the same kid who had excruciating trouble getting up in the morning and get himself to school, and even when he did, he once fell asleep in the second to last period math class.  As the bell rang for everyone to get up in leave, the teacher not blind to his snoring in his seat beckoned everyone to be as quiet as can be as he turned out the lights and closed the door behind us all.

A couple of years later while moving, he had a flat bed trailer hauling most of his belongings.   Behind him we watched in curiosity when he turned the corner much too fast as one by one the boxes fell.  Off the trailer and spread out onto the ground, but without even a tap of the brake he continued forth not even slowing down nor the thought of stopping to pick  up the boxes ever crossed his mind.

Crossing the ocean though, we met each other in northern Italy and he introduced me not only to the country but also the language.  He taught me to say “You’re Welcome”, which would have been very helpful had I not instead been propositioning every person I met.  It was nothing something I realized until a native who spoke English looked at me mortified as I told her “You’re Welcome.”    Her face beat red, she told me to repeat that again.

Having the sense of humor that I have, I of course wanted to inquire further about my slip of the tongue.  When pressed further finally she found what words she could while keeping her decency.   “To have a bambino”, she said quite squeamishly.

And, now years later he now has his own “bambino”  to call his own.  A wife and child, both of whom are beautiful people.  His daughter not even one yet, already has a personality all her own.   Her mother is especially attentive and a superior person in every capacity.

And now, years since that day when all eyes were peering on him as his knees shook as he walked, he is strong and confident.  Some of his family, most specifically his aunt, are like my own.  I call her weekly.   And have done so for years.   She is someone who reminds me of Mother Theresa in that she is constantly seeing the best in others, and equally always looking out for the best interest of those around her.   Her days of mobility are not what they once were, but she has a tremendous family support system between her husband and her sons.  They all are by her side.

Sometimes people forget where it is that they came from.  Others do not where they are going.  While there are others too who are not quite sure what got them from there to here.     Then, some know exactly where they are at and understand their past and know they are responsible for their future.   They may have the support system by their side, or they may be fighting the battle solo.   Whatever the case may be there some of each of them in all of us.

Sometimes we walk that long walk with hesitant anticipation.   Other times we wonder who would have thought that we would end up here?  Where ever that here may be.

At least there is solace in knowing that even if in class you fall asleep, that does not necessarily stop you from going far both figuratively and literally.   Waking up happens differently for all of us.  It is what we do while we are awake that makes all the difference.

Our dreams are but the tales of the night too soon forgotten if not for action.   What is your action plan?   Your next move, or play?

Mine is now Act 3.

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CONFESSION: (I got sooo bombed last night)

The mind is a beautiful thing, and the mind certainly plays tricks on our psyche.     When we hear things like, “I got so bombed last night” we instantly conjure up images that are congruent with the statement.   Our perception becomes reality, although the reality may be far different than the perception.  Add to that the word “confession”, and we go even deeper into our psyche and our imagination soars even higher.

What makes life so interesting is the manner in which we all view each and every day through our own periscope of where we may be standing at any given time.   Dating back to last week during my trip to Pittsburgh, there in the water was the waddling less giant duck.   I wondered exactly what the duck was all the intrigue about, because not only were there a mob of bystanders in the park standing to take a picture of the big rubber duck, but it was game day no less.   Seemed a little quacky to me,  but then again, that is my periscope of how I view the world.   I have many, many years ago experienced a rather smaller version of this rubber duck, and really I had my fill.  It was quite fun while it lasted.   Granted, the water mine floated in was a much smaller one, but then again, it was my duck and it was my tub.

Fast forward a decade or so, and rub a dub dub there is a great big duck floating in a great big tub.  This time the river is the confines and for whatever reason this duck was one of the biggest tickets in town.  So not only may it be whatever floats your boat, but also whatever floats your duck.   Just remember though, when someone yells DUCK in Pittsburgh there is no reason to run for cover.  Simply grab your camera and with some good luck you’ll get an up close and personal  with whatever the duck people are clamoring to see, but then again it’s all just ducky.

What isn’t so ducky is getting bombed last night. That, or I’m in for some really great fortune.  Is that not the case when a bird does a drive by on your shoulder, that good luck is on its way?   Well, just ducky.  Because while not my shoulder, my roof and my driveway appears to have drawn the ire of the entire flock as the red tiles are now so decoratively adorned in white streaks splattered about in a rather non geometric pattern.

The moral of the story?

Maybe it was my mocking of the duck that did me in?   A duck is a bird, right?  Well, close enough anyway.  One thing is quite certain though. I really did get so bombed last night.  And, I have the tiles to prove it.

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Taking Action – Act 1

Took part in a weekly mastermind group this evening with the topic of the night being “Taking Action”.   Quite a rather appropriate subject for the audience I might say.  The meeting began with the facilitator speaking about taking action, what is limiting us from taking action, why, and what are we doing about it?   Then, we had a round table discussion about it all.

The call prompted me to start “taking action” by highlighting those who have crossed my path over the years and honor them through the writing.   It may be family, friends, acquaintances, or quite possibly someone I do not even know but they did something to make a positive impact on my life.

The “Taking Action” project is also something quite similar to a meditation that I practice. I am not sure anyone else does this but it is something I created for myself whereby I first relax, then close my eyes and put myself into a meditate state and set my intention on letting names flow through my head.  Whatever the name, I don’t judge it.  I simply visualize the person seeing them as being happy and healthy.

I say to myself “I love you. Thank you.”   It matters not if they are male, female, living, or not.  It does not matter if they are someone I necessarily like, or not.  It is a practice of expressing gratitude towards everyone that comes into my head equally without judgment.   It is based on the philosophy of either being able to see God in everyone, or not being able to see God at all.

Why is it that we wait?  Procrastinate?  Hesitate?  Deliberate?

Any one of these have a myriad of answers.   We all experience moments in our lives when we have waited until it was too late.   Or, procrastinated until the moment passed and the opportunity is no longer available.   Sometimes we hesitate instead of taking action, and that hesitation costs us again that window of opportunity.  The deliberation becomes analysis paralysis if you will.   And, the same can be said for honoring people in our lives.  How often do we actually publicly share the positive contribution of others? Sure we do that at funerals, but really, isn’t that a little too late?

With that in mind, I will begin my “Taking Action” project by providing you a glimpse of someone who I have known professionally for over 10 years.   She has grown to become my best friend, confidant, and my coach all rolled into one.   Her repertoire includes being the mother to six children, numerous grandchildren, a former executive in the hospitality industry when it was not in vogue to be a female executive and much, much more.

In fact, the most notable thing I can say about Judi Hedge is the fact she is the only person I have ever met who when people meet her in the course of the initial conversation the other person will inevitably say “I love you” to her.  It does not matter the age, if it is an adult or a child, she has the same kind of affect on others.

I get the question all the time.  Why do you have a business/life coach?

What does Judi do for me, both professionally and personally?  Both are logical questions. I typically answer the same to the first.  Why wouldn’t I have a coach?   To me, all successful people surround themselves with coaches.  Whether it is in those exact terms or not is a matter of pragmatics.

I look at having a coach much like having a sports coach, except instead of engaging in a sport, I’m engaging my professional life.   A basketball player, for example,  may have the utmost talent but that talent alone does not make for a winning team.  It takes a coach to get the most out of the talent of not only one player but all the players working together.

The key point here is that the coach takes the raw talent and molds it into something special.   A good coach is able to understand strengths and weaknesses, is able to motivate the individual, and teach the player how they can improve.  Great coaches not only build better players on the court but also in life.

For myself, I want to be a better player in the game of life.    I have no intention of being ordinary.   Having an ordinary life is not really living, but rather is wasting the gifts that each of us have been given as each of us have something special to offer the world.

Thus, being extraordinary is the only goal, and the only objective.  In doing so, I want to surround myself with those with the same mindset.   I want to meet extraordinary people living extraordinary lives.     And, one of the most extraordinary people I have met thus far in my travels has been Judi Hedge.

Judi has taught me more about myself than anyone ever has, and as I continue to grow I am very proud to say that I have her by my side as a professional asset to my greatest investment.    Investing in myself has always been, and always will be, a priority of mine.   If I do not invest in myself, who else will?   (Of course, if you would like to do so, you are more than welcome.  Investors are always encouraged).

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Please Fasten Your Seat Belts

Too many times, more than I can count, I hear someone say something negative about the people living in Florida.  I typically hear it from those living here, referring to other less favorable members of the population.  Maybe it is just me, or I must be living in an entirely different state all together.
Last week while parking in South Beach, I closed my door and heard a thump.  My intuition told me that I had dropped something.   Not listening closely enough, I simply glanced down before meandering over to the parking meter to feed her my quarters.   Just as I dropped the first dollar through, a gentleman riding a bicycle stopped at the side of my car.  He was leaning down by my car door and then he popped his head over the hood.
“Is this yours?”  He asked, holding up my wallet.
Continuing the feeding frenzy uninterrupted and without any trepidation before finally responding, I simply glancing over, I said, “Yes.  That is mine.”
He playfully waved it back and forth and after she was fully fed, I made my way back over to other side of the car where he was holding up my wallet with a big grin on his face.    “Do you want me to put it in the mail?”   He shouted rather softly.  “Give me a dollar.”
Without breaking stride, I reached out and retrieved my wallet with one open hand.   Opening the car door, he moved to the side, as I assured him I would be happy to give him a dollar.  For his kindness, it was the least I could do.   The only problem is I very rarely carry cash.
He was excited, asking me  to make it a good one.  His mind was going wild as he out loud began wondering if maybe there would be a $20 in it for him, or something even better as I searched my pockets but to no avail.   I apologized that I did not have any cash, he said it was ok and then he went on his way but not without first sharing some rather insightful advice.
The advice I shall not share, although I will share another story of someone who exemplified kindness in a rather extraordinary way.   It was from this past weekend’s trip to Pittsburgh to watch the football game.  I had one layover, which was in Newark before landing in Pittsburgh.
While the first leg of the flight was extremely smooth both literally and figuratively that was not the case for the second.  The saving grace for the final leg was being engaged in a rather deep spiritual conversation with the passenger next to me.  As is typically the case, I strike up a conversation with whomever I am around, so not surprising, I became instant friends with this total stranger.
Through the course of our conversation she confided to me her fear of blood. This led to another discussion about hypnosis and into past life regressions.  She discussed how she is vegan had never eaten meat, and I asked how she felt towards animals.  Not too surprising, she has a deep connection and retrieved her phone to show me pictures of hers.
Since we were engaged in discourse the focus was not on the plane until she announced “this flight is really bad” referring to the turbulence.
The screen of the phone was rather small.  Trying to make out her turtle as the plane moved up and down and side to side was enough to make me dizzy.   At that moment, I began sweating almost instantly.   Knowing it was going to be substantially colder in Pittsburgh than it was in south Florida I had a jacket on but had to quickly remove it.  I was burning up and in mid conversation, facing forward, closed my eyes and practiced deep breathing.   My stomach was almost as quickly quite nauseous.
By concentrating on the deep breathing and having my eyes closed I calmed my stomach down, at least for the moment. Both the sweats and the nauseousness seemed to subside so I opened my eyes, turned to my neighbor, and apologized for needing to turn away.  She said that was ok, she felt the same way.
The captain had been on the speaker minutes earlier informing the cabin that we were on our final approach and would be landing momentarily.   Feeling more than a little relieved to have made it, I breathed a sigh of relief.   It was a bit premature, though.
Within a heart beat, the nauseousness came back and I got physically ill just as the plane was about to land.   Not able to reach for the bag fast enough, it was not a pretty sight.   Luckily though, my savior in the aisle seat sprang into crisis mode and swiftly implemented an action plan.
We steadfastly reached the terminal, parked and she deplored me to stay “right there” as she was going to go to the restroom to get some paper towels.   She did.  And, came back empty handed. No paper towels.
Undaunted, she reached into her purse found what looked to be a shawl and began using it to wipe up the mess.  I began to protest knowing it was going to ruin her article of clothing, but before I even get the words out she knew what I was going to say.   “Don’t worry about it.”  Calmly, she replied to my silent remark.  “I can get another one.”
While I was preoccupied with my little mishap passengers were exiting the airplane, walking by wondering why I still remained sitting in my seat with my friend rushing through the front of the cabin.   She did find some paper towels, gave them to me and I was able to finally gather myself enough to get off the plane.
As we walked down the walkway, she remarked how green I still looked.  I assured her I felt as good as I looked, and she offered to buy me some ginger ale for my stomach.  I politely declined and said that I was fine.
Feeling rather embarrassed, I offered her my card which she took.   She said she would call me so we could go to lunch and continue our conversation about hypnosis.   That was the furthest from my mind at the moment and repeatedly thanked her for her generosity and apologizing for the rather unpleasant way to end our flight.
Our separate ways we went, but her kindness I will certainly remember for a long time. That won’t easily go away.  For someone who is squeamish about blood, she reacted to this with complete composure and made a very uncomfortable situation rather bearable.
There are random acts of kindness going on throughout the world, and in our lives every single day.  Maybe its just me, but I truly believe their actions should be recognized.   Their names may remain anonymous, even their faces unrecognizable, but it is their good deeds that should be what is remembered.
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A name is but a name. Or is it?

What is the big deal, many ask? What is the significance regarding something as insignificant as a name? A name, I would argue, defines and is representative of the brand itself.

Native American history and culture is as rich as it is diverse. While much of it has been destroyed, unfortunately, many negative stigmas still remain today. They as a group have never had a collective voice, which speaks to their diversity but also greatly limits their political power. As a result, the Native American population is for the most part a silent minority.

We have made incredible strides in this great nation, but we are continually evolving and there is still and will be continued strides to be made. For every step forward there has and always will be an outcry for standing idle for sake of prosperity, for doing things as they have always been done before, and so forth. Yet, we must continue evolving as individuals and as a collective consciousness.

There was a time, not too long ago, when the consensus was that we need not give women the right to vote. Or, what is the big deal about having separate drinking fountains? Or, having everyone riding together on the same bus?

When looking under a microscope we are far more similar than we are different. Men and women, different races, other cultures, and yes even the myriad of religions across the globe. What we see though in others is a reflection of ourselves, both individually and collectively.

To call someone a redskin is derogatory and offensive.  It may not be a big deal when a name is not deemed as offensive to you.   That is understandable.   It is often only when we find something directly offensive to ourselves that we feel that action should be taken.   Yet, we are more alike than different. What affects one, affects another whether directly or indirectly.

We are more similar than we are different, and yet, it is our differences that make us unique.  And, that in of itself, makes each of us beautiful.      A name may be but a name, but it is that and so much more.    We can choose to honor and respect an individual or a group by the words we use towards them, or likewise, we can choose to be disrespectful.   It is a choice to see the beauty in others, no matter who they are and where they come from.

The Door Opens Both Ways

With the news being predominately bad how could this of all days be the most beautiful day?
We may receive bad news throughout the course of the day, we may receive good news too but the more we are swayed by either of the two the less in balance we are with ourselves.   Certainly, some days may be better than others,.   Equally so there are some who are battling such insurmountable odds not only physically but mentally as well.  For every person who may say they had a bad day because they did not meet a quota at work, for example, there is another who is having a good day simply due to them not being in excruciating pain.   By simply not being in pain is a good day for them.  It is all a matter of perspective.
That perspective is a matter of internal and external.  We all view the world through our own eyes.   Each of us may see the same thing a little differently.
For me, I went and spent a few moments of my time at the cable company.  In all actuality it was more like a couple of hours than moments, but as I sat down I realized something.  I had a choice.  The door opens both ways.  If I felt that the time was taking too long, I could simply leave and come back at another time, I could have them send the equipment I was replacing by mail, or I could have them send out a technician.
The point is that my options are numerous, and my guess the same can be said for everyone else sitting in the room.   No one was forcing them to stay.  But from the groans, the hisses and the disdain it sounded as if some were literally chained to the chairs.
Usually when I am in a place where I know I am going to be waiting awhile my strategy is to bring my headphones, listen to some music and simply relax.   This time though my phone battery was exhausted so I tried practicing meditating with my eyes open. What I felt at the time was that there was a reason for me to be there.
About that time I looked over and saw my son’s tutor walk through the door.  She was in the back, so I got up and went over to her and we both found a seat.   We spent the rest of my time waiting catching up until my name was called.
When it did, I walked up to the gentleman behind the counter.
“How are you, sir?”  He asked me.
I replied, “I’m excellent. Thank you. I’m not here for anything in particular I just figured I’d stop by here and chill.   Oh, and while I’m here I’d like to exchange this piece of hardware” and I handed it to him.
He laughed.  “So, you are here just to people watch?”  He asked.
“Pretty much.   It’s always fun.”  I said in exchange.
He responded back.  “If only everyone was like you.   The world would be a much better place.”
He explained that I was pleasant, nice and quite a change of pace from what he normally gets.    I explained to him the principle of “the door opens both ways” and that I believe we have a choice.  We can exit just as easily as we enter, if we so choose.
There is also another component.   We can get so caught up in our own emotions and not realize that others may be suffering far greater than we are.   I am very fortunate.  I went to this place of business with no place to be at any certain time, so I was not rushed. I was not in a hurry, which may not have been the case for many of them.  Others may have been trying countless times to get resolution to no avail.  I do not know.  I also cannot take their actions at face value, because I do not know what they are going through.  Maybe they are being chained to the chair, if that is how they feel at the time.
Furthermore, as painstaking as it may be to sit waiting for an hour and a half to two hours, that is nothing compared to the employee behind the counter who is there for eight hours listening to one person after another screaming.  In just the time I was there the manager on duty looked like she had aged 10 years.   She held her composure well outwardly, but her eyes told a much different story.  They were tired and worn.
We all, at some point of time, have felt that we are in a no-way-out situation.  There is no going another way. Maybe that is true.  But, maybe the door through which we walked through we can also walk out. if need be.
The door it opens both ways.
Even today, the most beautiful of days!?!?!

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*The above picture is not mine.   All others are pictures I have taken myself. This I found at photobucket.com.

Beautiful Is The Day

Beautiful is the day.  The day is today.   Today is the most beautiful day there ever was, because truly it is all we have to live.    Tomorrow it is so far away, and we already know that “yesterday seems so far away”.     We give our energy to the past and future, we can worry about a myriad of things people and events that we have literally no control.   We are unlimited in our potential yet the opposite is true in  terms of the influence we have on others outside of ourselves. If we only change the way perceive the world, the world looks different.  If we are eager for change in the world then we must be the change we want in the world.   If we want to see the world as beautiful, see it as beautiful.  There is opportunity, a world of opportunity in fact, if only we grasp the fact that it can be will be and it already is.
Whatever the weather may bring, hope that the sun shines brightly on your day.  If there is clouds and rain though, hope that you’re able to dance sing and play. Even if there is a plethora of storms that converse on you, hope that you ride the waves and find at the end that this truly is the most beautiful of days – today.
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