Surprise Yourself

Are you doing the same old thing or are you busting out of your shell, trying new things, not knowing if you will like it or not?

Image result for new hobbyI’m here to tell you, trying new things is a lot more fun.  Throw in the possibility that you might mess up, show your behind, or discover that you actually have some inherent ability in an previously unexplored area.

As a teacher for 27 years, I was required to learn new things.  But I learned a lot more on my own than was expected.  One of my little satisfactions in life is sharing something I’ve learned.  Teaching did that.  Now, I only have a blog.  And soon will be interacting with kids again on a volunteer basis.  Not sure how or what but it should be fun.

Back to the new thing.  My partner expressed a desire to have me share in the cooking.  with some slight hesitancy, I agreed.  I didn’t think it would be worth my time, as there are so many other things I can or should be doing.  But what the heck, I’ll give it a try, just to keep her happy. Image result for cooking gif

Guess what.  Every time I cook, I have a ball. I’d rather not cook every night but once or twice a week.  I can do this.  And tonight?  It was Asian Lettuce Wraps.  And Danielle said they were even better than the ones we get at Emma’s Asian.  I liked this Friday night’s dinner.  Danielle liked the Lettuce Wraps.

Today was another first.  I visited my first hospice patient.  I am volunteering a couple hours a week.  Old people deserve to be honored and respected.  Louie (not his real name) came from another country.  He couldn’t talk much, and his accent made it even harder to understand.  I plan to get a picture book of his home country next time I go back and look at it with him.

Image result for old people gifOld people and people with physical abnormalities don’t bother me.  I worked in a summer camp during my teens.  The kids were all handicapped.  Burn victims, blind, deaf, cerebral palsy, brain damaged, muscular dystrophy, and more.  The first day was a little scary but we got busy.  Before the week was over, one almost forgot they were handicapped.  Personalities shined so bright.

They say that one of the five secrets to happiness is to have a sense of achievement.  About eight months ago, I had the lead part as Ebenezer Scrooge. Theatre Guild does some great stuff.  I was pretty good, at least that’s what I was told.  I felt like I was too.  Ding, ding.  Sense of achievement.

A Christmas Carol cast In the next play, Arsenic and Old Lace, I had smaller parts, and therefore less pressure.  But I had two different parts, one in the first scene where I played the part of an elderly preacher.  In the last scene, I was a not so bright  big city police detective.  I basked in the ray of achievement when people familiar in theatre didn’t even realize that I, the same person, played two different roles.  Ding ding.  Nailed it.

AOL Cast

Does it sound like I’m tooting my own horn.  I’m just trying to convince you to do something out of the ordinary, that requires some commitment, big or small, risk a little, and see how much more interesting life gets. You just might be pleasantly surprised with yourself. and it feels great.


It’s a Man’s World but just for a weekend

There is a men’s retreat coming up in the first weekend in October in Blowing Rock, NC.  This is the seventh, and I’ve been to all but one. One year, they had the nerve to schedule it the same day as the birth of my granddaughter.

If you have never been, you might be asking yourself “Why would anyone want to spend 40 hours of a valuable weekend with about 20 other guys?” I’ll admit, it is not for everyone.  We are a very small part of the population.

Used to be, cultures had a method for getting the guys together to sit around, maybe around the fire, and tell stories of their lives, the hunt, their conquests, their children and their loves.  Not so much these days. Now, the closest thing is visiting bars, numbing our need for release or need for connection. The imagined risk of being authentic and vulnerable is too frightening for many.  Men die younger on average than women. Is it the stress we harbor, the shutting down, and giving up or some other reason? Is it better to appear strong and die on top of our war horse, rather than to admit our true feelings?  Would revealing what is truly in our heart be so scary? We have tried our whole lives to be what others wants us to be, only to discover the cruel joke, a snipe hunt that leads us  astray, and difficult to find our way back home.

This retreat is for men who strive to accept themselves, and acknowledge the imperfections too.  We are not perfect, but we are good enough. We deserve to love and be loved, to connect with our earthly brothers.  We are hard wired for connection, and this weekend teaches us how.

So what happens in the sacred circle of men on a weekend?    No pressure. No expectations. No drama. No one to impress. The air is filled with acceptance.  It is as if, everyone is wearing a t-shirt that says “Been there, done that, and here’s the t-shirt”.  You may experience a sigh of relief. Your story is unique. Your pain, your joy, your laugh, your tears, they all belong to you. But we share a common path at times too.  The struggle to free ourselves from others expectations cultivates deep roots of authenticity, followed by self acceptance, and courage. Not the courage to run into battle with swords and spears, but a courage to be yourself, accept the gift and responsibility of a life.

Imagine a room with a group of men that you admire.  By the end of the weekend, you will admire and care for all of those men.  You know they are glad you joined the group, by how they communicate with their posture, their eyes, their voice, their attentiveness, their smiles, their laughs, their strength, and their gentleness.  It is a safe place. Implied or spoken, you hear “What’s your story? What is on top? What’s getting in the way of your experiencing the joy of living?” Get ready to go deep. You might just experience a range of emotions that might even surprise you at times.

We admire and respect the journey of others, and the wisdom they can share. The heartfelt appreciation is returned.  We are blessed as we bless others.

And the magic begins.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to these guys. 

lone wolf weekend



In ______ We Trust. (You pick)

Tennessee public schools now required by law to display ‘In God We Trust’ motto.

“As students head back to class in Tennessee, a bill signed into law by Governor Haslam in April is making the motto ‘In God We Trust’ a staple in all Tennessee schools.” Citizen Tribune and

Representative Susan Lynn sponsored this bill and recently said this: “Our national motto is on our money. It’s on our license plates. It’s part of our national anthem. Our national motto and founding documents are the cornerstone of freedom, and we should teach our children about these things.” She doesn’t know her history very well.


You may have heard of the phrase “War on Christianity”.  What a crock.  No one is trying to convince  christians what to believe, but they do.  No one is pushing to have their religious slogans emblazoned in public areas, but they do.  No one is refusing to sell christians a wedding cake, fill a prescription or humiliating you for exercising your basic civil rights, but they do.

Susan Lynn could not be more wrong about our “founding documents.”  No where in the founding documents can you find “In God We Trust” because it wasn’t there.   Never codified by law, E pluribus unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.”

A motto of the United States; Latin for “Out of many, one.” It refers to the Union formed by the separate states. E pluribus unum was adopted as a national motto in 1776 and is now found on the Great Seal of the United States and on United States currency.”

faith-2Bin-2Bgod-2Bpope-2Bmobile-2B3-2Binches-2Bof-2Bbullet-proof-2Bglass“Public schools may not teach religion, although teaching about religion in a secular context is permitted.1 The Bible may be taught in a school, but only for its historical, cultural or literary value and never in a devotional, celebratory or doctrinal manner, or in such a way that encourages acceptance of the Bible as a religious document.” 1 School Dist. of Abington Township, Pa. v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 (1963).

There is a reason why teachers and school systems are disciplined by the courts for trying to teach religion.  Children are moldable, open, trusting of teachers and authority figures. They are impressionable, and maybe more than anything want to know that they belong. The motto “In God we trust” without the historical contect, is the religious rights further attempt to force their relgious beliefs onto the public.

If we let one religion to post its beliefs, do we have to let others?  You know, that equal rights thing.  If the Mormons had their way, they have us all believe that Humans can become angels, and angels can become humans. Another ancient religion would have you believe Putting a dirty milk glass and a plate from a roast beef sandwich in the same dishwasher can contaminate your soul. Maybe we’ll be seeing posters from other religions, like the Nuwaubianism group, The Church of Euthanasia, or The Church of the SubGenius.  After all, what is good for one should be good for all.

Public schools need to be teaching children to think on their own, explore their own beliefs with the help of their parents if anyone, and the church they choose to attend.  NOT public schools.  Furthermore, all children, regardless of what they believe, or don’t believe need to feel welcomed into a school where they feel like they belong, not like they are different.  Some of the most painful and hateful harrassment I’ve seen in schools come from students that want to beat their religion into those independent thinkers.

Private schools, teach whatever you want.  But in public schools, paid for by public taxpayers money, keep your religious beliefs to yourself. All religions, keep them in your church.  If you want to teach about religion, do so in a class, in a historical or scientific format. Drop the word “we”.

Can’t we just let everyone teach their own kids whatever religion they want without the state and school systems getting in the way?


“The Freedom From Religion Foundation opposes the new law to ‘prominently display’ the words ‘In God We Trust” in all public schools.

The sponsor’s assertion that ‘In God We Trust’ is part of our founding documents is false. The framers wisely adopted a godless constitution, whose only references to religion are exclusionary. A committee of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin chose ‘E Pluribus Unum’ [From many, one] as our national motto, celebrating diversity. The godly motto was belatedly adopted in the 1950s at the height of the Red Scare, and should be jettisoned. A quarter of the population today is nonreligious, and their children should not be made to feel that piety is a prerequisite for patriotism or good citizenship. FFRF is interested in hearing from parents who are offended by this intrusive law.”

This isn’t limited to TN.  It’s in several states.  Be afraid. Very afraid.

How about a sign that says “In God Some Trust, but it is completely optional.” For me, I’ll take “In Dog I Trust”.


Thought for the day

inspirational-quotes-dance-sing-3Whatever challenges that you face today, try to keep a few things in mind to make it easier.

  1.  You always have options.  The serenity prayer, sometimes repeated for several minutes is a good meditation.  and for those things we really have no control over, let go, and let God, however you imagine your higher power.
  2. Even if options for action are few, you have the option of changing your beliefs.
    • Focus on the positive, and make a gratitude list, at least mentally.
    • Maybe instead of feeling like a victim, consider the possibility that you allowed today’s events into your life to learn a lesson.
    • If others are being jerks, you don’t need to engage.  “Bless them, heal me” is a prayer I’ve thought often. Too many jerks in your life?  Maybe you should check this out.
  3. You are perfect in the eyes of your creator.  Just because society doesn’t see it that way doesn’t make it so.  Your gifts, talents and skills are desperately needed by the world.
  4. I tell myself to look for opportunities to make the slightest difference; e.g., saying hi to folks that I suspect are unsure about whether to say hi first.  Wish people a nice day, and engage them in a short conversation.  A compliment (not on appearance tho), such as “Thanks for the fine customer service you are providing.  It’s one of the reasons I shop here.”
  5. What others think about you is none of your business.  They don’t know the struggles that you have gone through to be where you are today.  True friends will accept you where you are, encourage you to be the best, and will not intentionally hurt you or humiliate you. The Four Agreements is filled with wisdom and stresses  this concept.
  6. Guilt serves no purpose other than to spur you to action.  Don’t make the same mistake and to the degree possible, try to make amends.  Apologizing can be healing for all parties involved.
  7. Fill your thoughts with positive stuff.  I often take a break from the news, most of which I have no power, influence or control over and remind myself that great progress is being made.
  8. Just because you may not feel like it, that doesn’t change the fact that you are  unique, amazing, incredible. And a dream come true.

It IS all about you.

August 2, 2018

(Listen or watch here) Actually, it is all about you

Imagine going to one of your favorite restaurants that has one of your favorite buffets. It might be Pier W on the shores of Lake Erie in Lakewood Ohio.

pier w



It might be Eseeola Lodge in Linville, NC for their famous Friday night seafood buffet.


You walk in, get a seat, the waiter comes over and says “are you here for the buffet” and of course you are and he or she explains that most of the buffet table has wonderful, Delicious and nutritious food. On the far end however we have food that is old, spoiled,  tastes terrible, and will probably make yo

u sick, miserable and regret for the rest of your life however it is an option. You look over and you see people going to both ends of the buffet table. Hold that thought.

buffet table


From years of visiting the halls of alanon, one of the phrases that often comes up, said somewhat sarcastically is, “it is all about you.”  It’s a gentle reminder that when we are deep in our stuff, we to look beyond ourselves and realize you are not the center of the universe. But I’m thinking this morning that our experiences, and more specifically relationships, it is all about you.

Think about where you are in your life. And I’m thinking about where I am in my life. And where I would be if not for my self defeating beliefs that ruled me in my younger years. I taught school for 27 years and regularly saw  limiting beliefs hold students back and teachers as well. And school systems as well.

Let’s look at relationships.  Are you feeling bad about the way someone treats you?  It’s all about you. Let me use an analogy. Would you go around complaining about the food you ate today? Would you blame the food for tasting bad or making you sick for making you fat or making you  feel bloated? And how would you respond to the food? Would you scream at it. Would you hit it? No of course not, that’s cray cray. Accepting full responsibility for what you consumed, you would acknowledge you did it to yourself. “I allowed this substance, this food into my system. No one was making me eat it. In a moment of temporary insanity, I must have just convinced myself that I needed this food.  I must have thought this was the only food available. I must have thought I was afraid I would die if I didn’t have this food.” Do you see the analogy in here?

So do you have people in your life the drain your energy? Treat you badly? Insult you? Humiliate you? And if so, are you blaming them? Except in extreme circumstances, it is your choice to be with that person.  After all, most of us have locks on our doors. Most of us have a block feature on our cell phones. Most of us have the option to say ” No, I’m not willing to do that. ” Most of us have the ability to learn how to set boundaries. I like the expression ” I am not willing to put up with you  ______________(their behaviour) And if you continue to do so, then I will have to _____________ insert consequence here “.

Some of us are so surprised when the people we choose to associate with her turn out to be jerks. We should not be so surprised that they’re jerks. Most of the time, we knew they were jerks before we invited them to participate in our lives. And as for getting to know them, they continued to act like jerks. They disrespected our boundaries then and still do. They don’t show the love and support that we really need, want and deserve. But we tolerate it. Like bad food. But we hoped they would change. Which is like hoping the food will change. And like the food on the buffet,  they will probably degrade even further.

Does the analogy fit? Not perfect. So why do people put up with jerks in their lives? They falsely believe that the jerks will change? Or that there are no better options available? Or that they don’t deserve to have healthy, nourishing relationship. Maybe, they tell themselves it is only until something better comes along,  not realizing that better is always available. Or maybe they don’t believe they have a choice when in fact they do.

You may know the story about the girl who befriended a snake. Everything was great until the poisonous snake bit her. She was shocked and asked “Why did you bite me?” only for the snake to reply ” you knew I was a snake when you picked me up. “131880

You and I and everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, love and support. We can provide that to others as well. if you’re not getting those needs met, it might be time to ask yourself why are you tolerating it? Would you sit at a buffet table with food that was rotting knowing at the other end of the table is some great food? You get to choose what you eat how much how little how often. The same goes for relationships. You deserve to be in a quality relationships,  and only you have the ability to communicate your boundaries and then deliver consequences for your own sanity, integrity and well being. Life is short.


So yes, it is all about you.


skinnymarieonchairWhen you were growing up, did you have the type of parents that said “I tried to tell you” or “I told you so”. My mom didn’t.  Instead she would say “that’s an expensive way to learn a lesson”. With seven kids, she had lots of opportunities to say it. I wonder why she didn’t just shorten it to something like TAEWTLAL.   

There are lessons to be learned in every area of life.   As a kid, I learned not to run your finger down the length of a sharp blade. Blood often follows. Don’t practice your golfing in the backyard especially if your old man is quick to temper. My buddy George Karnavas saved the day. Professional painter that he was,  we replace the window pane, painted it before the old man ever knew what happened. I learned a valuable lesson, about golf and having good friends. TAEWTLAL.

51XRJAH196L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Some lessons were financial related.  As a struggling college student, taking classes full time and working part time, I wanted to sign up for Evelyn Wood’s Speed Reading Program.  I never found out if it worked though.  I gave $300 to the bank teller, they gave me a bank check, and I didn’t know and they didn’t advise me to fill in the TO: line, otherwise, if lost anyone could fill it in and never be traced.  I promptly put the check in the chest pocket of my sport coat pocket, mounted my trusty 12 speed, and headed home. Once home, I discovered the check was missing. TAEWTLAL.

We recently moved to a new neighborhood and were told that it was the good side of town. What I wasn’t told is that the people from the bad side of town come to the good side and steal stuff.This town has one of the highest rates per capita of opioid and methamphetamine abuse in TN. Despite the fact that we have a security system on the house and install garage doors on the garage, we were not using either.

Burgman 400 BOne night at 2 a.m., the dogs are going crazy barking . I look out the window just long enough to see the getaway car my purchased mint condition 2005 Suzuki Burgman flying down the road. TAEWTLAL.

I have a lifetime of financial mistakes including a house, cars yard sale items, tools. Probably the worst mistake  of all is withdrawing 6 years of retirement funds at age 36 convinced I would never need them. What’s done is done.. I would say though with every setback I would shrug my shoulders and ask myself what’s the lesson. I would also hope that whoever ended up with the money that I no longer have needed it worse than I do.

I’m pretty sure that in every case,  I could have avoided the financial missteps if I had only shared my idea with someone smarter or more knowledgeable than me. I needed information and someone to teach me patience.  Besides the bad judgement, I could be compulsive. So why didn’t I ask someone for their expert opinion? For one, the risk of embarrassment of showing my ignorance. Secondly, I want what I want when I want it. And consulting another might result in my not getting what I so desperately wanted.

karmaThere is a whole college majors involving risk management and decision making.  That’s something we should teach kids that in school? There’s plenty of talks on Youtube and TEDTalks on the topic.  I think it might be time to revisit the issue before I go buy that almost new, slightly used scooter that is for sale.  Cheap too. Wonder why? I’m sure it’s a deal.

What’s your lesson?