tumblr_mk0vbzXjwD1qz6f9yo1_500You can’t win if you don’t try.
I once had a coach who told me he’d rather have a no-talent kid who tried than a gifted one who didn’t. As a teacher of 15 years I can say I feel the same way. Like the tortoise and the hair, arrogance eventually loses. So how about you? Feeling defeated, like you lack the talent, the health, the ability to make the grade? Think again. If you can take a breath you can sing a note. If you can put one foot in front of the other, you can walk across the floor. Don’t let those who are too rich define your pursuits. The same with super talented people or those who just seem lucky at whatever you’re interested in doing. Don’t study the guy who recorded an album in his parent’s garage and became a household name. Instead, be the girl or guy who kept at the craft of songwriting and after a while earned her place in the rock and roll hall of fame. Continue reading

Plan to Go Big

Vegas is a great place for thinkers and visionaries to go. It goes “at the speed of life” to every extent of the phrase. I was in Vegas the last 4 days and the same subject to write on was underlined everywhere I went. While in the casinos, I noticed the new ones had gigantic, multi-level parking garages. They of course aren’t filled yet but I am sure they will be soon and the new casinos will be ready. We stayed in one on the older end of the strip our first night and were barely able to find a spot. Let me remind any of you who have been on vacation with a family how much bad parking situations suck.

The newer resorts we stayed in had mega parking. They are thinking ahead. We stayed in a total of 3 resorts and in the third one, everything seemed geared on going big in the near future. The folks at the Red Rock Resort in Summerline (about 10 miles off the strip) have created a “wide-open” atmosphere. Of all the places we stayed, it allowed me to relax and open my mind to new ideas. That is exactly what I need when I go to Vegas or anywhere else for a vacation.

I got the message to “plan to go big” for my teaching, blogging, and leading my family. What good is a temporary place when you can plan to be now in the vision you have for tomorrow. Maybe the founding fathers didn’t plan big enough and now we have all this “occupy Wall Street” bullshit going on. Or, maybe they just didn’t have enough information and now we have to rewrite the constitution. Either way, They planned and here we are.

Be rad, be quality, burn baby burn … in the end we are all just melting snowflakes so plan to go big. You already know what to do if you don’t go big but what if you do? Be ready.

On my tombstone, I would have it say 2 of 3 things:

1) Here lies Damien, he planned to go big but never did.
2) Here lies Damien, he went big and planned for it.
3) Here lies Damien, he went big but didn’t plan for it.

Plan big, because epitaph 1 is better than 3.

Dr. Seuss: Quirky is Good

04_seuss37_dI’ve written about many of my heroes on my blog but none of them are quite as special to me as Dr. Seuss. Maybe it’s because he is a proponent of reading or maybe it’s because he is a bit left-of-center. Whatever the reason, I get inspired by Dr. Seuss and inspiration is the most valuable thing when you’re setting a goal for greatness. You are doing that aren’t you? Check out his life:

When Theodor Geisel was a young child, long before he would become Dr. Seuss, he used to mark in books. He had a set of books he had made his own by putting drawings and writings in. This should have been a clear indicator to his parents that one day his books would change the world. I am sure in their wildest dreams they never would have imagined what this young boy would one day do. Letting his imagination run wild was the first thing he did to set his dream in motion. These pictures made him happy. Following what made him happy would eventually make millions happy.

When Theodore got older and graduated college, he decided he wanted to write children’s books. He spent a lot of time and energy making his first book, an ABC book. No one published it. He felt rejected. He did not write another book for four years. This is identical to the experience of another great artist I have written on, Charles Schulz. Neither gave up altogether though. Both rose to great acceptance after a major rejection. I think this is very important for us to note. Have you been rejected at something? How many years will you let pass you by before trying again. While we’re at it, can you imagine how cool it would be to have a copy of that ABC book that got rejected? Something to remember when people reject your work.

In 1936, Dr. Seuss was on a boat to Tudor. He heard the engines “talking to him” in the sounds they made. Standing there at the engine he “heard” the idea for another book attempt. This is probably one of the most quirky stories I have ever heard. That’s why I love it so much. I am like that. I hear my car creak and talk to me, I hear lots of strange sources of inspiration every day. I am also quirky. Are you? Don’t look at it as a bad thing.

The quirky book that was borne out of the engine sounds was And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. Now 50 years later it is one of Dr. Seuss’ most favorited book by children all over the world. After that is time in a blender history. Dr. Seuss has published hundreds of books since then, as you likely already know.

Theodor Geisel had a goal: he wanted to write books that were easy to read. As he worked for that goal he brought millions of people happiness and taught millions to read: including me as a young child!

Currently set for release is Horton Hears a Who. A major motion picture created from another Dr. Seuss masterpiece. When millions watch it they will be seeing a product of a quirky writer who had a vision and kept at it. The message of this book is that even the smallest person can make a difference. What a message!!! We all wish he could have given us more. He is a lesson to me to never stop giving. Read one of his books and start making your crazy dream happen!

Strength in the face of adversity . . .

Columbia, SC: Kershaw Co. man cuts off own arm

I read this story and was so inspired. Not because I’d like to cut my arm off, but it shows the capacity we have as humans to do what we have to do, however horrific, to survive. This article is truly an example of a possibility thinker in action.

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) – A Kershaw County man is sharing his story of survival. He faced a life or death decision when his hand got stuck in a piece of farm equipment, and then a fire broke out around him. What he did next might shock you, and we have to warn you that some of the details might be disturbing.

Make it Happen Let it Happen

tumblr_n8us58Y0Bk1qzr04eo1_500The age old debate of free will vs destiny still rages on today. I believe both have their place. You can’t sit around waiting for someone or something to show you the way. You’ll be sitting too long and when the lines start appearing on your face they’ll have no stories apart from the laziness that made up your life. On the other hand, I don’t believe you can push your hand too aggressively and get the natural results you dream about. Success takes time and premature success can be an ugly albatross around your neck. Balance is the secret to happiness in life. When your dreams don’t materialize right away, you need to be string enough to sleep and keep plugging away another day. You must do this for as long as it takes if you want to achieve your dreams. Continue reading

How to Process a Punch in the Stomach

fight_stomach_punch2_00-quick-e-mail-view1I just got some news tonight that felt like a punch in the stomach. It’s fine, I’m fine so don’t worry friends and loved ones. It concerns the current state of affairs with my school district. What do you do when your employer says something about your union that is a bold-faced LIE? Answer is … throw a party! Life’s not worth getting so embroiled in the web of people in power that you miss out on the sweet pleasures of being alive. I’ve suggested to the union that we have a party and with a little luck, and my powers of persuasion, that will happen. I don’t have to get stupid to have fun. Just point the way to the carbs table and I’ll be good to go. When life punches you in the stomach, learn to divert your attention away from the fist. In due time, after some rest and relaxation, you can process it better and get things taken care of. I guess this is why teachers strike. I’ve never been part of a strike but I am an organizer and I’m starting to see the worth of it. It all gets back to that staple I always write about: relaxation. If you are relaxed, you are better, period. Don’t fixate on working all the time and avoiding the label of “lazy.” Sometimes that laziness is what solves problems. Take a break after to get punched in the stomach. Rested and relaxed, you may be able to deliver a much stronger reciprocal blow. Continue reading

All You Get

1228491.largeJust got back from the a.m. portion of my dentist appointment. As usual, I was uncomfortable. Having said that, I was lighthearted for a change which felt better. I usually see the dentist once a year to keep my benefit at 100%. Actually the past 7 years I have been there over the holidays to get my cleanings and fillings and whatever else they decide I need. At some point I matured that way. I’m still not one to do things out of obligation. When you’re a kid you think your teeth are going to last forever. The dentist is just someone your parents force you to see. At my age now, I see the dentist as a way to keep the things I have now. I recognize that after all is all you get. I found out I am grinding into the backs of my front teeth. Using his tiny mirror tool with a large one I held, he showed me a ditch I have begun to chisel into them. He recommended a mouthpiece for sleeping but it was $300 so I may wait on that. I have a deep cleaning to go back for as well as 4 cavities. I don’t get sad about it though, I am on top of this! The teeth in my mouth are all I get, I’m going to make them last. Continue reading

This Place We Call Now

About 10 years ago my mom started telling me about the philosophy book “Power of Now” and how it teaches one should live in it and meditate on it only, not the future or the past. At the time it sounded like a trite idea so I more or less ignored it but after reading a book and a few posts on it as well as watching some videos that say the same thing, it’s beginning to seep in. This thought is a positive one that is relaxing not stressful. This post is only about how I am learning to rest in the now. There are ways to do it.

I am finding now that I have enough knowledge on certain topics to simply do them, without research. By that I mean, I don’t have to reinvent every wheel like I used to. Living in the moment can be blissful. it is important to remember in the heart of ones bliss that the now will continue for many years and you’ll still be caught up in it. So, after having learned the value of living in the now, how to I keep a mindset that prepares me for a perpetually enjoyable now? That’s what this post is about. I went to a funeral recently and it got me thinking about the choices I’ve made since high school. These days I’m thinking about living in the “now” more than ever. The choices I’ve made in my past shaped who I am on the way to now. The now allows no excuses, only facts. And this has me thinking about my road on the way to now.

My son is 16 and lately his favorite phrase to say when he’s wrong is, “That’s what I was going to say.” We chuckle at this because we know there are usually no “do overs” in life. Most the time you take your knocks and accept what you did wrong hoping to do right the next time. In life you can’t say: “That’s what I was going to say” and get credit. In other words, sometimes you get just one shot.

Imagine going to a friend’s funeral who was your same age and seeing 10-20 people there you hadn’t seen in over 20 years. I can tell you that just happened to me and it was quite an awakening. I realized that while some friends looked younger than others, we all looked older. So there we were, a bunch of 40-somethings waving awkwardly at each other because our friend was dead. Like I said, it was like an awakening. I know what I’ve been through since I was in high school. I’ve learned so many lessons it’s a wonder I am still here to enjoy the wisdom of my errors. As I looked around at people I used to know in that church, I wondered what must have happened to each of them along the way to now. Continue reading

In Times of Racial Tension, Be a Bridge of Kindness

IMG_3087.JPGThis is a brief reaction to some news articles I’ve read recently on racial violence. Years after Martin Luther King’s beacon “I Have a Dream” speech, tensions are alive and well. I think the best way to for an individual to remedy this is by being kind to other races. Yes I believe it’s that simple. When everyone reaches out a little, it has a ripple effect of peace. We could also use the help of the media. So if you work in the media, give us more visuals of whites hanging out with blacks, Asians with Hispanics, all the combinations mixed. We stare in awe at rainbows for a reason. Basically, whatever race you are, embrace the other. If we all do this, stereotypes can in time be erased. Every person should be accepted for who they are not the race they are born into.

It all Boils Down to a Cosmic Soup Kitchen

Homeless_Man_in_Cleveland_by_daveantThanksgiving is the time to be thankful and everyone in my family a sort time ago was abuzz with plans of turkey, stuffing, bread, and sweet potatoes (well, that’s the stuff I like anyway). Turkey day has always been an amazing time of memory making for me throughout my life whether through watching Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone marathon or playing guitars with the relatives and visiting, it has always been a smooth calm place to center. I remember things and people like the teachers I am thankful for, the mentors, my parents, and all the material things that I am blessed with on Thanksgiving. But “turkey day,” as we call it is not so much glitter for some. Many are homeless in my town, state, and country this season and I think about them specifically on this day. I try to volunteer what I have whether it be time or money to help offset this tragic reality. I have volunteered in the L.A. Union Rescue mission soup kitchen and though I was giving, I gained so much empathy, thankfulness, and understanding in return.

But it should never be a sad time.

The lines at the soup kitchen, their long tired faces with stories too long for anyone to fully hear, should serve as an equalizer. They should remind us that we all stand at the doorway or poverty. We are not “better” than them, only different in what we have. Their hidden world goes on 24/7 all around us in the streets, back alleys, and even in cardboard boxes. When it comes to life and we see it up close, we are reminded of our fragile security. In essence, it all boils down to a cosmic soup kitchen: we get what we’re served. If you don’t take time to be thankful, you may lose sight of what you have. You may lose sight of how little others have as well. Both are important mental states for the enlightened individual. Have you served others lately? Maybe start by serving your spouse, kids, or a friend?

Remember that some folks are whiffing in hot soup with their eyes closed and thanking God for it. Remember them at your table as well. Their faces are our faces at some cosmic soup kitchen unseen. There are many ways to make a difference. One way is by donating a meal online at the Union Rescue Mission. They are doing great work there.