My Favorite Toy

My parents told me they gave him to me as a Christmas present in 1955, in Detroit, Michigan in a two-story flat on Dexter Avenue.

Puppy

I’ve seen the grainy 8MM movies, but of course, I don’t remember. After all, I was barely a year old, hardly old enough to know what was a “best friend,” let alone that he would be it.

At night, I’d hold him until I fell asleep; his very presence banishing monsters that lived under the bed and the shadow creatures in the closet. When wind against the windows caused the curtains to pulsate and the panes to howl a ghostly, eerie, wail, my little yellow buddy with the dark black eyes and furry body watched over me until the sandman cast his magic upon me. He shared my pillow, his yellow, foam, and fur body with plastic face peering over the blankets to protect me, long after I dozed.

I would drag him from Kevin’s to Joey’s to Victor’s during long vacations and hot muggy afternoons. He’d sit, floppy-necked, across from me on the kitchen table as I’d sip lemonade and draw with crayons. While I did homework, he rested, never complaining, near my pencil jar. And when no one was to be found and there was nothing to do but let my imagination take over, I covered him in aluminum foil, wrapped saran wrap around his head, suspended him from the ceiling light, and pretended he was an astronaut.

“Commander Puppy,” I said into my paper-cup microphone (adding the right amount of voice crackle to increase the realism), “This is Captain Scott. Over. Do you hear me? Over. Come in Commander. Over and out.”

Together, we spent hours; daylight until dark. January through December. Childhood through adolescence.

[Read more…]

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We are each the Hub of Our Life

It’s essential to take time for YOU.

Taking Time for What's Important

There is an acronym for when you’re most inclined to engage in bad habits.

It’s called “HALT.”

Whatever “bad” habit you have is most inclined to be activated when you are: [Read more…]

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Leave a Note for a Friend, Family Member, or Co-Worker

Leave a surprise note for someone.

Remember how you felt the last time someone left you a surprise note?

Whether it was your spouse, your parent, or just a friend; there’s something special about finding a friendly note when you least expect it.

No matter how good your mood was before you got the note, it got better afterwards.

A few years ago, I bought some really inexpensive plastic hearts at a dollar store for Valentine’s Day (above). I put candies in them for my wife. However, I still have them and periodically, I will put short, fun notes in them and hide them in various places around the house for her. It might take weeks before she finds them – and I’m sure we’re still missing some that were never retrieved. I don’t tell her. As she stumbles upon them, it brightens her mood and mine (because I’ll hear her surprised laugh or “Aww, that’s so sweet!).

Why not try it yourself and watch what happens to your mood?  (No, it doesn’t have to be a romantic note.)

Examples of what you could do:

[Read more…]

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Reinventing Myself: Realizing What Really Matters

This week marks exactly one year since our dog, Jack, abruptly left us.

jack-&-I

Appearing fine with the rising of the sun, by nightfall he was no more. That’s a grim progression to experience any time, but to complicate this horribly unpleasant and unexpected bump in our highway of life, Jack’s passing occurred the exact morning I was slated to leave town for three months of contracted work. My wife and I, heartbroken, left the veterinarian and, upon arriving home, tearfully hugged each other as I slid into my rental car, and left her forlorn and isolated in our grievously hollow home.

Intertwined throughout the choking weight of sadness I carried was woven a heavy rope of guilt. But what are you going to do? It was three months worth of employment, planned well in advance. If your occupation takes you away — even when it’s more than inconvenient — you’re bound to go.

Life goes on — so to speak.

When my travel concluded, my wife requested,

“I know you love what you do – and I want you to be happy. But, I really need you not to travel so often. Would you please try and earn more of your income here?”

I agreed, not only because of her request, but also because I had been growing weary of the travel hassles. Her vocalizing my thoughts cemented the decision. So, for the last several months, I have been “reinventing myself at 60,” not something I intended – nor something I recommend, but as they say, “Life is what happens while we’re making other plans.” Mostly, short of scurrying hither and yon sussing out new modes of income, I’m doing okay. To that end, I do more coaching, both in person and on-line. I’m producing my own local seminars. I’ve snagged more hours assisting clients with marketing and consulting. And, I’m pleased as heck that even after 20 years together, I really do still enjoy spending so many hours with my lovely bride (and how cool is it that she says she enjoys having me around).

Today however brought forth an unexpected revelation: The most difficult component of my reinvention is that I no longer know who I am.

[Read more…]

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6 Ways to be a Better Parent

father's and baby's hands

“I’m not going to do things the way my parents did when I have kids.”

How many times have we all said this, only to revert back to what’s comfortable — what we know — when our feet are actually held to the fire? Instead of going against the grain of what we heard as kids, we just emulate mom and dad. Later, we feel terrible and can’t believe what came out of our mouths or what we did.

Becoming a better parent is more difficult than a lot of things, including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and snapping a selfie with that rascal Bigfoot. However, it’s completely possible when you set out to make small changes on a daily basis. The key is to be consistent and to stay on track, not to become the mother or father you think you should be overnight.

Below are a few of the simplest ways to make a revolutionary change in your parenting style over the long haul. [Read more…]

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