Your soul is your flame
Your actions are your claim to fame,
No shame, you’re still breathing.
Fame’s kinship is fleeting.
So look fame in the eye
Sense greatness, look no further.
To earn success you learn to falter
And leave your fear at life’s altar.
No pain, seize the moment.
You may live great dreams,
Rise above the sun,
Travel the road of the gods.
Or imprison yourself in lies,
To live in the dark forest
Of Dante’s Inferno.
Is your salvation.
You alone decide.
Depression is not easily understood. It’s not an easy topic for discussion. Even when a comedic genius like Robin Williams kills himself, people just shake their heads in disbelief.
Maybe the problem isn’t with the Robin Williams, maybe the problem is with you?
Listen to the whispers. Save the one you love. Just maybe you can manage to save yourself along the way. Live life for poetry and passion. Find the light. Embrace life.
Some impactful Robin Williams quotes:
“Do I perform sometimes in a manic style? Yes. Am I manic all the time? No. Do I get sad? Oh yeah. Does it hit me hard? Oh yeah.”
“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest…
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Mouth Full of Soap
You’re doin’ the dishes,
And followin’ Mom’s wishes.
Since you could step on a stool,
You know the golden rule.
You know Momma’s no fool.
Your washin’, she’s dryin’.
The kids in the kitchen
They haven’t stopped cryin’.
It’ no use in bitchin’.
If you wanted to eat,
And a place to sleep,
You better be sweet,
And learn how to sweep.
If you wanna play games,
And have some fun,
You have to wait,
Until the dishes are done.
Grab a mop, lend a hand,
There’s five more brats,
And there all the same brand.
If you look to the right,
And you look to the left,
Chances are there’s a siblin’ in sight.
She’s cookin’ in the kitchen.
She’s doing the wash.
She’s mendin’ your stichin’,
While she boilin’ the sauce.
She’s swathin’ a path,
While you’re takin’ a bath.
And she hasn’t stopped yet,
And you ain’t even wet.
When you go to school,
Lunch is in a bag, not cool.
Peanut butter and jelly,
Still fills your belly.
If you mutter a sound,
That isn’t profound,
Shutter to think,
Your head’s in the sink.
If she hasn’t heard,
It’s not a word,
It isn’t part of her lingo,.
Not even at Church bingo
You better run, you dope,
Or taste her favorite soap.
It was a shaky start. My job was to get new business. I used the phone to solicit appointments. I can remember my voice quaked and my message was ill-prepared. After exhausting all legitimate leads I had by phone, I hit the road.
My first cold call, “cold “being the vernacular was for an unsolicited visit on an unsuspecting business to make a sales pitch. That’s right. I am the reason you have the “No Solicitors” sign on our door! I have to admit there were days I could not face the next day ahead without becoming physically ill, cramps and vomiting, anticipating the rejection that inevitably lay ahead.
For better or worse, most of the businesses I “solicited” on the south side of Chicago, were unaccustomed to a 21 year old young man in a polyester suit and a “pleather” briefcase showing up at their door. My first “sales call” and I use the term loosely, required considerable surveillance. I drove around the block several times. In the end, it was a relief to just to be dismissed. To hear a simple “no thanks” was a victory, of sort. I had broken the sound barrier. I had made contact with the other side.
Soon, I was making 20 cold calls in a day. Thankfully gas was 30 cents a gallon! My father would get a call from someone I had visited and he would say, “Yes, that’s my son, he’s like manure, he’s spread all over the place.” The message was loud and clear, I needed to take my presentation to the next level.
I needed to convince my prospects I wasn’t just another pretty face in plaid polyester. My contacts were bewildered, annoyed, amused, indifferent or thankfully, on rare occasion, sympathetic to my pitch. I became accustomed to the word “no”. I managed to solicit a cadre of variations on the theme to the extent I began to expect and anticipate the response. I learned to take a “no” and solicit another. As my skin thickened and the manure piled higher, I was able to garner a “maybe” here and there and occasionally a yes! It was the “ying and the yang” thing, “Yes meant No” to the extent a Tibetan monk would have been proud.
Later, as a Regional Director at NCR Corp. at the sage age of 28 years, I managed more than 70 neophyte sales reps in 10 states. I became well known for the expression, “lose more orders”. My mantra was the more orders you lose, the more opportunities you have to win.
Anyway, my dad fired me. I knew I was in trouble when I arrived at the house for breakfast one fine morning. Mom had made me blueberry pancakes. My favorite. My dad stated the obvious. I needed more experience. I was devastated. I left town to seek employment near my fiancé, Terri in Racine, WI. I stayed with the In-laws while looking for work. I painted their house for $70 bucks, but I painted their windows shut, so we were even. I found a job right before I was evicted.
NCR Corp. hired me because I willed them to do so. Short of holding a gun to the head of my soon to be boss, Marshall, I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Sound familiar? I had learned my lesson well, working for AC Forms and my Dad. I needed that job and no other job would suffice. I was 22.
Marshall, bless him, after 3 interviews and visits from his boss, the Regional Director and National Sales Manager, hired me at $157 per week. I later learned my fellow sales reps were making a require minimum wage of $181 per week. Marshall joked that I was a “minority hire” meaning I was unmarried and under their minimum age of 25.
At NCR Corp. at the ripe old age of 22, I went to my first sales trainee school in Dayton, OH. This real gorilla of a man with a deep raspy voice and barrel chested came to our first day of training. He was towering over me. I was seated in the first row. Staring down at me, he decided to make an example of me. He singled me out because I had broken my toe playing flag football with other trainees on the Sunday prior to class (I wasn’t wearing a shoe) in class. He said we weren’t there to enjoy ourselves. He proceeded to tell us, if we left the company, “it would be like sticking your hand in a bucket of water and pulling my hand out. That’s how much I’d be missed.”
In any case, I think they discerned I was resilient enough to take on a sales territory no one else wanted and gave one to me, Waukesha County. Waukesha County was a vast wasteland, a geographic no man’s wasteland for NCR.
I began to spread manure across the land. In so doing. I was able to plant the seeds for sales and Waukesha County became fruitful and multiplied.
In typical corporate comp. sales plan and design, in less than 18 months they turned us into specialists and split my territory into vertical markets. My sales went vertical, as the new MEG salesperson (Medical, Educational and Government), another vast wasteland in NCR’s quadrant of markets.
Not to be denied, I began to call on IBM, Sperry-Univac, and Burroughs customers. I learned to sell systems and designed sophisticated paper-flow systems. My prospective customers’ had a hard time saying no to someone who had learned to ignore the word.
My favorite sale was to WCTI, Waukesha County Technical Institute, a Burroughs customer. I think the purchasing agent took pity on me. I called for an appointment and his secretary kept saying she would leave him a message. No response.
So I went there. I waited, for a break in between his appointments. I was given five minutes. A half-hour later, I was given a chance to quote on his purchase order forms. He was having trouble with the design and the computer generated impression through four copies. I redesigned and redesigned and tested and retested impressions and finally I was given the go ahead.
It was then I heard a resounding “NO”. Alas, the purchasing manager had a boss and the boss ran the IT department. He wouldn’t allow a NCR forms into his Burroughs shop. Fancy that.
I called him and left him messages, twice a day. He finally called me back after a week to yell at me for annoying him. He said his schedule was impossible and his rules were his rules – no NCR forms in his Burroughs shop.
I said he had to eat and asked him to lunch. He said he ran 7 miles every day at lunch time. I said I’d run with him. After a 30 second pause in the conversation, he said OK but there was still no way he would order the forms from me.
I showed up at his office in some nasty sweats and sneakers with paint all over them (from painting my In-laws house). A bunch of people in his outer office twittered and giggled. I sweated the next 15 minutes. He finally came out all smiles and kept saying “I can’t believe this guy!”
I was shuffled off to the locker room. There were the seven guys who ran together. They were like a pack of greyhounds. I was the mutt. After two miles he took pity on me and told me to go back and meet him in the cafeteria at 2 PM. I walked back. I was still in my nasty sweats and house-painted sneakers. He gave me the order.Solidly entrenched in my job at NCR, I became engaged to Terri, now my wife of 40 years. Terri’s Mom cried, but things were looking up for me. The prettiest girl in Racine, WI was going to marry the mutt and business was good, what to do with me next? Back to big corporate planning. As soon as you make it, they shake it. I was transferred, a promotion of sorts, to Wausau, WI, with a territorial radius of 200+ miles.
When the in-laws heard the good news, my fiancé’s parents, Al and Mary Jane started a direct marketing campaign directed towards contacting all her x-boyfriends. They stopped young men in the streets and solicited anyone in pants and past the age of puberty to date their daughter, all to no avail. I exaggerate, a little. Terri cried for six months and wore out the pavement between our small apartment in the beautiful Wausau suburb of Schofield, WI and Racine, her previous home of 23 blissful years.
My new boss, Clarence was in Green Bay, WI. It was tough going at first, I being a Chicago Bears fan. Whatta ya gonna do? I became a cheesehead.
I continued the unorthodox sales approach of systems selling to NCR’s competitors. After two years and thousands of miles of travel across the northern tundra of WI, from Antigo to Medford, from Land O’ Lakes to Marshfield, I spread the wealth or manure, as Dad would say, successfully for two years, but it was time to shake it. Another a new corporate strategy. They sent me “packing back to Milwaukee, to replace none other than my former boss, Marshall.
This was fun. Here, out of desperation, I learned fortitude and a measure of wisdom. At the ripe old age of 25, my youngest sales rep was almost twice my age. Most of my sales reps had helped me find the washroom when I first started their 3 ½ years prior. They were order-takers, I needed order-makers to survive, but you can’t fire your former co-workers, the Aunt Mitzi’s and Uncle Larry’s.
There were days when the knot in my neck was replaced by a knot in my forehead, this from pounding it into the top of my desk. I didn’t fire my aunts and uncles. Instead, I used a page out of the corporate handbook and got a couple of them transferred. I started recruiting new salespeople from the University of Wisconsin. They came from Madison, Milwaukee and Whitewater. They started spreading manure successfully around their territories, just like me.
Soon thereafter, Terri’s parent bought us a lot just a stone’s throw from Racine, to keep their family close and to keep me grounded. A good plan, but only as good as its execution (a phrase that I coined myself). We built a house. My father-in-law was the contractor. I was carrying 80 lb bales of shingles up 40 feet of ladder onto the roof Thanksgiving Day. It was snowing. I didn’t see the Bears beat the Lions.
My entire family showed up one weekend from Chicago, bless them mightily and we all insulated. I feel like itching every time I think about it. Thanks to brother-in-law Uncle Bob, too. He was the electrician. He called me Vern. More about Vern later. I pulled wire.
The siding was rough cedar. It looked great au naturel. Terri liked yellow. So I painted and painted and painted. An oil-based primer and two coats. It was a two-story salt box New England style house. It looked like a barn, sans the goats, perfect for Franksville, WI. I was often hanging from a ladder 40 ft. in the air or sitting on a pitch of the roof, holding onto a bucket, a brush and my family jewels. Somehow. Thank God for my new sneakers, which were painted with an oil based primer and two coats. It was cold. It rained, it snowed. So occasionally, I was allowed to come inside.
I wall-papered, I tiled, I stained, I varnished. Then you mess up the varnish with steel wool and varnish again. It adds luster. There was lots of luster around our house. I painted ceilings, walls, molding and floor boards, a primer then 2 coats. I hate windows and doors, especially anything louvered. We had 27 of them. I didn’t paint them shut. I’m not sure I’m counting closets. Closets and louver go together you know. Inside and outside windows and doors and all the molding, twenty frigging 7 of them.
Spring sprung so I went back outside. I dug trenches for a sprinkler system. Uncle Bob was again the chief engineer on this project. I was his faithful servant, Vern. The real Vern was a mason who laid cement for the porch and sidewalk outside Uncle Bob’s house. Vern couldn’t help stepping into the wet cement and left his footprints there time and time again. So I inherited the nickname Vern because I stepped in it…I might have made a mistake here and there, but in my mind it was by marrying into the family. I kid you, of course.
So I seeded, I spread hay, I planted trees and bushes. I spread manure. I was good at it.
This was my nights and weekends. At the same time, I was commuting to the north side of Milwaukee early every morning. The new boss can’t be late. Only tired.
Once the house was done there was nothing to do so theiIn-laws and Aunt Chris pushed Uncle Bob to start a business in his basement. Terri and I each owned an equal share and we were going to be rich!
Paybacks are a bitch. Uncle Bob wired my house and put in a sprinkler system so I spent nights and weekends in his basement for over a year wire-wrapping circuit boards. It was there I believe the first spore of black mold was spawned. It formed on my teeth.
We had a small black and white TV down there. Aunt Chris let us watch football, but only during the commercials. The Bears beat the Packers, I’d read about it in the paper the next day, on the floor below another coat of varnish. At the same time, I was commuting to the north side of Milwaukee early every morning. The new boss can’t be late. Only really, really tired.
The best laid plans of mice, men and in-laws fell apart. Uncle Bob’s business never really materialized and I was transferred by NCR to Minneapolis, MN, as a Regional Director. I left the shadow of Vern behind. So that Terri wouldn’t divorce me, we rented the home we had built in Racine, WI, then rented a small duplex in Bloomington, MN. Terri cried for six months. We had a newborn baby girl, Stacy. For no good reason, her dad developed cancer and died. I never knew how hard it was for her. I was on a plane for 12 months. I have made fun, that Al was a slave driver, but he was really a great guy, who left a big hole in Terri’s life and for that matter all of those who were close to him.
As a Regional Director, I was in charge of 10 District Sales Managers, some of who were the likes of Aunt Mitzi’s and Uncle Larry’s. We had 70 sales reps in 7 states. Now I knew the meaning of what goes around comes around. I went around training each one of them how to lose more orders. Soon and par for the course, I was getting job offers from the HQ. Instead, I decided I needed to reintroduce myself to my wife and newborn daughter. I quit.
After eight years at NCR Corp., in 1983, I joined North American Financial Services (NAFS) as President and CEO of North American Business Supply, (NABS) a subsidiary with 2 employees and $80K in annual revenues. Life, all of a sudden, got really, really hard.
We had to move to Davenport, IA, NAFS HQ. It was NABS. I learned to deal with severely limited financial resources. No more Holiday Inns. Welcome to Motel 6. We are talking used furniture, used office equipment and my office had two desks, one for me and one for my “employee”.
There was no room, so we faced each other like on the show Homicide, where the detectives shared a phone and a coffee cup. At NAFS, if it was good enough for the goose (collectively, the owners – so geese); it was good enough for the gander (collectively, the employees – so ganders). That meant long hours, low pay and a nagging lack of resources to get the job done.
Terri and I rented a house across from a cemetery. Our house was popular on Halloween. Terri cried for six months. I was in simply in the state of culture shock. I went from a Fortune 100 Corp. to an Unfortunate 500 privately held company. I was trying to meet my responsibilities to family, but took on a job for less money and more risk. What was the upside? I made deal, if they liked what I was doing, I could move my end of the business to Racine, WI. They did and we did. What a coup! We were back in Racine, WI! I cried for six months.
I think some of the ghosts from the cemetery came with us. The in-laws asked me again to paint their house. I had since bought new sneakers. I said no. We moved back into our house in Franksville, our home once again. Our second daughter, Alexis was born in January, 1984. I painted our house, again. Then I bought Nikes.
At NABS, it wasn’t just about “getting your fingernails dirty”. For lack of furniture, I remember nights, 2-3 AM, on my knees on the floor sorting invoices to be mailed the next day to customers. In the early days many nights were spent, entering orders, packing goods for shipping and billing. Then it was, write the checks, balance the books and start the cycle all over again. Days were spent selling, so I could create more after hour’s paperwork.
Moving the business to Racine, I had rented a loft in a “business incubator”. It was called the Racine Industrial Park (R.I.P). because many businesses died there. It had no office resources to speak of, only a cafeteria we nicknamed the “Choke and Puke”. The real name was “The Cafeteria.” We splurged on Fridays and walked 2 blocks to the DQ for a Coney Dog and fries.
RIP was a place full of small businesses with limited resources but anchored by one relatively large business, that owned the building. They made carpet cleaner that smelled like the puke they used to clean-up. Or maybe I just associated the smell to my days in college when I would sometimes wake up to the smell. The building was ancient. The space I rented had wood floors, stained by years of machine oil and dirt. Guess what? I sanded, I stained, I varnished and behold I had an office boutique that Google would die for, all for $4 per sq. ft. in the beautiful south-side Racine.
Kay, my youngest of sisters and Uncle Bob joined me at NABS. I also recruited employees from University of South Florida, including a young, sharp sales rep, Abby.
It was at NABS where I learned to deal with the financial services business, working with 10 NAFS subsidiaries, who processed the core business for banks. In the corresponding 5 years, with the revolution and evolution of the PC from the CPM/80 operating systems and 64K RAM, to the 386 processor and client-server; multi-user environment NABS grew to 17 employees and $3.5M in revenues. We successfully delivered business forms, supplies, PCs, peripherals and terminal emulation software. So naturally, what happened? We were transferred! The whole business, lock, stock and barrel, moved to St. Petersburg, FL. Before we moved to Florida with NABS, I bought the lot! I had the house built while we were still living in Racine. No need for new sneakers!
Then the hammer dropped. One unique trait I have or had possessed at the time, was an unabashed sense of fair play. If someone was to “wrong me” or I was to “wrong them”, I would expect to receive or give a sincere apology. In this case, I was hearing for the first time, along with the other division presidents, my salary was to be cut in half.
What wasn’t stacking up as far as I was concerned was the equivity (this should be a word, so I’m inventing it because the word equity doesn’t cut it) of such a decision. Since there were others in the room, most others, making 30-50% more than I was making, and were contributing greatly to the problem at hand, there was no equivity. Even more disconcerting, my subsidiary, NABS was making money.
What not to do. My subsidiary had cash in the bank and a healthy business. Unfortunately, I was a minority stock holder in my business and I had no capital, so to speak up regarding the decisions that were made or were to be made were less than appreciated.
In addition, I wasn’t the guy in charge. The guy in charge had far less at stake, granted he might have to sell his 4-5 quarter horses or cut back on his gambling habits. Oh! By the way, never suggest to the CFO of the company, that hates you, that he made some bad decisions or that the CEO needed to make some drastic cuts in his other cash draining ventures, before they cut my salary in half. Better to stay quiet.
At least not before you have a new source of income equal or greater than one-half your currently proposed salary. That is unless you have that unabashed sense of fair play and a really good back-up plan. I was on the short end of the stick on the latter.
Lesson learned for a subsidiary. Being a source of cash, accounts receivable and inventory is a good thing when you are paying your suppliers. It isn’t a good thing for you if your owners drain your cash, collect your accounts receivable, sell your inventory and leave your suppliers hanging unless the plan for you is to go out of business. Once I was out of the way, they did just that. My subsidiary, my company of five years and 17 employees was gone within 12 months.
I learned you can’t go to a board meeting of a company you don’t own or demonstrate a great deal of influence by speaking up on your subsidiary’s behalf, let alone on the behalf of others who should have, could have, but never would have, because they were either so much smarter than myself or cowards (probably both). In fact, a few days later I was fired. I wonder, would I have felt half as bad at half the salary?
In fact, my most endearing quality at the time was ignorance. Today I’m not sure I have any endearing qualities, although the quality of ignorance remains. As I get older, it hs become a less a dominating factor in my life.. The expression, “ignorance is bliss” is accurate to the point when the former expression meets another, which is “reality sinks or sets in”.
I remember one of the board members, who at the time made twice my salary, came out of the meeting, walk up to me and say, “Wiessner, you just shot yourself in the foot”.
I met the same individual on the sidelines of a soccer field several years later, each of us there to watch our daughter’s play and he said, he wished he had taken the same stand I had taken concerning the way the business was run and about the salary cuts. I noticed his sneakers had paint on them and yes, I made that up.
In the end, NABS, with a healthy cash position, was yet an ancillary and non-essential business, fell victim to NAFS, a cash-strapped and failing core business in 1987. Again, what goes around comes around. NAFS filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the early 1990’s.
Life, all of a sudden, got really, really, really tough.
Integra Business Systems, Inc. was born March, 07, 1988. Looking back, it was, the most frightening, yet most enjoyable year, I had experienced personally and professionally for some time. Funny, since I was unemployed and unemployable.
When I look back on how I survived and managed to squeak out a living those first few years, I have to say it had to do with integrity. Hence the name Integra, a.k.a., integrity and integration, a convenient companion to how I was feeling at the time. There was a lack of both in the business. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging. I have never done anything heroic or to be famous. I have made sacrifices, but nothing in the same class of a policeman, fireman or soldier. Tongue in cheek, I must have potential. Maybe in a next life?
My experience at NCR and even NABS became invaluable, learning to make something from nothing at all; learning to trust my own instincts, even in the face of overwhelming opposition, well certainly worthy opposition.
One of the important things I have learned after 35 years in this business is “don’t burn bridges”. Often times the organization you dislike the most is composed of people you might like the most.
Many of my business associates from my NCR and NABS days kept the faith and helped me build a line of products and services when I eventually formed Integra Business Systems, Inc.
So this is the grass roots story of Integra Business Systems, Inc.. For more than a year, my corporate headquarter occupied the guest bedroom in the same house we own today.
I had to liquidate all my savings, including my stocks, annuities; then borrow from friends and family to make ends meet. I borrowed from credit cards, transferred funds from one card to the next, working the low percentage offers, playing a shell game with credit cards. Yet, I never defaulted on a credit card or a loan.
It was the trappings. I understand the word trappings more than most. We came to Florida with a job filled with hope and got side-swiped. It was a very stressful time for us as a family, as we worked hard to maintain the lifestyle for which we had become accustomed.
I sold NCR PCs and RAM when you could still squeak out a living. I was able to buy RAM and resell it to a South American company and others for significant margins. I had no idea I had become a commodities broker, only to realize what commodities brokers do.
Excluding the steady migration of family and friends from the frigid north, Integra had many visitors that first year. Terri was none too happy about my new clientele. Thank Goodness Trump wasn’t President! They were Columbians and Ecuadorians and it was a must do cash business. I didn’t want to chase after my money. Rumor has it, they have a lot of problems with skin cancer.
Ted was my first employee, my sales guy. What can I say about Ted? He tried. One of the nicest guys on the planet. I’m not a believer in the expression “nice guys finish last”, but in Ted’s case, at that time in his life, it was true. He had baggage. I had no room at the inn. He had to go.
Kay, rejoined me a year after the business started. She became the inside salesperson, purchasing agent and helped me with invoicing, billing and collections. We turned to software to make a living and sold terminal emulation software with the PCs. The software came from an English company. We called it VIEWNCR.
Uncle Bob built special serial cards called daisy chain boards, that were required to communicate with the software. This was fortunate for us because South American companies had no qualms about copying software. It took the SA companies some time to dupe the boards, so we made money while the sun shined, especially on the equator.
Some landmarks. Abby left NABS/NAFS soon after I did, but came on board with Integra in 1991. Uncle Bob joined us in 1996. We sold document origination software and then optical disk archival software, a business we built upon and we are still in today. We were still a business on the edge, full of ups and downs but we managed to be successful enough to survive. Oddly enough, we turned the corner with the turn of the century. In 2004 we acquired Tampa Bay Systems.
Today we are a successful and legitimate contender to any ECM vendor in business today. We are a market leader in web based enterprise document management business.
I sometimes ask myself, why are we still here? It’s because I always knew it was about you. My customers, my partners and my employees came first. I’m still learning when to say “no.” Still, I learned never to make make promises I couldn’t keep. Life was simpler when I could say over the phone, “Your order for 64 MB RAM will be here by next Tuesday. Meet me in my living room, take off your shoes. Bring cash”. Hard to believe, but sometimes I miss those days. So is it the journey or the destination?
Still today in many classrooms, the main instructional technology is literally a piece of yellowish limestone rock scraped across a larger black slate…this too, time must erase.
Unfortunately, our educational progress has stalled reflected in stagnating wages and fewer jobs. The median worker is not keeping up with cutting-edge technologies. Below are some good options for those with the desire and aptitude to learn something new and earn a good living.
Free community college, unless substantially retooled for the 21st century will fail both students and employers alike.
According to IDC (International Data Corp) – Between Now and 2020… there will be 44X the growth in information BUT… only 1.4X growth in IT professionals. Nationwide, the economy is adding about 138,000 jobs in computing each year, while the nation’s colleges produce approximately 40,000 computer science graduates, according to Code.org, a group trying to expand computer science education in schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a national 20 percent employment uptick for web developers by 2022, a demand largely driven by the growing popularity of mobile devices and e-commerce.
Web and application software developers using the latest development tools, such as learning code in HTML5 are in high demand in almost every industry. Schools focused on teaching software development either online for as little as $25 per month or brick and mortar in most major metropolitan areas can provide effective and practical education at very reasonable rates.
A combination of graphic design and programming skills are in high demand. The industry calls them UX developers who have skills for building websites, applications for mobile devices where the need for the best utilization and presentation within the screen display using development techniques such as Responsive Design, is at a premium.
The Treehouse is an online school that we can personally recommend as we have FTEs who have taken courses in their free time. The Treehouse is designed to teach you developer skills at your own pace. For as little as $25 per month you can learn online. Their claim is you can Learn from over 1000 videos created by our expert teachers on web design, coding, business, and much more. Their library is continually refreshed with the latest on web technology so you’ll never fall behind. You can practice what you’ve learned through quizzes and interactive Code Challenges. This style of practicing will allow you to retain information you’ve learned so you can apply it to your own future projects.
Another example of a way to learn is to find a school focused on web design and software development, schools like the The Iron Yard. While tuition is $12,000 for a 12 week program, full-time employment would quickly payoff as salaries would start in the $50K range. They have financing options and scholarships available.
Ride Sharing Boosts the Economy
Letter to the Editor – Tampa Bay Times – Small businesses are the engine of our economy. They create jobs, generate revenue, and embody the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, like Getaround, in cities across the country. And that holds true right here in Tampa where small business plays a vital role in our future success and driving the city forward.
Our transportation ecosystem—which is in serious need of improvement—is one example where innovation and entrepreneurs can have a real impact on bringing about positive change and greater options for consumers. Competition in the marketplace results in better products and services, lower costs, and more choice. We should embrace competition and new ride sharing services like uberX that expand transportation alternatives, offering safer, more reliable and affordable ways to get around town. More and better choices for consumers is a win for the city.
Beyond the clear benefits to riders, Uber is also contributing to the local economy by providing new and greater opportunities for residents to start their own business, make a living, and pump money back into the market. Uber gives Tampa residents one more opportunity to leverage technology to be entrepreneurial, build a career and increase earning potential. The company is already creating 20,000 new driver jobs every month—we should welcome opportunity like that and offer the people of Tampa one more way to earn a living.
The New Yorker – Just a couple of weeks ago, Uber (which also runs services allowing you to book livery cars and cabs) disclosed that it had raised more than a quarter of a billion dollars in venture-capital funding, most of it from Google. The flood of new money into all these new businesses feels like a mini-bubble in the making. But beneath all the hype is a sensible idea: there are a lot of slack resources in the economy. Assets sit idle—the average car is driven just an hour a day—and workers have time and skills that go unused. If you can connect the people who have the assets to people who are willing to pay to rent them, you reduce waste and end up with a more efficient system.
James Surowiecki, a staff writer at The New Yorker goes on to write, “If these companies become more established, they’ll have to reach some kind of accommodation with regulators, perhaps along the lines of rules that California’s Public Utilities Commission recently proposed, which would let Sidecar, Lyft, and Uber operate if they implement certain safety and driver regulations.”
The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission (PTC) should put consumer choice and opportunity first—to embrace safe, reliable transportation alternatives like Uber. Restricting competition and limiting options for Tampa residents will only inhibit future growth and economic success. Modern technologies require modern regulations. The PTC should take a common-sense approach to regulating ride sharing and signal to the rest of the state that Tampa is indeed an innovative and forward-looking city.
Peer-to-peer businesses like Uber are nothing new. eBay was the firth peer-to-peer business which has exhibited an extraordinary capacity to self-regulate. eBay’s success is built on their on-line reputation of reviewing and commenting that rewards good behavior and outs the bad. The same will be the case for the ride-sharing industry.
Innovations like Uber will solve many problems politicians and regulators refuse to face. With internet start-ups able to self-regulate, stringent laws to govern start-ups such as Uber and Lyft are unnecessary.
What this country needs now is a return to individual responsibility, and leadership that creates prosperity, not big government. You cannot govern leadership.
Today individual responsibility, leadership, and American exceptionalism are too often political talking points and empty words. When individual leadership fails, or fails to materialize, it creates dependency.
Leonardo da Vinci said it 480 years ago and he said it in Italian. Here is the clearest translation: “People of accomplishment rarely sit back and let things happen to them. They go out and happen to things.”
Don’t do what you’re passionate about, but be passionate about what you do. Don’t follow your passion. Let your passion follow you. That’s leadership.
As a small business owner after 25 years it has been my experience, the most important life decisions you make, have to be made on your own. I built my business and leadership is key.
Others will pontificate as to what a leader is, what a leader must do and how a leader must act. I don’t have time for all that and neither do you. The best way to find out if you are a leader is to deal with life’s biggest challenges when it comes to crunch time.
Decide on your own and act accordingly. You’ll no doubt get plenty of advice, but no one is going to know better than you, what to do. You are better qualified than anyone or anything to make the decisions that affect you personally and those who depend on you.
There’s a disturbing trend in our day-to-day lives towards dependency on others, big institutions, big labor and big government. Sweat equity has been replaced by entitlement equity. People measure success based on what they can get, not what they can give.
A major new study by Harvard economist Raj Chetty, however, shows things haven’t changed all that much. “Children entering the labor market today have the same chances of moving up in the income distribution relative to their parents as children born in the 1970s,” it finds. “That doesn’t mean politicians can’t improve people’s chances of rising. It’s just that the best way they can do so is by getting out of the way.” The Foundry
The problem is the more you lean on the government, the more your life depends on government. You are governed by more laws, more regulations and more public policy today than ever before. Who you become, what you do, and how you do it, is shaped by public opinion and the mainstream media.
In this new era influenced by mass media and public opinion, big government is their divined solution to all your problems. American exceptionalism, entrepreneurship and the multitude of small business success stories that built a thriving post WWII economy, are too often ignored, discounted and discouraged with crippling regulation and laws that are the new normal.
Individualism and leadership are sorely needed. People, not big government, can make a difference. You and I need to step up to the plate. Our country’s in peril as is our next generation. Take on the career politicians who have created roadblocks to personal responsibility and leadership. Our country is on the line. Vote them out in 2014 and 2016.
Career politicians passing laws that control our lives severely curtail the entrepreneurial spirit and small business startups, the little engine that could, that should and does grow the economy. Consider the cost of healthcare has virtually doubled for small businesses in the past 5 years.
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of free enterprise. Their heart is beating for their next customer, for their fellow employees and their families. Their soul is intact. They epitomize what comprises the backbone of our country, small business. In their shadows are the real leaders, the chief cooks and bottle washers; the real risk takers that stand behind their champions, small business owners. Small business owners are essential to the future success of the US economy.
Entrepreneurs are not the only leaders. Leaders are people I see when I come to work before dawn. I see them after dusk, when darkness settles. They are resourceful. They don’t think twice. If you say something to them about the long hours they keep, they will readily commiserate with you, complain if you will, but there is a sense of pride in their voice. There is a smile on their face. These hard working people who are the heart and soul of the US economy.
In an atmosphere where people lean more on government, blame others and institutions for their circumstance, we need more leaders. Whether you are a parent, employee, small business owner or CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation; people depend on you for guidance. You are accountable for the success or failure of others. You have to make decisions that affect other people for better or for worse.
In business or in your personal life, when the time comes, no one will make the important decisions for you. Don’t get me wrong. You will get plenty of advice. “If I were you…” “You should…” “You could…” “You might…” Later on, after the decision has been made, you will summarily receive the same words, only in a different context. “If it were me…” “I would have…” I could have…” “I would have… Draw on your own experience. Make your own decisions.
The most important decisions you can make, are made by you alone. That’s leadership. You can change the world, change you can believe in.
It has been four years now since dad passed away and the mergansers are back each year.
Dad was in a losing the battle with an unforgiving and relentless disease, Alzheimer’s. Simply put, Alzheimer’s is an hour glass of life’s memories forever sifting and slipping away.
There was a small sign with my father’s name, outside his 10 x 12 room, but when reality sunk in, dad just wasn’t home. There were many occasions thereafter, I realized just how much I missed him.
Dad was a conservationist. He loved the outdoors and natural surroundings. He took great pride in building and placing wood duck and blue bird houses all along the river in Wisconsin, on which he and my mom lived.
For that reason, I was excited to see wood ducks on a pond behind my office. Keep in mind I live in Florida, not Wisconsin. I was so excited, I called mom and she sent me wood duck houses for the pond. I mounted them on some beautiful cypress trees on the pond. It turns out the “wood ducks” didn’t want anything to do with their new homes. In fact, they weren’t wood ducks at all, they were Hooded Mergansers!
Of course dad would have known they were mergansers. He would have laughed and told me mergansers are migratory. They were just passing through, just like dad.
Technology waits for no man. Technology will solve many problems politicians refuse to solve, such as energy independence.
What if we could eliminate DUI’s? No more accidents? No more collision insurance? No more speeding tickets? No more traffic cops? No more traffic jams and erase handicaps, too? PLAY SHORT VIDEO
What if we save the billions with a “B” the DOT is spending on high speed rail? Politics aside, what if we spend our billions more wisely on potentially more ubiquitous technology, like driverless cars? What if driverless cars were allowed 1-2 HOV lanes on a perpetual traffic jam like the notorious LA freeway system?
What if we send a driverless car to pick you up for work? What if the system of freeway Park and Ride’s was expanded to use driverless cars at the same rates per seat as other mass transit? What if, what we do for bikes in the inner city, like Divvy bikes, we do for cars?
One idea Google has been studying is how its vehicles could become part of robo-taxi systems in which a fleet of self-driving cars would pick up passengers and work commuters on demand, according to people familiar with the matter. Google believes that such systems could potentially reduce the need for people to own cars and reduce accidents. Google Designing Its Own Self-Driving Car, Considers ‘Robo Taxi’
We know politicians. Money is burning a hole in their pocket. If they are going to spend taxpayer dollars on infrastructure, would our dollars go further if driverless car makers were offered responsible loan guarantees and driverless car buyers were offered the same subsidies we afford to other green initiatives?
Electric cars and gas-electric-hybrid models currently for sale in the U.S. have captured just 3% of total sales through the first eight months of this year. The Toyota Prius line accounts for more than half of the hybrid sales. Electric cars such as the Leaf account for barely a 10th of the market. About 1 in 10 of today’s new-vehicle owners say they will consider an electric the next time they buy a car, says Strategic Vision.
Driverless cars could very well be the future mass transit system. It could be the answer to traffic jams and long commutes. Imagine going 80 mph down the LA freeway and the jackass who’s tailgating you is in another driverless car. You just sit there, speak your destination into your car’s GPS, sit back and enjoy the ride. Read your Kindle, or get your emails on you iPad. There will be stretches of road like this in your future, but don’t worry if you have a lead foot, not all driverless cars will be the Toyota Prius. BMW is working a design.
Technology advances rapidly. Consider in a 2004 desert test the Google driverless car went 8 miles. In 2010 it went 140,000 miles. They used the staggering amounts of data collected for Google Maps and Google Streets. View to provide as much information as possible about the roads their cars were traveling. Their vehicles also collected huge volumes of real-time data using video, radar, and LIDAR (light detection and ranging) gear mounted on the car; these data were fed into software that takes into account the rules of the road, the presence, trajectory, and likely identity of all objects in the vicinity, driving conditions, and so on. This software controls the car and probably provides better awareness, vigilance, and reaction times than any human driver could. The Google vehicles’ only accident came when the driverless car was rear-ended by a car driven by a human driver. Google’s is now looking to build their own driverless cars, has a fleet of Toyota Prius’s, that exist today and have traveled over a half million miles without an accident.
We already have the technology to automatically parallel park cars, from Toyota Prius, Ford Escape and VW Tiguan. New technologies also include early warning systems to warn drivers if they are following to close.
“Giving automobiles auto-piloting features—up to and including completely hands-free, eyes-closed operation with trusting souls aboard—is the Space Race of global auto makers, and you are the monkey in the capsule. Last month Nissan and Renault chief Carlos Ghosn promised that Nissan would bring affordable autonomous cars to the public by 2020. Mercedes-Benz already markets some of its driver-assist technologies as “semiautonomous”: automatic lane keeping (positioning the car between the lines during brief periods of hands-off operation); and Stop & Go Pilot, an optics-and-radar-based cruise control that can see traffic ahead and adjust speed in heavy traffic.” Excerpt from the Wall Street Journal September 2013
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) a.k.a. Obamacare was to impose an employer mandate beginning on January 1, 2014. Only Congress is supposed to have the constitutional authority to change that date.
Again the Obama Administration, choosing to take the law, ACA, into their own hands, delayed the employer mandate until 2015. This is a deliberate ploy to postpone one of the most unpopular pieces of legislation until after the mid-term elections.
“News of the delay was not formally announced, but quietly slipped into a blog entry of one of the President’s top advisers. We’re giving businesses more time to comply,” blogged adviser Valerie Jarrett, who also claimed that the White House is “listening” to small business.
Dan Danner, the President and CEO, NFIB of the NFIB states, “It’s true that extra time to comply with one of the most convoluted parts of the law might provide marginal help to some small-business owners. But delay is not the long-term solution to rising healthcare costs that the small-business community has been asking for. The only way to get Obamacare right is for Congress to pass a permanent fix: full repeal. In the meantime, NFIB will continue to fight hard to correct its most dangerous pieces and do everything in our power to help you avoid its immediate pitfalls.”
The National Federation Independent Business has created “The Healthcare Playbook: A Small Business Guide to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,”available on NFIB’s website. Unlike the act, this playbook is easy to understand, provides clear dates for action items and explains major requirements that you must meet.
Most disturbing report yet we’re going to be enrolling uninsured families, without employer’s income verification, allowing them to sign-up for voter registration at the same time. Who’s going to be footing the bill? The entitlement flood gates are now open.
It’s being reported by the Daily Caller, in California, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO and the NAACP are already conducting door to door canvassing, phone banks and robocalls to encourage people to sign up for exchange plans. Even more onerous for Republicans, the state has mandated that voter registration will be integrated into the process.
This Administration continues to break the law. This latest ploy will increase the cost of Obamacare by at least $62 billion next year alone, by herding millions of people into taxpayer funded health plans whether they are eligible or not. And if you’re getting taxpayer funded healthcare for free why would you vote to repeal it?
Since early childhood I have lived by the creed, before you judge someone else, “put yourself in the other person’s shoes.” I am a cyclist, albeit, a sorry ass one at best. Sadly I will never be compared to the elite cyclists one speaks of, in the same breath, with Lance Armstrong.
I am and will remain a huge supporter of Livestrong. The work Livestrong does for cancer victims is excellent and incontrovertible. The organization and the people behind it, sans Armstrong, are absolutely amazing.
Even before Lance’s true confession, I have tried to put myself in Lance’s shoes. First and foremost, it becomes extremely difficult, unless you have been diagnosed, been treated and lived with a life threatening cancer.
There are many of Lance’s detractors who have never had cancer, let alone been on a bike seat, or experienced the extreme sport of competitive cycling or can even begin to appreciate his inimitable brilliance and determination.
Still there will be many of Lance’s detractors who have been diagnosed with cancer, so thank God, I’m at a distinct disadvantage here. I can fall back on the fact I have one sister who is a breast cancer survivor, another sister who is battling breast cancer as I write this.
I am here to say, I have a serious problem with many of Lance’s detractors who have never experienced his amazing journey from serious life threatening testicular and brain cancer to recovery. Back to trying to put myself in Lance’s shoes, as a cancer survivor, in his case, it was nothing short of being raised from the dead.
The problem is he had already doped. He already knew how to dope. He knew the culture of doping in pro cycling. He knew other elite athletes in his profession were doping. So he doped. Somehow he won. It was off to the races.
His genius and competitive furor brings to mind Steve Jobs and his achievements in cycling why competing with co-conspirators were immeasurable. If you have read the book or studied the life and work of Steve Jobs, the comparison to Steve Jobs, is to say Armstrong is also a complete asshole. It begs the question, is ruthless determination, the price one must pay to celebrate incomparable success?
The saddest of all, for me in this and for other cycling enthusiasts is the effigy of a championship cyclist. We may never know. How tragic. Lance will never know. We will never know if he was truly a great champion. If in fact, if there was someone who rode clean, who could remotely challenge Lance, will we ever know who the greatest cyclist(s) in the history of the sport is, truly?
I will say this, if they were complicit in any way, they aren’t going to receive a pass. If they were innocent and Lance rolled over them, he needs to make it right. I would hope he would. If not, he’s still the biggest loser, because this is one of his only means of redemption. The other, is to protect and nurture his love for his family, especially his children.
I can’t remotely place myself in Lance’s shoes when it comes to his admonitions, accusations and confessions. Lance was larger than life. For a time, Lance’s achievements were larger than his lies. No more.
In the end, none of his perceived success either on the pro circuit or in his work for charity can be applauded. Neither can it be easily and lightly be disparaged and denigrated. Why? Simply, no one can ever possibly imagine, or conceive to “put yourself in Lance Armstrong’s shoes.” Lance Armstrong is an enigma.
I’m no Lance. You’re no Lance. There is no Lance.
What I know for certain is we can Livestrong!
We’ll not forget the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.
While we grieve the slaughter of innocents, this tragic act serves as a reminder of how precious, how fragile, the gift of life is.
Whatever your religious beliefs, let’s not forget to appreciate the Christmas spirit.
Set aside your politics and prejudice, the spirit of Christmas is about giving. In the spirit of Christmas, we need to turn to those we love, family and friends and give of ourselves.
Not to pontificate, it’s easy for people this time of year to find a reason to be unhappy. Let’s not forget those less fortunate and find joy in all we have been given.
These lyrics from Santa Claus is Coming to Town come to mind…
You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town
Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Happy Holidays! And be good for goodness sake!
How do you spend a trillion dollars a year, over 4 trillion dollars in less than 4 years, and not cure cancer? For that matter, the common cold. Why are we not a nation disease free? Where are our priorities? What were we thinking?
This is getting personal. I have three sisters. My youngest sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and she is a breast cancer survivor Now my oldest sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer. It’s no longer about Obama simply reaching into my wallet. It’s not so much about the money anymore. It’s about the waste. It’s about wasted time, wasted money and wasted resources. Tic-toc, cancer is rampant and destroying more and more lives. Government waste is a cancer, too. Here is a case in point: Millions Spent on Storytelling Science.
Do you want to see real gains in life saving procedures and reduced medical expenses? News flash!!! Put your money and energy behind curing the disease. One of the most appealing aspects of Obamacare is providing for coverage to people who have preëxisting conditions. I’m all for that. Make the insurance companies toe the line. My contention is, what if preëxisting conditions didn’t exist? Cure cancer. There would be a lot fewer preëxisting conditions if we attacked the real problem, cancer.
What if Obama had the cojones to take back the $16 Billion he gave to his mega-rich campaign donors, including blowhards like Ted Turner, recipient of around 1 billion in green energy money from Obama, for failed green energy initiatives and put that money it towards cancer research? No. Now that he’s been reelected at all cost, we’re $16 Trillion in debt. Now it’s everybody’s problem that our healthcare is going to be too expensive for many small businesses because we are going to be taxed. If you want to blame Bush or the Republicans, argue your case with John Roberts, Chief Justice, Supreme Court.
All politicians have it wrong when it comes to priorities on health issues, but the Mainstream media and Hollywood have placed the focus on our savior and savant, Barack Obama. All this President was about was keeping his job by dividing America, the have’s and the have-nots’. He succeeded. All President Obama has done is grow a new cancer. A cancer that is equally daunting and will grow as our economy shrinks under his leadership. Get to the source of the problem. Why waste time and money on Obamacare? Why not cure cancer? That’s what a real leader would be all about.
Murder by guns vs. cancer, a look at our current death toll in this country (based on trends – not actual numbers). —> 2012 Mortality statistics for USA
Johnny Carson Lie Detector on Politicians – Vimeo Video. HILARIOUS!!! Still true today.
It’s time to put the brakes on government spending. The road to recovery lies with the success of small businesses, not with behemoth car companies and big labor. If we were going to bailout anyone, we should have bailed out the car dealerships and auto supply companies to allow them to remarket, retool and invest in new technologies. We should be growing our tax base, which is only going to happen if we fuel the small business private sector. Speaking of which, why are we not doing more to grow and keep promising small business technology companies and their technology jobs in the USA, where our best talent and our best jobs can remain right here at home?
“You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living…
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They should change the expression from the Holiday Blues to the Holiday Reds.
Tis the season we all go a little crazy spending money. Debt can pile up. It can pile up for your Company, too. The expression, “those that help, help themselves.” is never more of a challenge than it is right now.
As a business owner, I’m here to say, “We’re all in this together.” There’s no one, no one, who will be more disappointed than myself, if I cannot compensate you fairly, provide great benefits and a bonus for this year.
So it’s worth sharing just a few observations from a guy that’s been doing this a while…
· The longer it takes to deliver our products and services, the less likely we are to get paid. Customers go out of business, get sold, or change suppliers. We need to deliver.
· We carry a large sum in Accounts Receivable each month – that’s money our customers owe us. Imagine the possibilities for all of you if we could cut our delivery time by one-third or in half?
· These are competitive times. We are good, we are very good, but we still have a great deal of competition. That means we need “great references.” Great references come from great products and great service. Great products and great service have to come from you.
· The longer we stay in business, now 20 plus years (imagine… some of you were still in diapers) providing our customers with great products and service, the more opportunities will present themselves.
Imagine… some of you were still in diapers.
So what it all comes down to, everyone depends (not for diapers) on you. So when it is all said and done and with the all the best of intentions, “Look to yourself , look to your fellow professionals and then ask yourself, “What can I do to produce opportunities?” Then go do it.
No one needs you to be looking at your watch. You don’t need someone to tell you just to show up and get less done. And everyone is entitled to take time to commiserate, socialize and share their personal lives here at work. It’s a healthy work environment. Still you want your time to be well spent. BTW no one wants you to bring your personal problems to work. In a work environment that delivers great products and great service, no one needs to hear you’re less fortunate than the next person. So take care of your personal lives and your personal problems first. If you do, you will receive more support from your co-workers and from me. There’s more willingness to help those trying to help themselves.
You can’t get better at what you do if you’re too stressed, too tired or too sick to help yourself and your company professionally. Help yourself personally first and second professionally. For all of us here the best medicine is a healthy, happy and productive you.
We all have the tendency to have good days and bad, lick our wounds, get down in the mouth and to think no one cares. If you know me, you know I care. I truly care! I do, but I don’t employ a priest, a doctor or a shrink. If you need professional help, go get it. If you’re a part of the company, you’re a part of my family.
Family pulls together and as my Dad would always say after I have had a bad day, “Just leave it at the door.”
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Is that what life is all about? Blame the rich for your problems or do you have the guts and resilience to earn a living? Make money, maybe lots of money. If you have the guts, you will make mistakes. New mistakes, mind you. You can’t afford muck it up over and over again.
Lord knows I make mistakes! I live for the entitlements I deserve. To live free. To choose to make mistakes, without the fear of reprisal. To act upon my own convictions within the law
I managed a large sales organization for NCR Corp. I told my salespeople, “lose more orders!” It took a little getting used to the idea but they learned, “I am experience.”
If I could reach into my bag of mistakes and pull out just one success, I might be one of those “rich guys” or just maybe who I am. I like to think I’m still living my life. If you ask me who I am, I will tell you, I am experience.
How about the day ahead of me? When will I step over the line and where will that line be drawn? If I step over the line, I will have to choose, success or failure. There is no middle ground. I am experience.
Mistakes are getting old, if you’re like me… old. I grow weary of the next opportunity. There was a time, when I was hungry. A hunter. I would seek opportunities to be successful. I have since learned the definition of success. If you make enough mistakes, opportunities seek you. I am experience.
I have already left yesterday’s mistakes behind me. Today’s opportunities beckon me back. Give me a tomorrow, whatever I was doing and wherever I have been. I can make tomorrow, a better future. I am experience!
And if I had yesterday back, if I had spent a buck and if I had bought the winning lottery ticket, I’d have to say, I’m one of those “rich guys.” Where’s the crime in winning the lottery? Maybe they should charge millionaires more? How about $2 a ticket?
Most rich guys are portrayed as useless money grubbers. I’d bet my bottom dollar on the rich guys, because most “rich guys” can say, I am experience.
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I Can’t Do This Anymore!
“When you bust through all the layers of brevity and you have shaken all the hands of hope, you can begin to share the depths of despair depression can bring.”
If you are afflicted by or live with someone with severe depression, you’re no stranger to words of despair. You try to remain stoic while your insides are churning. Helpless in the moment. Those suffering from depression, they’re gripped by desperate thoughts. And all you can do is to tell them it is going to be OK. Tell them it isn’t going to last. Tell them they will get better. Both of you must endure.
Tears may come easy to some, sometimes for no reason. Depression can often hide behind a smile. It’s no cliché. If you have shared a moment or a lifetime with someone who is severely depressed, the eyes are truly the window to their soul. Looking into the eyes of someone you love, eyes you have seen filled with joy, mischief, love and wonderment; that are suddenly filled with tears, fear, pain and bewilderment, is gut-wrenching. The only reprieve is an embrace.
Even those closest to one suffering from depression often react with bewilderment, impatience, aggravation, even divisiveness by someone’s sudden onset and deep dive into depression. The problem is there is more than one reality.
Depression is an alternate reality, a place where all that is burdensome or worrisome is amplified tenfold and more. Those who are afflicted with depression are rolling down a road to nowhere.
There are millions of clinically depressed people who are not normally self-absorbed, who are living productive lives, who are contributing to society, who are contributing to their friends and families, yet live with a profound sadness and who are depressed. These are people who are suffering from depression, who love life, who love others and who dread the unwelcome, unanticipated, unprovoked; and most disturbing, suffer undeserved moments of despair.
Moments of despair that often metastasize into hours, days, weeks and beyond. Some severely depressed people never make it back, back to living the productive lives they were meant to live.
Those who live, love, are friends with or have a depressed person in their lives need to embrace that person, even when that person doesn’t know or care if you are there.
You have to hold out for a loved one afflicted with depression, let them know you are there without prejudice, without demands and bring a boatload of patience. Reach out to them, through the tears. Find them in your embrace. Welcome them back. Cherish every moment.
With depression, there’s always a way back. The fact is, if you can be a severely depressed person and face a severe episode (incident) of depression with defiance and say, “I won’t take this anymore.” If you can face the feelings of fear and desperation by surrendering to those feelings, letting go, letting those feelings roll over you and believe in yourself its possible you can endure each successive episode until your psyche has put these feelings behind you.
I wrote “This Stretch of Road Is All Behind Me” because I often find people in places where they never want to be. I believe this stretch of road for those who live with misery, including depression, that road can be behind you.
This stretch of road is all behind me…No more rolling down this road called misery. I’m no saint. No savior wannabe. I’m not here to take a fall. I’m just here passing through, that’s all. Cause that road I was headed down, Placed a hurt on me… a hurt on me. People bent, people broken. People’s names left unspoken. I’m not headed down that road. No. No. No more. So I’m taken a turn for right or wrong. This stretch in the road is all behind me. My mind, my bed is already made. There’s no more yesterday’s in my head. No more yesterday’s hanging over me. Over me. All I see is ahead of me. Ahead of me… People bent, people broken. People’s names left unspoken. I’m not headed down that road. No. No. No more. Hear me now. There’s no going back! So just don’t go there. You hear me? Me 10-31-2011
Note to readers: There are many roads to a cure for depression. There are also many forks in the road and dead ends, too. Drug therapy is not an exact science. There are many good self-help books, good therapists, effective drugs and other forms of therapy. If the road you take doesn’t work, don’t give up. There are many roads available. Don’settle.
One of the best sites on Depression.
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Life is large!… and so amazing!
Don’t let a few bumps in the road stop you from experiencing your potential.
You have an awesome future.
Don’t waste time on worry, anger or reproach.
Life’s too short.
The “what if’s?” can be endless.
The “why not’s” can be endless too.
Choose one and you will be lost in life.
Choose the other and you will find endless possibilities.
So “why not?”
I have been bowed over in anguish over a job lost; I have placed my hands over my face and head, elbows to my knees gasping for breath; I have barricaded myself behind closed doors.
So, I have often wondered, does a job lost make a sound?
If you have asked our government, technically the answer to both questions is no.
I would have to agree. Neither seen nor heard, you’re on your own.
I have experienced both, the latter being much more traumatic, although both are deeply disturbing, I would have to say the tree was less personal and the lesser of two evils.
Symbolic in a fashion, like our government, the tree had been leaning. Its weight no longer sustainable, it roots no longer able to bear its growth.
I was deeply affected by the sight of the fallen tree in its magnitude, its beauty and majesty held me in awe. I often crossed its path never imagining its demise.
Falling across a sidewalk, in a city park, the tree was swept away in a day; a series of sawing, grinding and chipping away. At times the noise was deafening. And then it was gone.
I had moved on. Picked myself back up. Started a new venture. Today I am rooted strongly, my business supported by faith, family and my business. Supported by partners, fellow employees, suppliers and customers.
How fortunate for me, I am not a tree.
Like an artist’s stroke of the brush, you are a Rembrandt or a Van Gogh.
You will never be a copy. You will never be a failure. You will always be a work of art, an interpretation.
How many times in your life have you said to yourself and nobody else, “I can’t do this anymore?” If you’re still breathing you have asked yourself the question many times.
How many times have you “answered the bell” sucked it up and did what you thought you couldn’t do?
The answer defines you.
It matters little if you can’t do something you are physically incapable, totally unprepared, poorly trained or simply uneducated to do. What matters is when there is that defining moment. You can do it. You’re in the moment. You have summoned all your strength, including mind and spirit. And you succeed. That’s what defines you.
Some might view you as a success. Others may view you as a failure. What’s vital is how you view yourself? You will never be a copy. You will never be a failure. You will always be an interpretation. You decide.
To illustrate I have included a poem I wrote for my dad who has recently passed away, a victim of Alzheimer’s.
If I Was An Artist Father, patriarch, dad And if I could paint Mature, senior citizen , old man, I would paint the portrait of a man Provider, benefactor, success Each word to describe him Contrary, obstinate, cussed Would be a different stroke from my brush Non-conformist, contestant, maverick Each phrase a different shade Creative, inventive, colorful From the palette of his life. Environmentalist, naturalist, crusader I would present him his portrait Integrity, honesty, candid With pride, his life a work of art.
You too are an artist. Paint yourself with abandon!
My first job out of college was to work for AC Forms. My Dad owned AC. I’m not even sure what AC stood for but I do know from my Dad being first in the Yellow Pages was a good thing. Dad was the only full-time employee. Business was good. My older brother Dan had already embarked on his career at First Wisconsin, the largest bank in Wisconsin at the time.
I joined my Dad with his company, AC Forms as a sales rep in 1974. We were a force of two. My Mom was the part time administrative support person and the mother of six. I was the future. It was a shaky start. My job was to get new business. I used the phone to solicit appointments. I can remember my voice quaked and my message was ill-prepared. After exhausting all legitimate leads I was proffered, by phone, I hit the road.
My first cold call, “cold “ being the vernacular used for an unsolicited visit on an unsuspecting business to make a sales pitch. I was a major contributors as to why there are so many “No Solicitors” sign on doors.
Like the polyester plaid I was wearing, rejection isn’t my strong suit. I have to admit there were days I could not face the day ahead without becoming physically ill, cramps and vomiting, anticipating the rejection that inevitably lay ahead.
For better or worse, most of the businesses I “solicited” on the south side of Chicago, were unaccustomed to a 21 year old young man in polyester and a “pleather” briefcase showing up at their door. My first “sales call” and I use the term loosely, required considerable surveillance. I drove around the block several times. In the end, it was a relief to just to be dismissed. To hear a simple “no thanks” was a victory, of sort. I had broken the sound barrier. I had made contact with the other side. Soon, I was making 20 cold calls in a day.
Thankfully gas was 30 cents a gallon! My father would get a call from someone I had visited and he would say, “Yes, that’s my son, he’s like manure, he’s spread all over the place.” The message was loud and clear, I needed to take the next step, get to the next level.
Speaking of manure, here’s a great joke from Ronald Reagan, only takes a minute, during one of his speeches. Precious really. Good clean fun!
I needed to convince my prospects I wasn’t just another pretty face in plaid polyester. My contacts were bewildered, annoyed, amused, indifferent or thankfully, on rare occasion, sympathetic to my pitch. It’s simply amazing. I became accustomed to the word“no”. I managed to solicit a cadre of variations theme to the extent I began to expect and anticipate the response. I learned to take a “no” and solicit another. As my skin thickened and the manure piled higher, I was able to garner a “maybe” here and there and occasionally a yes! It was the “ying and the yang” thing, “Yes means No” to the extent a Tibetan monk would have been proud.
Later, as a regional director at NCR Corp. at the sage age of 28 years, where I managed more than 70 neophyte sales reps in 10 states, I became well known for the expression, “lose more orders”. My mantra was the more orders you lose, the more opportunities you have to win. Spread that manure! Well not exactly…
Anyway, my dad fired me. he put me out of my misery! His too. He said I needed more experience. He was right. I was keeping him too busy spinning his wheels. At the time, I was devastated. I finished the blueberry pancakes my Mom had made me. I left town to seek employment near my fiancé, in Racine, WI. I stayed with the in-laws while looking for work.
I painted their house for $70 bucks, but I painted their windows shut, so we were even. I found a job right before I was evicted. But there’s more to the story…
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Recently, a dear friend’s mother passed away at 93 years of age. More than a lifetime, yet only a moment in time. Where do we go from here? When the light goes out and the smile fades away of another loved one?
Aged and revered. Adored and adulated. Respected and to whatever degree possible, emulated. You have to
wonder how you can replace a legacy, an individual with such an enormous history; with another, a light so bright, here today, gone tomorrow.
In years past, there was the love and dedication to one another that reaches far beyond what has become practice today. Our sovereign past was punctuated with marriages that endured 30, 40, 50 years and more. When I say endured, I mean marriages suffered financial hardships far greater than we face today, unborn children, children suffering physical and mental handicaps and many other maladies we no longer face today.
Today, marriage is commonplace if not convenient. The slightest hiccup is grounds for divorce.
Today, whether by a barrage of socio-economicaly altered DNA or as I would prefer to define it, our progeny are spoiled, people no longer live for one another, unless it is better suited (in our best interest) to do so.
There is a commitment to convenience. Principles are defined by rule of law and politics as opposed to personal ethics and spirituality.
Formal education today has schooled us in cynicism and prejudice against a society built on “sweat equity” and capitalist ideals. Today our future is in hands unsoiled by the earth and unscathed by the tools that built our rails, roads and bridges that made our country great. God help us.
In the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, a story unfolds about a man, Louis Zamperini, a WWII hero who endured (there’s that word again), along with thousands of WWII prisoners of war and victims of Japanese imposed terror, torture and genocide, unspeakable crimes against human nature and survived to become a true American hero. If you read his story you will come to realize, the use of the term “hero” today is used at a whole different level.
The book is a best seller. People marvel over the fortitude and unrelenting wilfulness of a man to do what’s right in the face of sheer evil. Louis Zamperini and hundreds of thousands of Americans of his era were doing what they thought was the right things to do. Let’s hope that spirit of America doesn’t die!
I don’t wish to diminish simple acts of bravery, or people doing the right thing when faced with a choice. My problem is it has become unexpected and uncommon to do what’s morally and ethically responsible in the face of popular alternative. And God forbid you’ll get sued!
Now it’s time to get off my soapbox and on my knees. It’s time to give thanks to God for the bright lights and great minds that will outlive the memories of most. God rest your soul.
About 1 1/2 years ago, oddly after a terrific summer with Cody in the Summit Valley of Colorado at over 10,000 feet and hiking together, Cody started to gain weight, shed profusely and lose mobility. I’ve always called him my Cody Bear. Like me, he is just a load… an Irish/German mish-mash of blood and guts.
Now he’s the brunt of many yucks… he’s even been called a manatee. Have you heard the joke about the dog who needs to lose weight just so he can lick his privates?
I took him into several vets and after a series of tests, he’s been diagnosed with “atypical Cushing’s Disease.” Not to alarm anyone. Cushing’s disease is treatable and Cody is getting the best of care.
So what has me bugged? It just seems like all the great dogs I have known, almost exclusively Labs and Golden’s, are dying early and almost all of whom are dying from the big “C” cancer. Why is that?
Why are small “yappy” dogs living longer? Are we researching the increase in mortality, specifically due to cancer, in large dogs, most commonly Golden’s and Labs? Tongue in cheek, maybe we should?
If you are layed back and loveable you’re gonna die before your disagreeable brethren?
I think the research would be surprising. If you are a small yappy dog, you’ll live next to forever in doggy years and if you are a big ol’ Cody bear of a dog expect to die too early in my estimation… Can we equate the same to humans?
Eyes wide open… Reflections
In the darkest hours of the night, when sleep should prevail, without prejudice, without mercy, questions pour into my head. I lie awake and I wonder…
Have I lived well enough to make many friends and fewer enemies?
Do I have the courage to cherish my friends and to vanquish my enemies?
Have I spread enough smiles?
Have I shared enough hugs?
Have I planted enough kisses?
Have I caused enough laughter to earn reciprocity?
Have I studied enough history?
Have I been engaged enough in current affairs?
Have I earned a degree in knowledge?
Is knowledge a benefit?
Is knowledge the revelation of truths, or is knowledge the realizations of falsehoods?
Have I learned from every victory and every folly?
If so, am I a benefactor; more important, am I a teacher?
Today, in this world that reports the past in real time; in time to worry for our future; and if I only see images of life, albeit in real time, can I relate?
Have I focused long enough on the anguished faces, I cannot truly see?
Have I listened hard enough to the desperate voices, I cannot hear?
Have I seen enough of their pain, I cannot feel?
Have I felt their hunger, I cannot feed?
Have I shared in their grief, I cannot quell?
Have I touched enough people?
Has cuddling become a lost art?
If you learn my darkest secret, will you forgive me?
Will I forgive myself?
Did I stop smoking soon enough to live forever?
How much double churned ice cream is too much?
Will I die and when?
Will it be too soon! Of course!
Would I fight for my life to the very end?
Out of fear?
Out of courage; for you?
Will I let go?
Can I fall away?
Will you miss me if I’m gone?
Will you miss me when you are alone?
Will you miss me when you are amongst friends.
Will you still laugh and will you smile?
And for how long? Don’t tell me.
My dog is forever,asleep at my feet.
I miss him terribly.
He has all the answers.
He won’t say, but I finally get it.
It’s not about me.
So now, I can close my eyes…
Twenty-three (23) years in the making.
The number 23 certainly doesn’t solicit much sensation. Not like 25 or 50, still a milestone all the same for many businesses, especially today on when we are all on twitter time. 140 characters or less now defines us!
From his book, Lasting Lessons from the Corner Office, Todd G. Buchholtz, quotes a line from a futuristic movie and someone saying, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads, we just need people made of the right stuff.”
He goes on to say, “One of the statistics out there is that 33 percent of all new businesses fail within the first two years. That number is much higher when you look at the first five years.”
There are a lot of articles, books and blogs out there portraying entrepreneurship in the same sentence with risk, blind luck, or just plain foolish. Many of the pundits will never know first-hand the emotional roller coaster ride.
Well let me be your Garmin. I can take you there.
There are hundreds of thousands of small business entrepreneurs that are made of the “right stuff.” I formed Integra Business Systems, Inc. March 7th, 1988. Looking back, it was, the most frightening, yet most enjoyable year, I had experienced professionally, for some time. Funny, since I was unemployed and unemployable.
For more than a year, my corporate headquarters occupied the guest bedroom in the same house we still own and occupy today. When I look back on how I survived and managed to squeak out a living those first few years I have to say it had to do with confidence and faith in myself and the support of my family. Yeah, we were scared. I don’t want you to think I’m bragging. I have never done anything heroic. I have made sacrifices, but nothing on the same level of a police officer, fireman or soldier. Tongue in cheek, maybe I have potential? Maybe in my next life?
As is the case with many small business start-ups, entrepreneurs, I had to liquidate all my savings; then borrow from friends and family to make ends meet. I borrowed from credit cards, transferred funds from one card to the next, worked the low percentage offers, played the shell game with credit cards. Yet, I never defaulted on a credit card or a loan.
My experience at NCR Corp. and subsequently at a start-up, North American Business Supply (NABS), operating as a subsidiary of a small bank data-processing company, became invaluable, learning to make something from nothing at all; learning to trust my own instincts, even in the face of overwhelming doubt.
One of the important things I have learned after over 35 years in this business is “don’t burn bridges”. Often times the organization you dislike the most is composed of people you like the most. Many of my business associates from my NCR and NABS days kept the faith and helped me build a line of products and services for whom I hold undying loyalty.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Buchholz observed the CEOs who’s lives he explored all had one thing in common, “At some point they all tumbled into failure and heard trusted friends whisper, “Quit.”
Most small business owners and entrepreneurs will tell you the word “quit” just isn’t in their vocabulary. And that shapes the American dream after all, does it not?
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I’m not a big fan of the expression, “It’s God’s will.” Everyone needs to make important decisions every day that affect their own well being. Often you make decisions for others, to a lesser or greater degree, depending on your circle of influence.
Your circle of influence may be considerable, but there are those of us whose circle of influence can be much smaller and still have a much greater impact. Someone else’s decisions can be far reaching, worldwide, but ineffective. You and I can influence a family, maybe friends or a small business. If someone screws up worldwide, it’s up to you and I to win life’s battles… one at a time. That’s the way life should be.
Every day things happen unexpectedly, often uncontrollably, that affect you and me. Some good and bad things happen because we want them to happen. Some people can eat anything, get no exercise and never suffer the consequences. Someone can eat right and get plenty of exercise and never truly see the benefit. Sooner or later someone very close to you will be in a crisis. It may be emotional and or physical. It may be a divorce, an illness, or a death of a family member or friend.
I have a sister, Kay who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s my “littlest” sister. I have two other “little” sisters, Diane and Beth and two brothers. I love them all dearly.
Kay is very close to God and her family. I have it under advisement, that I am only one of hundreds that pray for her, which is a really good thing. Kay and I, we live far apart in so many ways. Oddly enough, we think alike in many ways. If I were to be reincarnated, I think I would be a lot like Kay, obviously an upgraded version due to our combined skill sets (ha-ha) and without the same plumbing, of course. Being a guy is so easy. My boys are much safer than her girls. You know what I mean…
If you know me, you know I don’t look or act like a guy that prays. Surprise! I pray for my family and my friends. I pray for Kay. Maybe this makes no sense to you, but I pray for me first.
That’s right. You’re second. I have tried to convince myself, the reason I have adopted this indulgence is; if I don’t take care of me first, I can’t take care of you. So I pray for you second. This might explain why some of you are so miserable (ha-ha). Get over it! We all have a cross to bear. That’s life. Marcus Aurelius, a way…way… long time along said it best, “Life is what your thoughts make it.”
Then there’s this…if I pray for you, does it really matter? Is God really listening to me? If you are in my prayers, you should pray God is listening, because I don’t pray enough. When I do, I want to make sure it’s important. So get in line! God’s a busy guy (excuse me… but PC would be to say…entity). There are a lot of people out there that need His or Her help a lot more than you or I do.
So why am I not a big fan of the expression, “It’s God’s will?” Well, I’ve heard that expression all too often. When I hear it from someone that I’m trying to help, it leaves me little room to offer my own advice, council; or an alternative. I’m competing with the best. God. So all I can do is pray for you?
Maybe God’s will is a blessing for those who are totally helpless, but if I have one ounce of strength left in my being, I’m going to be looking out for “numero uno” and I pray someone’s got my back. If you know me; if you and I are family or friends, I have your back!
What I love about Kay is she does not hide her love for God and her faith in God, but from my seat at the table, she is totally into the expression, “God helps those that help themselves.”
Kay has explored all her options in terms of her treatment, surgical, chemo and radiation, for her type of cancer. She has consulted with all the resources available to her and recognized all of her opportunities and risks. Once Kay made a decision, she was all in. I love and admire her for that. Most of all, I love her courage, to strike out on her own. Of course, all of you and I have her back.
Kay isn’t looking for someone to blame. She isn’t looking for someone to make it all better… She is all in. Now it is up to you and I to support her. We’re all in. Maybe that’s God’s will?
May you live every day of your life. Jonathon Swift
There is no warranty on life’s journey. The only guarantee is the past. And then there is Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s is a horrible debilitating disease that sets about diminishing the past.
Today there is no remedy for Alzheimer’s. For Alzheimer’s victims, tomorrow may never come. It has become an ailment of epidemic proportion, not unlike the “C” word and other world class diseases.
Ronald Reagan had it, my Dad, Martin Gerald “Jerry” Wiessner had it. Dad was in a losing battle with an unforgiving and relentless disease, Alzheimer’s. Simply put, Alzheimer’s is an hour glass of life’s memories forever sifting and slipping away. Hundreds of thousands of people, regardless of their position in life, have it. Hundreds of thousands more will be afflicted and so the journey continues.
President Reagan’s birthday has recently come and gone. Still an inspiration, five years after leaving office, his final public comments included the following sage words…Excerpts…
“So now we feel it is important to share it with you. In opening our hearts, we hope this might promote greater awareness of this condition. Perhaps it will encourage a clearer understanding of the individuals and families who are affected by it. “
“Unfortunately, as Alzheimer’s disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden. I only wish there was some way I could spare Nancy from this painful experience. When the time comes, I am confident that with your help she will face it with faith and courage.”
“I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.”
With Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) the effect is a diminishing past and memories once shared are forgotten. For us, the Wiessner family, especially my Mom, we lived with AD and its hold on our lives for just shy of a decade. We had been missing my Dad long before he was gone. There was no despair. We had and we have each other and we are united in our efforts to heighten awareness for a cure for AD.
I am very proud of my entire family and how they came together and have held together throughout this ordeal with a family member with AD. They have exhibited unheralded measures of endearment and respect for the spirit of Jerry, the man, the husband, the father, the grandpa and the grand pa-pa (Ba-pa). As you embark on your next journey please know, “We are all going to miss you now that you’re gone Dad, you will live forever in our hearts.”
Visit my amazingly talented sisters’ blogs in support of the fight against Alzheimer’s, where they have given of their time and talent to fight this terrible disease.
There is a wonderful community of support out there. Both sisters Beth and Diane have received nationwide recognition for their art through an organization well known for their support of a cure for Alzheimer’s http://alzquilts.org/
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When you’re losing someone close, it can empty your heart. I guess that’s where the expression heartache comes from.
It doesn’t stop there. You know the feeling. The one you get in the pit of your stomach. That tightness radiates back into your thoughts; where sadness is born.
Sadness can linger like a bad cold. It can leave you weepy, nose dripping, eyes wet and swollen. It can leave you numb, unresponsive and distant. Sadness subsides in most. Sadness comes more often during anniversaries and holidays.
It’s easy to recognize an empty heart. Look for that far away expression. The one that comes when you see someone absentia. They think they are alone or just don’t care about their surroundings. It’s brought on by a sense of loss. It can be an illness or irk. Someone could cause you more pain than you can bear. You can’t bear the loss. Sometimes sadness follows anger and easily succumbs to a sense of loss.
Losing someone can take time or it can happen in a moment. You can fall out of love. You can disagree with someone and fail to find your way back. You can lose someone you love or failed to love (enough).
You can watch someone struggle and slowly grow old. You can listen to them labor to breath.
The most amazing thing about losing someone is dealing with an empty heart. We don’t talk about it. We don’t share it. We prefer to suffer in silence. I guess it is human nature? We don’t want anyone to know we hurt.
We know those who are feeling sorry for themselves. You will hear all about all their aches and pains!
And we sure know how to celebrate when we are sad! We even celebrate death. It even has leaders called the “funeral party”. We all get together and cry and hug. Then we go eat and drink ourselves silly.
(‘Tis the season, yeah)
To see the children laughin’
Everybody should be dancin’
Come on and clap your hands ‘cuz
…and so on. Artist: Mary Mary lyrics
‘Tis the season to spread joy and happiness. “If you are unhappy, and you know it clap your hands!”. Uh-oh, wrong song. True, is it not? You know when you are unhappy. Chances are everyone around you knows you’re unhappy, too.
If you’re not feeling the love ask yourself, “Am I happy?” I find I rarely ask the question myself, certainly not often enough. So just in the moment, try it on for size. Ask the question, “Am I happy?” The experience can’t be any worse than trying on your favorite pair of jeans. Ha! Then again it is the holidays!
Seriously, you will probably become as retrospective as I am regarding the question of happiness. Of course the answer, at least in any moment in time, can be entirely up to you. You may be wondering why am I asking now, at a time when the spirit of giving and receiving is at an all time high? The holiday season can be a busy, stressful time. Many of us go out of our way to please others. There’s even this myth that suicide rates are highest during the holidays. Not so. Fact is, suicide rates are lowest in the month of December. The spirit of giving is safe, at least for now.
So if you’re broke or simply aggravated by the gift giving thing you might ask, “What’s with all the gift giving this time of year?” Well there’s the Christians and Christmas. Sometime after the birth of Jesus, three seemingly wise men, also known as the Magi, bearing incredibly expensive gifts considering the price of gold today, came to visit the newborn, Jesus Christ. Or blame ancient Romans who held year end celebrations to honor Saturn, their harvest god; and Mithras, their god of light… As part of these celebrations, the people prepared special foods, decorated their homes with greenery, and joined in singing and gift giving. These customs gradually became part of gift giving.
Then there’s tens of millions of Americans who don’t even celebrate Christmas religiously, either as followers of non-Christian religions (Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Jews) or as individuals with no religious affiliation. What a drag it is to buy gifts for someone you believe is barking up the wrong tree (or cloud). In reality, many different events, both spiritual, religious, and tradition based, are being celebrated in many different ways during these times.
Is it right time to spread good cheer? Or is it laborious like Ground Hog Day. Granted it is only a few very cold weeks out of the year. There’s Black Friday. Black Friday you camp outside in the freezing cold, gangrene sets in, turns your fingers black and they fall off before you can grab an unbelievable deal on Black Friday. Cyber Monday specials are already gone because you can’t keyboard without fingers.
One month out of the year, you need to avoid the hype retailers bring to bear. Retailers would have you trick or treating in Santa Claus costumes and dispensing candy canes in October.
Receiving gifts is equally taxing. Too often a gift received becomes an albatross around your neck. A comedic example being the prominent presentation of a framed photo of a friend(s) or relative(s) on the rare occasion (excluding Florida residents) they come to visit. Personally, I realize this admission alone means there will be hell to pay.
So what makes you happy? Giving gifts or receiving gifts; decorating your domicile; hanging lights and ornaments on a Christmas tree; preparing a holiday feast for the multitudes? It’s not so easy. One long sigh from someone down the hallway, one obscene sign along the highway, a wayward thought, an unkind word, a tear from inside your head and you begin to doubt whether you have an outside chance to be happy.
The answer is, there is no answer… to the question, “Am I happy?” The definition of happy may be as simple as finding a favorite place in time, in your mind, alone or in a crowd, be it a smile, be it a moment to savor. I have come to realize right now ‘tis the season. There is no past. There is no future. Give a gift you can return without receiving; love and respect for your family and friends. From this gift you will find happiness, especially the returns.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to family and friends of all religions and faith.
One of my favorite expressions – May you live each day of your life. Jonathon Swift
The expression can truly be a misnomer because it works both ways. In my case, Cody is my best friend. I’m not mincing words. Everyone knows he’s the guy. There’s no competition.
I’m not picking up anyone else’s poop. I won’t give anyone else a bath, at least not with flea and tick shampoo. If you’re nudging me with your cold nose and you’re asking me to get up in the middle of the night to take you out so you can pee in my back yard, what are the chances I’m OK with that? Only for my man Cody Bear.
What are best friends? I have to believe best friends will do just about anything for you. They aren’t going to pick up your poop, but they are willing to change your diapers and clean up after you.
I’m saying, they will drag your ass out of bar when you are being booed for singing karaoke.
They will refuse to loan you money when they know you’re throwing good money after bad.
They are your best friends in the first place because they share your “bucket list”.
Best friends will give you grief, let you grieve, and they will be there when you are ready to let go.
There is no such thing as fair weather friends. Friends are friends or they are suspects. It’s not their decision to make. Friends are friends until you decide otherwise. You can take them or leave them.
What’s wrong with having sometime friends? That is the key to friendships. If you decide a friend is no longer a friend, is he still someone else’s friend?
Why can’t you have a friend that likes a part of you? Friends may like some of what you do, some of who you are; but not all of you. So what?
You have to be a saint to be everyone’s best friend so why not just be a friend to anyone who wishes to enjoy your company? It’s not mutually exclusive. I have friends I have offended, at least in some respects. They may have even been offended by some of my other friends.
How many of you hang out with someone else’s friends for a friend’s sake? That’s a good friend!
Cody Bear, “Bear” being the operative word, is a saint. Bears forage for food heavily throughout the Summer and Fall months so they can hibernate throughout Winter. They survive until Spring on the fat they have stored.
Unfortunately Cody, my Chocolate Lab has exceeded his quota and he doesn’t hibernate, choosing to forage throughout the Winter months, as well. Before you jump to any conclusions, he is fed two measured cups of dry all natural, gluten free food each day with a rawhide chew for dessert and a small treat each time he does his business. So think thyroid problem.
We treat him for that, too, but the medication makes him hyperactive and if you knew Cody, hyperactive means heavy breathing. “This dog don’t hunt”! He’s not jumping through burning hoops or running in circles chasing his tail. A fifteen minute walk/sniffathon is enough to drive a patient man to the brink and Cody to barely avoid the 911 call for an EMT.
All that said, the Bear and I are soul mates. If I want Cody to lose some weight all I have to do is leave town. I can pull out the suitcase and just watch him go into a tailspin. It’s to the point I pack in the dark, when he’s not around; carry my roller bag so he can’t hear me roll for my exit.
I will be home soon my friend!
“We are golden”, taken from the song Woodstock
|The song is by Joni Mitchell and here are the lyrics|
I came upon a child of god
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going
And this he told me
I’m going on down to yasgurs farm
I’m going to join in a rock n roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free
We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden
Mid-September we had the good fortune to visit Napa, Sonoma and the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) which was a pleasant diversion from the repressive heat and humidity in Tampa, FL. What a scenic smorgasbord! The vistas afforded us along the PCH, were seemingly in relief of every hairpin curve, and unequalled by the last, were spectacular (more on the wine country and the PCH later).
This post is all about the journey. Our travels took us south from Sonoma on Hwy 101 over the Golden Gate Bridge. Good advice from the omniscient Charles allowed us to travel mostly rush hour free. The journey began in Sonoma and took us through a very eclectic part of San Francisco.
San Francisco didn’t disappoint its climatic reputation for chilling shades of grey. Shades of grey were evident even in people’s faces. People’s faces were nothing short of grim. Granted it was early, in particular for students. And their faces could be interpreted to be determined. Somehow their expressions seemed to fall short. Determined would include optimism. There was plenty of time sitting at stop lights to people watch, up close and personal. Their faces seemed short on both optimism and pessimism. Instead, people seemed disenchanted if not just plain tired. Maybe it was the houses, stacked upon each other; or the people getting in each other’s way, skilled at avoidance, but not in familiarity, which bred an absence of smiles.
Fortunately there was a change of face during our journey. It was very similar to travelling over the Golden Gate Bridge. People’s faces brightened measurably as we moved south from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. As we left San Francisco behind, traversed the Golden Gate Bridge we felt a mixture of emotion. As we reached its apex, we enjoyed views of the city and the Pacific. This brought us a sense of relief and optimism, looking forward to visiting the coastal cities of Monterey, Carmel and San Simeon; and the state parks showcasing majestic redwoods and the coastline along the Pacific Ocean. “Back to the Garden.”
You ‘Alone’ Decide
There is a sunrise.
Seen or unseen, yet certain.
Your ceiling is the sky.
Blister or bathe in the sun.
Shiver or sing under a rainbow.
Each cascading sunset,
Defines your horizon,
And your lifeline is forever drawn.
What you do in the moment,
What you do in a day,
May define you for an eternity,
May erase all the love,
Or erase all the pain.
And for lack of better reason,
You live in the moment,
And that moment,
You own it.
I Can’t Do This Anymore!
“When you bust through all the layers of brevity and you have shaken all the hands of hope, you can begin to share the depths of despair depression can bring.”
If you are afflicted by or live with someone with severe depression, you’re no stranger to words of despair. You try to remain stoic while your insides are churning. Helpless in the moment. Those suffering from depression, they’re gripped by desperate thoughts. And all you can do is to tell them it is going to be OK. Tell them it isn’t going to last. Tell them they will get better. Both of you must endure.
Tears may come easy to some, sometimes for no reason. Depression can often hide behind a smile. It’s no cliché. If you have shared a moment or a lifetime with someone who is severely depressed, the eyes are…
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You’re anybody, who has a story,
You’re the blood and guts, but no glory.
You’re the play, that’s no longer afloat,
You’re the poem, you never wrote.
You’re the crowd, in every room,
The conversation that always spells doom.
You’re the fly, that’s always unzipped,
The greeting card, that’s always skipped.
You know who I am.
Labor of love,
Fit hand and glove.
Win the lottery office pool?
No? Who said you were the fool!
Your drink is empty, nothing’s on the table,
Miguel your waiter, sells only by the label.
So you dance to music, that never ends,
And toast Bartender Mike, your new best friend.
You’ve become the sweat on everyone’s brow.
You’re the answer to the question, “No, not now!”
You’re the best friend, you’ll never have,
You’re the rub, without the salve.
You know who I am.
Labor of love,
Hand and glove.
Johnny Cochran’s not your deal,
You’ll never win on your appeal.
You’re someone’s smile, without a face,
You’re the awkward, in an embrace.
You’re the gaze, behind an empty stare,
You’re the voice, that isn’t there.
You’re the cold pavement, under bare feet,
You’re the toothless grin, that never eats.
So when you dare ask for a slice of life,
You’re the one without the knife.
You know who I am.
Labor of love,
Hand and glove.
If you ever want the moon,
You’ll need to bring your own silver spoon.
And when your chapter is finally read,
You’ll already know, what they’ve said,
A ripple in a lake, chased by a breeze.
A footprint in the sand, swept by a wave.
Silence falls on deaf ears, it’s for the best,
You’re just a moment in time, like all the rest.
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – there are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for. – Robin Williams
I just learned tonight there’s no gimmes in life regardless of how much you give or how much you take. When it comes to life you can do everything right and still be wrong. This is an ongoing struggle and personal argument I have. If I get it figured out, it’s apparent I’ll be willing to share.
No Going Back
When there’s no sunrise in your embrace.
When there’s no warm breeze upon your face.
There’s only smiles you’ve always missed
There’s only lips you’ve never kissed.
Only laughter that’s long since died.
Only times that you’ve never cried.
Tomorrow’s another day.
Let’s forgive our yesterday’s .
Let’s celebrate our tomorrow’s .
No more yesterday’s.
When you’re life’s at its peak,
You’ll find bitter cold and snow,
And you’ll cling to the harsh rock,
When you look down below.
The door remains open,
When you reach for the sky.
You can always reach for me.
So baby don’t you cry.
There’ll be long walks alone,
Breathe the fresh smell of pine.
Forget the bears in the woods,
And you’ll be just fine.
Sing a song, sing out loud,
Like I know you would.
You have your smile to protect you,
Like I never could.
I’m going to build you a cabin,
In the mountains, so high.
Where no one can touch you
When you reach for the sky.
Never mind the trees above you,
Or the jagged rocks below.
I’ll be there to catch you,
If and when you fall.
Just remember the door always open,
When you reach for the sky.
You can always reach for me.
So baby don’t you cry.
Alan Wiessner rev. 10/14/2013