Friday, July 29, 2011

Being a part of something good is great

Being alone can be very peaceful.  It can be healthy.  It can make a day better.  More powerful though, it being a part of something . . . anything.

I've met a few recluses in my time; people that might have been called hermits if they weren't smack in the middle of a suburb; people that keep to themselves  more than most.
As I am a gregarious person, I've made efforts to engage these folks in conversation.  Sadly, I've concluded that, while they have some days that are better than others, they have fewer good days than they'd like to have.

Being a part of something makes most people feel better.  Being part of something good can make you feel great.

Take a moment to think of all the things you belong to.  It might be work or school.  You might belong to a church or a club.  It might be a neighborhood or an apartment complex.  Do you volunteer somewhere?  Do you play a sport?  Do you spend time with other people doing something together?

It doesn't always matter what group you are with to make today  a good day.  The thing that can transform belonging to a group into something "more" is recognizing that you belong.

Belonging makes today a good day.  Focus on belonging.  Focus on making other people feel that they belong.  Focus on making today a good day.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

You are what you eat

Food is amazing.  I love food.  The right food can make today a good day.

I'm a sucker for spicy-hot food.  Chocolate should be its own food group.  I think pizza is nature's most perfect food.  I don't think an unreasonable rule would be that peanut-butter or cheese should be served as part every meal.  Birthday cake.  Birthday cake, no matter the flavor, has got to be one of the greatest things ever.

Having food you love (not "good-for-you-food" or even "good food") should be a part of making every day better.  Make sure you are going out to that dive or that fancy-shmancy place now and again.

Perhaps, if your favorite food is turtle cheesecake or poutain, then it shouldn't be an every-day thing . . but it should be in regular rotation.

Having said all that; eating "good-for-you-food" *is* good food and will make you feel better.  Fresh food beats processed.  Home-cooked beats going out.

Lastly, doughnuts or cupcakes or what-have-you will likely make everyone's day better.  Think about it.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

When life give you lemons . . .

There are times when life gets you down.  When it seems like it's just one more thing . . over and over again.
Then those people show up.  The ones that tell you to make lemonade out of the lemons in their life.  The full of "happy, happy; joy,,joy" people that make you want to strangle them.

These are good people doing good things.  Don't strangle them.

It’s first hour; Isabella is wearing a light pink jumper with a pink skirt and three or four petticoats. She vaguely resembles a Raggedy Ann doll gone mad with happiness. I walk into class....

“Hey Izzy, guess what I just heard on the radio while driving to school? President Bush launched a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. They say we have about 27 minutes until they retaliate. We are all going to die.”

“Good morning Aaron My cat had kittens last night about 8:30, right before bed. They are s-o-o-o cute! One is gray with white stripes and one is all gray. The others are...

“Izzy, don’t you understand? We are close enough to Topeka that we’ll be killed almost instantly!”

“Aaron, think of how lucky we are! We’ll die quickly. Think of all the poor people and pets that will die a slow lingering death. My, you have worn a plethora of nice clothes this week. It suits you.”

“I will say this very slowly, so that there will be no confusion. Life on Earth is about to come to a very abrupt halt. Every living thing on the planet will die. Now, do you understand why I’m a little excited?”

“I understand what you’re saying, but Aaron, you’re wrong. I read that rats and roaches will probably live through the catastrophe and evolution cart begin again with them: So what are you doing this weekend?”

“I don’t think I’ll be doing anything. I’ll be dead. And stop fluttering your hands in front of me. That really makes it hard to think.”

“Oh well, sorry. I can’t help it. I better do the journal entry now or else you won’t get credit on the paper due Monday.”


The whole time during this conversation Izzy has been spelling out her every word in sign language. It is one of her most infuriating habits. The scary thing is that when you hold her hands, so that they cannot move, she talks . . very . . slowly, as though she is spelling the words in her head. After a while I learn to ignore it. Then she’ll get upset or excited and put her hands directly in front of my face to make sure I understand. On the other hand (hah!), sometimes she’ll put them in front of her own face, maybe she is checking to make sure her fingers agree with her mouth.

Izzy is small, but like a rat terrier that thinks it is a Doberman, she exudes a feeling of fearlessness. When someone that knows her is told that she’s tiny they would first think about it for a while. Then, all of the sudden, their face would light up with surprise and they would walk away, as though it had been a revelation from God. She is so filled with energy; it seems that any person would need more body to contain so much activity.

Sometimes Izzy can make me very angry because she is so happy and I am not. She even does this on Monday mornings when no student has any right to be happy! Izzy has the gift to make me feel very good, no matter how bad I feel or want to feel. I especially like the way she sees the good side of everything, be it a bad weekend or nuclear holocaust.

This character sketch was an assignment given almost 25 years ago.  Some of those people may be alive because of it. Try to make lemonade out of the lemons . . . . and make today a good day.

*Names have been changed . . because it seemed like the thing to do.

**It has been republished twice (by me) since high school and the urge to edit it has been . . . powerful.  I believe in the end though, that Han shot first.  Period.  End of story.  Because of that, I've not revised it.  Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Being touchy can be a good thing

Skin makes up the biggest collection of cells that work together (an organ) in humans. For anyone keeping score, it is 12-15% of a person's weight.  It might be the organ most seen and interacted with when it comes to other people.

In addition to keeping all the other parts of us protected and in the right place it transmits the sense of touch.  That there is pretty powerful.

Touch can be amazing.  Touch can make a good day.

A firm hand-shake.  A pat on the back.  A massage.  A hug.  These can be day-changing touches.

The other day, my daughter had her hair washed by the hair-stylist.  She left the chair not showing me her (lovely) new do.  The first thing she told me was how good the shampoo was.  It made her day better.

Today is a good day to focus on touch to make someone's day a good day.

{Note:  When dealing with anyone . .make sure you are aware of the level of touch they find comfortable and work within that.  Law-suits do not typically make today a good day.}

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fear is the mind killer

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
-Frank Herbert, Dune
Too much?

Yeah, probably a bit heavy.   And yet . . .?

Reasonable fear is a good thing.  I tell my kids that most people are good but if you see someone walking towards you and you get that "oogy" feeling . . cross the street."

Fear can keep you from being happy though.  Fear of what might come prevents people from doing anything at all.

Fear can kill the buzz that is a good day if you let it.

Go ahead.  Be afraid if you have to.  But if you are going to be afraid at least commit whatever deed is making you afraid and live your life! Ride the roller coaster that, on cresting that first hill, looks down to what can only be instant death.  Scream in fear and joy and life.

Do you want to have a good day?  Don't fear what might happen.
Accept that "something" might happen and do your best to be alive as long as you can in spite of that fear.

When you accept fear and live your life, you make today a good day.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Save game!

Many computer games allow you to save your game.  You can then load these saved games to play later.  makes sense, right?

Another use of the save game is to mark your spot before you do something difficult so that, if you die, you can go back to a safe spot and try again differently.

There may be times in our lives when we wish we might have a "do over" or reload a saved game.

I've read that the brain reacts in the same way when you remember something as when you experience it for the first time.  So, in a way, we can have a part of that save game magic when we need help to make today a good day.

When something good happens in your life you should pay attention to it.  You should try to capture as much as you can about that moment.  You should "Save Game".  Those "saved games" can be part of your tool-box to be pulled out as needed.

Bad days don't have to be "Game Overs".  A readily available save game can mean today is a good day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Let's get funky!

Funk is a great word.  I like the way it sounds.  In my head, it often sounds like Samuel Jackson is saying it.

I typically use it to describe a style of music.  Funk a blend of jazz and soul and R&B with a strong base line.  Think of the theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes.  Yeah,  Get down with your bad self for a second. That is the good kind of funk. It lifts you up and can make today a good day.

Then . . there's another kind of funk.  The funk that indicates a state of depression.  That's the funk we want to avoid.  Getting into a funk can happen anywhere to anyone and be caused by almost any thing.  Once you are in a funk, getting out takes effort.

The thing is, that people that practice having a good day are less likely to get into a funk and have a set of tools that will help them get out.  When you have a good day routine, you have a built-in life preserver.

Listening to something funky (or almost any kind of music) can help get me out of a funk.  What you use might be totally different but now is a good time to figure out what that thing is.

[Full disclaimer: Something can also *smell* funky . . and that can cause your day not to be AS good but some Stevie Wonder should be able to fix you right up.]

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What do you live for?

"It's Friday!"
"It's the weekend!"
"It's payday!"

If you are saying these things over and over again you may be living life wrong.

Fridays, weekends, and paydays should be a time for different things that make you happy. If you are focusing on what is coming up, you are not focusing on the present and it's harder to make *today* good.

I love Fridays and weekends and pay-days as much as anyone.  They mean that I can do different things than on the normal work-week. I might have time to laze away or do projects or spend time with my friends and family.

Having days that allow me freedom do not make the other days, the work-week days worse. If your work-week days are that bad you can make each one better by looking for something that will bring you more happiness. Go ahead, start making tomorrow better . . today.

By focusing on the benefits of some other day in the future to the detriment of today, you are reinforcing your unhappiness or frustration.  You are making today a worse day.

Go ahead and enjoy your Fridays and your weekends and your pay-days but take a second and enjoy your Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays too.  These days make up a good chunk of your life.

Here is a fun practice activity; wish someone a "Happy Wednesday" (or similar greeting).  Enjoy the look of befuddlement and then happiness.  You may have just made today a good day for someone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The lives of kids are made of Good Day stuff

Babies are cute and making babies is fun.  Thus, more babies are constantly being made.
They grow up and become toddlers, then kids, then teens and finally they move out as adults.

While they are little though, they are made of good day "stuff".  So much of their lives are filled with firsts.  From the time they can hold their heads up by themselves to their first romantic kiss and all the things in between make their lives a time filled with wonder.

Sadly, for some, life ceases to have many firsts after a certain age.  It ceases to have wonder.

To make today a good day, a sprinkling of wonderment might be useful. A little joyful exuberance here and there might make what has become ordinary extra-ordinary.

Looking through the day with the eyes of a child can make today a good day.  Planning some "firsts" again can make today a better day.

If there is a kid in your life, take some lessons.  Go play, have fun, show them that growing up isn't the end.  Show them that today is a good day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

One [whatever] at a time

There is a company in downtown Detroit that makes bagels.  There is a muralist painting murals there too.  They are not in the "nice" parts either.  These people are doing things where other people fear to go.  They are making Detroit better, one bagel or one mural at a time.

Making today a good day can be done the same way.  Find something small that you can do for yourself or for someone else and do it.  Then do it again.  And again.

Maybe you smile more.  Maybe you hold the door open for the person behind you.  Perhaps you whistle a happy song.

It's not critical what you do as long as it makes you happier.  Oftentimes it's just important that you do something.

Make today better one {whatever} at a time.  You'll end up with a good day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Reach out and touch someone

Sometimes the best part of our day may be making someone else's day better.

There is a tradition in my family of racing to the mailbox to see what new and magic thing has arrived. "What's in that box for me?" "Will there be a package?" "A letter?" "A pony?!?!"

Typically these days, it's bills or junk. The sense of potential is still present though. It's there because every once in a while the letter from an old friend or family member is in that magic box.

A phone call can do the same thing. There is magic in hearing the voice of a long-lost friend or a "just because I love you" call form a family member.

Today is a good day to write a letter to an old friend. Perhaps just a postcard if a letter is too big a commitment? Maybe a phone call or (sigh) even an email if that's all you can do.

Taking a little time to show someone you care lifts them up. It makes them feel special. It can also lift you up and confirm what was already known; you *are* special.

You can make today a good day.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

To Dream the Impossible Dream.

There are not enough quests in the world today. Most people do what they have to do to get by. They go to school or work and then they go home and eat and sleep. Time is spent with friends and family (and much time is spent alone). The world should have more quests.

Making a bucket list, a list of things you want to do before you die, is a good start at finding your quest. Do that. Do it now. Act on it. Start crossing things off.

My quest is smaller. It can also be shared.

My quest is to make today better; to make today a good day. To make today a good day for people around me. It's not a big quest like a quest to end pollution or make healthy food available for kids everywhere. It's a small quest with a big payoff some time after I'm gone.

My quest is an investment in the future for my children.

There's a fellowship formed around my quest. All are welcome to join.

Find a quest. Join this quest. Make today a good day. Make today better.