Thursday, May 31, 2007

Positive Matters...Negative Positives

Pursuit to Happyness

Last night I finally got to watch "The Pursuit of Happyness." I had heard so many positive things about it and seen the interview with the person it was based on. It really gives one pause to examine what and when they want what they want and what might be necessary to obtain it. Dreams and sacrifice go hand in hand with pain and pleasure. The change of direction requires a harsh and constant friction to break the gravitational pull of the however tortured normal. It's even harder if you are constantly slapped in the face by reality and/or others' perceptions of your limits.

This powerful story begins with people thrown in the thick of life. They have very little money and the wife is working several jobs while the father is a commission only salesman of a product very few people want. In addition, they have a young son who needs and wants all the things a normal kid of 8 would. Needlesstosay, the only person they don't owe is the Lord, and He's waiting for thanks. Ultimately, the wife checks out due to the lack of money and understanding the husband is contributing to the relationship and household. [Herein lies the pivotal point; I suspect had she NOT left, Christopher would not have become the success story he is.] It is at this point that he maintains control of his son and realizes that he only has himself. Not to mention, now he and his son are counting on him. There are some gut-wrenching realities that anyone should at least realize are possible. "Anyone" can be homeless fairly quickly.

I won't ruin the movie in the event you haven't made up your mind to see it yet; DO. I would have to say that even days after seeing it; it is still in my thoughts — not only for the power to accomplish; but the power to fail. While it is true that we learn from our failures; I think it safe to say that at some point, we are resolve with the quantity of knowledge we have and will survive without "needing" to aquire any more. But even more riveting of the movie, is the study of the "human animal, the planet of the apes." What can keep us from what we want? What are we willing to do when we are desparate? How do we react when our young are at stake? Do our rules only apply when they are convienent?

...and then I am haunted by my father's words, "boy, I've done a lot of things I said I would never do to provide for my family..."

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Big Funky Chicken

Get Your Big Funky Chicken ON!
Everybody Loves Chicken! Big Funky Chicken is fully fried with extra calorie statements for your wearing pleasure. Be colorful, sassy, funny or personal. In other words, don't be seen without it. "Get your Big Funky Chicken On!

Big Funky Chicken

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Fixin's....and a Loooong Weekend

Memorial Day Soldier

It is a weekend among weekends! So much to be remembered, revalued, retreasured and revered. The lives paid for a freedom that has insurmountable costs. Those who serve still that celebrate this day far from the wienny roasts, hamburgers and family. I hope that we will each take a moment to remember and honor not only those who have died for many; but He who has died for all.

The History of Memorial Day

It was 1866 and the United States was recovering from the long and bloody Civil War between the North and the South. Surviving soldiers came home, some with missing limbs, and all with stories to tell. Henry Welles, a drugstore owner in Waterloo, New York, heard the stories and had an idea. He suggested that all the shops in town close for one day to honor the soldiers who were killed in the Civil War and were buried in the Waterloo cemetery. On the morning of May 5, the townspeople placed flowers, wreaths and crosses on the graves of the Northern soldiers in the cemetery. At about the same time, Retired Major General Jonathan A. Logan planned another ceremony, this time for the soldiers who survived the war. He led the veterans through town to the cemetery to decorate their comrades' graves with flags.

It was not a happy celebration, but a memorial. The townspeople called it Decoration Day.

In Retired Major General Logan's proclamation of Memorial Day, he declared:

"The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country and during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit." more...

Memorial Day also hold a dear place in time and heart for me for another reason. It's my wedding anniversary. This will make 5 years! WoooHooo! Looking back, I could have never seen how good life would be now looking from there. What an incredible day it was. Some really tremendous friends, a great God and lawn full of spectators...living and dead. I say that for many reasons. We, my bride and I, worked for competing fundraising companies, our folks had never met, the ceremony was outside and a million other reasons it should have been a disaster. But it was a far cry from that. Five years later I still watch the video and marvel at the grandness of it all in its intricate detail.

Wedding Day Pickle

L-R: Jenni Arnold (Linda's daughter), Pickle, Linda Fann (Jenni's mother)

Oakland Mansion, Murfreesboro, TN
Oaklands Mansion is suspended in time. It is an elegant mansion caught in the corssfire of the Civil War, reflecting a time of prosperity in the Old South.

We had an incredible ceremony. I still look forward to being the "groovy old couple" that lives up the block. For such a time as this, and such a monumental task with so many working parts, God certainly deserves all the credit for the amazing group of friends and family assembled that day. Even the thunder clapped at the end of the day. We giggled at that. Yes, it is terrifying to care about something/someone so much that you might be consumed; but passion requires fire and I say "let the flames reach the sky!" Happy Anniversary," dear.

Friday Fixins!
Pasta Salad




10 ounces small shell pasta, cooked and well drained
6 medium chopped plum tomatoes (juices reserved)
1 bunch minced scallions
4 crushed garlic cloves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped olives
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Serve immediately at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

41 Shots: Haunting Realities

It was a very peaceful drive in this morning. One thing stood out particualry from the morning drive. I crossed this bridge over water. Above the water was a sort of light fog. Inside that fog/mist were tiny spinning eddies or little slow moving tornadoes spiraling down toward the water. Of course, at my unmentioned speed, I only got a glimpse of it. I wondered if I should have stopped to take a photo. I cannot explain what I saw; but now I am relating to you what I thought I saw. I was listening to a Bruce Springsteen CD. Born in the USA had just finished and 41 Shotes crawled out of my speakers in surround profundity. In the hush of my fog-glimpse; the lyrics of this song made more sense and this blog held its place in my mind until now. The lyrics go like this and refer to a national story about the police slaying of an unarmed West African immigrant in the Bronx that I hadn't heard of:
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots
41 shots....
and we'll take that ride
'cross this bloody river
to the other side
41 shots... cut through the night
You're kneeling over his body in the vestibule
Praying for his life

Is it a gun, is it a knife
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain't no secret
It ain't no secret
No secret my friend
You can get killed just for living
In your American skin.

41 shots
Lena gets her son ready for school
She says "on these streets, Charles
You've got to understand the rules
If an officer stops you
Promise you'll always be polite,
that you'll never ever run away
Promise Mama you'll keep your hands in sight"

First things first: I got NO beefs with the po-po. They have an incredibly hard job...very little glory and mostly guts. There are very few limits to what the "human" can do in his quest for the bottom of the barrel.

I saw Springsteen in concert. I must confess; he was absolutely mezmerizing! I watched his band take several breaks; he never did. He was at least 50 yrs old; but time hadn't robbed the Pied Piper of wind or song. I watched bewildered as he ushered thousands of people into oceans of emotion with his haunting twang. He NEVER lost contact with the audience. Unbelieveable. Anyway....

The line that I find most provacative is "You can get killed just for living in your American skin." I think of the soldiers in Iraq who cannot afford to guess if the old lady or young child coming toward them is a friendly or hostile, having to choose between right or wrong vs what must be done. War is what it is, you can leave all that "white picket fence ideology" in your sparkling white porcelin comode...nobody's shooting at you. Your SUV has seat warmers and air conditioning and you will just keep buying and using as much gas as you want. The defenseless are the fuel of America...their sweat, their work and if necessary, their lives. (oops...getting off point) Soldiers, police, teachers, preachers, marriages......we're all at war. The enemy may come in various forms; but he is never visible. That's the magic of making us all fight each other. Nothing is as it appears.

I confess...every blue light behind me, gives me pause. I would also confess that the last speeding ticket I got was given to me by the most polite officer. I don't know if that's normal; I just know it ain't always so. I "choose" not to judge all by "one." The same should be said for different races of people, religions and etc. However; we judge most things by stereotype because we have burned our hands on the stove enough...so it becomes our snap judgement before later evaluation, that "that's hot," (no Paris pun intended).

If there is anything I learned growing up in the deep south; it's that everyone doesn't play fair or by the rules, life isn't fair, the world owes you nothing, people can be mean. But in all this, we "choose" our response. Evil is like dominos...its hard to stop them all from falling if that first one goes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, Darling!

Today we celebrate my beloved wife's birthday. She's a pickle, what can I say. I am proud of her. She completed her ENLI (Every Nation Leadership Institute) course which is 2nd year VLI (Victory Leadership Institute). I had the pleasure of watching her receive her diploma. Her smile lights up my darkness. Happy Birthday, sweetie. Looking forward to a great night. Shoot her a birthday shout out if you are so inclined. Happy Birthday, Pickle!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Lasting Memories; Observations That Count!

This is a blog from a good friend of my friend, Joel, Pastor Rob's blog. Not only will you be struck with profundity; but also a moment of nirvana. Here is a part of that posting.

Subject: Charles Schultz Philosophy

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schultz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. You don’t have to actually answer the questions. Just read the e-mail straight through, and you’ll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America Contest.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade’s worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?
The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are no second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here’s another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.

The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care.

Pass this on to those people who have made a difference in your life.

“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” (Charles Schulz)" >

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Fixins'




14 ounces caramels
1/3 cup evaporated milk
8 ounces german sweet chocolate
6 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
6 ounces chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 13
baking pan. Combine caramels and evaporated milk in top
of double boiler over low heat. Cover and simmer until
caramels are melted, stirring occasionally. Set aside, keeping warm. Combine German sweet chocolate and butter in 2 quart saucepan. Place over low heat stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Beat eggs until foamy using electric mixer at high speed. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is thick and lemon colored. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture mixing well.

Blend in cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla. Spread half of mixture into prepared baking pan. Bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven and spread caramel mixture carefully over baked layer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Stir 1/2 cup of walnuts into remaining chocolate batter. Spread batter by spoonfuls over the caramel layer. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pan onrack.

* Refrigerate before cutting into bars or squares - it
will be difficult to cut if not chilled first.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

American Morning Musings

It's a beautiful morning, the air is crisp, the sun sparkles and the grass grows in silence but harmony with the morning dew. I sit at the red light and watch the little birds jumping around at the corner just before a monster truck with huge tires, gleaming side steps and fat chrome pipes whizzes around the corner. On the opposite side of the steet I watch an old man, at least 70+ yrs old, possibly a homeless immigrant trying to decide whether to cross at this busy intersection. I have only seen a few desolate places in person, seen pictures and movies of many more; but how odd and overwhelming it must seem to suddenly be surrounded by dripping abundance rotting from every pore. Our cars are big, they use enormous amounts of gas, they are shinier than our characters and image is king. It seemed that the little birds and the old man shared similar secrets. More cars went by and finally my own. America may not be perfect; but its got all the imperfections I want most. That's probably a sad statement; but I had to say anyway — its true for me and I love my home...home of the free, the brave and the I want mores! If there were no America, one might argue that the world would have been helped much less. I choose to believe that too.

How even more incredible to have left here and gone to a foreign shore to fight an invisible enemy with undisclosed rules. You see things that noone else would believe and the white picket fences would only shun, choosing to hide their eyes from the glare of human capabilities and darknesses. But everything is ok so long as "we are on god's mission." Support our troops; there is no question or hesitation there — you thank God they are there so you don't have to be. But let's take care of their families in the absence of their service. Everybody has a purpose and some people discover theirs and others are discovered by theirs. I suppose I enjoy the thought of being a Marine of Black Ops; but there is no director saying "cut." Maybe I prefer my illusions of ignorance and disconnect more than heroism. Life has no restart button, no command X (undo for non mac people); so how would you know how the future is going to turn out or which decisions change the future. Perhaps, if you are reading these mental droppings, you are already in the future. I hope you see that we supported our troops, valued their commitment and appreciated their sacrifice by taking care of their families. My "American Idols" run into the heart of trouble, not to the stage, not to the limelight, not the other way. If I had to choose an idol, that would be my preference.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Subtly New Again

Home Improvement

It's funny how the slightest changes can have monumental effects. Obviously I am preoccupied with home-selling; but the real-life correlations are impossible to miss. New paint here, new floor there, tighten this, losen that, get rid of those. I think my wife said it best; so I will just repeat it:

"We are going for curb appeal.
Putting on our best show as we get ready to sell.
It is funny how close selling a house is to courting.
Flowers are blush, lip gloss and eye shadow
Mulch is eyeliner, mascara, lip liner.
Pruning your shrubs and trees is like getting a great hair cut
Keeping your grass even is like putting on foundation.
Clean windows and doors, like putting in eye drops and brushing your teeth.
And then come the blind dates.
People who your real estate "dating broker" matches you up with.

Needless-to-say, things are getting hot and heavy. She is almost ready for her blind dates. I am hoping for short engagement and swiftly marrying it off. It's been good and I am sure that I will miss the ole girl and all the hard work invested. But life goes on. My neighbor and I chatted yesterday as we rode bicycles around the block in the warm beautiful day. He wanted to know what was going on? I told him that new floors were being installed. So I noted how much weight he had lost so quickly; to which he responded that he had quit drinking...not that I am saying you shouldn't but you can't live on it - you can die though. He apparantly had not been drinking very much water. Again, a slight change has had huge effects. He also helped his daughter move out into her very first apartment. We agreed it was good. We agreed it was bad. We agreed that both were necessary. When life happens; so does change. How we embrace that change can fill us with love or alarm; that's the power of our choice. Since nothing is guaranteed; in case of the xfactor; we are making everything like we would like it...no short cuts or el cheepy corner cutting. If I didn't love the destination so much, I would be ready to stay.

new home

Our new future...."if the Lord be willin' and the creek don't rise..."

bicycle lizard

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Squaaaak Shook" as the Mulch Monster Died

mulch monster

Sqak Shook, Squaaaak Shook as the Mulch Monster died one shovel before the last.

mulched yard

Well, let me tell you; it was another spectacularly sunny warm weekend down in the 'boro. I had a fantastic weekend. Our day started at 7am Saturday morning and ended at sundown. That intense day of outsideness included mowing the lawn, weeding, 7 yrds of mulching, stipping and painting the mailbox, planting MORE flowers, and applying turf builder. WHEW! Glad its Monday! The bad news; that was only half of the yard work.

mulched yard

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers; we wouldn't be here without 'em. My wife had a nice Mother's Day. She enjoyed a Keri Underwood CD, cards, visiting with youngest son Nick and Tyler and voicemails wishing her well. We laughed and talked for several hours along with some outstanding french toast, cheddar brots, poundcake, and tapioca pudding. (Hmmm...I better workout tonite) Oh yeah, pass the popcorn.

mulched yard

Traffic was great and this day is moving along. I cannot help but think about our flowers. There's just something exciting about "life" and watching it happen and how it works in synchronicity. With the flowers come butterflies, hummingbirds and various other little critters that we don't normally see or notice. The air wafts by with a sweet perfume. The honeysuckle permiates the air in the backyard. We have two squirril-proof bird feeders on the back deck...only one is really squirril proof — they're pretty sneaky little brainiacs! Great bird watching weekend. I saw bluejays, goldfinches, english sparrows, wood thrushes, cardinals, chickadees, starlins and a tufted titmouse. (in case you had any doubts of my nerdness....)

Pickle Scans The Yard

Friday, May 11, 2007

Monster House Projects! ---and Friday Fixins'

Monster House

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:12

It's Friday! In the face of a very busy weekend of monster projects, I am glad I am not doing it all alone. I am listening to Tim and Faith's new song I Need You...great lyrics.
Tim McGrawTim McGraw F/ Faith Hill - I Need You(Tim)
I wanna drink that shot of whiskey
I wanna smoke that cigarette
I wanna smell that sweet addiction on my breathe
I wanna ride across West Virginia in the back seat of a Cadillac
You know some cowboys like me go out like that
So I need you
Like a needle needs a vein
Like my uncle Joe in Oklahoma needs a rain
And I need you
Like a lighthouse on a coast
Like the father and the son need the Holy Ghost
I need you

I wanna get lost in some corner booth, Cantina Mexico
I wanna dance to the static of an AM radio
I wanna wrap the moon around us, lay beside you skin on skin
Make love til the sun comes up, til the sun goes down again
Cause I need you

Like a needle needs a vein
Like my uncle Joe in Oklahoma needs a rain
I need you
Like a lighthouse on a coast
Like the father and the son need the Holy Ghost
I need you, OOH I need you

I wanna drink that shot of whiskey
I wanna smoke that cigarette
You know some cowboys like me go out like that
So I need you, wohh I need you
I need you I need you I need you, I nee-ed you
Source : JHuge.com - Music Lyrics
randy travis, 3 wooden crossesI am looking forward to a weekend of activity, the least of which is "mulching." I like curb appeal and apparently you do too. We strive to look our best in spite of knowing that in the end, it rarely matters. Of course, "Three Wooden Crosses" by Randy Travis followed that one. Reaffirming that latter statement. Life is full of curve balls. IF we are fortunate enough to be surrounded with good relationships, friends, and information; we realize the value of great partners. They are those that tell you your barndoor is open, your nose is occupied or that was really stupid. Those are the people you really want around you. I am extremely thankful for my partner and I ain't much on "needing" people; luckily "me be wrong this time." Either way, we are ready for brave new worlds; it's time to move! We work well together for our common goals.




1 Chocolate cake mix (aquire ingredients specified on back of box)
3 eggs
3/4 cup of water
1 stick of butter

1 Tub Chocolate frosting
1 microwave safe bowl (I use glass)

Open frosting and spread along the inside of the microwave safe dish. According to the cake recipe, mix all ingredients (eggs, butter etc.) for the cake in the frosting covered bowl. [you migt want to be sure your bowl is large enough or put something under it.] Add bowl to microwave and cook for at least 10 mins at full power. Sometimes I will go for one additional minute. Beware, the name will be apparent when you look at it; but NO S#&t!, it’s delicious! Remove, cool and serve or dump into your favorite serving dish. Serve with cold ice cream and maybe even some caramel.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Blog Magic

It seems that sometimes you have these blogs in mind that are just too big, too ambitious, too to; they just constipate everything behind them. It's better for me, I find to just start typing...don't set out to be coy or wise or mysterious.....just let the energy flow....it will fill in all the blanks. When I talk with blog friends; we speak of similar limitations created by blogging. So you blog, get comments; then you want to outdo the last blog and constipation sets in.....but that is a self imposed censorization of your efforts. You start wondering if you said things right or the best way or will anyone be offended or sitting at you house later waiting on you to arrive. In the end, the power of blogging is just an emptying of yourself....sure some folks do it for money — what don't people do for money at some point — and apparantly I am not smart enough to do the same. Blog for me is just self release; if it helps anybody in the process, hooray! I find that if I don't blog or empty, there is a grand frustration that hampers the rest of my day. I can be a workaholic....once I am in the zone and head down; I don't have to come out any time soon. I can be alone in a room full of people easily....or so they say. Anyway, that's blog magic for me. Between blogging and pumping iron, I don't need a fish tank yet...but I would love one.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Power of Partnership

Dudley and Ray, M2 Homes
Great Partnerships among good men make great rewards. Congratulations!!!

Like most things with us, we encountered these two modest, cheerful chaps by accident. It was evident from the beginning that this would not be a chance meeting. We quickly fell into conversation and discovered similarities and like spirits. I have always studied and admired strong friendships. They typically are strong because of a commitment to be that way. Great friendships require something most people aren't willing to give ....a commitment to selflessness. History and legends are full of dynamic duo: Batman and Robin, Lone Ranger and Tonto, Ben and Jerry. Here's to another two, Dudley and Ray. Good luck and continued success in all you do. These guys build great houses, love their families and keep a skyward perspective nothing short of "magnificient." PLUS, they're great folks too. I could go on and on; but you could not bear the weight of such. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tuesday Temptations (:D)

Ensure that socks have been glued in place or removed prior to tasting this dessert. Flavor may cause extreme sock knocking and in some cases, complete and forceful evacuation from feet.

Well the sun is beautiful and the temperature is 80 degrees in fair Nashville; so what better way to celebrate than to eat. Sopapillas have been a New Mexico favorite for hundreds of years which made their way to Baja during the first half of this century. Derived from Indian fried bread, they are generally served hot with cinnamon and honey for dessert. Light and scrumptious! A scoop of cold rich vanilla bean ice cream really sets it off!


1 3/4 cups sifted flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp solid vegetable shortening
2/3 cup cold water
1 cup corn or canola oil
honey and/or cinnamon sugar to taste

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Cut shortening in using two knives until it forms a coarse mixture. Gradually add cold water. Mix together just enough to hold together as you would if making a pie crust. Turn out on a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth.

Cover and let dough sit for five minutes. Roll into a rectangle about 12" x 15". Dough will be very thin.

Cut into rectangles about 2" x 3" in size. Heat oil until a drop of water sizzles when dropped into it in large skillet. Drop a few sopapillas at a time into the oil. Turn them over three to four times to make them puff up evenly, then fry for two to three minutes on each side, until they are golden brown and puffed up like small pillows. Dust with cinnamon sugar or pour small amount of honey over the sopapillas.
Serve hot. Makes about 20.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Get Self-Confidence Easy--No Risk Required!

Confident Kitty

There are very few things more important than giving to others or at least that's the way I see it. The punch line to that is to know what it is that you are exporting. I read in Proverbs a verse that was staggering..."Better is one who manages his emotions than he who conquers a whole city." WOW! Sometime or at least little points all week long, I think I will note what it is that I might be accidentally or intentionally exporting through my smiles, frowns, responses or energies. I got this from one of my email subscriptions and it has been worth every moment of its reception. Of course; I share it with you.
Wake Up Feeling Great: 22 Tips for High Self-Esteem!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."- Eleanor Roosevelt

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, how confident you are, how accomplished you feel. It reflects whether a person loves, accepts, and believes in who they are. For some of us, however, it can go up and down. One day you might feel really on top of everything, great about yourself, unafraid to try anything. And the next day, you're just as likely to feel completely at the bottom, unsure of yourself, afraid to say or do anything.

Building high self-esteem is a process, not something you can develop overnight. And this isn't necessarily easy. Yet, every single person has the capacity of high self-esteem. The question is, are you ready to make a commitment to increasing your self-esteem? If the answer is YES, then here are a collection of 22 great tips to get you started:

1. Stop comparing yourself with other people. Human beings can amplify or reduce their value by contrasting themselves either positively or negatively with others. But if you play the comparison game, you'll run into too many "opponents" you can't defeat. There will always be some people who have more than you and some who have less. So stop comparing!

2. Stop the critic inside of you. Some people have a bad habit of putting themselves down often. They say negative things to themselves like, "I'm always late. Why am I such a flake?" or "There you go again, stupid!" So get in the new habit of catching yourself saying critical things about yourself and learn to silence your inner critic. And if this is unavoidable, at least tone down the level of your criticism.

3. Forgive and forget. Do not waste your time and energy thinking of past hurts. Your time can be wisely spent for other productive things rather than forlorn thoughts. We make mistakes, even when we're trying our best. Sometimes you just have to apologize, let it go and move on.

4. Associate with positive, supportive people. The "real you" is a magnificent, unique being with enormous potential and capacity for experiencing love of yourself and extending love to others. So keep your interest in life at a high level by being in the company of enthusiastic people. This way, you will get infected by their positive attitude. You will view the world in its full shining glory and move around oozing with energy. In the same manner, it would be wise to stay away from negatively inclined thinkers. When you are surrounded by negative people who constantly put you and your ideas down, your self-esteem is lowered.

5. Get involved in work and activities you love. It's hard to feel good about yourself if your days are spent in work you hate. Self-esteem flourishes when you are engaged in work and activities that you enjoy and make you feel valuable. And even if you're not in a position to make immediate changes in your career, you can still devote some of your leisure time to enjoyable hobbies or activities.

6. Be true to yourself. Live your own life - not the life someone decided is best for you. You will never gain your own respect and you will never feel good about yourself if you aren't leading the life you want to lead. So if you're still making decisions based on getting approval from friends and relatives, you aren't being true to yourself and your self-esteem is lowered.

7. Talk affirmatively to others and yourself. Words carry enough power that can either hurt other people or yourself. Similarly, words can generate enough power to give warmth and comfort. So be conscious of your choice of words. Choose affirmative words when speaking with someone.

8. Quit blaming yourself for mistakes in the past. Many things in our lives are only minimally in our control, but those of us who develop low self-esteem take the full blame for the resulting negative outcomes. Instead, learn to honor your efforts and give proper credit for things that you have done well. Following a practical approach for managing your self-esteem will prevent it from becoming a problem and keep you off that rollercoaster.

9. Make a long list of your personal breakthroughs. Think of times when you did something that you thought that never could do but managed to pull off successfully. These breakthroughs can generate an authentic source of never-ending pride in you. Read this list often. While reviewing it, close your eyes and recreate the feelings of satisfaction and joy you experienced when you first attained each success.

10. Make a list of your positive qualities. Not everyone has your unique abilities and talents. Are you honest? Unselfish? Helpful? Creative? Be generous with yourself and write down at least 20 positive qualities. Again, it's important to review this list often. Most people dwell on their inadequacies and then wonder why their life isn't working out. Start focusing on your positive traits and you'll stand a much better chance of achieving what you wish to achieve.

11. Figure out the hidden strengths in your so-called weaknesses. You can't develop high self-esteem if you constantly repeat negative comments about your skills and abilities. Remember that there is always a positive in every negative if you look hard enough. For instance, you may think of yourself as stubborn, but the flipside is that you're also persistent and dependable.

12. Rediscover and reaffirm your personal strengths. Sometimes you have to take a new inventory on what you like about your looks, smile, body, sexiness, health, personality, and character strengths. Don't sell yourself short. It isn't wrong or egotistical to praise ourselves.

13. Ignore yourself. Sometimes the real problem isn't self-esteem at all but a tendency toward overthinking. When you get this feeling direct your focus to other things. Give it a rest already!

14. Examine your needs. Some of us need more praise from others than other people do. Some people need to always be accomplishing something, or they feel let down. In other words, it could very well be that you're ok, but you're just in a slower activity period right now, so it feels like you feel bad, when you really don't. Relax, and take it easy!

15. Accept all compliments with "Thank You." Don't dismiss or ignore them. When you do this you give yourself the message that you do not deserve or are not worthy of praise, which by the way reflects low self-esteem. Respond to all compliments with a simple Thank You.

16. Start giving more. You must give more of yourself to those around you. Because when you do things for someone else, you are making a positive contribution and you begin to feel more valuable, which in turn lifts your spirits and raises your own self-esteem. So next time you see a downcast or downtrodden individual, pick him up from the rut. Share with him the warmth of your helping hand and watch the glow in his eyes.

17. Be your own cheerleader. The energy and enthusiasm of a cheerleader is necessary in order to make the radical emotional changes required to raise your self-esteem. Learn how to enjoy a few minutes of self-congratulations instead of jumping right into the next task as if nothing happened, or dismissing it as meaningless. It does mean something. Being your own cheerleader isn't silly, it's smart and contagious.

18. Start small and do a task you can accomplish easily. There's no faster way to build self-esteem than to add yet another accomplishment to your roster. It always feels good to get something crossed off our to-do list. And it doesn't necessarily have to consist of monumental accomplishments.

19. Examine the pattern of highs and lows. Perhaps you're just in a "praise starvation" mode - it's been too long since you got a compliment or got to do anything that someone noticed. Or perhaps you started the downward spiral when you said some bad things to someone. It's always good to remember that self-esteem is a mental construct. So examine your patterns and you'll know what to do.

20. Get some exercise. Exercise can decrease 'stress hormones' like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body's 'feel-good' chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost. If you've been focusing on one type of exercise, vary that routine and try a different type. If you don't exercise, go for a walk. Even the change of scenery will do you good. It also forces your perspective to change a little, and you may see yourself in a better light. Also physical activity itself can take your mind off of your problems and either redirect it on the activity at hand or get you into a zen-like state.

21. Take advantage of workshops, books and cassette tape programs on self-esteem. Whatever material we allow to dominate our mind will eventually take root and affect our own behavior. For example, if you watch negative television programs or read newspaper reports of murders and business rip off; you will grow cynical and pessimistic. On the other hand, if you read books or listen to programs, that are positive in nature, you will take on these characteristics.

22. Take action! The universe rewards action! When you take action - regardless of the ensuing result - you feel better about yourself. When you fail to move forward because of fear and anxiety, you'll be frustrated and unhappy - and you will undoubtedly deal a damaging blow to your self-esteem.

Consider these simple tips -- and make sure you try them out.

These activities will never fail to boost your self-esteem. And as your self-esteem grows, the "real you" emerges. You begin to take more risks and not be afraid of failure; you aren't as concerned with getting approval of others; your relationships are much more rewarding; you pursue activities that bring you joy and satisfaction; and you will make a positive contribution to the world.

Most importantly, high self esteem will bring you peace of mind - and next time you're all alone, you'll truly appreciate the person you're with...... YOURSELF.

* * * Article by David Matthews.
intelligent lizard

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Again...and Rainy Too

Paris In The Rain

Well its another rainy Friday which is great for my flowers. Hope you have enjoyed yours. I will leave you with these few wise words:

Stress :: Three Happy Things

Unfortunately, people often get into a pessimistic mood where they can only see the failures and problems with their life. This can cause people to experience stress and its many negative side effects.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Did I Hit Something?

Respect your elders or else; but will they respect you?

Fred Thompson

I was listening to talk radio this morning and the subject began on Fred Thompson. I like Fred; so I kept listening. He's to the point and tells it like he sees it. That's cool. I would rather that than someone only saying what I want to hear while I am looking and doing something completely different when it counts. Go for it Fred!

Then came "elderly driving: how old is too old." Apparantly, TN has no limitations. This issue squared off with "motorcycle riding without helmets." I listening to passionate calls for each issue. The one that stuck out to me was a response about "responsibility." To paraphrase, we should be "responsible" as children of parents, good citizens, concerned neighbors to notice when someone too old is behind the wheel. Obviously, age effects us all differently. Of course the elderly don't want to lose their independence; but someone must be responsible and make the hard calls. The other issue...which is worse, old drivers or no motocycle helmets. There are alot more older drivers and that means that the rest of us aren't wearing helmets. The stats are terrifying. See for yourself. Maybe you are aware of this recent story:

By Robert Davis and Anthony DeBarros, USA TODAY DALLAS — As his 90-year-old neighbor struggled last May to set out on a morning drive to the store, David Prager began to worry.

Elizabeth Grimes, a widow who had lived on Meaders Lane for 50 years, had backed out of her driveway, across her lawn and off the curb. Her 1994 Mercury Grand Marquis then hit the curb across the street, Prager recalls, before Grimes mistook the gas pedal for the brake and "took off with a jackrabbit start."

Six blocks away, Grimes drove through a red light. The car slammed into Katie Bolka, a 17-year-old high school junior who was driving to school to take an algebra test. Five days later, Bolka died. ...more...

But you know and I know; had someone interceeded or spoken up, they would have been labeled as "nosy busybodies" or "do gooders" or "whatever." Why would we not care if any elderly driver is capable of making good driving decisions while my child is crossing the street or driving to the market? We had to go through tests to get the lisence — would you want a brain surgeon who hadn't been checked recently?

Driving is a privilidge; not a right. It's unfortunate that as Americans, it would seem that EVERYTHING is our right! God forbid anyone or anything should remotely question anything we do or say; yet we look around at Vtech and other incidents and wonder why.......Hmmmm...but that's another blog. For the most part, our children are becoming who we said they could be...undisciplined, disrespectful, question everything, answer to noone, trust noone, if it feels good do it, just do what's right for you, etc. Equally bad, I see these horrible commercials by cell phone companies implying that "mom" has to get a second job to pay for everybody's else's, including dad's — who somehow is cheering with the kids, not his wife who is off to work as a taco....there's something wrong with these messages; but that's another blog too.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Glorious Sun

Who can see beneath our bones? My skeleton gleems in the southern hospitality of the sun, kissed and tanned. What skeleton can hide without its skin?

Annie, the dogThe sun is absolutely radiant in downtown Nashville. I have opened the blinds and watched the light chase away the shadows. Its fun and thought-provoking to watch the shadows sulk away to the corners and edges of things...very interesting patterns and shapes come to life. I spent some time remembering my little doggie this morning. Remembering her little bouncy ears coming around the corner with that big smile or her oingy boingy bounce when I said her magic word for milk bone dog bisquits. All good memories. Memories are grand but not big enough to overcome presence or the lack thereof. Hmmm...

pink Daisiesflowers of springMy sweetie and I planted a boat load of flowers over the weekend. We watered them yesterday afternoon before going to the gym. It was a warm day at 86 degrees and today seems much the same. I even took time to water them this morning in expectation of today's warmth. I am looking forward to seeing a yard of beautiful living color swaying in the evening breeze when I drive home. It's nice doing things together...even better to watch them grow and change and mature in a healthy manner. It's fun to get down in the dirt and transform the earth...its good for what ails a man, I suppose. Certain that I have now been branded the "metro-sexual" on the block or "who knows," I don't care. If that mattered to me, I suppose I would have taken a poll first.

orange flowers

Now we are looking for some "artsy" yard art that will really set the place apart...you know, kinda whimsical but landmark! I saw this one house once that had this cool flying saucer sculpture in the front yard with some groovy colorings and markings on it. That would really get some passersby. I look forward to our hunt of such oddities. Something that just creates a happy conversation piece or at least gets noticed.

Hmmm....State Troopers were everywhere this morning on the drive in. Seems most mornings my speedometer spends more time horizonal than verticle; but luckily no blue light specials for me. It's always better to see it happen to somebody else. (tee hee hee; no really) Ok...one quick funny from my friend Joel...