WINNING THE GAME OF LIFE, Part 2: Say Hello To IT

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have lived with IT for five decades. But until last night, the formal introduction had never occurred.

This disabling, limiting, evil entity has thrived in the bowels of your version of the Matrix — and mine — while avoiding the spotlight. . If my life were a TV program on Netflix, I believe CSI, Sherlock Holmes and M6 (including 007) would be hard pressed to ID this culprit. IT is a sneaking mastermind.

I would venture that I may never have met my enemy without this formal introduction. And I was lucky to have two introductions on Thursday — one formal and one to confirm the ghost I thought I saw in the mirror. Deja vu, Neo.

My life has been about understanding and helping others while trying to reason the hows and whys of life. Currently I am working on a project to improve the health, lives and futures of 50,000 people in the next five years.

This blog is no academic dissertation on hypothetical elements. Last night I met my personal saboteur, my own limiter face-to-face, and my IT is a constant foe. IT is alive and using all of your intellect to trip you and I. It is unique to each of us, and I can best describe it as the lowest, base voice that you hear every time you wish to achieve or step out of your comfort zone. Coast, lay low and worry only about yourself, and IT backs off to celebrate its victory over your free will.

IT is a Negative Nellie, a Naysayer, the Mr. evil Hyde to the kind, talented Dr. Jekyll and the supremely evil James Moriarty to the genius detective Sherlock Holmes. Yes, the Sherlock Holmes series I watched briefly last night confirmed that Moriarty represents the selfish, primal voice in all of us.

Last night I listened intently to dozens of high achievers, including close friends, define their IT, their predictable mode that drags them down, makes them less than they could be, limits their growth. IT occurs entirely inside your skull, but the effects are felt through our bodies, businesses and lives.

Then I heard this sarcastic bombshell: IT has thoughts, and you think you are thinking those thoughts.

An initial thought: Perhaps there is a common theme between self-help books, science-fiction films, and governments taking over our brains.

Now that you know we all have an IT shooting down our best efforts and biggest dreams with a pair of six-shooters with unlimited ammunition, how do you work through that?

Stay tuned as this multi-part series, much like our lives, is a hilly work in progress with valleys and mountains to traverse.

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WINNING THE GAME OF LIFE, Part 1: Seeing the Unknown

By Terry Carter

When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I briefly but adamantly refused to believe that I was going to be taking insulin injections at the tender age of 11 after becoming pretty good in three sports.

My emotions ran rampant because, at the time, this chronic disease tended to own people’s lives, wreaking havoc with both high and low blood sugars and eventually ending their lives prematurely. The doctors not only restricted me to a hospital bed for 30 days, but they also gave me two pieces of news I considered heartbreaking: First, at age 11, I would probably only live 50 more years if — and only if — I took excellent care of my body. Second, I was told would need to return to the hospital soon for more testing and probably surgery on a lump in my neck.

When I imagined how terrible this surgery and disease could rule my life, I responded with complete denial. Not because of the facts, but because of the story I created in my head. The more I looked at the situation and my older brother, who had become diabetic seven months before me, the less I wanted to live with this.

My mom, a registered nurse, responded quickly to my initial signs of a high blood sugar. She was well versed on caring for the ill and played a key role in teaching us to deal with our mandatory, new habits imposed by the diabetic gods.

My dad, a brilliant man in his own right, resorted to blaming the dog for somehow sending diabetes to us.

Regardless I was paralyzed at age 11 for years because of my fears after being a top athlete, an academic leader and a person who stood up for others in our school. Several of my better qualities became overshadowed for years by fears I created about my situation.

Did diabetes cause me to be isolated, shy or less academically advanced? In retrospect, that answer is obvious to me. And I slowly climbed out of my dungeon to marry my sweetheart and contribute to a quality family and a better life. Now with the help of experts, I am making strides toward impacting the world before my time is gone.

In your life, things have also happened that have altered who you truly are. How do you counter a rough childhood, a bully, an abuser, a threat or the burnout that seems so popular among our culture?

I have learned some unique information that may help.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this special series…

VOICES OF REASON AND LOVE ARE LOST

By Terry Carter, Editor

Another voice of reason and love was lost recently. This time, a good man passed away after a planned heart surgery went awry.

A week later, my aunt passed away, leaving many in shock because her life too had been an example of how to help others in good times and bad

Sweeny Jamison Doehring set an example for nearly everyone in our church. I knew him as Mr. Dependable, someone we could all count for wisdom, kindness and a Christian view on life. He was an Aggie’s Aggie, so we at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church honored him by wearing Texas A&M gear to his special event at church.

We will miss you, J. And we pray that your family stays strong, united and productive as they are also our family.

My aunt passed away in Richmond, Indiana, and I miss her dearly. She was the voice of peace and fun when I was young and our family visited during the summers. Mert was one of a kind. She was always kind, considerate and would give you the last piece of food in her home if you even looked hungry.

I recall my family of five driving from Michigan to Richmond one summer when I was perhaps nine years old. We arrived in the evening, unpacked, settled in and enjoyed a great, four-course meal prepared by my grandmother.

Early the day, my Aunt Mert called with great enthusiasm to invite the three Carter brothers on an expedition she had researched and thought we might enjoy. I specifically remember mentioning this in vague terms to my not-quite-awake, older brothers, who said something akin to “No thanks.” When I told Mert thanks, but no thanks and hung up, I turned around to find myself nose-to-nose with the most powerful person in the State of Indiana, in my opinion.

And that power force in my life, my grandmother, raised her voice just slightly for emphasis, saying that was a mistake to take Aunt Mert for granted. Then she suggested in no uncertain terms that no one should ever turn down an invitation from Mert again.

As I turned to call Mert back and apologize, the phone rang. My determined aunt had already taken days off of work in preparation for our visit to Indiana. And she called back with the second of probably 30 events she wanted us to enjoy. She never quits, which I find a valuable quality in life. This time Mert suggested a day outdoors picking strawberries — and eating as many as you want — for free.

Having learned my lesson for the day, I committed all three brothers without their permission and off we went. It became one of the strongest and best memories I have about vacationing in Indiana with my family. Thank you, Mert. I love you and everyone in this amazing family.

Mert also seemed to host card games every night, ranging from Gin Rummy to Euchre, at her home. Those were great times, innocent times and the best of times for this young man.

THE CHOICE FOR LIFE

By Terry Carter, Editor

When you were a child, what inspired and powered you each day? Why did you fly out of bed each morning?

Were you:

A) Filled with energy 24 hours a day, always chasing the next game, party or thrilling ride because of the fun? If so, you may have played sports or joined dance, band/orchestra or theater classes as soon as possible.

B) The curious one who liked to read, study, get ahead of homework and evaluate opportunities/situations? If so, you were a strong student and enjoyed learning new hobbies, skills.

C) Did you join the events already organized or started by family and friends and let others show the way? If so, you may also have been the peacemaker in your family. You were the glue for your family.

D) Or did you play leader of the pack as a child with all of your friends trying to keep up with you and the trends you established? If this was your natural strength, you made the bold choices without regret and adjusted strategy to win games, contests and really just control the room.

Nearly all of us have two of these four characteristics as a personal strength, and they work together as a team to make us the person our friends and family loved when we were young. Trouble is, not all of us find a career with our born strengths. We often have to learn new skills like organization, promptness, setting an alarm clock and being nice to co-workers to earn and keep a job.

Still some skills feel like a cage that boxes us in, so we cannot grow to our potential. If you had those characteristics as a child/student, you probably don’t feel tied down by your gifts.

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With your answers in mind, now consider: Are you using that personal strengths in your current life and career that helped you grow into a valuable adult? Odds are that nearly half of you are not using your natural strengths.

About two decades ago, I was recruited to work at a technical support call center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a significant change from my journalism career and customer service background. I entered the job with a natural strength combo that was fun-loving and ready to lead a team.

Call center work, however, focuses on analysis, deductive reasoning and troubleshooting with great customer service. I could have failed at that position because it didn’t suit my natural strengths. But I was looking for a new opportunity at the time — ALERT: fun-loving people get bored easily, and leaders leave jobs if they are not given growth opportunities — was eager to learn something new.

So I sat at a desk and took incoming calls on computer problems, but my fun-loving side got to play Nerf basketball and video games while solving major hardware/software issues. In retrospect, I can attest that my analytical skills are now among my best skills that I can draw on in any situation. It was semi built-in like my base characteristics because I have always been very good with numbers.

Conclusion: If you are working and using your childhood strengths at full force, congratulations. You probably have good self-esteem and knew your advantages in life before you picked a college and career path.

If you have switched away from your natural strengths, you have two options: Enjoy the journey and learn all you can from this new opportunity.

Or investigate the true strengths in your childhood and reconnect with those super powers. If you were a follower, you can become a leader again without departing a quality employer or partner. Keep your eyes open for a chance to plug-in one of your dormant powers. The world will thank you.

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My advice to 98 percent of adults is to remember your childhood and the happiest times. Whatever you did on those days will still bring you joy today. So do the homework and chase personal happiness over career happiness.

We all know a lot of unhappy coworkers or bosses who never seem to smile or enjoy the moment. That attitude sucks, friend. It hurts that person’s health and the attitude — if not the health — of everyone they come in contact with.

Since you are likely interest in living your best life and not a miserable waste of time, I suggest we all actively pursue happiness at home, when we look in the mirror, when we drive and at work.

Let your smile come out and play. Studies are showing that happy people are more productive, even if they spend extra time playing on the Wii or meditating. And a happy office — hey boss, this is in your hands too — not only works better together, but the employees are more loyal and they go out of their way to help coworkers.

Let the leaders lead. Let the peacemakers lead too because they are not confrontational; it is a sweet change to the Type-A hot head.

Bottom Line: We are all magnificently made with unique and wonderful talents. Don’t hide your glory. Let it shine and share your perspective, wisdom and skills with those around you. This is another way to improve our little blue planet.

 

 

 

 

ADDING CLASSICS TO YOUR LIFE

By Steve Rogers, Editor

Music is an influence in our lives, and I greatly appreciate the diversity of styles and artists performing today.

While I recall when many people wanted to download huge quantities of music and movies for free, I was always content to buy one song or album at a time from iTunes. Now I have a sizable collection that ranges from Apocalyptica to The Beatles to Yo Yo Ma.

Up front, the music on my no-fly list currently includes 95 percent of rap music. Don’t take me there, but if the artist cannot sing a compelling note, you won’t impress me. Beyond that, rock, jazz, country, pop, audiobooks, acapella, rockabilly, new age, classical, Cuban, Latin, soul, dance, reggae, Christian/gospel, blues and much more appeal to me.

I realize also that what I consider a classic may be crap to you. So listen carefully and critically with your ears, not mine.

The artists and albums I suggest are red hot to me because I grew up devouring music as a youth, including:

  • Soaking in every LP my dad played like: “Downtown” by Petula Clark
  • Every song on the radio like “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John and Kiki Dee
  • Every album my brother manage to play on dad’s stereo when no one was around like Wings Over America by Paul McCartney and Wings.

Hold your nose and open your ears. Image the best of these famed artists. And if you don’t know their best music, let me introduce them to you. For we all need inspiring music, original lyrics. Music is really about your heart, your hopes, your faith and your loves in this life.

  1. The ultimate cellist on Earth is Yo-Yo Ma. His work in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” mesmerized me some 16 years ago. No one plays with with such passion and precision. He plays classical music, but his creativity rises to the top on soundtracks. I was particularly pulled into his music when he teamed with famed composer Ennio Morricone to re-create the music from, among others, a spaghetti (Italian) western film featuring a young Clint Eastwood. Yes, I am referring to the 3+ hours of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which features perhaps the best soundtrack ever by a western film.

    “JORGE HARADA…PLAYS LIKE ONLY ONE OTHER LEGEND HAS — AND THAT WAS STEVIE RAY VAUGHN.”

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    JORGE HARADA, 6-string Samurai

  2. My favorite guitarist today may not be on your list of standouts, but he is an old friend of many talents. He may not be the biggest man on stage among all-stars, but Jorge Harada of Ruby Dee and The Snakehandlers plays like only one other legend has — and that was Stevie Ray Vaughn. Jorge is a master guitarist and brings Stevie Ray back to the stage for me. He gives the reins to lead singer Ruby Dee on most nights because she commands the stage so well. But when Jorge steps up for a solo on their original compositions, each note strikes your heart and soul. Rockabilly is the band’s music genre, but this Austin-based band travels internationally because so many people love their music. Try their live album from Austin to get a feel for this band. The band is currently touring in Europe and killing it. Play one for me tonight, Jorge. The six-string Samurai can be visited at JorgeHarada.com, and the band’s website is RubyDeeMusic.com.
  3. On the country front, I’m still hooked on the young tenor Josh Turner. His hits range from “Long Black Train” to “Firecracker” to “Why Don’t We Just Dance.” And Josh’s voice reveals a deep tone that is nearly unmatched in the country music genre right now. This guy has a supremely bright future.
  4. For now, I will leave you with a young artist who was murdered after her concert on June 10, 2016. Christina Grimmie was only 22 when she passed, but her connections with Adam Levine, Selena Gomez and more than a million fans since her introduction to the music world in 2009 are eternal. She also starred in an endearing movie, The Matchbreaker. She finished third on The Voice in 2014, and that kicked off her tremendous growth. What allowed Christina to capture the hearts of millions was her thankful, sincere personality and her powerful, pure voice. While Christina released only a handful of albums and one movie, she and her family continue to change lives for the better with the Christina Grimmie Foundation. Donations and purchases can be made at ChristinaGrimmie.com.

More award-winning music later. Contact my friend Terry at UDPhotos@gmail.com when you are planning big events in your life. He has an amazing history as a photographer, and now he has new equipment too.

Make today legendary, friends!