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.

 

 

 

 

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HOW BAD IS HEARTBREAK?

By Terry Carter

When we are young, many of us think we are invincible. Then we suffer heartbreak and slowly begin to realize we are not quite bulletproof.

I remember being paralyzed while enduring a traumatic breakup years ago. It was among the lowest moments in my life. I felt helpless, always angry and desperate for a solution. Every day was a “Don’t bother me” nightmare.

If you are there now, know that time soothes most, but not all, pain. Lessons are learned from being in pain, particularly long-term pain like a lost love.

I once thought that my heartbreak would last forever. However I worked on my mindset, my vulnerability, my frustration and my healing until I was ready to test the dating world again. As with most painful events, personal determination to play the long game was the redeeming quality that helped the most.

That and God’s grace to ease my pain.

And somewhere around November 1984, I met a beautiful, petite blonde with a strong, spunky personality. She was kind, considerate and playful. She has changed my world for the better for about 33 years. Without the my future spouse taking my hand, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

She has been a huge blessing in so many ways.

Have we always been blessed with good fortune and amazing gifts from heaven? In the short term, the answer often appears to be no as people always disagree. We are all human after all.

But step back from my latest squabble with a human being, and I can see that Suzie is a lifetime blessing. She has managed to deal with me for three decades, and I have grown exponentially at certain times in mental and philosophical ways. So that can be hard to deal with.

Plus I began working out consistently and learning to run again after an injury some six years ago. Surgery, rehab, changing diets, diabetes, work schedules and 100 other things pull us in opposite directions.

Yet I love Suzie, and she still lets me take her to dinner. That’s pretty good when boredom, restlessness and worse are exceptionally common among a lot of people our age.

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For those of you hoping to keep your relations alive for the long term, cry when your loved one is sad. Cheer when they are happy. And share love every change you get (verbal approval or a hug or a sympathetic ear may be all they need for the moment).

Stay in moment and really try to hear what your loved one says to you. You likely don’t have all the answers, and you shouldn’t. But be willing to give 100 percent to search for the lost screwdriver or finger nail polish if you are asked. It makes an impression on the heart of the person you love the most.

I sincerely recommend you don’t take advantage of or manipulate your loved one as these things leave long-lasting emotional scars. That’s a Type-A or immature maneuver that sinks boats — and relationships — pretty quick.

I am a firm believer in hope, faith and prayer to solve the toughest problems — and to thank the Lord for his daily miracles. Recently meditation, which still gets curious looks from even friends, neighbors and my loving spouse, helps me to focus on what is truly important in life.

It is my way of discarding stress that accumulates daily and allows free radicals to damage our health, our best thinking and creativity.

While heartbreak cannot always avoided, I recommend that your prayers or meditation can often conclude by asking God to allow the Holy Spirit (aka fate) to rule the day for the greater good.

If a breakup today benefits you moving from LA to New York and eventually meeting the person you marry, don’t wait 10 years to say thank you for the breakup and the move. Try acknowledging God’s path even when its purpose is totally bewildering to you today.

By accepting life’s oddities as God’s move to benefit us or people we care about, the future can often look more worthwhile both today and in the future. What happens will happen. How you respond determines whether the happening was a victory or a defeat in your mind.

 

 

YODA: LIVE YOUR LIFE, YOU MUST

Every time we watch a television program or movie, we are watching others live their scripted lives. In retrospect, this may be one of the biggest wastes of time in our lives if we watch 1-2 programs each day.

Some years ago, I recall a friend reminding me that people on TV programs don’t waste time watching TV. Based on their script, they are to provide active comedy, drama, tragedy, etc. — not to simply view others live in a fictional world. I recall about 25 years ago eliminating cable TV from my home when my three children were young. It seems there could have been a lot of complaining — and perhaps I remember only the happier moments — but protests, strikes and throwing fits didn’t happen.

We simply turned out attention to playing outside more often, taking trips, spending time with the family and handling our responsibilities. 

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!

WIM HOF: GET FROZEN

Wim Hof is slowly becoming a household name because he defies science and medicine.

If you are not familiar with Wim, you are not alone. Two weeks ago, I had only a surface knowledge of this European wildcat known as a stuntman who can endure tremendous cold. He is a world record holder and best known as “The Iceman.”

Two weeks ago, I listened to Wim speak in Spain at a 3-day conference hosted by Mindvalley, which also included hypnotherapist Marisa Peer and author Vishen Lakhiani to speak. Each made a profound appearance before hundreds of international go-getters in attendance.

For more information on Wim’s life, check YouTube.com. His Ted.com talks and footage of Wim’s climb of Mount Everest in short and barefoot are available if you suspect such achievements are BS. Wim also has run races barefoot above the Artic Circle and come away with no known frostbite. 

Scientists have attached all kinds of equipment to him and determined by Wim does indeed control his body temperature by will. And studies now reveal that Wim’s techniques of breathing and exposure to cold environments — think cold showers, guys — will dramatically improve anyone’s ability to do the same.

Wim has proven that was thought uncontrollable by the conscious mind is now a new universe that Wim Hof controls and explains to the world. 

His secret weapon? Wim mentally adjust his body temperature up to counter the ice and freezing water. Effectively through breathing techiniques, cold showers and regular training in frigid environments, Wim has altered what science long believed cannot be controlled voluntarily — the autonomic nervous system. He regularly states he enjoys ice and needs exposure to it on a regular basis.

More soon…

2017 BEATLES REUNION WITH A SGT.

In June 1967, The Beatles already owned rock music and had captivated the ears and hearts of millions.

Of the four tremendous musicians in The Beatles, Paul McCartney and John Lennon had already penned more than 100 original songs to establish the Lennon-McCartney byline as the most successful singer-songwriter combination. The Beatles broke sales records, attendance records and dominated the scene even before appearing in America in February 1964.

But what the quartet released to the public in 1967 is still regarded by many as the ultimate musical album of all time. It further scared and perhaps scarred adults raised on Jimmy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra. After all, rock-n-roll was not accepted by the majority of those age 30+ at the time.

However the release on June 1, 1967 of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band altered the scene for musicians, fans, haters/doubters and lovers of swing music. This new theme album changed the music world and inspired greatness from future legendary artists like The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), Heart, Tom Petty and many others.

Led by Jeff Lynne, ELO released albums blending entire orchestras and classic rock guitars and drums. After The Beatle breakup, ELO became the one of a handful of rock groups that successfully created complex compositions involving string sections and a rock-n-roll beat.

Sgt. Pepper also influenced the legends of the day, pushing them to reach for greater heights in writing and performances. The Beach Boys, The Who, even Elvis, responded to the album that Sgt. Pepper and the boys used set a gold standard some 50 years ago today.

While many award-winning albums have arrived since then, listening to Sgt. Pepper again brings back smile as the album tells a connected story from one song to the next. It was a rare commodity then, and it remains the most challenging feat for a singer/songwriter to execute today.

Another key element to Sgt. Pepper that separated it from the hundreds of quality musical groups in the 1960s was the use of a vast series of instruments from around the globe. George Harrison had brought in sounds from Asia that America and probably European audiences were unfamiliar with.

The diverse, eclectic yet grand orchestration of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band can also be attributed to the grand master producer himself, the fifth Beatle, George Martin. Martin helped these four musical maestros present each song to its full impact, and Martin came from a classical music background.

His contribution earned him many titles and honors, but when Paul McCartney called Martin “a second father,” well, that is about as good as it gets in the music business. Martin was in the right place at the right time and signed the boys when other companies would not.

The rest was collaboration — and musical history that still rings true today.

 

 

LIVE WITH VISION; DO NOT DIE WITHOUT HAVING LIVED

By Terry Carter, Editor

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die — and then dies having never really lived.” 

— James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity

The summary above describes the average day, year and life of the average person who is working hard and getting ahead in the 21th century. Some work to make money. Some to fill time. And others don’t work at all. They seem to play for 8-12 hours each day, enjoying each challenge, each event, each interaction they have while pursuing their life’s work.


That person, if you study the details carefully, is not unusual, nor a rebel. He is hard working, perhaps so busy he does not make time for family dinners, teaching his children to play ball or drive the car. He may have stayed at the office late to make financial ends meet, to afford a family vacation or to consider retiring late in life. It’s easy to justify the actions because nearly all of us have ignored what is actually more essential — in hindsight — to pay attention to the task at hand.

The fictional character described in the first paragraph dies having missed the reason and the joy of why he lived. He was so driven by societal means goals to “work hard to get ahead” and “promotions come to those with seniority” that he worked beyond the patience of his friends and family, who wanted him to have fun. At the end of his life, he will be well remembered for his work, but the end goals of joy, love, amazement and surprise were planned out of this type of life. 

Nearly everyone grew up pursuing means goals, including “get a college degree,” “work for one company during your career” and “marry once for life.” Of the 350 high school graduates from my high school, I suspect perhaps 30-40 percent did not receive a college degree, 95 percent did not work for just one company in the past 30 years, and perhaps 70 percent have exceeded the once social norm of one spouse per lifetime.

In the 1980s, no one mentioned end goals, such as climbing the tallest mountains on each continent or being surrounded by love daily, as they are primarily emotion-based that will make us happy or satisfied. End goals are about “following your heart,” Vishen Lakhiani writes in his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. 

Means goals typically take us another step toward a place that our elders or society suggests will make us happy, But there are stipulations and complications. See how this sounds:  You should get a college degree…so you can get a good career… so you can retire. Then you will be happy. As many of us know, the college degree put us in debt and 4-8 years older. The career allowed us to pay off the debt and afford a family and some lifestyle. The retirement, however, is not as likely as we imagined as teenagers.


Stop during your work week and look at your career as you walk or hurry through the day and the deadlines. Do you feel energized to go to work today? Did you spring out of bed this morning because of how great today will be? If not, why not? For each day is only as special as we make it.

We need to dig and change our software and hardware to bring computers to the market. And we need to do the same with ourselves. Ask yourself a few questions to see if your means goals are in line with your end goals. If they are, then your path may have been perfect for you. I have had to re-adjust my path several times due to changes in the economy (new hardware), new information I have uncovered (new software) and unpredictable events. These questions are taken from Lakhiani’s book, regarding all areas of our lives including relationships, spiritual, healthy and intellectual growth, careers, family and communities:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime? The in-depth question is: If time and money were of no object and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
  2. How do you want to grow? The in-depth question here is: In order o have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of person do I need to become?
  3. How do you want to contribute? The follow-up question is: If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, how can I give back to the world?


Answer me this, and your frustration with day-to-day work will vanish because we will begin to unlock your vision. A person who works to accomplish their vision never works as we know work. He or she enjoys every moment, brings light to dark rooms, shares and helps everyone who wishes to grow. 

Perhaps you are happy with your work and your life. But studies reveal that 80 percent of us are dissatisfied and just putting in time deposit the check. And the check simply vanishes to the bills that are due. 

This, my friends, is not why we are here on Earth. We are here to do so much more than pay bills, complain in the break room and break rules when no one is looking. 

Are you ready to grow, change and stretch those wings to fly? Be one with the wave and grow forever. Walk the narrow bridge on the highest mountain, and let us discover the thrill of victory at the summit.