Thursday, May 31, 2012

The First Month In My New Hometown

The Town Square in Williamsburg, Iowa on Memorial Day.

What a month this has been for my family and me.  We started the month by moving our belongings out of storage and into our new home in Williamsburg.  Our daughter joined us for her summer break from college four days later.  I found a job in the marketing department surrounded by happy people who are passionate about serving our members.  And our oldest son decided to join us for a while to spend time with his relatives on my wife's side of the family.

The biggest highlight of the month was seeing the glow on my wife's face when every one of her siblings stopped by last night to celebrate her birthday.  She couldn't believe I kept her birthday present a secret--it was something I discovered while driving cross country last month and she will wear it often while working in the retail business.  If you see her, you will have to ask her what she got for her birthday.
I'm making new friends, however, I do miss my friends on the west coast.  I'm hoping some of them will visit me when they are in the area.  Do you remember your first month living in a new neighborhood?  What were the highlights of your relocation?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Time To Get In High Gear

It’s show time.  The clock is clicking down to our Grand Opening and everyone wants to find out about my new employer.  I’m having a blast meeting new people and getting to know my teammates.

There are some large employers in the area and some work around the clock.  We are figuring out how we can serve them according to their schedules.  Some of us may be working in the middle of the night.  I’m excited about this because I love challenges.

Can you describe a time in your life when you woke up and said to yourself, “it’s time to get in high gear?”  Please add your thoughts below.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Two Goals Complete

Looking for a new job in a new state in a difficult economy is not easy, especially when you hear stories about companies downsizing.  Housing is also a major challenge.  I never stopped believing the right doors would open for my family at the right time.  More than 2,000 people have applied for jobs with my new employer.  Only fifty have been hired so far.  By the time we have our grand opening in 29 days, thousands of new members will be ready to visit us.  It’s a really exciting time in my life.

Now that my top two goals are complete, it’s time to focus on the other items on my list.  Time management is a top priority.  In order to keep up my blogging and writing pace, I need to stick to a rigorous writing schedule.  The temptation sometimes creeps in after a busy day to skip a day of writing.  My laptop is in high demand with other family members.  All of my writing takes place outside my home, which means I need to watch my time so other family members can get to work on time.

Time to sign off and get to work.  Thanks for stopping by today.  If you would like to comment about how you set and achieved major goals in your life, please add to the story below.  Have a great day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Celebrating Memorial Day in the Heartland of America

***Breaking News***

I'm in the Town Square in Williamsburg, Iowa right now interviewing WWII survivors, wives and family members.  Today's story will be published soon.  There are some amazing photos.  Come back soon for today's blog.  Thanks for your patience.  I don't like to miss deadlines but today's story is worth waiting for.  Happy Memorial Day!


My First Memorial Day in the Heartland of America

It takes your breath away--watching two hundred pristine American flags flapping in the wind as service men dating all the way back to World War II offer a 21-gun salute to all gathered in the town square, remembering those who gave their lives to make this day possible.

Command Sergeant Major Tim Saylor with wife, Kathy.
Command Sergeant Major Tim Saylor, who served two combat tours in Iraq and is currently the 185th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Command Sergeant Major, offered these words to families gathered to honor died for us:

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  It is more than just the beginning of summer; it is a time to honor those who have died in service to our nation.

Recognition of military service is common throughout the world, and honoring sacrifice for one's country is not unique to America.

However, Memorial Day is a holiday that is uniquely American.

President Abraham Lincoln may have set the conditions for the creation of Memorial Day by his brief but moving tribute while dedicating the battlefield cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania during the American Civil War.

As part of his remarks at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863, Lincoln timelessly said, "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

After Tim spoke, I photographed the men who served our country while they offered a 21-gun salute.  The senior member of the group served in World War II.  He spoke proudly about how he worked on the props and kept the planes flying.

Two other men who served in World War II shared stories, one of them a paratrooper.  These men are the heartland of America.  They are husbands, fathers, grandfathers.  They are brothers.  They are heroes.  My interview time was cut short due to a medical emergency; the paramedics were called in to help out one of these men, the last of a generation who fought for us.

I promise to resume my interview with these men.  It's important to recognize the Ladies Auxiliary VFW.  Some served in active duty; others raised families while husbands served.  And everyone of them continue to help others who lost family members due to war.  Look for future stories about these special people.

Here are some photos from today:

World War II survivors, George Stahl and Joe Shanahan, entering Williamsburg Town Square to celebrate Memorial Day.
Two of the three World War II survivors who live in Williamsburg. At left is George Stahl, born on the 4th of July.  At right is Joe Shanahan.
Ladies Auxiliary VFW
Ladies from the Auxiliary VFW welcome visitors to Open House.
Williamsburg High School Choir entertains the crowd.
Williamsburg Town Square on Memorial Day.
Preparing for the 21-gun salute.
A tribute to all who gave their lives for our freedom.

Remembering the thousands who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

 Please take a moment today to pray for all the families who lost their loved ones fighting to defend our freedom.  One day is not enough.  Make it count.  Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Look at What's Ahead

The roller coaster isn't slowing down.  I'm happy I survived some wild twists and turns.  The challenge now is to stay buckled in and keep the momentum going.  Here's a preview of what's ahead for this blog:

  1. I'm going to focus this blog on life in my new hometown.  There are some fascinating people all around me and I'm hoping to interview some of them in future blog stories.
  2. There are some exciting things happening in the Midwest.  Look for some blogs about how the Midwest is changing.
  3. The biggest buzz in the area is all about the new Costco coming to the Iowa City area.  I would like to interview some of the people in the community and share stories about why they are so excited.  This company does zero advertising yet everyone around me is talking about it.  
  4. There are some key people who donated their time, treasure and talent to make my new hometown what it is today.  I recently learned that 40% of the world's corn comes from seed originating in Williamsburg.  The family behind this amazing success story is responsible for putting this small town on the map.  My hope is to secure an interview with the family and report on how they live the American dream.
  5. Please send me feedback about what you would like to see in the next 1,000 days of this blog.  You can leave a comment below or send me an email.  My future stories will be based on what you would like to see.  Thanks for your support.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Turning a Negative Into a Positive

The email was disappointing.  The selection committee rejected me.  Unfortunately, I will not be hired as the communications coordinator for the University of Iowa, a highly coveted position at one of the best writing schools in the United States.  How does one turn such devastating news into a positive?  As a person who has struck out more times than most people you know, let me share how I'm turning a negative into a positive:

  1. I'm sending an email to the leader of the selection committee asking her to share specific feedback about my background so that I can continue to improve my writing talents.
  2. I believe that as good a fit as I thought I was for this job, God has a better plan for my life and I will follow God's plan.
  3. I refuse to concentrate on what I don't have.  Instead, I'm thankful for the one company who eagerly pursued me for help introducing Costco to a brand new market right in my own backyard.  The total time elapsed from filling out an online application to being offered the marketing job was only seven days. 
  4. I will find a way to use my writing talents to serve my new employer.  Costco is very good at promoting from within.  If I continue to refine my writing talents, I have a great shot at one day helping my new boss with one of the most popular magazines in the world, Costco Connections.  This magazine is read by over 8 million members every month.  
  5. I'm learning that I do not control the way the wind blows.  Like the eagle who sees the storm coming from afar, I face the storm with my wings wide open, ready to be lifted above it when in hits.  The force of the wind lifts me above the clouds and I float high above.
Would you like to share a time in your life when you turned a negative into a positive?  Please add your comments below.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Why I Love My New Job

There is a reason Costco requires three interviews before selecting a new employee.  They want to find the best people to serve their members.  I have been a member for decades.  And now I get to work alongside some of the most incredible people on the planet.  During my training, I learned about some of the members who blog about shopping at Costco.  It's like going to a Star Trek convention.  The loyalty is off the charts.

Looking back at my Costco experiences in Arizona and California, I realize how I took it for granted that Costco was only a half hour away.  I actually missed my Ancient Grains cereal, something exclusive only to Costco.  Now I get to experience Costco as an employee.   For those of you who are raving fans, I will share my positive experiences of introducing Costco to a brand new Iowa market.  There is so much buzz about the Grand Opening on June 27. 

For the next several months, my team will be in high gear.  My writing time will be highly limited but I do promise to keep my blog going.  I will do my best to respond to your comments and emails, however, I may need up to 24 hours to get back to you.  Thanks for you patience.  Do you have a Costco memory or comment to share?  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

3 Tips for Successful Blog Writing

3 Tips for Successful Blog Writing

Mike Mulligan with wife, Helen. 

Blogging is like walking.  Once you take that first step, keep walking.  I had no clue what writing was all about when I took my first baby step.  My dad was the writer in the family.  He had the degree in journalism and the passion for writing.  I encouraged him to quit when the rejection letters from publishers kept piling up.  Instead, dad kept walking.  He found a way to publish his first book without the aid of a traditional publisher decades before self publishing was mainstream.  At the time, self publishing was an unknown, expensive option that allowed him to live his dreams.  The day I wrote my first blog I finally understood why my dad was compelled to write every day. 

Here are three tips to help you on your blog writing journey.  Stick to this plan daily and you will fill your blog archives with thousands of messages for readers all over the world.

  1. Be consistent.  Pick a set time each day for blog writing.  I wake up at 5:00AM every morning and write until 8:08AM when my blog story is released.  I'm wide awake and there are no distractions.  By publishing at 8:08AM, Pacific time, readers can tune in just as they do for their favorite TV show.  This consistency builds readership.  Find a time that works for you to write and stick to it.
  2. Be committed. It helps to ask yourself why blogging is important to you.  Keep that vision in your head to remind yourself why you write everyday.  If your vision is to change the world through your daily messages, it won't materialize unless you keep your focus.
  3. Be concerned. When you care about the readers and what their interests are, your concern will show up between the lines of your stories.  Empathy builds connections.  Your writing should be a two-way street.  Interact with readers who comment on your blog.  Keep in touch.  Build bridges.  Say thank you when a reader takes the time to send you a message.

How many blog stories have you written?  How often do you blog?  Why do you blog?  Please add your thoughts in the comment section. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Putting My Marketing Talents To Work In Iowa

The job search in my new home state of Iowa is over.  I wanted to join a company or institution where my communications skills could be utilized.  When I found out they were hiring outside marketing reps to introduce Costco to the Iowa City area, I immediately applied and got an interview the following day.  Within one week, I completed the three interview process and was offered a job.  Although the store does not officially open until June 27, my orientation began Monday and I'm thankful to be part of the first group of employees on the payroll.

The marketing team headed to West Des Moines for an eight hour day early yesterday morning at the only other Costco in Iowa and we are meeting again today with upper management at the Marriott in Coralville.  I'm making new friends who are excited to help spread the word about our new employer.  Most people in the area have never set foot in a Costco.  I can't wait to see the look on their faces when we have our Grand Opening in five weeks.

For those of you who have been praying for our family to find jobs, I extend my thanks.  I'm still on the list of candidates for a writing job at the University of Iowa, however, the process is a long one and the search committee may not make a decision for months.  I'm happy to join a company that treats their employees like family.  The benefits are also out of this world and the management staff top-notch.

Before I sign off for the day, I wanted to share my fondest memory of Costco.  When the general manager asked me if I had any questions or comments in my final interview, this is the Costco memory that sealed the deal...

It was August, 1995 and my wife asked me to follow her to the Christmas section at the Costco on Carmel Mountain Road in Rancho Bernardo.  I was surprised to see the Christmas items out in the summer.

"Look," she said while holding up a crystal ball with a family of five and a couple of pet dogs inside.  She wound up the music box and shook the globe.  Snow was falling.  The music played "I'll Be Home For Christmas."

With puppy dog eyes and her lower lip pushed out, she asked, "Can we please go to Iowa this Christmas?"  There was no way I could say no.  We purchased two crystal balls and went home, promising not to tell anyone about our plans to visit her family just two days before Christmas.

We sneaked into her dad's home and placed the gift on his kitchen table.  Helen's sister waited for their dad to come home while we crept up the stairs and hid.  When Spike got home, Margaret instructed him to open the gift.  He couldn't understand why he was unwrapping it early.  While the music played and he stared into the globe, we sprung out and yelled, "Merry Christmas."

After I shared my story about my first white Christmas in Iowa, the general manager looked into my eyes with a smile and said, "you're hired."

Do you have a memory to share of your job hiring process?  Please leave your comments below.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Journey of a Thousand Blogs Begins With a Single Post

Special post by Michael Mulligan on the 1,000 day blogiversary

Mike & Helen Mulligan.  Photo by Nicole Mulligan

The day I wrote my first blog post one thousand days ago I felt like I was a novice pawn on a chessboard. I made my opening move without understanding the rules of the game, clueless about what I was doing.  My only writing experience before blogging was penning daily love letters to my wife.  Our spiral notebooks are overflowing with more than 5,000 precious hand-written treasures. 

Prior to entering cyberspace, I never read a single blog.  There was this urge to express my thoughts in writing and I moved my baby pawn forward one step.  That was the beginning of my 1,000 day journey into the fascinating world of blogging, a place to explore and connect with bloggers outside the brick and mortar world I grew up in.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced blogger, each day is an opportunity to create a unique blog message spectators will relish.  Few writers become blogmasters.  The rookie blogger faces opponents who seem larger than life and the checkmates are frequent.  He retires from the game before learning how to master the game.  Every pawn has the potential to become royalty.  In order for that to happen, the writer must withstand numerous assaults on his own king, the very core of a writer’s heart.  Here are some ideas to help protect your king and keep your passion for blogging alive: 

Photo by Mike Mulligan, hand-made chess pieces by T. Mazzola

  1. Be consistent. Readers follow blogs with fresh daily stories.  My followers can set their clocks by my posts.  Every morning at 8:08AM, Pacific Time, my stories are released.  
  2. Never give up.  How many times do you think the greatest chessmasters of the world got checkmated?  Even at their best, there’s always an opponent who can capture the king.  Novices see a greater frequency of checkmates early on in the game, however, the writing lesson is in the defeat.  The rejection letter unveils a pattern of moves leading to an undesired outcome.  Start a new game and learn from the moves that resulted in checkmate.  Every checkmate offers new wisdom as long as you stay in the game.  Play one new game every day.  Forget about yesterday's rejection.
  3. Seek out blogmasters.  The blog world is changing even faster than dog years.  The blogmasters recognize this and take advantage of new writing tools.  Seek out the innovators and apply technology advances to your blog.  I love to experiment with new tools provided free by Google.  They came up first the morning I blindly searched a way to create a blog on Google.
  4. Get support from friends and family members.  Blog writing can be lonely.  Don’t forget to make your friends and family a priority.  Get outside and catch a breath of fresh air while holding hands with your loved one.  It’s easy to lose touch with the outside world when you absorbed in your writing world.
  5. Invite a guest poster to your blog.  A fresh face on your blog can give your readers a new perspective.  This is a great way to gain exposure by networking with other bloggers as passionate about writing as you are. 
  6. Follow the golden rule of guest blogging when you guest post.   That means treat other bloggers the way you want to be treated.  You want other bloggers to offer their best ideas when they post for you.  Do the same for them and avoid serving left-overs.  This is not the time to serve something you picked up at a drive-thru.  Take your time when writing your guest posts and cook up a gourmet meal using the finest ingredients, leaving your host wanting more.
    How about you?  Do you have a comment or idea you would like to share about your blog journey?  What would you like to write about if you are thinking about blogging?

Follow Michael Mulligan on Twitter:  @socalmulligan

Monday, May 21, 2012

How To Stay In The Race

Marathoners make it look easy.  Their mile times at the end of the race are similar to the first miles.  How do they do it?  Is there some kind of secret?  Nike says, "just do it."  Any worthwhile goal can be accomplished as long as you stay in the race.  For me, writing and running have many similarities.  Tomorrow I cross the finish line of my biggest blogging goal ever, to write every day for 1,000 consecutive days.  Apply these ideas to your own personal goals and you will find yourself victorious.

  1. Picture yourself crossing the finish line.  When the brain has a clear mental snapshot of you completing your goal, it will help you to stay in the race.  Keep visualizing that finish line every day when you wake up.
  2. Ask someone close to you to be your accountability partner.  Check in with them at regular intervals.  Call them when you are tempted to give up.
  3. Expect obstacles.  Any worthwhile goal always comes with a set of challenges.  Convince yourself you can overcome anything that gets in your way.
  4. Train properly.  No runner expects to run 26.2 miles without proper training.  All goals need a strategy.  Map one out and make sure to follow the training plan.
  5. Stay balanced.  You need a good support system.  I like to tackle my list of goals at the beginning of the day.  Once they are accomplished, I get to spend time with my family.  Mix up your routine to avoid burn out.
  6. Keep moving forward.  There will be times when you feel like you are in quicksand.  Objects in motion tend to remain in motion.  This is true of our bodies.  It's better to move forward one inch and keep moving than to stop.
  7. Make sacrifices.  Think about the captain of a sinking ship.  He must decide to throw some things overboard in order to stay afloat.  On the race course of life, it's the same.  You may have to give up certain activities getting in your way of finishing the race.  Make your goal the top priority and let go of the activities that will knock you out of the race.
  8. Pray.  The Creator of the universe is always with you.  He designed you for a special purpose.  That purpose is your own personal race course.  Keep in touch with Him and don't be afraid to ask for some extra inspiration when you feel like abandoning the race track.  He will give you everything you need to accomplish your mission.
  9. Every time you cross the finish line, it's time to enter a new race.  It doesn't matter how old you are, if your heart is still beating, you have time for another race.  Keep setting new goals for yourself.
  10. Just do it.  Don't make any excuses.  Set your sights on the finish line and cross it.
Come back tomorrow and read post number 1,000.  I would love to celebrate that day with you.  And don't forget to invite me to celebrate your success when you reach your own milestone in your life.  Just do it.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

One Lap to Go

The finish line is just three days away.  It's the first writing marathon in a life-time of races I'm planning on running the rest of my life.  I reflect on what this race means to me as I complete the final leg of 1,000 consecutive days blogging.  Here's what crossing the finish line means to me:

  1. I found a way to set daily priorities and complete them even against all odds.
  2. I learned how to overcome any and all barriers in the way of my daily writing goals.
  3. I found a connection to people in every continent of the world.
  4. I discovered anything is possible if you are willing to work at it every day.
  5. When you set worthwhile goals and stick to them, you will attract others who share your passions and they will happily join you on the race course.
  6. If you find out what your passion is and you develop it, you will also find inner peace and joy.
  7. Surrounding yourself with positive people makes the journey more fun, especially when you encounter tough times.
  8. Completing one major priority per day builds momentum for achieving other important tasks.
  9. Obstacles are opportunities to develop creativity, strength and endurance.
  10. The Creator of the Universe will give you anything you need to help you stay on course if you are willing to trust and believe.
What marathon of life are you running?  Is it blogging?  Maybe you are raising children or helping out in your community.?  My prayer for you today is that you stay the course.  Thanks for visiting.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Are You Following the Plan?

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. ~ Issaiah 55:8

That little voice in your head can get really annoying at times--especially when you don't want to listen to it.  Deep down, you know the voice is right.  It reminds you God has a plan for you.  When you're off track, the voice nudges you to change course and follow the plan.  Are you following the plan?  If you are not sure if you are following the right plan for your life, ponder these questions:

  1. Do you feel like something is missing in your life?
  2. Are you afraid about how your life will change if you listen to that little voice in your head?
  3. Do you know the real reason why you are tormented by the voice inside you?
  4. What would happen if you decided today to follow the voice?
  5. Why do you think the voice keeps nagging you?
  6. Is God picking on you or is He picking you?
  7. Besides the voice in your head, are there other clues you are seeing that point you to the plan?
  8. Why does God keep nudging you to follow the plan?
  9. What will happen to the people around you if you decide to follow the plan?
  10. Have you ever directly asked God to show you the plan He has for your life?
It's not necessary for you to publicly comment on these questions, unless you want to.  These questions are meant for you.  There is a reason why we are connected.  I don't know the reason.  I only know I decided to follow God's plan for my life rather than my own.  I can't tell you the whole plan, however, I'm certain I'm on the road He picked for my life.   If you are searching for the right road to follow for your life, try listening to that voice in your head.  Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Counting Down to 1,000 Consecutive Blog Posts

Five days to go.  The finish line for the first 1,000 day blog marathon is in my sights.  Five days to go.  The last lap is the most challenging.  Some days I sat in hotel lobbies to access my blog.  My power cable to my laptop stopped working last week.  And relocating my family to the Midwest during this final lap made daily blog writing interesting.

This is only the first 1,000 days of writing.  My first memoir, God's Black Sheep Squadron, is available on  The Caveman in the Mirror will be released on March 17, 2013.  And the Caveman Reflections Cyber-bistro for writers is gaining momentum.  This blog is approaching 40,000 pageviews and has a world-wide audience.  I look forward to the next 1,000 days.

Please stop by on Tuesday, March 22, and help me celebrate my 1,000 day blogiversary.  If you have been a regular reader, please let me know what blog stories are your favorite or let me know what kind of stories you would like to read in future blogs.  Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Second Chances

If you were given a second time to do something differently, what would it be?  Would you take back words you wish you didn't say?  Or say something you failed to say?  Just because you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression, it doesn't mean you should resign yourself to living with a bad memory.

Forgiveness is what second chances are all about.  Jesus teaches us to let others have a second chance.  He doesn't stop there.  He once said, "seven times seventy."  That's a lot of second chances.  If the only time you give someone a chance card is when you're playing Monopoly, maybe it's time to consider how giving others a break can help you.  Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. You will sleep better at night.
  2. You will be healthier.
  3. You will have more friends.
  4. You will have less enemies.
  5. When you meet Jesus at the end of your life on earth, the conversation will go well.
Do you want a second chance?  Make a phone call today and ask for one.  Write a letter or an email.  And be generous when someone in your life asks you for a second chance.  Please share a time when you either asked for a second chance or you gave someone else a second chance.  Please leave out the names to protect the privacy of others.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pay It Forward

My family and I received an unexpected blessing yesterday from a friend when my wife called about our utility bills from Washington.  We were staying at a friends home while they were spending the Winter in Arizona.  Their only request was that we cover the water and electric bills while staying in their Iowa home.

"Pay it forward," our host said.  "When you are back on your feet again, I want you to return the favor to someone else."

"We budgeted for this expense and we have the money to cover these expenses," my wife insisted.

Janet was persistent.  "We are happy you are getting settled.  I prefer you pay it forward then repay us for these expenses."

This experience in Iowa is part of something much bigger I'm witnessing about my new neighbors.  It has to do with treating others the way you want to be treated.  There is something about small towns that brings people closer together.  I also experienced this in the community of Ramona, a small town outside of San Diego.

Imagine what the world would look like if every good deed was repaid forward to a stranger or someone with no ability to repay the kindness of others in his or her present circumstances.  Kindness is contagious.  Paying it forward can happen in entire neighborhoods or towns.  It can spread to big cities.  It starts with a generous spirit.

Yes, my family will pay it forward.  How about you?  Have you ever been asked to pay it forward?  Please share what happened.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Understanding God's Plans

God's plans are like looking at the Grand Canyon.  The Colorado River has been working on that great wonder for millions of years just as God has been shaping us since the day we were born.  We resist His plans at times but the river keeps flowing.  The cuts can be difficult but they are necessary in order to complete the masterpiece inside of you.

God is patient.  He waits for you to look up and see yourself on the sides of your own Grand Canyon.  Can you see how beautiful your picture is?  There is no other creation on earth exactly like you.  Your masterpiece is meant to attract others to the Creator.  Don't fight the river or its direction.  Embrace it.  Allow God to finish what He started the day you were born.  Ask Him for help understanding the plans He has for you.  Then, He will ask you to look up and see the mark you are leaving for all the world to see, one day at a time.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dealing With Change

The question most asked from people in my new Iowa surroundings is, "why did you leave California?"  I admit, I was the last person in my family to sign on to the move.  There was really nothing wrong with California.  My wife missed her family and most of them don't like to travel beyond the borders of their home state.  In order to re-unite her with her siblings, the move was necessary. 
Here's how I'm dealing with change:

  1. Keep a positive attitude.  There are good things and bad things in any change.  I choose to focus on the benefits of our relocation.
  2. Keep in touch with old friends.  This blog is my way of keeping my friends informed about my transition.
  3. Get involved in the community.  I tend to go overboard with this and one lesson I learned about volunteering is there is a balance.  I joined the "friends of the library" because I believe libraries inspire readers; without readers, writers would not be able to exist.
  4. Change is part of the process of life.  There can be no Spring without first having a Winter.  Each season has something to offer.  Appreciate every season.
  5. Follow your heart.  I know in my heart this move is the best thing for my entire family.  I appreciate the warm glow my wife exudes.  She is getting the opportunity to be close to her family.
What changes are you dealing with in your life?  Please add your ideas to the conversation.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Note for all the Moms on Mother's Day

Today is the day we celebrate mothers.  They are like angels from Heaven.  They have eyes in the back of their head.  They sense when we are in trouble, even when we are thousands of miles away.  And they make us who we are, an extension of themselves.  They don't need words to teach us lessons.  They prefer actions.  God uses mothers to teach us about love.  They come in all shapes and sizes.  Although they may look different on the outside, each has a heart of gold inside them. 

I don't believe one day a year is enough to thank all the moms out there for all they do.  They give every day of their lives to their families and we give them back one day.  Make this day count.  Discover the love language your mother prefers and make sure you use that love language today to express your love for her.  My mother enjoys words of affirmation.  If you don't know her, maybe this little note to her will give you a glimpse:

Dear mom,

This is your day.  This day isn't enough to give you the honor you deserve.  I know you don't like computers and the Internet removes the closeness you cherish with face-to-face contact.  You prefer phone calls when it's impossible to be together in person.  Since I'm celebrating Mother's Day in the Midwest today I will miss spending your special day with you.  I will be calling you later after you go to Church and I will read this note to you.

Thanks, mom, for teaching me what love is.  Thanks for being there every time I fell down.  Thanks for the warm welcome you gave my wife when she came into my life and for treating her so kindly.  You are such a great example, not only for my siblings and my own family, you are an example for the world.  God bless you.  God bless all the mothers in this world.  This is your day.  I love you.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Technical Difficulties

This is another two thumbs post. My power cable to my laptop is not working and the nearest Mac store is 110 miles away.  Fortunately, i can still post from my cell phone.  Typing with two thumbs is better than no thumbs or no blog story.

By the time the computer store opens, this story will be released.  I'm crossing my fingers that the power cable is the problem and not the laptop.  please keep me in your prayers.  I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  It may only be a tiny flicker, but I see it and I'm going to keep moving forward.  Check back tomorrow for the rest of the story.  Don't forget to share a comment about a time in your life when you experienced technical difficulties and how you managed to survive.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why I Blog at the Library

The Red Cedar Chamber Music Concert was a big success at the Williamsburg library and they are planning to return again.
It seemed awkward at first, parking my car outside the Williamsburg Library to write my early morning blogs before the doors opened.  Then it struck me-- I am a writer and I need to be a friend of the library.  So I filled out an application and made a donation to the "Friends of the Library."  It truly is a friendly place.  And yesterday, I got an opportunity to use a study room where I helped my son with his online math course.  He said, "Dad, you just love to write on the board."

Yes, it's true, I love to write on just about anything, paper, napkins, chalk boards, and laptops.  Here's why I blog at the library:

  1. The library offers free Wi-fi.  It even reaches the outside parking lot, making Internet connectivity accessible 24/7.
  2. The geo-thermal power makes the room temperature ideal for long writing sessions.
  3. People who love to read hang out at libraries.  These are ideal candidates for future book sales.
  4. I can send faxes and print out hard copies when needed.
  5. There are meeting rooms should I wish to start up some workshops for people interested in writing.
  6. My kids don't ask me to "borrow" my laptap when I'm at the library.
  7. The staff is friendly and helpful.
  8. I can stay focused.
  9. All the books on the shelves inspire me.
  10. Every time I visit the library, I'm reminded how important it is to create material for readers.
Where is your favorite place to blog?  Please add your comments below.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 Steps to Frugalize My Life

The first step to solving a problem is to admit you have one.  My spending appetite has always exceeded my income.  A little over a year ago I publicly declared I would go on a spending fast.  I cut up all but two credit cards to be used in emergencies.  I decided to frugalize my life.  This is a painful process.  I have a long way to go.  Here are some things I'm doing differently to live within my means:

  1. I pay cash for everything.
  2. I sold my California home.
  3. I traded my skills as a tennis instructor for a used Honda.
  4. I stopped buying things I want but don't need.
  5. I told my friends I'm on a spending fast and can't afford to eat out.
  6. I shop at garage sales and second-hand stores.
  7. I decided not to set up internet in my home due to the high monthly fees.
  8. My entertainment budget is $1.33 per day.
  9. I sign up for internet specials with all the companies I do business with.
  10. I tell myself every day I'm getting better at managing my money.
One year of frugalizing is only 2% of my years on earth.  This is only a small step in a long journey.  I feel like an overweight competitor on the biggest loser who wants to shed pounds.  My pounds are measured in unnecessary bills which must be cut if I'm to have any chance at getting control of my finances.  My hope is that my own willingness to stare my problems in the eye and attack them will inspire you to make a change in your life for the better.  Please add your thoughts if you would like to share.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Rough Waters

My new life in Iowa is much like a Kern River adventure I experienced with my oldest son.  The first time we were in a raft with a guide and some other rafters.  The river was flowing at a rapid pace and we nearly got tossed out of the stage IV rapids.  The second time through, we opted for a two-man kayak.  We ended up outside the kayak a couple of times when our kayak hit some rough waters.

The best part of the adventure is when you hit turbulent waters.  When you are on an unknown river, it adds to the thrill of the ride.  There are plenty of rivers in Iowa and I look forward to some trips with other family members.  For now, I must navigate the river of my life.  I'm finding myself in the water at times with my kayak flipped over.  There are more rapids ahead.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.

How do you handle times in your life when you experience rough waters?  Please add your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How To Be At The Right Place At The Right Time

Some say it's all about being lucky.  Others say it's the result of planning ahead.  I think it has a great deal to do with being intentional and never giving up.  The lucky breaks go to the people who are willing to pursue their dreams long after everyone else has packed their bags and gone home.  Here are some ideas to help you be at the right place at the right time:

  1. After each strikeout, make another plate appearance.
  2. State your intentions in writing.  Review the list every day.
  3. Don't hold back on your dreams and dream big.
  4. Pay the price--learn everything you can about what it takes to achieve your goal.
  5. Seek out others who always seem to be at the right place at the right time and copy their behavior.
  6. Look in the mirror every morning and tell yourself you are lucky.
  7. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.
  8. Stay away from the wrong places-- places where you are tempted to lose sight of your goals.
  9. Develop a sense of timing when swinging the bat.  Too fast? slow down.  Too slow? Speed up.
  10. Show up every day.  Your next home run may be during your next plate appearance.
The people who are never at the right place at the right time will probably tell you your good fortune  is a result of your luck.  Avoid debating them.  They aren't willing to keep trying.  They give up before getting the lucky break.

Please share an experience where you were at the right place at the right time.  How much was luck and how much was because of your perseverance?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Settled

Life is good.  Spring is in the air.  The trees and plants have come back to life.  And I feel alive.  There is this strange sense of peace I found in my new hometown.  The last piece of the puzzle is to secure a job.  Not any job.  A dream job.  I will let you know the details soon.

Do you feel settled?  Are you living your dreams?  If not, why not?  You don't have to answer publicly.  My prayer for you today is that you get settled.  It starts with finding a purpose for your life.  Then, go for it.  Dive in.  Let me know how it feels to get settled.  Send me a private email if you would rather keep your comments off-line.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Eight Pound Nightmare

I won't use the airlines real name but I do wish to share a nightmare experience my daughter had on her first solo flight from California to Iowa.  Let's call them "Divided Airlines."  I use this name because each department I spoke with told me it wasn't their job and referred me elsewhere, meaning I had to go through a series of menu questions before speaking to a live person.  Here's what happened:

My daughter checked in at the counter of Divided Airlines with two bags and a carry-on.  One of the bags weighed 58 pounds, eight pounds over the limit.  The ticket agent said, "looks like you need to do a better job packing."  He asked for a credit card and charged her $160 for two bags.  That's the $60 bag fee plus $100 for the extra eight pounds.  That was only the beginning of the nightmare.

I reviewed the scenario with my daughter to help her learn how to deal with this situation in the future.  She explained to me she was guessing on the bag weight since all the scales in her dorm were packed.  She is usually a great problem solver, however, the last four days of school, she was busy packing and saying good-bye, so she was going on eleven hours of sleep.  I suggested she try removing some clothes and either place them in the lighter suitcase or just toss them in order to avoid the $100 penalty.

Three different departments at Divided Airlines, each had the same story, "these are the rules and there is nothing we can do.  There is no supervisor for you to speak with.  If you want to file a complaint, you must go online and fill out a form."

I will be filing a formal complaint with the airlines.  And I will have a good laugh every time the competition airs a commercial about excessive bag fees.  It was the lack of empathy from each of the employees that makes this situation a nightmare.  As for me and my family, I don't think we will ever fly on Divided Airlines again.  Have you ever experienced an airline nightmare?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Why This is Your Finest Hour

Do you believe this is your finest hour?  Or do you seek to relive past memories?  Maybe you are hoping your finest hour is yet to come?  Here's some reasons why I believe your finest hour is right now:

  1. Every hour that has already past is unchangeable.  Your memories, good or bad, are all about moments that cannot be relived.  The hour in front of you right now is full of limitless opportunities.  You get to choose how to live this hour.
  2. The hours ahead of you may or may not come.  Is the hour in your future worth more than the one you have right now?  The hour you have right now is real.  Savor it.  Embrace it.  Live it.
  3. Your attitude determines if this hour is your finest hour.  It's not about your circumstances.  It's all about your choices.  
I made a choice this morning to spend this hour with you.  I didn't want to wait until the library opened at a later hour to write this message.  I decided that sharing this moment with you is more important than any other activity.  My prayer for you is that see how valuable this hour is right now.  It's a blank page in the journal of your life.  When your heart beats for the last time, you will get the opportunity to meet the One who gave you this hour.  He will ask you, "What did you do with your finest hour?"

Enjoy your finest hour.  It's the greatest gift you will ever receive.  I'm thankful I got to spend part of this hour writing to you and that you spent part of your hour reading this message.

Friday, May 4, 2012


We were the first ones to arrive for the 8:00 AM garage sales in the Burg this morning and it capped off three days in a row of bargain hunting.  Not only did we make new friends, we picked up some amazing deals, including a 75 cent guitar and some electronic drums.  Our last stop was at the local furniture store.  They had some trade-ins stashed away in the attic and cut us a great deal.

We are officially replenished.  All the rooms are set up.  The only task remaining on the "honey do list" is to paint.  A home internet connection would also be nice.  For now, I'll keep visiting the local library, McDonald's and outlet center for my free Wi-fi.

We are thankful for the great timing of the community garage sales.  Many families participated and are donating the funds raised to local charities.  This is my kind of town--generous people with hearts for serving others.

What is the best deal you ever found at a garage sale?  Please share your experience below.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Happens When You Let Go of the Rope

For too many years I tread water, afraid I might drown at any moment.  It's the same feeling you get when you're holding on to a rope and you know your fingers are losing their grip.  What happens if you simply let go of the rope?

The answer can be found in a story my pastor once shared about a poor little girl who clutched tightly to her only possession, a hand-made necklace.  Every night, her dad asked her if she would please let go of her prized necklace and give it to him.  "No, daddy, it's too valuable and I can't let go of it."

Her daddy would kiss her goodnight and tell her he loved her.  One night, the little girl decided to let go of her necklace and give it to her dad.  Teary eyed, the little girl said, "here you go, daddy."

Her dad asked her to please close her eyes and he placed something in her hands, clasping them shut.  The little girl opened her eyes and was astonished.  It was the most beautiful pearl necklace the little girl had ever seen.  Her daddy waited a long time to give it to her, but he couldn't.  Not until his precious daughter was willing to let go.

I'm that child who feared letting go of the rope.  I let go.  And God has given me something beyond my own imagination.  It's a new life.  Jesus can make all things new.  He's waiting for you to let go of the rope.  Give it a try.  Trust Him with your life.  Let me know how it works out.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Introducing Zoey

The first time I saw Zoey's mother, I mistakenly thought she was a boy rabbit.  Then Zoey peered out for the first time, right after I named mama.  Good thing Charlie is a universal name.  Dad was meandering about thirty yards away.  His name is Fred.  The family is part of collection of rabbits, squirrels and birds who hang out in our back yard.

The other day, about twenty-five cute little yellow finches, the state bird of Iowa, swooped down and played while Fred and Charlie munched on the lush green grass.  Zoey is only about four inches long and on the scrawny side.  I'm hoping to get close enough for a picture soon.

Besides Zoey, her family, and all the other animals, we have some really awesome people neighbors,too, like the young boy who mowed my backyard for me while his dad supervised.  I heard he is really good at shoveling snow and he also runs a lemonade stand in the summer.

Stay tuned for more stories about our relocation to the Midwest.  And I'll keep you updated about Zoey and all the other animals who dwell in our backyard.  Yes, life is good.  Do you name the wild animals who visit?  Please add your comments below.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A New Lease On Life

I may not have a job yet, however, I do have a new lease on life.  Starting today, my family is part of the Williamsburg family.  And if the employment situation works out favorably, the lease on our home will be converted to a purchase.

I submitted links to my writer's blog and this personal blog to the committee tasked with hiring the communications coordinator at the University and they are reviewing my material.  The review process should be completed in about a week and I'm hopeful for a successful outcome.  Please keep me and my family in your prayers as we begin a brand new chapter.  We are all super excited.

Do you recall a time in your life when you started a new job or moved to a new location?  Please add your comments below.